- part: MY QUEEN;
- CHAPTER XXII. JULIAN LEARNS HIS FATE.
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JULIAN LEARNS HIS FATE.
THERE is a cruel kindness that showers favors upon a victim, simply because he is doomed. Such was the kindness that Oreana showed her lover.
Julian forced himself to please her, and matters went smoothly; although the terrors of the Reform increased.
But the smoothness concealed much inquietude, sorrow and weariness. It was a painful probation for Julian. His impatience to get away prevented him from taking an interest in Mr. Delville's schemes, and the role of devout proselyte he had assumed to win back Oreana was most repugnant to his feelings.
Nature had not fashioned him for a hypocrite. Just indignation often threatened to spoil all; but love gave him strength to control the impulses of his nature. He delighted Oreana by receiving baptism for the salvation of her father, grandfather, and great-uncles. He flattered her by listening to her explanations of the Mormon principles. Yet he seemed as far off as ever from winning her. Oreana was kind; but her kindness forbade love's expression. She received him graciously,but a private talk was an impossibility.
But the worst trial was the constant attendance of the chief upon Oreana.
The great man joked with Mr. Delville, courted Oreana, and patronized Julian; for all which Julian cordially detested him.| | 107
Our hero found the society of the Saints very irksome. Their coarse jokes, their brutal conduct, their avaricious dreams, disgusted him. If such constituted patriarchal simplicity he preferred modern civilization.
Time pressed. The party who wished to escape became anxious. It was necessary to bring matters to a crisis.
Julian tried to see Oreana alone; but chance was against him; and the young lady adroitly excused herself each time he asked for a private interview.
One day he caught her walking alone by the creek. The opportunity so long sought had come at last. He hastened to her side and took her hand.
"Oreana, at length I can speak to you. Nay, you must listen" (as she tried to give the conversation a turn), "neither will I let you go till my story is told."
Oreana's cheek flushed with mingled feelings of guilt and anger: then it paled; for she knew how this conversation must end, and she pitied Julian. Perhaps she might yet defer the fatal blow.
"Forgive me, Oreana, if I appear rude; desperation makes me so. But you know it arises not from want of love. I have assured you of that by proofs more powerful than words. For your sake I am here. But you know all, darling. I have not come to speak of this, but to decide our future. Let us come to the point. Upon what day this week will you fulfill your promise to be my wife?"
"This is very sudden, Julian!"
"Sudden! when we ought to have been married nearly a year ago!"
"There are no buts. You promised that when we | | 108 reached Zion we should be united. We have been here now three months, and you hesitate. Surely you have not ceased to love me."
"Julian, you talk too much of love. Saints marry from principle."
"Principle! Oreana, have a care; some day perhaps you will repent these words." (Sorrow made Julian prophetic.) "But come, love, let us not evade the question, or trifle with it. What day shall it be?,This is Tuesday; suppose, then, we say Thursday."
"I must consult the President."
"What in heaven's name for? What has he to do with us?"
"He is our chief. Through him God speaks."
"Say rather, the devil."
"Julian,I won't stand this insult. Brigham Young is a second Moses."
"He is a first-class fraud."
"How dare you speak so? Let me go, sir."
"Forgive me, darling, forgive me. I did not mean to offend. If I did, it was through madness,--the madness of love. My life depends upon you; not only my life, but others more precious than mine. Think of your mother, widowed, broken-hearted,and lonely; think of mine."
Oreana's lips quivered--yet she answered, calmly:
"And what difference will it make to them whether I marry you or not?"
"Why I every difference; it would restore you to them."
"Restore me to them! I begin to think you are really mad."| | 109
"Mad with grief because you frown. O, my love, my queen, have pity upon me."
"Julian, don't make a scene. I hate scenes; and here we are in the street."
"Where else can I speak with you? The trees and the brook are our only witnesses. For God's sake torture me no longer. Oreana, do not trifle with me--answer. Shall we be married on Thursday?"
"Then, upon what other day?"
"Upon no other."
"No other! Do I hear aright?"
"Julian, we are not fitted for each other. My husband must be a king, a god among men. Now, I have told you the truth. It has pained me exceedingly; but it was my duty. I must go. Brother Brigham will be awaiting me."
But Julian was really desperate. The strain of the last few weeks had weakened and irritated him; and now the annihilation of all his hopes goaded him to frenzy. Prudence, his promise of secrecy, were alike forgotten. His grasp on Oreana tightened.
