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At least Emma wasn't leaving him. Josiah congratulated himself for his foresight in bring her to this lodge. He would win Emma over yet, but until then, she was as trapped as he was.

That night, after everyone had gone to bed, Josiah tossed on his buffalo robe, trying in vain to get to sleep. After several minutes of failure, Josiah sat up, staring at the large, comfortable bed across the fireplace. He had layered several robes for Emma's comfort, only to find himself banished from his own bed!

Cursing his bad luck, Josiah drowsily rubbed his face. Emma was already asleep, though her arms were empty. Mary was resting on the far side of the bed, leaving Emma all by herself. Josiah frowned, for he knew Emma didn't like sleeping alone.

The next morning, Josiah took Mary outside to fetch water. Before returning to Emma with the full bucket, he took the child to one side.

"Would you do me a big favor, Mary?"

Surprised, Mary looked at Josiah warily.

"I need you to look after Emma at bedtime. If she starts to crying, give her a hug. And when you can see she's lonesome, let her snuggle with you. Would you do that fer me?"

Mary nodded.

Josiah gave one of her braids a playful tug. "I owe you."

Mary smiled sadly, for by now Josiah guessed she had an idea of what was going on. He and Emma hadn't exactly discussed things in whispers over the table, and now Mary went about with the same downcast expression as everyone else. It couldn't be helped, for the cabin was so small, secrets were almost impossible to keep for very long.

Suppertime finished off the last rabbit, and Josiah knew he had to go hunting tomorrow. The land South of here was a good place to search for elk and mule deer, but it would mean leaving Emma behind for several days at a time.

Lifting his head, Josiah saw Mary snuggling against Emma. Emma must be lonely, for Mary was following his directions to the letter.

Sighing, Josiah leaned back against the warm hide. They needed a change. His mind made up, the mountain man struggled to find sleep.

Emma was thankful for Mary's thoughtfulness, for the child had cuddled and hugged her all night long, just when Emma had needed it most. It was hard to be away from Josiah, knowing that he only slept a few feet away. She yearned for the quiet moments they had shared on many long nights, when a simple touch was enough to let the other know they weren't alone.

At breakfast, Josiah handed Emma a tin cup of hot broth, in an obvious attempt to curry favor. She quietly thanked him, and after praying, sipped down the rich meal. As if to test his boundaries, Josiah took a seat snug against her, unwittingly prompting her to move until they no longer touched.
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