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Authors: Maggie Brendan

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Deeply Devoted

BOOK: Deeply Devoted
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© 2011 by Maggie Brendan

Published by Revell

a division of Baker Publishing Group

P.O. Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287

www.revellbooks.com

Ebook edition created 2011

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—for example, electronic, photocopy, recording—without the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.

ISBN 978-1-4412-3402-5

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is on file at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.

Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from the King James Version of the Bible.

Scripture quotations labeled NASB are from the New American Standard Bible®, copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission.
www.lockman.org

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.

Published in association with Tamela Hancock Murray of the Hartline Literary Agency, LLC.

Any internet addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers in this book are accurate at the time of publication. They are provided only as a resource; Baker Publishing Group does not endorse them or vouch for their content or permanence.

In memory of Colonel Alexander Richard Christine (July 2, 1932–July 22, 2010), for his deep devotion to his country, the United States of America, and the tremendous suffering he endured for many years so that we might have our freedoms.

What I tell you in the darkness, speak in the light; and what you hear whispered in your ear, proclaim upon the housetops.

Matthew 10:27 NASB

 

Cheyenne Territory, Wyoming
Spring 1887

 

Catharine Olsen sipped the last of her tea from the bottom of her cherished Blue Willow teacup, then carefully placed it on the saucer on the table next to her. She leaned back on the settee, shoving her curls away from her face, and slipped a letter out of her Bible. Though she knew the words by heart, she reread the letter, now worn and discolored from time.

Catharine,

 

It is hard for me to contain my joy that soon we shall meet and you will be my bride. I feel like I already know you well from our correspondence. I pray you will have safe travel on the Union Pacific. You should have a day to rest after the long, arduous journey. I will promptly call for you at the hotel the next day. Until then, I remain affectionately yours,

Peter Andersen

Had it been just yesterday when she stared from the train’s window at the prairie that seemed to stretch as far as her eye could see? The relentless wind whipped the unending gold-tipped grass, and there was not a tree in sight . . . just open fields with an occasional cabin dotting the landscape and perhaps deer or elk grazing in the distance. Peter had told her to keep a lookout for them, and maybe a herd of bison. She wondered how she would adjust to such surroundings after leaving her beloved Amsterdam with its lush meadows and myriad of tulips . . . and the memories, not all of them good. An image swam before her eyes, and her heart tightened.
I can’t think about it today or I won’t be able to go on . . . What purpose could it possibly serve?

Would her heart ever heal? A single tear slid down her cheek, but she hastily swept it away before her sisters could see. She sighed and glanced over at them sitting with their heads together, reading a newspaper they’d picked up at the last stop. She prayed silently that all would work out as she hoped, but she knew from experience that only the Lord could see what was in store.

“Next stop, Cheyenne!” the conductor announced as he walked the aisle. He lifted his pocket watch from his waistcoat. “In about ten minutes.” Passengers began to gather their reading materials, satchels, and personal belongings in preparation for their arrival.

True to the conductor’s word, the train slowed its approach at the Union Pacific depot. Catharine decided that it was one of the most beautiful railroad depots she’d ever seen. The impressive structure looked fairly new with its multicolored sandstone, stone arches, and steeply pitched roofs that resembled a castle. Peter had written in his letters that the stone was quarried from west of Fort Collins, Colorado. Along the opposite side of the train, the rail yard was a profusion of trains narrowly wedged between one another, which could make disembarking dangerous.

Finally, with a squeal of metal on metal and a belch of steam, the engine halted, then passengers immediately scrambled to the exits, happy to have arrived in Cheyenne.

“Finally! I’m ready to get off this train,” Greta exclaimed, but she lowered her voice after a stern look from Catharine.

“Stay close to me, girls. The train tracks are really close together, and walking could be treacherous.” Catharine led the way, and the conductor assisted them after reminding them to take care as they stepped off. The wind howled, scattering dust and debris and threatening to rip their skirts from their slight forms in the bright April morning.

All three paused a moment amid the throng of people and soldiers and looked about wide-eyed. A foreign soil and a foreign city. The contrast here in life and in customs would be hard at first, no doubt, Catharine thought. Straightening her shoulders, she motioned to her sisters to follow her into the depot. Greta and Anna struggled with their heavy satchels, huffing and puffing.

Catharine stopped to watch them, shaking her head. “I told you not to carry too much on the train. Will you two ever listen to reason?”

Greta laughed, and the vibrant sound echoed throughout the vast waiting room. “We will, dear sister, just as soon as you have something sensible to say. You’re such a worrier.”

“Don’t be mean, Greta,” Anna scolded her sister. “I wish I hadn’t stuffed all my paint into this satchel. I hope nothing leaked out. But I just couldn’t leave it behind.” The youngest of the three hiked her bag up to her chest and used her other arm to support it.

“Okay, let’s find out where we’re to go,” Catharine said, looking around the large room. “Peter has a room waiting for me at the hotel. I’ll just need to ask about further instructions.”

The waiting area was filled with travelers, some being greeted as they arrived and others bidding their goodbyes before their respective trains departed. Catharine and her sisters stood stock-still to admire the beautiful room with its large fireplace, making it appear homey and restful for the many travelers who milled about. The depot was enormous, and no expense had been spared on the elegant fixtures. Catharine admired the pine and red-oak carved woodwork and ample windows that flooded the room with bright light.

A group of soldiers in army uniforms stood milling about near the ticket window and openly admired the three young women. One offered to help with Greta’s bags, but when she started to say yes, Catharine stayed her by the arm. Greta smiled at the soldier and he shrugged with a grin, but his eyes followed them. Greta glanced back with a flirtatious tilt of her head.

