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   Chapter 3 NO.3

Deny Thyself By LadyRosabella Characters: 26049

Updated: 2017-12-20 15:39

Evlyn ran back to the wagon. Rosa was waiting by the fire with her hands planted firmly on her hips. "Where is the water?" She demanded harshly. "It took you long enough and you didn't even bring the water? Wait. Don't tell me, you lost the bucket."

"Jump in a lake." Evlyn muttered as she climbed into the wagon. Sitting down she pulled her knees up to her chest, wrapped her arms around them, and began to rock.

"Evlyn?" Callie called softly. Her head appeared in the wagon as she climbed up. "Evlyn, you've been crying." She moved closer and wrapped her arms around her in a hug. "What's wrong, honey? What's upset you?"

Evlyn sniffled and held onto Callie as if she was a lifeline. "Peter McCain."

"The trail guides assistant?"

"Yes. He came to the river. To fish he said; but he didn't even have bait. He knew my family in my hometown. He started asking me about my mother and my father. He asked me if my father killed my mother!" Evlyn burst into tears again. "It's not fair!" She cried. "All I ever wanted was a loving family. Why does everyone except me get one?"

"I know, I know." Callie rubbed the back of Evlyn's head as she held her. "Evlyn, I don't need to tell you that you have endured a great deal. But, honey, there are benefits." She pulled back so she could look Evlyn in the eyes. "The relationships that you have mean a lot to you. When you have a friendship with someone, Evlyn, you hold on to that person. You put all your hope in them. You are a very loyal friend. And I know it is because of your suffering. I know you still have a problem with men, but honey, someday you are going to meet someone who works his way past your defenses and shows you that he can be trusted and that he won't let you down. You're just not ready for that right now." Taking a handkerchief from her pocket, she handed it to Evlyn. "Now wipe your eyes and come outside. Someone is waiting to see you."

Evlyn obeyed and dabbed at her eyes. "Who?"

Callie shook her head. "I won't tell. But hurry, we leave in 10 minutes."

Callie left Evlyn in the wagon to fix her appearance. When Evlyn climbed down from the wagon, she saw Peter standing there, a bucket of water in one hand, wildflowers in another. "I'm sorry I hurt you, Evlyn. I don't want you to cry because of my insensitivity. Will you forgive me?"

"There is nothing to forgive. Not on your account at least." She kept her head lowered; studying a pretty rock nears his boot. "I'm sorry I treated you so badly. I feel like a fool."

"I never thought you a fool." Peter said, wishing she would look at him so he could see her beautiful eyes. When she ran from him crying, he made a vow to himself that he would never do or say anything to make those eyes cry ever again. "Please accept the flowers, Evlyn." He said, holding his peace offering out to her, all the while wishing her could give her roses.

Evlyn shyly looked up then. "Nobody has ever given me flowers before." She whispered.

"Well, it's about time you got some." He grinned at her. "If you were my girl I would pick you flowers every day."

Evlyn blushed a pretty pink, which illuminated her eyes and smile. "I'll accept the flowers."

Peter bowed low from the waist and extended them towards her. "Thank you, madam." He was delighted when he heard her responding giggle as she took the flowers from him.

"Wagons ho!" Gurtslinger's voice announced.

"I gotta go." He said. "But I promise I'll see you later. Don't run off on me next time, 'kay?"

"I'll try not to." Evlyn said feeling embarrassed all over about her overreaction.

"Hey." Peter said, taking a chance and stepping closer to her. "You're not a fool. You're just hurt. I won't hurt you."

"I wish I could believe that." Evlyn whispered.

"You don't have to." Peter assured her. "I will prove it to you." With a tip of his hat, he left her.

"Evlyn!" Rosa called after Peter left her. She walked closer. Her voice sounded peeved, even her gait expressed certain displeasure. "What were you doing talking to him, and accepting flowers from him? You should've been doing the dishes. What is wrong with you?" Rosa demanded.

