Part 6 out of 7
room, and threw himself face down on the bed.
Follett, still standing, waited for him to speak. After a moment's
silence he grew impatient.
"Come, come! What would you be saying if you were talking? I can't wait
here all night."
But the little man on the bed was still silent, nor did he stir, and
after another wait Follett broke out again.
"If you want to talk, _talk_, I tell you. If you don't want to, I can
say all I have to say, _quick_."
Then the other turned himself over on the bed and half sat up, leaning
on his elbow.
"I'm sorry to keep you waiting, but you see I'm so weak"--the strained
little smile came to his face--"and tremble so, there's so much to think
of--do _you_ hear those women scream--_there_! did you hear that?--but
of course not. Now--wait just a moment--have you come to kill me?"
"You and those two other hellions--the two that took me and that boy out
that night to bury us."
"Did you think of the consequences?"
"I reckoned you'd be called paid for, any time any one come gunning for
you. I didn't think there'd _be_ any consequences."
"Hereafter, I mean; to your soul. What a pity you didn't wait a little
longer! Those other two are already punished."
"Don't lie to me now?"
The little smile lighted his face again.
"I have a load of sin on me--but I don't think I ever did lie to any
one--I guess I never was tempted--"
"Oh, you've _acted_ lies enough."
[Illustration: "OH, MAN ... HOW I'VE LONGED FOR THAT BULLET OF YOURS!"]
"You're right--that's so. But I'm telling you
truth now--those two men had both been in the Meadows that day and it
killed them. One went crazy and ran off into the desert. They found his
bones. The other shot himself a few years ago. Those of us that live are
already in hell--"
He sat up, now, animated for the moment.
"--in hell right here, I tell you. I'd have welcomed you, or any other
man that would kill me, any time this fifteen years. I'd have gone out
to meet you. Do you think I like to hear the women scream? Do you think
I'm not crazed myself by this thing--right back of me here,
_now_--crawling, bleeding, breathing on me--trying to come here in front
where I must _see_ it? Don't you see God has known how to punish me
worse than you could, just by keeping me alive and sane? Oh, man! you
don't know how I've longed for that bullet of yours, right here through
the temples where the cries sound worst. I didn't dare to do it
myself--I was afraid I'd make my punishment worse if I tried to shirk;
but I used to hope you would come as you said you would. I wonder I
didn't know you at once."
He put his hands to his head and fell back again on the pillow, with a
"Well, it ain't strange I didn't know _you_. I was looking for a big
man. You seemed as big as a house to me that day. I forgot that I'd
grown up and you might be small. When those fellows got tight up there
and let on like it was you that some folks hinted had took a child and
kept it out of that muss, I couldn't hardly believe it; and everybody
seeming to regard you so highly. And I couldn't believe this big girl
was little Prue Girnway that I remembered. It seemed like you two would
have to be a great big man and a little bit of a baby girl with yellow
hair; and now I find you're--say, Mister, _honestly_, you're such a
poor, broke-down, little coot it seems a'most like a shame to put a
bullet through you, in spite of all your doings!"
The little man sat up again, with new animation in his eyes,--the same
eager boyishness that he had somehow kept through all his years.
"_Don't_!" he exclaimed, earnestly. "Let me beg you, don't kill me! For
your own sake--not for mine. I'm a poor, meatless husk. I'll die soon at
best, and I'm already in a hell you can't make any hotter. Let me do you
this service; let me persuade you not to kill me. Have you ever killed a
"No, not yet; I've allowed to a couple of times, but it's never come
just that way."
"You ought to thank God. Don't ever. You'll be in hell as sure as you
do,--a hell right here that you must carry inside of you forever--that
even God can't take out of you. Listen--it's a great secret, worth
millions. If you're so bad you can't forgive yourself, you have to
suffer hell-fire no matter how much the Lord forgives you. It sounds
queer, but there's the limit to His power. He's made us so nearly in His
image that we have to win our own forgiveness; why, you can see
yourself, it _had_ to be that way; there would have been no dignity
to a soul that could swallow all its own wickedness so long as the Lord
could. God has given us to know good and evil for ourselves--and we have
to take the consequences. Look at me. I suffer day and night, and always
must. God has forgiven me, but I can't forgive myself, for my own sin
and my people's sin,--for my preaching was one of the things that led
them into that meadow. I know that Christ died for us, but that can't
put out this fire that I _have_ to build in my own soul. I tell you a
man is like an angel, he can be good or bad; he has a power for heaven
but the same power for hell--"
"See here, I don't know anything about all this hell-talk, but I do
"I tell you death is the very last thing I have left to look forward to,
but if you kill me it will be your own undoing. You will never get me
out of your eyes or your ears, poor wreck as I am--so feeble. You can
see what my punishment has been. A little while ago I was young, and
strong, and proud like you, fearing nothing and wanting everything, but
something was wrong. I was climbing up as I thought, and then all at
once I saw I had been climbing down--down into a pit I never could get
out of. You will be there if you kill me." He sank back on the bed
Follett slowly put the revolver into its holster and sat down on the low
"I don't know anything about all this hell-talk, but I see I can't kill
you--you're such a poor, miserable cuss. And I thought you were a big
strong man, handy with a gun and all that, and like as not I'd have to
make a quick draw on you when the time come. And now look at you! Why,
Mister, I'm doggoned if I ain't almost _sorry_ for you! You sure have
been getting your deservance good and plenty. Say, what in God's name
did you all do such a hellish thing for, anyway?"
"We had been persecuted, hunted, and driven, our Prophet murdered, our
women and children butchered, and another army was on the way."
"Well, that was because you were such an ornery lot, always setting
yourself up against the government wherever you went, and acting
"We did as the Lord directed us--"
"And then we thought the time had come to stand up for our rights; that
the Lord meant us to be free and independent."
"Secesh, eh?" Follett was amused. "You handful of Mormons--Uncle Sam
could have licked you with both hands tied behind him. Why, you crazy
fool, he'd have spit on you and drowned every last one of you, old
Brigham Young and all. Fighting the United States! A few dozen
women-butchers going to do what the whole South couldn't! Well, I _am_
He mused over it, and for awhile neither spoke.
"And the nearest you ever got to it was cutting up a lot of women and
children after you'd cheated the men into giving up their guns!"
The other groaned.
"There now, that's right--don't you see that hurts worse than killing?"
"But I certainly wish I could have got those other two that took us off
into the sage-brush that night. I didn't guess what for, but the first
thing I knew the other boy was scratching, and kicking, and hollering,
and like to have wriggled away, so the cuss that was with me ran up to
help. Then I heard little John making kind of a squeally noise in his
throat like he was being choked, and that was all I wanted. I legged it
into the sage-brush. I heard them swearing and coming after me, and ran
harder, and, what saved me, I tripped and fell down and hurt myself, so
I lay still and they lost track of me. I was scared, I promise you that;
but after they got off a ways I worked in the other direction by spells
till I got to a little wady, and by sunup they weren't in sight any
longer. When I saw the Indians coming along I wasn't a bit scared. I
knew _they_ weren't Mormons."
"I used to pray that you might come back and kill me."
"I used to wish I would grow faster so I could. I was always laying out
to do it."
"But see how I've been punished. Look at me--I'm fifty. I ought to be in
my prime. See how I've been burnt out."
"But look here, Mister, what about this girl? Do you think you've been
doing right by keeping her here?"
"No, no! it was a wrong as great as the other."
"Why, they're even passing remarks about her mother, those that don't
know where you got her,--saying it was some one you never married,
because the book shows your first wife was this one-handed woman here."
"I know, I know it. I meant to let her go back at first, but she took
hold of me, and her father and mother were both dead."
"She's got a grandfather and grandmother, alive and hearty, back at
"She is all that has kept me alive these last years."
"She's got to go back to her people now. She'll want to bad enough when
she knows about this."
"About this? Surely you won't tell her--"
"Look here now, why not? What do you expect?"
"But she loves me--she _does_--and she's all I've got. Man, man! don't
pile it all on me just at the last."
He was off the bed and on his knees before Follett.
"Don't put it all on me. I've rounded up my back to the rest of it, but
keep this off; please, please don't. Let her always think I'm not bad.
Give me that one thing out of all the world."
He tried to reach the young man's hand, but was pushed roughly away.
"Don't do that--get up--stop, I tell you. That ain't any way to do.
There now! Lie down again. What do you _want_? I'm not going to leave
that ain't any way to do. There now! Lie down again. What do you want?
I'm not going to leave that girl with you nor with your infernal
Church. You understand that."
"Yes, yes, I know it. It was right that you should be the one to come
and take her away. The Lord's vengeance was well thought out. Oh, how
much more he can make us suffer than you could with your clumsy
killings! She must go, but wait--not yet--not yet. Oh, my God! I
couldn't stand it to see her go. It would cut into my heart and leave me
to bleed to death. No, no, no--don't! Please don't! Don't pile it all on
me at the last. The end has come anyway. Don't do that--don't, don't!"
"There, there, be still now." There was a rough sort of soothing in
Follett's voice, and they were both silent a moment. Then the young man
"But what do you expect? Suppose everything was left to you, Mister.
Come now, you're _trying_ to talk fair. Suppose I leave it to you--only
you know you can't keep her."
"Yes, it can't be, but let her stay a little while; let me see her a few
times more; let me know she doesn't think I'm bad; and promise never to
tell her all of it. Let her always think I was a good man. Do promise me
that. I'd do it for you, Follett. It won't hurt you. Let her think I was
a good man."
"How long do you want her to stay here?--a week, ten days?"
"It will kill me when she goes!"
"Oh, well, two weeks?"
"That's good of you; you're kinder at your age than I was--I shall die
when she goes."
"Well, I wouldn't want to live if I were you."
