Before Jessica Bradley arrives at the McPherson Ranch to teach two children, she has been advised to return to her home with the warning her new employer has murdered the previous teacher.
In spite of her resolve to stay away from McPherson, she is drawn to him, his kindness to his children, his support of her in her teaching duties, and his determination to keep her at the ranch even though her past may cost her job.
As she falls in love with him, she determines to get to the bottom of the ugly rumor threatening his future on his ranch, certain he did not murder anyone. She faces prejudice, hatred, and the threat of bodily harm to herself and one of the children she teaches as she searches for the truth.
Sing Loo returned with the tea and a heaping plate of food. While she ate dinner, Sing Loo hovered near her table. Thinking she was waiting for a compliment, Jessica said, "This is delicious."
Sing Loo smiled. "Husband good." She did not leave.
Deciding she longed to talk to another woman, Jessica initiated conversation. "You're far from home," she said.
"Yes, ma'am. Husband cook for Mr. Burris. He work as cook on railroad. When work finished, he marry me in San Francisco."
While she talked, Jessica ate the excellent food, enjoying every bite. On the train, she had carried snacks, bought a few items at stops, but never went to the dining room.
"You go to McPherson ranch to stay, Missy?"
"Others no stay long. Too lonesome. Bad things happen. Mr. McPherson offer Chin work, but we no go there."
"What have you heard?" Jessica asked with some hesitation.
"Oh, strange things happen." Sing Loo rolled her head and clucked her tongue. "McPhersons raise sheep. Bad things go on. And Miz McPherson no like little Charley. She only like Becker. I hear men talk who work there."
"How many teachers have gone to the ranch?"
"No remember exactly. None pretty as you except last one. She still there. Never go away. You go back to your home, Missy, before it too late."
The dining room door swung open and Happenstance Jones stumbled in. Sing Loo fell silent even though Jessica wanted to hear more.