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A Study in Scarlet

Chapter IX
 The Flower of Utah


  This is not the place to commemorate the trials and privations
endured by the immigrant Mormons before they came to their
final haven. From the shores of the Mississippi to the western
slopes of the Rocky Mountains they had struggled on with a
constancy almost unparalleled in history. The savage man, and
the savage beast, hunger, thirst, fatigue, and disease -- every
impediment which Nature could place in the way -- had all been
overcome with Anglo-Saxon tenacity. Yet the long journey and
the accumulated terrors had shaken the hearts of the stoutest
among them. There was not one who did not sink upon his knees
in heartfelt prayer when they saw the broad valley of Utah
bathed in the sunlight beneath them, and learned from the lips of
their leader that this was the promised land, and that these virgin
acres were to be theirs for evermore.
  Young speedily proved himself to be a skilful administrator as
well as a resolute chief. Maps were drawn and charts prepared, in
which the future city was sketched out. All around farms were
apportioned and allotted in proportion to the standing of each
individual. The tradesman was put to his trade and the artisan to
his calling. In the town streets and squares sprang up as if by
magic. In the country there was draining and hedging, planting
and clearing, until the next summer saw the whole country
golden with the wheat crop. Everything prospered in the strange
settlement. Above all, the great temple which they had erected in
the centre of the city grew ever taller and larger. From the first
blush of dawn until the closing of the twilight, the clatter of the
hammer and the rasp of the saw were never absent from the
monument which the immigrants erected to Him who had led
them safe through many dangers.
  The two castaways, John Ferrier and the little girl, who had
shared his fortunes and had been adopted as his daughter, ac-
companied the Mormons to the end of their great pilgrimage.
Little Lucy Ferrier was borne along pleasantly enough in Elder
Stangerson's wagon, a retreat which she shared with the Mor-
mon's three wives and with his son, a headstrong, forward boy
of twelve. Having rallied, with the elasticity of childhood, from
the shock caused by her mother's death, she soon became a pet
with the women, and reconciled herself to this new life in her
moving canvas-covered home. In the meantime Ferrier having
recovered from his privations, distinguished himself as a useful
guide and an indefatigable hunter. So rapidly did he gain the
esteem of his new companions, that when they reached the end
of their wanderings, it was unanimously agreed that he should be
provided with as large and as fertile a tract of land as any of the
settlers, with the exception of Young himself, and of Stangerson,
Kemball, Johnston, and Drebber, who were the four principal
Elders.
  On the farm thus acquired John Ferrier built himself a substan-
tial log-house, which received so many additions in succeeding
years that it grew into a roomy villa. He was a man of a practical
turn of mind, keen in his dealings and skilful with his hands. His
iron constitution enabled him to work morning and evening at
improving and tilling his lands. Hence it came about that his
farm and all that belonged to him prospered exceedingly. In
three years he was better off than his neighbours, in six he was
well-to-do. in nine he was rich, and in twelve there were not half
a dozen men in the whole of Salt Lake City who could compare
with him. From the great inland sea to the distant Wasatch
Mountains there was no name better known than that of John
Ferrier.
  There was one way and only one in which he offended the
susceptibilities of his co-religionists. No argument or persuasion
could ever induce him to set up a female establishment after the
manner of his companions. He never gave reasons for this
persistent refusal, but contented himself by resolutely and inflex-
ibly adhering to his determination. There were some who ac-
cused him of lukewarmness in his adopted religion, and others
who put it down to greed of wealth and reluctance to incur
expense. Others, again, spoke of some early love affair, and of a
fair-haired girl who had pined away on the shores of the Atlan-
tic. Whatever the reason, Ferrier remained strictly celibate. In
every other respect he conformed to the religion of the young
settlement, and gained the name of being an orthodox and straight-
walking man.