"Just a little longer, knowing that she cares for me. I've never been
free to have the love of a woman the way you will some day, though I've
hungered and sickened for it--for a woman who would understand and be
close. But this girl has been the soul of it some way. See here,
Follett, let her stay this summer, or until I'm dead. That can't be a
long time. I've felt the end coming for a year now. Let her stay,
believing in me. Let me know to the last that I'm the only man who has
been in her heart, who has won her confidence and her love. Oh, I mean
fair. You stay with us yourself and watch. Come--but look there, _look_,
"That candle is going out,--we'll be in the dark"--he grasped the
other's arm--"in the dark, and now I'm afraid again. Don't leave me
here! It would be an awful death to die. Here's that thing now on the
bed behind me. It's trying to get around in front where I'll have to see
it--get another candle. No--don't leave me,--this one will go out while
you're gone." All his strength went into the grip on Follett's arm. The
candle was sputtering in its pool of grease.
"There, it's gone--now don't, don't leave me. It's trying to crawl over
me--I smell the blood--"
"Well--lie down there--it serves you right. There--stop it--I'll stay
Until dawn Follett sat by the bunk, submitting his arm to the other's
frenzied grip. From time to time he somewhat awkwardly uttered little
words that were meant to be soothing, as he would have done to a
When morning brought the gray light into the little room, the haunted
man fell into a doze, and Follett, gently unclasping the hands from his
arm, arose and went softly out. He was cramped from sitting still so
long, and chilled, and his arm hurt where the other had gripped it. He
pulled back the blue woollen sleeve and saw above his wrist livid marks
where the nails had sunk into his flesh.
Then out of the room back of him came a sharp cry, as from one who had
awakened from a dream of terror. He stepped to the door again and looked
"There now--don't be scared any more. The daylight has come; it's all
right--all right--go to sleep now--"
He stood listening until the man he had come to kill was again quiet.
Then he went outside and over to the creek back of the willows to bathe
in the fresh running water.
_Ruel Follett's Way of Business_
By the time the women were stirring that morning, Follett galloped up on
his horse. Prudence saw him from the doorway as he turned in from the
main road, sitting his saddle with apparent carelessness, his arms loose
from the shoulders, shifting lightly with the horse's motion, as one who
had made the center of gravity his slave. It was a style of riding that
would have made a scandal in any riding-school; but it seemed to be well
calculated for the quick halts, sudden swerves, and acute angles
affected by the yearling steer in his moments of excitement.
He dismounted, glowing from his bath in the icy water of the creek and
from the headlong gallop up from Beil Wardle's corral.
"Good morning, Miss Prudence."
"Good morning, Mr. Follett. Will you take breakfast with us directly?"
"Yes, and it can't be too directly for me. I'm wolfish. Miss Prudence,
your pa and me had some talk last night, and I'm going to bunk in with
you all for awhile, till I get some business fixed up."
She smiled with unaffected gladness, and he noticed that her fresh
morning colour was like that of the little wild roses he had lately
brushed the dew from along the creek.
"We shall be glad to have you."
"It's right kind of you; I'm proud to hear you say so." He had taken off
the saddle with its gay coloured Navajo blanket, and the bridle of
plaited rawhide with its conchos and its silver bit. Now he rubbed the
back of his horse where the saddle had been, ending with a slap that
sent the beast off with head down and glad heels in the air.
"There now, Dandy! don't bury your ribs too deep under that new grass."
"My father will be glad to have you and Dandy stay a long time."
He looked at her quickly, and then away before he spoke. It was a look
that she thought seemed to say more than the words that followed it.
"Well, the fact is, Miss Prudence, I don't just know how long I'll have
to be in these parts. I got some particular kind of business that's
lasting longer than I thought it would. I reckon it's one of those jobs
where you have to let it work itself out while you sit still and watch.
Sometimes you get business on hand that seems to know more about itself
than you do."
"Yes, it's like when they first sent me out on the range. They were
cutting out steers from a big bunch, and they put me on a little blue
roan to hold the cut. Well, cattle hate to leave the bunch, so those
they cut out would start to run back, and I had to head and turn them. I
did it so well I was surprised at myself. No sooner did a steer head
back than I had the spurs in and was after it, and I'd always get it
stopped. I certainly did think I was doing it high, wide, and handsome,
like you might say; only once or twice I noticed that the pony stopped
short when the steer did without my pulling him up, as if he'd seen the
stop before I did. And then pretty soon after, a yearling that was just
the--excuse me--that was awful spry at dodging, led me a chase, the pony
stopped stiff-legged when the steer did, and while I was leaning one way
he was off after the steer the other way so quick that I just naturally
slid off. I watched him head and turn that steer all by himself, and
then I learned something. It seemed like he went to sleep when I got on
him. But after that I didn't pay any attention to the cattle. I let him
keep the whole lookout, and all I did was to set in the saddle. He was a
wise old cow-pony. He taught me a lot about chasing steers. He was
always after one the minute it left the cut, and he'd know just the
second it was going to stop and turn; he'd never go a foot farther than
the steer did, and he'd turn back just as quick. I knew he knew I was
green, but I thought the other men didn't, so I just set quiet and
played off like I was doing it all, when I wasn't really doing a thing
but holding on. He was old, and they didn't use him much except when
they wanted a rope-horse around the corral. And he'd made a lifelong
study of steers. He knew them from horns to tail, and by saying nothing
and looking wise I thought I'd get the credit of being smart myself.
It's kind of that way now. I'm holding tight and looking wise about some
business that I ain't what you could call up in."
He carried the saddle and bridle into the house, and she followed him.
They found Lorena annoyed by the indisposition of her husband.
"Dear me suz! Here's your pa bed-fast again. He's had a bad night and
won't open the door to let me tell him if he needs anything. He says he
won't even take spoon victuals, and he won't get up, and his chest don't
hurt him so that ain't it, and I never was any hand to be nattering
around a body, but he hadn't ought to go without his food like he does,
when the Father himself has a tabernacle of flesh like you or me--though
the Holy Ghost has not--and it's probably mountain fever again, so I'll
make some composition tea and he's just _got_ to take it. Of course I
never had no revelations from the Lord and never did I claim to have,
but you don't need the Holy Ghost coming upon you to tell you the plain
doings of common sense."
Whatever the nature of Mr. Follett's business, his confidence in the
soundness of his attitude toward it was perfect. He showed no sign of
abstraction or anxiety; no sign of aught but a desire to live agreeably
in the present,--a present that included Prudence. When the early
breakfast was over they went out about the place, through the
peach-orchard and the vineyard still dewy, lingering in the shade of a
plum-tree, finding all matters to be of interest. For a time they
watched and laughed at the two calves through the bars of the corral,
cavorting feebly on stiffened legs while the bereaved mothers cast
languishing glances at them from outside, conscious that their milk was
being basely diverted from the rightful heirs. They picked many blossoms
and talked of many things. There was no idle moment from early morning
until high noon; and yet, though they were very busy, they achieved
In the afternoon Prudence donned her own sombrero, and they went to the
canon to fish. From a clump of the yellowish green willows that fringed
the stream, Follett cut a slender wand. To this he fixed a line and a
tiny hook that he had carried in his hat, and for the rest of the
distance to the canon's mouth he collected such grasshoppers as lingered
too long in his shadow. Entering the canon, they followed up the stream,
clambering over broken rocks, skirting huge boulders, and turning aside
to go around a gorge that narrowed the torrent and flung it down in a
Here and there Follett would flicker his hook over the surface of a
shaded pool, poise it at the foot of a ripple, skim it across an eddy,
cast it under a shelf of rock or dangle it in some promising nook by the
willow roots, shielding himself meanwhile as best he could; here behind
a boulder, there bending a willow in front of him, again lying flat on
the bank, taking care to keep even his shadow off the stream and to go
From where she followed, Prudence would see the surface of the water
break with a curling gleam of gold, which would give way to a bubbling
splash; then she would see the willow rod bend, see it vibrate and
thrill and tremble, the point working slowly over the bank. Then perhaps
the rod would suddenly straighten out for a few seconds only to bend
again, slowly, gently, but mercilessly. Or perhaps the point continued
to come in until it was well over the bank and the end of the line close
by. Then after a frantic splashing on the margin of the stream the
conquered trout would be gasping on the bank, a thing of shivering
gleams of blended brown and gold and pink. At first she pitied the fish
and regretted the cruelty of man, but Follett had other views.
"Why," he said, "a trout is the crudest beast there is. Look at it
trying to swallow this poor little hopper that it thought tumbled into
the water by accident. It just loves to eat its stuff alive. And it
isn't particular. It would just as lief eat its own children. Now you
take that one there, and say he was ten thousand times as big as he is,
and you were coming along here and your foot slipped and Mr. Trout was
lying behind this rock here--_hungry_. Say! What a mouthful you'd make,
pink dress and all--he'd have you swallowed in a second, and then he'd
sneak back behind the rock there, wiping his mouth, and hoping your
little sister or somebody would be along in a minute and fall in too."
"Ugh!--Why, what horrible little monsters! Let me catch one."
And so she fished under his direction. They lurked together in the
shadows of rocks, while he showed her how to flicker the bait in the
current, here holding her hand on the rod, again supporting her while
she leaned out to cast around a boulder, each feeling the other's
breathless caution and looking deep into each other's eyes through
seconds of tense silence.
Such as they were, these were the only results of the lesson; results
that left them in easy friendliness toward each other. For the fish were
not deceived by her. He would point out some pool where very probably a
hungry trout was lying in wait with his head to the current, and she
would try to skim the lure over it. More than once she saw the fish dart
toward it, but never did she quite convince them. Oftener she saw them
flit up-stream in fright, like flashes of gray lightning. Yet at length
she felt she had learned all that could be taught of the art, and that
further failure would mean merely a lack of appetite or spirit in the
fish. So she went on alone, while Follett stopped to clean the dozen
trout he had caught.
While she was in sight he watched her, the figure bending lithe as the
rod she held, moving lightly, now a long, now a short step, half
kneeling to throw the bait into an eddy; then off again with determined
strides to the next likely pool. When he could no longer see her, he
fell to work on his fish, scouring their slime off in the dry sand.
When she returned, she found him on his back, his hat off, his arms
flung out above his head, fast asleep. She sat near by on a smooth rock
at the water's edge and waited--without impatience, for this was the
first time she had been free to look at him quite as she wished to. She
studied him closely now. He seemed to her like some young power of that
far strange eastern land. She thought of something she had heard him say
about Dandy: "He's game and fearless and almighty prompt,--but he's kind
and gentle too." She was pleased to think it described the master as
well as the horse. And she was glad they had been such fine playmates
the whole day long. When the shadow moved off his face and left it in
the slanting rays of the sun, she broke off a spruce bough and propped
it against the rock to shield him.
