The Lions of the Lord
Harry Leon Wilson
Part 4 out of 7
Lieutenant-Colonel Cooke of the Second Dragoons, with whom travelled the
newly appointed governor, was another to suffer. At Fort Laramie so many
of his animals had dropped out that numbers of his men were dismounted,
and the ambulances used to carry grain. Night after night they huddled
at the base of cliffs in the fearful eddies of the snow, and heard above
the blast the piteous cries of their famished and freezing stock. Day
after day they pushed against the keen blades of the wind, toiling
through frozen clouds and stinging ice blasts. The last thirty-five
miles to Fort Bridger had required fifteen days, and at one camp on
Black's Fork, which they called the "camp of Death," five hundred
animals perished in a night.
Nor did the hardships of the troops end when they had all reached what
was to be their winter quarters. Still a hundred and fifteen miles from
the City of the Saints, they were poorly housed against the bitter cold,
poorly fed, and insufficiently clothed, for the burning of the trains by
the Lord's hosts had reduced all supplies.
Reports of this distress were duly carried to Brigham and published to
the Saints. Their soldiers had made good their resolve to prevent the
Federal army from passing the Wasatch Mountains. Aggressive operations
ceased for the winter, and the greater part of the militia returned to
their homes. A small outpost of fifty men under the command of Major
Joel Rae--who had earnestly requested this assignment--was left to guard
the narrows of Echo Canon and to keep watch over the enemy during the
winter. This officer was now persuaded that the Lord's hand was with
them. For the enemy had been wasted away even by the elements from the
time he had crossed the forbidden line.
In Salt Lake City that winter, the same opinion prevailed. They were
henceforth to be the free and independent State of Deseret.
"Do you want to know," asked Brigham, in the tabernacle, "what is to be
done with the enemy now on our borders? As soon as they start to come
into our settlements, let sleep depart from their eyes until they sleep
in death! Men shall be secreted along the route and shall waste them
away in the name of the God of Battles. The United States will have to
make peace with us. Never again shall we make peace with them."
And they sang with fervour:--
"By the mountains our Zion's surrounded,
Her warriors are noble and brave;
And their faith on Jehovah is founded,
Whose power is mighty to save.
Opposed by a proud, boasting nation,
Their numbers compared may be few;
But their Ruler is known through creation,
And they'll always be faithful and true."
_How the Lion of the Lord Roared Soft_
But with the coming of spring some fever that had burned in the blood of
the Saints from high to low was felt to be losing its heat. They had
held the Gentile army at bay during the winter--with the winter's help.
But spring was now melting the snows. Reports from Washington, moreover,
indicated that a perverse generation in the States had declined to
accept the decrees of Israel's God without further proofs of their
With a view to determining this issue, Congress had voted more money for
troops. Three thousand men were to march to the reinforcement of the
army of Johnston on Black's Fork; forty-five hundred wagons were to
transport their supplies; and fifty thousand oxen and four thousand
mules were to pull these wagons. War, in short, was to be waged upon
this Israel hidden in the chamber of the mountains. To Major Rae,
watching on the outposts of Zion from behind the icy ramparts of Echo
Canon, the news was welcome, even enlivening. The more glory there
would be in that ultimate triumph which the Lord was about to secure for
In Brigham and the other leaders, however, this report induced deep
thought. And finally, on a day, they let it be known that there could no
longer be any thought of actual war with the armies of the Gentile. Joel
Rae in Echo Canon was incredulous. There must be battle given. The Lord
would make them prevail; the living God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of
Jacob, would hold them up. And battle must be given for another reason,
though he hardly dared let that reason be plain to himself. For only by
continuing the war, only by giving actual battle to armed soldiers, by
fighting to the end if need be--only so could that day in Mountain
Meadows be made to appear as anything but--he shuddered and could not
name it. Even if actual war were to be fought on and on for years, he
believed that day could hardly be justified; but at least it could be
made in years of fighting to stand less horribly high and solitary. They
must fight, he thought, even if it were to lose all. But the Lord would
stay them. How much more wicked and perverse, then, to reject the
When he heard that the new governor, who had been in the snow with
Johnston's army all winter, was to enter Salt Lake City and take his
office--a Gentile officer to sit on the throne of Brigham--he felt that
the Ark of the Covenant had been thrown down. "Let us not," he implored
Brigham in a letter sent him from Echo Canon, "be again dragooned into
servile obedience to any one less than the Christ of God!"
But Brigham's reply was an order to pass the new governor through Echo
Canon. According to the terms of this order he was escorted through at
night, in a manner to convince him that he was passing between the lines
of a mighty and far-flung host. Fires were kindled along the heights and
the small force attending him was cunningly distributed and duplicated,
a few of its numbers going ahead from time to time, halting the rest of
the party and demanding the countersign.
Joel Rae found himself believing that he could now have been a fiercer
Lion of the Lord than Brigham was; for he would have fought, while
Brigham was stooping to petty strategies--as if God were needing to rely
He was only a little appeased when, on going to Salt Lake City, he
learned Brigham's intentions more fully. The new governor had been
installed; but the army of Johnston was to turn back. This was Brigham's
first promise. Soon, however, this was modified. The government, it
appeared, was bent upon quartering its troops in the valley; and Zion,
therefore, would be again led into the wilderness. The earlier promise
was repeated--and the earlier threat--to the peace commissioners now
sent on from Washington.
"We are willing those troops should come into our country, but not stay
in our city. They may pass through if need be, but must not be
quartered within forty miles of us. And if they come here to disturb
this people, before they reach here this city will be in ashes; every
house and tree and shrub and blade of grass will be destroyed. Here are
twenty years' gathering, but it will all burn. You will have won back
the wilderness, barren again as on the day we entered it, but you will
not have conquered the people. Our wives and children will go to the
canons and take shelter in the mountains, while their husbands and sons
will fight you. You will be without fuel, without subsistence for
yourselves or forage for your animals. You will be in a strange land,
while we know every foot of it. We will haunt and harass you and pick
you off by day and by night, and, as God lives, we will waste your army
This was hopeful. Here at least was another chance to suffer
persecution, and thus, in a measure, atone for any monstrous wrong they
might have done. He hoped the soldiers would come despoiling,
plundering, thus compelling them to use the torch and to flee. Another
forced exodus would help to drive certain memories from his mind and
silence the cries that were now beginning to ring in his ears.
Obedient to priestly counsel, the Saints declined, in the language of
Brigham, "to trust again in Punic faith." In April they began to move
south, starting from the settlements on the north. During that and the
two succeeding months thirty thousand of them left their homes. They
took only their wagons, bedding, and provisions, leaving their other
possessions to the mercy of the expected despoiler. Before locking the
doors of their houses for the last time, they strewed shavings, straw,
and other combustibles through the rooms so that the work of firing the
city could be done quickly. A score of men were left behind to apply the
torch the moment it became necessary,--should a gate be swung open or a
latch lifted by hostile hands. Their homes and fields and orchards might
be given back to the desert from which they had been won; but never to
the Gentile invaders.
To the south the wagons crept, day after day, to some other unknown
desert which their prophet should choose, and where, if the Lord willed,
they would again charm orchards and gardens and green fields from the
gray, parched barrens.
Late in June the army of Johnston descended Emigration Canon, passed
through the echoing streets of the all but deserted city and camped on
the River Jordan. But, to the deep despair of one observer, these
invaders committed no depredation or overt act. After resting
inoffensively two days on the Jordan, they marched forty miles south to
Cedar Valley, where Camp Floyd was established.
Thus, no one fully comprehending how it had come about, peace was seen
suddenly to have been restored. The people, from Brigham down, had been
offered a free pardon for all past treasons and seditions if they would
return to their allegiance to the Federal government; the new officers
of the Territory were installed, sons of perdition in the seats of the
Lord's mighty; and sermons of wrath against Uncle Sam ceased for the
moment to resound in the tabernacle. Early in July, Brigham ordered the
people to return to their homes. They had offered these as a sacrifice,
even as Abraham had offered Isaac, and the Lord had caught them a timely
ram in the thicket.
In the midst of the general rejoicing, Joel Rae was overwhelmed with
humiliation and despair. He was ashamed for having once wished to be
another Lion of the Lord. It was a poor way to find favour with God, he
thought,--this refusing battle when it had been all but forced upon
them. It was plain, however, that the Lord meant to try them
further,--plain, too, that in His inscrutable wisdom He had postponed
the destruction of the wicked nation to the east of them.
He longed again to rise before the people and call them to repentance
and to action. Once he would have done so, but now an evil shadow lay
upon him. Intuitively he knew that his words would no longer come with
power. Some virtue had gone out of him. And with this loss of confidence
in himself came again a desire to be away from the crowded center.
Off to the south was the desert. There he could be alone; there face God
and his own conscience and have his inmost soul declare the truth about
himself. In his sadness he would have liked to lead the people with him,
lead them away from some evil, some falsity that had crept in about
them; he knew not what it was nor how it had come, but Zion had been
defiled. Something was gone from the Church, something from Brigham,
something from himself,--something, it almost seemed, even from the God
of Israel. When the summer waned, his plan was formed to go to one of
the southern settlements to live. Brigham had approved. The Church
needed new blood there.
He rode out of the city one early morning in September, facing to the
south over the rolling valley that lay between the hills now flaunting
their first autumn colours. He was in haste to go, yet fearful of what
he should meet there.
A little out of the city he passed a man from the south, huddled high on
the seat under the bow of his wagon-cover, who sang as he went one of
the songs that had been so popular the winter before:--
"Old squaw-killer Harney is on the way
The Mormon people for to slay.
Now if he comes, the truth I'll tell,
Our boys will drive him down to hell--
Du dah, du dah, day!"
He smiled grimly as the belated echo of war came back to him.
_The Blood on the Page_
Along the level lane between the mountain ranges he went, a lane that
runs almost from Bear Creek on the north to the Colorado on the south,
with a width of twenty miles or so. But for Joel Rae it became a ride
down the valley of lost illusions. Some saving grace of faith was gone
from the people. He passed through sturdy little settlements, bowered in
gardens and orchards, and girded about by now fertile acres where once
had been the bare, gray desert. Slowly, mile by mile, the Saints had
pushed down the valley, battling with the Indians and the elements for
every acre of land they gained. Yet it seemed to him now that they had
achieved but a mere Godless prosperity. They had worked a miracle of
abundance in the desert--but of what avail? For the soul of their faith
was gone. He felt or heard the proof of it on every hand.