  Lucy Ferrier grew up within the log-house, and assisted her
adopted father in all his undertakings. The keen air of the
mountains and the balsamic odour of the pine trees took the
place of nurse and mother to the young girl. As year succeeded
to year she grew taller and stronger, her cheek more ruddy and
her step more elastic. Many a wayfarer upon the high road which
ran by Ferrier's farm felt long-forgotten thoughts revive in his
mind as he watched her lithe, girlish figure tripping through the
wheatfields, or met her mounted upon her father's mustang, and
managing it with all the ease and grace of a true child of the
West. So the bud blossomed into a flower, and the year which
saw her father the richest of the farmers left her as fair a
specimen of American girlhood as could be found in the whole
Pacific slope.
  It was not the father, however, who first discovered that the
child had developed into the woman. It seldom is in such cases.
That mysterious change is too subtle and too gradual to be
measured by dates. Least of all does the maiden herself know it
until the tone of a voice or the touch of a hand sets her heart
thrilling within her, and she learns, with a mixture of pride and
of fear, that a new and a larger nature has awakened within her.
There are few who cannot recall that day and remember the one
little incident which heralded the dawn of a new life. In the case
of Lucy Ferrier the occasion was serious enough in itself, apart
from its future influence on her destiny and that of many besides.
  It was a warm June morning, and the Latter Day Saints were
as busy as the bees whose hive they have chosen for their
emblem. In the fields and in the streets rose the same hum of
human industry. Down the dusty high roads defiled long streams
of heavily laden mules, all heading to the west, for the gold
fever had broken out in California, and the overland route lay
through the city of the Elect. There, too, were droves of sheep
and bullocks coming in from the outlying pasture lands, and
trains of tired immigrants, men and horses equally weary of their
interminable journey. Through all this motley assemblage, thread-
ing her way with the skill of an accomplished rider, there
galloped Lucy Ferrier, her fair face flushed with the exercise and
her long chestnut hair floating out behind her. She had a com-
mission from her father in the city, and was dashing in as she had
done many a time before, with all the fearlessness of youth,
thinking only of her task and how it was to be performed. The
travel-stained adventurers gazed after her in astonishment, and
even the unemotional Indians, journeying in with their peltries,
relaxed their accustomed stoicism as they marvelled at the beauty
of the pale-faced maiden.
  She had reached the outskirts of the city when she found the
road blocked by a great drove of cattle, driven by a half-dozen
wild-looking herdsmen from the plains. In her impatience she
endeavoured to pass this obstacle by pushing her horse into what
appeared to be a gap. Scarcely had she got fairly into it, how-
ever, before the beasts closed in behind her, and she found
herself completely embedded in the moving stream of fierce-
eyed, long-horned bullocks. Accustomed as she was to deal with
cattle, she was not alarmed at her situation, but took advantage
of every opportunity to urge her horse on, in the hopes oi.
pushing her way through the cavalcade. Unfortunately the horns
of one of the creatures, either by accident or design, came in
violent contact with the flank of the mustang, and excited it to
madness. In an instant it reared up upon its hind legs with a snort
of rage, and pranced and tossed in a way that would have
unseated any but a skilful rider. The situation was full of peril.
Every plunge of the excited horse brought it against the horns
again, and goaded it to fresh madness. It was all that the girl
could do to keep herself in the saddle, yet a slip would mean a
terrible death under the hoofs of the unwieldy and terrified
animals. Unaccustomed to sudden emergencies, her head began
to swim, and her grip upon the bridle to relax. Choked by the
rising cloud of dust and by the steam from the struggling crea-
tures, she might have abandoned her efforts in despair, but for a
kindly voice at her elbow which assured her of assistance. At the
same moment a sinewy brown hand caught the frightened horse
by the curb, and forcing a way through the drove, soon brought
her to the outskirts.
  "You're not hurt, I hope, miss," said her preserver, respectfully.
  She looked up at his dark, fierce face, and laughed saucily.
  "I'm awful frightened," she said, naively; "whoever would
have thought that Poncho would have been so scared by a lot of
cows?"
  "Thank God, you kept your seat," the other said, earnestly.
He was a tall, savage-looking young fellow, mounted on a
powerful roan horse, and clad in the rough dress of a hunter,
with a long rifle slung over his shoulders. "I guess you are the
daughter of John Ferrier," he remarked; "I saw you ride down
from his house. When you see him, ask him if he remembers the
Jefferson Hopes of St. Louis. If he's the same Ferrier, my father
and he were pretty thick."
