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 XVII.
OLD ACQUAINTANCES.

THE Delvilles and Oreana were, upon their arrival at Zion, entertained at the house of one of the apostles; but Mrs. Delville was so oppressed by the atmosphere of a polygamous household (the apostle had six wives), that her husband hastened to find a home.

They soon moved into an adobe building, a sorry apology for a house; but it was the only one to be had, and Mr. Delville cheered them with the promise that he would soon build the handsomest house in the city.

In spite of this promise, Mrs. Delville slowly pined. The sufferings of the journey had worn her to a shadow of her former self. A great change appeared in her manner. The serene affection--serene, because secure--that beautifies the wife and mother of civilization, had given place to a restless, feverish demonstrativeness. She lived in fear and trembling. Her husband gloried in the new creed; would he, could he, notwithstanding its counsels, keep his promise of fidelity to her?

The poor woman scarcely dared speak of her fears and her dislikes. The women whose sorrows she had shared during the long pilgrimage were scattered far and wide. Oreana chilled her with terror. Julian was her only friend, and he was so troubled and heartsore that he needed consolation as much as she did. Still it was a comfort to mingle their sorrows.

They are talking of home, as they sit in the room which is kitchen, dining-room, parlor, all in one.

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It is, however, difficult to recognize in this thin, sickly woman the once portly Mrs. Delville, or in the sad, stern man, with furrowed brow, the once brilliant and light-hearted Julian Bellew.

Poor Julian! truly Oreana had been a cruel Fate to him!

"Oh, Julian, how I wish we were all back home! If I had only listened to the misgivings of my heart I never should have consented, never; no matter how much they preached that a wife should follow her husband--no, I never should. Just think of my darlings dead on the desert, the solace of visiting their graves denied me. If we were only back!"

"Great God, I would give half my life to be at home again with you and Oreana. What has come over Oreana?"

"Why, she is half crazy. Just think, she has been baptized twenty-five times since she came."

"Twenty-five times! What in the name of Heaven for?"

"For her own sanctification, and for her dead relations. She was dipped for her grandmother and yours, for my mother; in fact, for all our deceased female relatives."

"Poor Oreana! so kind to the dead, so cruel to the living. Think of her father, dead of a broken heart for her; think of the desolation of our once happy homes. Why did I leave them? I thought then it would be so easy to save her, that love would work the miracle. Most strange infatuation! that can even justify adultery What hope have I? None! And she turns from me. Can I have offended her?"

"She is angry that you refuse to take your Endow- | | 84 ments. If you could pretend to be a fervent Mormon, I think she would listen, perhaps."

"But how could I, when I hate it so? I have been angry with myself for receiving baptism from the hands of such rascals: then these Endowments, vailed in mystery, must be evil, or why be so secret concerning them?"

"There is nothing evil about them, Julian. They are--" the woman stopped, looked around to assure herself that no one was listening, then, approaching Julian, whispered, "they are silly! The only time I have laughed, since my darlings died, was in the Endowment House. But O! don't tell anyone I said so, or Heaven knows what they'd do to me. We take an awful oath not to reveal the ceremonies. But I haven't revealed them, have I? It isn't revealing to say they are silly."

"Make your conscience easy, Mrs. Delville: I will not betray you. But if these Endowments are only silly, and if you think my taking them will reconcile Oreana to our marriage, I will submit. But I fear there is more than that. Has not Oreana changed?"

"Changed! She frightens me, Julian. Then, too, she is so dreamy--so unlike her old self. This reform has made her crazy."

"Crazy! who is crazy?" demanded Oreana, who, entering that very moment, had heard so much of the conversation.

She was more beautiful than ever: yet she was changed.

"Why, you look as if I had caught you plotting treason. I suppose it is I who am crazy. The Saints are always crazy to those who love Babylon. Ah, | | 85 But you will change your ideas when Christ comes in His glory. It is time for meeting. Are you going to implore the Lord's mercy, or do you fancy you are without sin?"

"We are going, Oreana. Wait a minute and I will be ready: Julian has no preparation to make."

"Don't be long, Cousin Lucy, for I promised to call for Mary."

"Then I am not going with you, Oreana. I cannot bring myself to speak cordially to Mary, after all that she has done. To forsake a good, honorable husband, to wreck his life,--to become a creature of scorn,--to bring up her child for such a fate; no, I can't speak to her."

"Mrs. Delville," said Julian, "this poor woman is to be pitied; vent your indignation not so much upon her as upon the creed that urged her to it."

"But she ought to have known better, Julian. As if God wished any one to commit--It is all wrong, and I never will countenance such evil. I wonder God does not strike her dead."

"Cousin Lucy, beware let God strike you with His wrath for daring to speak against Celestial Marriage. You and Julian seem to forget that the ways of God are inscrutable, His judgments past our finding out. In the pride of your heart you dare to arraign Him. Ah! but I see desolation coming upon us for this audacity. Awake, ye lukewarm! awake and repent, ye who still love Babylon, ye for whom the city of God hath no charms. Awake and repent, ere God destroy! But I will pray for you. Mary, whom you despise, but whom God loveth, shall pray. I will have you prayed for by the band of Saints. Good-bye."

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Julian made a step forward, as if he would follow her but Mrs. Delville held him back.

"Don't follow her, Julian; wait, it will be all right by and by. I am afraid we are lukewarm; let us appear more fervent; as a beginning we will go to meeting. But I do hope they won't preach the shedding of blood as atonement. It makes the cold chills run all through me."

"Mrs. Delville, it is an infamous, a damnable fraud and delusion; we will, we must get out of it."

"That's easier said than done. Oh, I do wish we were back home; but Julian, we shall never leave this place alive. I know it, I feel it."

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