"Rosa." Evlyn said looking up from the beautiful flowers. "I think he likes me."

Rosa rolled her eyes. "And where would you get such a dumb idea like that. As if a man could ever like you!"

Evlyn shrugged off Rosa's last statement and answered her question. "He came down to the river to fish but he brought no bait. Then he brought me flowers. He said if I were his girl he'd bring me flowers every day!" Evlyn tipped her head back, smiling up to the heavens. "He is so sweet!" She cried out as she spun in a circle of one dancing alone.

"He probably felt bad for you after your 'oh poor pitiful me' act." Rosa snapped. "Now stop spinning like a child and help me pack these dirty dishes. You'll have to wash them along with the supper dishes now."

"Rosa? Is something wrong?" Evlyn asked."

"Besides my best friend acting like a fool? Not a thing." Rosa said. Spinning around she marched off.

Evlyn sighed and prayed that Rosa's attitude would improve throughout the afternoon. Who wanted a grouch for a best friend? Evlyn hurried to repack all the

Dishes. Most of the wagons were ready to hit the trail again.

Rosa's mood did not improve with time. She seemed to become surlier, if that was possible. Finally, Evlyn couldn't take anymore. "I'm going to go meet some new women." She announced. Without waiting for Rosa's undoubtedly rude answer, she hurried off. Up ahead just a ways an older woman was walking alone. Evlyn made decided to walk with her. "Hello!" She called as she neared the woman. "Mind some company?"

The woman turned and bestowed a smile on her. "Of course not, dear. Come and walk with me."

Evlyn hurried to catch up to the woman's brisk pace. "I'm Evlyn Riebe."

"Linda Gurtslinger." The woman said with another smile.

"You're Mrs. Gurtslinger?" Evlyn asked.

Linda laughed. "The one and only. I hope. And you are Evlyn Riebe. It is a pleasure to meet you. What's bringing you west? Is it the gold or the men?"

Evlyn laughed. "Hardly the men! I lost my job, and had no other reason to stay so my friend and I joined a train west. How about you?"

"Well I already have my man, so I suppose I'm coming for the gold."


"Goodness, no!" Mrs. Gurtslinger laughed. "I just follow my husband. To the ends of the earth it seems at times!" Mrs. Gurtslinger eyed her curiously. "You have a sweetheart, dear?"

"Absolutely not!" Evlyn declared as if the notion was completely absurd.

"Now why would a pretty young girl not have a beau?" Mrs. Gurtslinger asked.

Evlyn shrugged. "I don't want one. My mother was miserable until the day she died. I didn't have a good childhood. I suppose you could say that I've learned from my mother's mistakes."

Mrs. Gurtslinger nodded. "She married a rough man?"

"That's one way of putting it." Evlyn said.

"Yes, indeed. I remember well my husband. He was terrible. He was harsh during the day and even worse after he had the drink. I could never please that man. Most times I was left cowering before him."

Evlyn looked curiously at Mrs. Gurtslinger. "Mr. Gurtslinger is abusive?"

"Heavens, no!" Mrs. Gurtslinger cried. "Not him, my first husband. He was a rough one. Made my life absolutely terrible. I was married to him for seventeen years before he died in a fight at the saloon."

"Wasn't your life with him awful?" Evlyn asked confused by the lady.

"I told you it was. You must know how it is, from living with your father."

"Then why did you marry again after your first husband died?"

"Mr. Gurtslinger was not like my first husband, dear. He was kind and gentle. He truly loved me. And I could trust him never to hurt me like my first husband did."

"But why would you even take another chance. I mean, I'm sure you wouldn't have married your first husband had you known his violent ways. You couldn't have known how Mr. Gurtslinger would treat you after you wed."

"I didn't. But life is terribly boring if you don't take chances. If I had been too scared to try again with love and Mr. Gurtslinger then I would have been very lonely and a shriveled up old lady. And Mr. Gurtslinger would've missed out on a wonderful life with me!" She laughed. "Do you know what I mean, hon?"

