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 X.
TO THE FAR WEST.

"Come to the land of the mountain and prairie,
Gather in strength to our home in the west;
Free are her sons as the breeze round the eerie,
Birth-place of prophets, and home of the blest.
Come let us haste away,
Here we'll no longer stay,
Zion, thy beauties we're yearning to see."
Latter Day Saints' Hymn.

THUS sang the pilgrims as they made the last preparations for their unparallelled march across the prairie and desert. At last they stood upon the confines of the pathless West. Behind them, civilization and home; before them, primeval solitudes, and Zion;--but instead of sighing, they sang, enthusiastically:

"Come, let us haste away."

The trip from the Atlantic coast to Iowa City had filled them with delight. This new world was indeed a land of promise, a land of matchless skies and bewildering greatness; and if the heritage of the Gentile was so beautiful, what must Zion be, the home given by God unto His Saints? Even Julian caught the enthusiasm.

The sea voyage had wrought a great change in his | | 54 mind. The earnest faith of these people, who had forsaken all for Zion, touched him. Gradually his disgust gave way to pity, then to admiration.

He listened more attentively to Oreana, when she offered to expound to him the new gospel. From her lips, its tenets appeared beautiful; for she clothed them with the poetry and exalted purity of her soul. Julian was impressed. Heretofore, attendance at church upon Sundays, and upholding the ministry constituted his ideas of religion. Now he was forced to consider it daily, hourly. There was nothing repulsive in their principles; on the contrary their eager desire to restore the simplicity of the days when "God spoke with His people," seemed most laudable. Julian had been taught to revere the past, to believe in the golden age, in the moral and spiritual retrogression of mankind; therefore, he could not conscientiously condemn doctrines that resuscitated these good old days. Common sense confuted them, but common sense arguments seemed very weak when brought to bear against the multitude of Biblical texts the Saints produced to prove their doctrines. Julian was not sufficiently conversant with the Scriptures to fight them with their own weapons'; it was the natural versus the supernatural, and Julian grew awed. If they were right,--perhaps they were,--the thoughtless young man grew thoughtful. Oreana saw this change, and continued with greater force her exhortations and prayers.

Some things there were that appeared to Julian very antagonistic to right-mindedness,--such as Mrs. Lascelle leaving her husband, and some suspicious proceedings on the part of Elder Silvertung, that | | 55 savored more of hypocrisy and libertinage than of patriarchal simplicity; but Oreana declared it would all be made clear and right, as soon as he received the fullness of the gospel.

Oreana had ever been his guiding star. Her heroism, although misguided, was nevertheless heroism, and Julian loved her all the more for her dauntless spirit. With him to love was to believe.

Still, the conduct of Mrs. Lascelle weighed upon his mind. He blamed himself for not having thought of her while there was time to communicate with her husband. The shock of finding Oreana upon the emigrant ship had effaced from his mind everything else; and the fact that Mrs. Lascelle had accompanied Oreana never occurred to him until he saw her the day after they sailed.

Julian felt guilty towards his friend. He would write to Lascelle as soon as they reached New York--but Oreana, by persuasion and argument, prevented him.

"I am responsible for Mary, and I will write to her husband. Don't you interfere, or you will widen the breach. Edward knows more than you can tell him, and Mary and I intend to write."

Thus urged, Julian contented himself with writing to his mother, explaining fully his sudden resolve, and comforting her with the assurance that as soon as Oreana became his wife, which would be immediately after their arrival in Zion, he would exert a husband's power and bring back the wanderer.

Mrs. Lascelle and Elsie were not with the emigrants. The Lord had revealed to His chosen servant, Mary, those other things He desired of her for her ex- | | 56 altation; consequently she had hastened to Zion along with Elder Silvertung and a chosen few.

The elder, upon his arrival in America, found that his presence was required, immediately, in Zion. He was therefore obliged to forego the blessings and glories promised to the pilgrims. He tearfully begged them to remember him in their prayers, and greatly lamented this business which prevented him gaining the laurels reserved for these heroic saints.

The emigrants were much surprised when they discovered that Mrs. Lascelle had followed Silvertung. Julian's suspicions were aroused, but Oreana calmed him.

"She went by the command of God. His ways are not our ways, Julian; we blind, sinful creatures, have only to obey."

Julian was silenced. Perhaps it would be all right. It was not a time for reflection; the excitement of traveling, the continual novelty, the care of his party (for the Delvilles looked up to him), kept him too busy to think.

The residents of the frontier town, although accustomed to reckless adventure, regarded the pilgrims as mad.

At that late season--for it was the month of August--a foot journey across the plains would be a most perilous undertaking, even for well-equipped, able-bodied men. What would it be, then, for this band, more than half of whom were women and children, besides many aged persons and infants? The quickest march would require fifteen weeks; hence, Zion would not be reached until after the snows.

Winter among these dreary solitudes! The mere | | 57 idea of it appalled the boldest. They begged the Saints to defer the journey until Spring; but the deluded people regarded these Gentile importunities as snares of the devil. Some few, however, among whom was Julian, wiser than the rest, discussed the opinions of those who knew the plains, and a small opposition party was formed. The leaders became incensed. Most of the emigrants were poor, and the cost of keeping them in Iowa until Spring would greatly deplete the Church treasury. It was not to be thought of.

A general gathering was called.

Among the band only two had ever crossed the plains,--one, a Zionite, who had come East on business, and preferred going with the emigrants to venturing alone on the plains; the other was a bishop, the chief of the band.

The Zionite, supported by the opposition party, implored the emigrants to remain until Spring. He represented to them the lateness of the season, the certainty of winter overtaking them--a winter whose rigors far exceeded their imagination. He asked them to remember the paucity of their supplies, the weakness of many of their band. His address was interrupted by the bishop, who declared that Brother Simms was influenced by a bad spirit.

"I know the route as well as he, and I tell you it is all false. Will you, through fear, sacrifice the honor, the glory, the exaltation promised to you by the Lord? And even were it true, cannot the Lord take care of His own? I guess He can and He will. The Spirit tells me that not a hair of your heads shall be injured. Not a flake of snow shall hinder you. I appeal to Brother R-- to confirm my words."

| | 58

Brother R--, an apostle of the Church, but not belonging to the band, arose. It was the first time the new Saints had enjoyed the happiness of listening to an apostle of the Last Covenant.

"Heed not," he said, "the wicked, who are careful as to the things of this earth. Heed not the counsels of the evil one, but hearken to the voice of the Lord. He commands you to go as an example to the nations. Will you turn back afraid? God commands the storm. The winds and the sea obey Him. He is your guide; can ye then fear? He who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb will not allow His Saints to perish. He who nourished the children of Israel in the desert, and fed five thousand upon five loaves, will also feed you, oh, ye of little faith! This want of supplies is decreed that the Lord may work a miracle in your favor. And if ye do the will of the Lord and do not offend Him, ye shall all reach Zion safe and sound. It is the Lord Himself who promises. Woe be unto those who doubt! All who are ready to obey--the Lord's faithful Saints--let them hold up their hands."

Instantly the crowd raised their hands, excepting only Julian and Brother Simms. The opposition party was reduced to two.

Ashamed of their temporary hesitation, and fearful lest the Lord should punish them for their lack of faith, the pilgrims hastened their departure, and were soon ready to begin the journey. In vain Julian endeavored to dissuade Oreana and the Delvilles from the mad undertaking. They, even more than the rest, mocked at truth and believed falsehood. Alas! For the credulity of mankind. It was not the first time that faith derided knowledge.

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