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 VI.
THE APOSTATE.

THE tree was certainly very hard. Elise began to despair. It was not the first time that she had done such work; but somehow she could not succeed to-day.

"My dear child," said a kind voice near her, "that is rough work for you. Give me that axe."

A strong hand seized the implement, and by the time the blurr passed from Elie's eyes, so that she could see her helper, the tree was down.

"Thank you, Brother Menly," said Elsie, "thank you."

"Tut, tut, child, no thanks, it is nothing more than my duty. This is man's work, not fit for a slim girl like you. Now we will soon have this in firewood. Is this other one to come down as well?"

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Elsie nodded assent. A few vigorous strokes and the work was done, to Elsie's great satisfaction.

"I wish God were as kind as you are, Brother Menly, then He wouldn't make women carry such heavy crosses as He does."

"Hush, dear. God is kind--it is men who are cruel. But it will all come out right in the end."

The good man was gone. Elsie began to gather up the wood, when she was again accosted by the elder.

"Girl, who was that man you were speaking with?"

"You must have seen him plainly enough to know without asking."

It was not a gracious reply; but graciousness is not much known in Mormon settlements.

"I wish you to tell me who that man was--a lover of yours, perhaps?"

At this taunt Elsie's eyes flashed scorn, and her nostril and lip quivered with indignation. This little pantomime greatly amused the elder, who loved to see this high spirit beat itself impotently against its prison bars. But the menaced storm did not burst, and the girl answered, with only a slight shade of defiance:

"It was Brother Menly."

"I thought as much. It is time you knew that this good, dear Brother Menly is an apostate. The church drops him; the Saints break off all association with him. If you speak with him again you will be accursed."

The elder rolled out the last word as if it made sweet music.

"Yes, accursed," he repeated, and turned away; but a second thought brought him back to his victim. Elsie stood as if transfixed. She had taken off her | | 173 huge bonnet, that the air might cool her fevered brow. No longer disfigured, she made a pretty picture, with the sunlight gleaming on her wavy, glossy hair, her cheek flushed, and her bosom heaving with emotion. The elder stopped, surprised. For the first time he saw that she was beautiful. "You hear me? You are not to speak with him again."

Elsie turned upon him, her eyes now swimming in tears.

"Yes, I hear you."

"But you must not spoil those pretty eyes with tears. Why, I declare, you are growing quite handsome;" and he patted her under the chin. Elsie shrank from his touch. The elder smiled. It was a cruel smile. He put his arm around the child, and drew her towards him in spite of her struggles, which seemed to amuse him.

"The little dear must not cry because her pet turns apostate. We will find her some one else to love. Now give me a kiss and don't cry."

"Leave me alone," cried the girl, almost beside herself, wishing, at the same time, that she were a snake, so that she might sting him to death. Her vehemence and evident dislike had no effect upon her tormentor. He stroked her hair, kissed her, and with a parting injunction "not to cry," sauntered away, chuckling to himself.

"That girl is actually growing pretty," thought he. "I believe were she well dressed she would be beautiful--beautiful enough to suit me. That gives me an idea."

The elder, seemingly preoccupied with this idea, entered his harem.

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As soon as she was released poor Elsie ran to a favorite retreat hidden from the house by the barns.Here the mountain torrent formed a succession of tiny cascades, whose laughing songs had often soothed her out of her sorrows.

But never before had she lain down on the moss-covered rocks with a heart so heavy with woe. Her soul was torn with rage against the elder, whom she hated, with grief about her friend--the only true friend she had ever known--her teacher, her counselor, her second father, dear Brother Menly. But worse than all was the despair at her helplessness.

It was pitiful to hear those agonized sobs, to see that child-like form prone to the earth with anguish.

Elsie had inherited the strong passions and powerful reasoning faculties of her father, whose superior mentality had absolutely psychologized the very negative highly impressionable mother. Hence the girl could not help rebelling against her unnatural surroundings.

To think was as natural to Elsie as to eat. Her active mind detected weak points, compared contradictions, sought causes, and drew inferences. She reasoned, in a disorderly way, for thought requires training more than any other faculty.

Her creed did not satisfy her. An indefinable something in her soul repelled it, although she knew no other.

Vague memories of a beautiful home, of a tender father, whose coming she had watched with loving delight, of flowers, music, birds, and happiness haunted her in dreams. But she dreaded to speak with her mother upon this subject, it seemed to inflict so much pain. Once the elder overheard Elsie's questions | | 175 about their former home, and the memory of the punishment it drew upon her mother and herself prevented her from ever repeating them.

But memory did not die; and in dreams, both waking and sleeping, came the sounds of the Long Ago, vague as the sounds of an Æolian harp, --as sweet and sad.

They floated to her with the streamlet's song as she crouched on its mossy bank; and with them came words oft uttered by Brother Menly: "Pray to God. He will help you."

And she prayed,--prayed that she might escape.

"God will help me, for Brother Menly says so. He will let me get away from this, some way or other."

Then, somewhat calmer, she knelt and vowed that no one, nor anything, should ever make her give up Brother Menly.

This pious act relieved her mind. She then bathed her face, put on her sun-bonnet to hide her tear-stained eyes, and ran home to work.

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