Through Battle Creek, Provo, and Springville he went; through Spanish
Fork, Payson, Salt Creek, and Fillmore. He stopped to preach at each
place, but he did it perfunctorily, and with shame for himself in his
secret heart. Some impalpable essence of spirituality was gone from
himself and from the people. He felt himself wickedly agreeing with a
pessimistic elder at Fillmore, who remarked: "I tell you what, Brother
Rae, it seems like when the Book of Mormon goes again' the Constitution
of the United States, there's sure to be hell to pay, and the Saints
allus has to pay it." He could not tell the man in words of fire, as
once he would have done, that they had been punished for lack of faith.
Another told him it was madness to have thought they could "whip" the
United States. "Why," said this one, "they's more soldiers back there
east of the Missouri than there is fiddlers in hell!" By the orthodox
teachings of the time, the good man of Israel had thus indicated an
He passed sadly on. They would not understand that they had laid by and
forgotten their impenetrable armour of faith.
Between Beaver and Paragonah that day, toiling intently along the dusty
road in the full blaze of the August sun, he met a woman,--a tall,
strong creature with a broad, kind face, burned and seamed and hardened
by life in the open. Yet it was a face that appealed to him by its look
of simple, trusting earnestness. Her dress was of stout, gray homespun,
her shoes were coarse and heavy, and she was bareheaded, her gray,
straggling hair half caught into a clumsy knot at the back of her head.
She turned out to pass him without looking up, but he stopped his horse
and dismounted before her. It seemed to him that here was one whose
faith was still fresh, and to such a one he needed to talk. He called to
"You need something on your head; you are burned."
She looked up, absently at first, as if neither seeing nor hearing him.
Then intelligence came into her eyes.
"You mean my Timothy needs something on his head--poor man! You see he
broke out of the house last night, because the Bishop told him I was to
take another husband. Cruel! Oh, so cruel!--the poor foolish man, he
believed it, and he cared so for me. He thought I was bringing home a
new man with me--a new wedding for time and eternity, to build myself up
in the Kingdom--a new wedding night--with him sitting off, cold and
neglected. But something burst in his head. It made a roar like the mill
at Cedar Creek when it grinds the corn--just like that. So he went out
into the cold night--it was sleeting--thinking I'd never miss him, you
see, me being fondled and made over by the new man--wouldn't miss him
till morning." A scowl of indignation darkened her face for an instant,
and she paused, looking off toward the distant hills.
"But that was all a lie, a mean lie! I don't see how he could have
believed it. I think he couldn't have been right up here--" she pointed
to her head.
"But of course I followed him, and I've been following him all day. He
must have got quite a start of me--poor dear--how could he think I'd
break his heart? But I'll have him found by night. I must hurry, so good
day, sir!" She curtsied to him with a curious awkward sort of grace. He
stopped her again.
"Where will you sleep to-night?"
"In his arms, thank God!"
"But if you happen to miss him--you might not find him until to-morrow."
A puzzled look crossed her face, and then came the shadow of a
"Now you speak so, I remember that it wasn't last night he left--it was
the night before--no?--perhaps three or four nights. But not as much as
a fortnight. I remember my little baby came the night he left. I was so
mad to find him I suffered the mother-pains out in the cold rain--just a
little dead baby--I could take no interest in it. And there has been a
night or two since then, of course. Sleep?--oh, I'll sleep some easy
place where I can hear him if he passes--sometimes by the road, in a
barn, in houses--they let me sleep where I like. I must hurry now. He's
waiting just over that hill ahead."
He saw her ascend the rise with a new spring in her step. When she
reached the top, he saw her pause and look from side to side below her,
then start hopefully down toward the next hill.
A mile beyond, back of a great cloud of dust, He found a drove of
cattle, and back of these, hot and voiceful, came the good Bishop
Wright. He described the woman he had just met, and inquired if the
Bishop knew her.
The Wild Ram of the Mountain mopped his dusty, damp brow, took an easier
seat in his saddle, and fanned himself. "Oh, yes, that's the first wife
of Elder Tench. When he took his second, eight or ten years ago,
something went wrong with this one in her head. She left the house the
same night, and she's been on the go ever since. She don't do any harm,
jest tramps back and forth between Paragonah and Parowan and Summit and
Cedar City. I always _have_ said that women is the contrary half of the
human race and man is the sanifying half!"
The cattle were again in motion, and the Bishop after them with strong
cries of correction and exhortation.
Toward evening Joel Rae entered Paragonah, a loose group of log houses
amid outlying fields, now shorn and yellow. Along the street in front of
him many children followed and jeered in the wake of a man who slouched
some distance ahead of them. As Joel came nearer, one boy, bolder than
the others, ran forward and tugged sharply at the victim's ragged gray
coat. At this he turned upon his pursuers, and Joel Rae saw his
face,--the face of an imbecile, with unsteady eyes and weakly drooping
jaw. He raised his hand threateningly at his tormentors, and screamed at
them in rage. Then, as they fell back, he chuckled to himself. As Joel
passed him, he was still looking back at the group of children now
jeering him from a safe distance, his eyes bright for the moment, and
his face lighted with a weak, loose-lipped smile.
"Who is that fellow, Bishop?" he asked of his host for the night, a few
moments later, when he dismounted in front of the cabin. The Bishop
shaded his eyes with his hand and peered up the road at the shambling
figure once more moving ahead of the tormenting children.
"That? Oh, that's only Tom Potwin. You heard about him, I guess. No?
Well, he's a simple--been so four years now. Don't you recollect? He's
the lad over at Manti who wouldn't give up the girl Bishop Warren Snow
wanted. The priesthood tried every way to make him; they counselled him,
and that didn't do; then they ordered him away on mission, but he
wouldn't go; and then they counselled the girl, but she was stubborn
too. The Bishop saw there wasn't any other way, so he had him called to
a meeting at the schoolhouse one night. As soon as he got there, the
lights was blowed out, and--well, it was unfortunate, but this boy's
been kind of an idiot ever since."
"Unfortunate! It was awful!"
"Not so awful as refusing to obey counsel."
"What became of the girl?"
"Oh, she saw it wasn't no use trying to go against the Lord, so she
married the Bishop. He said at the time that he knew she'd bring him bad
luck--she being his thirteenth--and she did, she was that hifalutin. He
had to put her away about a year ago, and I hear she's living in a
dugout somewhere the other side of Cedar City, a-starving to death they
tell me, but for what the neighbours bring her. I never did see why the
Bishop was so took with her. You could see she'd never make a worker,
and good looks go mighty fast."
He dreamed that night that the foundations of the great temple they were
building had crumbled. And when he brought new stones to replace the
old, these too fell away to dust in his hands.
The next evening he reached Cedar City. Memories of this locality began
to crowd back upon him with torturing clearness; especially of the
morning he had left Hamblin's ranch. As he mounted his horse two of the
children saved from the wagon-train had stood near him,--a boy of seven
and another a little older, the one who had fought so viciously with him
when he was separated from the little girl. He remembered that the
younger of the two boys had forgotten all but the first of his name. He
had told them that it was John Calvin--something; he could not remember
what, so great had been his fright; the people at the ranch, because of
his forlorn appearance, had thereupon named him John Calvin Sorrow.
These two boys had watched him closely as he mounted his horse, and the
older one had called to him, "When I get to be a man, I'm coming back
with a gun and kill you till you are dead yourself," and the other,
little John Calvin Sorrow, had clenched his fists and echoed the threat,
"We'll come back here and kill you! Mormons is worse'n Indians!"
He had ridden quickly away, not noting that some of the men standing by
had looked sharply at the boys and then significantly at one another.
One of those who had been present, whom he now met, told him of these
"You see, Elder, the orders from headquarters was to save only them that
was too young to give evidence in a court. But these two was very
forward and knowing. They shouldn't have been kept in the first place.
So two men--no need of naming names--took both of them out one night.
They got along all right with the little one, the one they called John
Calvin Sorrow--only the little cuss kicked and scrambled so that we both
had to see to him for a minute, and when we was ready for the other,
there he was at least ten rods away, a-legging it into the scrub oak.
Well, they looked and looked and hunted around till daybreak, but he'd
got away all right, the moon going under a cloud. They tracked him quite
a ways when it come light, till his tracks run into the trail of a big
band of Navajos that had been up north trading ponies and was going back
south. He was the one that talked so much about you, but you needn't
ever have any fear of his talking any more. He'd be done for one way or
For the first time in his life that night, he was afraid to
pray,--afraid even to give thanks that others were sleeping in the room
with him so that he could hear their breathing and know that he was not
He was up betimes to press on to the south, again afraid to pray, and
dreading what was still in store for him. For sooner or later he would
have to be alone in the night. Thus far since that day in the Meadows he
had slept near others, whether in cabins or in camp, in some freighter's
wagon or bivouacking in the snows of Echo Canon. Each night he had been
conscious, at certain terrible moments of awakening, that others were
near him. He heard their breathing, or in the silence a fire's light had
shown him a sleeping face, the lines of a form, or an arm tossed out.
What would happen on the night he found himself alone, he knew
not--death, or the loss of reason. He knew what the torture would
be,--the shrieks of women in deadly terror, the shrill cries of
children, the low, tense curses of men, the rattle of shots, the yells
of Indians, the heavy, sickening smell of blood, the still forms fallen
in strange positions of ease, the livid faces distorted to grins. He had
not been able to keep the sounds from his ears, but thus far the things
themselves had stayed behind him, moving always, crawling, writhing,
even stepping furtively close at his back, so that he could feel their
breath on his neck. When the time came that these should move around in
front of him, he thought it would have to be the end. They would go
before him, a wild, bleeding, raving procession, until they tore his
heart from his breast. One sight he feared most of all,--a bronzed arm
with a wide silver bracelet at the wrist, the hand clutching and waving
before him heavy strands of long, yellow hair with a gory patch at the
end,--living hair that writhed and undulated to catch the light, coiling
about the arm like a golden serpent.
His way lay through the Meadows, yet he hardly realised this until he
was fairly on the ground in the midst of a thousand evil signs of the
day. Here, a year after, were skulls and whitening bones, some in heaps,
some scattered through the sage-brush where the wolves had left them.
Many of the skulls were pierced with bullet-holes, shattered as by heavy
blows, or cleft as with a sharp-edged weapon. Even more terrifying than
these were certain traces caught here and there on the low scrub oaks
along the way,--children's sunbonnets; shreds of coarse lace, muslin,
and calico; a child's shoe, the tattered sleeve of a woman's dress--all
faded, dead, whipped by the wind.
He pressed through it all with set jaws, trying to keep his eyes fixed
upon the ground beyond his horse's head; but his ears were at the mercy
of the cries that rang from every thicket.
