Part 1 out of 7
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LIFTING OFF HIS BROAD-BRIMMED HAT TO HER IN A GRACIOUS SWEEP]
LIONS OF THE
A Tale of the Old West
By HARRY LEON WILSON
Author of "The Spenders"
Illustrated by ROSE CECIL O'NEILL
Published June, 1903
TO MY WIFE
In the days of '49 seven trails led from our Western frontier into the
Wonderland that lay far out under the setting sun and called to the
restless. Each of the seven had been blazed mile by mile through the
mighty romance of an empire's founding. Some of them for long stretches
are now overgrown by the herbage of the plain; some have faded back into
the desert they lined; and more than one has been shod with steel. But
along them all flit and brood the memory-ghosts of old, rich-coloured
days. To the shout of teamster, the yell of savage, the creaking of
tented ox-cart, and the rattle of the swifter mail-coach, there go dim
shapes of those who had thrilled to that call of the West;--strong,
brave men with the far look in their eyes, with those magic rude tools
of the pioneer, the rifle and the axe; women, too, equally heroic, of a
stock, fearless, ready, and staunch, bearing their sons and daughters in
fortitude; raising them to fear God, to love their country,--and to
labour. From the edge of our Republic these valiant ones toiled into the
dump of prairie and mountain to live the raw new days and weld them to
our history; to win fertile acres from the wilderness and charm the
desert to blossoming. And the time of these days and these people, with
their tragedies and their comedies, was a time of epic splendour;--more
vital with the stuff and colour of life, I think, than any since the
stubborn gray earth out there was made to yield its treasure.
Of these seven historic highways the one richest in story is the old
Salt Lake Trail: this because at its western end was woven a romance
within a romance;--a drama of human passions, of love and hate, of high
faith and low, of the beautiful and the ugly, of truth and lies; yet
with certain fine fidelities under it all; a drama so close-knit, so
amazingly true, that one who had lightly designed to make a tale there
was dismayed by fact. So much more thrilling was it than any fiction he
might have imagined, so more than human had been the cunning of the
Master Dramatist, that the little make-believe he was pondering seemed
clumsy and poor, and he turned from it to try to tell what had really
In this story, then, the things that are strangest have most of truth.
The make-believe is hardly more than a cement to join the queerly
wrought stones of fact that were found ready. For, if the writer has now
and again had to divine certain things that did not show,--yet must have
been,--surely these are not less than truth. One of these deductions is
the Lute of the Holy Ghost who came in the end to be the Little Man of
Sorrows: who loved a woman, a child, and his God, but sinned through
pride of soul;--whose life, indeed, was a poem of sin and retribution.
Yet not less true was he than the Lion of the Lord, the Archer of
Paradise, the Wild Ram of the Mountains, or the gaunt, gray woman whom
hurt love had crazed. For even now, as the tale is done, comes a dry
little note in the daily press telling how such a one actually did the
other day a certain brave, great thing it had seemed the imagined one
must be driven to do. Only he and I, perhaps, will be conscious of the
struggle back of that which was printed; but at least we two shall know
that the Little Man of Sorrows is true, even though the cross where he
fled to say his last prayer in the body has long since fallen and its
bars crumbled to desert dust.
Yet there are others still living in a certain valley of the mountains
who will know why the soul-proud youth came to bend under invisible
burdens, and why he feared, as an angel of vengeance, that early cowboy
with the yellow hair, who came singing down from the high divide into
Amalon where a girl was waiting in her dream of a single love; others
who, to this day, will do not more than whisper with averted faces of
the crime that brought a curse upon the land; who still live in terror
of shapes that shuffle furtively behind them, fumbling sometimes at
their shoulders with weak hands, striving ever to come in front and turn
upon them. But these will know only one side of the Little Man of
Sorrows who was first the Lute of the Holy Ghost in the Poet's roster of
titles: since they have lacked his courage to try the great issue with
New York City, May 1st, 1903.
I. THE DEAD CITY
II. THE WILD RAM OF THE MOUNTAINS
III. THE LUTE OF THE HOLY GHOST BREAKS HIS FAST
IV. A FAIR APOSTATE
V. GILES RAE BEAUTIFIES HIS INHERITANCE
VI. THE LUTE OF THE HOLY GHOST IS FURTHER CHASTENED
VII. SOME INNER MYSTERIES ARE EXPOUNDED
VIII. A REVELATION FROM THE LORD AND A TOAST FROM BRIGHAM
IX. INTO THE WILDERNESS
X. THE PROMISED LAND
XI. ANOTHER MIRACLE AND A TEMPTATION IN THE WILDERNESS
XII. A FIGHT FOR LIFE
XIII. JOEL RAE IS TREATED FOR PRIDE OF SOUL
XIV. HOW THE SAINTS WERE BROUGHT TO REPENTANCE
XV. HOW THE SOULS OF APOSTATES WERE SAVED
XVI. THE ORDER FROM HEADQUARTERS
XVII. THE MEADOW SHAMBLES
XVIII. IN THE DARK OF THE AFTERMATH
XIX. THE HOST OF ISRAEL GOES FORTH TO BATTLE
XX. HOW THE LION OF THE LORD ROARED SOFT
XXI. THE BLOOD ON THE PAGE
XXII. THE PICTURE IN THE SKY
XXIII. THE SINNER CHASTENS HIMSELF
XXIV. THE COMING OF THE WOMAN-CHILD
XXV. THE ENTABLATURE OF TRUTH MAKES A DISCOVERY AT AMALON
XXVI. HOW THE RED CAME BACK TO THE BLOOD TO BE A SNARE
XXVII. A NEW CROSS TAKEN UP AND AN OLD ENEMY FORGIVEN
XXVIII. JUST BEFORE THE END OF THE WORLD
XXIX. THE WILD RAM OF THE MOUNTAINS OFFERS TO BECOME A SAVIOUR ON
XXX. HOW THE WORLD DID NOT COME TO AN END
XXXI. THE LION OF THE LORD SENDS AN ORDER
XXXII. A NEW FACE IN THE DREAM
XXXIII. THE GENTILE INVASION
XXXIV. HOW THE AVENGER BUNGLED HIS VENGEANCE
XXXV. RUEL FOLLETT'S WAY OF BUSINESS
XXXVI. THE MISSION TO A DESERVING GENTILE
XXXVII. THE GENTILE ISSUES AN ULTIMATUM
XXXVIII. THE MISSION SERVICE IN BOX CANON IS SUSPENDED
XXXIX. A REVELATION CONCERNING THE TRUE ORDER OF MARRIAGE
XL. A PROCESSION, A PURSUIT, AND A CAPTURE
XLI. THE RISE AND FALL OF A BENT LITTLE PROPHET
XLII. THE LITTLE BENT MAN AT THE FOOT OF THE CROSS
XLIII. THE GENTILE CARRIES OFF HIS SPOIL
Lifting off his broad-brimmed hat to her in a gracious sweep
"Her goal is Zion, not Babylon, sir--remember _that_!"
"_I'm_ the one will have to be caught"
"But you're not my really papa!"
Full of zest for the measure as any youth
"Oh, Man ... how I've longed for that bullet of yours!"
THE LIONS OF THE LORD
_The Dead City_
The city without life lay handsomely along a river in the early sunlight
of a September morning. Death had seemingly not been long upon it, nor
had it made any scar. No breach or rent or disorder or sign of violence
could be seen. The long, shaded streets breathed the still airs of utter
peace and quiet. From the half-circle around which the broad river bent
its moody current, the neat houses, set in cool, green gardens, were
terraced up the high hill, and from the summit of this a stately marble
temple, glittering of newness, towered far above them in placid
Mile after mile the streets lay silent, along the river-front, up to the
hilltop, and beyond into the level; no sound nor motion nor sign of life
throughout their length. And when they had run their length, and the
outlying fields were reached, there, too, was the same brooding spell as
the land stretched away in the hush and haze. The yellow grain,
heavy-headed with richness, lay beaten down and rotting, for there were
no reapers. The city, it seemed, had died calmly, painlessly, drowsily,
as if overcome by sleep.
From a skiff in mid-river, a young man rowing toward the dead city
rested on his oars and looked over his shoulder to the temple on the
hilltop. There was something very boyish in the reverent eagerness with
which his dark eyes rested upon the pile, tracing the splendid lines
from its broad, gray base to its lofty spire, radiant with white and
gold. As he looked long and intently, the colour of new life flushed
into a face that was pinched and drawn. With fresh resolution, he bent
again to his oars, noting with a quick eye that the current had carried
him far down-stream while he stopped to look upon the holy edifice.
Landing presently at the wharf, he was stunned by the hush of the
streets. This was not like the city of twenty thousand people he had
left three months before. In blank bewilderment he stood, turning to
each quarter for some solution of the mystery. Perceiving at length that
there was really no life either way along the river, he started
wonderingly up a street that led from the waterside,--a street which,
when he had last walked it, was quickening with the rush of a mighty
Soon his expression of wonder was darkened by a shade of anxiety. There
was an unnerving quality in the trance-like stillness; and the mystery
of it pricked him to forebodings. He was now passing empty workshops,
hesitating at door after door with ever-mounting alarm. Then he began to
call, but the sound of his voice served only to aggravate the silence.
Growing bolder, he tried some of the doors and found them to yield,
letting him into a kind of smothered, troubled quietness even more
oppressive than that outside. He passed an empty ropewalk, the hemp
strewn untidily about, as if the workers had left hurriedly. He peered
curiously at idle looms and deserted spinning-wheels--deserted
apparently but the instant before he came. It seemed as if the people
were fled maliciously just in front, to leave him in this fearfullest of
all solitudes. He wondered if he did not hear their quick, furtive
steps, and see the vanishing shadows of them.
He entered a carpenter's shop. On the bench was an unfinished door, a
plane left where it had been shoved half the length of its edge, the
fresh pine shaving still curling over the side. He left with an uncanny
feeling that the carpenter, breathing softly, had watched him from some
hiding-place, and would now come stealthily out to push his plane again.
He turned into a baker's shop and saw freshly chopped kindling piled
against the oven, and dough actually on the kneading-tray. In a tanner's
vat he found fresh bark. In a blacksmith's shop he entered next the
fire was out, but there was coal heaped beside the forge, with the
ladling-pool and the crooked water-horn, and on the anvil was a
horseshoe that had cooled before it was finished.
