The Mormon Prophet
Author of The Mermaid, The Zeitgeist, The Madonna of a Day, Beggars All, Etc.
THE W.J. GAGE COMPANY (LIMITED) 1899
COPYRIGHT, 1899, BY D. APPLETON AND COMPANY.
All rights reserved.
In studying the rise of this curious sect I have discovered that certain misconceptions concerning it are deeply rooted in the minds of many of the more earnest of the well-wishers to society. Some otherwise well-informed people hold Mormonism to be synonymous with polygamy, believe that Brigham Young was its chief prophet, and are convinced that the miseries of oppressed women and tyrannies exercised over helpless subjects of both sexes are the only themes that the religion of more than two hundred thousand people can afford. When I have ventured in conversation to deny these somewhat fabulous notions, it has been earnestly suggested to me that to write on so false a religion in other than a polemic spirit would tend to the undermining of civilised life.
In spite of these warnings, and although I know it to be a most dangerous commodity, I have ventured to offer the simple truth, as far as I have been able to discern it, consoling my advisers with the assurance that its insidious influence will be unlikely to do harm, because, however potent may be the direful latitude of other religious novels, this particular book can only interest those wiser folk who are best able to deal with it.
As, however, to many who have preconceived the case, this narrative might, in the absence of explanation, seem purely fanciful, let me briefly refer to the historical facts on which it is based. The Mormons revere but one prophet. As to his identity there can be no mistake, since many of the "revelations" were addressed to him by name—"To Joseph Smith, Junior." He never saw Utah, and his public teachings were for the most part unexceptionable. Taking necessary liberty with incidents, I have endeavoured to present Smith's character as I found it in his own writings, in the narratives of contemporary writers, and in the memories of the older inhabitants of Kirtland.
In reviewing the evidence I am unable to believe that, had Smith's doctrine been conscious invention, it would have lent sufficient power to carry him through persecutions in which his life hung in the balance, and his cause appeared to be lost, or that the class of earnest men who constituted the rank and file of his early following would have been so long deceived by a deliberate hypocrite. It appears to me more likely that Smith was genuinely deluded by the automatic freaks of a vigorous but undisciplined brain, and that, yielding to these, he became confirmed in the hysterical temperament which always adds to delusion self-deception, and to self-deception half-conscious fraud. In his day it was necessary to reject a marvel or admit its spiritual significance; granting an honest delusion as to his visions and his book, his only choice lay between counting himself the sport of devils or the agent of Heaven; an optimistic temperament cast the die.
In describing the persecutions of his early followers I have modified rather than enlarged upon the facts. It would, indeed, be difficult to exaggerate the sufferings of this unhappy and extraordinarily successful sect.
A large division of the Mormons of to-day, who claim to be Smith's orthodox following, and who have never settled in Utah, are strictly monogamous. These have never owned Brigham Young as a leader, never murdered their neighbours or defied the law in any way, and so vigorous their growth still appears that they claim to have increased their number by fifty thousand since the last census in 1890. Of all their characteristics, the sincerity of their belief is the most striking. In Ohio, when one of the preachers of these "Smithite" Mormons was conducting me through the many-storied temple, still standing huge and gray on Kirtland Bluff, he laid his hand on a pile of copies of the Book of Mormon, saying solemnly, "Sister, here is the solidest thing in religion that you'll find anywhere." I bought the "solidest" thing for fifty cents, and do not advise the same outlay to others. The prophet's life is more marvellous and more instructive than the book whose production was its chief triumph. That it was an original production seems probable, as the recent discovery of the celebrated Spalding manuscript, and a critical examination of the evidence of Mrs. Spalding, go far to discredit the popular accusation of plagiarism.
Near Kirtland I visited a sweet-faced old lady—not, however, of the Mormon persuasion—who as a child had climbed on the prophet's knee. "My mother always said," she told us, "that if she had to die and leave young children, she would rather have left them to Joseph Smith than to any one else in the world: he was always kind." This testimony as to Smith's kindheartedness I found to be often repeated in the annals of Mormon families.
In criticising my former stories several reviewers, some of them distinguished in letters, have done me the honour to remark that there was latent laughter in many of my scenes and conversations, but that I was unconscious of it. Be that as it may, those who enjoy unconscious absurdity will certainly find it in the utterances of the self-styled prophet of the Mormons. Probably one gleam of the sacred fire of humour would have saved him and his apostles the very unnecessary trouble of being Mormons at all.
In looking over the problems involved in such a career as Smith's, we must be struck by the necessity for able and unprejudiced research into the laws which govern apparent marvels. Notwithstanding the very natural and sometimes justifiable aspersions which have been cast upon the work of the Society for Psychical Research, it does appear that the disinterested service rendered by its more distinguished members is the only attempt hitherto made to aid people of the so-called "mediumistic" temperament to understand rather than be swayed by their delusions. Whether such a result is as yet possible or not, Mormonism affords a gigantic proof of the crying need of an effort in this direction; for men are obviously more ignorant of their own elusive mental conditions than of any other branch of knowledge.
MONTREAL, December, 1898.
THE MORMON PROPHET.
In the United States of America there was, in the early decades of this century, a very widely spread excitement of a religious sort. Except in the few long-settled portions of the eastern coast, the people were scattered over an untried country; means of travel were slow; news from a distance was scarce; new heavens and a new earth surrounded the settlers. In the veins of many of them ran the blood of those who had been persecuted for their faith: Covenanters, Quakers, sectaries of diverse sorts who could transmit to their descendants their instincts of fiery zeal, their cravings for "the light that never was on sea or land," but not that education by contact with law and order which, in older states, could not fail to moderate reasonable minds.
With the religious revivals came signs and wonders. A wave of peculiar psychical phenomena swept over the country, in explanation of which the belief most widely received was that of the direct interposition of God or the devil. The difficulty of discerning between the working of the good and the bad spirit in abnormal manifestations was to most minds obviated by the fact that they looked out upon the confusing scene through the glasses of rigidly defined opinion, and according as the affected person did or did not conform to the spectator's view of truth, so he was judged to be a saint or a demoniac. Few sought to learn rather than to judge; one of these very few was a young man by name Ephraim Croom. He was by nature a student, and, being of a feeble constitution, he enjoyed what, in that country and time, was the very rare privilege of indulging his literary tastes under the shelter of the parental roof.
In one of the last years of the eighteenth century Croom the elder had come with a young wife from his father's home in Massachusetts to settle in a township called New Manchester, in the State of New York. He was a Baptist by creed; a man of strong will, strong affections, and strong self-respect. Taking the portion of goods which was his by right, he sallied forth into the new country, thrift and intelligence written upon his forehead, thinking there the more largely to establish the prosperity of the green bay tree, and to serve his God and generation the better by planting his race in the newer land.
The thirtieth year after his emigration found him a notable person in the place that he had chosen, with almost the same physical strength as in youth, stern, upright, thrifty, the owner of large mills, of a substantial wooden residence, and of many acres of land. He was as rich as he had intended to be; his ideal of righteousness, being of the obtainable sort, had been realised and strictly adhered to. The one disappointment of his life was the lack of those sturdy sons and daughters who, to his mind, should have surrounded the virtuous man in his old age. They had not come into the world. His wife, a good woman and energetic helpmeet, had brought him but the one studious son.
Ephraim was thirty-two years of age when a young girl, strong, beautiful, impetuous, entered under the sloping eaves of his father's huge gray shingle roof. The girl was a niece on the maternal side. Her New England mother had, by freak of love, married a reckless young Englishman of gentle blood who was settled on a Canadian farm. Pining for her puritan home, she died early. The father made a toy of his daughter till he too died in the fortified town of Kingston, on the northern shore of Lake Ontario. No other relatives coming forward to assume his debts or to claim his child, their duty in the matter was clear to the minds of the Croom household, and the girl was sent for. Her name was Susannah, but she herself gave it the softer form that she had been accustomed to hear; when she first entered the sitting-room of the grave Croom family trio, like a sunbeam striking suddenly through the clouds on a dark day, she held out her hand and her lips to each in turn, saying, "I am Susianne."
That first time Ephraim kissed her. It was done in surprise and embarrassed formality. He knew, when the moment was past that his parents had perceived that Susannah needed more decorous training. He concurred in believing this to be desirable, for the manners that had surrounded him were very stiff. Yet the memory of the greeting remained with him, a thing to be wondered at while he turned the whispering leaves of his great books.
Susannah had travelled from the Canadian fort in the care of the preacher Finney. He was a revivalist of great renown, possessing a lawyer-like keenness of intellect, much rhetorical power, and Pauline singleness of purpose. That night he ate and slept in the house.
The original Calvinism of the Croom household had already been modified by the waves of Methodist revival from the Eastern States. Finney was an Independent, but Martha Croom had an abounding respect for him; his occasional visits were epochs in her life. She had prepared many baked meats for his entertainment before the evening of his arrival with Susannah, but while he was present she devoted herself wholly to his conversation.
The feast was spread in the inner kitchen. In the square brick fireplace burning pine sticks crackled, bidding the chill of the April evening retire to its own place beyond the dark window pane. The paint upon the walls and floor glistened but faintly to the fire and the small flames of two candles that stood among the viands upon the table.
The elder Croom sat in his place. He was burly and ruddy, a wholesome man, very silent, very strong, a person to be feared and relied on. Ephraim believed that force went forth from his father's presence like perfume from a flower. There were many kinds of flowers whose perfume was too strong for Ephraim, but he felt that to be a proof of his own weakness.