And then she sighed, for they could be playmates only in forgetfulness.
He was a Gentile, and by that token wicked and lost; unless--and in that
moment she flushed, feeling the warmth of a high purpose.
She would save him. He was worth saving, from his crown of yellow hair
to the high heels of his Mexican boots. Strong, clean, gentle, and--she
hesitated for a word--interesting--he must be brought into the Kingdom,
and she would do it. She looked up again and met his wide-open eyes.
They both laughed. "I sat up with your pa last night," he said, ashamed
of having slept. "We had some business to palaver about."
He had tied the fish into a bundle with aspen leaves and damp moss
around them, and now they went back down the stream. In the flush of her
new role as missionary she allowed herself to feel a secret motherly
tenderness for his immortal soul, letting him help her by hand or arm
over places where she knew she could have gone much better alone.
Back at the house they were met by the little bent man, who had tossed
upon his bed all day in the fires of his hell. He looked searchingly at
them to be sure that Follett had kept his secret. Then, relieved by the
frank glance of Prudence, he fell to musing on the two, so young, so
fresh, so joyous in the world and in each other, seeing them side by
side with those little half-felt, timidly implied, or unconsciously
expressed confidences of boy and girl; sensing the memory of his own
lost youth's aroma, his youth that had slipped off unrecked in the haze
of his dreams of glory. For this he felt very tenderly toward them,
wishing that they were brother and sister and his own.
That evening, while they sat out of doors, she said, very resolutely:
"I'm going to teach Mr. Follett some truth tomorrow from the Book of
Mormon. He says he has never been baptised in any church."
Follett looked interested and cordial, but her father failed to display
the enthusiasm she had expected, and seemed even a little embarrassed.
"You mean well, daughter, but don't be discouraged if he is slow to take
our truth. Perhaps he has a kind of his own as good as ours. A woman I
knew once said to me,' Going to heaven is like going to mill; if your
wheat is good the miller will never ask how you came.'"
"But, Father, suppose you get to mill and have only chaff?"
"That is the same answer I made, dear. I wish I hadn't."
Later, when Prudence had gone, the two men made their beds by the fire
in the big room. Follett was awakened twice by the other putting wood on
the fire; and twice more by his pitiful pleading with something at his
back not to come in front of him.
_The Mission to a Deserving Gentile_
Not daunted by her father's strange lack of enthusiasm, Prudence arose
with the thought of her self-imposed mission strong upon her. Nor was
she in any degree cooled from it by a sight of the lost sheep striding
up from the creek, the first level sunrays touching his tousled yellow
hair, his face glowing, breathing his full of the wine-like air, and
joyously showing in every move his faultless attunement with all outside
himself. The frank simplicity of his greeting, his careless
unenlightenment of his own wretched spiritual state, thrilled her like
an electric shock with a strange new pity for him. She prayed on the
spot for power to send him into the waters of baptism. When the day had
begun, she lost no time in opening up the truth to him.
If the young man was at all amazed by the utter wholeness of her
conviction that she was stooping from an immense height to pluck him
from the burning, he succeeded in hiding it. He assumed with her at once
that she was saved, that he was in the way of being lost, and that his
behooving was to listen to her meekly. Her very evident alarm for his
lost condition, her earnest desire to save him, were what he felt moved
to dwell upon, rather than a certain spiritual condescension which he
could not wholly ignore.
After some general counsel, in the morning, she took out her old,
dog-eared "Book of Mormon," a first edition, printed at Palmyra, New
York, in 1830, "By Joseph Smith, Jr., Author and Proprietor," and led
the not unworthy Gentile again to the canon. There in her favourite nook
of pines beside the stream, she would share with him as much of the
Lord's truth as his darkened mind could be made conscious of.
When at last she was seated on the brown carpet under the pines, her
back to a mighty boulder, the sacred record in her lap, and the Gentile
prone at her feet, she found it no easy task to begin. First he must be
brought to repent of his sins. She began to wonder what his sins could
be, and from that drifted into an idle survey of his profile, the line
of his throat as his head lay back on the ground, and the strong brown
hand, veined and corded, that curled in repose on his breast. She
checked herself in this; for it could be profitable neither to her soul
nor to his.
"I'll teach you about the Book of Mormon first," she ventured.
"I'd like to hear it," said Follett, cheerfully.
"Of course you don't know anything about it."
"It isn't my fault, though. I've been unfortunate in my bringing up,
that's all." He turned on his side and leaned upon his elbow so he could
look at her.
"You see, I've been brought up to believe that Mormons were about as bad
as Mexicans. And Mexicans are so mean that even coyotes won't touch
them. Down at the big bend on the Santa Fe Trail they shot a Mexican,
old Jesus Bavispee, for running off cattle. He was pretty well dried out
to begin with, but the coyotes wouldn't have a thing to do with him, and
so he just dried up into a mummy. They propped him up by the ford there,
and when the cowboys went by they would roll a cigarette and light it
and fix it in his mouth. Then they'd pat him on the head and tell him
what a good old boy he was--_star bueno_--the only good Mexican above
ground--and his face would be grinning all the time, as if it tickled
him. When they find a Mexican rustling cattle they always leave him
there, and they used to tell me that the Mormons were just as bad and
ought to be fixed that way too."
"I think that was horrible!"
"Of course it was. They were bigoted. But I'm not. I know right well
there must be good Mexicans alive, though I never saw one, and I suppose
of course there must be--"
"Oh, you're worse than I thought!" she cried. "Come now, do try. I want
you to be made better, for my sake." She looked at him with real
pleading in her eyes. He dropped back to the ground with a thrill of
searching religious fervour.
"Go on," he said, feelingly. "I'm ready for anything. I have kind of a
good feeling running through me already. I do believe you'll be a
powerful lot of benefit to me."
"You must have faith," she answered, intent on the book. "Now I'll tell
you some things first."
Had the Gentile been attentive he might have learned that the Book of
Mormon is an inspired record of equal authority with the Jewish
Scriptures, containing the revelations of Jehovah to his Israel of the
western world as the Bible his revelations to Israel in the Orient,--the
veritable "stick of Joseph," that was to be one with "the stick of
Judah;" that the angel Moroni, a messenger from the presence of God,
appeared to Joseph Smith, clad in robes of light, and told him where
were hid the plates of gold on which were graven this fulness of the
everlasting gospel; how that Joseph, after a few years of preparation,
was let to take these sacred plates from the hill of Cumorah; also an
instrument called the Urim and Thummim, consisting of two stones set in
a silver bow and made fast to a breast-plate, this having been prepared
by the hands of God for use in translating the record on the plates; how
Joseph, seated behind a curtain and looking through the Urim and Thummim
at the characters on the plates, had seen their English equivalents over
them, and dictated these to his amanuensis on the other side of the
He might have learned that when the book was thus translated, the angel
Moroni had reclaimed the golden plates and the Urim and Thummim,
leaving the sacred deposit of doctrine to be given to the world by
Joseph Smith; that the Saviour had subsequently appeared to Joseph; also
Peter, James, and John, who laid hands upon him, ordained him, gave him
the Holy Ghost, authorised him to baptise for the remission of sins, and
to organise the Kingdom of God on earth.
"Do you understand so far?" she asked.
"It's fine!" he answered, fervently. "I feel kind of a glow coming over
She looked at him closely, with a quick suspicion, but found his profile
uninforming; at least of anything needful at the moment.
"Remember you must have faith," she admonished him, "if you are to win
your inheritance; and not question or doubt or find fault, or--or make
fun of anything. It says right here on the title-page, 'And now if there
be faults, it be the mistake of men; wherefore condemn not the things of
God that ye may be found spotless at the judgment seat of Christ.' There
"Who's finding fault or making fun?" he asked, in tones that seemed to
"Now I think I'd better read you some verses. I don't know just where to
"Something about that Urim and Thingamajig," he suggested.
"Urim and Thummim," she corrected--"now listen."
Again, had the Gentile remained attentive, he might have learned how
the Western Hemisphere was first peopled by the family of one Jared,
who, after the confusion of tongues at Babel, set out for the new land;
how they grew and multiplied, but waxed sinful, and finally exterminated
one another in fierce battles, in one of which two million men were
At this the fallen one sat up.
"'And it came to pass that when they had all fallen by the sword, save
it were Coriantumr and Shiz, behold Shiz had fainted with loss of blood.
And it came to pass when Coriantumr had leaned upon his sword and rested
a little, he smote off the head of Shiz. And it came to pass, after he
had smote off the head of Shiz, that Shiz raised up on his hands and
fell; and after he had struggled for breath he died.'"
The Gentile was animated now.
"Say, that Shiz was all right,--raised up on his hands and struggled for
breath after his head was cut off!"
Hereupon she perceived that his interest was become purely carnal. So
she refused to read of any more battles, though he urged her warmly to
do it. She returned to the expedition of Jared, while the lost sheep
fell resignedly on his back again.
"'And the Lord said, Go to work and build after the manner of barges
which ye have hitherto built. And it came to pass that the brother of
Jared did go to work, and also his brethren, and built barges after the
manner which they had built, after the instructions of the Lord. And
they were small, and they were light upon the water, like unto the
lightness of a fowl upon the water; and they were built like unto a
manner that they were exceeding tight, even that they would hold water
like unto a dish; and the bottom thereof was tight like unto a dish, and
the ends thereof were peaked; and the top thereof was tight like unto a
dish; and the length thereof was the length of a tree; and the door
thereof when it was shut was tight like unto a dish. And it came to pass
that the brother of Jared cried unto the Lord, saying--'"
She forgot him a little time, in the reading, until it occurred to her
that he was singularly quiet. She glanced up, and was horrified to see
that he slept. The trials of Jared's brother in building the boats that
were about the length of a tree, combined with his broken rest of the
night before, had lured him into the dark valley of slumber where his
soul could not lave in the waters of truth. But something in the
sleeping face softened her, and she smiled, waiting for him to awaken.