Once out of it, he rode hard, for it must not come yet--his first night
alone. By dusk he had reached the new settlement of Amalon, a little off
the main road in a valley of the Pine Mountains. Here he sought the
house where he had left the child. When he had picketed his horse he
went in and had her brought to him,--a fresh little flower-like
woman-child, with hair and eyes that told of her mother, with reminders
of her mother's ways as she stood before him, a waiting poise of the
head, a lift of the chin. They looked at each other in the candle-light,
the child standing by the woman who had brought her, looking up at him
curiously, and he not daring to touch her or go nearer. She became
uneasy and frightened at last, under his scrutiny, and when the woman
would have held her from running away, began to cry, so that he gave the
word to let her go. She ran quickly into the other room of the cabin,
from which she called back with tears of indignation in her voice,
"You're not my papa--not my _real_ papa!"
When the people were asleep, he sat before the blaze in the big
fireplace, on the hearth cleanly swept with its turkey-wing and
buffalo-tail. There was to be one more night of his reprieve from
solitude. The three women of the house and the man were sleeping around
the room in bunks. The child's bed had been placed near him on the floor
after she slept, as he had asked it to be. He had no thought of sleep
for himself. He was too intensely awake with apprehension. On the floor
beside his chair was a little bundle the woman had brought him,--the
bundle he had found loosened by her side, that day, with the trinkets
scattered about and the limp-backed little Bible lying open where it had
He picked the bundle up and untied it, touching the contents timidly. He
took up the Bible last, and as he did so a memory flooded back upon him
that sickened him and left him trembling. It was the book he had given
her on her seventeenth birthday, the one she had told him she was
keeping when they parted that morning at Nauvoo. He knew the truth
before he opened it at the yellowed fly-leaf and read in faded ink,
"From Joel to Prudence on this day when she is seventeen years old--June
In a daze of feeling he turned the pages, trying to clear his mind,
glancing at the chapter headings as he turned,--"Abram is Justified by
Faith," "God Instructeth Isaac," "Pharaoh's Heart Is Hardened," "The
Laws of Murder," "The Curses for Disobedience." He turned rapidly and at
last began to run the leaves from between his thumb and finger, and
then, well over in the book something dark caught his eye. He turned the
leaves back again to see what it was; but not until the book was opened
flat before him and he held the page close to the light did he see what
it was his eye had caught. A wash of blood was across the page.
He stared blankly at the reddish, dark stain, as if its spell had been
hypnotic. Little by little he began to feel the horror of it,
remembering how he picked the book up from where it had fallen before
her. Slowly, but with relentless certainty, his mind cleared to what he
Now for the first time he began to notice the words that showed dimly
through the stain, began to read them, to puzzle them out, as if they
were new to him:--
"But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them
which hate you,
"Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use
"And unto him that smiteth thee on the one cheek, offer also the
other; and him that taketh away thy cloke forbid not to take thy
"Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away
thy goods ask them not again.
"And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them
Again and again he read them. They were illumined with a strangely
terrible meaning by the blood of her he had loved and sworn to keep
himself clean for.
He could no longer fight off the truth. It was facing him now in all its
nakedness, monstrous to obscenity, demanding its due measure from his
own soul's blood. He aroused himself, shivering, and looked out into the
room where the shadows lay heavy, and from whence came the breathing of
the sleepers. He picked up the now sputtering candle, set in its hole
bored in a block of wood, and held it up for a last look at the little
woman-child. He was full of an agony of wonder as he gazed, of piteous
questioning why this should be as it was. The child stirred and flung
one arm over her eyes as if to hide the light. He put out the candle and
set it down. Then stooping over, he kissed the pillow beside the child's
head and stepped lightly to the door. He had come to the end of his
subterfuges--he could no longer delay his punishment.
Outside the moon was shining, and his horse moved about restlessly. He
put on the saddle and rode off to the south, galloping rapidly after he
reached the highway. Off there was a kindly desert where a man could
take in peace such punishment as his body could bear and his soul
decree; and where that soul could then pass on in decent privacy to be
judged by its Maker.
_The Picture in the Sky_
If something of the peace of the night-silence came to him as he rode,
he counted it only the peace of surrender and despair. He knew now that
he had been cheated of all his great long-nursed hopes of some superior
exaltation. Nor this only; for he had sinned unforgivably and incurred
perdition. He who had fasted, prayed, and endured, waiting for his
Witness, for the spreading of the heavens and the glory of the open
vision, had overreached himself and was cast down.
When at last he slowed his horse to a walk, it was the spring of the
day. The moon had gone, and over on his left a soft grayness began to
show above the line of the hills. The light grew until it glowed with
the fire of opals; through the tree-tops ran little stirs of
wakefulness, and all about him were faint, furtive rustlings and
whispers of the new day. Then in this glorified dusk of the dawn a
squirrel loosed his bark of alarm, a crested jay screamed in answer, and
he knew his hour of atonement was come.
He pressed forward again toward the desert, eager to be on with it. The
page with the wash of blood across it seemed to take on a new vividness
in the stronger light. Under the stain, the letters of the words were
magnified before his mind,--"_And as ye would that men should do to
you_--" It seemed to him that the blood through which they came heated
the words so that they burned his eyes.
An hour after daybreak the trail led him down out of the hills by a
little watercourse to the edge of the desert. Along the sides of this
the chaparral grew thickly, and the spring by which he halted made a
little spot of green at the edge of the gray. But out in front of him
was the infinite stretch of death, far sweeps of wind-furrowed sand
burning under a sun made sullen red by the clouds of fine dust in the
air. Sparsely over the dull surface grew the few shrubs that could
survive the heat and dryness,--stunted, unlovely things of burr, spine,
thorn, or saw-edged leaf,--all bent one ways by the sand blown against
them,--bristling cactus and crouching mesquite bushes.
In the vast open of the blue above, a vulture wheeled with sinister
alertness; and far out among the dwarfed growing things a coyote skulked
knowingly. The weird, phantom-like beauty of it stole upon him, torn as
he was, while he looked over the dry, flat reaches. It was a good place
to die in, this lifeless waste languishing under an angry sun. And he
knew how it would come. Out to the south, as many miles as he should
have strength to walk, away from any road or water-hole, a great thirst
would come, and then delirium, perhaps bringing visions of cool running
water and green trees. He would hurry toward these madly until he
stumbled and fell and died. Then would come those cynical scavengers of
the desert, the vulture wheeling lower, the coyote skulking nearer,
pausing suspiciously to sniff and to see if he moved. Then a few poor
bones, half-buried by the restless sand, would be left to whiten and
crumble into particles of the same desert dust he looked upon. As for
his soul, he shuddered to think its dissolution could not also be made
He stood looking out a long time, held by the weak spirit of a hope that
some reprieve might come, from within or from on high. But he saw only
the page wet with blood, and the words that burned through it into his
eyes; heard only the cries of women in their death-agony and the
stealthy movements of the bleeding shapes behind him. There was no ray
of hope to his eye nor note of it to his ear--only the cries and the
rustlings back of him, driving him out.
At last he gave his horse water, tied the bridle-rein to the horn of the
saddle, headed him back over the trail to the valley and turned him
loose. Then, after a long look toward the saving green of the hills, he
started off through the yielding sand, his face white and haggard but
hard-set. He was already weakened by fasting and loss of sleep, and the
heat and dryness soon told upon him as the chill was warmed from the
When he had walked an hour, he felt he must stop, at least to rest. He
looked back to see how far he had come. He was disappointed by the
nearness of the hills; they seemed but a stone's throw away. If delirium
came now he would probably wander back to the water. He lay down,
determining to gather strength for many more miles. The sand was hot
under him, and the heat of a furnace was above, but he lay with his head
on his arm and his hat pulled over his face. Soon he was half-asleep, so
that dreams would alternate with flashes of consciousness; or sometimes
they merged, so that he would dream he had wandered into a desert, or
that the stifling heat of a desert came to him amid the snows of Echo
Canon. He awakened finally with a cry, brushing from before his eyes a
mass of yellow hair that a dark hand shook in his face.
He sat up, looked about a moment, and was on his feet again to the
south, walking in the full glare of the sun, with his shadow now
straight behind him. He went unsteadily at first, but soon felt new
vigour from his rest.
He walked another hour, then turned, and was again disappointed--it was
such a little distance; yet he knew now he must be too far out to find
his way back when the madness came. So it was with a little sigh of
contentment that he lay down again to rest or to take what might come.
Again he lay with his head on his arm in the scorching sands, with his
hat above his face, and again his dreams alternated with consciousness
of the desolation about him--alternated and mingled so that he no longer
knew when he did not sleep. And again he was tortured to wakefulness, to
thirst, and to heat, by the yellow hair brandished before him.
He sat up until he was quite awake, and then sank back upon the sand
again, relieved to find that he felt too weak to walk further. His mind
had become suddenly cleared so that he seemed to see only realities, and
those in their just proportions. He knew he had passed sentence of death
upon himself, knew he had been led to sin by his own arrogance of soul.
It came to him in all its bare, hard simplicity, stripped of the
illusions and conceits in which his pride had draped it, thrusting sharp
blades of self-condemnation through his heart. In that moment he doubted
all things. He knew he had sinned past his own forgiveness, even if
pardon had come from on high; knew that no agony of spear and thorns
upon the cross could avail to take him from the hell to which his own
conscience had sent him.
He was quite broken. Not since the long-gone night on the river-flat
across from Nauvoo had tears wet his eyes. But they fell now, and from
sheer, helpless grief he wept. And then for the first time in two days
he prayed--this time the prayer of the publican:--
"_God be merciful to me, a sinner_."
Over and over he said the words, chokingly, watering the hot sands with
his tears. When the paroxysm had passed, it left him, weak and prone,
still faintly crying his prayer into the sand, "O God, be merciful to
me, a sinner."
When he had said over the words as long as his parched throat would let
him, he became quiet. To his amazement, some new, strange peace had
filled him. He took it for the peace of death. He was glad to think it
was coming so gently--like a kind mother soothing him to his last sleep.
His head on his arm, his whole tired body relaxing in this new
restfulness, he opened his eyes and looked off to the south, idly
scanning the horizon, his eyes level with the sandy plain. Then
something made him sit quickly up and stare intently, his bared head
craning forward. To the south, lying low, was a mass of light clouds,
volatile, changing with opalescent lights as he looked. A little to the
left of these clouds, while his head was on the sand, he thought his
eyes had detected certain squared lines.
Now he scanned the spot with a feverish eagerness. At first there was
only the endless empty blue. Then, when his wonder was quite dead and he
was about to lie down, there came a miracle of miracles,--a vision in
the clear blue of the sky. And this time the lines were coherent. He,
the dying sinner, had caught, clearly and positively for one awful
second in that sky, the flashing impression of a cross. It faded as
soon as it came, vanished while he gazed, leaving him in gasping,
fainting wonder at the marvel.