Evlyn shook her head. "I can't understand why you would take a chance with being hurt again. I still have nightmares about my father."

Mrs. Gurtslinger shook her head. "You poor dear. I wish I could explain this better. Horses are horses and mules are mules. You can't confuse them and you can't classify them together. They are different. Men are similar. Some are horses, some are mules. They aren't the same. Mr. Gurtslinger is a good man; my first husband was a bad man. Mr. Gurtslinger learned values and he applied them. My first husband did not. You can't classify the rotten apples with the fresh ones. Understand, dear?"

Evlyn nodded, thinking it best to agree with her. "I think so." It didn't mean she agreed with Linda Gurtslinger though.

Linda Gurtslinger shook her head. "You'll understand one day. One day, when a young man proves that he is worthy of your love and trust you will understand this old lady's words. Only then will you understand."

Evlyn sighed, feeling as though she had let Mrs. Gurtslinger down in some way. "So what you're saying is that I don't think anyone worthy of my love or trust?" She asked, still trying to work through Mrs. Gurtslinger's words.

Linda Gurtslinger paused and turned to Evlyn with a surprised look. "Is that what I said?"

"I-I think so." Evlyn said suddenly feeling unsure and rather foolish. "I'm trying to grasp the meaning." She signed. "I'm sorry. You must think I'm terribly slow-witted."

Mrs. Gurtslinger laughed as she patted Evlyn's back. "Not at all, dear. You will do plenty more thinking and reasoning before you come to a conclusion.

"What conclusion do I have yet to come too?"

Mrs. Gurtslinger laughed again. She was a woman who dearly loved to laugh. "My dear, if I told you that the journey would be of no benefit to you. Just remember one thing: Before you can trust others, you need to trust yourself."

Evlyn's brow wrinkled. "That doesn't make much sense. I do trust myself."

"Do you?" Mrs. Gurtslinger asked her gaze lingered on Evlyn for several seconds before drifting to her husband you was riding just ahead of them. "You run along dear, I'm going to visit with my husband for a moment."

Lifting her skirts just a bit, Mrs. Gurtslinger quickened her pace to catch up with her husband.

Evlyn felt Rosa drop into step beside her. "Ev, I'm sorry I was so ornery today. I was very inconsiderate of your feelings. Will you forgive me?

Evlyn smiled as she hooked her arm with Rosa's. "Rosa, I know best of all how your emotions bounce like a ball. Your words were forgiven as soon as they came from your mouth."

Rosa smiled as they marched on together. "Thanks. You're the best friend I've ever had."

"The feeling is mutual." Evlyn assured her fondly. She paused near the trail to pick a few of the beautiful wildflowers that were growing there. She handed three of them to Rosa. "Wildflowers do brighten up the land, don't they?"

"They do." Rosa agreed as she breathed in their rich fragrance. "No human-made perfume could ever smell this good, no matter how hard they may try."

"Agreed." Evlyn gazed at her handful of flowers trying to decide whether she should ask Rosa a question. Throwing caution to the wind, she spoke. "Rosa, do you trust yourself?"

Rosa tossed Evlyn a confused look. "Trust myself? Whatever does that mean?"

Evlyn shrugged. "I don't know. Mrs. Gurtslinger thinks that I have trust issues. She said that I won't learn to trust others until I trust myself. I can't understand how you couldn't trust yourself."

"Hey, maybe it's when you make a promise and you trust yourself to keep that promise." Rosa suggested.

"Maybe." Evlyn conceded doubtfully.

"It's only a suggestion." Rosa said, a bit peeved that Evlyn didn't take to the idea more. "Evlyn?" Rosa said suddenly remembering something Evlyn had told her back at the wagon.

"What?" Evlyn asked, her thoughts were still on the conversation she had with Mrs. Gurtslinger about trust.

"Do you really think the trail boss' assistant is attracted to you?"