"No. I will not let you go to that impostor--to that brother of the Father of Lies. You shall not stay in this infamous place. I will carry you off. I will save you or die. Ah! you need not laugh. You laugh, but it is all planned; next week we leave for California. Then from California, home!
"A determined will can overcome all obstacles. We must, we will get away from this blood-stained polygamy. For honor's sake, for virtue's sake, leave this place and come with us. It is a pleasant route, summer is before us, and if my presence annoys you | | 110 I will go another way or at some other time. There are two women of the party. Come, leave this city of iniquity."
"Hush! I will hear you no more. You are blaspheming; you are an apostate, a renegade--crimes that can only be effaced in your blood. You would leave Zion, leave the Saints. I renounce you!" With a vigorous effort she threw off his hand.
"Oreana, hear me I hear me!" But Julian spoke to vacancy. Oreana was gone.
In spite of herself the girl was troubled. Julian's entreaties found an echo in voices she thought were forever stilled.Her good angel whispered to her. Will she listen and be saved? Tears glistened in her eyes. Tears are of good omen.
She reached her house.
"My dear child, what is the matter?"
At the sound of that voice, at the touch of hand, her struggle ceased. Parents, home, devotion fade from her mind. Her guardian spirit flies away affrighted.
"My dear Oreana, tell me all that troubles you,--all. What troubles you, pains me."
Oreana could not resist the will of her idol. She told him all: Julian's love for her, his detestation of the creed, the planned escape.
Quietly the man listened, his head turned away, so that she should not see the cruel smile that gave to the prophet's countenance a very tigerish resemblance.
When she bad finished, he exclaimed, in pathetic tone:
"It is this that saddens me: so many apostates, so many lost, eternally lost."| | 111
"But does not God say that blood is an atonement for sin?"
"Yes, God be praised! He permitteth an atonement. He forces me to preach it; but yet we shrink."
"Shrink! Do you also shrink?"
"Would you not do so? Take, for example, Julian, would you not do everything to save his life?"
"Not if his blood would atone for his sin, I would even give the blow, if God willed. What is this life compared to eternity? If blood effaces sin, let it flow. Does a mother hesitate at any operation that will save her child? No! Shall Saints see those they love link into perdition and make no effort to save?"
Oreana uttered these words in a frenzy, her tall form straightened to its fullest height, her head thrown back, her eyes glowing, and her arms uplifted. She looked a pythoness. Her attitude brought out every beauty of her person. The chief gazed enraptured.
"God does not will you to do it, my brave, my beautiful one. But He accepts your noble devotion. He chooses you as a priestess, a queen. Be my bride, lovely Oreana. I will make you a sovereign queen, a goddess, in the celestial kingdom, and here upon earth you shall be the star of my life, my aid, my inspiration."
"Your bride, your inspiration," faltered Oreana.
"Even so. You are my queen, chosen by the Lord. Did he not reveal to me your face in a vision? Come, my beloved one. Come."
The lord of her will called her, she was powerless to resist.
Trembling with emotions of joy and awe, she placed her hand in his.| | 112
Did no thought of the many wives in his harem make her recoil? No. She thought only of the deified chief, whose sovereign queen she was to be.
"Oreana, you consent."
A glance, a whispered yes. His arms embraced her, his kisses are on her lips. Oreana is lost. Lost to honor, lost to happiness, save it be the fevered exaltation that now intoxicates her.
A step is heard at the gate. Oreana recognizes it.
Julian must not enter now. She hastens out to meet him before he reaches the door. The young man has sobs in his voice.
"Oreana, do not be angry. Reflect before you refuse. I will give you a week. Then we shall be ready, and you will come."
"Never, Julian. I cannot, will not, be your wife: neither will I go with you."
The emphasis of her manner startled him. Looking keenly at her, he thought he perceived a deeper agitation. Just then Mr. Delville came up, and, with a hurried good-day, passed in.
The open door revealed the chief.
Julian looked from the man to the girl, whose face was now crimson. A sudden light broke in upon him. Approaching Oreana, he placed his hands upon her shoulders, agony written on his face:
"My God! Oreana, speak. It is not true--it can't be."
Slowly she lifted her eyes to his. The blushes were gone now, and her gaze was steady.
"It is true. I shall be his wife, a queen in Heaven."
The blow was struck. Julian reeled. He rested a | | 113 moment on the gate to recover strength. He heard the door shut. Oreana was gone--gone from him forever.
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