And then, before he could think or question himself, the sky once more
yielded its vision; again that image of a cross stayed for a second in
his eyes, and this time he thought there were figures about it. Some
picture was trying to show itself to him. Still reaching his body
forward, gazing fearfully, his aroused body pulsing swiftly to the
wonder of the thing, he began to pray again, striving to keep his
"O God, have mercy on me, a sinner!"
Slowly at first, it grew before his fixed eyes, then quickly, so that at
the last there was a complete picture where but an instant before had
been but a meaningless mass of line and colour. Set on a hill were many
low, square, flat-topped houses, brown in colour against the gray ground
about them. In front of these houses was a larger structure of the same
material, a church-like building such as he had once seen in a picture,
with a wooden cross at the top. In an open square before this church
were many moving persons strangely garbed, seeming to be Indians. They
surged for a moment about the door of the church, then parted to either
side as if in answer to a signal, and he saw a procession of the same
people coming with bowed heads, scourging themselves with short whips
and thorned branches. At their head walked a brown-cowled monk, holding
aloft before him a small cross, attached by a chain to his waist. As he
led the procession forward, another crowd, some of them being other
brown-cowled monks, parted before the church door, and there, clearly
before his wondering eyes was erected a great cross upon which he saw
the crucified Saviour.
He saw those in the procession form about the cross and fling themselves
upon the ground before it, while all the others round about knelt. He
saw the monk, standing alone, raise the smaller cross in his hands above
them, as if in blessing. High above it all, he saw the crucified one,
the head lying over on the shoulder.
Then he, too, flung himself face down in the sand, weeping hysterically,
calling wildly, and trying again to utter his prayer. Once more he dared
to look up, in some sudden distrust of his eyes. Again he saw the
prostrate figures, the kneeling ones farther back, the brown-cowled monk
with arms upraised, and the face of agony on the cross.
He was down in the sand again, now with enough control of himself to cry
out his prayer over and over. When he next looked, the vision was gone.
Only a few light clouds ruffled the southern horizon.
He sank back on the sands in an ecstasy. His Witness had come--not as he
thought it would, in a moment of spiritual uplift; but when he had been
sunk by his own sin to fearful depths. Nor had it brought any message of
glory for himself, of gifts or powers. Only the mission of suffering and
service and suffering again at the end. But it was enough.
How long he lay in the joy of the realisation he never knew, but sleep
or faintness at last overcame him.
He was revived by the sharp chill of night, and sat up to find his mind
clear, alert, and active with new purposes. He had suffered greatly from
thirst, so that when he tried to say a prayer of thanksgiving he could
not move his swollen tongue. He was weakened, too, but the freezing cold
of the desert night aroused all his latent force. He struggled to his
feet, and laid a course by the light of the moon back to the spring he
had left in the morning. How he reached the hills again he never knew,
nor how he made his way over them and back to the settlement. But there
he lay sick for many days, his mind, when he felt it at all, tossing
idly upon the great sustaining consciousness of that vision in the
The day which he next remembered clearly, and from which he dated his
new life, was one when he was back in the Meadows. He had ridden there
in the first vagueness and weakness of his recovery, without purpose,
yet feeling that he must go. What he found there made him believe he had
been led to the spot. Stark against the glow of the western sky as he
rode up, was a huge cross. He stopped, staring in wonder, believing it
to be another vision; but it stayed before him, rigid, bare, and
uncompromising. He left his horse and climbed up to it. At its base was
piled a cairn of stones, and against this was a slab with an
"Here 120 Men, Women, and Children Were Massacred in Cold Blood Early in
On the cross itself was carved in deep letters:--
"Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord."
He fell on his knees at the foot and prayed, not weeping nor in any
fever of fear, but as one knowing his sin and the sin of his Church. The
burden of his prayer was, "O God, my own sin cannot be forgiven--I know
it well--but let me atone for the sins of this people and let me guide
them aright. Let me die on this cross a hundred deaths for each life
they put out, or as many more as shall be needed to save them."
He was strong in his faith again, conscious that he himself was lost,
but burning to save others, and hopeful, too, for he believed that a
miracle had been vouchsafed to him in the desert.
Nor would the good _padre_, at the head of his procession of penitents
in his little mission out across the desert, have doubted less that it
was a miracle than did this unhappy apostle of Joseph Smith, had he
known the circumstance of its timeliness; albeit he had become familiar
with such phenomena of light and air in the desert.
_The Sinner Chastens himself_
How to offer the greatest sacrifice--how to do the greatest
service--these had become his problems. He concerned himself no longer
with his own exaltation either in this world or the world to come.
He resolved to stay south, fearing vaguely that in the North he would be
in conflict with the priesthood. He knew not how; he felt that he was
still sound in his faith, but he felt, too, some undefined antagonism
between himself and those who preached in the tabernacle. For his home
he chose the settlement of Amalon, set in a rich little valley between
the shoulders of the Pine Mountains.
Late in October there was finished for him on the outer edge of the
town, near the bank of a little hill-born stream, a roomy log-house,
mud-chinked, with a water-tight roof of spruce shakes and a floor of
whipsawed plank,--a residence fit for one of the foremost teachers in
the Church, an Elder after the Order of Melchisedek, an eloquent
preacher and one true to the blessed Gods. At one end of the cabin, a
small room was partitioned off and a bunk built in it. A chair and a
water-basin on a block comprised its furniture. This room he reserved
As to the rest of the house, his ideas were at first cloudy. He knew
only that he wished to serve. Gradually, however, as his mind worked
over the problem, the answer came with considerable clearness. He
thought about it much on his way north, for he was obliged to make the
trip to Salt Lake City to secure supplies for the winter, some needed
articles of furniture for the house, and his wagons and stock.
He was helped in his thinking on a day early in the journey. Near a
squalid hut on the outskirts of Cedar City he noticed a woman staggering
under an armful of wood. She was bareheaded, with hair disordered, her
cheeks hollowed, and her skin yellow and bloodless. He remembered the
tale he had heard when he came down. He thought she must be that wife of
Bishop Snow who had been put away. He rode up to the cabin as the woman
threw her wood inside. She was weak and wretched-looking in the extreme.
"I am Elder Rae. I want to know if you would care to go to Amalon with
me when I come back. If you do, you can have a home there as long as you
like. It would be easier for you than here."
She had looked up quickly at him in much embarrassment. She smiled a
little when he had finished.
"I'm not much good to work, but I think I'd get stronger if I had
plenty to eat. I used to be right strong and well."
"I shall be along with my wagons in two weeks or a little more. If you
will go with me then I would like to have you. Here, here is money to
buy you food until I come."
"You've heard about me, have you--that I'm a divorced woman?"
"Yes, I know."
She looked down at the ground a moment, pondering, then up at him with
"I can't work hard and--I'm not--pretty any longer--why do you want to
Her question made him the more embarrassed of the two, and she saw as
much, but she could not tell why it was.
"Why," he stammered, "why,--you see--but never mind. I must hurry on
now. In about two weeks--" And he put the spurs so viciously to his
horse that he was nearly unseated by the startled animal's leap.
Off on the open road again he thought it out. Marriage had not been in
his mind when he spoke to the woman. He had meant only to give her a
home. But to her the idea had come naturally from his words, and he
began to see that it was, indeed, not an unnatural thing to do. He dwelt
long on this new idea, picturing at intervals the woman's lack of any
charm or beauty, her painful emaciation, her weakness.
Passing through another village later in the day, he saw the youth who
had been so unfortunate as to love this girl in defiance of his Bishop.
Unmolested for the time, the imbecile would go briskly a few steps and
then pause with an important air of the deepest concern, as if he were
engaged on an errand of grave moment. He was thinly clad and shivering
in the chill of the late October afternoon.
Again, still later in the day, he overtook and passed the gaunt, gray
woman who forever sought her husband. She was smiling as he passed her.
Then his mind was made up.
As he entered Brigham's office in Salt Lake City some days later, there
passed out by the same door a woman whom he seemed dimly to remember.
The left half of her face was disfigured by a huge flaming scar, and he
saw that she had but one hand.
"Who was that woman?" he asked Brigham, after they had chatted a little
of other matters.
"That's poor Christina Lund. You ought to remember her. She was in your
hand-cart party. She's having a pretty hard time of it. You see, she
froze off one hand, so now she can't work much, and then she froze her
face, so she ain't much for looks any longer--in fact, I wouldn't say
Christina was much to start with, judging from the half of her face
that's still good--and so, of course, she hasn't been able to marry. The
Church helps her a little now and then, but what troubles her most is
that she'll lose her glory if she ain't married. You see, she ain't a
worker and she ain't handsome, so who's going to have her sealed to
"I remember her now. She pushed the cart with her father in it from the
Platte crossing, at Fort Laramie, clear over to Echo Canon, when all the
fingers of one hand came off on the bar of the cart one afternoon; and
then her hand had to be amputated. Brother Brigham, she shouldn't be
cheated of her place in the Kingdom."
"Well, she ain't capable, and she ain't a pretty person, so what can she
"I believe if the Lord is willing I will have her sealed to me."
"It will be your own doings, Brother Rae. I wouldn't take it on myself
to counsel that woman to anybody."
"I feel I must do it, Brother Brigham."
"Well, so be it if you say. She can be sealed to you and be a star in
your crown forever. But I hope, now that you've begun to build up your
kingdom, you'll do a little better, next time. There's a lot of pretty
good-looking young women came in with a party yesterday--"
"All in good time, Brother Brigham! If you're willing, I'll pick up my
second on the way south."
"Well, well, now that's good!" and the broad face of Brigham glowed with
friendly enthusiasm. "You know I'd suspicioned more than once that you
wasn't overly strong on the doctrinal point of celestial marriage. I
hope your second, Brother Joel, is a little fancier than this one."
"She'll be a better worker," he replied.
"Well, they're the most satisfactory in the long run. I've found that
out myself. At any rate, it's best to lay the foundations of your
kingdom with workers, the plainer the better. After that, a man can
afford something in the ornamental line now and then. Now, I'll send for
Christina and tell her what luck she's in. She hasn't had her endowments
yet, so you might as well go through those with her. Be at the
endowment-house at five in the morning."
And so it befell that Joel Rae, Elder after the Order of Melchisedek,
and Christina Lund, spinster, native of Denmark, were on the following
day, after the endowment-rites had been administered, married for time
At the door of the endowment-house they were separated and taken to
rooms, where each was bathed and anointed with oil poured from a horn. A
priest then ordained them to be king and queen in time and eternity.