He was still only a waymark to the kingdom of folly, but she had made a
beginning, and she would persevere. He must be saved into the household
of faith. And indeed it was shameful that such as he should depend for
their salvation upon a chance meeting with an unskilled girl like
herself. She wondered somewhat indignantly how any able-bodied Saint
could rest in the valley while this man's like were dying in sin for
want of the word. As her eye swept the sleeping figure, she was even
conscious of a little wicked resentment against the great plan itself,
which could under any circumstances decree such as he to perdition.
He opened his eyes after awhile to ask her why she had stopped reading,
and when she told him, he declared brazenly that he had merely closed
his eyes to shut out everything but her words.
"I heard everything," he insisted, again raised upon his elbows. "' It
was built like unto a dish, and the length was about as long as a
"The Urim and Thummim."
When he saw that she was really distressed, he tried to cheer her.
"Now don't be discouraged," he said, as they started home in the late
afternoon. "You can't expect to get me roped and hog-tied the very first
day. There's lots of time, and you'll have to keep at it. When I was a
kid learning to throw a rope, I used to practise on the skull of a steer
that was nailed to a post. At first it didn't look like I could ever do
it. I'd forget to let the rope loose from my left hand, or I wouldn't
make the loop line out flat around my head, or she'd switch off to one
side, or something. But at last I'd get over the horns every time. Then
I learned to do it running past the post; and after that I'd go down
around the corral and practise on some quiet old heifer, and so on. The
only thing is--never give up."
"But what good does it do if you won't pay attention?"
"Oh, well, I can't learn a new religion all at once. It's like riding a
new saddle. You put one on and 'drag the cinches up and lash them, and
you think it's going to be fine, and you don't see why it isn't. But you
find out that you have to ride it a little at a time and break it in.
Now, you take a fresh start with me to-morrow."
"Of course I'm going to try."
"And it isn't as if I was regular out-and-out sinful. My adopted father,
Ezra Calkins, _he's_ a good man. But, now I think of it, I don't know
what church he ever did belong to. He'll go to any of 'em,--don't make
any difference which,--Baptist, Methodist, Lutheran, Catholic; he says
he can get all he's looking for out of any of 'em, and he kind of likes
to change off now and then. But he's a good man. He won't hire any one
that cusses too bad or is hard on animals, and he won't even let the
freighters work on Sunday. He brought me up not to drink or gamble, or
go round with low folks and all like that, and not to swear except when
you're driving cattle and have to. 'Keep clean inside and out,' he says,
'and then you're safe,' he says. 'Then tie up to some good church for
company, if you want to, not thinking bad of the others, just because
you didn't happen to join them. Or it don't hurt any to graze a little
on all the ranges,' he says. And he sent me to public school and brought
me up pretty well, so you can see I'm not plumb wicked. Now after you
get me coming, I may be easier than you think."
She resolved to pray for some special gift to meet his needs. If he were
not really sinful, there was all the more reason why he should be saved
into the Kingdom. The sun went below the western rim of the valley as
they walked, and the cooling air was full of the fresh summer scents
from field and garden and orchard.
Down the road behind them, a half-hour later, swung the tall,
loose-jointed figure of Seth Wright, his homespun coat across his arm,
his bearskin cap in his hand, his heated brow raised to the cooling
breeze. His ruffle of neck whiskers, virtuously white, looked in the
dying sunlight quite as if a halo he had worn was dropped under his
chin. A little past the Rae place he met Joel returning from the
"Evening, Brother Rae! You ain't looking right tol'lable."
"It's true, Brother Seth. I've thought lately that I'm standing in the
end of my days."
"Peart up, peart up, man! Look at me,--sixty-eight years come December,
never an ache nor a pain, and got all my own teeth. Take another wife.
That keeps a man young if he's got jedgment." He glanced back toward the
"And I want to speak to you special about something--this young dandy
Gentile you're harbouring. Course it's none of my business, but I
wouldn't want one of my girls companying with a Gentile--off up in that
canon with him, at that--fishing one day, reading a book the next,
walking clost together,--and specially not when Brigham had spoke for
her. Oh, I know what I'm talking about! I had my mallet and frow up
there two days now, just beyond the lower dry-fork, splitting out shakes
for my new addition, and I seen 'em with my own eyes. You know what
young folks is, Elder. That reminds me--I'm going to seal up that
sandy-haired daughter of Bishop Tanner's next week some time; soon as we
get the roof on the new part. But I thought I'd speak to you about
this--a word to the wise!"
The Wild Ram of the Mountains passed on, whistling a lively air. The
little bent man went with slow, troubled steps to his own home. He did
know the way of young people, and he felt that he was beginning to know
the way of God. Each day one wall or another of his prison house moved a
little in upon him. In the end it would crush. He had given up
everything but Prudence; and now, for his wicked clinging to her, she
was to be taken from him; if not by Brigham, then by this Gentile, who
would of course love her, and who, if he could not make her love him,
would be tempted to alienate her by exposing the crime of the man she
believed to be her father. The walls were closing about him. When he
reached the house, they were sitting on the bench outside.
"Sometimes," Follett was saying, "you can't tell at first whether a
thing is right or wrong. You have to take a long squint, like when
you're in the woods on a path that ain't been used much lately and has
got blind. Put your face right close down to it and you can't see a sign
of a trail; it's the same as the ground both sides, covered with leaves
the same way and not a footprint or anything. But you stand up and look
along it for fifty feet, and there she is so plain you couldn't miss it.
Isn't that so, Mr. Rae?"
Prudence went in, and her father beckoned him a little way from the
"You're sure you will never tell her anything about--anything, until I'm
gone?--You promised me, you know."
"Well, didn't I promise you?"
"Not under any circumstances?"
"You don't keep back anything about 'circumstances' when you make a
promise," retorted Mr. Follett.
_The Gentile Issues an Ultimatum_
June went; July came and went. It was a hot summer below, where the
valley widens to let in Amalon; but up in the little-sunned aisle of Box
Canon it was always cool. There the pines are straight and reach their
heads far into the sky, each a many-wired harp to the winds that come
down from the high divide. Their music is never still; now a low,
ominous rush, soft but mighty, swelling as it nears, the rush of a
winged host, rising swiftly to one fearsome crescendo until the listener
cowers instinctively as if under the tread of many feet; then dying away
to mutter threats in the distance, and to come again more fiercely; or,
it may be, to come with a gentler sweep, as if pacified, even yearning,
for the moment. Or, again, the same wind will play quieter airs through
the green boughs, a chamber-music of silken rustlings, of feathered fans
just stirring, of whisperings, and the sighs of a woman.
It is cool beneath these pines, and pleasant on the couches of brown
needles that have fallen through all the years. Here, in the softened
light, amid the resinous pungence of the cones and the green boughs,
where the wind above played an endless, solemn accompaniment to the
careless song of the stream below, the maiden Saint tried to save into
the Kingdom a youthful Gentile of whom she discovered almost daily some
fresh reason why he should not be lost. The reasons had become so many
that they were now heavy upon her. And yet, while the youth submitted
meekly to her ministry, appearing even to crave it, he was undeniably
either dense or stubborn--in either case of defective spirituality.
She was grieved by the number of times he fell asleep when she read from
the Book of Mormon. The times were many because, though she knew it not,
he had come to be, in effect, a night-nurse to the little bent man
below, who was now living out his days in quiet desperation, and his
nights in a fear of something behind him. Some nights Follett would have
unbroken rest; but oftener he was awakened by the other's grip on his
arm. Then he would get up, put fresh logs on the fire or light a candle
and talk with the haunted man until he became quiet again.
After a night like this it was not improbable that he would fall asleep
in very sound of the trumpet of truth as blown, by the grace of God,
through the seership of Joseph Smith. Still he had learned much in the
course of the two months. She had taught him between naps that, for
fourteen hundred years, to the time of Joseph Smith, there had been a
general and awful apostasy from the true faith, so that the world had
been without an authorised priesthood. She had also taught him to be ill
at ease away from her,--to be content when with her, whether they talked
of religion or tried for the big, sulky three-pounder that had his lair
at the foot of the upper Cascade.
Again she had taught him that other churches had wickedly done away with
immersion for the remission of sins and the laying on of hands for the
gift of the Holy Ghost; also that there was a peculiar quality in the
satisfaction of being near her that he had never known before,--an
astonishing truth that it was fine to think about when he lay where he
could look up at her pretty, serious face.
He fell asleep at night usually with a mind full of confusion,--infant
baptism--a slender figure in a pink dress or a blue--the Trinity--a firm
little brown hand pointing the finger of admonition at him--the
regeneration of man--hair, dark and lustrous, that fell often half away
from what he called its "lashings"--eternal punishment--earnest
eyes--the Urim and Thummim,--and a pleading, earnest voice.
He knew a few things definitely: that Moroni, last of the Nephites, had
hidden up unto the Lord the golden plates in the hill of Cumorah; and
that the girl who taught him was in some mysterious way the embodiment
of all the wonderful things he had ever thought he wanted, of all the
strange beauties he had crudely pictured in lonely days along the
trail. Here was something he had supposed could come true only in a
different world, the kind of world there was in the first book he had
ever read, where there had seemed to be no one but good fairies and
children that were uncommonly deserving. Yet he had never been able to
get clearly into his mind the nature and precise office of the Holy
Ghost; nor had he ever become certain how he could bring this wonderful
young woman in closer relationship with himself. He felt that to put out
his hand toward her--except at certain great moments when he could help
her over rough places and feel her golden weight upon his arm--would be
to startle her, and then all at once he would awaken from a dream to
find her gone. He thought he would feel very badly then, for probably he
would never be able to get back into the same dream again. So he was
cautious, resolving to make the thing last until it came true of itself.
Once when they followed the stream down, in the late afternoon, he had
mused himself so full of the wonder of her that he almost forgot his
caution in an amiable impulse to let her share in his feelings.
"You know," he began, "you're like as if I had been trying to think of a
word I wanted to say--some fine, big word, a fancy one--but I couldn't
think of it. You know how you can't think of the one you want sometimes,
only nothing else will do in place of it, and then all at once, when you
quit trying to think, it flashes over you. You're like that. I never
could think of you, but I just had to because I couldn't get along
without it, and then when I didn't expect it you just happened
along--the word came along and said itself."