Martha Croom, also of New England stock, was of a different type. At fifty years she was still as slender as a girl—tall and too slender, but the small shapely head was set gracefully on the neck as a flower upon its stalk. Her hair, which was wholly silvered, was still abundant and glossily brushed. Her mind was not judicial. She was more quick to decide than to comprehend, full of intense activities and emotions.
"I have heard," said the preacher slowly, "certain distressing rumours concerning—"
Mrs. Croom gave an upward bridling motion of her head, and a red spot of indignant fire came in each of her cheeks. "Joe Smith?", she cried. "A blasphemous wretch! And there is nothing, Mr. Finney, that so well indicates the luke-warmishness into which so many have fallen as that his blasphemy is made a jest of."
Ephraim moved uneasily in his chair.
Mr. Croom made a remark brief and judicial. "The Smiths are a low family."
Mrs. Croom answered the tone. "If the dirt beneath our feet were to begin using profane language, I don't suppose it would be beneath our dignity to put a stop to it."
"It is the Inquisition that my mother wishes to reinstate," said Ephraim.
The master of the house again spoke with the naivete of unquestioning bias. "No, Ephraim; for your mother would be the last to interfere with any for doing righteousness or believing the truth."
Mrs. Croom's slender head trembled and her eyes showed signs of tears at her son's opposition. "If God-fearing people cannot prevent the most horrible iniquities from being practised in their own town, the laws are in a poor condition."
"You have made no candid inquiry concerning Smith, mother; your judgment of him, whether true or false, is based on angry sentiment and wilful ignorance."
The preacher sighed. "This Smith is deceiving the people."
"His book," said Ephraim, "is a history of the North American Indians from the time of the flood until some epoch prior to Columbus. It would be as difficult to prove that it was not true as to prove that Smith is not honest in his delusion. We can only fall back upon what Butler would call 'a strong presumption.'"
Mrs. Croom, consciously or not, made a little sharp rap on the table, and there was a movement of suppressed misery like a quiver in her slender upright form. Her voice was low and tremulous. "If you'd got religion, Ephraim, you wouldn't speak in that light manner of one who has the awful wickedness of adding to the words of the Book."
Ephraim continued to enlighten the preacher in a stronger tone. "Whether the man is mad or false, almost all the immoralities that you will hear reported about him are, as far as I can make out, not true. He doesn't teach that it's unnecessary to obey the ten commandments, or beat his wife, nor is he drunken. He's got the sense to see that all that sort of thing wouldn't make a big man of him. It's merely a revised form of Christianity, with a few silly additions, that he claims to be the prophet of."
Mrs. Croom began to weep bitterly.
The elder Croom asked a pertinent question. "Why do you wilfully distress your mother, Ephraim?"
"Because, sir, I love my mother too well to sit silent and let her think that injustice can glorify God."
It was a family jar.
Finney was a man of about forty years of age; his eyes under over-reaching brows were bright and penetrating; his face was shaven, but his mouth had an expression of peculiar strength and gentleness. He looked keenly at the son of the house, who was held to be irreligious. And then he looked upon Susannah, whose beauty and frivolity had not escaped his keen observation. He lived always in the consciousness of an invisible presence; when he felt the arms of Heaven around him, wooing him to prayer, he dared not disobey.
He arose now, setting his chair back against the wall with preoccupied precision. "The spirit of prayer is upon me," he said; and in a moment he added, "Let us pray."
Susannah was eating, and with relish. She laid down her bit of pumpkin pie and stared astonished. Then, being a girl of good sense and good feeling, she relinquished the remainder of her supper, and, following her aunt's example, knelt beside her chair.
The two candles and the firelight left shadowy spaces in parts of the room, and cast grotesque outlines against the walls. Nothing was familiar to Susannah's eye; she could not help looking about her. Ephraim was nearest to her. He was a bearded man, and seemed to her very old. She saw that his face looked pale and distressed; his eyes were closed, his lips tight set, like one bearing transient pain. At the end of the table her uncle knelt upright, with hands clasped and face uplifted, no feature or muscle moving—a strong figure rapt in devotion. On her other side, as a slight tree waves in the wind, her aunt's slim figure was swaying and bending with feeling that was now convulsive and now restrained. Sometimes she moaned audibly or whispered "Amen." Across the richly-spread table Susannah saw the preacher kneeling in a full flickering glare of the pine fire, one hand upon the brick jamb, the other covering his eyes, as if to hide from himself all things that were seen and temporal in order that he might speak face to face with the Eternal.
It was some time before she listened to the words of the prayer. When she heard Ephraim Croom spoken of by name, there was no room in her mind for anything but curiosity. After a while she heard her own name, and curiosity began to subside into awe. After this the preacher brought forward the case of Joseph Smith.
Before the prayer ended Susannah was troubled by so strong a sense of emotion that she desired nothing so much as relief. It seemed to her that the emotion was not so much in herself as in the others, or like an influence in the room pressing upon them all. At length a kitten that had been lying by the hearth got up as if disturbed by the same influence, and, walking round the room, rubbed its fur against Ephraim's knee. She saw the start run through his whole nervous frame. Opening his eyes, he put down his hand and stroked it. Susannah liked Ephraim the better for this. The kitten was not to be comforted; it looked up in his face and gave a piteous mew. Susannah tittered; then she felt sorry and ashamed.
Two quiet years passed, and Susannah had attained her eighteenth birthday.
On a certain day in the week there befell what the aunt called a "season" of baking. It was the only occasion in the week when Mrs. Croom was sure to stay for some length of time in the same place with Susannah beside her. Ephraim brought down his books to the hospitable kitchen, and sat aloof at a corner table. He said the sun was too strong upon his upper windows, or that the rain was blowing in. The first time that Ephraim sought refuge in the kitchen Mrs. Croom was quite flustered with delight. She always coveted more of her son's society. But when he came a third time she began to suspect trouble.
Mrs. Croom stood by the baking-board, her slender hands immersed in a heap of pearly flour; baskets of scarlet currants lay at her feet. All things in the kitchen shone by reason of her diligence, and the windows were open to the summer sunshine. Susannah sat with a large pan of red gooseberries beside her; she was picking them over one by one. Somewhere in the outer kitchen the hired boy had been plucking a goose, and some tiny fragments of the down were floating in the air. One of them rode upon a movement of the summer air and danced before Susannah's eyes. She put her pretty red lips beneath it and blew it upwards.
Mrs. Croom's suspicions concerning Ephraim had produced in her a desire to reprove some one, but she refrained as yet.
Susannah having wafted the summer snowflake aloft, still sat, her young face tilted upward like the faces of saints in the holy pictures, her bright eyes fixed upon the feather now descending. Ephraim looked with obvious pleasure. Her head was framed for him by the window; a dark stiff evergreen and the summer sky gave a Raphaelite setting.
The feather dropped till it all but touched the tip of the girl's nose. Then from the lips, puckered and rosy, came a small gust; the fragment of down ascended, but this time aslant.
"You didn't blow straight enough up," said Ephraim.
Susannah smiled to know that her pastime was observed. The smile was a flash of pleasure that went through her being. She ducked her laughing face farther forward to be under the feather.
Mrs. Croom shot one glance at Ephraim, eager and happy in his watching. She did what nothing but the lovelight in her son's face could have caused her to do. She struck the girl lightly but testily on the side of the face.
Ephraim was as foolish as are most men in sight of a damsel in distress. He made no impartial inquiry into the real cause of trouble; he did not seek Justice in her place of hiding. He stepped to his mother's side, stern and determined, remembering only that she was often unwise, and that he could control her.
"You ought not to have done that. You must never do it again."
With the print of floury fingers on her glowing cheeks the girl sat more astonished than angry, full of ruth when her aunt began to sob aloud.
The mother knew that she was no longer the first woman in her son's love.
It was without doubt, Mrs. Croom's first bitter pang of jealousy that lay at the beginning of those causes which drove Susannah out upon a strange pilgrimage. But above and beyond her personal jealousy was a consideration certainly dearer to a woman into whose inmost religious life was woven the fibre of the partisan. As she expressed it to herself, she agonised before the Lord in a new fear lest her unconverted son should be established in his unbelief by love for a woman who had never sought for heavenly grace; but, in truth, that which she sought was that both should swear allegiance to her own interpretation of grace. In this prayer some good came to her, the willingness to sacrifice her jealousy if need be; but, after the prayer another thought entered into her mind, which she held to be divine direction; she must focus all her efforts upon the girl's conversion. In her heart all the time a still small voice told her that love was the fulfilling of the law, but so still, so small, so habitual was it that she lost it as we lose the ticking of a clock, and it was not with increased love for Susannah that she began a course of redoubled zeal.
The girl became frightened, not so much of her aunt as of God. The simple child's prayer for the keeping of her soul which she had been in the habit of repeating morning and evening became a terror to her, because she did not understand her aunt's phraseology. The "soul" it dealt with was not herself, her thoughts, feelings, and powers, but a mysterious something apart from these, for whose welfare these must all be sacrificed.
Susannah had heard of fairies and ghosts; she inclined to shove this sort of soul into the same unreal region. The dreary artificial heaven, which seemed to follow logically if she accepted the basal fact of a soul separated from all her natural powers, could be dispensed with also. This was her hope, but she was not sure. How could she be sure when she was so young and dependent? It was almost her only solace to interpret Ephraim's silence by her own unbelief, and she rested her weary mind against her vague notions of Ephraim's support.
One August day Mrs. Croom drove with her husband to a distant funeral.
In the afternoon when the sunshine was falling upon the fields of maize, when the wind was busy setting their ribbon-like leaves flapping, and rocking the tree-tops, Ephraim Croom was disturbed in his private room by the blustering entrance of Susannah.