With something akin to terror, he now turned from this street of shops
into one of those with the pleasant dwellings, eager to find something
alive, even a dog to bark an alarm. He entered one of the gardens,
clicking the gate-latch loudly after him, but no one challenged. He drew
a drink from the well with its loud-rattling chain and clumsy,
water-sodden bucket, but no one called. At the door of the house he
whistled, stamped, pounded, and at last flung it open with all the noise
he could make. Still his hungry ears fed on nothing but sinister echoes,
the barren husks of his own clamour. There was no curt voice of a man,
no quick, questioning tread of a woman. There were dead white ashes on
the hearth, and the silence was grimly kept by the dumb household gods.
His nervousness increased. So vividly did his memory people the streets
and shops and houses that the air was vibrant with sound,--low-toned
conversations, shouts, calls, laughter, the voices of children, the
creaking of wagons, pounding hammers, the clangour of many works; yet
all muffled away from him, as if coming from some phantom-land. His
eyes, too, were kept darting from side to side by vague forms that
flitted privily near by, around corners, behind him, lurking always a
little beyond his eyes, turn them quickly as he would. Now, facing the
street, he shouted, again and again, from sheer nervousness; but the
echoes came back alone.
He recalled a favourite day-dream of boyhood,--a dream in which he
became the sole person in the world, wandering with royal liberty
through strange cities, with no voice to chide or forbid, free to choose
and partake, as would a prince, of all the wonders and delights that
boyhood can picture; his own master and the master of all the marvels
and treasures of earth. This was like the dream come true; but it
distressed him. It was necessary to find the people at once. He had a
feeling that his instant duty was to break some malign spell that lay
upon the place--or upon himself. For one of them was surely bewitched.
Out he strode to the middle of the street, between two rows of yellowing
maples, and there he shouted again and still more loudly to evoke some
shape or sound of life, sending a full, high, ringing call up the empty
thoroughfare. Between the shouts he scanned the near-by houses intently.
At last, half-way up the next block, even as his lungs filled for
another peal, he thought his eyes caught for a short half-second the
mere thin shadow of a skulking figure. It had seemed to pass through a
grape arbour that all but shielded from the street a house slightly more
pretentious than its neighbours. He ran toward the spot, calling as he
went. But when he had vaulted over the low fence, run across the garden
and around the end of the arbour, dense with the green leaves and
clusters of purple grapes, the space in front of the house was bare. If
more than a trick-phantom of his eye had been there, it had vanished.
He stood gazing blankly at the front door of the house. Was it fancy
that he had heard it shut a second before he came? that his nerves still
responded to the shock of its closing? He had already imagined so many
noises of the kind, so many misty shapes fleeing before him with little
soft rustlings, so many whispers at his back and hushed cries behind the
closed doors. Yet this door had seemed to shut more tangibly, with a
warmer promise of life. He went quickly up the three wooden steps,
turned the knob, and pushed it open--very softly this time. No one
appeared. But, as he stood on the threshold, while the pupils of his
eyes dilated to the gloom of the hall into which he looked, his ears
seemed to detect somewhere in the house a muffled footfall and the sound
of another door closed softly.
He stepped inside and called. There was no answer, but above his head a
board creaked. He started up the stairs in front of him, and, as he did
so, he seemed to hear cautious steps across a bare floor above. He
stopped climbing; the steps ceased. He started up, and the steps came
again. He knew now they came from a room at the head of the stairs. He
bounded up the remaining steps and pushed open the door with a loud
The room was empty. Yet across it there was the indefinable trail of a
presence,--an odour, a vibration, he knew not what,--and where a bar of
sunlight cut the gloom under a half-raised curtain, he saw the motes in
the air all astir. Opposite the door he had opened was another, leading,
apparently, to a room at the back of the house. From behind it, he could
have sworn came the sounds of a stealthily moved body and softened
breathing. A presence, unseen but felt, was all about. Not without
effort did he conquer the impulse to look behind him at every breath.
Determined to be no longer eluded, he crossed the room on tiptoe and
gently tried the opposite door. It was locked. As he leaned against it,
almost in a terror of suspense, he knew he heard again those little
seemings of a presence a door's thickness away. He did not hesitate.
Still holding the turned knob in his hand, he quickly crouched back and
brought his flexed shoulder heavily against the door. It flew open with
a breaking sound, and, with a little gasp of triumph, he was in the room
to confront its unknown occupant.
To his dismay, he saw no one. He peered in bewilderment to the farther
side of the room, where light struggled dimly in at the sides of a
curtained window. There was no sound, and yet he could acutely feel that
presence; insistently his nerves tingled the warning of another's
nearness. Leaning forward, still peering to sound the dim corners of the
room, he called out again.
Then, from behind the door he had opened, a staggering blow was dealt
him, and, before he could recover, or had done more than blindly crook
one arm protectingly before his face, he was borne heavily to the floor,
writhing in a grasp that centered all its crushing power about his
_The Wild Ram of the Mountains_
Slight though his figure was, it was lithe and active and well-muscled,
and he knew as they struggled that his assailant was possessed of no
greater advantage than had lain in his point of attack. In strength,
apparently, they were well-matched. Twice they rolled over on the
carpeted floor, and then, despite the big, bony hands pressing about his
throat, he turned his burden under him, and all but loosened the killing
clutch. This brought them close to the window, but again he was swiftly
drawn underneath. Then, as he felt his head must burst and his senses
were failing from the deadly grip at his throat, his feet caught in the
folds of the heavy curtain, and brought it down upon them in a cloud of
As the light flooded in, he saw the truth, even before his now panting
and sneezing antagonist did. Releasing the pressure from his throat with
a sudden access of strength born of the new knowledge, he managed to
gasp, though thickly and with pain, as they still strove:
"Seth Wright--wait--let go--wait, Seth--I'm Joel--Joel Rae!"
He managed it with difficulty.
"Joel Rae--Rae--Rae--don't you see?"
He felt the other's tension relax. With many a panting, puffing "Hey!"
and "What's that now?" he was loosed, and drew himself up into a chair
by the saving window. His assailant, a hale, genial-faced man of forty,
sat on the floor where the revelation of his victim's identity had
overtaken him. He was breathing hard and feeling tenderly of his neck.
This was ruffled ornamentally by a style of whisker much in vogue at the
time. It had proved, however, but an inferior defense against the
onslaught of the younger man in his frantic efforts to save his own
They looked at each other in panting amazement, until the older man
recovered his breath, and spoke:
"Gosh and all beeswax! The Wild Ram of the Mountains a-settin' on the
Lute of the Holy Ghost's stomach a-chokin' him to death. My sakes! I'm
a-pantin' like a tuckered hound--a-thinkin' he was a cussed milishy
mobocrat come to spoil his household!"
The younger man was now able to speak, albeit his breathing was still
heavy and the marks of the struggle plain upon him.
"What does it mean, Brother Wright--all this? Where are the Saints we
left here--why is the city deserted--and why this--this?"
He shook back the thick, brown hair that fell to his shoulders,
tenderly rubbed the livid fingerprints at his throat, and readjusted the
collar of his blue flannel shirt.
"Thought you was a milishy man, I tell you, from the careless way you
hollered--one of Brockman's devils come back a-snoopin', and I didn't
crave trouble, but when I saw the Lord appeared to reely want me to cope
with the powers of darkness, why, I jest gritted into you for the
consolation of Israel. You'd 'a' got your come-uppance, too, if you'd
'a' been a mobber. You was nigh a-ceasin' to breathe, Joel Rae. In
another minute I wouldn't 'a' give the ashes of a rye-straw for your
part in the tree of life!"
"Yes, yes, man, but go back a little. Where are our people, the sick,
the old, and the poor, that we had to leave till now? Tell me, quick."
The older man sprang up, the late struggle driven from his mind, his
face scowling. He turned upon his questioner.
"Does my fury swell up in me? No wonder! And you hain't guessed why?
Well, them pitiful remnant of Saints, the sick, the old, the poor,
waitin' to be helped yender to winter quarters, has been throwed out
into that there slough acrost the river, six hundred and forty of 'em."
"When we were keeping faith by going?"
"What does a mobocrat care for faith-keepin'? Have you brought back the
"Yes; they'll reach the other side to-night. I came ahead and made the
lower crossing. I've seen nothing and heard nothing. Go on--tell
"Talk?--yes, I'll talk! We've had mobs and the very scum of hell to boil
over here. This is Saturday, the 19th, ain't it? Well, Brockman marched
against this stronghold of Israel jest a week ago, with eight hundred
men. They had cannons and demanded surrender. We was a scant two hundred
fightin' men, and the only artillery we had was what we made ourselves.
We broke up an old steamboat shaft and bored out the pieces so's they'd
take a six-pound shot--but we wasn't goin' to give up. We'd learned our
lesson about mobocrat milishies. Well, Brockman, when he got our defy,
sent out his Warsaw riflemen as flankers on the right and left, put the
Lima Guards to our front with one cannon, and marched his main body
through that corn-field and orchard to the south of here to the city
lines. Then we had it hot. Brockman shot away all his cannon-balls--he
had sixty-one--and drew back while he sent to Quincy for more. He'd
killed three of our men. Sunday and Monday we swopped a few shots. And
then Tuesday, along comes a committee of a hundred to negotiate peace.
Well, Wednesday evening they signed terms, spite of all I could do.
_I'd_ 'a' fought till the white crows come a-cawin', but the rest of 'em
wasn't so het up with the Holy Ghost, I reckon. Anyway, they signed. The
terms wasn't reely set till Thursday morning, but we knew they would be,
and so all Wednesday night we was movin' acrost the river, and it kept
up all next day,--day before yesterday. You'd ought to 'a' been here
then; you wouldn't wonder at my comin' down on you like a thousand of
brick jest now, takin' you for a mobocrat. You'd 'a' seen families druv
right out of their homes, with no horses, tents, money, nor a day's
provisions,--jest a little foolish household stuff they could carry in
their hands,--sick men and women carried on beds, mothers luggin' babies
and leadin' children. My sakes! but I did want to run some bullets and
fill my old horn with powder for the consolation of Israel! They're
lyin' out over there in the slough now, as many as ain't gone to glory.