Peter wouldn’t arrive until the next day, which would allow Catharine a chance to rest before their meeting. He would not be prepared for her sisters in tow as well. That was one little detail that Catharine hadn’t told him about, for fear of rejection. Peter had paid for her travel fare, and by closely watching her budget after her father’s shipping business failed, she’d managed to save enough funds for her sisters’ fares as well. Her parents’ untimely death at sea six months ago, during a buying trip to the Indies, caused catastrophic loss for his shipping company, and it hadn’t helped the situation when Catharine scrutinized the ledgers and found that her father’s accountant had embezzled most of the profits, leaving them with very little to live on.

She tightened her lips in a fine line and looked around the busy depot for someone to ask about directions to their hotel. Over a window with metal bars across it was a sign that read
Information
, so Catharine spoke to the clerk there. “Excuse me, sir. Can you tell me where the Inter Ocean Hotel is?”

The clerk looked up and smiled at her and her sisters, straightening his bow tie. “The hotel’s one block north on Sixteenth Street, ma’am. Will you need assistance?”

“If you would be so kind, I would be most grateful. We have two large trunks that need to be transported.” As Catharine gave him her name to make arrangements for their luggage to be taken to the hotel, the clerk’s pen paused as he squinted over his spectacles at her. “So . . . you’re Miss Olsen.” He leaned toward the front edge of the window, then scrutinized her with an approving gaze.

“Yes, sir, I am, and these are my sisters, Greta and Anna.” Greta and Anna bowed their heads slightly in his direction, and his smile broadened.

“Well, it’s very nice to meet you ladies. Name’s Joe Willis.” He bobbed his head. “I’m to tell you Peter Andersen has a carriage waiting to carry you the short distance to the hotel . . . but I don’t think he mentioned any sisters.” He studied the three of them, his eyes sweeping from one to the other. “Maybe I can be of assistance with your carpetbag there.”

Catharine smiled back. “I believe we can manage. If you’ll just see to it that our trunks are delivered, then we’ll be going.”

“Will do. You’ll enjoy your stay at the Inter Ocean. It’s one of our finest in Cheyenne, and I reckon Mr. Andersen spared no expense on your behalf. Welcome to Cheyenne, ladies.”

 

So here they were enjoying all the comforts the fine hotel had to offer while Catharine waited anxiously to meet her future husband. She had been mildly surprised but pleased that Peter had reserved a room for her at such an opulent hotel. That made her wonder about him. 
Isn’t he just an ordinary farmer?

Greta strode over to Catharine and plucked the letter out of her hands, rattling the Blue Willow china cup and bringing Catharine sharply back to the present. She gasped in horror and quickly reached to steady her prized china to keep it from tumbling to the floor. It held sentimental value for her, and she had always admired the Blue Willow pattern.


Alstublieft
, for goodness’ sake, Catharine!” Greta said with a pointed look at her older sister. “Pull yourself together. How many times are you going to read that letter? You’ll be meeting your beloved Peter in the flesh any moment now.”


Langzaam aan!
Slow down! Honestly, Greta, you act as though you were raised in a barn with the milch cows.”

Greta flounced over to the chair next to Anna. Her younger sister barely glanced up from the book she was reading, shook her head, and watched as the letter fluttered onto the rug. “Just leave her alone, Greta. If she wants to read it until it disintegrates, then let her.” She picked up the letter and handed it to Catharine.

Catharine glanced at her sisters and sighed. She folded the letter and placed it back in its proper place in her Bible.
Lord, how am I going to be both mama and papa?
Greta, for all her impatience and impulsiveness, was a bright, pretty, but not always logical seventeen-year-old. Anna, fifteen, was in her usual oblivious state to what revolved around her, being content to ramble outdoors, read poetry, and let others wait on her. It wasn’t that Anna thought they
should
, it was more that she felt she had much better things to do than the mundane. That included just about everything.

But Catharine held fast to her decision that no matter what, she would care for her sisters. She absentmindedly pushed back a curl from her eyes that had escaped its pins. Now that they’d left Holland, she hoped that she could keep a tight rein on Greta’s adventurous spirit and offer motherly guidance to sweet Anna.

“I’m sorry!” Greta tucked her skirt under her bent legs. “It just seems that you can’t know the
real
Peter just by the letters he wrote.” She sniffed. “Ha! He could be an old widower with a bent back and a brood of children. I wouldn’t believe anything that was written to me in a letter. Best wait until you’re actually in his home and can see for yourself. On the other hand, maybe he’s a wealthy farmer, or he wouldn’t have put us in this grand hotel. This may not be as bad as I thought after all.”

“Don’t you have any faith at all?” Catharine answered gently. “I’m sure Peter is who he says. The truth comes out in what we write or say.”

“Did you tell him that you’d been married before?” Greta pursed her lips until the corners of her mouth lifted.

“Greta, it’s none of your business what we discussed in our correspondence these last couple of months.” Catharine started to say more but clamped her mouth shut. She hadn’t meant to speak so sharply to her sister, and she wasn’t in the mood to argue with her today. She had more pressing matters on her mind.

Anna gave Catharine a quick squeeze about the shoulders, smoothing her red curls. “I thought we were going to read from Hebrews this morning. It does seem so appropriate, considering . . .”

Catharine opened her Bible. “I suppose there’s a little time before he arrives.” Catharine patted the spot next to her.

Anna snuggled up close, and Catharine’s heart warmed at the trust her sister placed in her. She must not fail her sisters, and she wouldn’t. They were depending on her.

BOOK: Deeply Devoted
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