The room was an attic; the windows of the gable looked west; slanting windows in the shingle roof looked north and south. The room was large and square, spare of furniture, lined with books. At a square table in the centre sat Ephraim.
When Susannah entered a gust of wind came with her. The handkerchief folded across her bosom was blown awry. Her sun-bonnet had slipped back upon her neck; her ringlets were tossed.
"Cousin Ephraim, my aunt has gone; come out and play with me." Then she added more disconsolately, "I am lonely; I want you to talk to me, cousin."
The gust had lifted Ephraim's papers and shed them upon the floor. He looked down at them without moving. Life in a world of thoughts in which his fellows took no interest, had produced in him a singularly undemonstrative manner.
Susannah's red lips were pouting. "Come, cousin, I am so tired of myself."
But Ephraim had been privately accused of amative emotions. Offended with his mother, mortified he knew not why, uncertain of his own feeling, as scholars are apt to be, he had no wish then but to retire.
"I am too busy, Susianne."
"Then I will go alone; I will go for a long, long walk by myself." She gave her foot a defiant stamp upon the floor.
He looked out of his windows north and south; safer district could not be. "I do not think it will rain," he said.
A suspicion of laughter was lurking in his clear quiet eyes, which were framed in heavy brown eyebrows and thick lashes. Nature, who had stinted this man in physical strength, had fitted him out fairly well as to figure and feature.
Susannah, vexed at his indifference, but fearing that he would retract his unexpected permission, was again in the draught of the open door.
"Perhaps I will walk away, away into the woods and never come back; what then?"
"Indians," suggested he, "or starvation, or perhaps wolves, Susianne."
"But I love you for not forbidding me to go, cousin Ephraim."
The smile that repaid him for his indulgence comforted him for an hour; then a storm arose.
In the meantime Susannah had walked far. A squatter's old log-house stood by the green roadside; the wood of the roof and walls was weathered and silver-gray. Before it a clothes-line was stretched, heaved tent-like by a cleft pole, and a few garments were flapping in the wind, chiefly white, but one was vivid pink and one tawny yellow.
The nearer aspect of the log-house was squalid. An early apple-tree at the side had shed part of its fruit, which was left to rot in the grass and collect flies, and close to the road, under a juniper bush, the rind of melons and potato peelings had been thrown. There was no fence; the grass was uncut. Upon the door-step sat a tall woman, unkempt-looking, almost ragged. She had short gray hair that curled about her temples; her face was handsome, clever-looking too, but, above all, eager. This eagerness amounted to hunger. She was looking toward the sky, nodding and smiling to herself.
Susannah stopped upon the road a few feet from the juniper bush. It occurred to her that this was Joseph Smith's mother, who had the reputation of being a speywife. The sky-gazer did not look at her.
"Are you Lucy Smith?"
The woman clapped her hands suddenly together and laughed aloud. Then she rose, but, only glancing a moment at the visitor, she turned her smiling face again toward the sky.
Into Susannah's still defiant mood darted the thought of a new adventure. "Will you tell my fortune?"
"Who am I to tell fortunes when my son Joseph has come home?" Again came the excited laugh. "It's the grace of God that's fallen on this house, and Lucy Smith, like Elizabeth, the wife of Zacharias, is the mother of a prophet."
"He isn't a prophet," said Susannah, taking a step backward.
"Seven years ago was his first vision, and all the people trampling upon him since to make him gainsay it, but he stood steadfast. I dreamed it—when he was a little child I dreamed it, and it has come true." Then, seeming to return into herself, her gaze wandered again to the sky, and she murmured, "The mother of a prophet, the mother of a prophet!"
On the other side of the road a few acres of ground were lying under disorderly cultivation. In one patch the stalks of sweet maize had been fastened together in high stooks, disclosing the pumpkin vines, which beneath them had plentifully borne their huge fruit, green as yet. At the back of this cultivated portion an old man, the elder Joseph Smith, was digging potatoes; his torn shirt fluttered like the dress of a scarecrow. Behind him and all around was the green wood, close-growing bushes hedging in the short trees of a second growth which covered a long low hill. Above the hill ominous clouds like smoking censers were being rolled up from the east; the waving beards of the corn stooks rustled and streamed in wind which was growing colder. Susannah's dress and bonnet were roughly blown, and the clothes on the line flapped again around the tall figure of the witch in the doorway.
Susannah contradicted again with the scornful superiority of youth. "I don't believe that your son is a prophet."
Lucy Smith, having the sensitive receptive power of an hysteric, was sobered now by the determination of Susannah's aspect. She looked almost repentant for a moment, and then said humbly, "If you'll come in and see Emmar—Joseph and Emmar have come home—Emmar will tell you the same."
A gray vaporous tint was being spread over the heavens, folding this portion of earth in its shadow and darkening the interior of the cabin which Susannah entered.
Upon a decent bedstead reclined a young woman. Everything near her was orderly and clean. She belonged, it would seem, to a better class of the social order than the other, certainly to a higher type of womanhood.
"What have you got? Is it a kitten?" asked Susannah. Advancing across the dark uneven floor, she perceived that the reclining woman was caressing some small creature beneath her shawl.
"Emmar, Emmar," said Lucy Smith, "tell Miss from the mill about the angel that appeared to Joseph."
Emma Smith was a nobly made, dignified young creature. She looked at Susannah's beautiful and open countenance, and straightway drew forth the young thing she was nursing for her inspection. It was an infant but a few days old. Surprised, reverent, and delighted, Susannah bent over it. The child made them all akin—the squalid old hysteric, the respectable young mother, the beautiful girl in her silken shawl.
Some minutes elapsed.
"Emmar, Miss here doesn't know nothing about Joseph. She says it ain't true."
The young mother smiled frankly. "I suppose it seems very hard for you to believe," she said, "but it's quite true, and the Lord told Joseph where to find the new part of the Bible that he's going now to make known to the world. Shall I tell you about it?"
Susannah looked at her dazed; she had heretofore heard of the Smiths' doctrines as of the ravings of the mad. It had not occurred to her that a sane mind could regard them seriously.
"It was seven years ago," said Emma, "at the time the big revival was here and Joseph was converted; but he heard all the Methodists and Baptists and Presbyterians disputing together as to which of them was right, and he felt so burdened to know which was right, and he felt a sort of longing in him to be a great man, bigger than the revival preacher that had been here that all the people ran after, and Joseph felt that he could be bigger than that, and preach and tell all the people what was right, if they would all come to hear him. And he was so burdened that one day he went out into the woods, and he began crying and confessing his sins and calling out to God to show him what was right and make him a great preacher. Well, when he had been crying and going on like that for a long time, he just fell right down as if he was asleep, and it was all dark till a light fell from heaven and an angel came in the light." Emma went on to tell of Smith's vision and first call, of his backsliding and final commission.
Susannah stared. The young mother was a reality; the baby was a reality. Could the statements in this wild story bear any relation to reality? The old woman stood by, nodding and smiling. The young girl's mind became perplexed.
"It was just before he began to translate the gold book that he came to board at my father's in Susquehannah County, and he told me all about it, and I believed him; but my father wouldn't, so I had to go away with Joseph to get married; but since then father's forgiven us; and we've been back home this last summer, and we've been to Fayette too, living with a gentleman called Mr. Whitmer, who believes in Joseph, and all the time Joseph's been translating the book that was written on the gold plates that he found in the hill. It's been very hard work, and we've had to live very poor, because Joseph couldn't earn anything while he was doing it, but it's done now, so we feel cheered. And now that it's going to be printed, and Joseph can begin to gather in the elect very soon, and now that baby's come—"
Emma stopped again; the last domestic detail seemed to involve her mind in such meshes of bliss that she lost sight of the end of her sentence. All her words had been calm, and the baby that lay upon the bed beside her stretching its crumpled rose-leaf fists into the air and making strange grotesque smiles with its little red chin and cheeks was undoubtedly a true baby, a good and delightful thing in Susannah's estimation. Had the Bible in the hill been a true Bible? Susannah intuitively knew that Emma Smith, bending with grave rapture over her firstborn, was not trying to deceive her.
"It seems to me," she said, "that it is terribly wicked of you to believe about this Bible." Her utterance became thick with her rising indignation. "How can you sit and hold that child and say such terribly wicked things?" She could not have told why she referred to the child; the moment before it was spoken she had not formulated the thought. She was not old enough to reason about the sacredness of babies; she only felt.
The tears started to Emma's eyes. She clasped her child to her breast. "Yes, I know how you feel. I felt that way too myself, and sometimes even yet it frightens me; but, you see, I know it is true, so it must be right. But I've given up expecting other people to believe it just yet, until Joseph is allowed to preach, and then it's been revealed to him that the nations shall be gathered in. Only you looked so—so beautiful—you see, I thought perhaps God might have sent you to be a friend to me. I have no friends because of the way they persecute Joseph."
Susannah turned in incredulous wrath and tramped, young and haughty, to the outer door. The first drops of a heavy shower were falling; she hesitated.
"But tell her about the witnesses, Emmar." Old Lucy stood half-way between the bed and the door, making nods and becks in her excited desire that Susannah should be impressed. "For when the dear Lord saw that folks wouldn't b'lieve Joseph, He didn't leave him without witnesses."
Susannah, stopped by the weather, felt more willing to conciliate. She returned gloomily within the sound of Emma's gentle voice.