It made me jest plumb murderous!"
The younger man uttered a sharp cry of anguish. "What, oh, what has been
our sin, that we must be proved again? Why have we got to be chastened?"
"Then Brockman's force marched in Thursday afternoon, and hell was let
loose. His devils have plundered the town, thrown out the bedridden that
jest couldn't move, thrown their goods out after 'em, burned, murdered,
tore up. You come up from the river, and you ain't seen that yet--they
ain't touched the lower part of town--and now they're bunkin' in the
temple, defacin' it, defilin' it,--that place we built to be a house of
rest for the Lord when he cometh again. They drove me acrost the river
yesterday, and promised to shoot me if I dast show myself again. I
sneaked over in a skiff last night and got here to get my two pistols
and some money and trinkets we'd hid out. I was goin' to cross again
to-night and wait for you and the wagons."
"My God! and this is the nineteenth century in a land of liberty!"
"State of Illinois, U.S.A., September 19, 1846--but what of that? We're
the Lord's chosen, and over yender is a generation of vipers warned to
flee from the wrath to come. But they won't flee, and so we're outcasts
for the present, driven forth like snakes. The best American blood is in
our veins. We're Plymouth Rock stock, the best New England graft; the
fathers of nine tenths of us was at Bunker Hill or Valley Forge or
Yorktown, but what of that, I ask you?"
The speaker became oratorical as his rage grew.
"What did Matty Van Buren say to Sidney Rigdon and Elias Higbee when
they laid our cause before him at Washington after our Missouri
persecutions--when the wicked hatred of them Missourians had as a besom
of fire swept before it into exile the whipped and plundered Saints of
Jackson County? Well, he said: 'Gentlemen, your cause is just, but I can
do nothing for you.' That's what a President of the United States said
to descendants of _Mayflower_ crossers who'd been foully dealt with, and
been druv from their substance and their homes, their wheat burned in
the stack and in the shock, and themselves butchered or put into the
wilderness. And now the Lord's word to this people is to gether out
The younger man had listened in deep dejection.
"Yes, it's to be the old story. I saw it coming. The Lord is proving us
again. But surely this will be the last. He will not again put us
through fire and blood."
He paused, and for a moment his quick brown eyes looked far away.
"And yet, do you know, Bishop, I've thought that he might mean us to
save ourselves against this Gentile persecution. Sometimes I find it
hard to control myself."
The Bishop grinned appreciatively.
"So I heer'd. The Lute of the Holy Ghost got too rambunctious back in
the States on the subject of our wrongs. And so they called you back
from your mission?"
"They said I must learn to school myself; that I might hurt the cause by
my ill-tempered zeal--and yet I brought in many--"
"I don't blame you. I got in trouble the first and only mission I went
on, and the first time I preached, at that. When I said, 'Joseph was
ordained by Peter, James, and John,' a drunken wag in the audience got
up and called me a damned liar. I started for him. I never reached him,
but I reached the end of my mission right there. The Twelve decided I
was usefuller here at home. They said I hadn't got enough of the Lord's
humility for outside work. That was why they put me at the head of--that
little organisation I wanted you to join last spring. And it's done good
work, too. You'll join now fast enough, I guess. You begin to see the
need of such doin's. I can give you the oath any time."
"No, Bishop, I didn't mean that kind of resistance. It sounded too
practical for me; I'm still satisfied to be the Lute of the Holy Ghost."
"You can be a Son of Dan, too."
"Not yet, not yet. We must still be a little meek in the face of
"You're in a mighty poor place to practise meekness. What'd you cross
the river for, anyway?"
"Why, for father and mother, of course. They must be safe at Green
Plains. Can I get out there without trouble?"
The Bishop sneered.
"Be meek, will you? Well, mosey out to Green Plains and begin there.
It's a _burned_ plains you'll find, and Lima and Morley all the same,
and Bear Creek. The mobbers started out from Warsaw, and burned all in
their way, Morley first, then Green Plains, Bear Creek, and Lima. They'd
set fire to the houses and drive the folks in ahead. They killed Ed
Durfee at Morley for talkin' back to 'em."
"But father and mother, surely--"
"Your pa and ma was druv in here with the rest, like cattle to the
"You don't mean to say they're over there on the river bank?"
"Now, they are a kind of a mystery about that--why they wa'n't throwed
out with the rest. Your ma's sick abed--she ain't ever been peart since
the night your pa's house was fired and they had to walk in--but that
ain't the reason they wa'n't throwed out. They put out others sicker.
They flung families where every one was sick out into that slough. I
guess what's left of 'em wouldn't be a supper-spell for a bunch of
long-billed mosquitoes. But one of them milishy captains was certainly
partial to your folks for some reason. They was let to stay in Phin
Daggin's house till you come."
"And Prudence--the Corsons--Miss Prudence Corson?"
"Oh, ho! So she's the one, is she? Now that reminds me, mebbe I can
guess the cute of that captain's partiality. That girl's been kind of
lookin' after your pa and ma, and that same milishy captain's been kind
of lookin' after the girl. She got him to let her folks go to
"But that's the wrong way."
"Well, now, I don't want to spleen, but I never did believe Vince Corson
was anything more'n a hickory Saint--and there's been a lot of talk--but
you get yours from the girl. If I ain't been misled, she's got some
ready for you."
"Bishop, will there be a way for us to get into the temple, for her to
be sealed to me? I've looked forward to that, you know. It would be hard
to miss it."
"The mob's got the temple, even if you got the girl. There's a verse
writ in charcoal on the portal:--
"'Large house, tall steeple,
Silly priests, deluded people.'
"That's how it is for the temple, and the mob's bunked there. But the
girl may have changed her mind, too."
The young man's expression became wistful and gentle, yet serenely sure.
"I guess you never knew Prudence at all well," he said. "But come, can't
we go to them? Isn't Phin Daggin's house near?"
"You may git there all right. But I don't want _my_ part taken out of
the tree of life jest yet. I ain't aimin' to show myself none. Hark!"
From outside came the measured, swinging tramp of men.
"Come see how the Lord is proving us--and step light."
They tiptoed through the other rooms to the front of the house.
"There's a peek-hole I made this morning--take it. I'll make me one
here. Don't move the curtain."
They put their eyes to the holes and were still. The quick, rhythmic,
scuffling tread of feet drew nearer, and a company of armed men marched
by with bayonets fixed. The captain, a handsome, soldierly young fellow,
glanced keenly from right to left at the houses along the line of march.
"We're all right," said the Bishop, in low tones. "The cusses have been
here once--unless they happened to see us. They're startin' in now down
on the flat to make sure no poor sick critter is left in bed in any of
them houses. Now's your chance if you want to git up to Daggin's. Go out
the back way, follow up the alleys, and go in at the back when you git
there. But remember, 'Dan shall be a serpent by the way, an adder in the
path that biteth the horse heels, so that his rider shall fall
backward!' In Clay County we had to eat up the last mule from the tips
of his ears to the end of the fly-whipper. Now we got to pass through
the pinches again. We can't stand it for ever."
"The spirit may move us against it, Brother Seth."
"I wish to hell it would!" replied the Bishop.
_The Lute of the Holy Ghost Breaks His Fast_
In his cautious approach to the Daggin house, he came upon her
unawares--a slight, slender, shapely thing of pink and golden flame, as
she poised where the sun came full upon her. One hand clutched her
flowing blue skirts snugly about her ankles; the other opened coaxingly
to a kitten crouched to spring on the limb of an apple-tree above her.
The head was thrown back, the vivid lips were parted, and he heard her
laugh low to herself. Near by was a towering rose-bush, from which she
had broken the last red rose, large, full, and lush, its petals already
loosened. Now she wrenched away a handful of these, and flung them
upward at the watchful kitten. The scarlet flecks drifted back around
her and upon her. Like little red butterflies hovering in golden
sunlight, they lodged in her many-braided yellow hair, or fluttered down
the long curls that hung in front of her ears. She laughed again under
the caressing shower. Then she tore away the remaining petals and tossed
them up with an elf-like daintiness, not at the crouched and expectant
kitten this time, but so that the whole red rain floated tenderly down
upon her upturned face and into the folds of the white kerchief crossed
upon her breast. She waited for the last feathery petal. Her hidden
lover saw it lodge in the little hollow at the base of her bare, curved
throat. He could hold no longer.
Stepping from the covert that had shielded him, he called softly to her.
She had reached again for the kitten, but at the sound of his low,
vigorous note, she turned quickly toward him, colouring with a glow that
spread from the corner of the crossed kerchief up to the yellow hair
above her brow. She answered with quick breaths.
She laughed aloud, clapping her small hands, and he ran to her--over
beds of marigolds, heartsease, and lady's-slippers, through a row of
drowsy-looking, heavy-headed dahlias, and past other withering flowers,
all but choked out by the rank garden growths of late summer. Then his
arms opened and seemed to swallow the leaping little figure, though his
kisses fell with hardly more weight upon the yielded face than had the
rose-petals a moment since, so tenderly mindful was his ardour. She
submitted, a little as the pampered kitten had before submitted to her
"You dear old sobersides, you--how gaunt and careworn you look, and how
hungry, and what wild eyes you have to frighten one with! At first I
thought you were a crazy man."
He held her face up to his eager eyes, having no words to say, overcome
by the joy that surged through him like a mighty rush of waters. In the
moment's glorious certainty he rested until she stirred nervously under
his devouring look, and spoke.
"Come, kiss me now and let me go."
He kissed her eyes so that she shut them; then he kissed her
lips--long--letting her go at last, grudgingly, fearfully, unsatisfied.
"You scare me when you look that way. You mustn't be so fierce."
"I told him he didn't know you."
"Who didn't know me, sir?"
"A man who said I wasn't sure of you."
"So you _are_ sure of me, are you, Mr. Preacherman? Is it because we've
been sweethearts since so long? But remember you've been much away. I've
seen you--let me count--but one little time of two weeks in three years.
You _would_ go on that horrid mission."
"Is not religion made up of obedience, let life or death come?"
"Is there no room for loving one's sweetheart in it?"
"One must obey, and I am a better man for having denied myself and gone.
