Upon our return to the homestead, the first thing Sully and I and the children noticed was how dry everything looked. I was surprised since Robert E had promised to take care of things there during our absence, it wasn’t like Robert E. not to keep his word. When Sully explained that there hadn't been any rain the entire time we had been gone, I immediately grew concerned about how we would manage. But Sully reassured me, pointing out that, we could always carry up water from the creek if we needed to. I must admit it felt good to have another adult to rely on, to not be the only one that the children could look to for guidance. I had never had to depend on anyone before, but I had grown to rely on Sully simply to 'be there' when we needed him, and he had yet to let us down.

Besides the lack of water, I soon realized that there was one other thing that was ‘different’ upon my return to Colorado- my relationship with Sully had changed. We had pledged our love to each other in front of the entire town, and the children were not about to let us forget that! They immediately wanted to know if we were planning to marry. Until that moment, I believe neither Sully nor myself had really thought about what our acknowledging our feelings for one another would mean. Neither of us was ready for what the children were proposing but certainly things had changed- surely there was some middle ground? It was Matthew who announced that if we weren’t ready to marry then we would be ‘courting’. That certainly sounded far less frightening then marriage. We agreed, that was exactly what we would do- we would court.

Being courted by Byron Sully though was very different from what I had been used to with David, my first fiance. For one thing we had very different ideas of what 'courting' meant. For Sully, 'courting' meant touching and kissing, or as he put it' sparkin'. For me, courting meant a time to 'talk' and get to know each other, to bring each other gifts and find out what our mutual likes and dislikes were, to see if we were compatable. Sully wanted to know what came after that- if we decided that we were compatable. I couldn't tell him that was what I was so afraid of! I had never felt that way with David. It wasn't that I was afraid of Sully, I think I was more afraid of my own feelings when I was with him. Sully stirred something very powerful in me, something I wasn't sure I was ready for.

A few weeks after we returned, the reverend called a meeting in the town church to discuss the upcoming Thanksgiving supper. I had coaxed Sully to attend the meeting with me by pointing out that it would give us a chance to spend time together, reluctantly, he had agreed. This was the first time Sully and I had appeared in public as a 'couple' and as we entered the church, I became aware that everyone was staring at us.
Let them stare, I thought, I was proud to be on Sully's arm. We took our seats and Reverend Johnson opened the meeting with a prayer, dutifully we all bowed our heads- everyone that is except Sully. I waited but he continued to simply stare straight ahead, head unbowed. Were we so different  then in even in this most basic of things? Once again, I was forced to acknowledge how little I really knew about the man I had fallen in love with.

In the ensuing weeks, my concern about our differences grew. Knowing that the cabin that the children and I were currently living in had once been Sully's home with his first wife Abigail, I had assumed that wherever he had been staying since then must be another cabin or lodge of some sort- perhaps not a real house but certainly something with walls at least! It came as quite a shock therefore, when on one of our walks Sully pointed to a 'lean to' in the forest and announced that this was where he lived. "This is where you live? Here? I echoed in disbelief. I think he was a bit hurt by my reaction, he was after all sharing his world with me. I guess to this point I just hadn't realized how different Sully's 'world' was from my own.

As he spread a blanket on the ground for us, Sully confided that it was here, that he had always dreamed of building a home. Without thinking, I immediately replied, that I could never live so far from my patients. When Sully pointed out that I had said I couldn't ever live permanently at the homestead because that was where Abigail had lived, I panicked realizing suddenly that we were discussing 'our' future. I wasn't ready for this- I was still back on 'were we compatable?' I suggested that we might be rushing things a bit. Stung, Sully replied that surely David and I had discussed such things when we were courting. I had never really talked about David with Sully but now I found myself telling him how David and I used to go on rounds together and how we would talk about cases together. As he listened, I noticed Sully's expression change, he looked almost crestfallen. It was then that I realized that he too had concerns that our worlds might be too different for things to work between us. He asked if I thought that we had enough in common. I told him, I hoped so.

Thanksgiving was near and the lack of water had now become a crisis, so much so that the town had prevailed upon Horace to use his 'power' to find water underground. It seemed that the ability to locate water with the use of a divining rod had been passed down in the Bing family from generation to generation. As Loren put it, "If a 'Bing' can't find water, there isn't any water to be found." Matthew and I along with a good portion of the town, had watched in awe one day as Horace had reverently lifted his divining rod out of its case and had used it to guide him to a water source underground. It was almost comical watching the long line of townspeople follow behind as Horace led the way. When he stopped and announced that the men should ' dig here' everyone grew excited. I asked Sully who had just joined us if he believed that Horace had really found water. Sully simply remarked that even if he had, it wouldn't do much to solve the real problem. I asked him, " What would?" In response, he took me to see Cloud Dancing.

The Indians,Cloud Dancing explained, had learned how to adapt by cultivating crops that would grow even in the worst of droughts. I was elated, this was our answer then. I asked him if he would come back with me and teach the townspeople what they needed to learn to survive. Both Sully and Cloud Dancing were sceptical that the townspeople would be willing to listen. I assured them, that of course they would- they were hungry weren't they? I couldn't have been more wrong. Not only did Loren, Jake and the rest of the town refuse to listen to the Indians, Jake even went so far as to take the basket of food that Cloud Dancing had brought and overturn it. I was mortified and deeply ashamed at the way the Indian's offer to help had been received.

After that, things went from bad to worse. Hank announced he was leaving and encouraged all of us to do the same. My heart broke at the look of devestation on Horaces' face when Hank said that, for if Hank left Colorado Springs, he would take Myra with him. I pleaded with everyone to try and work together, I reminded them of the early settlers and how they had survived by helping each other,but I could see that they too were on the verge of following in Hank's footsteps. Even Dorothy, looked resigned as Loren led her away. Sully who until now had supported me in my attempts to reason with the townspeople now angrily urged me to just 'let them go. I was shocked, surely that couldn't be the answer. But Sully had had enough. Some people just can't change he insisted. Defiantly I shot back that I didn't believe that. "That's another thing we dont' agree on." he replied staring at me. Stung, I called after him, "Maybe we don't have enough in common." The moment I said that, I wanted to take it back, but it was too late. Sully turned around briefly and then walked away. I had never felt so alone in my entire life.

Over the next few days, I barely saw Sully. Once when I saw him walk by as I stood outside the clinic, he looked as if he were going to approach. I waited hopefully, but he simply stared at me silently and continued on. Meanwhile Hank had left with Myra to seek his fortune in Oregon and there seemed to be little doubt that soon everyone might have to do the same. Loren and Jake however had devised a plan to remain in town and in fact to prosper.  I should have known any scheme involving those two would involve money- sure enough it did. They had quietly gone to find the 'hidden spring' which they believed was the real reason the Indians had been able to survive. They had returned announcing that they had water for anyone who could 'afford it'. My charges that it was immoral to charge for water in a time of drought had little effect. Perhaps, Sully had been right- maybe some people really couldn't change.

A few days later, the results of Jake and Loren's greed, became apparent as one by one the townspeople came to the clinic all complaining of similar symptoms. The water it turned out had come from a pond that had been contaminated. I must admit I did enjoy a moment of satisfaction in demanding payment for my services from Loren and Jake when they too appeared at the clinic moaning in distress.