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almost all but Adeline, who sat in the square pew with her
great eyes fixed upon me, and her small lips apart, like one
who drinks from the stream of a rock.

" The next day I was resting, as my custom is, after the
Sabbath ; and in a warm, fair day, I find no better rest than
to sit by the open window, and breathe the summer air, and
fill my eyes and heart with the innumerable love-tokens that
God hath set thickly in Nature. I was, therefore, at my
usual place, wrapt in thought, and beholding the labors of a
small bird which taught her young to fly, when I felt a
light, cold touch, and, turning, saw little Adeline beside me,


* Sir,' said she, without any preface, < when my papa went
away, he left with me a letter, which he said I was to give
you if he died.' So far she spoke steadily, but there the
small voice quivered, and broke down. I took the letter
she proffered me, and, breaking the seal, found it a short
but touching appeal to me, as the spiritual father of Joseph
Frazer, to take his own child under my care, and be as a
father to her, inasmuch as his mother was old and feeble,
and also to be executor of his will, of which a copy was en-
closed. I said this much to the child as shortly as I could,
and with her grave voice she replied, ' Sir, I should like to
be your little girl, if you will preach me some more ser-
mons.' Now I was affected at this answer ; not the less
that the leaven of pride, which worketh in every man, was
fed by even a baby's praise ; and, putting on my hat, I
walked over to Mrs. Frazer's house and laid the matter be-
fore her. She was not, at first, willing to give Adeline up,
but at length, after much converse to and fro, she came to
my conclusion, that the child would be better in my hands,
inasmuch as she herself could not hope for a long continu-
ance : and as it was ordered, she died the next summer. I
sent for my sister Martha, who was somewhat past mar-
riageable years, but kind and good, to come and keep house
for me, and from that time Adeline was as my own child.
But I must hasten over a time, for I am too long in telling

" In course of years the child grew up, tall and slender,
of a very stately carriage, and having that Scriptural glory
of a woman, long and abundant hair.

" She was still very fervid in her feelings, but reserved
and proud, and I fear I had been too tender with her for
her good, inasmuch as she thought her own will and pleasure
must always be fulfilled ; and we all know that is not one of
the ordinations of Providence.

" As Adeline came to be a woman, divers youths of my


congregation were given to call of a Sabbath night, with
red apples for me, and redder cheeks for Adeline, who was
scarcely civil to them, and often left them to my conversa-
tion, which they seemed not to relish so much as would
have been pleasing to human nature.

" But my sainted mother, who was not wanting in the
wisdom of this world, was used to say that every man and
woman had their time of crying for the moon, and while
some knew it to be a burning fire, and others scornfully
called it cheese, and if they got it, either burned their fin-
gers, or despised their desire, still all generations must have
their turn, and truly I believed it, when I found that Ade-
line herself began to have a pining for something which I
could not persuade her to specify. The child grew thin and
pale, and ceased the singing of psalms at her daily task, and
I could not devise what should be done for her; though
Martha strongly recommended certain herb teas, which Ade-
line somewhat unreasonably rebelled against. However,
about this time, my attention was a little turned from her,
as there was much religious awakening in the place, and
among others, whom the deacons singled out as special ob-
jects of attention, was one John Henderson, a frequent vis-
itor at our house, and a young man of good parts and kindly
feeling, as it seemed, but of a peculiar nature, being easily
led into either right or wrong, yet still given to fits of stub-
bornness, when he could not be drawn, so to speak, with a

" Now Adeline had been a professor of religion for some
years, but it did not seem to me that she took a right view
of this particular season, for many times she refused to go
to the prayer-meetings, even to those which were held with
special intentions towards the unconverted ; and many times,
on my return, I found her with pale cheeks and red eyes,
evidently from tears. About this time, also, she began to
take long, solitary walks, from which she returned with hei


hands full of wild flowers, for it was now early spring ; but
she cared nothing for the flowers, and would scatter them
about the house to fade, without a thought. In the mean
time, the revival progressed, but, I lament to say, with no
visible change in John Henderson. He had gotten into one
of his stubborn moods of mind, and neither heaven nor hell
seemed to affect him. The only softening I could perceive
in the young man was during the singing of hymns, which
was well done in our meeting-house, for Adeline led the
choir, and I noticed that, whenever that part of the exercises
began, John Henderson would lift up his head, and a strange
color and tender expression seemed to melt the hard lines
of his face.