Evlyn laughed. "Well, stranger things have happened. Rosa, since we're on the subject, do you really think that a man could never like me?

"Evlyn, " Rosa sighed, "I thought you said my words were forgiven as soon as I said them."

"They were." Evlyn quickly assured her. "But I just wondered if that's what you really thought."

"Let's go visit with Callie, she's in the wagon. She wasn't feeling so well after lunch." Rosa said. They turned and started walking back down the line of slowly moving wagons, searching for theirs. After sev

eral moments of silence, Rosa answered the

Question. "I have been jealous of you many times, Evlyn." She quietly admitted.

"Jealous of me?" Evlyn exclaimed in surprise. "Why would you be jealous of me when you have everything?"

Rosa lowered her head. Finally, she looked up, stopping, she grabbed Evlyn's arm and turned her so they were facing each other. "You are very nice looking. You have a grace about you that makes other girls feel like rocks. You have a good heart, and a personality that people, especially men, are drawn to. And I have seen Mr. McCain watching you. I think you're right. He does seem to like you in a more then friendly way. The words I spoke earlier came from pure jealousy and anger. I wanted all that you had. I still do, but I'm trying to be nicer about it."

"Rosa, you're making me sound like something I'm not. I'm nothing special. So many women, including you, -No! Don't interrupt." Evlyn said putting her hand over Rosa's mouth. "So many women, including you are beautiful, with good hearts and personalities. You grew up in a good family and have so many benefits available to you. Look at me! I can't even stand a man being too close to me. What good is a personality that draws men when I don't want to be near them!"

"Let's walk." Rosa said. Turning they continued past the moving wagons.

"As for Mr. McCain, " Evlyn continued quietly, "I think I should discourage him and keep my distance. He'll probably turn out just like my father anyways and I'll be miserable."

"I think you should avoid him like the devil." Rosa agreed. Reaching their wagon the girls climbed up inside. Callie was sitting with a pillow propped behind her back, a closed book in her lap.

"Hi." She greeted her friends with a smile.

"Feeling any better?" Rosa asked as she settled herself in the wagon.

"A bit. What have you girls been doing?"

"I walked with Mrs. Gurtslinger for a while."

"The trail master's wife?" Callie asked.

Evlyn nodded. "She is very nice. Though a bit confusing." She paused. "Callie, how would you describe how to trust oneself?"

"Oneself?" Callie repeated. Her brow wrinkled in concentration as she thought of Evlyn's question. "Trust is a learned emotion. When you trust yourself, you have confidence in yourself, your decisions, and your talents. I read in a newspaper once that if you don't trust or accept yourself, then you will draw situations and people that you can't trust. But that's just what the paper said."

"Do you think that I don't trust myself?" Evlyn asked.

"Trust is a learned emotion, Evlyn, and you couldn't have learned it in your family. I'm just saying that it's not your fault." Callie said gently, tossing Rosa a confused look.

"So you do think I have trust issues?"

"You're very judgmental, Ev. You judge yourself and others without giving either half the chance to prove themselves." Callie sighed. "Am I on trial?"

"No." Rosa assured her. "Mrs. Gurtslinger thinks that Evlyn has problems trusting people, including herself. We were trying to find out how you trust yourself."

"Oh." Callie said. She leaned forward and patted Evlyn's knee. "You've had a rough life, Ev. Anybody in your shoes would react the same way."

"I'm not abnormal?"

Rosa laughed. "Well, if you put it like that..."

Callie swatted at Rosa. "No." She laughingly assured Evlyn. "She's just teasing you. You're a great friend to me, and you guys are going to be great aunties to my little one." With a tender smile, she lovingly caressed her stomach.

Rosa and Evlyn stayed with Callie in the wagon for the rest of the day. Just before dusk, the train stopped and circled around for the night. While the men and boys cared for the animals and equipment, the women and girls collected buffalo chips for fires and prepared the evening meals. Evlyn stood near the fire, stirring the pot of stew they had put together for dinner.