After this, they were conducted to a large apartment, and left in
silence for some moments. Then voices were heard, the voice of Elohim in
converse with Jehovah. They were heard to declare their intention of
visiting the earth, and this they did, pronouncing it good, but deciding
that one of a higher order was needed to govern the brutes. Michael, the
Archangel, was then called and placed on earth under the name of Adam,
receiving power over the beasts, and being made free to eat of the fruit
of every tree but one. This tree was a small evergreen, with bunches of
raisins tied to its branches.
Discovering that it was not good for man to be alone, Brigham, as God,
then caused a sleep to fall upon Adam, and fashioned Eve from one of his
ribs. Then the Devil entered, in black silk knee-breeches, approaching
with many blandishments the woman who was enacting the role of Eve. The
sin followed, and the expulsion from the garden.
After this impressive spectacle, Joel and the rapturous Christina were
taught many signs, grips, and passwords, without which one may not pass
by the gatekeepers of heaven. They were sworn also to avenge the murder
of Joseph Smith upon the Gentiles who had done it, and to teach their
children to do the same; to obey without questioning or murmur the
commands of the priesthood; and never to reveal these secret rites under
penalty of having their throats cut from ear to ear and their hearts and
tongues cut out.
When this oath had been taken, they passed into a room containing a
long, low altar covered with red velvet. At one end, in an armchair, sat
Brigham, no longer in the role of God, but in his proper person of
Prophet, Seer, and Revelator. They knelt on either side of this altar,
and, with hands clasped above it in the secret grip last given to them,
they were sealed for time and eternity.
From the altar they went to the wagons and began their journey south.
Christina came out of the endowment-house, glowing, as to one side of
her face. She was, also, in a state of daze that left her able to say
but little. Proud and happy and silent, her sole remark, the first day
of the trip, was: "Brigham--now--he make such a lovely, _bee-yoo-tiful_
God in heaven!"
Nor, it soon appeared, was she ever talkative. The second day, too, she
spoke but once, which was when a sudden heavy shower swept down from the
hills and caught her some distance from the wagons, helping to drive the
cattle. Then, although she was drenched, she only said: "It make down
somet'ing, I t'ink!"
For this taciturnity her husband was devoutly thankful. He had married
her to secure her place in the Kingdom and a temporal home, and not
otherwise did he wish to be concerned about her. He was glad to note,
however, that she seemed to be of a happy disposition; which he did at
certain times when her eyes beamed upon him from a face radiant with
But his work of service had only begun. As they went farther south he
began to make inquiries for the wandering wife of Elder Tench. He came
upon her at length as she was starting north from Beaver at dusk. He
prevailed upon her to stop with his party.
"I don't mind to-night, sir, but I must be off betimes in the morning."
But in the morning he persuaded her to stay with them.
"Your husband is out of the country now, but he's coming back soon, and
he will stop first at my house when he does come. So stay with me there
and wait for him."
She was troubled by this at first, but at last agreed.
"If you're sure he will come there first--"
She refused to ride in the wagon, however, preferring to walk, and
strode briskly all day in the wake of the cattle.
At Parowan he made inquiries for Tom Potwin, that other derelict, and
was told that he had gone south. Him, too, they overtook on the road
next day, and persuaded to go with them to a home.
When they reached Cedar City a halt was made while he went for the other
woman--not without some misgiving, for he remembered that she was still
young. But his second view of her reassured him--the sallow, anemic
face, the skin drawn tightly over the cheek-bones, the drooping
shoulders, the thin, forlorn figure. Even the certainty that her life of
hardship was ended, that she was at least sure not to die of privation,
had failed to call out any radiance upon her. They were married by a
local Bishop, Joel's first wife placing the hand of the second in his
own, as the ceremony required. Then with his wives, his charges, his
wagons, and his cattle he continued on to the home he had made at the
edge of Amalon.
Among the women there was no awkwardness or inharmony; they had all
suffered; and the two wives tactfully humoured the whims of the insane
woman. On the day they reached home, the husband took them to the door
of his own little room.
"All that out there is yours," he said. "Make the best arrangements you
can. This is my place; neither of you must ever come in here."
They busied themselves in unpacking the supplies that had been brought,
and making the house home-like. The big gray woman had already gone down
the road toward the settlement to watch for her husband, promising,
however, to return at nightfall. The other derelict helped the women in
their work, doing with a childish pleasure the things they told him to
do. The second wife occasionally paused in her tasks to look at him from
eyes that were lighted to strange depths; but he had for her only the
unconcerned, unknowing look that he had for the others.
At night the master of the house, when they had assembled, instructed
them briefly in the threefold character of the Godhead. Then, when he
had made a short prayer, he bade them good night and went to his room.
Here he permitted himself a long look at the fair young face set in the
little gilt oval of the rubber case. Then, as if he had forgotten
himself, he fell contritely to his knees beside the bunk and prayed that
this face might never remind him of aught but his sin; that he might
have cross after cross added to his burden until the weight should crush
him; and that this might atone, not for his own sins, which must be
punished everlastingly, but in some measure for the sins of his
In the outer room his wives, sitting together before the big fireplace,
were agreeing that he was a good man.
_The Coming of the Woman-Child_
The next day he sent across the settlement for the child, waiting for
her with mixed emotions,--a trembling merge of love and fear, with
something, indeed, of awe for this woman-child of her mother, who had
come to him so deviously and with a secret significance so mighty of
portent to his own soul. When they brought her in at last, he had to
brace himself to meet her.
She came and stood before him, one foot a little advanced, several dolls
clutched tightly under one arm, and her bonnet swinging in the other
hand. She looked up at him fearlessly, questioningly, but with no sign
of friendliness. He saw and felt her mother in all her being, in her
eyes and hair, in the lines of her soft little face, and indefinably in
her way of standing or moving. He was seized with a sudden fear that the
mother watched him secretly out of the child's eyes, and with the
child's lips might call to him accusingly, with what wild cries of
anguish and reproach he dared not guess. He strove to say something to
her, but his lips were dry, and he made only some half-articulate sound,
trying to force a smile of assurance.
Then the child spoke, her serious, questioning eyes upon him
"Are you a damned Mormon?"
It broke the spell of awe that had lain upon him, so that he felt for
the moment only a pious horror of her speech. He called Christina to
take charge of her, and Martha, the second wife, to put away her little
bundle of clothing, and Tom Potwin to fetch water for her bath. He
himself went to be alone where he could think what must be done for her.
From an entry in the little Bible, written in letters that seemed to
shout to him the accusation of his crime, he had found that she must now
be five years old. It was plainly time that he should begin to supply
her very apparent need of religious instruction.
When she had become a little used to her surroundings later in the day,
he sought to beguile her to this end, beginning diplomatically with
"Come, tell me your name, dear."
She allowed her attention to be diverted from her largest doll.
"My name is Prudence--" She hesitated.
"I--I lost my mind of it." She looked at him hopefully, to be prompted.
She repeated the name, doubtingly, "Prudence Rae?"
"Yes--remember now--Prudence Rae. You are my little girl--Prudence Rae."
"But you're not my really papa--he's went far off--oh, ten ninety miles
"No, Prudence--God is your Father in heaven, and I am your father on
"But not my _papa_!"
"Listen, Prudence--do you know what you are?"
The puzzled look she had worn fled instantly from her face.
"I'm a generation of vipers."
She made the announcement with a palpable ring of elation in her tones,
looking at him proudly, and as if waiting to hear expressions of
astonishment and delight.
"Child, child, who has told you such things? You are not that!"
She retorted, indignantly now, the lines drawing about her eyes in
signal of near-by tears:
"I _am_ a generation of vipers--the Bishop said I was--he told that
other mamma, and I _am_ it!"
"Well, well, don't cry--all right--you shall be it--but I can tell you
something much nicer." He assumed a knowing air, as one who withheld
knowledge of overwhelming fascinations.
[Illustration: "BUT YOU'RE NOT MY REALLY PAPA!"]
And so, little by little, hardly knowing where to begin, but feeling
that any light whatsoever must profit a soul so benighted, he began to
teach her. When she had been put to bed at early candle-light, he went
to see if she remembered her lesson.
"What is the name of God in pure language?"
And she answered, with zest, "Ahman."
"What is the name of the Son of God?"
"Son Ahman,--the greatest of all the parts of God excepting Ahman."
"What is the name of man?"
"That is good--my little girl shall be chosen of the Lord."
He waited by her until sleep should come, but her mind had been stirred,
and long after he thought she slept she startled him by asking, in a
voice of entire wakefulness: "If I am a good little girl, and learn all
the _right_ things--_then_ can I be a generation of vipers?" She
lingered with relish on the phrase, giving each syllable with
distinctness and gusto. When he was sure that she slept, he leaned over
very carefully and kissed the pillow beside her head.
In the days that followed he wooed her patiently, seeking constantly to
find some favour with her, and grateful beyond words when he succeeded
ever so little. At first, he could win but slight notice of any sort
from her, and that only at rare and uncertain intervals. But gradually
his unobtrusive efforts told, and, little by little, she began to take
him into her confidence. The first day she invited him to play with her
in one of her games was a day of rejoicing for him. She showed him the
"Now, this is the mother and this is the little baby of it, and we will
have a tea-party."
She drew up a chair, placed the two dolls under it, and pointed to the
opening between the rungs.
"Here is the house, and here is a little door where to go in at. You
must be very, very particulyar when you go in. Now what shall we cook?"
And she clasped her hands, looking up at him with waiting eagerness.
He suggested cake and tea. But this answer proved to be wrong.
"Oh, _no_!"--there was scorn in her tones--"Buffalo-hump and marrowbones
and vebshtulls and lemon-coffee."
He received the suggestion cordially, and tried to fall in with it, but
she soon detected that his mind was not pliable enough for the game. She
was compelled at last to dismiss him, though she accomplished the
ungracious thing tactfully.
"Perhaps you have some farming to do out at the barn, because my dollies
can't _be_ very well with you at a tea-party, because you are too much."
But she had shown a purpose of friendliness, and this sufficed him. And
that night, before her bed-time, when he sat in front of the fire, she
came with a most matter-of-fact unconsciousness to climb into his lap.
He held her a long time, trying to breathe gently and not daring to move
lest he make her uncomfortable. Her head pillowed on his arm, she was
soon asleep, and he refused to give her up when Martha came to put her
Though their intimacy grew during the winter, so that she called him her
father and came confidingly to him at all times, in tears or in
laughter, yet he never ceased to feel an aloofness from her, an
awkwardness in her presence, a fear that the mother who looked from her
eyes might at any moment call to him.