" Somewhere about the latter end of April, as I was re-
turning from a visit to a sick man, I met John coming from
a piece of woods, that lay behind my house about a mile,
with his hands full of liverwort blossoms. I do not know
why this little circumstance gave me comfort, yet, I have
ever observed, that a man who loves the manifestations of
God in his works is more likely to be led into religion than
a brutal or a mere business man : so 1 was desirous of
speaking to the youth, but when he saw me he turned from
the straight path, and, like an evil-doer, fled across the
fields another way. I did not call after him, for some ex-
perience has constrained me to think that there is no little
wisdom in sometimes letting people alone, but I took my
own way home, and having put on my cloth shoes to ease
my feet, and being in somewhat of a maze of thought, I
went up to my study, as it seemed, very quietly, for I en-
tered at the open door and found Adeline sitting in my arm-
chair by the window, quite unaware of my nearness. I
well remember how like a spirit* she looked that day, with
her great eyes raised to a cloud that rested in the bright
sky, her soft black hair twisted into a crown about her
head, and her light dress falling all over the chair, while in


her hands, lying between the slight fingers, and by the bluer
veins, was clasped a bunch of liverwort blossoms. Then I
perceived, for the first time, why my child was crying for the
moon, and that John Henderson cared for the singing and
not for the hymns, at which I sorrowed. But I sat down
by Ada, and taking the flowers out of her cold hands, began
to say that I had met John Henderson on the road with
some such blossoms, at which she looked at me even as she
did when I told her about her father, and, seeing that I
smiled, and yet was not dry-eyed, nor quite at rest, the tears
began, slowly, to run over her eyelashes, and in a few very
resolute words, she told me that Mr. Henderson had asked
her that morning to marry him.

"Xow I knew not well what to say, but I set myself
aside, as far as I could, and tried not to remember how sore
a trial it would be to part with Ada, and I reasoned with
her calmly about the youth, setting forth, first, that he was
not a professing Christian, and that the Scripture seemed
plain to me on that matter, though I would not constrain
her conscience if she found it clear in this thing ; and, sec-
ond, that he was a man who held fast to this world's goods,
and was like to be a follower of Mammon if he learned not
to love better things in his youth ; and, third, that he was a
man who had, as one might say, a streak of granite in his
nature, against which a feeling person would continually fall
and be hurt, and which no person could work upon, if once
it came in the way even of right action. To all this Ade-
line answered with more reason than I supposed a woman
could, only that I noticed, at the end of each answer, she
said in a low voice, as if it were the end of all contention,
'and I love him.' Whereby, seeing that the thing was well
past my interference, I gave my consent with many doubts
and fears in my heart, and, having blessed the child, I sent
her away that I might meditate over this matter.

"When John came in the evening for his answer, I was


enabled to exhort him faithfully, and, in his softened state of
feeling, he chose to tell me that he had been seeking relig-
ion because he feared I would not give him Adeline unless
he were joined to the church, and hecould not make a hyp-
ocrite of himself, even for that, but he had hoped that in the
use of means he might be awakened and converted. At
this I was pleased, inasmuch as it showed a spirit of truth
in the young man, but I could not avoid setting before him
that self-seeking had never led any soul to God, and how
cogent a reason he had himself given for his want of success
in things pertaining to his salvation ; but as I spoke Ada
came in by the other door, and John's eyes began to wander
so visibly, that I thought it best to conclude, and I must say
he appeared grateful. So I went out of the door, leaving
Ada stately and blushing as a fair rose-tree, notwithstanding
that John Henderson seemed to fancy she needed his sup-

