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Suppertime came, and the cabin grew colder. Emma put more wood on the fire, but the wind howled and blew against the sturdy walls of the lodge as though trying to reduce it to a pile of logs.

After eating, Mary curled up on her buffalo robe, letting Emma tuck her and her doll in for the night.

"When will it be Christmas?" Josiah heard the child ask. The mountain man smiled to himself when Emma paused, obviously unsure of the answer herself.

"I think next Sunday," Emma said finally. "We'll have a fine supper, and then I'll read the story of Christmas to you."

"When is Sunday?" came Mary's next question.

"Five days from now," smiled Emma. "It's time you went to sleep now. Do you want me to hear your bedtime prayer?"

Mary closed her eyes, and the first thing she thanked God for, was their Christmas tree. Next came Grandmother and Great-Grandpap, and then her doll. A sure sign of Mary's growing acceptance of Emma, came when the child paused her prayer to ask, "What should I call you?"

"Would you mind terribly, if you called me 'Ma'?"

Mary closed her eyes, adding to her prayer, "Thank you for Ma."

"God keep you till morning," Emma said softly. She kissed Mary's cheek, and the girl smiled sleepily.

"Goodnight, Ma." Mary's eyes drooped, and before long, she was fast asleep.

In the semi-darkness of the other side of the fireplace, Josiah watched Emma gently stroke Mary's braids. Emma stayed there for quite awhile, before getting up to check the bar over the door and then coming to bed.

"She called me 'Ma,' tonight," said Emma, climbing beneath the blankets.

"I heard. Yer getting mighty fond of that child."

"Mary is easy to love."

Josiah grumbled something that wasn't fit for a lady's ears, and then turned onto his other side.

"Mr. Brown?"

"What?" he knew his voice sounded grudging, but he didn't care.

"Do I please you?"

The question surprised Josiah. "I reckon... sometimes," he said finally, after a sufficient amount of time had gone by to let Emma know he wasn't too pleased.

"Do I please you enough to ask a favor?"

"That depends." Sensing he was being outmaneuvered, Josiah felt Emma fold her legs behind his, while her hand stole under his arm before coming to a stop on his chest.
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