The boys sat on the porch of the bunkhouse and looked out at a glorious sunset. The sky was a beautiful spectacle of oranges, reds, all of the colors of the rainbow.
Emma and Teaspoon looked out over their "brood" with affection. Orphans, mostly, they thought of them as almost their own children. Emma and Teaspoon talked about station business as they enjoyed the early evening and the relative peace and quiet that the boys were gracing them with. They talked about various matters, including the addition of a temporary cook to provide for the boys. Emma was to go to Denver for a few weeks to help out an ill friend. The boys had unanimously vetoed having Jimmy cook for them while she was gone, hence the addition of a temporary cook.
Kid, Cody, Ike, Jimmy, and Lou sat and watched the sunset, suddenly they all noticed the approach of a rider, not Pony Express, the rider was approaching at a slow trot, not the accustomed gallop of the riders.
All the boys (and girl) stood up. None drew their guns, but their attention was focused upon the rider. The rider came into view, a tall figure in the saddle, clad in a duster over brown work pants and a blue shirt. The rider was covered in trail dust, both horse and rider looked trail weary. There was a gun belt and revolver within easy view and reach just under the duster.
As the horse and rider slowed to a stop, Teaspoon said, "Howdy."
"Evening." replied the rider, looking up from the reins held in the rider's hands.
All of the riders, as well as Emma and Teaspoon, stared in shock. The rider was a woman!
Teaspoon recovered his senses quickly, all things considered, noting the bemused grin on the rider's dusty face.
"What can I do for you, miss?" He asked.
"I saw an advertisment for a temporary cook job, I was wondering if it was still available?"
"Why, yes it is...do you have any experience?"
"Does cooking for ten kids and a pa sound reasonable?"
"It sure does," Teaspoon replied, with a nod from Emma.
All the other riders were agape at this woman in masculine attire. She noticed and let out a sudden peal of laughter. At that sound the riders relaxed a little, but still looked puzzled.
"I must apologize for the attire, it is quite bit easier to get by looking like a man, when one is a woman travelling alone." she added a glance at the end of this statement to Lou, who tried not to squirm. With that, the still anonymous rider dismounted and began to shake off and brush off the considerable amount of trail dust that she had accumulated.
"By the way, my name is Anna Baker, y'all can call me Anna."
"It is a pleasure to meet you, Anna, I am Emma Shannon, call me Emma." Emma introduced herself.
"I'm Teaspoon Hunter."
"Nice to meet you Emma, Mr. Hunter." Said Anna.
"Oh, just call me Teaspoon. These here are the rest of the boys, boys introduce yourselves."
With that the boys regained their powers of speech and proceeded to introduce themselves. It was understandable that they be momentarily speechless, Anna turned out to be a beauty, with long black hair and startling blue eyes and pretty features.
"I'm William F. Cody, most folks call me, Cody"
"I'm Lou McCloud."
"Just Kid?" Anna looked puzzled.
"I'm Ike McSwain" Ike signed, fully expecting someone to translate for him. But to his shock and the amazement of the rest of the riders, Anna immediately said, "Very nice to meet you, Ike."
"You know sign?" gaped Lou.
"Yep, my pa used to horse trade with a tribe near where I once lived." Anna replied.
"Anyway, would it be possible to get my horse a stall in the barn? She is about as tired as I am." asked Anna.
"Of course, Ike would you please take Anna's horse to the barn?" requested Emma.
"Sure." signed Ike.
"Thanks, Ike." Anna handed him the reins and followed Emma to the main house to put away her gear and clean up.
Teaspoon and the boys went into the bunkhouse to clean up and discuss the latest addition to the express family.
On to Chapter Two