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"Emma?" Josiah's voice boomed across the distance between them. "Git yerself over here, Emma."

The man looked ready to stop Emma, but when he stepped a few paces back, Emma guessed he wasn't ready to fight Josiah.

"Husband?" the man asked her disappointedly.

"Yes," Emma nodded, edging past him before running to Josiah.

Josiah roughly shoved Emma behind him. "Stay put," he told her. Training his Hawken on the stranger, Emma saw Josiah's face harden with resolve.

Looking defeated, the Indian gestured to Josiah in sign language before stepping away. He turned to look at Emma one more time before his form disappeared against the snowy horizon.

Heaving a deep sigh, Josiah's eyes remained on the horizon, as though not trusting the man to come back. "Did he hurt you?" he asked.

"No," the tension in Emma's limbs left her feeling weak. "He wanted me for his wife."

Turning to face her, Josiah angrily spat at the ground before speaking. "Why did you wander off like that? The snow covered yer tracks, Emma. It was only sheer luck I found you when I did."

"I'm sorry," Emma felt something hot splash against her cheek.

"Emma, I could've lost you."

"I'm sorry." It sounded weak, but it was the only thing Emma could think of to say. She began to weep, but Josiah remained where he was.

"Go ahead and cry, fer all the good it'll do you." Josiah turned his back to Emma, and she saw his shoulders drop. "Are you hurt?" he asked, as if needing to hear her assurance one more time. Emma couldn't see his face, but she could see the gentleness creep back into his posture.

"I don't think so," said Emma, "but I'm frozen with cold."

Not meeting her eyes, Josiah turned to tightly wrap his arms about his wife. "Don't ever scare me like that again, Emma."

"I'm sorry, Josiah."

"You got the baby to think of," Josiah said reproachfully. He tilted back Emma's chin until they were eye to eye. Without another word, he kissed her, and then hugged her so hard Emma's snowshoes lifted from off the ground.

Dangling from Josiah's safe arms, Emma let herself cry. Then, kissing her cheek, Josiah set her feet back on the ground.

"Don't leave my side, Emma."

"I won't," she said with a sniff. "Where's Mary?"
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