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"You were taking us home?" Emma asked in surprise.

Josiah winked at Mary. "White women," he chuckled. "Don't know up from down. I bet she couldn't find her way to the cabin, if her life depended on it."

"I could," Emma said a little defensively.

Realizing he had bruised Emma's feelings, Josiah backed off.

While Josiah showed Mary how to load the pistol, Emma went to sit beside some trees, to keep out of the wind. The girl was too small to follow the complexity of loading the firearm, so Josiah instead concentrated on showing her how to aim.

Squatting down to get on Mary's level, Josiah pointed the loaded pistol straight ahead. Placing Mary's small hands on the pistol's grip, Josiah let Mary hold the weapon. The girl looked nervous, though a bit excited, and she kept looking to him for reassurance.

"Keep both eyes open, and aim it at your target," said Josiah.

Mary looked about for a likely target, at last choosing the bottom limb of a nearby tree.

"When yer ready, set the cock, and then squeeze the trigger." Josiah watched as Mary tried to squeeze the trigger, but her small hands didn't have the needed strength. Just when he thought she couldn't do it, the gun exploded in a burst of white smoke and Mary squealed with delight.

"Well, well," chuckled Josiah, "you even hit yer target!" Josiah turned to the trees where Emma had been sitting, in the hopes she had been watching.

But Emma wasn't there.

Although blurry to Emma's eyesight, she knew it was an eagle. She had heard that call before, and now followed it in the hopes of obtaining a feather. The bird glided high above Emma until it came to rest on a tall fir tree. Emma didn't know what she expected it to do, and felt a little silly for even following it this far. Just then, Emma heard the explosion of a gun firing, and the bird flew off in alarm. As the eagle made its escape, a single feather floated to the ground, landing nearly at Emma's feet.

But Emma was too startled to pick up her trophy. Had that gunfire been Mary shooting Josiah's pistol? Or was there trouble nearby? Anxiously, Emma grabbed the eagle feather, and then started back for the tree she had been resting under. She wasn't sure what time of day it was, for the sun was hidden behind a thick screen of white clouds. Emma shuddered. It looked about to snow.

Hurrying across the deep snow as fast as she could, Emma paused to check her surroundings. Where was Josiah and Mary? Hadn't she left them just a few steps away? Surely, she couldn't have gone far following the eagle. Emma squinted, trying to recognize the terrain. All she could see were trees and snow, and to her horror, they all looked alike.

"Calm down," Emma said to herself. "Follow your tracks. Just follow your tracks back to Josiah."
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