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 XX.
GREAT SALT LAKE.

ONE morning shortly after Sister Dinly's soirèe, a large wagon, filled with a pic-nic party, left Zion, bound for the Great Salt Lake. Pic-nics and excursions to the lake were not so common then as they are now, when the railroad takes you there in half an hour.

This pic-nic was quite a sensation, and Elsie was nearly wild with delight.

Besides the ride, the gypsy dinner, and a dip in the briny wave, they were going to take a sail on the lake. Could anything be more delightful? Of course Sister Silea was there, and Brother Simpson and Elsie. Stanly was the captain of the party, and distinguished himself so much that Sister Dinly told him she would find him three wives, all young, pretty and amiable, whenever he wished to assume the honors of matrimony.

The great topic of conversation was the lake, which is just as much a curiosity to the Zionites as it is to strangers.

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"Whenever I hear Salt Lake mentioned I always think of the Dead Sea," remarked Sister Silea.

"Why, you don't suppose that there ever were big cities here, like Sodom and Gomorrah?"

"Yes, I do believe it; for once I had a vision" (Sister Silea was addicted to visions) "of the catastrophe. I saw proud cities--"

At that moment Elsie caught Stanly's glance, full of mischief. The result would have been an explosion of laughter, when, fortunately for them, some one made a diversion by exclaiming, "There it is, there it is!" Every one turned to look. Yes, there it was--the vast expanse of water in mountains framed. Over all floated a misty atmosphere, an opalescent vail, through which mountain and sea shimmered and glowed, their hues ever changing--now green, now gold, now blue or rosy gray.

"How beautiful, how beautiful! Look at the islands. Are they the cities come afloat?" cried Elsie. "And that thin, misty vail. Do you see it? What makes it?"

"Oh, that must be the army of ghosts that hover over the lost cities. Ghosts are vapory, and ought to be somewhat blue, you know."

"Hush, you naughty boy. If Silea hears you she will never forgive," whispered Brother Simpson.

"Come, now, some of you who go to school, tell us all about the lake, and how big it is. Don't all speak at once," said Sister Sarah.

"Ladies and gentlemen," answered Stanly, "this lake is nearly ninety miles in length, and its greatest breadth is about fifty miles. That island you see in the south-east is Antelope Island; the one still farther east is Fremont Island; this one to the west is Stans- | | 232 bury Island. There are several others that you cannot see from here. As to the water, I wouldn't advise you to drink it. But it is glorious to bathe in; and if ever you are in want of salt, come here, take out four barrels of this water, let it evaporate, and you will have one barrel of pure salt. In case you meditate suicide, and are not very serious about it, throw yourself in; but should you want to get rid of anyone, don't choose Salt Lake. It is not a good place, for nothing will sink in these waters. It is all 'I'm afloat, I'm afloat,' with them."

"Well done, Captain Stanly; you will have to be a missionary, you talk so well. I'm afraid you will go after your wives and get them, without giving me a chance of being amiable--that won't be fair. But now, when are we to have our sail, young man?"

"Oh! let us wait until afternoon. It is going to be a little cloudy and the sunset will be magnificent--well worth staying for; then we can return by moon-light."

"All right, that is settled. Now, my dear brothers and sisters, if you are in my condition dinner will be the next thing. I'm awfully hungry." No one objected to this, for a country ride is a great appetizer; and the contents of the baskets rapidly disappeared.

At last, the hour for the sail arrived. Stanly took charge of the boat. Several of the young ladies suddenly developed great nautical skill, but Stanly manoeuvered so well that Elsie remained his assistant without the other fair ones feeling at all jealous.

"Just think, we are sailing on the top of a mountain; isn't that so, Stanly?"

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"Yes, we are forty-three hundred feet above sea level; quite a respectable height."

"Look at the clouds, young folks; your bright eyes should see all kinds of queer things up there."

"It looks to me," said Sister Silea, "like the army of the Lord."

"And there is an army, a big one, too, of the oddest-looking dwarfs, led by a giant."

"There are ships, too."

"And pretty fleecy lambs, whole flocks of them."

"Oh! don't look at the clouds any more," cried Elsie, "look at the west. Did you ever see such a sky? It is blue and green and pink; is it not lovely?"

"I fancy it must be the gleam of the palm groves and rose gardens of Paradise, seen through the pale blue sky," remarked a sentimental young lady.

"What a pretty thought for a poem!" cried Sister Silea. "I must make a note of it."

As she spoke, the sun sank, a ball of fire, behind the western mountains. Instantly there streamed up from the west salmon-hued pennons fringed with flame. They reached the zenith, they touched the clouds; and lo! the aerial army shone resplendent in rose, purple and orange. Ships of burnished gold sailed on amber seas, and fleecy cloudlets, pink as the heart of a seashell, floated afar to the rock-bound horizon.

The lake sparkled and glowed, a mass of molten rubies, gold and sapphires; its islands caught the brilliant tints, and glittered in prismatic glory.

An amethystine vail flaked with gold enwrapped the mountains, while over all, gleaming in virgin purity, rose a snow-crowned peak: the sun threw it one last kiss, and it blushed. The colors melted one | | 234 into another: the gold into rose, the rose to crimson, the crimson to purple. Masses of vapor crept over the lake and gathered round the islands. The beauty was dying, dying, when one last vivid gleam streamed over the sky; mountains and lake again caught fire; then the radiance paled, it vanished; all save a cloud of crimson glory, that crowned one of the islands, lined its belt of purple gray fog, and rolled from underneath, a cloud of fire, upon the dark waters. The picnic party gazed in silence upon the gorgeous spectacle. But in the midst of the glory Stanly looked at Elsie. Their glances met, and their hearts followed their eyes. From that moment they were lovers.

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