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Chapter Nine
A Trapped Bear

1837, Southwest of Three Forks, in what would later become the State of Montana.

"He addeth rebellion unto his sin."
~ Job 34:37 ~

The days following their chance meeting with the Shoshone hunter, Josiah enjoyed his family for the first time. There were no big revelations, but just the general sense that he possessed something of value. Mary was a smart child, and no wilting wildflower when it came to danger. Josiah felt pride that she was his daughter. And Emma-- even the Shoshone had wanted her for his wife. What man in his right senses wouldn't? He and Emma were even expecting a child of their own. Yes, Josiah figured he had it pretty good.

A week later, Josiah lazily rested on the buffalo robes, listening to Emma as she read from the Bible to Mary. Careful to keep his eyes shut so as to appear asleep, Josiah mulled over the words Emma read out loud: "Whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul." (Proverbs 6:32)

As much as Josiah tried not to, his mind wandered back to the beautiful Blackfoot woman who gave birth to Mary. The woman had been the wife of another man, but Josiah hadn't cared. Grimly, his eyes drifted to the fireplace. He remembered the woman's terror when her husband discovered them together. Only after being forced from the village, did Josiah learn of the woman's fate.

Fixing his gaze on the child seated beside Emma, Josiah felt his insides again turn to stone. Guilt lived in this cabin with him, and it came in the form of a small girl. Once more, he wished he had stopped his mother from forcing Mary onto Emma and himself. It was easier to put the past behind him, without being reminded of it on a daily basis.

As Josiah entertained these morbid thoughts, Mary looked up at him with a bright smile. Letting his disdain freely show, Josiah stared back until Mary's pretty smile disappeared.

Hanging her head with a loud, patient sigh, Mary scooted a little closer to Emma.

Josiah's conscience smarted, but only a little. It was then he noticed the cabin had gone silent, for Emma had stopped reading. He frowned as Emma stared at him in displeasure.

"Please, try to get along with her," asked Emma, in obvious disappointment. "You've been doing so much better lately."

With a curt grunt, Josiah stood to lift down his Hawken from some pegs on the wall.

"Where are you going?" asked Emma, closing the Bible.

"Hunting," came Josiah's one word reply. He had let himself think too much about Mary's mother this morning, and it was all Emma's fault for reading out of that Bible of hers.

"Will you be back for lunch?" asked Emma.

continued on next page...
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