I can love you better. I have been taught to think of others. I was sent
to open up the gospel in the Eastern States because I had been endowed
with almost the open vision. It was my call to help in the setting up of
the Messiah's latter-day kingdom. Besides, we may never question the
commands of the holy priesthood, even if our wicked hearts rebel in
"If you had questioned the right person sharply enough, you might have
had an answer as to why you were sent."
"What do you mean? How could I have questioned? How could I have
rebelled against the stepping-stone of my exaltation?"
His face relaxed a little, and he concluded almost quizzically:
"Was not Satan hurled from high heaven for resisting authority?"
She pouted, caught him by the lapels of his coat and prettily tried to
"There--horrid!--you're preaching again. Please remember you're not on
mission now. Indeed, sir, you were called back for being too--too--why,
do you know, even old Elder Munsel, 'Fire-brand Munsel,' they call him,
said you were too fanatical."
His face grew serious.
"I'm glad to be called back to you, at any rate,--and yet, think of all
those poor benighted infidels who believe there are no longer
revelations nor prophecies nor gifts nor healings nor speaking with
tongues,--this miserable generation so blind in these last days when the
time of God's wrath is at hand. Oh, I burn in my heart for them, night
after night, suffering for the tortures that must come upon
them--thrice direful because they have rejected the message of Moroni
and trampled upon the priesthood of high heaven, butchering the Saints
of the Most High, and hunting the prophets of God like Ahab of old."
"Oh, dear, please stop it! You sound like swearing!" Her two hands were
closing her ears in a pretty pretense.
He seemed hardly to hear her, but went on excitedly:
"Yet I have done what man could do. I am never done doing. I would
gladly give my body to be burned a thousand times if it would avail to
save them into the Kingdom. I have preached the word tirelessly--
fanatically, they say--but only as it burned in my bones. I have told
them of visions, dreams, revelations, miracles, and all the mercies of
this last dispensation. And I have prayed and fasted. Just now coming
from winter quarters, when I could not preach, I held twelve fasts and
twelve vigils. You will say it has weakened me, but it has weakened only
the bonds that the flesh puts upon the spirit. Even so, I fell short of
my vision--my tabernacle of flesh must have been too much profaned,
though how I cannot dream--believe me, I have kept myself as high and
clean as I knew. Yet there was promise. For only last night at the river
bank, the spirit came partially upon me. I was taken with a faintness,
and I heard above my head a sound like the rustling of silken robes,
and the spirit of God hovered over me, so that I could feel its
radiance. All in good time, then, it shall dwell within me, so that I
may know a way to save the worthy."
He grasped her wrist and bent eagerly forward, with the same wild look
in his eyes that had before disquieted her.
"Mark what I say now--I shall do great works for this generation; I am
strangely favoured of God; I have felt the spirit quicken wondrously
within me, and I know the Lord works not in vain; what great wonder of
grace I shall do, what miracle of salvation, I know not, but remember,
it shall be transcendent; tell it to no one, but I know in my inner
secret heart it shall be a greater work than man hath yet done."
He stopped and drew himself up, shaking his head, as if to shrug off the
spell of his own feeling.
"Now, now! stop it at once, and come to the house. I've been tending
your father and mother, and I'm going to tend you. What you need
directly is food. Your look may be holy, but I prefer full cheeks. Not
another word until you have eaten every crumb I put before you."
With an air of captor, daintily fierce, she led him toward the house and
up to the door, which she pushed open before him.
"Come softly, your mother may be still asleep--no, your father is
A querulous voice, rough with strong feeling, came from the inner room.
"Here, I tell you, is the prophecy of Joseph to prove it, away back in
1832: 'Verily thus saith the Lord concerning the wars that will shortly
come to pass, beginning at the rebellion of South Carolina, which will
terminate in the death and misery of many souls. The days will come that
war will be poured out upon all nations, beginning at that place; for
behold, the Southern States shall be divided against the Northern
States, and the Southern States will call on other nations, even the
nation of Great Britain, as it is called.' Now will you doubt again,
mother? For persecuting the Saints of the most high God, this republic
shall be dashed to pieces like a potter's vessel. But we shall be safe.
The Lord will gather Israel home to the chambers of the mountains
against the day of wrath that is coming on the Gentile world. For all
flesh hath corrupted itself on the face of the earth, but the Saints
shall possess a purified land, upon which there shall be no curse when
the Lord cometh. Then shall the heavens open--"
He broke off, for the girl came leading in the son, who, as soon as he
saw the white-haired old man with his open book, sitting beside the
wasted woman on the bed, flew to them with a glad cry.
They embraced him and smoothed and patted him, tremulously, feebly, with
broken thanks for his safe return. The mother at last fell back upon her
pillow, her eyes shining with the joy of a great relief, while the
father was seized with a fit of coughing that cruelly racked his gaunt
frame and left him weak but smiling.
The girl had been placing food upon the table.
"Come, Joel," she urged, "you must eat--we have all breakfasted, so you
must sit alone, but we shall watch you."
She pushed him into the chair and filled his plate, in spite of his
"Not another word until you have eaten it all."
"The very sight of it is enough. I am not hungry."
But she coaxed and commanded, with her hands upon his shoulders, and he
let himself be persuaded to taste the bread and meat. After a few
mouthfuls, taken with obvious disrelish, she detected the awakening
fervour of a famished man, and knew she would have to urge no more.
As the son ate, the girl busied herself at the mother's pillow, while
the father talked and ruminated by intervals,--a text, a word of cheer
to the wasted mother, incidents of old days, memories of early revivals.
In 1828, he had hailed Dylkes, the "Leatherwood God," as the real
Messiah. Then he had been successively a Freewill Baptist, a
Winebrennerian, a Universalist, a Disciple, and finally an eloquent and
moving preacher in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Now
he was a wild-eyed old dreamer with a high, narrow forehead depressed at
the temples, enfeebled, living much in the past. Once his voice would be
low, as if he spoke only to himself; again it would rise in warning to
an evil generation.
"The end of the world is at hand, laddie," he began, after looking
fondly at his son for a time. "Joseph said there are those now living
who shall not taste of death till Jesus comes. And then, oh, then--the
great white day! There is strong delusion among the wicked in the day in
which we live, but the seed of Abraham, the royal seed, the blessed seed
of the Lord, shall be told off to its separate glory. The Lord will
spread the curtains of Zion and gather it out to the fat valleys of
Ephraim, and there, with resurrected bodies it shall possess the
purified earth. I shall be away for a time before then, laddie--and the
dear mother here. Our crowns have been earned and will not long be
withheld. But you will be there for the glory of it, and who more
"I pray to be made worthy of the exaltation, Father."
"You are, laddie. The word and the light came to me when I preached
another faith--for the spirit of Thomas Campbell had aforetime moved
me--but you, laddie, you have been bred in the word and the truth. The
Lord, as a mark of his favour, has kept you from the contamination of
doubters, infidels, heretics, and apostates. You have been educated
under the care of the priesthood, close here in Nauvoo the Beautiful,
and who could more deserve the fulness of thrones, dominions, and of
power--who of all those whose number the after-time shall unfold?"
He turned appealingly to the mother, whose fevered eyes rested fondly
upon her boy as she nodded confirmation of the words.
"Did he not march all the way from Kirtland to Missouri with us in
'34--the youngest soldier in the whole army of Zion? How old,
laddie?--twelve, was it?--so he marched a hundred miles for every one of
his little years--and so valiant--none more so--begging us to hasten and
give battle so he could fight upon the Lord's side. Twelve hundred miles
he walked to put back in their homes the persecuted Saints of Jackson
County. But, ah! There he saw liberty strangled in her sanctuary. Do you
mind, laddie, how in '38 we were driven by the mob from Jackson across
the river into Clay County? how they ran off our cattle, stole our
grain? how your poor old mother's mother died from exposure that night
in the rain and sleet? how we lived on mast and corn, the winter, in
tents and a few dugouts and rickety huts--we who had the keys of St.
Peter and the gifts of the apostolic age? Do you mind the sackings and
burnings at Adam-Ondi-Ahman? Do you mind the wife of Joseph's brother,
Don Carlos, she that was made by the soldiers to wade Grand River with
two helpless babes in her arms? They would not even let her warm
herself, before she started, at the flames of her own hut they had
fired. And, laddie, you mind Haun's mill. Ah, the bloody day!--you were
there, and one other, the sister, happy, beautiful as her in the Song of
Songs, when the brutes came--"
"Don't, father--stop there--you are making my throat shut against the
"Then you came to Far West in time to see Joseph and his brethren sold
to the mobocrats by that devil's traitor, Hinkle,--you saw the fleeing
Saints forced to leave their all, hunted out of Missouri into
Illinois--their houses burned, the cattle stolen, their wives and
"Don't, father! Be quiet again. You and mother must be fit for our
journey, as fit as we younger folk."
He glanced fondly across the table, where the girl had leaned her chin
in her hands to watch him, speculatively. She avoided his eyes.
"Yes, yes," assented the old man, "and you know of our persecutions
here--how we had to finish the temple with our arms by our sides, even
as the faithful finished the walls of Jerusalem--and how we were driven
out by night--"
"Yes, yes. Ah, this gathering out! How far shall we go, laddie?"
"Four hundred miles to winter quarters. From there no one yet knows,--a
thousand, maybe two thousand."
"Aye, to the Rockies or beyond, even to the Pacific. Joseph prophesied
it--where we shall be left in peace until the great day."
The young man glanced quickly up.
"Or have time to grow mighty, if we should not be let alone. Surely this
is the last time the Lord would have us meek under the mob."
"Ho, ho! As you were twelve years ago, trudging by my side, valiant to
fight if the Lord but wills it! But have no fear, boy. This time we go
far beyond all that may tempt the spoiler. We go into the desert, where
no humans are but the wretched red Lamanites; no beasts but the wild
ones of four feet to hunger for our flesh; no verdure, no nourishment to
sustain us save the manna from on high,--a region of unknown perils and
unnamed deserts. Truly we make the supreme test. I do not overcolour it.