"It was Mr. Cowdery and Mr. Whitmer and Mr. Harris," Emma said. "Mr. Cowdery and Mr. Whitmer saw the gold plates held in the air, as it were by hands they couldn't see, but Martin Harris he had to withdraw himself because he couldn't see the vision, and he went away by himself and sobbed and cried. But Joseph went and put his arm around him and prayed that his faith might be strengthened, and then he saw it. So they three have written their testimony in the front of the book that's being printed."
A storm had now broken upon the house in torrents. The door was shut. Emma wrapped her child closer in her shawl. Susannah sat sulky and disconsolate. She had a vague idea that the vengeance of heaven was overtaking her for merely listening to such heresy. Over against this was a shadowy doubt whether it might not be true, roused by Emma's continued persistency.
"Is it any easier to believe that those things happened to folks when the Bible was written? Don't you believe that God appeared to Moses and Samuel and told them the very words to write down, and showed them visions; and isn't He the same God yesterday, to-day, and for ever? It's just what it says in the Bible shall come about in the latter days. It's because of the great apostasy of the Church, no one really believing in Jesus Christ, that a new prophet had to appear—that's Joseph."
"They do believe," Susannah spoke sullenly.
"Well, there's your aunt, Mis' Croom. Now she's as good as there is in the modern Church, isn't she? She's doing all she can to save her soul. She can't do it, for she don't believe. Why the Lord, He said that signs and wonders should follow them that believe. Have they any signs and wonders up at your place? And He said that believers must forsake all, houses and lands and all; what have your people forsook? And as to its being hard to believe about Joseph—you just take the things in the Bible, Elisha and the bears, for instance, and Paul bringing back Dorcas to life, and just think how hard they'd be to believe if you heard they happened yesterday, next door to you. And with God all times and places is the same. Souls is only saved by believing; the Lord says so, and accepting the things of faith to come to pass, and being baptized and giving up all and following; and it's an awful thing to lose one's soul."
At this reiteration of the doctrine of the soul as a thing apart from the development of reason and character, Susannah rose, ready to cry with anger. Her aunt's agitation on the subject had left a sore to which the gentlest touch was pain.
"I don't believe it," she cried. "I don't believe God wants us to do anything except just good. That's what my father told me. I'm going home. I don't care how it rains."
Emma did not hear her. Over her pale young face had come the peculiar expression of alert and loving listening. She had detected the sound of a footstep which Susannah now heard coming heavily near.
A large man of about twenty-five years of age entered from the bluster of the storm. As Susannah was trying to push out past him into its fury, he paused, staring in rough astonishment.
Lucy hung on to her arm. "Stay a bit! Joseph must hold the umbrella over Miss. Emmar, tell her she can't no wise go alone."
Susannah fled into the driving sheets of rain, but Joseph Smith, umbrella in hand, followed her.
The umbrella was a very heavy one. Susannah certainly could not have held it against the wind. Joseph Smith held the shelter between Susannah and the blast, looking at her occasionally with a kindly expression in his blue eyes, but merely to see how far it sheltered her.
They walked in silence for about a quarter of a mile. The rain swept upon her skirt and feet; she saw it falling thick on either side; she saw it beating upon Smith's shoulder, upon one side of his hat, and dripping from his light hair. The wind was so strong that the very drops that trickled from his hair were blown backward. His blue coat was old—not much protection, she thought, against the storm.
The false prophet had hitherto appeared quite as terrible to her imagination and as far removed from real life as the wild beast of story books; now he appeared very much like any other man—rather more kind in his actions, perhaps, and distrait in his thought. Susannah began to think herself a discoverer.
"You are not keeping the rain off yourself."
"It don't matter about me. I don't mind getting wet."
His tone carried conviction. After a while gratitude again stirred her into speech.
"I'm afraid you find it awfully hard holding up the umbrella."
He gave a glance downward at her as she toiled by his side. "Why you're most blown away as it is. You couldn't get along without the umbrellar." Regarding her attentively for a minute, he added, "Emmar will be vexed when she hears that your dress got so splashed."
They were both bending somewhat forward against the wind; the road beneath them was glistening with standing water. When they passed by the woods the trees were creaking and cracking, and over the meadows hung shifting veils of clouds and rain.
"I guess I'd better not take you farther than Sharon Peck's. Your folks would be pretty mad if you walked through the village with Joe Smith."
The lines round Susannah's mouth strengthened themselves; she felt herself superior to those whose attitude of mind he had thus described.
"You have been very kind to come with me. I'd like better to go home than stop, if it isn't too far."
"I guess not. If you'd lived here longer you'd know that there was all manner of evil said about me, and the worst of it is that some of it's true. I've been a pretty low sort of fellow, and I hain't got any education to speak of."
She looked up at him in astonishment; the expression of his face was peaceful and kindly. "Then why do you go about preaching and saying—"
"I hain't got nothing to do with that at all. If an angel comes from heaven and gives me a partic'lar revelation, calling me by name, namely, 'Joseph Smith, Junior,' tain't for me to say he's made a mistake and come to the wrong man, though goodness knows I hev said it to the Lord often enough; but now I've come to see that it's my business just to do what I'm told. But as to the low ways I hed—why, I've repented and give them up, and as to the education, I'm trying to get that, but it won't come in a minute."
Her conscience was not at rest; to be silent was like telling a lie, and from motives of fear, too! At length she burst out, "I don't believe you ever saw an angel, Mr. Smith. I think it's very wicked of you to have made it up, and about the gold Bible too."
They were still half a mile from the nearest house. Susannah gasped. When she had spoken her defiance she realised that if she had nothing worse to fear, she at least deserved to be left alone among the raging elements. She staggered somewhat, expecting a rebuff.
"I guess you'd better take my arm," he said. "It ain't no sort of a day for a woman to be out."
When she hesitated, flushed and frightened, a smile came for the first time across his face. "You're almost beat back by the wind. It won't hurt you to grip hold of my sleeve, you know, even if I am a thundering big liar. I don't know as I can expect you to believe anything else. Emmar didn't for a long time, but then, after a spell, she gave up all the comforts of her father's house just to stand by me, and no one's ever had a word to say against Emmar."
They stopped at a farmhouse on the outskirts of the village.
Smith had said to Susannah, "There's a gentleman I know stopping at Sharon Peck's. I'll pass the umbrellar on to him, and he'll take you home. He's been a Quaker, but I guess you'll find him a pretty nice young gentleman. Mrs. Peck, she isn't to home."
He left Susannah standing upon the lee side of a wooden house amid treeless fields. The eaves sheltered her. She stooped down and with both hands wrung the water from her skirts. She was busy over this when the promised escort joined her.
The remnants of his forsaken Quakerism hung around him; his coat was buff, his hat straight in the brim, his manner prim, and when he spoke it was in the speech of his people. His complexion was very light, hair, eyebrows and lashes, and the down on his chin—almost flaxen; his face was browned by exposure to the weather, but so well formed that Susannah found him very good to look upon, the features pointed and delicate, but not without strength.
"Thou wilt walk as far as thy home with me?" he asked.
He held Smith's huge umbrella, but he did not hold it with the same strength, nor did he show the same skill in keeping it against the wind.
He spoke as they walked. "Thou hast walked a long way. Art weary?"
"Yes—no—I don't know." What did it matter whether she was tired or not? Baffled curiosity was exciting her. "You are a stranger here. Are you a friend of the Smiths?"
"I have experienced the great benefit of being acquainted with the prophet for the last fourteen days."
"But he's not a prophet," said Susannah resentfully.
"Did'st thou never find thyself to be mistaken when thou wast most sure? Hast thou not perceived that thy Bible tells thee in many different ways that God chooses not as men choose?"
Then with great ardour he preached to her the doctrine of this new Christian sect. He was a convert; his preaching was rather the eager recital of his own experience, which would out, like some dynamic force within him, than pressure brought wilfully to bear upon her.
He said, "I do not ask thee, friend, if thou art Methodist or Baptist or Presbyterian, but I do ask thee, canst thou read the promises of thy Lord to his church and be content with its present low estate?"
Susannah was habituated to some recognition of her beauty; she missed it here, not knowing what she missed. Smith had known that it was important for her to be sheltered from the wind; he was sorry that her skirts were splashed; his manner, casual as it had been, had at least had in it that element of "because you are you," the first essential of any human relationship. But Susannah liked the young Quaker much better than Smith; he was of finer fibre, and her heart was agape for young companionship; so, unconsciously, she resented his indifference, not only as to her sect but as to her sex.
"My father was an Englishman," she replied with dignity, not knowing why this seemed sufficient answer.
The Quaker proceeded eagerly with his own story. He had searched the Scriptures diligently, and found in them no warrant for believing that the age of miracles and direct revelations would ever pass from the church. Then upon the gloom of his deep despondency a star had arisen. He had heard of a young man, poor, obscure, illiterate, who had dared to come forth saying again, as St. Peter had once said, "This is that which was spoken by the prophet Joel." He had come far to hear the word, and, upon hearing it, he had found rest for himself and a hope for the world.
His ardour was beginning to tell upon Susannah's mind. The desire awoke within her for some fellowship with his enthusiasm. Stronger was the desire to receive personal recognition from the fair-faced youth.
"I am English," she repeated, "and of course I think it very wicked to add anything to the Bible; it says so in the Revelation."
"That to me also was a stumbling-block for a short time; but if thou wilt consider, friend, that the Book of Mormon is the history of God's dealing with the wild races of our own continent from the time of Noah until the time of Maroni, which would be about three hundred years after the first coming of the Lord, and that this sacred history, so necessary for the instruction of us who must now dwell in the same land, could not be given until this continent was known to the world, thou wilt cease to cavil, and wilt in all humility believe that that which is done of the hand of the Lord cannot be wrong."