"That's a scent I'd like to come home to." A male voice said from behind her.

Startled, Evlyn jumped, the spoon clattered noisily against the pot. "Excuse me." She gasped placing a hand across her fast-beating heart. "You frightened me."

The kid doffed his hat revealing very curly blond hair in need of some scissors. "Beggin' your pardon, ma'am. Didn't mean to scare you."

"It's quite alright." She assured him reclaiming her spoon she turned back to the pot. "Is there something I can do for you?" She asked for politeness sake. How she wished Rosa or Callie would come and rescue her from this man who appeared from thin air.

"Just wanted to introduce myself to you. I figured that would be the polite thing to do, since we're gonna be gettin' married."

Evlyn almost choked. "Married! Why! Why I don't even know you!" She sputtered.

"Which is why I'm introducin' myself." He said with a wide grin that revealed two straight rows of white teeth.

Spoon held in front of her like a sword, Evlyn slowly backed farther from him. "Sir, I have no intention of meeting or marrying you. Now if you would be so kind as to leave me so I may finish supper I would greatly appreciate it."

The man took two large steps forward. "Why, you don't need to be frightened of me, missy. I'm a good man. The least you could do is hear my name."

"Your name will make no difference." Evlyn assured him. Her eyes widened in delight when she saw Mr. Gurslinger walking up behind the man.

"Jason." Gurtslinger called in his low gravelly voice. "Are you causing problems?" He stopped just behind the man, his hand resting lightly on his gun holster.

The man named Jason turned to face the wagon master. "Heck, no!" He exclaimed. "Just came to see what smelled so good."

"You've got food at your own came fire, now get to it." Gurtslinger ordered. Jason didn't even stop to look back as he took off running towards his family's wagon.

"You okay?" Gurtslinger asked stepping closer to Evlyn. He peered into her face as though searching out the truth.

"I'm fine." She assured him brushing a strand of hair away from her face. "He is just startled me."

"I'm sure." Gurtslinger grunted. "If you'd marry, Miss Riebe, you'd be a lot less trouble." He muttered as he turned and walked back towards the center of the wagon ring.

"I don't intend to marry." She called after him.

Gurtslinger shook his head but didn't reply to her as he hurried back to his own wagon and supper.

Peter was leaning against the wagon wheel, his open bible resting on his legs. He scarcely heard Gurtslinger approach.


Peter jumped to his feet, his bible landing in the dust. He bent to retrieve it. "Why're ya yelling like a drill sergeant?" He asked as he dusted off the cover.

"You like that girl a lot don't you?" Gurtslinger's question sounded more like an accusation.

"You know I do." Peter said as he straightened and looked at the trail boss. He didn't appear to be angry but something was bothering him.

"Then I suggest that you make it known."

"What's going on?" Peter asked now entirely confused by the trail bosses words. Had he lost his mind?

"Just now I had to chase Jason Gulth away from your intended. He swooped down on her as an eagle does a mouse. I don't want no problems on this train, McCain."

"When does what Jason does become my problem?" Peter asked, getting annoyed with this whole thing rather quickly. "And where do you get off blaming his actions on me?"

Gurtslinger straightened. "You see to your girl, and keep trouble away from her. I don't intend to be her knight in armor. You are." Gurtslinger turned and lumbered to his wagon, where his wife had been standing. She gazed at Peter, gave a slight shake of her head, then slipped her arm around her husband, and walked with him.

Peter gazed at the two of them until they disappeared from sight. What in earth's name was bugging Gurtslinger? He'd never seen him act that way before, at least not with him. He shook his head, and then turned to face the direction of Evlyn's wagon. He should go see if she was okay. He started toward her wagon. Maybe he should declare himself. That would at least keep Jason away, unless it scared Evlyn away too. He didn't like to think of that, but he had the strange feeling that such a declaration would frighten her away. He found Evlyn by the fire, dishing out a bowl of delicious smelling stew. "Evlyn." He spoke her name softly as the night slowly closed in upon them. She turned, the light from the fire illuminating her halo of golden hair. "Peter."