Prudence, hand me yonder scrap-book, there on the secretary. Here I
shall read you the words of no less a one than Senator Daniel Webster on
the floor of the Senate but a few months agone. He spoke on the proposal
to fix a mail-route from Missouri to the mouth of the Columbia River in
that far-off land. Hear this great man who knows whereof he speaks. He
is very bitter. 'What do we want with this vast, worthless area--this
region of savages and wild beasts, of deserts, of shifting sands and
whirlwinds of dust, of cactus and prairie-dogs? To what use could we
ever hope to put these great deserts or those endless mountain ranges,
impenetrable and covered to their very base with eternal snows? What can
we ever hope to do with that Western coast, a coast of three thousand
miles, rock-bound, cheerless, uninviting, and not a harbour on it. Mr.
President, I will never vote one cent from the public treasury to place
the Pacific Coast one inch nearer to Boston than it now is!'"
The girl had been making little impatient flights about the room, as if
awaiting an opportunity to interrupt the old man's harangue, but even as
she paused to speak, he began again:
"There, laddie, do you hear him?--arid deserts, shifting sand, snow and
ice, wild beasts and wilder men--that is where Israel of the last days
shall be hidden to wait for the second coming of God's Christ. There,
having received our washings and anointings in the temple of God on
earth, we shall wait unmolested, and spread the curtains of Zion in due
circumspection. And what a migration to be recorded in another sacred
history ages hence! Surely the blood of our martyred Prophet hath not
smoked to heaven in vain. Where is there a parallel to this hegira? They
from Egypt went from a heathen land, a land of idolatry, to a fertile
home chosen for them by the Lord. But we go from a fair, smiling land of
plenty and pretended Christianity into the burning desert. They have
driven us to the edge; now they drive us in. But God works his way among
the peoples of earth, and we are strong. Who knows but that we shall in
our march throw up a highway of holiness to the rising generation? So
let us round up our backs to the burden!"
"Amen!" replied the young man fervently, as he rose from the table.
"And now we must be about our preparations for the journey. The time is
short--who is that?"
He sprang to the door. Outside, quick steps were heard approaching. The
girl, who had risen in some confusion, stood blushing and embarrassed
before him. The mother rose feebly on her elbow to reassure him.
"'Tis Captain Girnway, laddie. Have no alarm--he has befriended us. But
for him we should have been put out two days ago, without shelter and
without care. He let us be housed here until you should come."
There was a knock at the door, but Joel stood with his back to it. The
words of Seth Wright were running roughshod through his mind. He looked
sharply at Prudence.
"A mobocrat--our enemy--and you have taken favours from him--a minion of
The girl looked up.
"He was kind; you don't realise that he has probably saved their lives.
Indeed, you must let him in and thank him."
The mother interposed hurriedly.
"Yes, yes, laddie! You know not how high-handed they have been. They
expelled all but us, and some they have maltreated shamefully. This one
has been kind to us. Open the door."
"I dare not face him--I may not contain myself!"
The knock was repeated more loudly. The girl went up to him and put her
hands on his shoulders to draw him away.
"Be reasonable," she pleaded, in low tones, "and above all, be polite to
She put him gently aside and drew back the door. On the threshold smiled
the young captain he had watched from the window that morning, marching
at the head of his company. His cap was doffed, and his left hand rested
easily on the hilt of his sword. He stepped inside as one sure of his
"Good morning, Miss Prudence, good morning, Mr. Rae, good morning,
He looked questioningly at the stranger. Prudence stepped forward.
"This is Joel Rae, Captain Girnway."
They bowed, somewhat stiffly. Each was dark. Each had a face to attract
women. But the captain was at peace with the world, neatly uniformed,
well-fed, clean-shaven, smiling, pleasant to look upon, while the other
was unshaven, hollow-cheeked, gaunt, roughly dressed, a thing that had
been hunted and was now under ban. Each was at once sensible of the
contrast between them, and each was at once affected by it: the captain
to a greater jauntiness, a more effusive affability; the other to a
"I am glad to know you have come, Mr. Rae. Your people have worried a
little, owing to the unfortunate circumstances in which they have been
"I--I am obliged to you, sir, in their behalf, for your kindness to my
father and mother and to Miss Corson here."
"You are a thousand times welcome, sir. Can you tell me when you will
wish to cross the river?"
"At the very earliest moment that God and the mob will let us. To-morrow
morning, I hope."
"This has not been agreeable to me, believe me--"
"Far less so to us, you may be sure; but we shall be content again when
we can get away from all your whiggery, democratism, devilism, mobism!"
He spoke with rising tones, and the other flushed noticeably about the
"Have your wagons ready to-morrow morning, then, Mr. Rae--at eight? Very
well, I shall see that you are protected to the ferry. There has been so
much of that tone of talk, sir, that some of our men have resented it."
He turned pleasantly to Prudence.
"And you, Miss Prudence, you will be leaving Nauvoo for Springfield, I
suppose. As you go by Carthage, I shall wish to escort you that far
myself, to make sure of your safety."
The lover turned fiercely, seizing the girl's wrist and drawing her
toward him before she could answer.
"Her goal is Zion, not Babylon, sir--remember _that_!"
She stepped hastily between them.
"We will talk of that to-morrow, Captain," she said, quickly, and added,
"You may leave us now for we have much to do here in making ready for
"Until to-morrow morning, then, at eight."
He bowed low over the hand she gave him, gracefully saluted the others,
and was gone.
[Illustration: "HER GOAL IS ZION, NOT BABYLON, SIR--REMEMBER _THAT_!"]
_A Fair Apostate_
She stood flushed and quick-breathing when the door had shut, he bending
toward her with dark inquiry in his eyes. Before she spoke, he divined
that under her nervousness some resolution lay stubbornly fixed.
"Let us speak alone," she said, in a low voice. Then, to the old people,
"Joel and I will go into the garden awhile to talk. Be patient."
"Not for long, dear; our eyes are aching for him."
"Only a little while," and she smiled back at them. She went ahead
through the door by which they had first entered, and out into the
garden at the back of the house. He remembered, as he followed her, that
since he had arrived that morning she had always been leading him,
directing him as if to a certain end, with the air of meaning presently
to say something of moment to him.
They went past the rose-bush near which she had stood when he first saw
her, and down a walk through borders of marigolds. She picked one of
the flowers and fixed it in his coat.
"You are much too savage--you need a posy to soften you. There! Now come
to this seat."
She led him to a rustic double chair under the heavily fruited boughs of
an apple-tree, and made him sit down. She began with a vivacious
playfulness, poorly assumed, to hide her real feeling.
"Now, sobersides, it must end--this foolishness of yours--"
She stopped, waiting for some question of his to help her. But he said
nothing, though she could feel the burning of his eyes upon her.
"This superstitious folly, you know," she blurted out, looking up at him
in sudden desperation.
"Tell me what you mean--you must know I'm impatient."
She essayed to be playful again, pouting her dimpled face near to his
that he might kiss her. But he did not seem to see. He only waited.
"Well--this religion--this Mormonism--"
She shot one swift look at him, then went on quickly.
"My people have left the church, and--I--too--they found things in
Joseph Smith's teachings that seemed bad to them. They went to
Springfield. I would have gone, too, but I told them I wanted first to
see you and--and see if you would not come with us--at least for awhile,
not taking the poor old father and mother through all that wretchedness.
They consented to let me stay with your parents on condition that
Captain Girnway would protect them and me. He--he--is very kind--and had
known us since last winter and had seen me--us--several times. I hadn't
the heart to tell your father; he was so set on going to the new Zion,
but you _will_ come, won't you?"
"Wait a moment!" He put a hand upon her arm as if to arrest her speech.
"You daze me. Let me think." She looked up at him, wondering at his
face, for it showed strength and bitterness and gentleness all in one
look--and he was suffering. She put her hand upon his, from an instinct
of pity. The touch recalled him.
"Now--for the beginning." He spoke with aroused energy, a little wistful
smile softening the strain of his face. "You were wise to give me food,
else I couldn't have solved this mystery. To the beginning, then: You,
Prudence Corson, betrothed to me these three years and more; you have
been buried in the waters of baptism and had your washings and
anointings in the temple of the most high God. Is it not so? Your eyes
were anointed that they might be quick to see, your ears that they might
be apt at hearing, your mouth that you might with wisdom speak the words
of eternal life, and your feet that they might be swift to run in the
ways of the Lord. You accepted thereby the truth that the angel of God
had delivered to Joseph Smith the sealing keys of power. You accepted
the glorious articles of the new covenant. You were about to be sealed
up to me for time and eternity. Now--I am lost--what is it?--your
father and mother have left the church, and because of what?"
"Because of bad things, because of this doctrine they practise--this
wickedness of spiritual wives, plural wives. Think of it, Joel--that if
I were your wife you might take another."
"I need not think of it. Surely you know my love. You know I could not
do that. Indeed I have heard at last that this doctrine so long gossiped
of is a true one. But I have been away and am not yet learned in its
mysteries. But this much I do know--and it is the very corner-stone of
my life: Peter, James, and John ordained Joseph Smith here on this
earth, and Joseph ordained the twelve. All other churches have been
established by the wisdom or folly of man. Ours is the only one on earth
established by direct revelation from God. It has a priesthood, and that
priesthood is a power we must reverence and obey, no matter what may be
its commands. When the truth is taught me of this doctrine you speak of,
I shall see it to be right for those to whom it is ordained. And
meantime, outside of my own little life--my love for you, which would be
always single--I can't measure the revealed will of God with my little
moral foot-rule. Joseph was endowed with the open vision. He saw God
face to face and heard His voice. Can the standards of society in its
present corruption measure and pass upon the revelations of so
white-souled a man?"
"I believe he was not white-souled," she replied, in a kind, animated
way, as one who was bent upon saving him from error. "I told you I knew
why you were sent away on mission. It was because you were my accepted
lover--and your white-souled Joseph Smith wanted me for himself."
"I can't believe it--you couldn't know such a thing"--his faith made a
brave rally--"but even so, if he sought you, why, the more honour to
you--and to me, if you still clung to me."
"Listen. I was afraid to tell you before--ashamed--but I told my people.
