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War cries suddenly pierced the air, and before he had time to react, Josiah's world went dark.

With a small groan, Emma stirred on the buffalo robe. She wanted a little more sleep, but something had awakened her. Wondering if the child was in trouble, Emma raised her head to find Mary sitting on her bed.

"Do you need a trip outside?" asked Emma, realizing Mary probably had to relieve herself.

The girl remained silent, her dark eyes flashing fear.

Emma was getting concerned. "What's wrong?"

There was no need for Mary to answer, for the very next moment, Emma heard the indistinct sound of men shouting outside the cabin.

Going for her pa's shotgun, Emma quickly checked to make sure the weapon was loaded. Not daring to open the window shutters, Emma found a space between the split logs and peered outside.

Two Indians were dragging a half-conscious man to a large tree. Emma's blurred eyesight struggled to distinguish the limp body. She couldn't be positive, but it looked an awful lot like Josiah. Other Indians followed, and they all gathered around the tree.

Fearfully, Emma strained to get a better look at the man's face. Indians raised his limp arms, and then lashed his wrists to a high hanging branch. His front was now to the tree trunk, giving Emma a good view of his backside and long, dark brown mane. It was Josiah!

"Dear God!" Emma prayed frantically. "What should I do?"

As Emma watched, someone took a knife and ripped Josiah's hunting shirt, exposing his flesh to the cold air. Regaining consciousness, Josiah struggled against the sinews binding him to the tree.

"Ma! tell them to stop!" Emma heard him command.

Her eyes growing wide, Emma searched the crowd until she saw a woman's form among the Blackfoot men.

"Cora?" Emma breathed in amazement.

"Ma!" shouted Josiah, as one of the men produced a whip made of buffalo hide. "Grandpap? Ain't you going to stop them?"

Emma saw a hunched old man sitting down on the snow, as if unable to stop what was about to happen.

Twisting himself about to face his enemy, Josiah brazenly grinned at them all. "I ain't afeared of you!" he shouted. "Do yer worst! You'll never hear me ask fer mercy!"

The Blackfoot with the whip looked more than happy to oblige Josiah, and two men turned the mountain man around to face the tree trunk. The whip cracked, digging into Josiah's back, and leaving a crimson trail of torn skin in its wake. As much as it must've hurt, Josiah refused to scream... although Emma did.

Surprised by her scream, the Indians paused as Emma burst from the cabin. She leveled her shotgun at the nearest Blackfoot, ready to defend her husband's life.
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