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"You'll learn," Emma said encouragingly. "There's no need to cry."

Mary sniffed. "I miss naahks."

"What is that?" asked Emma.

"Her grandma'am," Josiah said from across the fireplace. "She misses Cora."

"I want to go back to my grandmother," said Mary, rubbing out more tears. "Please, take me to her, Ma."

"I can't, Little One."

Frantically, Mary dug through the blankets until she found her Blackfoot doll. Wrapping her arms around the doll, she hugged it so tightly, its head fell off. Mary broke into uncontrollable sobs, and Emma quickly scooped the child into her arms.

"Don't cry, Mary. I'll fix it."

Movement from Josiah caused Mary to hide her face against Emma's chest, and her tears came even harder.

Lovingly, Emma lifted Mary onto her lap, cradling the grieving child in her arms. "It's all right, it's all right," Emma said softly. Then, gently rocking Mary, Emma hummed a lullaby her ma used to sing. The tune was like a soothing balm, and except for the occasional sniff and stifled sob, Mary stopped crying.

"Do you want me to put you down?" asked Emma.

Mary whimpered "no," and Emma stroked Mary's braids, continuing to hold her just as she would a baby. Mary seemed to soak up the attention, her small hand clutching Emma's dress as though Emma were all she had left in the world.

Sewing lessons over, Emma continued to cradle the five-year old. Never had Emma felt more like a mother, than at that very moment. This small life may not be her flesh and blood, but Mary was rapidly finding her way deep into Emma's heart. Humming the lullaby, Emma felt Mary's body relax, until the gentle sound of her breath told Emma that the child had fallen asleep.

"Such a sweet little one," Emma said in a hushed voice. She hugged Mary, and even in her sleep, the girl clung to her all the tighter.

"Yer spoiling her," said Josiah, scraping the last bit of flesh from the bearskin before putting his knife away.

"She's just hungry for love," Emma said quietly, still gently rocking Mary back and forth in her arms. "Everyone needs a little extra love now and then."

Josiah gazed at Emma, and she saw the harshness fade from his eyes. His look became almost tender, and Emma knew what he was thinking.

"I promise, tonight."

"I'll hold you to it," grinned Josiah. Climbing to his feet, the trapper shook off the mess he had made on the bed, and then threw the bits of bear flesh and fat into the fire where they sputtered and popped until disappearing in the flames. "When's lunch, Emma?"
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