"Gurtslinger told me about Jason. I wanted to see that you're alright."

"I am. He was just bothersome." She extended the bowl toward him. "Will to stay and eat?"

Peter wanted to. It bought him more time with her. He knew he shouldn't. He shouldn't appear that he was chasing her. Couldn't appear to forward. "No, thanks. I have to get back. I just wanted to wish you a good night."

She smiled up at him. "Good night." She whispered back.

Peter wanted to reach forward and stroke her cheek, it looked so soft, so appealing in the firelight. He balled his hand into a fist. "I'll see you tomorrow." Turning he walked away, letting out an agonized sigh. She was so close, and yet so far away.

Evlyn sighed as she watched Peter walk away. He was a very good man. She couldn't imagine him ever hurting his family. However, perhaps that is what her mama had once thought about her father.

"Was that Peter McCain?" Rosa asked from behind Evlyn.

"Yes." Evlyn said turning back to her soup. "He just came to wish us a pleasant evening."

"Don't hold supper for me." Rosa said as she walked away. "I need to talk to him."

Evlyn shook her head at her changeable friend as she carried Callie's bowl to her. "Here you are." She sank down to the ground near Callie's feet. "Where's Benjamin?"

"Caring for the animals. Thanks for making supper, Evlyn. It smells delicious." Callie paused before continuing. "Could none of the other families invited come join us for dinner and music?"

Evlyn bit her lip, debating whether to mention her fears to Callie.

Callie had suggested yesterday morning how nice it would be to have the other families join them one night for dinner and music. The everyday trail life could become tiring; and Callie decided liven the group up some. Fellowship would be just the thing. Benjamin and Evlyn had approved of Callie's plan, and Evlyn promised to deliver the invitations to each of the families that very afternoon. Their responses were less then ecstatic. Two of the women told her to go walk with someone else, and wouldn't even listen to what she had to say. During the mid-day meal, Evlyn found Mrs. Gurtslinger at the water hole.

"I'm glad to see you." Evlyn said, sure that Mrs. Gurtslinger would let her extend the invitation.

Mrs. Gurtslinger eyed her wearily. "And why is that?" she asked in a clipped tone.

Surprised, Evlyn stuttered her response. "I-Well, I had an invitation to share with you."

Mrs. Gurtslinger straightened, placing her hands at her hips. "Well, what do you want?"

"Callie and I were hoping you and your husband might join us for supper tomorrow night and some music. If you play an instrument you can bring it along."

"Now listen here, young lady." Mrs. Gurtslinger said waving her finger in front of Evlyn's face. "You get such immoral ideas right out of your head. We won't be having your kind causing problems amongst our God-fearing people! Do you understand me?"

Evlyn stared at Mrs. Gurtslinger in surprise. She had never heard her raise her voice before. Her face was flushed red, in anger Evlyn assumed.

"Do you understand me?" Mrs. Gurtslinger demanded an answer.

"Yes- yes, ma'am."

Mrs. Gurtslinger nodded in grim satisfaction. "Now you get back to your wagon and eat your lunch. And I better hear no more bad reports of you, or we'll be leaving you right alongside the road if we have to, 'ya hear?"

"Yes." Tears blinding her vision she stumbled back to the wagon. Thank goodness, Callie was napping in the wagon. Evlyn didn't want to see her friend right now. What was going on? Evlyn tried to remember anything she might have done to upset Mrs. Gurtslinger. Could it have anything to do with all the other women not wanting to talk with her, much less be seen with her? Evlyn sat down on the grass and pulled her knees up to her chest. She wrapped her arms around her legs. What could she possibly have done to anger all of the women of the train? They were acting as if she had leprosy. For the rest of the day, every women on the train avoided Evlyn. Choosing to walk during the afternoon, she walked alone.






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