Beck Center English Dept. University Libraries Emory University
Emory Women Writers Resource Project Collections:
Emory Women Writers Resource Project

My Queen, an electronic edition

by Sandette [Walsh, Marie A.]

date: 1878
source publisher: G. W. Carleton & Co., Publishers; S. Low, Son & Co.
collection: Genre Fiction

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CHAPTER III.
THE DEVOTEE.

OREANA was unfortunate, in that she was placed out of her proper sphere and age.

Born a century later, when a rational education could have developed her reason and trained her energies, she would have been a heroic leader in the march of Progress, instead of a discontented, eccentric young lady. Or had she belonged to the charmed circle of nobility, she might have indulged her marked individualisms, without entailing upon her sad consequences. But she was only a well-to-do nobody, with just sufficient luxury, education, and position, to make her one of the happy ones without a history.

Oreana longed for action. Feminine avocations were distasteful to her, and the gaiety of visits, parties and balls, disgusted her. She was profoundly religious; yet she declined to take active interest in church duties, because the creeds did not satisfy her soul.

At one time she thought of becoming a foreign missionary; but, upon further deliberation, she concluded that any religion that was fashionable, popular, or even tolerated, could not be the true one.

Oreana sighed for persecution. Her nature was strongly combative. Veneration and spirituality were controlled by combativeness. Her soul demanded persecution, so that she might sacrifice her loves--herself, to win a martyr's laurels.

And here, a psychological problem suggests itself. Do not the characteristics of would-be martyrs, their | | 16 defiance of the world, and self-crucifixion, spring from the same source as the war-loving, cruel impulses of the warrior and tyrant?

In the fanatic, combativeness is spiritualized; in the tyrant, it is brutalized. In the former, God is the end, self the victim: in the latter, self is the end, the neighbor the victim.

With a nature so contradictory and unsatisfied, Oreana could not be happy. Misunderstood by all around her, she had no friends in whom she could confide. She belonged to a class of happy, unthinking people, who accepted their church without a question, and who considered the problems of the day as entirely out of their sphere, if, indeed, they gave them a thought.

So Oreana sighed, desired, and meditated in solitude. Her aspirations, finding no vent, filled heart and brain with chimeras. For her betrothed, she entertained an affection which she imagined to be love; and her approaching marriage somewhat diverted her mind.

Still, every now and then, her spirit would revolt, more especially when, upon some church festival, she attended the cathedral service.

The magnificence of the antique pile, the glorious music, the elegant, nobly-born officiates, the fashionable, languid congregation, aroused her contempt.

Bah! she was sick of it all! What merit was there in such ease and luxury?

How she sighed for the catacombs of the early Christians!

During one of these discontented fits, she visited some cousins at Liverpool; there she became acquainted with the sect of Latter Day Saints.

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She was attracted to it immediately.

The rude, unadorned meeting-house,--the preacher, plain in appearance and language, yet so earnest and inspirational, like unto the Galilean fishermen, the fanatical devotion of the lowly assembly, all delighted her. It almost equalled the catacombs.

Then the command to leave the world and its follies; to assemble, as the Jews of old, in a city of God, satisfied her impatient energies. Here was a field for action. Her fancy was dazzled by its prophets and apostles, its visions and revelations, by its gospel miraculously found, and as miraculously read by means of the Urim and Thummim. Her imagination rejoiced in this restoration of the past.

But when the preacher depicted the murder of the prophet Joseph, the banishment of the saints from Nauvoo, their trials and persecutions, Oreana wept for joy. She had found that which she had so long desired. Before leaving Liverpool she received baptism.

Oreana failed in her attempt to convert her family. No one would listen to her exhortations; the books she placed on her father's desk, in her mother's work-basket, were speedily burned. Julian laughed, her friends pitied her hallucination, her mother wept, and her father threatened to disown her. Oreana's nature prompted heroic defiance, but wary Silvertung advised dissimulation. Secret influence, he said, was the most efficacious; by its means she might yet win souls. So Oreana made a mighty effort, went to church as usual, and spoke no word of Zion. Her friends rejoiced, and soon forgot the temporary eccentricity. Repression increased Oreana's enthusiasm. She resolved to forsake her parents, her lover, her home, all for Christ's sake.

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