- PART SECOND.
- CHAPTER LII. HOW IT WAS THE HERO DID NOT DIE. From Stanly' Letter.
|<< chapter 51||< chapter 1||chapter 53 >||chapter conclusion >>|
HOW IT WAS THE HERO DID NOT DIE.
From Stanly' Letter.
"WHEN I think of my escape, it seems incredible, and my former assertion is proved; namely, that it is more difficult to sink than to swim in Salt Lake. You remember the fearful storm that raged on the night of my departure? The waters of the lake were very rough. Prince became frightened and restive; he would not move. I looked round to see if my pursuers had disappeared. What a sight! The cold chills run over me when I think of it, There were the two murderers aiming directly at me. I dodged suddenly to escape the fire, and whether the horse plunged, or the waves swept me out of the saddle, I cannot say; but I found myself floating on the water. I could hear the horse neigh and plunge, and as well as I could tell he gained the shore.
"This was a great misfortune. Still, I did not give up. I am a pretty good swimmer, and understood the lake; so I thought I would swim on a mile or two, then strike out for land and Ogden. The feat, an easy one at most times, was more difficult than I had imagined, on account of the storm. Still, I hoped to manage better when the elements calmed down. Every now and then a flash showed me the men eagerly watching for me. A lull in the storm allowed me to hear them talk: 'Well, I guess they are both done for, the old one and the young one; jolly fun for one night!' 'I ain't so sure this one is done for. He is | | 374 mighty tough. I'll go on to Ogden and you watch around here. If he goes back to Salt Lake he will walk right into the lion's jaws.' 'Yes, we needn't trouble about him, then. But anyhow, I guess he's in no condition to elope.'
"These words filled me with alarm. Our plans had been discovered, therefore frustrated. Death stared at me from every place; and the 'old one,' that must be my father. What fearful thoughts rushed to my mind. My presentiments, then, were realized. The news overpowered me. For a time, it seemed as if death were as welcome as life. But a man should never despair; and I soon struck out with all my might, determined to live. I had drifted away during these moments of horror; and I could not tell which way I was going. My clothes hampered my movements; but I managed to get off my coat: my arms free, I made more headway. The storm subsided, the clouds rolled away, and with them the intense darkness. What a comfort it was to see the stars twinkling to cheer me on! I saw land. That gave me fresh courage. Without a thought as to what it was, I struggled on. At last I clambered on shore. Its rockiness surprised me. I looked around. It was one of the islands. Tired and disappointed, I tried to make a fire to dry my clothes; but every leaf and stick were wet.
"It was very chilly. However, I comforted myself with the thought that salt water never gives cold. I walked about to keep myself warm; and thankful enough I was to see the sun. I dried my clothes and roamed around in search of food; for I was beginning to feel as if a morsel to eat was the one only thing in life. | | 375 But, search as I would, I could find nothing fit to eat. Fortunately, the storm had left fresh water in the clefts of the rock, else I should have gone crazy with thirst. And now, what to do. It was useless to think of going to Ogden. Danger threatened at Salt Lake City; but the thought of your position nerved me to return there if possible. At last, it struck me as a good idea to make for the south-western shore. Old Jake lived near there; he would give me dry clothes, and enable me to get back to the city unnoticed. Prudence suggested nightfall as the best time to reach shore, or my condition would awaken suspicion. So I concluded to wait. What a day it was! I never wish to see such another. About an hour before sunset, I jumped into the water. The touch of the waves revived me. When weary, I rested by floating. At length, after a time that seemed endless, I reached the shore, so exhausted that I could scarcely move. It was with difficulty that I recalled the direction of Jake's house. It was still more difficult to get there, so faint was I with fatigue and hunger, my feet bare, my clothes dripping wet. The moon was fast declining when I reached the house and found it deserted. I don't know any more of what happened that night.
"When I came to myself, I was in a good covered wagon, with two men and a woman. They were kind people, and after a good meal I felt all right. One of the men said that he saw me lying in the road, and judged, from my condition, that I came out of the water. 'I thought something was wrong,' he added, 'and that the best thing to do, was to take ye away from that blessed Zion,--that we are only too thankful to leave.' Just then we heard the approach of a | | 376 horseman. Not wishing to be seen, I covered myself with the straw in the bottom of the wagon. The horseman stopped, and inquired whether they had seen any one of my description. 'Don't think so, friend,' said my savior; 'but supposing I had, what of it?' The cautiousness of the answer seemed to please the horseman, whom I recognized as a Zion acquaintance. 'Well, you seem to be of the right kind; so you may tell him to keep dark for a while. They want him up at Zion; they are sending all over for him; but a friend says, keep dark.' With that he rode away. The driver looked into the wagon and said: 'You had better come with us.'
"I took their advice. Now comes the queer part of my story. I found some work at a station on the line; and about a week after my escape I fell in with a man who called himself Jim Tracy; it certainly was not his name. Something about him attracted me, and I told him all my story. It interested him very much. He said he knew your father, and he asked many questions about you. He also told me of my father's cruel death. He seemed to know a great deal; however, he was very cautious. When he wished me good bye, he told me not to fear, that everything would be right. Well, about three weeks after, I received a letter from Mr. Quicksell, offering me a good position in Nevada; but I was not to communicate to any one in Zion until further notice. He said a great deal depended upon my silence. Of course, I accepted. Next I received news of the elder's justly merited taking off. I am doing well, and shall soon have a home ready for you. Our union need not be deferred much longer."| | 377
Elsie read over the two letters many times. Should she leave the city where she had suffered so much, and be happy with Stanly in a new home, and new surroundings, without a thought of the awful past? of the resolve that she felt it was her duty, her mission to fulfill? No! selfish happiness is not true happiness.
Elsie determined to act according to her new light. So she wrote to Stanly, telling him of her $20,000; of the shadow that darkened her life; of the purpose that filled her soul. She asked him if he would help her; for marriage ought not to be an absorption of one individual by another, but a joint partnership. Elsie suggested this idea in winning words. She also enclosed her father's letter.
Her heart throbbed as she mailed the letter. It throbbed faster yet when she opened the response.
|<< chapter 51||< chapter 1||chapter 53 >||chapter conclusion >>|