It's three years ago. I was seventeen. It was just after we had become
engaged. My people were then strong in the faith, as you know. One
morning after you had left for the East, Brigham Young and Heber Kimball
came to our house for me. They said the Prophet had long known me by
sight, and wished to talk with me. Would I go with them to visit him and
he would bless and counsel me? Of course I was flattered. I put on my
prettiest frock and fetchingest bonnet and set off with them, after
mamma had said yes. On the way they kept asking me if I was willing to
do all the Prophet required. I said I was sure of it, thinking they
meant to be good and worshipful. Then they would ask if I was ready to
take counsel, and they said, 'Many things are revealed unto us in these
last days that the world would scoff at,' but that it had been given to
them to know all the mysteries of the Kingdom. Then they said, 'You
will see Joseph and he will tell you what you are to do.'"
He was listening with a serious, confident eagerness, as if he knew she
could say nothing to dim the Prophet's lustre.
"When we reached the building where Joseph's store was, they led me
up-stairs to a small room and sent down to the store for the Prophet.
When he came up they introduced me and left me alone in the little room
with him. Their actions had seemed queer to me, but I remembered that
this man had talked face to face with God, so I tried to feel better.
But all at once he stood before me and asked me to be his wife. Think of
it! I was so frightened! I dared not say no, he looked at me so--I can't
tell you how; but I said it would not be lawful. He said, 'Yes,
Prudence, I have had a revelation from God that it is lawful and right
for a man to have as many wives as he wants--for as it was in the days
of Abraham, so it shall be in these days. Accept me and I shall take you
straight to the celestial Kingdom. Brother Brigham will marry us here,
right now, and you can go home to-night and keep it secret from your
parents if you like.' Then I said, 'But I am betrothed to Joel Rae, the
son of Giles Rae, who is away on mission.' 'I know that,' he said--'I
sent him away, and anyway you will be safer to marry me. You will then
be absolutely sure of your celestial reward, for in the next world, you
know, I am to have powers, thrones, and dominions, while Brother Joel
is very young and has not been tried in the Kingdom. He may fall away
and then you would be lost.'"
The man in him now was struggling with his faith, and he seemed about to
interrupt her, but she went on excitedly.
"I said I would not want to do anything of the kind without
deliberation. He urged me to have it over, trying to kiss me, and saying
he knew it would be right before God; that if there was any sin in it he
would take it upon himself. He said, 'You know I have the keys of the
Kingdom, and whatever I bind on earth is bound in heaven. Come,' he
said, 'nothing ventured, nothing gained. Let me call Brother Brigham to
seal us, and you shall be a star in my crown for ever.'
"Then I broke down and cried, for I was so afraid, and he put his arms
around me, but I pushed away, and after awhile I coaxed him to give me
until the next Sabbath to think it over, promising on my life to say not
one word to any person. I never let him see me alone again, you may be
sure, and at last when other awful tales were told about him here, of
wickedness and his drunkenness--he told in the pulpit that he had been
drunk, and that he did it to keep them from worshipping him as a God--I
saw he was a bad, common man, and I told my people everything, and soon
my father was denounced for an apostate. Now, sir, what do you say?"
When she finished he was silent for a time. Then he spoke, very gently,
but with undaunted firmness.
"Prudence, dearest, I have told you that this doctrine is new to me. I
do not yet know its justification. But that I shall see it to be
sanctified after they have taught me, this I know as certainly as I know
that Joseph Smith dug up the golden plates of Mormon and Moroni on the
hill of Cumorah when the angel of the Lord moved him. It will be
sanctified for those who choose it, I mean. You know I could never
choose it for myself. But as for others, I must not question. I know
only too well that eternal salvation for me depends upon my accepting
manfully and unquestioningly the authority of the temple priesthood."
"But I know Joseph was not a good man--and they tell such absurd stories
about the miracles the Elders pretend to work."
"I believe with all my heart Joseph was good; but even if not--we have
never pretended that he was anything more than a prophet of God. And was
not Moses a murderer when God called him to be a prophet? And as for
miracles, all religions have them--why not ours? Your people were
Methodists before Joseph baptised them. Didn't Wesley work miracles?
Didn't a cloud temper the sun in answer to his prayer? Wasn't his horse
cured of a lameness by his faith? Didn't he lay hands upon the blind
Catholic girl so that she saw plainly when her eyes rested upon the New
Testament and became blind again when she took up the mass book? Are
those stories absurd? My father himself saw Joseph cast a devil out of
"And this awful journey into a horrid desert. Why must you go? Surely
there are other ways of salvation." She hesitated a moment. "I have been
told that going to heaven is like going to mill. If your wheat is good,
the miller will never ask which way you came."
"Child, child, some one has tampered with you."
She retorted quickly.
"He did not tamper, he has never sought to--he was all kindness."
She stopped, her short upper lip holding its incautious mate a prisoner.
She blushed furiously under the sudden blaze of his eyes.
"So it's true, what Seth Wright hinted at? To think that you, of all
people--my sweetheart--gone over--won over by a cursed mobocrat--a fiend
with the blood of our people wet on his hands! Listen, Prue; I'm going
into the desert. Even though you beg me to stay, you must have
known--perhaps you hoped--that I would go. There are many reasons why I
must. For one, there are six hundred and forty poor hunted wretches over
there on the river bank, sick, cold, wet, starving, but enduring it all
to the death for their faith in Joseph Smith. They could have kept their
comfortable homes here and their substance, simply by renouncing
him--they are all voluntary exiles--they have only to say 'I do not
believe Joseph Smith was a prophet of God,' and these same Gentiles
will receive them with open arms, give them clothing, food, and shelter,
put them again in possession of their own. But they are lying out over
there, fever-stricken, starving, chilled, all because they will not deny
their faith. Shall I be a craven, then, who have scarcely ever wanted
for food or shelter, and probably shall not? Of course you don't love me
or you couldn't ask me to do that. Those faithful wretched ones are
waiting over there for me to guide them on toward a spot that will
probably be still more desolate. They could find their way, almost, by
the trail of graves we left last spring, but they need my strength and
my spirit, and I am going. I am going, too, for my own salvation. I
would suffer anything for you, but by going I may save us both. Listen,
child; God is going to make a short work on earth. We shall both see the
end of this reign of sin. It is well if you take wheat to the mill, but
what if you fetch the miller chaff instead?"
She made a little protesting move with her hands, and would have spoken,
but he was not done.
"Now, listen further. You heard my father tell how I have seen this
people driven and persecuted since I was a boy. That, if nothing else,
would take me away from these accursed States and their mobs. Hatred of
them has been bred into my marrow. I know them for the most part to be
unregenerate and doomed, but even if it were otherwise--if they had the
true light--none the less would I be glad to go, because of what they
have done to us and to me and to mine. Oh, in the night I hear such
cries of butchered mothers with their babes, and see the flames of the
little cabins--hear the shots and the ribaldry and the cursings. My
father spoke to you of Haun's mill,--that massacre back in Missouri.
That was eight years ago. I was a boy of sixteen and my sister was a
year older. She had been left in my care while father and mother went on
to Far West. You have seen the portrait of her that mother has. You know
how delicately flower-like her beauty was, how like a lily, with a
purity and an innocence to disarm any villainy. Thirty families had
halted at the mill the day before, the mob checking their advance at
that point. All was quiet until about four in the afternoon. We were
camped on either side of Shoal Creek. Children were playing freely about
while their mothers and fathers worked at the little affairs of a
pilgrimage like that. Most of them had then been three months on the
road, enduring incredible hardships for the sake of their religion--for
him you believe to be a bad, common man. But they felt secure now
because one of the militia captains, officious like your captain here,
had given them assurance the day before that they would be protected
from all harm. I was helping Brother Joseph Young to repair his wagon
when I glanced up to the opposite side of Shoal Creek and saw a large
company of armed and mounted men coming toward our peaceful group at
full speed. One of our number, seeing that they were many and that we
were unarmed, ran out and cried, 'Peace!' but they came upon us and
fired their volley. Men, women, and little children fell under it. Those
surviving fled to the blacksmith's shop for shelter--huddling inside
like frightened sheep. But there were wide cracks between the logs, and
up to these the mob went, putting their guns through to do their work at
leisure. Then the plundering began--plundering and worse."
He stopped, trembling, and she put out her hand to him in sympathy. When
he had regained control of himself, he continued.
"At the first volley I had hurried sister to a place of concealment in
the underbrush, and she, hearing them search for the survivors after the
shooting was over, thought we were discovered, and sprang up to run
further. One of them saw her and shot. She fell half-fainting with a
bullet through her arm, and then half a dozen of them gathered quickly
about her. I ran to them, screaming and striking out with my fists, but
the devil was in them, and she, poor blossom, lay there helpless,
calling 'Boy, boy, boy!' as she had always called me since we were
babies together. Must I tell you the rest?--must I tell you--how those
"Don't, don't! Oh, _no_!"
"I thought I must die! They held me there--"
He had gripped one of her wrists until she cried out in pain and he
"But the sight must have given me a man's strength, for my struggles
became so troublesome that one of them--I have always been grateful for
it--clubbed his musket and dealt me a blow that left me senseless. It
was dark when I came to, but I lay there until morning, unable to do
more than crawl. When the light came I found the poor little sister
there near where they had dragged us both, and she was _alive_. Can you
realise how awful that was--that she had lived through it? God be
thanked, she died before the day was out.
"After that the other mutilated bodies, the plundered wagons, all seemed
less horrible to me. My heart had been seared over. They had killed
twenty of the Saints, and the most of them we hurried to throw into a
well, fearful that the soldiers of Governor Boggs would come back at any
moment to strip and hack them. O God! and now you have gone over to one
"Joel,--dear, _dear_ Joel!--indeed I pity and sympathise--and care
for--but I cannot go--even after all you say. And don't you see it will
always be so! My father says the priesthood will always be in trouble if
it sets itself above the United States. Dear Joel, I can't go, indeed I
He spoke more softly now.
"Thank God I don't realise it yet--I mean, that we must part. You tell
me so and I hear you and my mind knows, but my heart hasn't sensed it
yet--I can feel it now going stupidly along singing its old happy song
of hope and gladness, while all this is going on here outside. But soon
the big hurt will come. Oh, Prue--Prue, girl!--can't you think what it
will mean to me? Don't you know how I shall sicken for the sight of you,
and my ears will listen for you! Prudence, Prue, darling--yet I must not
be womanish! I have a big work to do. I have known it with a new
clearness since that radiance rested above my head last night. The truth
burns in me like a fire. Your going can't take that from me. It must be
I was not meant to have you. With you perhaps I could not have had a
heart single to God's work. He permitted me to love you so I could be
tried and proved."
