[From Captain of the Parish, 1897]
BY mid-afternoon the people had arrived for the open-air lovefeast-"saints" from hillside and glen, from hamlet and farm, with a fair crowd of idle and curious folk from the neighbourhood of Narradale and Arrosey. A score of country carts were tilted on Cairnmore street. There was even a gig or two. The horses were turned loose into the fields or tethered beside a sheaf of green oats or a bundle of hay. The meeting-place was by the side of the meadow. A table with a few chairs looked down the slope, and facing upwards were several score planks laid on piles of sod. These seats were occupied early, and those who had not made haste were obliged to stand. On the front seat was Juan Paddy, his head wagging, his eyes fixed on the empty table and chairs. Mrs. Molvurra of Creg Awin was also there, in deep mourning and a white hand kerchief in her hand. Wade, in his Sunday suit, was also present at the back, to move off in the event of any too high religious excitement. On the high sod hedge were seated the idle and curious, and conspicuous among them Dan Creer and Bell. The sympathisers and saints who had not found seats stood on the wings, a large and compact audience, not less than two hundred souls, of whom the majority were women.
Milvartin, Orson Pratt, and Cannon, "a notable," sat at the table, Orson Pratt in the central chair. On the right hand of the speakers, by the bank, sat Miss Molvurra with Mrs. Cannon.
Orson Pratt scanned the audience with a business frown and gave out a hymn. They sung it with energy, the more devout beating time to stimulate rapture. Then he engaged in prayer, standing with head uncovered, and with plenty of lung-power. The people rose from their knees with a flutter of handkerchiefs, all the women having put handkerchiefs to their eyes when they knelt down, and having sobbed throughout, so as to be distinctly heard by each other. He read a passage of Old Testament history, and again gave out a hymn. After that expectation was on the stretch, and Orson Pratt, brusque and matter-of-fact, announced that "Apostle" Mil-vartin would address them.
Enos rose, laid his gloves and his wideawake on the table, and, erect, graceful, and easy, looked round, as if to take in the intelligence and the interest of every person present. He had several rings on his fingers. His profuse dark hair broke in waves over his broad brow. Orson Pratt leaned back in his chair and looked up sidewise, as if he too meant to listen with the utmost attention to every word.
" I prefer," said Enos, speaking slowly and with resonant and clear voice, " on the present occasion to give some account of that religious body to which we belong, rather than to speak in the way of counsel based on a text of Scripture. You can base anything on a text of Scripture, but we base what we have to say on the broad foundation of the whole Bible. The Church of Christ of Latter-Day Saints is no new religion. What do we believe? We believe the Bible, but not the falsehoods, and superstitions, and unreasonable opinions that this sect or that sect has professed to find in the Bible. They make the Bible fit in with themselves, but we, the saints of the Church of Jesus Christ of these latter days, make ourselves fit in with what the Bible says, and that is the difference. If the Bible is true, then we are true; and if we are wrong, it is because the Bible is wrong. Is the Bible wrong? We say no; and we have all confidence in our profession, because we have no doubts about the Bible.
"And do we believe nothing but the Bible? If you asked me what is the price of hay a ton this season, and I said six pounds a ton, would you believe me? Yes. Well, is that in the Bible? No. Still it's true. Oh yes, it's true, and yet it's not in the Bible. No, it's not in the Bible. After all, there are some things true that are not in the Bible, and what do we do then? Do we believe them? This is what we do- we put them to the test, we prove their truth, and then we believe them. But it may be said that we go too far in taking the Bible in a literal sense. We believe everything that is written in the Bible, and we go too far, they say. Yet these charges have been made by men of all. sects and all classes. But they have been made with jealousy and spite as the motive, or they could never have been made at all. With jealousy and spite as motives, and with ignorance as to the fact, what falsehood will not the tongue of man speak? I will answer these charges.
"We go too far; and what does that mean ? Nothing but that we go farther than the man who makes the charge. If he only wants to go half-way, and if we want to go the whole way, then we want to go too far. That is the charge, nothing but that. If it does not mean that, it has no meaning at all. And to that charge we make answer to all comers, 'Yes; we are willing to go as far as the Bible, to lead such lives as the saints of the Bible, and, if need be, to die such deaths as the martyrs of the Bible. We are willing and ready to go that length; and what's more, we want to go that length; and we will go that length, and you won't stop us.' Aye, but it is too far.' No doubt it is too far for the man who only wants to go half-way. And what is the next objection? That we take the Bible too literally. Yes, literally ! And what does 'literally' mean ? It means actually, exactly, word for word as it is in the Bible. Yes, that too is made a charge against us. Do you listen to the charge? Then you hear them say the Latter-Day Saints, who come from America, stick exactly to the Bible, and the Latter-Day Saints are wrong. But we accept the charge. We acknowledge the truth of it. We do stick to the Bible literally, actually word for word, and we leave it to others to torture it, and twist it, and make any sense they like of it to fit themselves. Yes, we believe the Bible, both in the promises and in the fulfilment of promises. We take God upon His word. We believe that all things spoken of the apostles of the Church in Bible-days are to be understood as true. And in the experience of the Church of these latter days we know they are true. The visions of byegone ages have been again granted to men. Voices have been heard warning men to repent and turn. Angels have visibly descended on earth. God has raised up in a mighty way a prophet as of old to preach the dispensation of these last days. Gifts of prophecy, of healing, the power of working miracles, are now in the Church of Jesus Christ. The miraculous gift of tongues is now with us, as it was with the apostles of old, witnesses to the dispensation of power. The long lost tribes of Israel are about to be 'gathered,' and the fulness of the Gentiles being come, they who have known His displeasure are to be taken under the care of the Good Shepherd of Israel. Therefore it is that we freely invite all to come and cast away their sins. We offer the fullest offers of pardon, grace, blessing, and sanctification to every humble and repentant soul. This is our attitude to the Gentile world, albeit the whole world lieth in wickedness. And if any man say, What is your proof? we answer 'The Bible-the Bible that you say you believe but do not believe.' Have we any doubts? We have none. On the authority of the Bible we stand ; and therein we have perfect confidence, looking to the final triumph of the kingdom, which is the ' gathering' of the saints out of all nations into the Church of Jesus Christ as it is among His restored saints of these latter days."
