- PART SECOND.
- CHAPTER XXVIII. THE DESTROYING ANGELS ON THE WING.
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THE DESTROYING ANGELS ON THE WING.
CONTRARY to Stanly's advice, Mr. Delville visited all those dependent upon him, gave his wives money sufficient to keep them some time, counseled his children, and bade them all an affectionate good bye. This conduct seemed so strange that each one thought something was going to happen, or that trouble was affecting his brain; but as these ladies did not meet to talk the matter over, it faded from their minds, and Mr. Delville's peculiar conduct was not publicly known. Some friends noticed his depression, and very naturally attributed it to the state of his affairs. But Mr. Delville's great sorrow was the thought of leaving Zion. He could not reconcile himself to the idea, now that it had become a fact. He almost hoped that something would prevent its realization.
In the evening Stanly met his father according to the agreement. Mr. Delville seemed in high spirits. "Stanly, I will take Elsie to-morrow to Ogden; but I must return. I can't leave Zion. This afternoon I met the President: he was pleasant and kind. I am to call upon him Tuesday about business. Silvertung is at the bottom of all the mischief. I always did bate the sneaking rascal; but I will be even with him: he sha'n't have Elsie. Trust me, boy, to see to that biz. To-morrow at ten o'clock we're off."
Thus talking, they reached the house. Mr. Delville unlocked his office door and struck a light. A gust of wind swept in through the broken panes, and blew it out. Stanly shuddered. "Father, don't stay | | 319 in this lonesome, cheerless place to-night; go into the house. If anything should happen."
"Is it love for me, or for Elsie, that makes you so anxious, eh, young man? Suppose anything should happen, I am not defenseless. See here," and he drew a large knife from beneath some papers. "This is a sure friend, and it has done some good work in its time," he added musingly.
Stanly regarded his father in amazement. What could those words mean?
A few moments' silence, broken only by the moaning of the wind; then the clock struck nine, warning Stanly to depart. "I must go; yet suppose I stay and take Elsie. Perhaps I had better."
"Well if you do, the whole town will know of your elopement before you reach the Warm Springs."
"So they will; you are right. But you won't fail?"
"Not if I am alive."
Stanly left. At the gate he looked back. His father still toyed with the knife, absorbed in its contemplation; and Stanly heard him repeat: "You have done good work in your day; perhaps you will yet do more."
The words of fearful portent filled Stanly with anxious alarm; an alarm that seemed ridiculous, now that blood-atonement was unfashionable. "Am I growing superstitious? Bah! I'm wasting time. I must be off. What nonsense I am thinking. Nothing will occur to-night, and to-morrow we shall be safe."
Stanly began whistling to cheer his spirits, and hurried off to the stable, where his own trusty Prince, his faithful four-footed friend, awaited him. In less than an hour he was across the Jordan. The excite- | | 320 ment of the ride raised his spirits; but it was a gruesome night for a journey. The elements were preparing for a battle. Already the thunder-drum beat the reveillé; and every now and then a flash announced that the storm spirits were trying their guns. Prince evidently wanted to get out of it as quickly as possible, for he sped along with the fleetness of the wind. Absorbed in his reflections, Stanly scarcely heeded his rapid progress, till a peal of thunder which startled Prince, aroused him to a sense of his position. Hot Springs Lake was far behind. The farms grew fewer, and farther from each other. There on his right was the sage brush plain over which towered the mountains. Not a sign of habitation was visible. On his left rolled the black seething waters of the great lake. There was no course but to go bravely on. About three miles further was a shed. If he could only reach it before the storm broke, he could there take shelter. He soothed his horse, who seemed to understand his master's thoughts. A few minutes brought them in sight of the shelter. Then Prince suddenly stopped, pricked up his ears, and Stanly distinctly heard some one approaching at a furious gallop. Who could it be? It certainly was not an ordinary traveler, for he would have taken the high road. Perhaps, he also was hastening to find protection from the storm. At that moment a flash of lightning showed him a horseman emerging from the shed. Stanly sensed danger at once; and he was unarmed. From the road to the lake was open space, marshy in places, but not dangerous; by taking this route he might baffle these men if they were really pursuing him. If the danger was only imaginary, | | 321 the detour would give him a wetting, nothing more. To think was to do. He galloped a short distance. God! that sound again. They are pursuing him. He turns to the right: he sees in the glare of the lightning an armed horseman almost upon him. He wheels to the left. Prince is fleet-footed, he may out-distance his pursuer. On this side another enemy rushes towards him. They hem him in. Turn which way he will, a foe menaces his life.
There is a flash, not of lightning, and a bullet whizzes past him.
To the lake, to the lake! The shore shelves gently; his horse fears not the water: escape is yet possible. He swiftly turns: another bullet grazes his shoulder.
"Faster, faster, Prince, or we die," breathes Stanly, as he bends over his horse to escape the missiles of death. Prince replies with a snort and a leap. The storm bursts forth in all its fury. The heavens are on fire, mountain and plain with thunder shake and tremble. The waves, lashed to fury, roll up in mountainous masses, surging, dashing, foaming, hissing, now shrouded in thick darkness, now luridly gleaming in lightning flame. The brave horse recoils; his master urges him on into the seething abyss. The waves dash over them, but they must not falter. Around above, roars the tempest; before them, the roaring storm-tossed sea, behind them, murder. Death every-where. Stanly's idea was to ride along the limit of the shore, hoping thus to evade his pursuers. It was a mad hope, but it seemed the only one. Finding that in a step or two more the horse will lose his footing, he tried, during a recession of the waves, to head to the northward, but, blinded by the lightning, frenzied by | | 322 the roar of the storm, the animal rears, stumbles, every limb quivering with fright. Stanly looks back. The murderers are in the water, their pistols cover him. He must die. "Father in Heaven! save me and Elsie."
There is a flash, a crash! A huge wave engulfs horse and rider, and deluges the murderers, who fall back appalled. The wave recedes, then out of the foam, on to the land; struggled a horse, on his back an empty saddle.
About this same hour, out of the front window of Mr. Delville's office crawls a man. The window is hastily closed, all noise lost in the roar of the storm. Standing on the porch the man slips his hand through the broken panes, fastens the catch, then leaps out into the darkness.
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