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"When the woman died, her husband blamed Josiah for her death," explained Cora. "That is why my son brought the trappers."

Emma tried to swallow, but felt as though she were struggling to gulp down dry grass. She wished she could share Cora's resignation; it would make listening to this easier.

"You will take the child?" Cora's eyes had that same look of hope again, and now Emma understood why.

"Mr. Brown has refused?"

"His ears are closed to my words, but he will listen to yours."

"No, he won't," sighed Emma. "He's only interested in frolicking on the buffalo robe. He listens to very little I say."

"After Josiah brought white trappers to our grounds, the child was not treated well by my people. It will be better for her in her father's lodge, with his white wife."

Emma finally managed to swallow. "The child is a girl?"

Nodding, Cora leaned across the table to touch Emma's hand. "It is hard for her to live with my people, so she must make her home among the white man. You will teach her your ways? You will take her?"

Emma felt guilty for even contemplating a "no." After all, this child was Josiah's responsibility, and she was suffering because of her father's actions. Though these were good reasons to accept, Emma couldn't help but dread Josiah's reaction when he returned.

Deciding to brave her husband's anger, Emma steadied herself and nodded. "We'll take her."

"Do I have your word?" pressed Cora.

Emma took a deep breath, hoping that she was doing the right thing. "You have it."

Instead of looking relieved, Cora pensively stared at Emma, as though struggling to follow through with her desperate plan.

"The child needs you," affirmed Cora, as she steadily gazed into Emma's face. "It is settled. She will live with you and Josiah." Cora's resolve strengthened, she got to her feet, leaving behind her blanket wraps in the chair.

Emma was still getting over the gravity of what she had just promised Cora, when the Blackfoot woman opened the cabin door. Cora put her hands to her mouth, and the air filled with a strangely beautiful, birdlike whistle.

Curious, Emma came to the door. She followed Cora's gaze to the line of trees, just as Grandpap came into view with a small figure trailing beside him.

Emma glanced at Cora.

"My father brings the child," the woman answered Emma's unspoken question. "She is frightened."

"She's not the only one," confessed Emma, hurriedly straightening her deerskin dress and then making sure her hair was neatly fastened in the back.
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