That winter was also a time for the other members of the household to
adapt themselves to their new life. The two wives attended capably to
the house. The imbecile boy, who had once loved one of them to his own
undoing, but who no longer knew her, helped them a little with the work,
though for the most part he busied himself by darting off upon
mysterious and important errands which he would appear to recall
suddenly, but which, to his bewilderment, he seemed never able to
finish. The other member of the household, Delight Tench, the gaunt,
gray woman, still made sallies out to the main road to search for her
deceived husband; but they taught her after a little never to go far
from the settlement, and to come back to her home each night.
During the winter evenings, when they sat about the big fireplace, the
master of the house taught them the mysteries of the Kingdom as revealed
by God to Joseph, and then to Brigham, who had been chosen by Joseph as
was Joshua by Moses to be a prophet and leader.
In time Brigham would be gathered to his Father, and in the celestial
Kingdom, his wives having been sealed to him for eternity, he would
beget millions and myriads of spirits. During this period of increase he
would grow in the knowledge of the Gods, learning how to make matter
take the form he desired. Noting the vast increase in his family, he
would then say: "Let us go and make a world upon which my family of
spirits may live in bodies of grosser matter, and so gain valuable
At the word of command, thereupon spoken by Brigham, the elements would
come together in a new world. This he would beautify, planting seeds
upon it, telling the waters where to flow, placing fishes in them,
putting fowls in the air and beasts in the field. Then, calling it all
good, he would say to his favourite wife: "Let us go down and inhabit
this new home." And they would go down, to be called Adam and Eve by
some future Moses.
Eve would presently be tempted by Satan to eat fruit from the one tree
they had been forbidden to touch, and Brigham as Adam would then partake
of it, too, so she should not have to suffer alone. In a thousand years
they would die, after raising many tabernacles of flesh into which their
spirit children from the celestial world would have come to find abode.
Brigham, going back to the celestial world, would keep watch over these
earthly children of his. Yet in their fallen nature they would in time
forget their father Brigham, the world whence they came, and the world
whither they were going. Sometimes he would send messages to the purest
of them, and at all times he would keep as near to them as they would
let him. At last he would lay a plan to bring them all again into his
presence. For he would now have become the God they should worship. He
would send to these children of earth his oldest son, entrusted with the
mission of redeeming them, and only faith in the name of this son would
secure the favour of the father.
Joel Rae instructed his wondering household, further, that such glory as
this would be reserved, not for Brigham alone, but for the least of the
Saints. Each Saint would progress to Godhead, and go down with his Eve
to make and people worlds without end. This, he explained, was why God
had made space to be infinite, since nothing less could have room for
the numberless seed of man. In conclusion, he gave them the words of the
Heaven-gifted Brigham: "Let all who hear these doctrines pause before
they make light of them or treat them with indifference, for they will
prove your salvation or your damnation."
Yet often during that winter while he talked these doctrines he would
find his mind wandering, and there would come before his eyes a little
printed page with a wash of blood across it, and he would be forced to
read in spite of himself the verses that were magnified before his eyes.
The priesthood of which he was a product dealt but little with the New
Testament. They taught from the Old almost wholly, when they went
outside the Book of Mormon and the revelations to Joseph Smith--of the
God of Israel who was a God of Battle, loving the reek of blood and the
smell of burnt flesh on an altar--rather than of the God of the
He found himself turning to this New Testament, therefore, with a
curious feeling of interest and surprise, dwelling long at a time upon
its few, simple, forthright teachings, being moved by them in ways he
did not comprehend, and finding certain of the dogmas of his Church
sounding strangely in his ears even when his own lips were teaching
One of the verses he especially dreaded to see come before him: "But
whoso shall offend one of these little ones which believe in me, it were
better for him that a millstone were hanged about his neck, and that he
were drowned in the depth of the sea." He taught the child to pray, "O
God, let my father have due punishment for all his sins, but teach him
never to offend any little child from this day forth."
He used to listen for this and to be soothed when he heard it. Sometimes
the words would come to him when he was shut in his room; for if neither
of the women was by her when she prayed, it was her custom to raise her
voice as high as she could, in the belief that otherwise her prayer
would not be heard by the Power she addressed. In high, piping tones
this petition for himself would come through his door, following always
after the request that the Lord would bless Brigham Young in his basket
and in his store, multiplying and increasing him in wives, children,
flocks and herds, houses and lands.
_The Entablature of Truth Makes a Discovery at Amalon_
The house of Rae became a house of importance in the little settlement
in the Pine Valley. It was not only the home of the highest Church
official in the community, but it was the largest and best-furnished
house, so that visiting dignitaries stayed there. It stood a little way
from the loose-edged group of cabins that formed the nucleus of the
settlement, on ground a little higher, and closer to the wooded canon
that gashed the hills on the east.
The style of house most common in the village was long, low-roofed, of
hewn logs, its front pierced by alternating doors and windows. From the
number of these might usually be inferred the owner's current prospects
for glory in the Kingdom; for behind each door would be a wife to exalt
him, and to be exalted herself thereby in the sole way open to her, to
thrones, dominion, and power in the celestial world. There were many of
these long, profusely doored houses; but many, too, of less external
promise; of two doors or even one. Yet in a hut of one door a
well-wived Saint might be building up the Kingdom temporarily, until he
could provide a more spacious setting for the several stars in his
Then there was the capable Bishop Wright, whose long domestic barracks
were the first toward the main road beyond Bishop Coltrin's modest
two-doored hut. The Wild Ram of the Mountains, having lately been sealed
to his twelfth wife, and having no suitable apartment for her, had
ingeniously contrived a sleeping-place in a covered wagon-box at the end
of the house,--an apartment which was now being occupied, not without
some ungraceful remonstrance, by his first wife, a lady somewhat far
down in the vale of years and long past the first glamour of her
enthusiasm for the Kingdom. It had been her mischance to occupy
previously in the community-house that apartment which the good man saw
to be most suitable for his young and somewhat fastidious bride. Not
without makeshifts, indeed, many of which partook of this infelicity,
was the celestial order of marriage to be obeyed and the world brought
back to its primitive purity and innocence.
And of all persons in any degree distressed about these or other matters
of faith, Joel Rae was made the first confidant and chief comforter. In
the case just cited, for example, Bishop Wright had confessed to him
that, if anything could make him break asunder the cable of the Church
of Christ, it would be the perplexity inevitable to a maintenance of
domestic harmony under the celestial order. The first wife also
distressed this adviser with a moving tale of her expulsion from a
comfortable room into the incommodious wagon-box.
Many of these confidences, as the days went by, he found spirit-grieving
in the extreme, so that he was often weary and longed for refuge in a
wilderness. Yet he never failed to let fall some word that might be
monitory or profitable to those who took him their troubles; nor did he
forget to exult in these burdens that were put upon him, for he had
resolved that his cross should be made as heavy as he could bear.
In addition to his duties as spiritual adviser to the community, it was
his office to preach; also to hold himself at the call of the afflicted,
to anoint their heads with oil and rebuke their fevers. He took an
especial pleasure in this work of healing, being glad to leave his
fields by day or his bed by night for the sickroom. By couches of
suffering he watched and prayed, and when they began to say in Amalon
that his word of rebuke to fevers came with strange power, that his
touch was marvellously healing, and his prayers strangely potent, he
prayed not to be set up thereby, nor to forget that the power came, not
by him but through him, because of his knowing his own unworthiness. He
fasted and prayed to be trusted still more until he should be worthy of
that complete power which the Master had said came only by prayer and
The conscientious manner in which he performed his offices was
favourably commented upon by Bishop Wright. This good man believed there
had been a decline of late in the ardour of the priesthood.
"I tell you, Elder, I wish they was all as careful as you be, but
they're falling into shiftless ways. If I'm sick and have to depend on
myself, all right. I'll dose up with lobelia or gamboge, or put a
blister-plaster on the back of my neck or take a drink of catnip tea or
composition, and then the cure of my misery is with the Lord God of
Hosts. But if I send for an administrator, it's different. He takes the
responsibility and I want him to fulfil every will of the Lord. When an
Elder comes to administer to me and is afraid of greasing his fingers or
of dropping a little oil on his vest, and says, 'Oh, never mind the oil!
there ain't any virtue in the olive-oil; besides, I might grease my
gloves,' why I feel like telling such a Godless critter to walk off.
When God says anoint with oil, _anoint_, I don't care if it runs down
his beard as it ran down Aaron's. And I don't want to talk anybody down
or mention any names; but, well, next time when I got a cold and Elder
Beil Wardle is the only administrator free, why, I'll just stand or fall
by myself. A basin of water-gruel, hot, with half a quart of old rum in
it and lots of brown sugar, is better than all _his_ anointing."
To make his days busier there were the affairs of the Church to oversee,
for he was now President of the local Stake of Zion; reports of the
teachers to consider in council meeting, of their weekly visits to each
family, and of the fidelity of each of its members to the Kingdom. And
there were the Deacons and Priests of the Aaronic Order and other Elders
and Bishops of the Order of Melchisedek to advise with upon the temporal
and spiritual affairs of Israel; to labour and pray with Peregrine
Noble, who had declared that he would no longer be as limber as a
tallowed rag in the hands of the priesthood, and to deliver him over to
the buffetings of Satan in the flesh if he persisted in his blasphemy;
to rebuke Ozro Cutler for having brazenly sought to pay on his tithing
some ten pounds of butter so redolent of garlic that the store had
refused to take it from him in trade; to counsel Mary Townsley that Pye
Townsley would come short of his glory before God if she remained
rebellious in the matter of his sealing other jewels to his crown; to
teach certain unillumined Saints something of the ethics of unbranded
cattle; and to warn settlers against isolating themselves in the
outlying valleys where they would be a temptation to the red sons of
Again there was the rite of baptism to be administered,--not an onerous
office in the matter of the living, but apt to become so in the case of
the dead; for the whole world had been in darkness and sin since the
apostolic gifts were lost, ages ago, and the number of dead whose souls
now waited for baptism was incalculable; and not until the living had
been baptised for them could they enter the celestial Kingdom. In
consequence, all earnest souls were baptised tirelessly for their loved
ones who had gone behind the veil before Peter, James, and John ordained
But the unselfish did not confine their efforts to friends and
relatives. In the village of Amalon that winter and spring, Amarintha,
third wife of Sarshell Sweezy, bethought her to be baptised for Queen
Anne; whereupon Ezra Colver at once underwent the same rite for this
lamented queen's husband, Prince George of Denmark; thereby securing the
prompt admission of the royal couple to the full joys of the Kingdom.
Attention being thus turned to royalty, the first Napoleon and his first
consort were baptised into heaven by thoughtful proxies; then Queen
Elizabeth and Henry the Eighth. Eric Glines, being a liberal-minded man,
was baptised for George Washington, thus adding the first President of
the Gentile nation to the galaxy of Mormon Saints reigning in heaven.
