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Emma looked at the pemmican warily. Since it was warm from Cora's body heat, the clump she offered looked sticky.

"Eat it," prompted Cora.

Politely accepting the food, Emma took a cautious nibble. To her delight, it was quite tasty.

With Cora's pemmican and Emma's stew, the ladies sat down to lunch. In spite of the alarm Cora had caused, Emma was having a grand time! It felt good to say a prayer before eating, and to know that the other person at the table wasn't impatiently waiting to get at the food.

Since all Emma had was one battered cup, she and Cora shared turns, using it to dip into the kettle of stew. All too soon, their small meal was over, and Emma was bracing herself for the solitude that would come after Cora left.

Thanking Cora for the pemmican, Emma was about to start clearing the table, when Cora stopped her.

There was that quiet hope shimmering in Cora's eyes again!

Slowly, Emma sank back down at the crudely fashioned table. Every ounce of her feminine intuition told her that Cora was about to ask something difficult.

"You would like children?" questioned Cora.

"You've asked me that, before," puzzled Emma.

"How much..." Cora hesitated, "how much has Josiah told you of his past?"

The question bothered Emma-- more so, since it had come after the question about children. Blushing bright pink, she was greatly ashamed to admit the truth. "Mr. Brown has made some remarks about being in the company of whores. I don't know how many there were, but he has said nothing of them producing any children."

"He has a child," began Cora, watching Emma closely to see her reaction, "and the child's mother was not a whore. The woman lived in my village when Josiah visited me five seasons ago. She was beautiful, and my son wanted to lay with her. Josiah persuaded her to come to him while her husband slept, but the woman's husband awoke and went to search for his wife." Cora paused, seeing Emma's face turn pale.

Emma took a deep breath. "Go on."

"The worried husband discovered his wife with my son," resumed Cora, "and after many angry words, forced Josiah to leave the village. Then he punished his wife's adultery by cutting off her ears."

Putting a hand to her mouth, Emma felt her stomach turn. Cora was speaking without obvious emotion, and Emma wondered how she could be so matter-of-fact concerning something so terrible. As Emma watched Cora's stoic face, she sensed it was out of resignation to what had already happened.

"After my son left," continued Cora, "the woman discovered she was with child. She gave birth to a white baby, and her husband swore he would drown it out of hatred to Josiah. The birth was hard on the woman, but before she died, she gave me the child so it would not be drowned."

"But," stammered Emma, in a terribly helpless voice, "I thought the reason Mr. Brown had fallen out of favor, was because he brought trappers to your hunting grounds!"
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