" As the year went on, and I could not in conscience let
Adeline leave me until her lover had some fixed mainte-
nance, I had many conversations with him, (for he also was
an orphan,) and it was at length decided that he should buy,
with Ada's portion, a goodly farm in Western New York ;
and in the ensuing summer, after a year's engagement, they
were to marry. So the summer came ; I know not exactly
what month was fixed for their marriage, though I have the
date somewhere, but one thing I recollect, that the hop-vine
over this porch was in full bloom, and after I had joined my
child and the youth in the bands of wedlock, I went out into
the porch to see them safe into the carriage that was to take
them to the boat, and there Ada put her arms about my
neck, and kissed me for good-by, leaving a hot tear upon my
cheek ; and a south wind at that moment smote the hop-
vine so that its odor of honey and bitterness mingled swept
across my face, and always afterward this scent made me
think of Adeline. After two years had passed away, during


which we heard from her often, we heard that she had . a
little daughter born, and her letters were full of joy and
pride, so that I trembled for the child's spiritual state ; but
after some three years the little girl with her mother came
to Phinfield, and I did not know but Adeline was excusa-
ble in her joy, for such a fair and bright child was scarcely
ever seen ; but the next summer came sad news : little
Nelly was dead, and Ada's grief seemed inexhaustible,
while her husband fell into one of his sullen states of mind,
and the affliction passed over them to no good end, as it

" Soon after this, the Mormon delusion began to spread
rapidly about John Henderson's dwelling-place, and in less
than a year after Nelly's death I had a letter from Ada,
dated at St. Louis, which I will read to you, for I have it
in my pocket-book, having retained it there since yesterday,
when I took it out from the desk to consult a date.

" It begins : * Dear Uncle,' (I had always instructed
the child so to call me, rather than father, seeing we can
have but one father, while we may be blessed with nume-
rous uncles) ' I suppose you will wonder how I came to be
at St. Louis, and it is just my being here that I write to
explain. You know how my husband felt about Nelly's
death, but you cannot know how I felt ; for, even in my
very great sorrow, I hoped all the time, that by her death,
John might be led to a love of religion. He was very un-
happy, but he would not show it, only that he took even
more tender care of me than before. I have always been
his darling and pride; he never let me work, because he
said ifc spoiled my hands ; but after Nelly died, he was
hardly willing I should breathe ; and though he never spoke
of her, or seemed to feel her loss, yet I have heard him.
whisper her name in his sleep, and every morning his hair
and pillow were damp with crying ; but he never knew I
saw it. After a few months, there came a Mormon preacher

5 G


into cur neighborhood, a man of a great deal of lalent
and earnestness, and a firm believer in the revelation to
Joseph Smith. At first my husband did not take any
notice of him, and then he laughed at him for being a be-
liever in what seemed like nonsense ; but one night he was
persuaded to go and hear Brother Marvin preach in the
school-house, and he came home with a very sober face. I
said nothing, but when I found there was to be a meeting
the next night, I asked to go with him, and, to my surprise,
I heard a most powerful and exciting discourse, not wanting
in either sense or feeling, though rather poor as to argu-
ment; but I was not surprised that John wanted to hear
more, nor that, in the course of a few weeks, he avowed
himself a Mormon, and was received publicly into the sect.
Dear Uncle, you will be shocked, I know, and you will won-
der why I did not use my influence over my husband, to
keep him from this delusion ; but you do not know how
much I have longed and prayed for his conversion to a re-
ligious life; until any religion, even one full of errors,
seemed to me better than the hardened and listless state of
his mind.

" * I could not but feel, that if he were awakened to a
sense of the life to come, in any way, his own good sense
would lead him right in the end ; and there is so much ar-
dor and faith about this strange belief, that I do not regret
his having fallen in with it, for I think the true burning of
Gospel faith will yet be kindled by means of this strange fire.
In the mean time he is very eager and full of zeal for the
cause, so much so, that thinking it to be his duty, he resolved
to sell our farm at Oakwood, and remove to Utah. If any-
thing could make me grieve over a change, I believe to be
for John's spiritual good, it would be this idea : but no re-
gret or sorrow of mine shall ever stand in the way of his
soul ; so I gave as cheerful a consent as I could to the sale,
and I only cried a few tears, over little Nelly's bed, under


the great tulip-tree. There my husband has put an iron
railing, and I have planted a great many sweet-brier vines
over the rock ; and Mr. Keeney, who bought the farm, has
promised that the spot shall be kept free from weeds, so I
leave her in peace. Do write to me, Uncle Field. I feel
sure I have done right, because it has not been in my own
way, yet sometimes I am almost afraid. I shall be very
far away from you, and from home, and my child ; but I
am so glad now she is in heaven, nothing can trouble her,
and I shall not much care about myself, if John goes right.
" ' Give my love to Aunt Martha, and please write to
your dear child.