Gilbroid Sumner thereupon won the fervent commendation of his Elder by
submitting twice to burial in the waters of baptism for the two thieves
on the cross.
From time to time the little settlement was visited by officials of the
Church who journeyed south from Salt Lake City; perhaps one of the
powerful Twelve Apostles, those who bind on earth that which is bound in
heaven; or High Priests, Counsellors, or even Brigham himself with his
favourite wife and a retinue of followers in stately procession.
Late in the spring, also, came the Patriarch in the Church, Uncle John
Young, eldest brother of Brigham. It was the office of this good man to
dispense blessings to the faithful; blessings written and preserved
reverently in the family archives as charms to ward off misfortune.
Through all the valleys Uncle John was accustomed to go on his mission
of light. When he reached a settlement announcement was made of his
headquarters, and the unblessed were invited to wait upon him.
The cynical had been known to complain that Uncle John was a hard man to
deal with, especially before money was current in the Territory, when
blessings had to be paid for in produce. Many a Saint, these said, had
long gone unblessed because the only produce he had to give chanced to
meet no need of Uncle John. Further, they gossiped, if paid in butter or
fine flour or fat turkeys when these were scarce, Uncle John was certain
to give an unusually strong blessing, perhaps insuring, on top of
freedom from poverty and disease, the prolongation of life until the
coming of the Messiah. Yet it is not improbable that all these tales
were insecurely based upon a single instance wherein one Starling
Driggs, believing himself to stand in urgent need of a blessing, had
offered to pay Uncle John for the service in vinegar. It had been
unexceptionable vinegar, as Uncle John himself admitted, but being a
hundred miles from home, and having no way to carry it, the Patriarch
had been obliged to refuse; which had seemed to most people not to have
been more than fell within the lines of reason.
As for the other stories, it is enough to say that Uncle John was
himself abundantly blessed with wives and children needing to be fed,
that the labourer is worthy of his hire, and that it was sometimes
vexatious to follow rapid fluctuations in the market value of butter,
eggs, beef, potatoes, beet-molasses, and the like. Certain it is that
after money came to circulate it was a much more satisfactory business
all around; two dollars a blessing--flat, and no grievances on either
side, with a slight reduction if several were blessed in one family.
When Uncle John laid his hands upon a head after that, every one knew
the exact pecuniary significance of the act.
When the Patriarch stopped at Amalon that spring, at the house of Joel
Rae, there were many blessings to be made, and from morning until night
for several days he was busy with the writing of them. Two members of
the household he interested to an uncommon degree,--the child, Prudence,
who forthwith began daily to promise her dolls that they should not
taste of death till Christ came, and Tom Potwin, the imbecile, who
became for some unknown reason covetous of a blessing for himself. He
stayed about the Patriarch most of the time, bothering him with appeals
for one of his blessings. But Uncle John, though a good man, had been
gifted by Heaven with slight imagination, and Tom Potwin would doubtless
have had to go without this luxury but for a chance visitor to the
house one day.
This was no less a person than Bishop Snow, he who had once been Tom
Potwin's rival for the hand of her who was now the second Mrs. Rae. With
his portly figure, his full, florid face with its massive jaw, and his
heavy locks of curling white hair, the good Bishop seemed indeed to have
deserved the title put upon him years ago by the Church Poet,--The
Entablature of Truth.
He alighted from his wagon and greeted Uncle John, busy with the writing
of his blessings in the cool shade just outside the door.
"Good for you, Uncle John! Be a fountain of living waters to the thirsty
in Zion. Say, who's that?" and he pointed to Tom Potwin who had been
wistfully watching the pen of the Patriarch as it ran over his paper.
Uncle John regarded the Bishop shrewdly.
"You ought to know, Brother Snow. 'Tain't so long since you and him were
The Bishop looked closely again, and the boy now returned his gaze with
his own weakly foolish look.
"Well! If it ain't that Tom Potwin. The Lord certainly hardened _his_
heart against counsel to his own undoing. I tried every way in the
world--say, what's he doing here?"
"Oh, Brother Rae has given him a home here along with that first woman
of Brother Tench's. The crazy loon has been bothering me all week to
give him a blessing."
The Entablature of Truth chuckled, being not without a sense of humour.
"Well, say, give him one if he wants it. Here--here's your two
dollars--write him a good one now."
Uncle John took the money, and at once began writing upon a clean sheet
of paper. The boy stood by watching him eagerly, and when the Patriarch
had finished the document took it from him with trembling hands. The
Bishop spoke to him.
"Here, boy, let's see what Uncle John gives us for our money."
With some misgiving the owner of the blessing relinquished it into the
Bishop's hand, watching it jealously, though listening with delight
while his benefactor read it.
"Patriarchal blessing of Tom Potwin by John Young, Patriarch, given at
Amalon June 1st, 1859. Brother Tom Potwin, in the name of Jesus of
Nazareth and by authority of the Holy Priesthood in me vested, I confer
upon thee a Patriarch's blessing. Thou art of Ephraim through the loins
of Joseph that was sold into Egypt. And inasmuch as thou hast obeyed the
requirements of the Gospel thy sins are forgiven thee. Thy name is
written in the Lamb's book of life never more to be blotted out. Thou
art a lawful heir to all the blessings of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in
the new and everlasting covenant. Thou shalt have a numerous posterity
who shall rise up to call thee blessed. Thou shalt have power over
thine enemies. They that oppose thee shall yet come bending unto thee.
Thou shalt come forth in the morning of the first resurrection, and no
power shall hinder except the shedding of innocent blood or the
consenting thereto. I seal thee up to eternal life in the name of the
Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost. Amen and amen!"
The worthy Bishop handed the paper back to the enraptured boy, and
turned to Joel Rae, who now came up.
"Hello, Brother Rae. I hear you took on that thirteenth woman of mine.
Much good it'll do you! She was unlucky for me, sure enough--
rambunctious when she was healthy, and lazy when she was sick!"
When they came out of the house half an hour later, he added in tones of
"Say, you want to look out for her--I see she's getting the red back in
_How the Red Came Back to the Blood to be a Snare_
The watchful eyes of the Bishop had seen truly. Not only was the red
coming back to the blood of Martha, but the fair flesh to her meagre
frame, the spring of youth to her step and living fire to her voice and
the glance of her eyes. Her husband was pleased. He had made a new
creature of the poor, worn wreck found by the wayside, weak, emaciated,
reeling under her burden. He rejoiced to know he had done a true
service. He was glad, moreover, to know that she made an admirable
mother to the little woman-child. Prudence, indeed, had brought them
closer to each other, slowly, subtly, in little ways to disarm the most
And this mothering and fathering of little Prudence was a work by no
means colourless or uneventful. The child had displayed a grievous
capacity for remaining unimpressed by even the best-weighed opinions of
her protector. She was also appallingly fluent in and partial to the
idioms and metaphors of revealed religion,--a circumstance that would
not infrequently cause the sensitive to shudder.
Thus, when she chose to call her largest and least sightly doll the Holy
Ghost, the ingenuity of those about her was taxed to rebuke her in ways
that would be effective without being harsh. It was felt, too, that her
offence had been but slightly mitigated when she called the same doll,
thereafter, "Thou son of perdition and shedder of innocent blood." Not
until this disfigured effigy became Bishop Wright, and the remaining
dolls his more or less disobedient wives, was it felt that she had
approached even remotely the plausible and the decorous.
A glance at some of the verses she was from time to time constrained to
learn will perhaps indicate the line of her transgressions, and yet
avert a disclosure of details that were often tragic. She was taught
these verses from a little old book bound in the gaudiest of Dutch gilt
paper, as if to relieve the ever-present severity of the text and the
distressing scenes portrayed in the illustrating copperplates. For
example, on a morning when there had been hasty words at breakfast,
arising from circumstances immaterial to this narrative, she might be
made to learn:--
"That I did not see Frances just now I am glad,
For Winifred says she looked sullen and sad.
When I ask her the reason, I know very well
That Frances will blush the true reason to tell.
"And I never again shall expect to hear said
That she pouts at her milk with a toast of white bread,
When both are as good as can possibly be--
Though Betsey, for breakfast, perhaps may have tea."
With no sort of propriety could be set down in printed words the
occurrence that led to her reciting twenty times, somewhat defiantly in
the beginning, but at last with the accents and expression of
countenance proper to remorse, the following verses:--
"Who was it that I lately heard
Repeating an improper word?
I do not like to tell her name
Because she is so much to blame."
Indeed, she came to thunder the final verse with excellent gestures of
"Go, naughty child! and hide your face,
I grieve to see you in disgrace;
Go! you have forfeited to-day
All right at trap and ball to play."
Nor is it necessary to go back of the very significant lines themselves
to explain the circumstance of her having the following for a half-day's
"Jack Parker was a cruel boy,
For mischief was his sole employ;
And much it grieved his friends to find
His thoughts so wickedly inclined.
"But all such boys unless they mend
May come to an unhappy end,
Like Jack, who got a fractured skull
Whilst bellowing at a furious bull."
Nor is there sufficient reason to say why she was often counselled to
regard as her model:--
"Miss Lydia Banks, though very young,
Will never do what's rude or wrong;
When spoken to she always tries
To give the most polite replies."
And painful, indeed, would it be to relate the events of one sad day
which culminated in her declaiming at night, with far more than
perfunctory warmth, and in a voice scarce dry of tears:--
"Miss Lucy Wright, though not so tall,
Was just the age of Sophy Ball;
But I have always understood
Miss Sophy was not half so good;
For as they both had faded teeth,
Their teacher sent for Doctor Heath.
"But Sophy made a dreadful rout
And would not have hers taken out;
While Lucy Wright endured the pain,
Nor did she ever once complain.
Her teeth returned quite sound and white,
While Sophy's ached both day and night."
Yet her days were by no means all of reproof nor was her reproof ever
harsher than the more or less pointed selections from the moral verses
could inflict. Under the watchful care of Martha she flourished and was
happy, her mother in little, a laughing whirlwind of tender flesh,
tireless feet, dancing eyes, hair of sunlight that was darkening as she
grew older, and a mind that seemed to him she called father a miracle of
unfoldment. It was a mind not so quickly receptive as he could have
wished to the learning he tried patiently to impart; he wondered,
indeed, if she were not unduly frivolous even for a child of six; for
she would refuse to study unless she could have the doll she called
Bishop Wright with her and pretend that she taught the lesson to him,
finding him always stupid and loth to learn. He hoped for better things
from her mind as she aged, watching anxiously for the buddings of reason
and religion, praying daily that she should be increased in wisdom as in
stature. He had become so used to the look of her mother in her face
that it now and then gave him an instant of unspeakable joy. But the
sound of his own voice calling her "Prudence" would shock him from this
as with an icy blast of truth.
