- part: MY QUEEN;
- CHAPTER XV. A TRYING AUDIENCE.
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A TRYING AUDIENCE.
AT this unpropitious moment the leader of the hand-cart expedition and Elder Silvertung were ushered into the royal presence.
Observing the scowling aspect of the chief, they started back; for the bravest of the priesthood feared the despot's anger.
A few moments of silence; then he turned to the hand-cart leader:
"A nice mess you have got us into. I suppose you think I can stand the blame of every thing. As soon as the sufferings of those people become known immigration will cease; then what will become of us?"
"The people do not think any one is to blame but themselves;" meekly answered the brother; "and as for the facts getting wind, we can easily prevent that."
"Last night, at meeting, the general feeling was, that God was offended by their delay and hesitation, and showed his anger in thus afflicting them," interposed Silvertung.
"Humph! So far so good. Let them think God is angry. He ought to be. We must do something to cause this experiment to be forgotten."| | 76
"Well, the adage says, 'Out of sight, out of mind.' The territory is large enough to hide them; and if they don't have anybody around to remind them of their adventures they will soon forget them. There are plenty of districts in deserts where mail facilities are yet unknown."
"Very good advice, and easily followed. It is a pity you are not always so inspired," sneered the chief.
"Among them are some well-to-do people and some pretty nice women that we ought to keep among us."
"Brother Silvertung, take care that women don't ruin you yet. Read that, and that, then digest it if you can."
Brother Silvertung took the papers, read the remarks upon his conduct, and smiled.
"You seem to think it fun," said the chief, fixing the brother with his sharp, cold glance. "But I tell you it won't do.I won't have it. You bring scandal upon the Church, and I have to suffer; but this thing must stop. I won't father any of your foolhardiness, by God, I won't."
The table received a blow which echoed through the room. The brethren started.
"I did not think," stammered Silvertung.
"Think? You have no business to think. I don't want thinkers or fools around me."
"But Mary and her daughter; we can count them equal to a dozen Saints for the coming generation."
"The honor of which increase you selfishly keep to yourself. A nice pass we're come to when missionaries assume the prerogatives of the presidency. Next thing, the newly-fledged saints, and the women, will | | 77 indulge in visions and revelations. But I shall stop this thing. Strong food is not for the stomach of babes, nor strong light for their eyes. If ye don't understand this thing ye must be made to understand. No more revelations except through me; no more stealing, no more scandal. Do ye take me for a puppet?"
A light dawned upon Elder Silvertung. He saw where the wound of the great man lay. His genius suggested a remedy. Assuming a cringing tone, he replied:
"My zeal misled me. Henceforth I will be guided by your wisdom. But to return to the subject of the pilgrims. There are some remarkably fine people among them. For example, Oreana Brentford."
"She is a splendid girl, there's no mistake, and such a devoted spirit; why, she is Joel and Deborah and Esther all in one," said the hand-cart leader.
"Such grace and elegance," added Silvertung. "She sings like an angel, plays on the piano, speaks two or three languages."
"That's all very well, but if you could have seen her leading the emigrants, inspiring them, comforting and cheering them; why, I felt like adoring her. The storms seemed to respect her. I don't believe the snow fell upon her as it did upon us. She's a woman that is a woman; and looking all the while like a beautiful picture."
"What do you think of that, Brother Stimpson?" exclaimed the chief, turning to a new arrival. "Isn't that a woman for you?"
"True, Brother B--, she is the loveliest female I ever set eyes on."| | 78
"It is strange some Saint didn't grab her before she reached here. Woman-grabbing is the order of the day. The Lord has gone into the business, it seems; but I am going to close down on it right away. As for this girl, I can't think she's so beautiful, or she never would have got here unmarried."
"Why, you see there is a very good reason for that. There was a smart young fellow, a kind of affianced husband, to look after her and keep her safe from the sharks. But I don't think he will be in the way now. She don't seem to yearn after him very much. She's awful on the reform; the way she goes in for Jed's mule is a caution."
"Humph! I will see to her salvation myself," said the chief, rubbing his hands--a fashion with him when pleased. During the conversation about Oreana, the lids drooped over his eyes, completely hiding their expression, the frown became a sneer; but the face still looked ominous and unpleasant.
"Brother Stimpson, how goes the reform?"
"Finely! The people are firmly convinced of the Lord's anger; and confessions and baptisms are all the rage. Jed's mule did it this time."
"Encourage it all you can. It will prevent the people from dwelling on unprofitable subjects; it will prepare them for anew revelation; not from the devil, like some we had lately," (he darted a furious look at Silvertung), "but one according to the covenant. We must be ready to fight the battles of the Lord. In the mean time, push on the reform: make the people mad to fight as the Israelites of old. Look after these immigrants, get husbands for the girls. The building up of the kingdom cannot be delayed. The poor | | 79 families must be scattered in the distant parts of the territory; but keep those who are well off near here. We must have the money in our hands.
"Of late the tithing reports are unsatisfactory. Do you steal money as well as women? A precious fool you must take me for."
The look that accompanied the remark made the trio feel rather uncomfortable, but just at that moment Mr. Robert Delville was announced.
Brother Stimpson whispered to the great man:
"Delville's the richest we've had yet."
These few words acted as a talisman upon the chief. The despot changed into the father. So great was the metamorphosis that one would have declared that it was another man who filled that arm-chair. Nature endowed that strange man with marvelous histrionic powers. He could assume any role at will. He could be all things to all men and still be himself. To Mr. Delville he wished to appear the God-chosen father of this people. His aspect became benign. A chastened sorrow sat on his brow and expressed itself in his voice. He welcomed the rich convert with fatherly tenderness, all the more, perhaps, that his penetration saw in Delville the material for a first-class tool.
Mr. Delville was captivated, enslaved. He laid himself and his substance at the feet of the chief.
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