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Feeling responsible for Mary's disappointment, Emma waited until after breakfast before taking down her pa's shotgun. As she was putting on Josiah's large capote, his voice stopped her.

"Where do you think yer going?"

"Since you're not well enough to go hunting, I'm going myself."

"I come with you?" Mary desperately grasped Emma's capote. As Mary spoke, Josiah got up from bed, and the child quickly ducked behind Emma.

With just a few strides, Josiah crossed the room. Swinging open the door, he looked at the white ground. There were several inches of new snow, and the sky was threatening more.

"You ain't going nowhere," Josiah shut the door, putting the bar back in its place.

"But, what about Christmas supper?"

"You're not going, Emma, and that's final. The snow's too deep. I ain't taking such a chance with you-- not when I'm still trying to recover from this here back of mine."

Josiah looked prepared for an argument, but when Emma took off the capote, his shoulders relaxed.

"I ain't trying to disappoint you, Emma."

"It's all right," she sighed. "I would have had to leave Mary with you, and I'm not sure she could have endured my absence."

"No, I could not!" said a small voice from behind Emma.

Josiah groaned. "Would you tell that child I ain't going to hurt her?"

"I already did."

"Then, tell her again! That runt keeps hiding from me like I was planning to lift her scalp! I know I ain't an easy man to live with, but I ain't yet laid a hand on no little girl! She's got nothing to fear from me-- tell her that Emma."

"Why don't you tell her, yourself?"

Grumbling, Josiah went back to his buffalo robes. "This lodge is getting mighty small!"

Turning, Emma looked down at the child still hiding behind her dress. "He truly won't harm you, Mary."

Instead of looking assured, Mary shrank back and remained quiet.

"I know your pa acts like a big hairy animal, but once you get used to him, he's not so frightening." Emma moved one of Mary's braids behind the girl's shoulder. "Why don't you take a look out of the shutters and see if it's snowing? If it's not, we need to gather firewood. I don't want to do anymore work tomorrow, than I can help."

Solemnly, Mary went to the window, slowly managing to open a shutter. "Ma!" she whispered. "Look!"

Emma quickly joined Mary, and her mouth fell open in wonder.
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