"I need not say, my young friend," resumed Parson
Field, wiping his spectacles, and clearing his voice with a
vigorous ahem ! ! " that I could not, in conscience, approve
of Adeline's course. * Thou shalt not do evil that good may
come,' is a Gospel truth, and cannot be transgressed with
good consequences. I did write to Ada ; but, inasmuch as
the act was done, I said not much concerning it, but bade
her take courage, seeing that she had meant to do right,
although in the deed she had considered John Henderson
before anything else, which was, as you may perceive, her
besetting sin, and therefore it seemed good to me to put, at
the end of my epistle, (as I was wont always to offer a suit-
able text of Scripture for her meditation,) these words,
' Little^ children, keep yourselves from idols ! ' I did not
hear again from Adeline, till she had been two months in
the Mormon city, and though she tried her best to seem
contented and peaceful, in view of John's new zeal, and his
tender care of her, still I could not but think of the hop-
blossoms, for I perceived, underneath this present sweet-
ness, a little drop of life and pain working to some unseen
end. That year passed away and we heard no more, and


the next also, at which I wondered much; but, reflecting
on the chances of travel across those deserts, and having a
surety of Ada's affection for me, I did not repine, though I
felt some regret that there was such uncertainty of carriage ;
nevertheless, I wrote as usual, that no chance might be lost.
" The third summer was unusually warm in our parts, and
its heats following upon a long, wet spring, caused much and
grievous sickness, and I was obliged to be out at all hours
with the dying, and at funerals, so that my bodily strength
was wellnigh exhausted, and at haying-time, just as I was
cutting the last swarth on my river meadow, which is low-
lying land, and steamed with hot vapor as I laid it bare to
the sun, I fell forward across my scythe-snath and fainted.
This was the beginning of a long course of fever, of a ty-
phoid character, during which I was either stupid or deliri-
ous most of the time, and, while I lay sick, there came a
letter to me, from Salt Lake city, written chiefly by John
Henderson, who begged me to come on if it was a possible
thing and see his wife, who was wasting with a slow con-
sumption, and much bent upon seeing me. I could discern
that the letter was not willingly written ; it was stiff in
speech, though writ with a trembling hand. At the end of
it were a few lines from Ada herself; a very impatient and
absolute cry for me, as if she could not die till I came.
Now Martha had opened this letter, as she was forced to by
my great illness, and, having read it, asked the doctor if it
was well to propound the contents to me, and he said decid-
edly that he could not answer for my life if she did : so
Martha, like a considerate woman, wrote an answer herself
to John Henderson (of which she kept a copy for me to
see), setting forth that I was in no state to be moved with
such tidings ; that, however, I should have the letter as
soon as the doctor saw fit, and sending her love and sym-
pathy to Ada, and a recommend that she should try balm


u After a long season of suspense, I was graciously up-
lifted from fever, and enabled to leave my bed for a few
hours daily ; and, when I could ride out, which was only
by the latter end of October, I was given the child's letter,
and my heart sank within me, for I knew how bitterly she
had needed my strength to help her. It was a warm au-
tumn day, near to noon, when I read that letter, and, as I
leaned back in my chair, the red sunshine came in upon me,
and the smell of dead leaves, while upon the hop-vine one
late blossom, spared by the white frosts, and dropping across
the window, also put forth its scent, bringing Adeline, as it
were, right back into my arms, and the faintness passed
away from me with some tears, for I was weak, and a man
may not always be stronger than his nature. Now, when
Martha sounded the horn for dinner, and our hired man
came in from the hill-lot, where he was sowing wheat, I saw
that he had a letter in his hand of great size and thickne.-s ;
and, coming into the keeping-room where I sat, he said that
Squire White had brought it over from the Post-office as he
came along, thinking I would like to have it directly. I
was rather loth to open the great packet at first, for I be-
thought myself it was likely to be some Consociation pro-
ceedings, which were never otherwise than irksome to me,
and were now weary to think of, seeing the grasshopper
had become a burden. I reached my spectacles down from
the nail, and found the post-mark to be that of the Mormon
city ; and-with unsteady hand I opened the seal, and found
within several sheets of written letter-paper, directed to me
in Ada's writing, and a short letter from Johr Henderson,
which ran thus :


