Ann loved Hidden Valley and her life as a shepherdess. She did not miss city life and was reluctant to face the fact that she would have to eventually return to the crowded and noisy city. The last few weeks had spoiled her and she was fearful that she would be even more unhappy with city life now that she had experienced the peaceful quiet of Hidden Valley.
The one thing that she did miss was human contact. She loved the sheep and developed relationships with each one. She had come to know each sheep and they soon warmed up to her. But it wasn't like another human being.
Ann's brief encounter with Dan was rather pleasant after she recovered from the shock he gave her. She found Dan to be much more likeable than the boyfriends she had dated in the city. He seemed more mature, probably because he was a little older than herself. He was gentle, gracious, and seemed genuinely interested in her. He listened more than he talked. It was also apparent that he appreciated the natural surroundings and history of Hidden Valley. Ann could not understand why his x-wife left him . She thought of him quite often during the next few days and was hoping that he would return.
Dan's sudden appearance did have one troubling effect upon Ann. If Dan could wander into Hidden Valley and discover her living there, then others could find her as well. Others who were not so gentlemanly as Dan. Ann began locking the door to her little trailer at night and she kept her rifle handy when she sat around the campfire at night. In fact she began letting the campfire die out earlier so it would not attract attention after darkness had settled in.
The solitude of Hidden Valley was beginning to lose its pleasure. Especially following the pleasant visit with Dan. It was very nice having such a pleasant gentleman like Dan around. While she had invited Dan to return, he had made no commitment to do so. As the weekend approached Ann found her hopes building. She tried to put it out of her mind, not wanting to build herself up for a big disappointment. But it was no use. Beginning Friday evening, she found herself looking for some sign of him at the far end of the valley. She even began taking better care of her appearance just in case Dan were to walk into her little campground again.
When darkness settled in on Friday evening and Dan did how show up, Ann was a little peeved at herself for letting her hopes build. How foolish she thought she was to suspect that someone like Dan would find her interesting enough to return on his very next day off from work. Or to think that he would ever return. She determined to forever put him out of her mind. Feeling disappointed, she locked herself inside her trailer with the rifle leaning next to the door.
Sometime in the middle of the night Ann was awakened by the sound of a commotion among the sheep. She shined a bright flashlight out the window and was immediately jolted awake by the sight of a mountain lion dragging a kicking and screaming lamb towards the trees. Ann grabbed the rifle and stepped outside the trailer and shot in the direction of the big cat. But it was too late. The mountain lion and it's meal had disappeared into the dark.
Ann was emotionally shocked. She wept until she could no longer cry. First, for the lamb with which she had become quite fond. It must have suffered such a terrible death. Secondly, for her failure. It was her primary responsibility to protect the sheep. What would the sheep owner think of her? And finally, what could she do to protect the sheep? She could not stay awake all night. Ann was not able to get back to sleep.
Ann made a pot of coffee and waited for daylight to begin creeping over the crest of the mountain ridge at the eastern end of the valley. She got to work cleaning out an old barn near her trailer. She hauled out old farm equipment and empty boxes. There were broken windows that had to be boarded up. There were doors to be repaired. She cleaned out all the old moldy manure. She brushed down the cobwebs and raked the dirt floors. It was mid afternoon before she had the barn ready to safely protect the sheep at night. Ann had forgotten to eat lunch and had forgotten about Dan. She reasoned that if he was going to return it would have been sometime in the morning. Since he had not yet returned it became obvious to Ann that he most likely would never return.
Ann went for a swim in the stream behind her trailer to clean up, fixed a bowl of soup, and then laid down for a nap. Suddenly her life in Hidden Valley was no longer fun. She quickly dropped off to sleep.
She awoke about three hours later, just as dusk was beginning to settle in. Ann went out and herded the sheep inside her newly cleaned barn and propped the door shut. She then built a fire and heated up some beans. While they cooked she pulled out her harmonica and played one of her new favorites:
6 7 8 8 -8 7 From this val-ley they say -8 7 -6 7 you are go-ing, 6 7 8 7 8 9 We will miss your bright eyes -9 8 -8 and sweet smile, 9 -9 8 8 -8 7 -8 For they say you are tak-ing 8 9 -9 the sun-shine, -6 -6 6 -7 That has bright-ened 7 -8 8 -8 7 Our path-way a while.
Ann let the fire die down, finished her beans and checked the barn to make sure the sheep were safe for the evening. She then locked herself into her trailer and went to bed. For the first time she counted the number of weeks left in her summer commitment.