Without speaking she had run ahead to pick the white and blue columbines
and pink roses. And he, alarmed at his boldness, fearing she would now
be afraid of him, went forward with the deep purpose of showing her a
light, careless mood, to convince her that he had meant nothing much.
To this end he told her lively anecdotes, chaste classics of the range
calculated to amuse, until they reached the very door of home:--About
the British sailor who, having drifted up the Sacramento valley, was
lured to mount a cow-pony known to be hysterical; of how he had declared
when they picked him up a moment later, "If I'd been aware of the gale
I'd have lashed myself to the rigging." Then about the other trusting
tenderfoot who was directed to insist at the stable in Santa Fe that
they give him a "bucking broncho;" who was promptly accommodated and
speedily unseated with much flourish, to the wicked glee of those who
had deceived him; and who, when he asked what the horse had done and was
told that he had "bucked," had thereupon declared gratefully, "Did he
only buck? It's a God's mercy he didn't _broncho_ too, or he'd have
From this he drifted into the anecdote of old Chief Chew-feather, who
became drunk one day and made a nuisance of himself in the streets of
Atchison; how he had been driven out of town by Marshal Ed Lanigan,
who, mounting his pony, chased him a mile or so, meantime emptying both
his six-shooters at the fleeing brave by way of making the exact
situation clear even to a clouded mind; and how the alarmed and sobered
chief had ridden his own pony to a shadow, never drawing rein until he
reached the encampment of his tribe at dusk, to report that "the whites
had broken out at Atchison."
He noticed, however, that she was affected to even greater constraint of
manner by these sallies, though he laughed heartily himself at each
climax as he made it, determined to show her that he had meant
absolutely nothing the moment before. He succeeded so little, that he
resolved never again to be reckless, if she would only be her old self
on the morrow. He would not even tell her, as he had meant to, that
looking into her eyes was like looking off under the spruces, where it
was dark and yet light.
The little bent man at the house would look at them with a sort of
helplessness when they came in, sometimes even forgetting the smile he
was wont to wear to hide his hurts. He was impressed anew each time he
saw them with the punishing power of such vengeance as was left to the
Lord. He could see more than either of the pair before him. The little
white-haired boy who had fought him with tooth and nail so long ago, to
be not taken from Prudence, had now come back with the might of a man,
even the might of a lover, to take her from him when she had become all
of his life. He could think of no sharper revenge upon himself or his
people. For this cowboy was the spirit incarnate of the oncoming East,
thorned on by the Lord to avenge his Church's crime.
Day after day he would lie consuming the little substance left within
him in an effort to save himself; to keep by him the child who had
become his miser's gold; to keep her respect above all, to have her
think him a good man. Yet never a way would open. Here was the boy with
the man's might, and they were already lovers, for he knew too well the
meaning of all those signs which they themselves but half understood.
And he became more miserable day by day, for he saw clearly it was only
his selfishness that made him suffer. He had met so many tests, and now
he must fail at the last great sacrifice.
Then in the night would come the terrors of the dark, the curses and
groans of that always-dying thing behind him. And always now he would
see the hand with the silver bracelet at the wrist, flaunting in his
face the shivering strands of gold with the crimson patch at the end.
Yet even this, because he could see it, was less fearful than the thing
he could not see, the thing that crawled or lurched relentlessly behind
him, with the snoring sound in its throat, the smell of warm blood and
the horrible dripping of it, whose breath he could feel on his neck and
whose nerveless hands sometimes fumbled weakly at his shoulder, as it
strove to come in front of him.
He sat sleepless in his chair with candles burning for three nights when
Follett, late in August, went off to meet a messenger from one of his
father's wagon-trains which, he said, was on its way north. Fearful as
was the meaning of his presence, he was inexpressibly glad when the
Gentile returned to save him from the terrors of the night.
And there was now a new goad of remorse. The evening before Follett's
return he had found Prudence in tears after a visit to the village. With
a sudden great outrush of pity he had taken her in his arms to comfort
her, feeling the selfishness strangely washed from his love, as the sobs
"Come, come, child--tell your father what it is," he had urged her, and
when she became a little quiet she had told him.
"Oh, Daddy dear--I've just heard such an awful thing, what they talk of
me in Amalon, and of you and my mother--shameful!"
He knew then what was coming; he had wondered indeed, that this talk
should be so long in reaching her; but he waited silently, soothing her.
"They say, whoever my mother was, you couldn't have married her--that
Christina is your first wife, and the temple records show it. And oh,
Daddy, they say it means that I am a child of sin--and shame--and it
made me want to kill myself."
Another passion of tears and sobs had overwhelmed her and all but broken
down the little man. Yet he controlled himself and soothed her again to
"It is all wrong, child, all wrong. You are not a child of sin, but a
child of love, as rightly born as any in Amalon. Believe me, and pay no
heed to that talk."
"They have been saying it for years, and I never knew."
"They say what is not true."
"You were married to my mother, then?"
He waited too long. She divined, clear though his answer was, that he
had evaded, or was quibbling in some way.
"You are the daughter of a truly married husband and wife, as truly
married as were ever any pair."
And though she knew he had turned her question, she saw that he must
have done it for some great reason of his own, and, even in her grief,
she would not pain him by asking another. She could feel that he
suffered as she did, and he seemed, moreover, to be pitifully and
When Follett came riding back that evening he saw that Prudence had been
troubled. The candle-light showed sadness in her dark eyes and in the
weighted corners of her mouth. He was moved to take her in his arms and
soothe her as he had seen mothers do with sorry little children. But
instead of this he questioned her father sharply when their corn-husk
mattresses had been put before either side of the fireplace for the
night. The little man told him frankly the cause of her grief. There was
something compelling in the other's way of asking questions. When the
thing had been made plain, Follett looked at him indignantly.
"Do you mean to say you let her go on thinking that about herself?"
"I told her that her father and mother had been rightly married."
"Didn't she think you were fooling her in some way?"
"I--I can't be sure--"
"She _must_ have, or she wouldn't be so down in the mouth now. Why
didn't you tell her the truth?"
"If only--if only she could go on thinking I am her father--only a
Follett spoke with the ring of a sudden resolution in his voice.
"Now I'll tell you one thing, Mister man, something has got to be done
by _some one_. I can't do it because I'm tied by a promise, and so I
reckon you ought to!"
"Just a little time! Oh, if you only knew how the knives cut me on every
side and the fires burn all through me!"
"Well, think of the knives cutting that girl,--making her believe she
has to be ashamed of her mother. You go to sleep now, and try to lie
quiet; there ain't anything here to hurt you. But I'll tell you one
thing,--you've got to toe the mark."
_The Mission Service in Box Canon is Suspended_
Follett waited with a new eagerness next day for their walk to the
canon. But Prudence, looking at him with eyes that sorrow was clouding,
said that she could not go. He felt a sharp new resentment against the
man who was letting her suffer rather than betray himself, and he again
resolved that this man must be made to "toe the mark," to "take his
needings;" and that, meantime, the deceived girl must be effectually
reassured. Something must be said to take away the hurt that was tugging
at the corners of her smile to draw them down. To this end he pleaded
with her not to deprive him of the day's lesson, especially as the time
was now at hand when he must leave. And so ably did he word his appeal
to her sense of duty that at last she consented to go.
Once in the canon, however, where the pines had stored away the cool
gloom of the night against the day's heat, she was glad she had come.
For, better than being alone with that strange, new hurt, was it to have
by her side this friendly young man, who somehow made her feel as if it
were right and safe to lean upon him,--despite his unregenerate
condition. And presently there, in the zeal of saving his soul, she was
almost happy again.
Yet he seemed to-day to be impatient under the teaching, and more than
once she felt that he was on the point of interrupting the lesson to
some end of his own.
He seemed insufficiently impressed even with the knowledge of astronomy
displayed by the prophets of the Book of Mormon, hearing, without a
quiver of interest, that when at Joshua's command the sun seemed to
stand still upon Gibeon and the moon in the valley of Ajalon, the real
facts were that the earth merely paused in its revolutions upon its own
axis and about the sun. Without a question he thus heard Ptolemy refuted
and the discoveries of Copernicus anticipated two thousand years before
that investigator was born. He was indeed deplorably inattentive. She
suspected, from the quick glances she gave him, that he had no
understanding at all of what she read. Yet in this she did him
injustice, for now she came to the passage, "They all did swear unto him
that whoso should vary from the assistance which Akish desired should
lose his head; and whoso should divulge whatsoever thing Akish should
make known unto them should lose his life." This time he sat up.
"There it is again--they don't mind losing their heads. They were sure
the fightingest men--don't you think so now?"
As he went on talking she laid the book down and leaned back against
the trunk of the big pine under which they sat. He seemed to be saying
something that he had been revolving in his mind while she read.
"I'd hate to have you think you been wasting your time on me this
summer, but I'm afraid I'm just too downright unsanctified."
"Oh, don't say that!" she cried.
"But I _have_ to. I reckon I'm like the red-roan sorrel Ed Harris got
for a pinto from old man Beasley. 'They's two bad things about him,'
says the old man. 'I'll tell you one now and the other after we swap.'
'All right,' says Ed. 'Well, first, he's hard to catch,' says Beasley.
'That ain't anything,' says Ed,--'just picket him or hobble him with a
good side-line.' So then they traded. 'And the other thing,' says the
old man, dragging up his cinches on Ed's pinto,--'he ain't any good
after you get him caught.' So that's like me. I've been hard to teach
all summer, and now I'm not any good after you get me taught."
"Oh, you are! Don't say you're not."
"I couldn't ever join your Church--"
Her face became full of alarm.
"--only for just one thing;--I don't care very much for this having so
She was relieved at once. "If _that's_ all--I don't approve of it
myself. You wouldn't have to."
"Oh, that's what you say _now_"--he spoke with an air of shrewdness and
suspicion,--"but when I got in you'd throw up my duty to me constant
about building up the Kingdom. Oh, I know how it's done! I've heard your
preachers talk enough."
