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   Chapter 4 NO.4

Deny Thyself By LadyRosabella Characters: 17219

Updated: 2017-12-20 15:40

"Peter! Wait, I'd like to have a word with you." Rosa ran to catch up with Peter McCain.

Peter paused. "What is it?" He asked, turning to face her. He really didn't want to talk with Evlyn's friend. Rosa was odd. She was so changeable. One moment she was nice and fun to be with, the next she was a braggart who criticized. Besides that, Peter was tired and just wanted to eat his dinner and hit the sack. Peter shifted feet and scrutinized Rosa as she spoke. Her words almost ran together as one. Rosa was taller than Evlyn, Peter realized. She was taller by at least three inches. While Evlyn had honey blond hair and blue eyes, Rosa had blond hair with a touch of a light red to it. Her eyes are green. Both Rosa and Evlyn had a light sprinkling of freckles across their noses. Somehow, Peter reflected, Evlyn's looked cuter then Rosa's. Perhaps he was biased.

"Are you listening, Peter McCain?"

"What?" Peter asked breaking away from his musings with a firm shake of his head.

"I am trying to tell you something important about Evlyn, the least you could do is listen!" Rosa complained. The pitch of her voice rose dangerously close to whiny.

"I'm listening, I'm listening. You have my full attention now." Peter said with a reassuring smile. "Now what were you saying." Best keep her happy before her whiny voice disturbed the peace. His peace.

Rosa sighed rather loudly. "Let's sit." She suggested, sinking down onto the grass.

Peter gritted his teeth, trying hide his irritation. Why couldn't the girl just get on with it and leave him alone. "You were saying?" He prompted.

"Yes." She tilted her head and smiled up at him. That's when Peter noticed with a frown what ugly looking teeth she had.

He raised a brow and refocused on her forehead. It was too high. "Go on."

"I've noticed that you seem to have an interest in my friend Evlyn. And as her best friend I felt duty bound to inform you of her past."

Peter shook his head. "I already know about her past. My family lived very close to hers when we were little." He started to stand up.

"Hold on, Cowboy." Rosa put a hand on his arm to stop him. "I wasn't referring to childhood past; I was talking about her past as a wife."

Peter froze. "Wife? As in: a married woman."

"That's the definition commonly used for that word. Now do you want to hear or not."

Peter dropped down on the grass. This wasn't going to be pretty, he was sure of it. It felt like someone had kicked him in the shins. But his pain wasn't physical.

Rosa began. "Several years ago, after Evlyn's mama died, Evlyn was feeling trapped with her father. He was abusive, you know. Every day she would come to work with new markings on her. She tried to hide them, but all of her efforts never quite covered them up.

There was a boy in town, he had liked Evlyn since school, and he hated seeing the abuse she took from her father. One night, Evlyn was hurt badly, broken bones and bruises. Her whole body seemed to be the color of a plum. Callie was the first to find her lying unconscious on the kitchen floor. Broken dishes and chairs were scattered testifying to her terrible night. Callie called the doctor. The boy's daddy is the town's doctor. When he heard his daddy was going to tend Evlyn, he begged to come along fearing that she may be dead.

Evlyn was so bad off that the doc wanted to move her to his office so he could be close at all times. She didn't wake up for four days. When she did, she found the doctor's son by her bedside praying. He never strayed far from her bedside. Later he begged her to marry him. He told her that he couldn't stand to see her daddy kill the love of his life. He promised her a good life. Told her he would never be as her daddy was. She agreed. And as soon as she was able, they married.

She had a nice life with him. We never saw evidence that she was beaten, and she seemed very happy. He seemed so much in love. He was ecstatic when twin boys were born to them in December. Those boys looked like angels."

"Evlyn has children?" Peter interrupted Rosa.

Rosa nodded. "Two more besides the twins."

"Where are they? And her husband? She never mentioned anything about being married."

Rosa laughed. "Settle down, Cowboy. Let me finish the story. Okay, Evlyn seemed happy with her new circumstances and her husband thoroughly adored her and their children. That was evident to everyone in town. So we were very surprised when Evlyn announced that she was leaving. Said she was tired of a dull life and she was going to California. Her husband agreed to move to California, settle down out there. Evlyn forbid it. Then she broke the horrible news." Rosa put a hand over her heart. "Goodness me, I still can't believe it at times. She told him that she was taking her savings and she was going to open a brothel in California. She told him that she shouldn't stay to one man when there were so many in California who would appreciate her. Oh, Peter! I'm so sorry, but I had to tell you. Please don't let Evlyn come between our friendship!"

Peter rose blindly to his feet. He wished he could manage some words to reassure the woman sitting on the grass. But he could not. He wouldn't be able to speak past the lump in his throat. Clenching his hands into fists, he stalked away from Rosa. Her pleadings of 'I'm sorry' followed him back to his wagon.

"Peter." Gurtslinger called to him as he drew closer to the wagon. "If you have a moment, I need to have a word with you."

"No." Peter said brushing past his boss. "Just leave me alone."

Gurtslinger paused surprised by his assistant's words. "Peter. What's the matter?" He asked, hurrying to catch up with Peter's long strides.