Faith begging the question is a sight to which the eye of experience becomes accustomed, but Susannah, standing upon the threshold of life, blinked and failed to focus her vision, feeling vaguely that during the last phrase some one had turned a somersault, and that too quickly to be watched.
"Thou wilt think upon these things?" The young Quaker stood in the storm and looked earnestly upon Susannah, who was upon her uncle's doorstep, within shelter of the brown pent house.
Susannah smiled. It was a perfectly instinctive smile, not one self-conscious thought went behind or before. She smiled because the young man was comely, and because she was young and wanted companionship.
"I don't know," she said with perfect frankness; "my aunt will be so vexed with me when she hears that I've been to the Smiths that I don't believe I'll be allowed to think of anything this good while."
Her smile, her girlishness, seemed at last to pierce beneath the armour of his devout abstraction. Fortune at work chooses her a fine-edged instrument, and Joseph Smith, with unerring but probably half conscious instinct, had sent the right messenger. The cloud of serious intent on the youth's face broke now into a sudden admiring glance, half playful yet fully earnest. His gray eyes held for a moment gracious parley with hers. "Wilt thou," he asked, still smiling, "give it as excuse in the day of judgment that they would not let thee think?"
"N-n-no." She was more struck with the inadequacy of the excuse than with the fact that she had a better one if she had chosen to give it.
He was again grave, but he was not now unappreciative. "Thou art very fair, and beauty to a young woman is, no doubt, a great snare. I will wrestle in prayer for thee."
He was going down the brick walk between the masses of drenched flowers. "Don't," cried Susannah faintly, "don't do that." But he did not hear her.
The wind that in the hurly-burly out of doors had been a cheerful if boisterous enemy, seemed suddenly transformed into a wailing spirit when Susannah was making her way up the stairs of the darkening wooden house. Its master and mistress had not yet returned from burying the dead. The girl made her way up to Ephraim's room. The books were left open upon the table; no one was there.
It was a new thing that Ephraim should breast a storm.
Susannah trudged downstairs again and dried her bedraggled skirts at the fire—an empty house, a dreary wailing wind, and gathering twilight for her sole companions.
At length a step was heard. Ephraim came in bearing Susannah's rain cloak and goloshes. He was wet, pale, and breathless, but he would not betray his weakness and excitement by a word.
"You were looking for me, Ephraim, and some one told you that I had come home. Did you hear who brought me? O Ephraim! I have been out walking with the false prophet, and then with one of his disciples." Susannah, sitting by the fire, looked at him trying to smile through his gloom.
She began again, then stopped; how to impart the full flavour of that which had befallen her she did not know. It seemed to her that the difficulty lay in Ephraim's silence. She was not aware that she had not even a distinct thought for a certain interest in her late companion which she most wanted to put into words. "Ephraim, it's all very well for you to stand there drying your feet, but—but—they were just like other people, as you told Mr. Finney, you know."
"Did you expect them to have horns and tails?"
"I don't think they are very wicked," said Susannah. She looked down as she said it, speaking with a certain undefined tenderness of tone begotten of a new experience.
"How could you know whether they are wicked or not?" he burst out angrily. "Do you suppose that they would show you the iniquity of their hearts?"
"Why, Ephraim, you've always stood up for them before!"
He gave a sort of snort. "I never stood up for them by making eyes at my hands and cooing out my words."
She looked up in entire bewilderment.
"It doesn't matter what I mean," he added. "What did they say? What did they do? Tell me. If I'd known these fellows had come back, do you suppose I'd have let you go?"
"You are so strange," she said. "They did nothing but just bring me home and hold the umbrella, and Joseph Smith said he knew he'd been a bad man and didn't know anything. I thought you'd be interested to hear about them, Ephraim."
"I should have thought you'd had too much self-respect to allow him to talk to you like that. Of course he was trying to work on your feelings."
"No, he wasn't, Ephraim. You are quite as unjust as my aunt to-day. He wasn't trying to work on my feelings. He was just—well, he was sorry that my frock got so wet, and he just happened to say the other thing. I am sure—"
Her conviction concerning the naturalness of Smith's conduct and the Quaker's sincerity had arisen in the presence of each, and was not now to be ascribed to any particular word or action which she could remember and repeat.
"Oh, he was sorry your frock was splashed, was he? And the other fellow they call Halsey, was he concerned about that too?"
"Who told you that his name was Halsey?" The interest of her tone was unmistakable.
"That is his name, and he must be a degraded fellow to take up with Smith."
She saw that Ephraim's clothes were very wet; he must have walked far. She attributed his exhausted look entirely to fatigue, and his ill-temper to the same cause. "Mr. Halsey seemed quite good and in earnest, like the people that come to see Mr. Finney when he stays here, asking about saving their souls, as if their souls were something quite different from the other part of them; and, Ephraim, I have often wanted to ask you, but I didn't like to. You don't believe what aunt and uncle do, do you? Aunt talks as if you didn't believe. Do you think"—her voice trembled—"do you think that I ought to think about my soul—that way?"
Ephraim never perceived the nature of her difficulty. He thought she questioned the earnestness of life. He leaned back against the jamb of the chimney, vainly trying to dispel his anger and bring his mind under the command of reason. He looked at Susannah steadily; she was somewhat pale with weariness and excitement; she could never be other than beautiful. How perfect was the moulding of the strong firm chin, of the curving nostrils! The breadth of the cheek bone, the height and breadth of the brow, beautiful as they were in their pink and white tinting, conveyed to him almost more strongly the sense of mental completeness than of outward beauty. He did not dare to look at her questioning eyes; his glance travelled over the amber ringlets, damp and tossed just now, drooping as if to say "Susannah is lonely and perplexed, and she needs your help." Ephraim, proud, and mortified to think how ill he compared with her, laughed fiercely within himself. This was a young woman of distinction, and just now she knew it so little that she sat looking up with respect at his ill-conditioned self. How long would that last? How long would she remember any word that he chanced to say to her?
"Susannah, I think you are very ignorant. Were you never taught anything when you were a little girl?"
"My father and his friends were always polite to me." She spoke with grave, rather than offended, dignity.
"She is entirely sweet," he said to himself; "she will never answer me in anger." Then he went on aloud, "And I am not polite; I am ill-trained and ill-bred. Well, listen, Susannah. Whatever my mother may or may not tell you about my peculiar opinions, whatever I choose to believe or to do, remember this, that I tell you that you have a soul to be eternally lost or saved, and it behoves you to walk carefully and concern yourself about your salvation." There was a vibration of intense warning in his voice. He was thinking of the life that might be so noble if will and reason sided with God, and of the snares that the world lays for beauty, and the light way in which beauty might walk into them; and, as with all dreamy minds, he was too absorbed in his thought to know how little it shone through the veil in which he wrapped it.
Susannah grew a shade paler. She had struggled in a blind child-fashion to maintain a religion that would embrace her manifold life, but now it appeared that, after all, Ephraim endorsed the general view; his refusal to comply openly with it came of wilfulness, not unbelief. The stronghold of her peace was gone. "My papa never spoke to me about religion in that way, but I don't think he believed that."
Ephraim thought of the weak and reckless young father, of the careless life broken suddenly by death.
"He has learned the truth now," he said shortly.
After a pause, in which she did not speak, he betook himself to his own rooms, leaving Susannah to the companionship of the lonely house, the howling wind, the gathering night, and a new fear of a state eternal and infernal, into which she might so easily slip. Ephraim said so, and he would never have proclaimed what he would not comply with unless its truth were very sure.
As for him, his self-despite was pain that rendered him oblivious of her real danger. Where was his boasted justice? Gone before a breath of jealousy. The neighbours had told him that she had smiled on Halsey, and the abuse of the Smithites, in which his mother indulged in the blindness of religious party-spirit, had fallen from his lips as soon as his own passion had been touched. Had his former candour, then, been the thing his mother called it, indifference to, rather than reverence for truth?
This was the travail of soul that Susannah could have as little thought of as he had of hers. It held Ephraim in its fangs for many days.
The return of Smith and his few followers, and the speedy publication of the first edition of the Book of Mormon, stirred anew the flames of religious excitement. All other sects were at one in decrying "the Mormons," as they now began to be called by their enemies. There was perhaps good reason for intelligent disapprobation, but Understanding was left far behind the flying feet of Zeal, who, torch in hand, rushed from house to house. It was related that Joseph Smith was in the habit of wounding inoffensive sheep and leading them bleeding over the neighbouring hills under the pretext that treasure would be found beneath the spot where they would at last drop exhausted; and there were dark hints concerning benighted travellers who, staying all night at the Smiths' cabin, had seen awful apparitions and been glad to fly from the place, leaving their property behind. There was a story of diabolical influence which Smith had exercised in order to gain the young wife whom he had stolen from her father's roof, and, worse than all, there were descriptions of occult rites carried on in secret places, where the most bloody mysteries of the Mosaic priesthood were horribly travestied by Smith and his friends, Cowdery and Rigdon, in order to dupe the simple into belief in the new revelation.
Ephraim Croom had again withdrawn himself out of hearing of the controversy. Judging that Susannah was sufficiently guarded by his parents to be safe, he became almost oblivious of conversation which he despised. He did not reflect that Susannah knew nothing of his hidden conflict, that she could only perceive that, after uttering an ominous warning, he had left her to work out its application alone.
