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When it was over, two strong arms lifted her upright in the snow, and then guided her back to the lean-to.

"Mary, move over so yer ma can lay down," said Josiah, as the small girl hurried to obey.

Emma smiled weakly, embarrassed to have created such a scene. She declined to lay down, but let Mary snuggle beside her to keep them both warm. "I feel a little better now. I think I can eat."

Looking uncertain, Josiah passed Emma more jerky, and she managed to eat it without running back outside to the rocks.

"We never should've left," Josiah shook his head reproachfully. "You don't have the strength to go hunting."

Emma summoned her courage. "I'm fine. I want to keep going."

Josiah searched her face, until Emma thought he was staring so hard, he could see right through her to the other side of the lean-to. "No, I'm going to find us a place to make camp fer the night. If you can keep eating, and feel better in the morning, we'll continue our hunt." When Emma was about to protest, Josiah held up a silencing hand. "I don't want to take anymore chances with you, Emma. Yer a white woman, and you ain't as used to these mountains as we are."

Indignant, Emma looked at him defiantly. "I'm as hardy as any Indian."

Josiah harrumphed. "I know yer a strong woman, but even you have yer limits. We stay fer the night."

Even though she hated to admit it, Emma was glad for the rest. She felt strangely weak, but it wasn't to be surprised, for she had eaten very little yesterday and today.

As Emma put on her deerskin dress, Josiah checked her shotgun once more before handing it back to her.

"I'm just going a little ways from here, to find a place better suited for a campsite. Keep watch fer animals that venture too close, and don't leave this lean-to until yer completely dry."

"I won't," said Emma.

Opening the buffalo hide with their provisions, Josiah gave their supply of jerky to Emma, and then swung the empty carcass over his shoulder. Lifting his rifle, Josiah walked off, the sound of snow crunching beneath his snowshoes as he gradually faded into the distance. Emma took out a little of the buffalo jerky. She didn't really feel like eating, but wanted to gain back her strength as soon as possible.

Sitting cross-legged on the pine needle floor of the lean-to, Mary pulled out Josiah's pistol. She curiously turned it about in her hands, fingering the metal and wooden piece as though she had never before seen such a thing in her life.

"Be careful with that," said Emma.

Mary grinned. "It ain't loaded, Ma."

"Please, don't say 'ain't.' I know it isn't loaded, but seeing you with that pistol makes me nervous."
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