He looked at her fondly, and she could see striving and trembling in his
eyes a great desire to crush her in his arms, yet he fought it down, and
continued more calmly.
"But indeed I must be favoured more than common, to deserve that so
great a hurt be put upon me, and I shall not be found wanting. I shall
never wed any woman but you, though, dear. If not you, never any other."
He stood up.
"I must go in to them now. There must be work to do against the start
"May the Lord deafen my ears to you, darling!" and squaring his
shoulders resolutely away from her, he left her on the seat and went in.
The old man looked up from his Bible as his son entered.
"It's sore sad, laddie, we can't have the temple for your sealing-vows."
"Prudence will not be sealed to me, father." He spoke dazedly, as if
another like the morning's blow had been dealt him. "I--I am already
sealed to the Spirit for time and eternity."
"Was it Prudence's doings?" asked his mother, quickly.
"Yes; she has left the church with her people."
The long-faced, narrow-browed old man raised one hand solemnly.
"Then let her be banished from Israel and not numbered in the books of
the offspring of Abraham! And let her be delivered over to the
buffetings of Satan in the flesh!"
_Giles Rae Beautifies His Inheritance_
By eight o'clock the next morning, out under a cloudy sky, the Raes were
ready and eager for their start to the new Jerusalem. Even the sick
woman's face wore a kind of soft and faded radiance in the excitement of
going. On her mattress, she had been tenderly installed in one of the
two covered wagons that carried their household goods. The wagon in
which she lay was to be taken across the river by Seth Wright,--for the
moment no Wild Ram of the Mountains, but a soft-cooing dove of peace.
Permission had been granted him by Brockman to recross the river on some
needful errands; and, having once proved the extreme sensitiveness, not
to say irritability, of those in temporary command, he was now resolved
to give as little eclat as possible to certain superior aspects of his
own sanctity. He spoke low and deferentially, and his mien was that of a
modest, retiring man who secretly thought ill of himself.
He mounted the wagon in which the sick woman lay, sat well back under
the bowed cover, clucked low to the horses, and drove off toward the
ferry. If discreet behaviour on his part could ensure it there would be
no conflict provoked with superior numbers; with numbers, moreover,
composed of violent-tempered and unprincipled persecutors who were
already acting with but the merest shadow of legal authority.
On the seat of the second wagon, whip in hand, was perched Giles Rae,
his coat buttoned warmly to the chin. He was slight and feeble to the
eye, yet he had been fired to new life by the certainty that now they
were to leave the territory of the persecuting Gentiles for a land to be
the Saints' very own. His son stood at the wheel, giving him final
directions. At the gate was Prudence Corson, gowned for travel, reticule
in hand, her prettiness shadowed, under the scoop of her bonnet, the toe
of one trim little boot meditatively rolling a pebble over the ground.
"Drive slowly, Daddy. Likely I shall overtake you before you reach the
ferry. I want but a word yet with Prudence; though"--he glanced over at
the bowed head of the girl--"no matter if I linger a little, since
Brother Seth will cross first and we must wait until the boat comes
back. Some of our people will be at the ferry to look after you,--and be
careful to have no words with any of the mob--no matter what insult they
may offer. You're feeling strong, aren't you?"
"Ay, laddie, that I am! Strong as an ox! The very thought of being free
out of this Babylon has exalted me in spirit and body. Think of it, boy!
Soon we shall be even beyond the limits of the United States--in a
foreign land out there to the west, where these bloodthirsty ones can no
longer reach us. Thank God they're like all snakes--they can't jump
beyond their own length!"
He leaned out of the wagon to shake a bloodless, trembling fist toward
the temple where the soldiers had made their barracks.
"Now let great and grievous judgments, desolations, by famine, sword,
and pestilence come upon you, generation of vipers!"
He cracked the whip, the horses took their load at his cheery call, and
as the wagon rolled away they heard him singing:--
"Lo, the Gentile chain is broken!
Freedom's banner waves on high!"
They watched him until the wagon swung around into the street that fell
away to the ferry. Then they faced each other, and he stepped to her
side as she leaned lightly on the gate.
"Prue, dear," he said, softly, "it's going hard with me. God must indeed
have a great work reserved for me to try me with such a sacrifice--so
much pain where I could least endure it. I prayed all the night to be
kept firm, for there are two ways open--one right and one wrong; but I
cannot sell my soul so early. That's why I wanted to say the last
good-bye out here. I was afraid to say it in there--I am so weak for
you, Prue--I ache so for you in all this trouble--why, if I could feel
your hands in my hair, I'd laugh at it all--I'm so _weak_ for you,
She tossed her yellow head ever so slightly, and turned the scoop of her
bonnet a little away from his pain-lighted face.
"I am not complimented, though--you care more for your religion than for
He looked at her hungrily.
"No, you are wrong there--I don't separate you at all--I couldn't--you
and my religion are one--but, if I must, I can love you in spirit as I
worship my God in spirit--"
"If it will satisfy you, very well!"
"My reward will come--I shall do a great work, I shall have a Witness
from the sky. Who am I that I should have thought to win a crown without
taking up a cross?"
"I am sorry for you."
"Oh, Prue, there must be a way to save the souls of such as you, even in
their blindness. Would God make a flower like you, only to let it be
lost? There must be a way. I shall pray until I force it from the secret
"My soul will be very well, sir!" she retorted, with a distinct trace of
asperity. "I am not a heathen, I'd thank you to remember--and when I'm a
wife I shall be my husband's only wife--"
He winced in acutest pain.
"You have no right to taunt me so. Else you can't know what you have
meant to me. Oh, you were all the world, child--you, of your own dear
self--you would have been all the wives in the world to me--there are
many, many of you, and all in a heavenly one--"
"Oh, forgive me, dearest," she cried, and put out a little gloved hand
to comfort him. "I know, I know--all the sweetness and goodness of your
love, believe me. See, I have kept always by me the little Bible you
gave me on my birthday--I have treasured it, and I know it has made me a
better girl, because it makes me always think of your goodness--but I
couldn't have gone there, Joel--and it does seem as if you need not have
gone--and that marrying is so odious--"
"You shall see how little you had to fear of that doctrine which God has
seen fit to reveal to these good men. I tell you now, Prue, I shall wed
no woman but you. Nor am I giving you up. Don't think it. I am doing my
duty and trusting God to bring you to me. I know He will do it--I tell
you there is the spirit of some strange, awful strength in me, which
tells me to ask what I will and it shall be given--to seek to do
anything, how great or hard soever, and a giant's, a god's strength will
rest in me. And so I know you will come. You will always think of me
so,--waiting for you--somehow, somewhere. Every day you must think it,
at any idle moment when I come to your mind; every night when you waken
in the dark and silence, you must think, 'Wherever he is, he is waiting
for me, perhaps awake as I am now, praying, with a power that will
surely draw me.' You will come somehow. Perhaps, when I reach winter
quarters, you will have changed your mind. One never knows how God may
fashion these little providences. But He will bring you safe to me out
of that Gentile perdition. Remember, child, God has set his hand in
these last days to save the human family from the ruins of the fall, and
some way, He alone knows how, you will come to me and find me waiting."
"As if you needed to wait for me when I am here now ready for you,
willing to be taken!"
"Don't, don't, dear! There are two of me now, and one can't stand the
pain. There is a man in me, sworn to do a man's work like a man, and
duty to God and the priesthood has big chains around his heart dragging
it across the river. But, low, now--there is a little, forlorn boy in
me, too--a poor, crying, whimpering, babyish little boy, who dreamed of
you and longed for you and was promised you, and who will never get well
of losing you. Oh, I know it well enough--his tears will never dry, his
heart will always have a big hurt in it--and your face will always be so
fresh and clear in it!"
He put his hands on her shoulders and looked down into the face under
"Let me make sure I shall lose no look of you, from little tilted chin,
and lips of scarlet thread, and little teeth like grains of rice, and
eyes into which I used to wander and wonder so far--"
She looked past him and stepped back.
"Captain Girnway is coming for me--yonder, away down the street. He
takes me to Carthage."
His face hardened as he looked over his shoulder.
"I shall never wed any woman but you. Can you feel as deeply as that?
Will you wed no man but me?"
She fluttered the cherry ribbons on the bonnet and fixed a stray curl in
front of one ear.
"Have you a right to ask that? I might wait a time for you to come
back--to your senses and to me, but--"
"What, will you go that way--not kiss me? He is still two blocks away."
"I am so weak for you, sweet--the little boy in me is crying for you,
but he must not have what he wants. What he wants would leave his heart
rebellious and not perfect with the Lord. It's best not," he continued,
with an effort at a smile and in a steadier tone. "It would mean so much
to me--oh, so very much to me--and so very little to you--and that's no
real kiss. I'd rather remember none of that kind--and don't think I was
churlish--it's only because the little boy--I will go after my father
now, and God bless you!"
He turned away. A few paces on he met Captain Girnway, jaunty, debonair,
smiling, handsome in his brass-buttoned uniform of the Carthage Grays.
"I have just left the ferry, Mr. Rae. The wagon with your mother has
gone over. The other had not yet come down. Some of the men appear to be
a little rough this morning. Your people are apt to provoke them by
being too outspoken, but I left special orders for the good treatment of
yourself and outfit."
With a half-smothered "thank you," he passed on, not trusting himself to
say more to one who was not only the enemy of his people, but bent,
seemingly, on deluding a young woman to the loss of her soul. He heard
their voices in cheerful greeting, but did not turn back. With eyes to
the front and shoulders squared he kept stiffly on his way through the
silent, deserted streets to the ferry.
Fifteen minutes' walk brought him to the now busy waterside. The ferry,
a flat boat propelled by long oars, was landing when he came into view,
and he saw his father's wagon driven on. He sped down the hill, pushed
through the crowd of soldiers standing about, and hurried forward on the
boat to let the old man know he had come. But on the seat was another
than his father. He recognised the man, and called to him.
"What are you doing there, Brother Keaton? Where's my father?"
The man had shrunk back under the wagon-cover, having seemingly been
frightened by the soldiers.
"I've taken your father's place, Brother Rae."
"Did he cross with Brother Wright?"
