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"When will your people leave?" inquired Emma.

The dark look in Cora's eyes said what her mouth could not-- not in front of the child: the Blackfoot were waiting for Josiah's return.

Biting her lip, Emma nodded in understanding.

The sky outside had already faded from noon to early evening, as Grandpap got to his feet and stretched his stiff limbs. With a yawn, he made motions to Cora that he was ready to go home.

"No!" whimpered Mary, as Cora stood up to gather her blanket wraps from the chair.

Bending down to kiss the child, Cora whispered, "When you are frightened, talk to Jesus." In a hushed voice, Cora murmured a quiet prayer over Mary. Then, without looking back, the grieving woman left with her father.

Watching the two disappear out of sight, Emma swung the heavy door shut. As it thudded against the doorjamb, Emma noticed Mary stiffen.

Hoping her smile looked friendly, Emma went to the fireplace to start supper. "Would you like a little stew to go with that pemmican?"

Dropping her fistful of uneaten food, Mary quickly burrowed beneath the blankets. From the toe of her moccasins, to the top of her head, Mary had gone into hiding. Then, in an afterthought, a small hand reached out to grab her doll, and that too, disappeared beneath the blankets.

"When you're hungry, let me know," sighed Emma. She placed jerky into a kettle of water, and then hung it over the fire to cook.

Emma gazed back at Mary's buffalo robe, her thoughts still reeling from what had just transpired. Josiah had a child? Emma shuddered. Josiah had an illegitimate child. What would her neighbors back in Indiana have said about this? Even in these distant mountains, Emma could feel the reproach of their shame. Suddenly feeling cold, Emma put on her blanket shawl for comfort.

A low, mournful sound came from Mary's blankets. Even though Emma could barely hear each stifled sob, she knew the little girl was crying.

"Would you like to join me for supper?" invited Emma.

"No!" came the tearful response.

With a heavy sigh, Emma poured hot stew into Josiah's battered cup. After saying a quiet prayer, Emma ate by herself.

Evening sunlight glinted off the snow as Josiah gathered his two traps from the frozen banks of the creek. These few days of hunting hadn't caught a single beaver, and he was counting himself a fool for wasting time. The surface of the creek was frozen and the beaver were keeping to their warm lodges to wait for spring, just as Josiah reasoned he should be doing.

Short though it had been, Josiah's recent meeting with Grandpap had been their first talk in years. Their bitter exchange had left Josiah in a foul mood, and it had taken these icy winds to distract him from his anger. It was easier for a man to forget his past when his fingers tingled with the cold, and his feet needed to be rubbed so frostbite wouldn't claim more of his toes. It was easier... and yet, the past never left Josiah.
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