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 I.
SMITHVILLE.

TEN year have passed away. In the United States of America (for one seldom thinks of the other parts of the continent), ten years equal fifty elsewhere. In spite of its moral and social burdens, Utah is no exception. It lags not in the quick march. The desert is rapidly disappearing. Thriving farms and orchards cover the plain and clothe the mountain-side; and the lowing of cattle, the song of birds, and the hum of industry, give life to the once silent solitudes.

The Mormons have taught the world a great lesson. They have demonstrated the worth of co-operation and patient industry;--and, certainly, that which has been done by poor, shiftless emigrants, under the selfish, degrading rule of Mormonism, can be done, and better done, by skillful, energetic workers, guided by wise and elevating influences.

When judicious co-operation supersedes individual efforts, when migrant colonies forswear mining until the "earth be well tilled, and the barns well filled,"--when tree-culture becomes a religious duty--when intelligence weds the crystal stream to the thirsting plain--then the desert will become a fruitful paradise, its horrors a legend of the past. Then fields of golden


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grain and feathery corn, vineyards and groves of luscious fruit, and the perfumed mulberry, will flourish where once was the desolation of desolation.

From the glorious Wasatch Mountains that extend through Utah from north to south, several dependent ranges jut out, forming numerous flowery canyons and fertile valleys. In one of these valleys was the town of Smithville.

The background of lofty peaks, ever changing in hue, the wealth of flowery vendure, the many streams rippling sweet music, lend a charm to Smithville--a charm increased by a glimpse of the gray arid plain stretching afar in the distance.

Smithville is the centre of a large tract of farming country. The farms of Utah are small; consequently farming-tract is well-peopled. The farm-houses, consisting of adobe huts (one to each wife generally), built together in a rude fashion, are scattered over hillside and plain--very ugly spots on the fair landscape. Mormonism and the beautiful seldom combine. Whether it is that the Mormons despise beauty, or that beauty despises Mormonism, I leave the reader to decide.

A broad street, fringed with young trees, divides the village into East and West Smithville. In this street stood a one-story brick building, over the front of which glared an immense eye, supposed to be an exact likeness of the divine optic as revealed to the prophet. Under this visual organ is the motto: "Holiness to the Lord." This building is the one store of the village. Here the Smithville Saints bought and sold,--or, to be more correct, bartered, for money had not at that time become the common


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medium of exchange. Here they supplied their wants, even to snuff and tobacco. Here they obtained their letters--here they gossiped--all under the supervision of that eye.

On the opposite side of the street was another brick building, a little raised from the ground, and approached by steps. This was the meeting-house, which also served as theater, dancing-hall, and schoolhouse.

In the village were a few buildings somewhat pretentious, consisting of two stories: the upper story remarkable for its Liliputian windows placed about eight inches from the floor, so that a looker-out was forced to kneel.

These houses were all alike, individuality not being consistent with sanctity.

Smithville prided itself upon its holiness. The fullness of the Gospel reigned there triumphantly. No cursed Gentile, no bad spirits named Knowledge and Progress, had, as yet, dared to invade its sanctity.

If a brother fell from grace, or committed the unpardonable sin of doubting the Powers that were: if a sister, forgetful of her high prerogative of building up the kingdom: if, a weary of toil and misery, she became rebellious; blood-atonement could efface the guilt, and the soul, washed and purified in the blood of its own sinful body, could wing its flight heavenward.

Blessed Smithville! thus to be able to atone for sin, and no son of Babylon to cry murder! In this holy settlement, the vain follies of a corrupted world were unknown. Modern improvements, that give time for the growth of foolish thoughts, were not dreamed of.

There superstition, ignorance, polygamy, and blood-


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atonement flourished. Smithville, in fine, was a saintly Mormon village,--one in which Nephi or any of his brother patriarchs would have felt quite at home; but a strange feature in this age, and in a land of enlightened freedom.

It was the season of blossoms, when apricot, peach, apple and cherry robed the country in a perfumed mantle of pink and white; when the birds woo each other in glee, and all nature sings a joyful alleluia; yet, amidst all this gladness, Smithville was not gay. The dazzling spring sun brought out in full relief the ugliness of the adobe houses, the untidy yards, where swarms of dirty children screamed and quarreled; it flaunted in mockery upon the hopeless, forlorn looking women in dingy calico and shakers, who labored in the gardens, or worked in the squalid interiors, half seen through the open doors.

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