It was at first not at all her liking for the Smiths, but only her unbiassed common sense, which convinced her that the wild stories told concerning them were untrue. When she became enraged at their untruth she became more kindly disposed toward the young mother, whose baby had made a strong appeal to her girlish heart, and the big kindly lout of a man who had sheltered her from the rain. This benevolent disposition might have slumbered unfruitful but for the memory of the fine and resolute face of the young disciple who had promised to wrestle in prayer for her. There was novelty in the thought. The gay witch Novelty often apes the form of Love. Susannah did not know Love, so she did not recognise even the vestments falsely worn, but they attracted her all the same. Her young blood boiled when her aunt, dimly discerning some unlooked-for obstinacy in her niece's mind, repeated each new report in disfavour of the Mormons. It was the old story about the blood of the martyrs, for ridicule and slander spill the pregnant blood of the soul; but they who believe themselves to be of the Church can seldom believe that any blood but their own will bear fruit. Every stab given to the reputation of the Smiths was an appeal to Susannah's sympathy for them. Mrs. Croom, with a sense of solemn responsibility, was at great cost bringing all her influence to bear upon the young girl whom her son loved. She drearily said to herself, after many days, that her influence was weak, that it accomplished nothing. The strength of it pushed Susannah, who stood faltering at the parting of the ways, and the impetus of that push was felt in her rapid and unsteady step for many and many a year.
One day, when the men were out cutting the maize, Susannah rode with her uncle to the most distant of his fields, and found herself on the hill called in Smith's revelation Cumorah.
The sound of the men at work and the horses shaking their harness was close in her ears while she strayed over this bit of hilly woodland. It is one of the low ridges that intersect the meadows on the banks of the Canandaigua, and here Smith professed to have found the golden book. It was because of this that Susannah had the curiosity to climb it now.
The beech wood grew thick upon it; the afternoon sun struck its slant sunbeams across their boles. Once, where the beeches parted, she came upon a fairy glade where two or three maples, fading early, had carpeted the ground with a mosaic of gold and red, and were holding up the remainder of their foliage, pink and yellow, in the light. The beauty wrought in her a dreamy receptive mood. Climbing higher, she came upon a very curious dip or hollow in the ground. In its narrowest part a man was lying prostrate; his face was buried in his hat, which was lying upon the ground between his hands; the whole expression of his body was that of attention concentrated upon something within the hat. When she came close he moved with a convulsive start, and she saw that it was Joseph Smith.
His look changed into one of deference and satisfaction. He rose up, lifting his hat carefully; in it lay a curious stone composed of bright crystals, in shape not unlike a child's foot.
"It's my peepstone," he said. "It's the stone I look into when I pray that I may be shown what to do." Exactly as one child might show to another some worthless object he deemed choice, he showed the stone to her.
"I don't know what you mean. How could a stone help you?"
"All I know is that when I've been lying for a long time, feeling that I'm a poor fellow and haven't got no sense anyway, and the tears come to my eyes and gush out, feeling I'm so poor and mean, then when I lie and look and look into this peepstone, I see things in it, pictures of things that is to be, and sometimes of things that are just happening alongside of me that I didn't know any other way. I can't say how it may be; I only know when I see it that I am 'accounted worthy.'"
"You couldn't see anything in the stone."
"No more I couldn't. The stone's nothing, an' I'm nothing, and that's why, when I do see the pictures, I know it must be either God or the devil that sends them; and it's not the devil, for I always work myself up to a mighty lot of praying first, and why should the pictures come after that if it was the devil?"
"What do you see?"
"I'll tell you one thing I have seen. Mebbe you'll know what it means; mebbe you won't. I don't know myself rightly yet. I've often to study on those things a long while before I know what they mean, but lately I've seen you."
"Yes, you, miss. The things I see are like small tiny pictures inside the stone. Your bonnet was off. You were inside a room. There was tables and chairs, and there was a man there. He wasn't very old; he had light hair."
"What had he to do with me?" she asked, astonished.
"I just saw you stand there, and him a-sitting, but a voice in my own heart seemed to say—"
"It was one of my revelations. If I tell you, you won't believe it. Howsomever, I think it's my duty to tell you, although you may tell your folks, and they may persecute me." He paused here, and when he began again it was in a different tone of voice and with a singing cadence. "The voice said, 'I say unto thee, she shall see the white stone, and shall be told the thing that she shall do for the salvation of her soul; and I say unto thee, Joseph Smith junior, that thou shalt say unto her to look upon the stone, for she is chosen to go through suffering and grief for a little space, and after that to have great riches and honour, and in the world to come life everlasting.'"
As he spoke he was holding up the stone, which glistened in the sunlight, before her eyes.
Susannah stared at it to prove to herself that there was nothing remarkable about it. The feeling of opposition seemed to die of itself, and then she had a curious sensation of arousing herself with a start from a fixed posture and momentary oblivion. That afternoon as she was going home, and in the following days, phrases and sentences from the prophecy which Joseph Smith had pronounced in regard to her clung to her mind. In disdain she tried to tell herself that the man was mad; in childlike wonder she considered what might be the mystery of the vision within the stone and the prophecy if he were not mad. She had never heard of crystal-gazing; the phrase "mental automatism" had not then been invented by the psychologists; still less could she suspect that she herself might have come partially under the influence of hypnotic suggestion. The large kindliness of the new prophet, the steady sobriety and childlikeness of his demeanour, the absence of any appearance of policy or premeditation, were not in harmony with fraud or madness. Her gentle intelligence was puzzled, as all the candid historians of this man have since been puzzled. Then, tired of the puzzle, she fell again to contemplating scraps of his speech, which, having a Scriptural sound, suggested piety. "She shall be told the thing that she shall do for the salvation of her soul," "She is chosen to go through suffering and grief for a little space." How strange if, impossible as it might seem, these words had come to her—to her—direct from the mind of the Almighty!
Some days after this Susannah sat alone at the window of the family room, the long white seam on which she was at work enveloping her knees.
Far off on the horizon the cumulous clouds lay with level under-ridges, their upper outlines softly heaped in pearly lights and shades of dun and gray. Beneath them the hilly line of the forest was broken distinctly against the cloud by the spikes of giant pines. That far outline was blue, not the turquoise blue of the sky above the clouds, but the blue that we see on cabbage leaves, or such blue as the moonlight makes when it falls through a frosted pane—steel blue, so full of light as to be luminous in itself. From this the nearer contour of the forest emerged, painted in green, with patches and streaks of russet; the nearer groves were beginning to change colour, and, vivid in the sunlight, the fields were yellow. From the top of a low hill which met the sky came the white road winding over rise and hollow till it passed the door. Who has not felt the invitation, silent, persistent, of a road that leads through a lonely land to the unseen beyond the hill?
Susannah was again alone in the house; this time Ephraim was absent with his mother, and her uncle was at the mill. On the white road she saw a man approaching whose dress showed him to be Smith's Quaker convert, Angel Halsey, a name she had conned till it had become familiar. He did not pass, but opened the gate of the small garden path and came up between the two borders of sweet-smelling box. In the garden China asters, zenias, and prince's feather, dahlias, marigolds, and love-lies-bleeding were falling over one another in luxuriant waste. The young man neither looked to night nor to left. He scanned the house eagerly, and his eyes found the window at which Susannah sat. He stepped across the flowers and stood, his blonde face upturned, below the open sash. Under his light eyebrows his hazel eyes shone with a singularly bright and exalted expression.
"Come, friend Susannah," said he, "I have been sent to bring you to witness my baptism," and with that he turned and walked slowly down the path, as if waiting for her to follow.
Susannah, filled with surprise, watched him as he made slowly for the gate, as if assured that she would come. When he got to it he set it open, and, holding it, looked back.
She dropped the long folds of muslin, and they fell upon the floor knee-deep about her; she stepped out of them and walked across the old familiar living-room, with its long strips of worn rag-carpet, its old polished chairs, and smoky walls. The face of the eight-day clock stared hard at her with impassive yet kindly glance, but its voice only steadily recorded that the moments were passing one by one, like to all other moments.
Susannah went out of the door. The sun drew forth aromatic scent from the borders of box, and her light skirt brushed the blossoms that leaned too far over. Outside the wicket gate at which the young man stood was a young quince tree laden with pale-green fruit. Susannah let her eyes rest upon it as she spoke: she even let her mind wander for a second to think how soon the fruit would be gathered.
"Why should I come to see your baptism?" she asked, with her voice on the upward cadence.
The young man blushed deeply. "I am come to thee with a message from heaven." He glanced upward to the great sky that was the colour of turquoise, cloudless, serene.
"It is a strange errand." There was a touch of reproof in her voice, and yet also the vibration of awe-struck inquiry. Her mind rushed at once to the memory of Joseph Smith's prophecy.
"Come, friend," said the young Quaker very gently.
"I can't possibly go."
His strange reply was, "With God all things are possible."
The text fell upon her mind with force.
"Come," he said gently, and he motioned that he would shut the gate behind her.
"Not now; my shoes are not stout; I have no bonnet or shawl."
"Put thy kerchief over thy head and come, friend Susannah, for 'no man, putting his hand to the plough, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of heaven.'"
At this he walked on, and she was forced to follow for a few steps to ask an explanation. She tied her kerchief over her head and the thick white dust covered her slender shoes.
"What do you want me to come for?" she asked.
He looked upon her, colouring again with the effort to express what was to him sacred. "It has been given to me to pray for thy soul. To-day, as I prayed, it was borne in upon me that thou shouldst be with me in the waters of baptism."
Susannah paused on the road, planting the heels of her shoes deeply in the dust. "I will not," she cried. "I will never believe in Joseph Smith."
"And yet it has been revealed, friend, that thou art one of the elect. The time will come very soon when thou wilt believe to the salvation of thy soul."
