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The thought briefly occurred to Emma to ask what it was, but her back was hurting enough to be grateful for even a questionable remedy. She took a small sip, and then another, enjoying the warmth it gave her body.

"It's Blackfoot medicine," said Josiah. "I learned it from my ma."

Emma smiled at him thankfully.

"Let me finish dressing that there bird," said Josiah, pulling the knife from Emma's hand so she could finish her tea. He looked at Emma and then at Mary. "You both staying warm?"

"This is a good lodge," said Emma, taking another sip of root tea. "We've been very comfortable."

"That's good. Maybe tomorrow, I can show Mary how to use that pistol." His knife stopped to check Emma's reaction. "It's good for her to know how to defend herself, Emma. From now on, I'm thinking that pistol should be with Mary every time she steps outside. It's different when yer living among others, for they can look after children. But since there's only the three of us, everyone should carry a weapon. Even Mary."

"Did your pa give you a loaded weapon when you were Mary's age?" asked Emma.

"When I was Mary's age," said Josiah, cutting away at the bird, "there weren't much need. My pa's trapper friends looked after me, and when I grew about a foot taller, I had my first rifle. Shot at anything that would hold still," he chuckled.

Emma sighed. "But, Mary's so young."

Spearing the grouse on a spit, Josiah held it over the fire to begin cooking. "I'll teach her what she needs to know." His eyes lifted to Emma, and he remained silent for a moment, as if thinking things over. "I don't want Mary getting carried off by a wild animal, and this is the best way I know to keep her safe."

Slowly taking another sip of tea, Emma thought over what Josiah had just said. "All right," she said finally, "but she must learn how to use the pistol responsibly."

Josiah nodded readily. "Agreed." He turned the spit, letting the heat evenly cook the bird. "Thanks, Emma."

At first, Emma was puzzled why he should thank her, and then she remembered his comment about trusting him more. Finishing off the last of her tea, Emma watched as Josiah tried not to return her gaze. When he finally chanced a look, she smiled at him warmly.

Josiah sighed contentedly. "Pure sunshine."

The lodge filled with the smell of cooked meat, and Josiah cut off a healthy portion for Emma.

"I want you eating everything I give you," he told Emma seriously. "I even caught fresh meat to make sure you'd keep it down."

"I'll do my best," smiled Emma, feeling his admonition unnecessary. The grouse smelled delicious, and as she ate, her stomach didn't rebel. Josiah kept handing Emma more, even giving her some of his own food, until Emma begged him to stop. Her stomach was full, and she couldn't hold another bite.
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