Upon Emma’s reference to pregnancy, Anya was so shocked she knocked her coffee over. It ran off the table onto little Sally’s blonde curls. Sally howled and both women jumped to see to her. She wailed, but fortunately her face wasn’t even pink. The next few minutes were full of mopping her up and changing her clothes. By the time they’d finished, Rufus had stepped to the door and called Emma to go. Anya composed herself enough to make her goodbyes, promising to ride over with Joe in a few days.
Sick with dread, Anya settled to rock Sally to sleep and consider Emma’s observation. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d had the curse. She hadn’t had to wash rags since she’d been here and didn’t know how long before that. The abuse she’d endured before escaping and her confusion from her injuries had left her disoriented. The time had all run together. It was true she’d put on a little weight, but pregnancy had never crossed her mind. Her hand flew to her belly when she felt an undeniable swelling and her full breasts pushed against the bodice of the dress she’d taken from the store of things in the bundle Joe’s wife had brought with her.
Would this nightmare never end? Just when it looked as though life might work out, this horror raised its head. And all this after she’d insisted she wasn’t a whore! Joe had already been saddled with two children from his dead wife and had tried to pass them off to the townspeople, only to be turned away. She’d thought she’d never want to be a wife till this terrible turn and now realized a life with Joe and the children would have been precious. Silent tears ran down her cheeks onto Sweet Sally’s sleepy head.
Joe and came in from outdoors to the tender sight of Anya rocking the baby in the light streaming through the window. Little Joe ran to her for a hug. Joe’s heart swelled with love for his family. Life was turning around for him after all his years alone.