"But it _isn't_ necessary. I wouldn't--I don't think it would be at all
nice of you."
He looked at her with warm sympathy. "You poor ignorant girl! Not to
know your own religion! I read in that book there about this marrying
business only the other day. Just hand me that one."
She handed him the "Book of Doctrine and Covenants," from which she had
occasionally taught him the Lord's word as revealed to Joseph Smith. The
revelation on celestial marriage had never been among her selections. He
turned to it now.
"Here, right in the very first of it--" and she heard with a sinking
heart,--"'Therefore prepare thyself to receive and obey the instructions
which I am about to give unto you; for all those who have this law
revealed unto them must obey the same; for behold! I reveal unto you a
new and everlasting covenant; and if ye abide not that covenant then are
ye damned, for no one can reject this covenant and be permitted to enter
into my glory.'
"I never read it," she faltered.
"And don't you know they preach in the tabernacle that anybody who
rejects polygamy will be damned?"
"My father never preached that."
"Well, he knows it--ask him."
It was proving to be a hard day for her.
"Of course," he continued, "a new member coming into the Church might
think at first he could get along without so many wives. He might say,
'Well, now, I'll draw a line in this marrying business. I'll never take
more than two or three wives or maybe four.' He might even be so taken
up with one young lady that he'd say, 'I won't even marry a second
wife--not for some time yet, that is--not for two or three years, till
she begins to get kind of houseworn,' But then after he's taken his
second, the others would come easy. Say he marries, first time, a tall,
slim, dark girl,"--he looked at her musingly while she gazed intently
into the stream in front of them.
"--and then say he meets a little chit of a thing, kind of heavy-set
like, with this light yellow hair and pretty light blue eyes, that he
saw one Sunday at church--"
Her dark face was flushing now in pained wonder.
"--why then it's so easy to keep on and marry others, with the preachers
all preaching it from the pulpit."
"But you wouldn't have to."
"No, you wouldn't have to marry any one after the second--after this
little blonde--but you'd have to marry her because it says here that you
'shall abide the law or ye shall be damned, saith the Lord God.'"
He pulled himself along the ground closer to her, and went on again in
what seemed to be an extremity of doubt.
"Now I don't want to be lost, and yet I don't want to have a whole lot
of wives like Brigham or that old coot we see so often on the road. So
what am I going to do? I might think I'd get along with three or four,
but you never can tell what religion will do to a man when he really
He reached for her small brown hand that still held the Book of Mormon
open on her lap, and took it in both his own. He went on, appealingly:
"Now you try to tell me right--like as if I was your own brother--tell
me as a sister. Try to put yourself in the place of the girl I'd marry
first--no, don't; it seems more like your sister if I hold it this
way--and try to think how she'd feel when I brought home my second.
Would that be doing square by her? Wouldn't it sort of get her on the
bark? But if I join your Church and don't do that, I might as well be
one of those low-down Freewill Baptists or Episcopals. Come now, tell me
true, letting on that you're my sister."
She had not looked at him since he began, nor did she now.
"Oh, I don't know--I don't _know_--it's all so mixed! I thought you
could be saved without that."
"There's the word of God against me."
"I wouldn't want you to marry that way,--if I were your sister."
"That's right now, try to feel like a sister. You wouldn't want me to
have as many wives as those old codgers down there below, would you?"
"No--I'm sure you shouldn't have but one. Oh, you couldn't marry more
than one, could you?" She turned her eyes for the first time upon him,
and he saw that some inward warmth seemed to be melting them.
"Well, I'd hate to disappoint you if you were my sister, but there's the
word of the Lord--"
"Oh, but could you _anyway_, even if you didn't have a sister, and there
was no one but _her_ to think of?"
He appeared to debate with himself cautiously.
"Well, now, I must say your teaching has taken a powerful hold on me
this summer--" he reached under her arm and caught her other hand.
"You've been like a sister to me and made me think about these things
pretty deep and serious. I don't know if I could get what you've taught
me out of my mind or not."
"But how could you _ever_ marry another wife?"
"Well, a man don't like to think he's going to the bad place when he
dies, all on account of not marrying a few more times. It sort of takes
the ambition all out of him."
"Oh, it couldn't be right!"
"Well now, I'll do as you say. Do I forget all these things you've been
teaching me, and settle down with one wife,--or do I come into the
Kingdom and lash the cinches of my glory good and plenty by marrying
whenever I get time to build a new end on the house, like old man
She was silent.
"Like a sister would tell a brother," he urged, with a tighter pressure
of her two hands. But this seemed to recall another trouble to her mind.
"I--I'm not fit to be your sister--don't talk of it--you don't know--"
Her voice broke, and he had to release her hand. Whereupon he put his
own back up against the pine-tree, reached his arm about her, and had
her head upon his shoulder.
"There, there now!"
"But you don't know."
"Well, I _do_ know--so just you straighten out that face. I do know, I
tell you. Now don't cry and I'll fix it all right, I promise you."
"But you don't even know what the trouble is."
"I do--it's about your father and mother--when they were married."
"How did you know?"
"I can't tell you now, but I will soon. Look here, you can believe what
I tell you, can't you?"
"Yes, I can do that."
"Well, then, you listen. Your father and mother were married in the
right way, and there wasn't a single bit of crookedness about it. I
wouldn't tell you if I didn't know and couldn't prove it to you in a
little while. Say, there's one of our wagon-trains coming along here
toward Salt Lake next Monday. It's coming out of its way on purpose to
pick me up. I'll promise to have it proved to you by that time. Now, is
that fair? Can you believe me?"
She looked up at him, her face bright again.
"Oh, I _do_ believe you! You don't know how glad you make me. It was an
awful thing--oh, you are a dear"--and full upon his lips she kissed the
astounded young man, holding him fast with an arm about his neck.
"You've made me all over new--I was feeling so wretched--and of course I
can't see how you know anything about it, but I know you are telling the
truth." Again she kissed him with the utmost cordiality. Then she stood
up to arrange her hair, her face full of the joy of this assurance. The
young man saw that she had forgotten both him and his religious
perplexities, and he did not wish her to be entirely divested of concern
for him at this moment.
"But how about me? Here I am, lost if I do and lost if I don't. You
better sit down here again and see if there isn't some way I can get
that crown of glory."
She sat down by him, instantly sobered from her own joy, and calmly gave
him a hand to hold.
"Well, I'll tell you," she said, frankly. "You wait awhile. Don't do
anything right away. I'll have to ask father." And then as he reached
over to pick up the Book of Mormon,--"No, let's not read any more
to-day. Let's sit a little while and only think about things." She was
so free from embarrassment that he began to doubt if he had been so very
deeply clever, after all, in suggesting the relationship between them.
But after she had mused awhile, she seemed to perceive for the first
time that he was very earnestly holding both of her hands. She blushed,
and suddenly withdrew them. Whereat he was more pleased than when she
had passively let them lie. He approached the matter of salvation for
himself once more.
"Of course I can wait awhile for you to find out the rights of this
thing, but I'm afraid I can't be baptised even if you tell me to
be--even if you want me to obey the Lord and marry some pretty little
light-complected, yellow-haired thing afterwards--after I'd married my
first wife. Fact is, I don't believe I could. Probably I'd care so much
for the first one that I'd have blinders on for all the other women in
the world. She'd have me tied down with the red ribbon in her hair"--he
touched the red ribbon in her own, by way of illustration--"just like I
can tie the biggest steer you ever saw with that little silk rag of
mine--hold him, two hind legs and one fore, so he can't budge an inch.
I'd just like to see some little, short, kind of plump, pretty
yellow-haired thing come between us."
For an instant, she looked such warm, almost indignant approval that he
believed she was about to express an opinion of her own in the matter,
but she stayed silent, looking away instead with a little movement of
having swallowed something.
"And you, too, if you were my sister, do you think I'd want you married
to a man who'd begin to look around for some one else as soon as he got
you? No, sir--you deserve some decent young fellow who'd love you all
to pieces day in and day out and never so much as look at this little
yellow-haired girl--even if she was almost as pretty as you."
But she was not to be led into rendering any hasty decision which might
affect his eternal salvation. Moreover, she was embarrassed and
"We must go," she said, rising before he could help her. When they had
picked their way down to the mouth of the canon, he walking behind her,
she turned back and said, "Of course you could marry that little
yellow-haired girl with the blue eyes first, the one you're thinking so
much about--the little short, fat thing with a doll-baby face--"
But he only answered, "Oh, well, if you get me into your Church it
wouldn't make a bit of difference whether I took her first or second."
_A Revelation Concerning the True Order of Marriage_
While matters of theology and consanguinity were being debated in Box
Canon, the little bent man down in the first house to the left, in his
struggle to free himself, was tightening the meshes of his fate about
him. In his harried mind he had formed one great resolution. He believed
that a revelation had come to him. It seemed to press upon him as the
culmination of all the days of his distress. He could see now that he
had felt it years before, when he first met the wife of Elder Tench, the
gaunt, gray woman, toiling along the dusty road; and again when he had
found the imbecile boy turning upon his tormentors. A hundred times it
had quickened within him. And it had gained in force steadily, until
to-day, when it was overwhelming him. Now that his flesh was wasted, it
seemed that his spirit could see far.
His great discovery was that the revelation upon celestial marriage
given to Joseph Smith had been "from beneath,"--a trick of Satan to
corrupt them. Not only did it flatly contradict earlier revelations, but
the very Book of Mormon itself declared again and again that polygamy
was wickedness. Joseph had been duped by the powers of darkness, and all
Israel had sinned in consequence. Upon the golden plates delivered to
him, concerning the divine source of which there could be no doubt, this
order of marriage had been repeatedly condemned and forbidden. But as to
the revelation which sanctioned it there could rightly be doubt; for had
not Joseph himself once warned them that "some revelations are from God,
some from men, and some from the Devil." Either the Book of Mormon was
not inspired, or the revelation was not from God, since they were
fatally in opposition.