"Yes--he--" The man hesitated. Then came an interruption from the
"Come, clear the gangway there so we can load! Here are some more of the
damned rats we've hunted out of their holes!"
The speaker made a half-playful lunge with his bayonet at a gaunt,
yellow-faced spectre of a man who staggered on to the boat with a child
in his arms wrapped in a tattered blue quilt. A gust of the chilly wind
picked his shapeless, loose-fitting hat off as he leaped to avoid the
bayonet-point, and his head was seen to be shaven. The crowd on the bank
laughed loud at his clumsiness and at his grotesque head. Joel Rae ran
to help him forward on the boat.
"Thank you, Brother--I'm just up from the fever-bed--they shaved my head
for it--and so I lost my hat--thank you--here we shall be warm if only
the sun comes out."
Joel went back to help on others who came, a feeble, bedraggled dozen or
so that had clung despairingly to their only shelter until they were
"You can stay here in safety, you know, if you renounce Joseph Smith and
his works--they will give you food and shelter." He repeated it to each
little group of the dispirited wretches as they staggered past him, but
they replied staunchly by word or look, and one man, in the throes of a
chill, swung his cap and uttered a feeble "Hurrah for the new Zion!"
When they were all on with their meagre belongings, he called again to
the man in the wagon.
"Brother Keaton, my father went across, did he?"
Several of the men on shore answered him.
"Yes"--"Old white-whiskered death's-head went over the river"--"Over
here"--"A sassy old codger he was"--"He got his needings, too"--"Got his
They cast off the line and the oars began to dip.
"And you'll get your needings, too, if you come back, remember that!
That's the last of you, and we'll have no more vermin like you. Now see
what old Joe Smith, the white-hat prophet, can do for you in the Indian
He stood at the stern of the boat, shivering as he looked at the
current, swift, cold, and gray under the sunless sky. He feared some
indignity had been offered to his father. They had looked at one another
queerly when they answered his questions. He went forward to the wagon
"Brother Keaton, you're sure my father is all right?"
"I am sure he's all right, Brother Rae."
Content with this, at last, he watched the farther flat shore of the
Mississippi, with its low fringe of green along the edge, where they
were to land and be at last out of the mob's reach. He repeated his
father's words: "Thank God, they're like all snakes; they can't jump
beyond their own length."
The confusion of landing and the preparations for an immediate start
drove for the time all other thoughts from his mind. It had been
determined to get the little band at once out of the marshy spot where
the camp had been made. The teams were soon hitched, the wagons loaded,
and the train ready to move. He surveyed it, a hundred poor wagons, many
of them without cover, loaded to the full with such nondescript
belongings as a house-dwelling people, suddenly put out on the open
road, would hurriedly snatch as they fled. And the people made his heart
ache, even to the deadening of his own sorrow, as he noted their
wobegoneness. For these were the sick, the infirm, the poor, the
inefficient, who had been unable for one reason or another to migrate
with the main body of the Saints earlier in the season. Many of them
were now racked by fever from sleeping on the damp ground. These bade
fair not to outlast some of the lumbering carts that threatened at every
rough spot to jolt apart.
Yet the line bravely formed to the order of Seth Wright as captain, and
the march began. Looking back, he saw peaceful Nauvoo, its houses and
gardens, softened by the cloudy sky and the autumn haze, clustering
under the shelter of their temple spire,--their temple and their houses,
of which they were now despoiled by a mob's fury. Ahead he saw the road
to the West, a hard road, as he knew,--one he could not hope they should
cross without leaving more graves by the way; but Zion was at the end.
The wagons and carts creaked and strained and rattled under their
swaying loads, and the line gradually defined itself along the road from
the confused jumble at the camp. He remembered his father again now, and
hurried forward to assure himself that all was right. As he overtook
along the way the stumbling ones obliged to walk, he tried to cheer
"Only a short march to-day, brothers. Our camp is at Sugar Creek, nine
miles--so take your time this first day."
Near the head of the train were his own two wagons, and beside the first
walked Seth Wright and Keaton, in low, earnest converse. As he came up
to them the Bishop spoke.
"I got Wes' and Alec Gregg to drive awhile so we could stretch our
legs." But then came a quick change of tone, as they halted by the road.
"Joel, there's no use beatin' about the bush--them devils at the ferry
jest now drowned your pa."
He went cold all over. Keaton, looking sympathetic but frightened, spoke
"You ought to thank me, Brother Rae, for not telling you on the other
side, when you asked me. I knew better. Because, why? Because I knew
you'd fly off the handle and get yourself killed, and then your ma'd be
left all alone, that's why, now--and prob'ly they'd 'a' wound up by
dumping the whole passle of us bag and baggage into the stream. And it
wa'n't any use, your father bein' dead and gone."
The Bishop took up the burden, slapping him cordially on the back.
"Come, come,--hearten up, now! Your pa's been made a martyr--he's
beautified his inheritance in Zion--whinin' won't do no good."
He drew himself up with a shrug, as if to throw off an invisible burden,
and answered, calmly:
"I'm not whining, Bishop. Perhaps you were right not to tell me over
there, Keaton. I'd have made trouble for you all." He smiled painfully
in his effort to control himself. "Were you there, Bishop?"
"No, I'd already gone acrost. Keaton here saw it."
Keaton took up the tale.
"I was there when the old gentleman drove down singing, 'Lo, the Gentile
chain is broken.' He was awful chipper. Then one of 'em called him old
Father Time, and he answered back. I disremember what, but, any way, one
word fired another until they was cussin' Giles Rae up hill and down
dale, and instead of keepin' his head shet like he had ought to have
done, he was prophesyin' curses, desolations, famines, and pestilences
on 'em all, and callin' 'em enemies of Christ. He was sassy--I can't
deny that--and that's where he wa'n't wise. Some of the mobocrats was
drunk and some was mad; they was all in their high-heeled boots one way
or another, and he enraged 'em more. So he says, finally, 'The Jews
fell,' he says, 'because they wouldn't receive their Messiah, the
Shiloh, the Saviour. They wet their hands,' he says, 'in the best blood
that had flowed through the lineage of Judah, and they had to pay the
cost. And so will you cowards of Illinois,' he says, 'have to pay the
penalty for sheddin' the blood of Joseph Smith, the best blood that has
flowed since the Lord's Christ,' he says. 'The wrath of God,' he says,
'will abide upon you.' The old gentleman was a powerful denouncer when
he was in the spirit of it--"
"Come, come, Keaton, hurry, for God's sake--get on!"
"And he made 'em so mad, a-settin' up there so peart and brave before
'em, givin' 'em as good as they sent--givin' 'em hell right to their
faces, you might say, that at last they made for him, some of them that
you could see had been puttin' a new faucet into the cider barrel. I saw
they meant to do him a mischief--but Lord! what could I do against
fifty, being then in the midst of a chill? Well, they drug him off the
seat, and said, 'Now, you old rat, own up that Holy Joe was a danged
fraud;' or something like that. But he was that sanctified and
stubborn--' Better to suffer stripes for the testimony of Christ,' he
says, 'than to fall by the sin of denial!' Then they drug him to the
bank, one on each side, and says, 'We baptise you in the holy name of
Brockman,' and in they dumped him--backwards, mind you! I saw then they
was in a slippery place where it was deep and the current awful strong.
But they hauled him out, and says again, 'Do you renounce Holy Joe Smith
and all his works?' The poor old fellow couldn't talk a word for the
chill, but he shook his head like sixty--as stubborn as you'd wish. So
they said, 'Damn you! here's another, then. We baptise you in the name
of James K. Polk, President of the United States!' and in they threw him
again. Whether they done it on purpose or not, I wouldn't like to say,
but that time his coat collar slipped out of their hands and down he
went. He came up ten feet down-stream and quite a ways out, and they
hooted at him. I seen him come up once after that, and then they see he
couldn't swim a stroke, but little they cared. And I never saw him
again. I jest took hold of the team and drove it on the boat, scared to
death for what you'd do when you come,--so I kept still and they kept
still. But remember, it's only another debt the blood of the Gentiles
will have to pay--"
"Either here on earth or in hell," said the Bishop.
"And the soul of your poor pa is now warm and dry and happy in the
presence of his Lord God."
_The Lute of the Holy Ghost Is Further Chastened_
Listening to Keaton's tale, he had dimly seen the caravan of hunted
creatures crawl past him over the fading green of the prairie; the
wagons with their bowed white covers; a heavy cart, jolting, creaking,
lumbering mysteriously along, a sick driver hidden somewhere back under
its makeshift cover of torn counterpanes; a battered carriage,
reminiscent of past luxury, drawn by oxen; more wagons, some without
covers; a two-wheeled cart, designed in the ingenuity of desperation,
laden with meal-sacks, a bundle of bedding, a sleeping child, and drawn
by a little dry-dugged heifer; then more wagons with stooping figures
trudging doggedly beside them, here a man, there a woman leading a
child. He saw them as shapes floating by in a dream, blurred and
inconsequent. But between himself and the train, more clearly outlined
to his gaze, he saw the worn face of his father tossed on the cold, dark
waters, being swept down by the stream, the weak old hands clutching for
some support in the muddy current, the white head with the chin held up
sinking lower at each failure, then at last going under, gulping, to
leave a little row of bubbles down the stream.
In a craze of rage and grief he turned toward the river, when he heard
the sharp voice of the Bishop calling him back.
"It ain't any use, Joel."
"Couldn't we find his body?"
"Not a chance in a thousand. It was carried down by the current. It
would mean days and mebbe weeks. Besides, we need you here. Here's your
duty. Sakes alive! If we only had about twenty minutes with them cusses
like it was in the old days! When you're ready to be a Son of Dan you'll
know what I mean. But never mind, we'll see the day yet when Israel will
be the head and not the tail."
"My mother? Has any one told her?"
"Wal, now, I'm right sorry about that, but it got out before you come
over. Tarlton McKenny's boy, Nephi, rowed over in a skiff and brought
the news, and some of the women went and tattled it to your ma. I guess
it upset her considerable. You go up and see her."
He ran forward toward the head of the train, hearing as he went words of
sympathy hurried to him by those he passed. Mounting the wagon, he
climbed over the seat to where his mother lay. She seemed to sleep in
spite of the jolting. The driver called back to him: