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"Yesterday was Sunday," Emma thought out loud, "but I was unable to keep the Sabbath. I suppose I'll make today Sunday, instead. I don't really know what day this is, or even the month. I think it might be December, but I'm not sure. You wouldn't happen to know, would you?" When the blankets sniffed, Emma smiled kindly. "Do you know what December brings? Christmas."

When Mary's hushed crying stopped, Emma had hopes the child was listening.

"Mary, have you ever had Christmas?"

"What is it?" a small voice asked from under the bedding.

"It's the day we celebrate Christ's birth. Do you know who Christ is?"

"Yes," sniffed Mary. "He is the Son of God."

"Your grandmother is a Christian," Emma ventured carefully, needing to know what this child believed, if she was going to raise her. "Are you a Christian, too?"

"Yes. Are you?"

Emma smiled happily. "As one Christian to another, would you like me to read you a story?"

"Story?" Mary curiously peeked out from under the blankets.

Emma got up to fetch her Bible.

Returning with a thick book in her hands, Emma opened its worn cover. An engraving of a man and woman immediately caught Mary's attention. The couple stood beside a tree, where a large serpent was coiled around its trunk. Fascinated, Mary touched the page. "What are those?" she asked, pointing to the lettering beneath the picture.

"It says, 'Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden,'" read Emma. "Each letter combines to form words, and the words make up sentences." Seeing Mary was positively clueless as to what she was saying, Emma flipped through the pages, until Mary stopped her at another picture and asked what it was.

"Would you like me to read this story?" asked Emma.

Forgetting her fear of the white woman, Mary sat with her doll in her arms and listened as Emma read from the book. It was about a wicked city named Jericho, and how a man named Joshua made its walls to tumble down flat, simply by marching and shouting and blowing horns.

When it was done, Emma tried to get to the story she had thought more appropriate for a little girl, the story of Ruth and Boaz, but Mary asked about another picture, and it too, was about a battle. After David had slain Goliath, Emma decided Bible story time was over.

"Do you know any hymns?" Emma thought it unlikely, but was unsure how much Hiram had taught Cora, thus limiting what Mary could possibly know. When Mary gave Emma a blank stare, Emma sang a hymn, while the child watched on in curiosity. Then, after the hymn, Emma let Mary look at the pictures sparsely sprinkled throughout the Bible, instructing her not to damage the fragile book, for it was very old.

Slinging the strap of her shotgun over her shoulder, Emma took the water bucket outside to the creek. Its surface was frozen, but Emma managed to break trough the ice and fill her bucket. Just as she was about to start back for the cabin, Emma heard Mary's terrified screams! Dropping her bucket, Emma ran as fast as she could to answer Mary's call.
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One of my longtime readers, Myra Valcourt, has created a Facebook group just for you! "The Works of Judith Bronte" offers a forum to discuss the stories and characters, and a way to get to know other readers. I hope to see you there!