- part: MY QUEEN;
- CHAPTER V. THE IVY VINE.
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THE IVY VINE.
MRS. LASCELLE had always been a pet; and only the exceeding gentleness of her character prevented her from being that disagreeable being, a spoiled beauty.
Her parents kept watch over her, fearful lest a breeze should rudely sweep her curls, or that a wavelet from the troubled ocean of life might break over her path.
Mary early evinced a peculiar impressibility concerning religious matters, consequently they would not allow her to receive the instructions generally given to children.
"Wait until she is old enough not to worry herself | | 23 about sin and death," was their answer to those who considered this negligence reprehensible. All serious studies were also considered as worries, and discarded accordingly; a boarding-school was out of the question, even a day-school was deemed too severe for little fairy. So Mary grew up under her mother's eye, in ignorant innocence of life's problems and responsibilities, without a care.
At the age of eighteen she became the wife of Edward Lascelle, who tried to be as careful of his little wife as her parents had been. But he had his way to make in the world, and business obliged him to leave her to her own guidance in many things.
As long as her parents lived, it was of no consequence; but in the fifth year of her marriage death took away these guardians. Mary was overwhelmed with grief, and, as a natural consequence, sought consolation in the church.
The Bible became her vade mecum and Oreana her bosom friend. Unfortunately for her, Edward Lascelle was a free-thinker: at heart one of those who consider piety and church duties fit for women only.
One day she accompanied Oreana to the meeting-house of the Latter Day Saints.
The preacher, who was well named Silvertung, spoke chiefly upon the second coming of Christ, an event which he declared to be nearer than any one dreamed of. Numerous Bible texts proved this assertion, and he adduced the disasters daily happening as the signs that told the coming of the Son of Man. It behooved them all to prepare to receive Him by accepting the covenant of the Latter Day, leaving the ungodly and gathering together in God's city.| | 24
The sermon made a vivid impression upon Mrs. Lascelle. She told her husband of the doubts and fears awakened in her soul by the new gospel; but he merely laughed. If she were pleased, so was he. She tried to persuade him to accompany her, but in vain: So she went alone. Her weak, undeveloped character could not resist the fervid positiveness of the converts, and the thought of Christ's coming overpowered her. She received baptism.
Still she yearned for her husband's sympathy; she implored him to listen. But he was deaf to her importunities; he ridiculed the ideas that filled her with awe; he termed them women's nonsense.
This indifference wounded her, gradually the husband's influence grew weaker, and another's grew stronger. This other was the preacher Silvertung: a man pleasing to look at, of insinuating manners, and a great favorite with the female converts. He could pray and sing so beautifully, and his piety was so touching.
Elder Silvertung admired lovely women, especially if they belonged to the type glorified by the poets, worshiped by sentimentalists, and extolled by the goody ones of the day,--the ivy vine women,--those who love to twine around the gnarled oaks, the decayed stumps, or some worm-eaten, crooked posts.Ah! well! the ivy vine makes ugliness picturesque: so let it thrive in the human family.
Mrs. Lascelle, either by nature or education, or perhaps both, belonged to this type of women; and Elder Silvertung admired her so much, that he felt a special call to assure the salvation of this sweet creature. He soon discovered how matters stood with the young | | 25 couple; how of late the tree had thrown off the vine; how the vine had drooped without support. It gave him a fine opportunity, of which he hastened to avail himself.
The ivy found a support around which it could twine,--spiritually of course,--but in this world it is sometimes difficult to distinguish between spiritual and material, so much do they intermingle.
In Elder Silvertung Mrs. Lascelle found a sympathizer, a counselor, a guide and conductor, on the road to Zion. Under the elder's teaching she was soon convinced that her husband would be doomed to woe if he still continued unregenerate. Only the Saints could enter heaven, only those who accepted the Covenant would reign with Christ. She must save her husband. Her love and faith gave her strength; laughter, ridicule, even anger could not silence her.
Astonished at the change in his wife, Mr. Lascelle made some inquiries about these "Saints." The information he obtained disgusted him. He trembled for his gentle and credulous wife. He remonstrated with her. It was too late.
For the first time this husband and wife quarreled.
The deluded woman went to Elder Silvertung for consolation in this new trouble. In the midst of the conversation, the elder closed his eyes, and in a strange, far-off voice began:
"Thus saith the Lord! The man who turns a deaf ear to the law of the Lord, him shall the Lord destroy: yea, the Lord will destroy him, and all who consort with him. Remain not with the wicked, lest ye be confounded with them. If thy eye offend thee pluck it out; even so tear out of thy heart love for | | 26 the wicked. Leave them,--flee from them; for destruction cometh as the whirlwind."
The elder paused, but still remained in his trance-like state. Mrs. Lascelle was frightened.
"Leave my husband," she gasped, "never! This is terrible."
Again, that far-off voice spoke:
"More terrible will it be to hear the voice of God say, Because thou has preferred the wicked to me, thou shalt be accursed for ever and ever."
Mrs. Lascelle sobbed aloud. Her grief aroused the elder from his pretended trance.
"My dear sister, what has so affected you?"
"Oh, brother I those awful words. How could you speak so to me?"
"What I did I speak? I was not conscious of it. Sometimes, indeed, the Spirit speaks through me, unworthy as I am. If I have grieved or offended you, dear sister, forgive me."
"Then, indeed, am I lost," ejaculated the poor woman. "Misery on every side! but I cannot forsake my husband."
Mrs. Lascelle left hurriedly, without another word. She was frightened. For some time she avoided the saints, and love for her husband seemed to have gained the ascendancy. If Edward Lascelle had sympathized ever so little with her religious sentiments she would have been saved. But fate seemed working against her. The husband who worshiped her as a beautiful idol, who treasured up every word that fell from her lips, who lavished upon her the fruits of his labor, the wealth of his love, was an unrelenting tyrant in the matter that most interested her. Then Oreana, a | | 27 friend who would not be avoided, never ceased her exhortations. Just at this time, little Elsie suddenly fell sick. Oreana declared the illness to be a judgment from heaven. The weak woman believed it. She ran to Elder Silvertung and begged him to minister to the child, promising complete submission to the will of God if her darling was cured.
Elsie's sickness was only a child's ailment, from which she must recover in a few days; but Mrs. Lascelle's distorted imagination magnified it into a death-warning. As a matter of course, the child got well, and the mother became more fervent than ever; for gratitude and repentance quickened her devotion.
One day, Elder Silvertung announced his departure for Zion. He should leave with the next band of saints.
Mrs. Lascelle wept with real sorrow. What should she do without his spiritual guidance? "Tell me," she cried, "what I must do to be saved: tell me, and I will do it."
"Let us return thanks to God, who inspires the feeble heart with such sentiments. My dear sister, your\situation is indeed one of doubt, beset with painful alternatives; but all the saints shall pray for you, that the Lord may vouchsafe you a special revelation."
The revelation came. Mrs. Lascelle was lost.| | 28
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