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Squinting his eyes to shield himself from the retreating sunlight, Josiah tried to dismiss his Grandpap's concerned indignation. He thought a lot of that old Indian, and it hadn't been easy for Josiah to go against him.

An icy wind bit into the trappers face, and he embraced the numbing pain with a grin. Sometimes, Josiah didn't know why God bothered to keep him alive. It would be easy for the cold to rob him of his breath, and for the snow to entomb him in a winter grave where the dead felt no pain. Josiah shook his numbed senses back to reality, suddenly realizing just how cold he was becoming. Thoughts like those were rare, and it startled him back to his shelter before the night plunged the temperatures even lower.

A warm blaze glowed in the fireplace as Emma lifted her head from the buffalo robe to check on Mary. Emma had finished her supper without Mary emerging from under her blankets, and now that Emma had gone to bed, the cabin was completely silent. Only the crackling night fire broke the stillness.

It had been awhile since Emma had heard Mary last stir, and it caused Emma concern as she stared at the blankets, waiting for them to move. Just as Emma was about to go check for a pulse, the sound of a yawn and then the rustle of moving blankets showed Mary was still alive.

Scolding herself for being silly, Emma let her head fall back to the buffalo robe. Emma had never raised a child, and the thought of suddenly being responsible for one, frightened her. For many years, she had hoped and prayed for such a precious responsibility, though she hadn't expected that responsibility to come today.

Feeling more than a little overwhelmed, Emma dearly wished she could talk to her ma, and ask her what to do. Ma would've known how to make Mary at home. That little girl wouldn't have cried herself to sleep, if Ma had been here.

"Help me, God," Emma prayed silently. "I'm trusting You."

Sleep tugged at Emma's eyes, enticing her to get some rest. Giving Mary's blankets one last check, Emma drifted to sleep.

When Josiah awoke early the next morning, he was ready to go home. He was missing Emma something terrible, and wasn't looking forward to another lonely night without a woman at his side.

Gathering his belongings, Josiah started back for the cabin. The air still held the bite of cold from the previous night, for the sun had yet to appear over the towering peaks of the Rocky Mountains.

It was a quiet morning. The snow crunched beneath his snowshoes, punctuating the silence with an uneasy monotony. Josiah paused in his tracks long enough to bring the collar of his buffalo coat up around his neck. Even the birds seemed to be absent this morning. It was almost as if all of nature were holding its breath.

Josiah cautiously pressed onward, his senses sharpened by the electricity that was running down his back. He was being watched. He was almost sure of it. A startled bird suddenly took to the sky. Josiah's eyes darted to the cover where it had been hiding.

There was nothing.

Sighing in relief, Josiah let down the Hawken he had raised without even thinking. He had been sure someone was there. Trying to shake off his uneasiness, he continued his journey.

The feeling that he was being dogged every step of the way, grew stronger until Josiah was unable to dismiss his instincts. He was being hunted, and Josiah had the sinking feeling he had just walked into a trap.
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