When the children of Amalon came to play with her, the little Nephis,
Moronis, Lehis, and Juabs, he saw she was a creature apart from them, of
another fashion of mind and body. He saw, too, that with some native
intuition she seemed to divine this, and to assume command even of those
older than herself. Thus Wish Wright and his brother, Welcome, both her
seniors by several years, were her awe-bound slaves; and the twin
daughters of Zebedee Bloom obeyed her least whim without question, even
when it involved them in situations more or less delicate. With her
quick ear for rhythm she had been at once impressed by their
names--impressed to a degree that savoured of fascination. She would
seat the two before her, range the other children beside them, and then
lead the chorus in a spirited chant of these names:--
"Isa Vinda Exene Bloom!
Ella Minda Almarine Bloom!"
repeating this a long time until they were all breathless, and the
solemn twins themselves were looking embarrassed and rather foolishly
As he observed her day by day in her joyous growth, it was inevitable
that he came more and more to observe the woman who was caring for her,
and it was thus on one night in late summer that he awoke to an awful
truth,--a truth that brought back the words of the woman's former
husband with a new meaning.
He had heard Prudence say to her, "You are a pretty mamma," and suddenly
there came rushing upon him the sum of all the impressions his eyes had
taken of her since that day when the Bishop had spoken. He trembled and
became weak under the assault, feeling that in some insidious way his
strength had been undermined. He went out into the early evening to be
alone, but she, presently, having put the child to bed, came and stood
near, silently in the doorway.
He looked and saw she was indeed made new, restored to the lustre and
fulness of her young womanhood. He remembered then that she had long
been silent when he came near her, plainly conscious of his presence but
with an apparent constraint, with something almost tentative in her
manner. With her return to health and comeliness there had come back to
her a thousand little graces of dress and manner and speech. She drew
him, with his starved love of beauty and his need of companionship; drew
him with a mighty power, and he knew it at last. He remembered how he
had felt and faintly thrilled under a certain soft suppression in her
tones when she had spoken to him of late; this had drawn him, and the
new light in her eyes and her whole freshened womanhood, even before he
knew it. Now that he did know it he felt himself shaken and all but
lost; clutching weakly at some support that threatened every moment to
And she was his wife, his who had starved year after year for the light
touch of a woman's hand and the tones of her voice that should be for
him alone. He knew now that he had ached and sickened in his yearning
for this, and she stood there for him in the soft night. He knew she was
waiting, and he knew he desired above all things else to go to her; that
the comfort of her, his to take, would give him new life, new desires,
new powers; that with her he would revive as she had done. He waited
long, indulging freely in hesitation, bathing his wearied soul in her
nearness--yielding in fancy.
Then he walked off into the night, down through the village, past the
light of open doors, and through the voices that sounded from them, out
on to the bare bench of the mountain--his old refuge in
temptation--where he could be safe from submitting to what his soul had
forbidden. He had meant to take up a cross, but before his very eyes it
had changed to be a snare set for him by the Devil.
He stayed late on the ground in the darkness, winning the battle for
himself over and over, decisively, he thought, at the last. But when he
went home she was there in the doorway to meet him, still silent, but
with eyes that told more than he dared to hear. He thought she had in
some way divined his struggle, and was waiting to strengthen the odds
against him, with her face in the light of a candle she held above her
He went by her without speaking, afraid of his weakness, and rushed to
his little cell-like room to fight the battle over. As a last source of
strength he took from its hiding-place the little Bible. And as it fell
open naturally at the blood-washed page a new thing came, a new torture.
No sooner had his eyes fallen on the stain than it seemed to him to cry
out of itself, so that he started back from it. He shut the book and the
cries were stilled; he opened it and again he heard them--far, loud
cries and low groans close to his ear; then long piercing screams
stifled suddenly too low, horrible gurglings. And before him came the
inscrutable face with the deep gray eyes and the shining lips, lifting,
with love in the eyes, above a gashed throat.
He closed the book and fell weakly to his knees to pray brokenly, and
almost despairingly: "Help me to keep down this self within me; let it
ask for nothing; fan the fires until they consume it! _Bow me, bend me,
break me, burn me out--burn me out_!"
In the morning, when he said, "Martha, the harvest is over now, and I
want you to go north with me," she prepared to obey without question.
He talked freely to her on the way, though it is probable that he left
in her mind little more than dark confusion, beyond the one clear fact
of his wish. As to this, she knew she must have no desire but to comply.
Reaching Salt Lake City, they went at once to Brigham's office. When
they came out they came possessed of a document in duplicate, reciting
that they both did "covenant, promise, and agree to dissolve all the
relations which have hitherto existed between us as husband and wife,
and to keep ourselves separate and apart from each other from this time
This was the simple divorce which Brigham was good enough to grant to
such of the Saints as found themselves unhappily married, and wished it.
As Joel Rae handed the Prophet the fee of ten dollars, which it was his
custom to charge for the service, Brigham made some timely remarks. He
said he feared that Martha had been perverse and rebellious; that her
first husband had found her so; and that it was doubtless for the good
of all that her second had taken the resolution to divorce her. He was
afraid that Brother Joel was an inferior judge of women; but he had
surely shown himself to be generous in the provision he was making for
the support of this contumacious wife.
They parted outside the door of the little office, and he kissed her for
the first time since they had been married--on the forehead.
_A New Cross Taken up and an Old Enemy Forgiven_
Christina would now be left alone with the cares of the house, and he
knew he ought to have some one to help her. The fever of sacrifice was
also upon him. And so he found another derelict, to whom he was sealed
At a time of more calmness he might have balked at this one. She was a
cross, to be sure, and it was now his part in life to bear crosses. But
there were plenty of these, and even one vowed to a life of sacrifice,
he suspected, need not grossly abuse the powers of discrimination with
which Heaven had seen fit to endow him. But he had lately been on the
verge of a seething maelstrom, balancing there with unholy desire and
wickedly looking far down, and the need to atone for this sin excited
him to indiscretions.
It was not that this star in his crown was in her late thirties and less
than lovely. He had learned, indeed, that in the game which, for the
chastening of his soul, he now played with the Devil, it were best to
choose stars whose charms could excite to little but conduct of a
saintlike seemliness. The fat, dumpy figure of this woman, therefore,
and her round, flat, moonlike face, her mouse-coloured wisps of hair cut
squarely off at the back of her neck, were points of a merit that was in
its whole effect nothing less than distinguished.
But she talked. Her tones played with the constancy of an ever-living
fountain. Artlessly she lost herself in the sound of their music, until
she also lost her sense of proportion, of light and shade, of simple,
Christian charity. Her name was Lorena Sears, and she had come in with
one of the late trains of converts, without friends, relatives, or
means, with nothing but her natural gifts and an abiding faith in the
saving powers of the new dispensation. And though she was so alive in
her faith, rarely informed in the Scriptures, bubbling with enthusiasm
for the new covenant, the new Zion, and the second coming of the
Messiah, there had seemed to be no place for her. She had not been asked
in marriage, nor had she found it easy to secure work to support
"She's strong," said Brigham, to his inquiring Elder, "and a good
worker, but even Brother Heber Kimball wouldn't marry her; and between
you and me, Brother Joel, I never knew Heber to shy before at anything
that would work. You can see that, yourself, by looking over his
But, after the needful preliminaries, and a very little coy hesitation
on the part of the lady, Lorena Sears, spinster, native of Elyria,
Ohio, was duly sealed to, for time and eternity, and became a star
forever in the crown of, Joel Rae, Elder after the Order of Melchisedek
in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and President of the
Amalon Stake of Zion.
In the bustle of the start south there were, of necessity, moments in
which the crown's new star could not talk; but these blessed respites
were at an end when at last they came to the open road.
At first, as her speech flowed on, he looked sidelong at her, in a
trouble of fear and wonder; then, at length, absently, trying to put his
mind elsewhere and to leave her voice as the muted murmur of a distant
torrent. He succeeded fairly well in this, for Lorena combined admirably
in herself the parts of speaker and listener, and was not, he thankfully
noted, watchful of his attention.
But in spite of all he could do, sentences would come to seize upon his
ears: "... No chance at all back there for a good girl with any heart
in her unless she's one of the doll-baby kind, and, thank fortune, I
never was _that_! Now there was Wilbur Watkins--his father was president
of the board of chosen freeholders--Wilbur had a way of saying,
'Lorena's all right--she weighs a hundred and seventy-eight pounds on
the big scales down to the city meatmarket, and it's most of it heart--a
hundred and seventy-eight pounds and most all heart--and she'd be a
prize to anybody,' but then, that was his way,--Wilbur was a good deal
of a take-on,--and there was never anything between him and me. And when
the Elder come along and begun to preach about the new Zion and tell
about the strange ways that the Lord had ordered people to act out here,
something kind of went all through me, and I says, 'That's the place for
_me_!' Of course, the saying is, 'There ain't any Gawd west of the
Missouri,' but them that says it ain't of the house of Israel--lots of
folks purtends to be great Bible readers, but pin 'em right down and
what do you find?--you find they ain't really studied it--not what you
could call _pored_ over it. They fuss through a chapter here and
there, and rush lickety-brindle through another, and ain't got the
blessed truth out of any of 'em--little fine points, like where the Lord
hardened Pharaoh's heart every time, for why?--because if He hadn't 'a'
done it Pharaoh would 'a' give in the very first time and spoiled the
whole thing. And then the Lord would visit so plumb natural and
commonlike with Moses--like tellin' him, 'I appeared unto Abraham, unto
Isaac, and unto Jacob by the name of God Almighty, for by my name
Jehovah was I not known unto them.' I thought that was awful cute and
friendly, stoppin' to talk about His name that way. Oh, I've spent hours
and hours over the blessed Book. I bet I know something you don't,
now--what verse in the Bible has every letter in the alphabet in it
except 'J'? Of course you wouldn't know. Plenty of preachers don't. It's
the twenty-first verse of the seventh chapter of the book of Ezra. And
the Book of Mormon--I do love to git set down in a rocker with my shoes
off--I'm kind of a heavy-footed person to be on my feet all day--and
that blessed Book in my hands--such beautiful language it uses--that
verse I love so, 'He went forth among the people waving the rent of his
garment in the air that all might see the writing which he had wrote
upon the rent,'--that's sure enough Bible language, ain't it? And yet
some folks say the Book of Mormon ain't inspired. And that lovely verse
in Second Niphi, first chapter, fourteenth verse: 'Hear the words of a
trembling parent whose limbs you must soon lay down in the cold and
silent grave from whence no traveller can return.' Back home the
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