It came to him with the effect of a blinding light, yet seemed to endow
him with a new vigour, so that he felt strong and eager to be up, to
spread his truth abroad. Some remnant of that old fire of inspiration
flamed up within him as he lay on the hard bed in his little room, with
the summer scents floating in and the out-of-doors sounds,--a woman's
voice calling a child afar off, the lowing of cattle, the rhythmic
whetting of a scythe-blade, the echoing strokes of an axe, the mellow
fluting of a robin,--all coming to him a little muted, as if he were no
longer in the world.
He raised upon his elbow, glowing with the flush of old memories when
his heart had been perfect with the Lord; when he had wrought miracles
in the face of the people; when he had besought Heaven fearlessly for
signs of its favour; when he had dreamed of being a pillar of fire to
his people in their march across the desert, and another Lion of the
Lord to fight their just battles. The little bent man of sorrows had
again become the Lute of the Holy Ghost.
He knew it must be a true revelation. And, while he might not now have
strength to preach it as it should be preached, there were other mighty
men to spread its tidings. Even his simple announcement of it must work
a revolution. Others would see it when he had once declared it. Others
would spread it with power until the Saints were again become a purified
people. But he would have been the prophet, seer, and revelator, to whom
the truth was given, and so his suffering would not have been in vain;
perhaps that suffering had been ordained to the end that his vision
should be cleared for this truth.
He remembered the day was Saturday, and he began at once to word the
phrases in which he would tell his revelation on the morrow. He knew
that this must be done tactfully, in spite of its divine source. It
would be a momentous thing to the people and to the priesthood. It was
conceivable, indeed, that members of the latter might dispute it and
argue with him, or even denounce him for a heretic. But only at first;
the thing was too simply true to be long questioned. In any event, his
duty was plain; with righteousness as the girdle of his loins he must
go forth on the morrow and magnify his office in the sight of Heaven.
When the decision had been taken he lay in an ecstasy of anticipation,
feeling new pulses in all his frame and the blood warm in his face. It
would mean a new dawn for Israel. There would, however, be a vexing
difficulty in the matter of the present wives of the Saints. The song of
Lorena came in to him now:--
"I was riding out this morning
With my cousin by my side;
She was telling her intentions
For to soon become a bride."
The accent fell upon the first and third syllables with an upward surge
of melody that seemed to make the house vibrate. He thought perhaps some
of the Saints would find it well to put away all but the one rightful
wife, making due provision, of course, for their support. Lorena's
never-ending ballad came like the horns that blew before the walls of
Jericho, bringing down the ramparts of his old belief. Some of the
Saints would doubtless put away the false wives as a penance. He might
even bring himself to do it, since, in the light of his wondrous new
revelation, it would be obeying the Lord's will.
When Prudence came softly in to him, like a cool little breath of
fragrance from the canon, he smiled up to her with a fulness of delight
she had never seen in his face before.
There was a new light in her own eyes, new decisions presaged, a new
desire imperfectly suppressed. He stroked her hand as she sat beside him
on the bed, wondering if she had at last learned her own secret. But she
became grave, and was diverted from her own affairs when she observed
him more closely.
"Why, you're sick--you're burning up with fever! You must be covered up
at once and have sage tea."
He laughed at her, a free, full laugh, such as she had never heard from
him in all the years.
"It's no fever, child. It's new life come to me. I'm strong again. My
face burns, but it must be the fire of health. I have a work given to
me--God has not wholly put me aside."
"But I believe you _are_ sick. Your hands are so hot, and your eyes look
so unnatural. You must let me--"
"Now, now--haven't I learned to tell sickness from the glow of a holy
"You're sure you are well?"
"Better than for fifteen years."
She let herself be convinced for the moment.
"Then please tell me something. Must a man who comes into our faith, if
he is baptised rightly, also marry more than one wife if he is to be
saved? Can't he be sure of his glory with one if he loves her--oh, very,
He was moved at first to answer her out of the fulness of his heart,
telling her of the wonderful new revelation. But there came the impulse
to guard it jealously in his own breast a little longer, to glory
secretly in it; half-fearful, too, that some virtue would go out of it
should he impart it too soon to another.
"Why do you want to know?"
"Ruel Follett would join our Church if he didn't have to marry more than
one wife. If he loved some one very much, I'm afraid he would find it
hard to marry another girl--oh, he simply _couldn't_--no matter how
pretty she was. He never could do it." Here she pulled one of the
scarlet ribbons from her broad hat. She gave a little exclamation of
relief as if she had really meant to detach it.
"Tell him to wait a little."
"That's what I did tell him, but it seems hardly right to let him join
believing that is necessary. I think some one ought to find out that one
wife is all God wants a man ever to have, and to tell Mr. Follett so
very plainly. His mind is really open to truth, and you know he might do
something reckless--he shouldn't be made to wait too long."
"Tell him to wait till to-morrow. I shall speak of this in meeting then.
It will be all right--all right, dear. Everything will be all right!"
"Only I am sure you are sick in spite of what you say. I know how to
prove it, too--can you eat?"
"I'm too busy thinking of great things to be hungry."
"There--you would be hungry if you were well."
"I can't tell you how well I am, and as for food--our Elder Brother has
been feeding me all day with the bread of truth. Such wonderful new
things the Lord has shown me!"
"But you must not get up. Lie still and we will nurse you."
He refused the food she brought him, and refused Lorena's sage tea. He
was not to be cajoled into treating as sickness the first real happiness
he had felt for years. He lay still until his little room grew shadowy
in the dusk, filled with a great reviving hope that the Lord had raised
a new prophet to lead Israel out of bondage.
As the night fell, however, the shadows of the room began to trouble him
as of old, and he found himself growing hotter and hotter until he
burned and gasped and the room seemed about to stifle him. He arose from
the bed, wondering that his feet should be so heavy and clumsy, and his
knees so weak, when he felt otherwise so strong. His head, too, felt
large, and there rang in his ears a singing of incessant quick beats. He
made his way to the door, where he heard the voices of Prudence and
Follett. It was good to feel the cool night air upon his hot face, and
he reassured Prudence, who chided him for leaving his bed.
"When you hear me discourse tomorrow you will see how wrong you were
about my being sick," he said. But she saw that he supported himself
carefully from the doorway along the wall to the near-by chair, and
that he sank into it with every sign of weakness. His eyes, however,
were aglow with his secret, and he sat nodding his head over it in a
lively way. "Brigham was right," he said, "when he declared that any of
us might receive revelations from on high; even the least of us--only we
are apt to be deaf to the whispered words until the Lord has scourged
us. I have been deaf a long time, but my ears are at last unstopped--who
is it coming, dear?"
A tall figure, vague in the dusk, was walking briskly up the path that
led in from the road. It proved to be the Wild Ram of the Mountains,
freshened by the look of rectitude that the razor gave to his face each
"Evening, Brother Rae--evening, you young folks. Thank you, I will take
a chair. You feeling a bit more able than usual, Brother Rae?"
"Much better, Brother Seth. I shall be at meeting tomorrow."
"Glad to hear it, that's right good--you ain't been out for so long. And
we want to have a rousing time, too."
"Only we're afraid he has a fever instead of being so well," said
Prudence. "He hasn't eaten a thing all day."
"Well, he never did overeat himself, that I knew of," said the Bishop.
"Not eating ain't any sign with him. Now it would be with me. I never
believed in fasting the flesh. The Spirit of the Lord ain't ever so
close to me as after I've had a good meal of victuals,--meat and
potatoes and plenty of good sop and a couple of pieces of pie. Then I
can unbutton my vest and jest set and set and hear the promptings of the
Lord God of Hosts. I know some men ain't that way, but then's the time
when I beautify _my_ inheritance in Zion the purtiest. And I'm mighty
glad Brother Joel can turn out to-morrow. Of course you heard the news?"
"What news, Brother Seth?"
"Brother Brigham gets here at eleven o'clock from New Harmony."
"Brother Brigham _coming_?"
"We're getting the bowery ready down in the square tonight so's to have
services out of doors."
"He's coming to-morrow?" The words came from both Prudence and her
"Of course he's coming. Ben Hadley brought word over. They'll have a
turkey dinner at Beil Wardle's house and then services at two."
The flushed little man with the revelation felt himself grow suddenly
cold. He had thought it would be easy to launch his new truth in Amalon
and let the news be carried to Brigham. To get up in the very presence
of him, in the full gaze of those cold blue eyes, was another matter.
"But it's early for him. He doesn't usually come until after Conference,
after it's got cooler."
The Bishop took on the air of a man who does not care to tell quite all
that he knows.
"Yes; I suspicion some one's been sending tales to him about a certain
young woman's carryings on down here."
He looked sharply at Prudence, who looked at the ground and felt
grateful for the dusk. Follett looked hard at them both and was plainly
interested. The Bishop spoke again.
"I ain't got no license to say so, but having done that young woman
proud by engaging himself to marry her, he might 'a' got annoyed if any
one had 'a' told him she was being waited on by a handsome young
Gentile, gallivantin' off to canons day after day--holding hands, too,
more than once. Oh, I ain't _saying_ anything. Young blood is young
blood; mine ain't always been old, and I never blamed the young, but, of
course, the needs of the Kingdom is a different matter. Well, I'll have
to be getting along now. We're going to put up some of the people at our
house, and I've got to fix to bed mother down in the wagon-box again, I
reckon. I'll say you'll be with us to-morrow, then, Brother Joel?"
The little bent man's voice had lost much of its life.
"Yes, Brother Seth, if I'm able."
"Well, I hope you are." He arose and looked at the sky. "Looks as if we
might have some falling weather. They say it's been moisting quite a bit
up Cedar way. Well,--good night, all!"
When he was gone the matter of his visit was not referred to. With some
constraint they talked a little while of other things. But as soon as
the two men were alone for the night, Follett turned to him, almost
"Say, now, what did that old goat-whiskered loon mean by his hintings
The little man was troubled.
"Well, the fact is, Brigham has meant to marry her."
"You don't mean you'd have let him? Say, I'd hate to feel sorry for
holding off on you like I have!"
"No, no, don't think that of me."
"Well, what were you going to do?"
"I hardly knew."
"You better find out."
"I know it--I did find out, to-day. I know, and it will be all right.