Peter whirled around. "Not everything in my life needs to be shared with you. I said to leave me alone. Go back to your wife and eat your supper."

Tyrone Gurtslinger froze, stunned by the steel lacing Peter's voice. Who was this man? It wasn't one Tyrone had seen before. Gurtslinger backed off, watching as the man inhabiting Peter's body went to be with the animals.

Steel-cold green eyes glittered with delight at the impending accident. Why does pain bring such delight to me? It thrills me, thrills me to see someone in such pain that it completely takes over their thinking process. Soon now... Soon...

"Evlyn, breakfast is ready. Will you call Benjamin?" Rosa asked as she dished up a plate of hotcakes. She cast a glance toward the wagon. "Ev? Did you hear me?"

A scream punctuated the air followed by thud. Rosa hurriedly sat down the plate and rushed towards the back of the wagon. There Evlyn sat on the ground. Her

Calico dress pushed up, she ignored the dress and clutched her ankle. "Evlyn! What happened?" Rosa dropped to her knees beside the fallen girl.

"I stepped on this board getting down from the wagon. It has nails in it, Rosa!" Evlyn gritted. She was trying to keep from crying but her foot hurt so badly. Four nails were in the board and all but one were now in Evlyn's foot.

"How did you do that!" Rosa exclaimed, her voice raising as she observed blood starting to come from the nail holes in Evlyn's foot.

"What happened?" Benjamin called rushing to them. "Evlyn!" He kneeled beside her. "It's going to be alright, girl. I've got to get these nails out." He said positioning himself near her injured foot.

"Will it hurt?" Evlyn groaned.

"No worse than it does now." Benjamin turned as Mr. and Mrs. Gurtslinger approached. Peter McCain was behind them. "Mrs. Gurtslinger, I'm going to need hot water, pickling salt, and baking soda. Can you get that for me?"

"Oh, yes! Yes, of course." Mrs. Gurtslinger said wringing her hands.

"Make sure the water is clean, boil it if you can. I think Rosa has a fire going." Benjamin turned to Rosa as Mrs. Gurtslinger hurried off. "I need bandages of some kind too. Lots of them."

"I'll get them." Rosa said. Jumping to her feet, she climbed into the wagon.

"Make sure they're clean!" Benjamin turned to Tyrone Gurtslinger. "I don't want to pull the nails out until everything is ready but the longer they're in the more risk she has for a deadly infection. Can you guys find some water. Make it cool and try to get the cleanest water you can find."

"I'll get some from the wagon." Peter said taking off at a run.

"Plenty of it!" Benjamin called after him. He turned to Evlyn. "We're going to take care of you. You try to relax. Gurtslinger, will you get behind her and hold her shoulders?"

"Sure thing." Tyrone said moving into position.

Peter arrived with the w

ater. "It's clean." He assured Benjamin.

"The buckets clean too?" Benjamin asked as Peter set two buckets brimming with water down beside him.

"Brand new buckets. First time being used."

"Good." Benjamin said. He looked around at the crowd that had assembled. "Anyone here got some good strong whiskey?" He called out.

"I got some for medical purposes." Gurtslinger spoke up. " Brand new bottle. Peter, you know where it is. Can you get it?"

Peter nodded and was off and running again.

"Hold on to her, Gurtslinger." Benjamin warned. No sooner had he spoke the words, Benjamin pulled the board with the nails straight out of Evlyn's booted foot.

Moving quickly he pulled off her boot and stripped the stocking from her foot. He dipped a cup in the cool water and slowly poured it over the nail wounds. Evlyn passed out just seconds after Benjamin pulled the nails free. That was probably for the best, considering the pain she would be in when he cleansed the wound with the salt and soda mixture. Benjamin continuously poured cup after cup of cool water over and on the wound.

Peter arrived with the bottle of whiskey. "Here it is. Do you want it poured over her foot?"

Benjamin shook his head. "Sugar on the wound is no good. I want her to drink it. Just a little at a time. See if you can get her to swallow it while she's unconscious. A spoon might help."

Peter looked up as Rosa returned with an arm full of bandages. "Rosa, will you get me a spoon please?" Rosa hurried to comply while Peter opened the whiskey bottle. "WHEW!" He exclaimed after getting a whiff. "I'm glad I don't have to drink it."

"I told you it was strong." Gurtslinger reminded him. "It's a single malt whiskey. Got it straight from Scotland. It was made from a three hundred year old recipe. It's distilled four times and has ninety-two present alcohol. Only give her a little. Any more than two spoonfuls is said to stop breathing and endanger life."

Benjamin paused in pouring the water. He caught Peter's eye. "Be careful." He warned.

Peter nodded. "I'll give her less since she's a woman."

"Good idea." Gurtslinger said as Rosa returned with a spoon.

While Peter carefully administered the whiskey, Benjamin returned to pouring water over the foot.

"I wonder how the board got where it was." Gurtslinger mused.

"I don't know. It seems too odd to be by accident." Benjamin agreed.

"Like someone was trying to hurt her." Gurtslinger said. "We'll get to the bottom of this. I won't have people dying on my train because of something like arranged accidents."

Benjamin nodded. "Can you go check on your wife with the boiling water?"

"Sure thing." Gurtslinger said easing into a standing position.

Mrs. Gurtslinger came running up at that exact moment. "I have the pickling salt and baking soda, Benjamin. The water was just beginning to boil as I left."

Benjamin nodded, never missing a beat as he continued to pour the water over the injury. "Let the water boil for one full minute before you bring it to us."

"Of course, dear." She said handing the salt and soda to Mr. Gurtslinger. She hurried back to the fire.

"What is going on here?" Callie asked as she wobbled forward.

Benjamin looked up. "We need your measuring spoons. Can you find them?"

"Of course." Callie said, turning pale at the amount of blood coming from the three holes in Evlyn's foot. She quickened her pace towards the wagon.

Mrs. Gurtslinger came with a bowl full of boiled water just as Callie emerged from the wagon with the spoons.

"How much water do you have there?" Benjamin asked Mrs. Gurtslinger.

"I filled my quart canning jars twice."

"Okay, put two level teaspoons of baking soda and pickling salt into the water and mix it really well." Benjamin continued pouring water while he waited for the women to complete their task.

"Done." Mrs. Gurtslinger announced.

"Get another bowl and pour the water back and forth until it won't burn her foot."

Callie quickly retrieved another bowl and Mrs. Gurtslinger began cooling the water.

"How's she doing?" Benjamin asked Peter.

"She's still breathing. No sign of a fever." Peter reported, as he smoothed her hair back from her forehead. "How is it that you know so much about treating injuries?"

"My father was a physician. I used to follow him around, help him with his cases. I learned a lot from that man."

"You never became a doctor?" Peter asked.

"No. It was fun helping Pa save people but I had my own dreams."

"I think the water is ready." Mrs. Gurtslinger said coming forward with the bowls.

Benjamin tested the water on his wrist, before taking the bowl from her. Using his cup, he repeatedly poured the salt and soda solution over the injuries. "We're going to need to repeat this process at least three times a day. We need to make sure dust and all foreign particles stay out at all costs. Callie, will you and Mrs. Gurtslinger take turns sitting with her in the wagon. They'll be no more walking for her."

"Of course we will. The poor dear!" Mrs. Gurtslinger cried.

"At every meal we'll need to prepare more saline solution. It must be fresh and the water must be boiled for one full minute. I'm going to wrap the foot. The bandages will need to be changed every time you apply the saline solution. All of the used bandages must be cleaned with the same salt and soda solution and be dried in direct sunlight." Benjamin wrapped Evlyn's foot carefully with the bandages. He turned to Peter. "I want her to have one teaspoon of that whiskey three times a day for three days."

"I'll leave it in your wagon." Peter assured him.

Benjamin carefully eased Evlyn off the ground and stood up. "Okay folks, let's get ready to leave. We've spent enough time here." He turned to Peter, Rosa, Callie, and the Gurtslinger's. "Thanks for your help. We'll know in about eight days if she's going to be okay. Again I appreciate it."

The Gurtslinger's hurried back to their wagon; Rosa and Callie hurried to clean up the breakfast. Peter followed Benjamin and Evlyn to their wagon. "Benjamin, what would happen in eight days if she's not okay?"

Benjamin settled Evlyn into the wagon before answering Peter's question.

"There are many symptoms to watch for. Fever, rapid heart rate, difficulty swallowing. Stiffness in neck and jaw muscles. And body spasms that last for several minutes. These symptoms indicate an infection for which there is no cure. The infection usually results in death but in a few instances, the victim gets away with only a disability. That is why it is vital to keep the wound cleaned, trim away dead tissue, and change the bandages constantly."

Peter gazed at Benjamin like he was a ghost. "Evlyn may die?" he whispered.

"She might." Benjamin nodded. "Usually the infection will show itself within eight days. Even after eight days we need to be especially careful." Benjamin slapped Peter on the back. "Thanks again for your help. You had better go help Gurtslinger get the train moving. We're already running behind."

"Yeah." Moving like a sleepwalker, Peter walked back to where he'd left his horse near the Gurtslinger's wagon.

Mrs. Gurtslinger had packed up all of the breakfast and overnight things. She stood beside the wagon talking to her husband as he readied the oxen.

"So far that is the only accident." She was saying.

"Yeah, accident." Gurtslinger muttered, as he stepped around to the other side of the animals.

"I hope we don't have anymore. We did pretty good on the last trip. Only lost one person." Mrs. Gurtslinger smiled adoringly at her husband. "Of course, I chalk that up to having an excellent trail guide."

"Mmhmm." Gurtslinger said.

Mrs. Gurtslinger placed her hands on her hips. "Tyrone, you're not listening to a word I've said."

"Sure I am." Gurtslinger said looking up at his wife. "I'm an excellent trail guide and we only lost one person last trip. Did I leave anything out?"

"Tyrone, what's on your mind? You seem so distracted." Mrs. Gurtslinger asked with a worried frown forming between her brows.

"Now, now dear. Ease your mind and smile. All is well. But we are late, so move along, dear." Gurtslinger turned and hollered, "Wagons ho!"






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