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 XXIX.
THE SIEGE.

ALL through the night they listened and watched. As the hours flew by, and no sign of danger appeared, they began to hope. But the morning light brought despair; for it showed to them all the peril of their situation. They were corraled in a narrow valley, whose only outlets were two somber gaps, guarded by merciless savages. Even had the road permitted them to present a solid front to the enemy, to cut through the ranks of these war-breathing Indians would have been a daring imprudence; but for a long train, slowly filing through a narrow pass, to attempt it, was madness. Their only course was to entrench themselves on the hill, and prepare for a vigorous defense. They enclosed a square with the wagons, chaining the wheels together to make a solid barrier. In one corner they pat the milch cows; and in the center a rifle pit was dug, sufficiently large to shelter the entire company in case of an attack. Out of this excavation the men could fire without being seen by the enemy. Sentinels, relieved every three hours, kept ceaseless watch.

Slowly passed the hours of anxious waiting. To while away the tedium, the emigrants related all the | | 138 Indian adventures they knew, and tried to make the experiences of the past yield guidance for the future.

Some of the more experienced declared that if no attack was made that night the danger would be over.

The dawn of the second day assured them in this belief; for the passes were free. The Indians had left the meadows. A few men were scattered here and there; but they were white men. Overjoyed at this discovery, the emigrants began their preparations for departure.

Some of the men left the camp to reconnoiter. Suddenly a sharp report was heard; another and another followed, bullets rained around them. The men hastened back to the camp. They reached it unhurt; but with hats pierced and hair singed by glancing balls.

The emigrants were crushed with despair; for they knew now it was a deadly siege. How would it end? A white flag was hoisted, and there it fluttered unnoticed save by the breeze. Were the white men blind, or (horrible thought!) were they in league with the Indians?

The water in the camp was wholly insufficient for their need; still they dared not risk the lives of the men. The women volunteered, but their enemies paid no respect to sex. The firing recommenced, and one woman fell wounded. They must go without water. But the peril made heroes of the children. Unknown to their parents, they crept out under the wagons and ran down to the creek. The firing ceased, for even the cruel besiegers respected childhood; and the brave | | 139 little band constituted themselves the water-carriers for the camp.

The emigrants talked and planned; for their position was fast becoming untenable. If help came not soon, they must all perish. Two brave young men--brothers--volunteered to go to Cedar City, and implore help of the Mormon militia. In the shadowy twilight, they started on foot, the easier to escape observation. The distance was thirty-six miles; but they were strong, and love of life lent wings to their feet.

Another day dawned, the third of the siege; a day of feverish excitement, when every eye and ear was strained to its utmost, to catch a glimpse or a sound of coming relief. Now hoping, now despairing, the emigrants watched and waited, neither speaking nor eating; shuddering, ever and again, when the report of guns fired in wanton sport startled the air. The sun slowly ascended the heavens, it passed the meridian, it sank towards the western horizon, and still no sign of aid.

A creeping motion in the tall grass arrested the attention of the sentinels. What could it be--an Indian ambuscade? A friend would not approach in that snake-like manner: it must-be a foe. The sentinel was about to fire, when a man, pale and bleeding, struggled to his feet and staggered towards the camp. It was one of the volunteers--only one. Where was the other?The corral opened, loving arms received the wounded man, and anxious hearts stood still to hear the tidings. He saw the madness of suspense in their dilated eyes, and, rallying himself, he cried:

"The Mormons are against us: they killed my brother, and wounded me! No hope, no hope!" He fell back exhausted.

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