"'My first wife, Adeline Frazer Henderson, departed
this life on the sixth of July, at my house in the city of
Great Salt Lake. Shortly before dying she called upon


me, in the presence of two sisters, and one of the Saints, to
deliver into your hands the enclosed packet, and tell you of
her death. According to her wish, I send the papers by
mail ; and, hoping you may yet be called to be a partaker
in the faith of the saints below, I remain your afflicted, yet
rejoicing friend,


" I was really stunned for a moment, my young friend,
not only with grief at my own loss, but with pity and sur-
prise at the entire deadening, as it appeared, of natural af-
fection in the man to whom I had given my daughter ; and
also my conscience was not free from offence, for I could
not but think that a more fervent and wrestling expostula-
tion, on the sin of marrying an unbeliever, might have saved
Adeline from sorrow in the flesh. However, I said as
much as seemed best at the time, and upon that reflection I
rested myself ; for he who adheres to a pure intention, need
not repent of his deeds afterward ; and the next day, when
my present anguish and weakness had somewhat abated, I
read the manuscript Ada had sent me.

" It was, doubtless, penned with much reluctance, for the
child's natural pride was great, and no less weighty subject
than her husband's salvation could have forced her to speak
of what she wrote for me : and, indeed, I should feel no
right to put the confidence into your hands, 'were not my
child beyond the reach of man's judgment, and did I not feel
it a sacred duty to protest, so long as life lasts, against this
abominable Mormon delusion, and the no less delusive pre-
text of doing evil that good may come. I cannot read
Ada's letter aloud to you, for there is to be a funeral at two
o'clock, which I must attend ; but I will give you the pa-
pers, and you may sit in my chair and read ; only, be
patient with my bees, if they come too near you, for they
like the hop-blossoms, and never sting unless you strike. "


So saying, Parson Field gave me his leathern chair and
the papers, and I sat down in the hop-crowned porch, to
read Adeline Henderson's story, with a sort of reverence for
her that prompted me to turn the rustling pages carefully,
and feel startled if a door swung to in the quiet house, as if
I were eavesdropping ; but soon I ceased to hear, absorbed
in her letter, which began as the first did.


" To-day I begged John to write, and ask you to come
here. I could not write you since I came here but that
once, though your letters have been my great comfort, and
I added a few words of entreaty to his, because I am dying,
and it seems as if I must see you before I die ; yet I fear
the letter may not reach you, or you may be sick : and for
that reason I write now, to tell you how terrible a necessity
urged me to persuade you to such a journey. I can write
but little at a time, my side is so painful ; they call it slow-
consumption here, but I know better ; the heart within me

is turned to stone, I felt it then Ah ! you see my mind

wandered in that last line ; it still will return to the old
theme, like a fugue tune, such as we had in the Plainfield
singing-school. I remember one that went, ' The Lord is
just, is just, is just.' Is He? Dear Uncle, I must begin
at the beginning, or you never will know. I wrote you from
St. Louis, did I not ? I meant to. From there, we had a
dreary journey, not so bad to Fort Leaven worth, but after
that inexpressibly dreary, and set with tokens of the dead,
who perished before us. A long reach of prairie, day after
day, and night after night ; grass, and sky, and graves ;
grass, and sky, and graves ; till I hardly knew whether the
life I dragged along was life or death, as the thirsty, fever-
ish days wore on into the awful and breathless nights, when
every creature was dead asleep, and the very stars in heaven
grew dim in the hot, sleepy air dreadful days I I was


too glad to see that bitter inland sea, blue as the fresh lakes,
with its gray islands of bare rock, and sparkling sand shores,

Online Libraryi00bostFavorite authors in prose and poetry → online text (page 50 of 66)