He walked slowly onward, and after a minute Susannah, with quickened steps, followed him, in high anger now. "I do not believe in the revelations of Joseph Smith," she cried. And because he did not appear offended she spoke more rudely, catching at phrases to which she had become accustomed. "If the salvation of my soul should depend upon it, I would rather lose it than believe."
But when she had said these last words a little gasp came in her breath, and her heart quailed in realising the possibility of which she had spoken. Her own angry words had diverted her attention from questioning the reasonableness of the new faith to the fearful contemplation of what might be the result of rejection.
If she quailed at her own speech, the grief of the young Quaker was more obvious. He put up his hands as if in fear that she should add to her sin by repeating her words. Quiet as was his demeanour, the emotional side of his nature had evidently been deeply wrought upon to-day, for when he tried to speak to reprove her, grief choked his utterance. It was not at that time a strange thing for men under the influence of religious convictions to weep easily. On the contrary, it was accounted by evangelists a sign of great grace; but Susannah, accustomed only to the reserve of English gentlemen and her uncle's stern Puritan self-repression, seeing this young Quaker weep for her sake, was greatly touched. She became possessed by an excited desire to console him.
The young man turned, weeping as he went, into a little wood that here bordered the road. Susannah followed, full of ruth, thinking that he merely sought temporary shade.
They had proceeded under the trees a few paces when Emma Smith came up from the bank of the river to meet them. Halsey controlled himself and spoke to Emma.
"She has refused. For this time she has rejected the truth."
Now to Susannah the matter for amazement was that she had come so far from home (although, it was not very far), that she had actually arrived, as it seemed, at an appointed place. The sting that this gave to her pride was greatly eased by perceiving that she had not by this fulfilled his hopes.
Emma Smith had a pale, patient face, which was at this time made peculiarly dignified by a look of solemn excitement. Young as she was, she turned to Susannah with a protecting motherly air.
"Perhaps next time the opportunity is offered the young lady will embrace it and save her soul." She spoke consolingly to Halsey, but looked at Susannah with encouraging and respectful eyes. "You will see this young man baptized?" she asked.
Under the protection of Emma Smith, Susannah stooped under the willow boughs and found herself upon the bank of the river in the presence of Joseph Smith, his mother, and some half-dozen men.
Lucy Smith was muttering somewhat concerning a vision of angels, and the suppressed excitement of them all was manifest. Susannah was infected by it; she was now tremulous and eager to see what was to be seen.
Joseph Smith advanced into the flowing river and stood in a pool where the water was well up to his thighs. Standing thus, he began to speak in the same formal tone and with the same solemn expression that Susannah had marked when he spoke the revelation concerning herself, but more loudly. "Behold! we have gathered together according to the revelation which has been given to me—"
Here a dark young man called Oliver Cowdery groaned and said "Amen." A tremble of excitement went through the group upon the shore.
Loudly the prophet went on—"Knowing well that there is nothing in me, who was wicked and graceless to a very high degree, and wanting in knowledge, but was yet chosen, upon this sinful earth and in these last days, when wickedness and hypocrisy is abounding, to open to all who would be saved a new church which is such as that which the angel hath revealed to me a church should be, and all them which shall receive my word and shall be baptized of me or of Mr. Oliver Cowdery, whom the angel Maroni, descending in a cloud of light, has ordained with me to the priesthood of Aaron, which holds the keys of the ministering of angels and of the gospel of repentance and of baptism by immersion for the remission of sins. And this shall never again be taken from the earth until the sons of Levi do offer again an offering unto the Lord in the new Jerusalem."
The loud voice carried with it an impression of strong personal feeling; the effect on the bystanders was such as the words alone were wholly inadequate to produce. Cowdery, who during the speech had frequently groaned and responded, after the Methodist fashion, now shouted and clapped his hands towards the heavens, whereupon Lucy Smith fell into a convulsive state between laughter and tears, and the men standing beside her dropped upon their knees. Emma Smith remained standing; upon her face was a rapt triumphant expression. She put her arm round Susannah protectingly, and Susannah did not repulse the familiar action.
Joseph Smith now in the same voice called upon his father to be baptized. He addressed him formally as "Joseph Smith senior." The old man had, as it seemed, a great fear of the water. It took both priests of the new sect together to lift and immerse him. There was more splashing than was seemly. The baptism of a farmer named Martin Harris, which followed, was more decorous.
The sunlight lay bright on the other side of the flowing river, and the shadow of the willow tops above them was outlined on the stream. On the sunny bank opposite there was a thicket of sumac trees reddening to the autumn heat; the wild vine was climbing upon them, making their foliage the more dense, and at their roots, by the edge of the stream, the golden rod was massed. On the bank on which they stood the colouring was more quiet. A few ragged spikes of the purple aster were all that grew under the gray green willows, which with every breath turned the silver underside of their soft foliage to the wind. The place for the baptism had no doubt been chosen because of the depth of the water, and because the bank here was comparatively bare.
It was about four o'clock in the afternoon. The steady sound of the mattock in a neighbouring field was the only token of the common bustling world that lay close around the curious isolation of the hour.
It was time that Angel Halsey should be baptized. In his Quaker clothes he waded into the water. His manner now was entirely serene, his face full of joy.
A thought was struck wedge-like into Susannah's understanding. If Halsey, who was so manifestly on a higher plane of education and refinement than these others, could so triumphantly embrace the new faith, it must surely contain more of virtue and reason than she could see. The influence of what he was, being so much greater than the influence of what he had said, caused her mind to work with solemn earnestness as she followed him in sympathy through the symbol of death and resurrection.
When the prophet came back to the shore he appeared for the first time to recognise Susannah, and stopped before her, but at first with a distraught manner, as if he were trying to recollect some dream that eluded him. He still had his hand familiarly on Halsey's arm, for he had been conducting him out of the water.
"This is the elect sister?" Smith asked in a hesitating tone, as if still striving with memory. "Does she desire baptism?"
"Not yet," answered Halsey, "but I have asked the Lord for her soul, and I believe that it has been given."
In Halsey's mind up to this moment there was, no doubt, only the solicitude of the missionary spirit; but Smith was a man whose mind was cast in a different mould; he had already marked the solicitude and given it his own interpretation, and he had already opened his own eyes upon her beauty. How far this had conscious connection with the condition of actual trance into which he now fell cannot be known. It is probable that what the Psalmist calls the "secret parts" are not in such minds as Smith's open to the man's own eye.
Smith became wrapped in a sudden ecstasy. Oblivious of all around him, he looked up into the heavens, and it was apparent that his eyes were not beholding the material objects around. Those about him gazed awe-struck, waiting and listening, for he began to speak in a low unknown tongue, as if holding converse with some one above.
Susannah shrank back, but was held by Emma's encouraging arm. Halsey stayed perforce, for the prophet's grasp had tightened convulsively upon him.
In a few moments the vision was over, and Joseph Smith opened his eyes and smiled in his own slow kindly way upon the frightened girl and upon Angel Halsey, who stood with steadfast mien.
"It has been revealed to me in heaven that the soul of the elect sister is indeed given to be united to the soul of this young disciple, that thereby she may obtain salvation."
He took Susannah's hand, and she felt no power to resist him; he clasped Halsey's almost more timid and reluctant hand over it.
"Wherefore in the sight of God and in the sight of these elect saints now present I declare that these two are joined together in the mystical union of a most holy marriage which God himself has revealed from heaven."
For some moments Susannah gazed fascinated; then she snatched away her hand; dignity sought to maintain itself; pride rose up in anger. Her growing awe of the prophet numbed to a certain extent both these sentiments, but stronger than pride and self-respect and awe was some tender shame within her heart which was hurt beyond enduring, so that she put her hands before her face and wept, and walked away from them weeping, followed by Emma, who began, as they walked, to weep in sympathy.
Tears bring relief to the brain, a relief it is hard to distinguish from comfort of soul. When Susannah could check her unaccustomed sobs, when she found herself walking quietly homeward with only the weeping Emma by her side, the spirit of long suffering and patience stole upon her unawares.
"Why do you cry?" she asked gently.
"I think it must be so hard for you," said Emma; "it's been very hard for me, although I love Joseph with all my heart; but you are so childish and so good-looking, it seems someways as if it came harder on you; and then that Mr. Halsey hasn't got the warmth of heart that Joseph has."
To this astonishing reply Susannah found no answer. Emma was too respectable, too honest in her sympathy, to be derided, but Susannah's understanding could ill endure the thought that the incident of the hour was important. As the outcome of honest delusion, she might forgive it; something in the pathos of Halsey's strained face as she remembered his look when she turned away weeping, urged her to forgiveness.
"Mr. Halsey is nothing to me," said Susannah at last; she spoke with a falter in her voice, for Emma's unfeigned grief touched her.
"Oh! don't say that. Some judgment might come on you that would be worse than any suffering that would come from obedience to the word of the Lord; and besides, it's the will of God, you see; and of course He'll see that it's done, so you'd be punished for rebellion, and you'd have to obey all the same."
Susannah was beginning to be infected by this steady assumption that God had indeed spoken. Could it be possible?
How much better humanity might have been had we been at the world's making we cannot tell, but as it is, the Creator knows that a woman whose veins are pulsing with youth does not know, as she stands between her lovers, how far influences not born of reason are affecting her understanding. Ephraim remained neglectful, and Susannah remembered with more and more distinct compassion Halsey's wistful face and the touch of his trembling hand. But the emotion which is deeper than human love was also in ferment. The shock which she had received, aided by the pressure at home, had effectually worked religious unrest. She was certain now that she must do some new thing to obtain peace with God. Long monotonous days ripened within her this altered mind.
