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"Mary and I can fend fer ourselves," Josiah told Emma. "Go back to bed and git more rest. You still ain't looking too well."

"I'm not an invalid," Emma said stoutly. She moved about the cabin to set things in order, and then prepared another of the rabbits Josiah had caught.

Mutely, Josiah watched Emma. Could she put the incident behind her and pretend nothing had happened? Emma was consistently avoiding his gaze, and Josiah hoped this wasn't a bad sign.

After lunch, Emma asked Josiah over to the table to discuss something important.

Uneasily, Josiah seated himself at the table. Emma sat across from him, her hands folded on the rough tabletop.

"I have one question to ask," said Emma. She gazed at him stoically, and Josiah was unable to read her expression. "Will you answer it truthfully?"

Slumping back in his split-bottom chair, Josiah harrumphed. "I don't lie."

"You lied to me about how you lost your Hawken."

Josiah had to admit Emma had him on that one. "I'll be truthful," he said.

"Do I have your word on it?"

Josiah scowled resentfully. "Will my word mean anything to you?"

"Do I have it?"

"Yes, I'll answer truthfully."

Emma gazed at Josiah, and he saw fear in her eyes. He knew she was afraid of the answer to her one question, and he waited to hear what that question was.

"Will you promise me to honor our marriage bed?" asked Emma. "Will you give me your solemn word that you'll be faithful to me?"

Now Josiah understood why Emma looked so frightened. She already knew the answer.

"Yer forgetting yer place, Emma."

"Will you promise me?"

"I own you, woman, and not the other way around."

"Please, I beg you, Josiah. Promise me."

"I'm yer husband, and if that ain't enough, I'm bigger than you."

"I can't live like this, Josiah."
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