Trust me. I lost my faith for a moment just now when I heard Brother
Brigham was coming to-morrow; but I see how it is,--the Lord has wished
to prove me. Now there is all the more reason why I should not flinch.
You will see that I shall make it all right to-morrow."
"Well, the time's about up. I've been here over two months now, just
because you were so kind of helpless. And one of our wagon-trains will
be along here about next Monday. Say, she wouldn't ever have married
him, would she?"
"No, she refused at once; she refused to consider it at all."
He was burning again with his fever, and there was something in his
eagerness that seemed to overcome Follett's indignation.
"Well, let it go till to-morrow, then. And you try to get some rest
now. That's what I'm going to do."
But the little bent man, flushed though he was, felt cold from the night
air, and, piling more logs on the fire, he drew his chair close in front
As often as Follett wakened through the night he saw him sitting there,
sometimes reading what looked like a little old Bible, sometimes
speaking aloud as if seeking to memorise a passage.
The last Follett remembered to have heard was something he seemed to be
reading from the little book,--"The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not
want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside
the still waters."
He fell asleep again with a feeling of pity for the little man.
_A Procession, a Pursuit, and a Capture_
Follett awoke to find himself superfluous. The women were rushing
excitedly through their housework in order to be at hand when the
procession of Brigham and his suite should march in. Of Joel Rae he
caught but a glimpse through the door of his little room, the face
flushed that had a long time been sallow and bloodless. When the door
had closed he could hear the voice, now strong again. He seemed to be,
as during the night, rehearsing something he meant to say. And later it
was plain that he prayed, though he heard nothing more than the high
pleading of the voice.
Follett would not have minded these things, but Prudence was gone and no
one could tell him where. From Christina of the rock-bound speech he
blasted the items that she was wearing "a dress all new" and "a
red-ribbon hat." Lorena, too, with all her willingness of speech, knew
"All I know is she fixed herself up like she was going to an evening
ball or party. I wish to the lands I'd kep' my complexion the way she
does hern. And she had on her best lawn that her pa got her in Salt
Lake, the one with the little blue figures in it. She does look sweeter
than honey on a rag in a store dress, and that Leghorn hat with the red
bow, though what she wanted to start so early for I don't know. The
procession can't be along yet, but she might have gone down to march
with them, or to help decorate the bowery. I know when I was her age I
was always a great hand for getting ready long before any one come, when
my mother was making a company for me, putting up my waterfall and
curling my beau-catchers on a hot pipe-stem. But, land! I ain't no time
to talk with _you_."
Down at the main road he hesitated. To the right he could see where the
green mouth of the canon invited; but to the left lay the village where
Prudence doubtless was. He would find her and bring her away. For
Follett had determined to toe the mark himself now.
In the one street of Amalon there was the usual Sabbath hush; but above
this was an air of dignified festivity. The village in its Sunday best
homespun, with here and there a suit of store goods, was holding its
breath. In the bowery a few workers, under the supervision of Bishop
Wright, were adding the last touches of decoration. It was a spot of
pleasant green in the dusty square--a roof of spruce boughs, with
evergreens and flowers garnishing the posts, and a bank of flowers and
fruit back of the speaker's stand.
But Prudence was not there, and he wondered with dismay if she had
joined the rest of the village and gone out to meet the Prophet. He had
seen the last of them going along the dusty road to the north, men and
women and little children, hot, excited, and eager. It did not seem like
her to be among them, and yet except for those before him working about
the bowery, and a few mothers with children in arms, the town was
But even as he waited, he heard the winding alarm of a bugle, and saw a
scurrying of backs in the dusty haze far up the road. The Wild Ram of
the Mountains gave a few hurried commands for the very final touches,
called off his force from the now completed bowery, and a solitary
Gentile was for the moment left to greet the oncoming procession.
Presently, however, from the dark interiors of the log houses came the
mothers with babies, a few aged sires too feeble for the march, and such
of the remaining housewives as could leave for a little time the dinners
they were cooking. They made but a thin line along the little street,
and Follett saw at once that Prudence was not among them. He must wait
to see if she marched in the approaching procession.
Already the mounted escort was coming into view, four abreast, captained
by Elder Wardle, who, with a sash of red and gold slanted across his
breast, was riding nervously, as if his seat could be kept only by the
most skillful horsemanship, a white mule that he was known to treat with
fearless disrespect on days that were not great. Behind the martial
Wardle was Peter Peterson, Peter Long Peterson, and Peter Long Peter
Peterson, the most martial looking men in Amalon after their leader; and
then came a few more fours of proudly mounted Saints.
After this escort, separated by an interval that would let the dust
settle a little, came the body of the procession. First a carriage
containing the Prophet, portly, strong-faced, easy of manner, as became
a giant who felt kindly in his might. By his side was his wife, Amelia,
the reigning favourite, who could play the piano and sing "Fair Bingen
on the Rhine" with a dash that was said to be superb. Behind this float
of honour came other carriages, bearing the Prophet's Counsellors, the
Apostles, Chief Bishop, Bishops generally, Elders, Priests, and Deacons,
each taking precedence near the Prophet's carriage by seniority of rank
or ordination. Along the line of carriages were outriders, bearing
proudly aloft banners upon which suitable devices were printed:
"God bless Brigham Young!"
"Hail to Zion's Chief!"
"The Lion of the Lord."
"Welcome to our Mouthpiece of God!"
Behind the last carriage came the citizens in procession, each
detachment with its banner. The elderly brethren stepped briskly under
"Fathers in Israel"; the elderly sisters gazed proudly aloft to "Mothers
in Israel." Then came a company of young men whose banner announced them
as "Defenders of Zion." They were followed by a company of maidens led
by Matilda Wright, striving to be not too much elated, and whose banner
bore the inscription, "Daughters of Zion." At the last came the
children, openly set up by the occasion, and big-eyed with importance,
the boy who carried their banner, "The Hope of Israel," going with
wonderful rigidity, casting not so much as an eye either to right or
But Prudence had not been in this triumphal column, nor was she among
any of the women who stood with children in their arms, or who rushed to
the doors with sleeves rolled up and a long spoon or fork in their
Then all at once a great inspiration came to Follett. When the last
dusty little white-dressed girl had trudged solemnly by, and the head of
the procession was already winding down the lane that led to Elder
Wardle's place, he called himself a fool and turned back. He walked like
a man who has suddenly remembered that which he should not have
forgotten. And yet he had remembered nothing at all. He had only thought
of a possibility, but one that became more plausible with every step;
especially when he reached the Rae house and found it deserted. Whenever
he thought of his stupidity, which was every score of steps, he would
break into a little trot that made the willows along the creek on his
left run into a yellowish green blur.
He was breathing hard by the time he had made the last ascent and stood
in the cool shade of the comforting pines. He waited until his pulse
became slower, wiping his forehead with the blue neckerchief which
Prudence had suggested that she liked to see him wear in place of the
one of scarlet. When he had cooled and calmed himself a little, he
stepped lightly on. Around the big rock he went, over the "down timber"
beyond it, up over the rise down which the waters tumbled, and then
sharply to the right where their nook was, a call to her already on his
But she was not there. He could see the place at a glance. Nothing below
met his eye but the straight red trunks of the pines and the brown
carpet beneath them. A jay posed his deep shining blue on a cluster of
scarlet sumac, and, cocking his crested head, screamed at him mockingly.
The canon's cool breath fanned him and the pine-tops sighed and sang. At
first he was disheartened; but then his eyes caught a gleam of white and
red under the pine, touched to movement by a low-swinging breeze.
It was her hat swaying where she had hung it on a broken bough of the
tree she liked to lean against. And there was her book; not the book of
Mormon, but a secular, frivolous thing called "Leaflets of Memory, an
Illuminated Annual for the Year 1847." It was lying on its face, open at
the sentimental tale of "Anastasia." He put it down where she had left
it. The canon was narrow and she would hardly leave the waterside for
the steep trail. She would be at the upper cascade or in the little park
above it, or somewhere between. He crossed the stream, and there in the
damp sand was the print of a small heel where she had made a long step
from the last stone. He began to hurry again, clambering recklessly over
boulders, or through the underbrush where the sides of the stream were
steep. When the upper cascade came in sight his heart leaped, for there
he caught the fleeting shimmer of a skirt and the gleam of a dark head.
He hurried on, and after a moment's climb had her in full view, standing
on the ledge below which the big trout lay. There he saw her turn so
that he would have sworn she looked at him. It seemed impossible that
she had not seen him; but to his surprise she at once started up the
stream, swiftly footing over the rough way, now a little step, now a
free leap, grasping a willow to pull herself up an incline, then
disappearing around a clump of cedars.
He redoubled his speed over the rocks. When she next came into view,
still far ahead, he shouted long and loud. It was almost certain that
she must hear; and yet she made no sign. She seemed even to speed ahead
the faster for his hail.
Again he sprang forward to cover the distance between them, and again he
shouted when the next view of her showed that he was gaining. This time
he was sure she heard; but she did not look back, and she very plainly
increased her speed.
For an instant he stood aghast at this discovery; then he laughed.
"Well if you _want_ a race, you'll get it!"
He was off again along the rough bed of the stream. He shouted no more,
but slowly increased the gain he had made upon her. Instead of losing
time by climbing up over the bank, he splashed through the water at two
places where the little stream was wide and shallow. Then at last he saw
that he was closing in upon her. Soon he was near enough to see that she
also knew it.
He began at that moment an extended course of marvelling at the ways of
woman. For now she had reached the edge of the little open park, and was
placidly seating herself on a fallen tree in the grove of quaking
aspens. He could not understand this change of manner. And when he
reached the opening she again astounded him by greeting him with every
manifestation of surprise, from the first nervous start to the pushing
up of her dark brows.
"Why," she began, "how did you ever think of coming _here_?"
But he had twice hurried fruitlessly this hot morning and he was not
again to be baffled. As he advanced toward her, she regarded him with
some apprehension until he stopped a safe six feet away. She had noted
certain lines of determination in his face.
"Now what's the use of pretending?--what did you run for?"
Again the curving black brows went up in frank surprise.
He took a threatening step forward, and the brows promptly fell to
serious intentness of his face.