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The figure stopped again, as if to consider the situation.

By the size of the individual, Emma guessed it was a man, though he was so completely covered in fur hides and animal skins that she couldn't tell if he was an Indian or a white man.

His hand came up, pulling down the muff of furs keeping his nose and mouth warm. From the man's chiseled features, Emma knew he was an Indian. Maybe even a Blackfoot. The man stared at her for a long time, and then cast his eyes about, as though trying to ascertain whether she were alone. As the snow let up, the man took another cautious step toward Emma. He held a rifle, though for some reason he didn't aim it in her direction. Perhaps he didn't think she would really shoot him.

Standing to her full height, Emma brought up her shotgun, leveling it at the Indian's chest. To her amazement, he didn't seem very intimidated. Instead, he gave her an appraising gaze that would have gotten him into trouble, had Josiah been there.

"Please, go away," said Emma. She didn't even want to try to ask this man for help-- not from the way he was staring at her.

The man's eyes narrowed. "You have man?" he asked in halting English.

"Yes, yes I do," said Emma. "I expect he'll be along any moment, looking for me, so you'd better go."

The man grinned disbelievingly, but took a step back. Then something caught his attention, and he touched one of his two long black braids. He pointed to Emma. "Hair," he said, as though struggling for the word he wanted.

"Please, go," Emma fought to keep her voice from betraying any fear.

"Hair," said the man, gazing at Emma in wonderment. He touched his braid, and then pointed to her head.

Emma sighed. He had noticed her blonde hair, peeking out from under the hood of Josiah's capote.

In his fascination, he moved toward Emma.

Emma cocked the second hammer on her shotgun. "If you take another step, I'll let you have both barrels."

The man stopped. He didn't look pleased by her threat, but refused to step away from her.

"Five horses, two wives," he said proudly. He flexed his arm, and Emma saw his animal skins bulge with muscle. "Good hunter. Women never hungry. Take many scalps." He opened his furs, revealing leather leggings trimmed down the sides with tassels of human hair. "Very brave," he thumbed his chest with a grin. "You come."

Emma swallowed hard. This man wanted her for his wife! "I already have a husband, so please go, and leave me alone!"

The man frowned, and looked about Emma. "Where husband?" he asked.

"I don't know, but he's nearby." Emma prayed it was true.

Just then, another form stepped toward them through the lightly falling snow. The Indian turned, lifting his rifle into a ready position.
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