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 XLI.
IN THE TOILS.

THE cruel. disappointment and horror at Mr. Delville's death left Elsie so crushed that her only wish was to die. What was the use of living in a world where every one seemed either miserable or wicked. Even if Stanly returned he could not help her. If Stanly returned! | | 332 The messenger came back from Ogden with the news that the young man had not been there, although many testified to his departure on Sunday. This news shocked Elsie more than all else. She was suspicious of wrong-doing. All the stories she had ever heard about the Danites flashed across her mind. They, no doubt, could explain this disappearance as well as the so-called suicide. She recalled those words of the elder to Stanly, at their last unfortunate tryst: "I'll crush you;" and she felt that he had executed his threat. She shuddered as she looked at that cruel, smiling face, and thought of the awful deeds it had smiled upon.

Marry that man, she never would, never. They should kill her first. What was death, anyway, that she should fear it? Death was preferable to the living death of being that man's wife.

After breakfast, on Tuesday morning, Silvertung told Elsie and her mother that he had spoken with the President about Elsie; and that the sealing was fixed for Saturday at 10 A.M. He wished it sooner, but that every day until then he would be occupied with business. Elsie looked towards her mother, but the latter made no sign. "Now," continued Silvertung, "it is my wish to make you quite comfortable. You shall have a house in the Twentieth Ward. It is all ready except furnishing, that we can soon do. You, Mary, shall bring your children from Smithville and keep house for Elsie. Why, you will be as happy as queens. We will go now and look at the house. Come, get ready; for I have not much time to spare."

At the mention of a house in town, Mary's face brightened. To have a house to herself, and have | | 333 Elsie and her children around her in peaceful comfort, was the one great longing of this crushed woman. Misery had so degraded her that physical well-being was the only happiness she could imagine. A house of her own outweighed a daughter's sacrifice. She looked imploringly at Elsie, who stood in a stiff, uncompromising attitude, the only signs of emotion the twitching of her mouth. Evidently the girl was preparing for resistance. The thought of resistance made the mother tremble.

"Oh, Elsie dear, think how comfortable we shall be in a nice house all to ourselves!"

Elsie replied by a look of scorn. She had not yet learned the power of circumstances, or how to look from other people's standpoint. Impulsive youth is never tolerant, and she almost hated her mother for her weakness. Rebellion was rife in Elsie's heart; she was determined to defy the elder, yet she faltered at the supreme moment. The scathing words died away in her throat, and tears drowned the annihilating glances. The strain of the last two days had so exhausted her, mentally and physically, that what seemed so easy became most difficult. Still she must force herself to speak. Collecting all her energy she turned to the elder and said, in a husky voice that frightened her, so unnatural it sounded: "Elder Silvertung, I cannot many you. It is cruel of you to wish me to do so, knowing that I do not love you."

"My dear young lady," replied the elder, "it is a girl's duty to obey,--to accept the husband chosen for her by those who understand such matters. As for love, all that is necessary will come. You must keep in mind that Saints marry from principle."

| | 334

His calm manner irritated the girl; it spurred her to resist. "But I am not a Saint. I won't marry you. I will kill myself first," sobbed Elsie. The words were out, but they sounded weak and childish, compared to the bold defiance she had rehearsed to herself. Silvertung laughed, as if it were a good joke.

"What a spirited Elsie it is! How handsome she looks when angry! Pray, my dear, what kind of death do you intend to try? Poison is the nicest, because it won't spoil that pretty face; but it will taste nasty. Don't you want some sugar-plums to take after it? Please tell us when the tragedy is to take place, so that we can make it a success. In the mean time, we may as well visit the house in the Twentieth Ward. I give you just five minutes to get ready. One word,--Mary, I shall hold you responsible for your daughter's conduct. She is to be sealed to me on Saturday, and we don't wish any scenes. You fully understand?"

"O Elsie! think of me, do not be obstinate. There is no use to defy the elder, it is wicked: you will be punished, so shall I: come, dear, put on your things."

"I am not going."

"You rebellious child, you will break my heart." Here Mrs. Mary burst into tears.

Elsie could not endure to see her mother suffering. Her courage sank.

Anyway, just going to see the house was not being married. Elsie prepared herself, and they went.

Elder Silvertung no doubt thought he might make up for his cruelty, by giving his victims a pretty dwelling. The house was commodious, really nicer than that occupied by Mrs. Lucy. Mary sighed with de- | | 335 light: she did not speak again to Elsie about the marriage, but her looks were more eloquent than words.

After visiting the house, the elder took them to Co-op. He and Mrs. Mary bought a great deal of furniture for the new house. Elsie took no part in anything, neither was she consulted. Both the elder and her mother seemed to consider the marriage as all settled. What could she do?

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