Chapter Two

By Kate

"So, where do you hail from, Anna?" asked Emma as the two women made up the bed in Emma's spare bedroom and put Anna's belongings, which were sparse and easily stowed.

"Oh, here and there, my pa was never good at holding on to land for long, we were always moving around. I really don't call anywhere home." she stated.

"That is a shame, Anna."

"Well, it made for an interesting life," Anna said, with a shrug.

The two women proceeded over to the bunkhouse to prepare supper for the boys, while Emma described each of her boys to Anna. By the time they reached the bunkhouse, Anna had a fairly accurate picture of each of the boys. "Oh, by the way, there is one more rider you have not met yet, Buck Cross. He should be home around supper tomorrow." said Emma as they walked across the yard.

Emma and Anna entered the bunkhouse and with their arrival, all conversation ceased.

Anna just smiled and asked Ike, "Did my horse give you any trouble, Ike?"

"No, but she seems a bit nervous." He signed.

"Yeah, Shygirl is fairly nervous around new people, I think I'll go check on her, if y'all will excuse me." Anna left and walked to the barn.

The boys instantly resumed their conversation where they left off. None of the boys, nor Emma or Teaspoon could make out what made Anna so mysterious, but they were all in agreement that she was an interesting addition to the Pony Express family.

Meanwhile, out in the barn, Anna calmed Shygirl and sank down with a sigh of relief onto a hay bale.

"I am free," she whispered, with a grin of relief spreading across her face, "I am free."

And, with a grimace of pain, Anna stood and patted her mount and walked out of the barn with her secret heavy in her mind, but with a sense of hope in heart.

Chapter Three

That night at supper, Anna answered questions about herself just enough to answer the question, but not enough to give the riders a detailed picture of the mysterious new cook. She did reveal that she was the oldest of ten children and that she took care of them all, after her ma died. She mentioned how she and her family moved frequently and that she had lived all over the West. However, beyond this basic information, all that they were able to get her to reveal was the fact that her pa was now deceased and that her siblings were back East with relatives.

"Why didn't you go back East with them?" asked Kid.

"By that point I was old enough to make my own way, so I did. I have been traveling ever since, taking jobs here and there to suport myself." she stated.

However, despite the information Anna gave them, it was clear to everyone at the table that Anna was not telling them all that there was to tell. She was holding something back, some secret.

But, none of the questions were able to dig any deeper than the surface that Anna presented, they were unable to drwa out any more detail from this mysterious woman.

Teaspoon and the riders bid the ladies a goodnight and Anna and Emma walked over to the main house, leaving the boys with unanswered questions and numerous speculations.

Over at Emma's house, Emma fixed the two of them a cup of coffee and they sat out on the porch and gazed out into the night.

"Anna, can I ask you something?"

"Of course, Emma," said Anna.

"You seem to be holding something back about yourself, are you in some sort of trouble?" asked Emma.

"I am not wanted by the law or anything, if that's what you mean." Anna said with a laugh, "I am definitely not an bank robber or gun fighter." she said with a smile.

"Anyway," said Anna, "When are you leaving for Denver?"

"Tomorrow, on the morning stage," said Emma, who was at a complete loss to redirect the conversation back to the original subject. Anna had effectivly changed the subject and she kept it that way until, pleading exhaustion, she bid Emma a good night.

Emma went to bed, convinced that Anna was still not revealing the whole truth about herself. However, Emma knew that it was Anna's business and if she was not yet ready to reveal her secret, then it was not going to be revealed.

The riders in the bunkhouse felt the same way, and conversation went on late into the night about the mysterious new cook and what she could possibly be hiding. None of the conjectures satisfied the riders and they went to bed without a clue as to Anna's secret.

On to Chapter Three

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