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 was 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, accompanied the Mormons
to the end of their great pilgrimage. Little Lucy Ferrier was borne
along pleasantly enough in Elder Stangerson’s waggon, a retreat which
she shared with the Mormon’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 substantial
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 Wahsatch
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 inflexibly adhering to his determination. There were some
who accused 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 Atlantic. 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 rudy, and her step more elastic. Many a wayfarer upon
the high road which ran by Ferrier’s farm felt long-forgotten thoughts
revive in their mind as they 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
awoken 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, threading 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 commission 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 pelties, 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, however, before the beasts closed in behind
her, and she found herself completely imbedded 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 of 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 most 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 creatures, 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.


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“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 remark 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 taciturn.
He and they had been among the Nevada Mountains 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 accustomed to succeed in all that he undertook. He swore in
his heart that he would not fail in this if human effort and human
perseverance could render him successful.
He called on John Ferrier that night, and many times again, until
his face was a familiar one at the farm-house. 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, Jefferson 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.
It was a summer evening when 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 cañon. 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.