  "Hadn't you better come and ask yourself?" she asked,
demurely.
  The young fellow seemed pleased at the suggestion, and his
dark eyes sparkled with pleasure. "I'll do so," he said; "we've
been in the mountains for two months, and are not over and
above in visiting condition. He must take us as he finds us."
  "He has a good deal to thank you for, and so have I," she
answered; "he's awful fond of me. If those cows had jumped on
me he'd have never got over it."
  "Neither would I," said her companion.
  "You! Well, I don't see that it would make much matter to
you, anyhow. You ain't even a friend of ours."
  The young hunter's dark face grew so gloomy over this re-
mark that Lucy Ferrier laughed aloud.
  "There, I didn't mean that," she said; "of course, you are a
friend now. You must come and see us. Now I must push along,
or father won't trust me with his business any more. Good-bye!"
  "Good-bye," he answered, raising his broad sombrero, and
bending over her little hand. She wheeled her mustang round,
gave it a cut with her riding-whip, and darted away down the
broad road in a rolling cloud of dust.
  Young Jefferson Hope rode on with his companions, gloomy
and tacitum. He and they had been among the Nevada Moun-
tains prospecting for silver, and were returning to Salt Lake City
in the hope of raising capital enough to work some lodes which
they had discovered. He had been as keen as any of them upon
the business until this sudden incident had drawn his thoughts
into another channel. The sight of the fair young girl, as frank
and wholesome as the Sierra breezes, had stirred his volcanic,
untamed heart to its very depths. When she had vanished from
his sight, he realized that a crisis had come in his life, and that
neither silver speculations nor any other questions could ever be
of such importance to him as this new and all-absorbing one.
The love which had sprung up in his heart was not the sudden,
changeable fancy of a boy, but rather the wild, fierce passion of
a man of strong will and imperious temper. He had been accus-
tomed to succeed in all that he undertook. He swore in his heart
that he would not fail in this if human effort and human perse-
verance could render him successful.
  He called on John Ferrier that night, and many times again,
until his face was a familiar one at the farmhouse. John, cooped
up in the valley, and absorbed in his work, had had little chance
of learning the news of the outside world during the last twelve
years. All this Jefferson Hope was able to tell him, and in a style
which interested Lucy as well as her father. He had been a
pioneer in California, and could narrate many a strange tale of
fortunes made and fortunes lost in those wild, halcyon days. He
had been a scout too, and a trapper, a silver explorer, and a
ranchman. Wherever stirring adventures were to be had, Jeffer-
son Hope had been there in search of them. He soon became a
favourite with the old farmer, who spoke eloquently of his
virtues. On such occasions, Lucy was silent, but her blushing
cheek and her bright, happy eyes showed only too clearly that
her young heart was no longer her own. Her honest father may
not have observed these symptoms, but they were assuredly not
thrown away upon the man who had won her affections.
  One summer evening he came galloping down the road and
pulled up at the gate. She was at the doorway, and came down to
meet him. He threw the bridle over the fence and strode up the
pathway.
  "I am off, Lucy," he said, taking her two hands in his, and
gazing tenderly down into her face: "I won't ask you to come
with me now, but will you be ready to come when I am here
again?"
  "And when will that be?" she asked, blushing and laughing.
  "A couple of months at the outside. I will come and claim
you then, my darling. There's no one who can stand between
us. "
  "And how about father?" she asked.
  "He has given his consent, provided we get these mines
working all right. I have no fear on that head."
  "Oh, well; of course, if you and father have arranged it all,
there's no more to be said," she whispered, with her cheek
against his broad breast.
  "Thank God!" he said, hoarsely, stooping and kissing her.
"It is settled, then. The longer I stay, the harder it will be to go.
They are waiting for me at the canon. Good-bye, my own
darling -- good-bye. In two months you shall see me."
  He tore himself from her as he spoke, and, flinging himself
upon his horse, galloped furiously away, never even looking
round, as though afraid that his resolution might fail him if he
took one glance at what he was leaving. She stood at the gate,
gazing after him until he vanished from her sight. Then she
walked back into the house, the happiest girl in all Utah.
 
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