On one of the warm days that fell at the end of the apple harvest, when such vagrant labourers as had collected to help the farmers were loitering at liberty, Smith held his first and last public meeting in the place where his boyhood had been passed. It was near the cross-roads on the old highroad to Palmyra, where a small wooden bridge carries over a creek that runs through the meadow to the Canandaigua. Here in the leisure time of the afternoon Smith lifted up his voice and preached to an ever-increasing crowd, composed first of men, and added to by whole families from most of those houses within touch of the village.
The elder Croom, his wife, and Susannah were returning from the weekly shopping at Palmyra's store; they came upon the crowd, and stopped perforce. Wrath was upon the faces of the elder couple, and nothing less than terror upon Susannah's white cheeks.
Susannah would have run far to have been saved the awful interrogation of opportunity. Perhaps all that she knew just then, in her childlike bewilderment, was that the slanders of the persecution were wrong, and her untrained mind jumped to the conclusion that the God of truth must therefore be with Smith. Beyond this there was unnamed wonder at the unexplained influence that Smith held over her, and more curious thoughts, stretching out like the delicate tendrils of an unsupported vine, concerning Halsey, his prayers and warnings, and the strength of selfless devotion that she had read in his innocent eyes.
Old Croom, deacon and magistrate, was not one to tarry at such a gathering longer than need be. When he perceived that some of the planks of the bridge had been taken to support the dam he alighted and broke down a log fence in order to drive his horses through meadow and stream to join the road nearer home. His women must needs walk over the scanty beams. Mrs. Croom, stately and well attired, could make her way through the crowd; no one there was so rapt but that he let her pass when, with eyes flashing in righteous indignation, she tapped him on the shoulder and bid him stand aside. Susannah followed in her aunt's wake, the crowd of neighbours and strange labourers closing behind them again as they worked their way, of necessity slowly, nearer and nearer the preacher and the little band of adherents that stood steadfast around him.
Susannah heard the words of the sermon in which open confession of his own past sin, bold persuasions to Christianity and righteousness, were strangely mingled with the claim of the new prophet. She could not remember one moment what he had said the last. Low hisses and muttered threats of the angry men about her fell on her ears in the same way, making their own impression, but not on reason or memory. A sickening dread of a call that would come before she got away was all that she fully realised. It came when, in her white gala dress, she stood still at last near to, and under the eye of, the preacher.
The sermon was finished. There was a silence at its end so unexpected that none in the crowd broke it. It seemed for those moments to reach not only into the hearts of the crowd, but into the wide, empty vault of sunny blue above them, and over the open fields and golden woods. Then, before the wrath of the crowd had gathered strength to break into violence, Smith went down into the water and called loudly to all such as felt the need of saving their souls to enter upon the heavenly pilgrimage by the gate of his baptism. His adherents had cast themselves upon their knees in prayer. Susannah saw the strong, dark face of Oliver Cowdery looking up to the sky as though he saw the heavens opened, and she saw Angel Halsey look at herself, and then, clasping his hands over his fair young face, bow himself in supplication.
A man, ragged in dress, and bearing the look of ill deeds in his face, made his way out of the crowd into the water. He was a stranger to the place, and the spectators looked on in silent surprise. Before Smith had dipped him in the stream and blessed him another man came forward, pale and thin, with a hectic flush upon his cheeks. He was a well-known resident of Manchester; all knew that his days on earth must be few. A low howl began to rise, loudest on the outskirts of the crowd, but the fact that the man was dying kept many silent, feeling that the doomed may surely have their own will.
Before Joseph Smith had spoken his benediction over this trembling, gasping creature, when Halsey had left his kneeling to spring forward and lead him to the shore, Susannah began to move forward to the water. No one who saw her move at first dreamed of what she sought. Her aunt had pushed on some distance farther and stood waiting, almost too astonished at this last baptism to notice that she was separated from her charge. Now, when she saw Susannah pushing forward, she only wondered with others what she would be at, and spoke to her ineffectually, without the shriek and struggle which she made when the girl was beyond her reach.
So Susannah, moving like one in an agonised dream, came to the edge of the pool. Among the praying band there was no doubt as to her intention, no astonishment; the kneeling men gave instant thanks to God for her decision, and Halsey, having helped the feeble man to land, led Susannah down into the water, his face illuminated by the victory of faith.
Susannah heard now her aunt's wild shrieks; she heard too the surging of the crowd, but the meaning of neither sound came to her. She waded on to where Smith stood, with only the dazed sense of a goal to be reached. She was perfectly passive in his hands as he dipped her beneath the surface and raised her up, but she listened to the blessing he pronounced with a sudden leap of the heart, feeling that now at last the misery of fear was past and the demand of God satisfied—it must be so because it had cost so much.
When she came to herself she saw that the crowd, like a wild beast, had sprung downward upon the disciples. Even in her first terrified glance she was impressed by the strange and awful difference between the distorted and hideous faces of the mob and the exalted calm of the few men who had at this time fixed their minds on the unseen rather than the seen. She looked up to Smith in the swift appeal of terror, and felt once for all the huge courage by which his life was marked. His hand, helping her to the shore, never trembled. He calmly directed her steps into the quiet meadow before he gave himself to the battle.
When her person was no longer there to be protected, the Mormons gave way at once before the gathering strength of the mob. She saw them beaten down mercilessly; she saw Smith himself beaten and thrown prostrate in the water. The still, warm air that a few minutes before had seemed instinct with prayer was now vibrating to the howls and taunts and curses of the mob. Susannah had no doubt that these, who were now her friends, were being killed; their sufferings justified her to herself and produced a fierce exaltation in the step which she had taken. In her experience of life she thought that the mob would turn upon her next, and stood waiting, every muscle tense, her hands clenched, feeling excitedly that she would rather die than live to see such intolerable wrong.
This tension of nerve relaxed somewhat when her uncle lifted her forcibly into the waggon. With eyes wide open with horror and lips trembling, she asked, "Did they kill them, uncle?"
"No, child, they only gave them a good trouncing in their own pond." He choked here, out of pity for her, keeping back the torrent of his anger.
Even at this early date it was bruited that Joseph Smith exercised some unseemly force of will by which he distorted the reason of his converts. This report explained the fact that for the first day after the shock of Susannah's baptism her aunt and uncle did not lay the blame of it at her door, did not argue or persuade, only watched her as one recovering from a strange disease. But in the afternoon of that first day the pent-up fever of the aunt's wrath against those whom she thought to blame broke forth, and almost in delirium.
The last hot weather of the autumn still held; in the same still hour of the afternoon, the hour in which Susannah's baptism had taken place the day before, Angel Halsey, pallid with his yesterday's beating and ill-usage, but steadfast and even joyful of face, walked up to the front door of the magistrate's house.
This door opened upon an unfrequented entrance-hall. Susannah heard the knock, heard her aunt move with the dignity befitting an expected visitor. Then she heard Ephraim's step on the stair for the first time that day, and reflected dully that he must have seen the advent of some important person from his window to be thus answering the call of the door.
After that she heard words that had the sound of suppressed screams in them. She realised that the house mistress was ordering some enemy from her door. These commands were not obeyed, and Susannah, hearing that the intruder remained, began in fear to suspect the meaning of the intrusion. As she rose the report of a fire-arm startled her from all the remnants of her selfish dulness, causing her feet to fly.
From within the sitting-room she saw the entrance-hall. Its door was open to the wide sweep of land that lay in floods of sunshine. In the light, half turning now to go as he had come, stood Angel Halsey. Her eager eyes drank in the sight of him, because last night she had thought to see him die. She saw his quietness even while, it seemed to her, the gun still echoed, and it was Ephraim who held the gun! Beside Ephraim her aunt stood, like one in a frenzy, her very garments twitching and her gray hair fallen loose. None of them looked to see the girl within the shaded room.
"Friends," said Halsey, "I came to say 'Peace be with this house,' and to speak with her to whom God has given the spirit of obedience to his truth, but it is written that when any house refuses to receive us we must depart."
His voice was for some cause growing fainter, but Susannah was certain that the cause was not fear.
He took a letter from his breast. "I wrote it," he said, "in case I might not enter to speak with her."
He gave the letter to Ephraim, who took it reluctantly, as one impelled by some strong sense of right.
Halsey went out. He tottered upon the path, but he opened the gate and walked on. Ephraim, still holding the gun and the letter, turned and saw Susannah.
Ephraim's face was gaunt and haggard as she had never seen it before; his eyes were large, and she thought she read unutterable distress in them, but could not understand. She held out her hand for the letter, but as he gave it both she and he perceived for the first time that it was stained with blood; they felt mutually the thrill that the sight gave.
He put his hand out suddenly and pushed her within the room. "Go," he entreated, "for God's sake, Susy, go to your own room; take his letter with you if you will, but go."
Susannah went amazed, but she began to think that Ephraim's distress had not been a gracious sorrow, but remorse for his own crime. He must have shot Halsey as he would have shot at some evil beast. When she had time to remember that Halsey had tottered when he walked, she fled back, straining the blood-stained letter to her breast, and tore open the closed door. Her aunt was sitting in a low chair sobbing. Ephraim, bareheaded in the sunshine, was standing on the path shading his eyes to scan the road. Susannah ran out, not to him (her shame and grief for him were too deep for any word), but with intent to run after the wounded man and nurse his wound.
"It can be but a slight flesh wound," said Ephraim mechanically.
She looked first where he was gazing, and saw that some distance down the road Halsey was stepping into a chaise. Another man took the seat beside him and they drove away.