In these and like sentiments he spoke at great length, with a fervour that did not lose itself in incoherence. The people sat undemonstrative, but deeply attentive. Meanwhile a new element had been introduced into the meeting. Ere Enos had begun to speak, a horseman was coming down a sheep-track through the heather on the Cairn side, and was seen to enter the Cairnmore fields by the mountain-gate. Ellen had seen him far up on the Cairn, and had recognised John Molroy, evidently coming from Baldwin side. She watched him coming down to the farm street, where Lizzie and Mrs. Pratt, who, in sight of the people, was affecting to assist her, were making preparations for tea.
But now she wished to meet him, and thought of . his perhaps blunt, perhaps bashful, reception of the news of her engagement. To-day Ellen had found that Enos was not only more than merely in sympathy with the Latter-Day Saints, was not only a preacher in that body, was not only an apostle, which name only meant to her a preacher-all these things he had already told her, but also she had found that he was their absolute chief. At that moment she feared Molroy might ride away before the meeting was over. But she reflected that Lizzie would tell him she was there. He would not go away : he would stay to speak to her. She wondered what Molroy really felt about Enos being a Dipper. It was not wholly pleasing to herself. Molroy would think him simply a Baptist. But there was at that time no feeling in Ellen's mind that Enos had not been open and above-board, or that he had concealed his religious character. There had been no concealment; there had been nothing specially to conceal, in fact. Besides, what she had done she had done deliberately, and her loyalty was a supreme and exclusive sentiment, and repudiated misgivings before they could assert themselves. Love was above such things, she said to herself. But now Molroy was there a hundred paces away talking to Lizzie and Mrs. Pratt, she felt a misgiving that perfect frankness would not exist between them.
Then Molroy tied up his horse and came down the meadow. She was relieved. For the moment she was glad. The next moment she detected a void of disappointment in herself. What satisfaction could his coming be to her now? None whatever, because they were nothing even in vague possibility to each other now as they once were. He arrived while Enos was still speaking, and stood on the left. When Enos sat down he advanced a few paces, and stood opposite where Ellen sat. He glanced round to take in who the people were. He saw Ellen, or seemed to see her; and then a strange thing happened : their eyes met, they were looking at each other, but for the first time in their lives without mutual recognition in each other's eyes, and as strangers. It was to Ellen an unintelligible thing. She felt an intense pang of anguish. " He knows, then," she said to herself, "and we are strangers, and are not even acquainted! Is that John Molroy?" Her face became like marble in its rapt fixedness, and she saw nothing during the continuance of the spasm of anguish. But it passed. She looked at him again and again. She tried to reassure herself by meeting his glance again, but unmis takably he was avoiding meeting her look. He was paler and noticeably changed. What had caused it? Why had he come there? She looked at Enos, and found that his eyes were fixed on her, while in apparent consultation with Orson Pratt and Cannon, and Orson Pratt was looking at Molroy. Then Orson Pratt announced the meeting open for brethren and sisters to relate their experience.
She saw Molroy look round to see who would rise to speak. A labourer with a stoop in his shoulders and straggling beard rose, and, smacking his lips several times preparatory to speaking, half closed his eyes and gave a lengthy "experience," including the following:-
"Do you pretend to me," said the labourer, "that in an infant chil', that can neither hear nor speak nor think, there's a work of grace done in baptism ? or done in an infant chill at all, for that matter? No! I won't believe it. It's clean against reason. Now the Bible isn't against reason at all; for the Bible is saying, 'Come let us reason together,' it's saying. Aw, no! the Bible isn't against reason at all."
The next speaker was a young man, seemingly a mechanic from Inchport.
"I have often wondered," said he, "why there were not inspired men to preach the glad tidings of salvation to perishing sinners in these latter days, as there were eighteen hundred years ago and more. I have often wondered how it was that the gift of the Spirit and the joy of the Spirit were not poured out as in Bible-days."
But after these difficulties he had discovered that the Latter-Day Saints had all these gifts.
" It was when I was baptized into the Church of Christ of Latter-Day Saints that I realised its fulness in this humble vessel. Like Bunyan of old, I am flying from the destruction that is in store. I hope to arrive at Sion, and there to sit beyond the fiery void, and smile to see a burning world."
The next was a woman, also seemingly from Inchport. Her eyes were fixed, and for some time she was silent. Then her eyes rolled with a slow involuntary roll. She looked fixedly before her with the glare as of fever. Her hands were clenched, and a groan loud and pathetic escaped her. Then she broke forth suddenly into utterance in a weird, monotonous voice, without effort, involuntarily, rapidly, chatteringly, but not in human language. She was speaking with tongues. The intonation, the monotonous cadence, the peculiar note were discordant, dismal, and blood-curdling. Molroy glanced towards Ellen and noticed her, Mrs. Cannon beside her. Their eyes were fixed on the girl with an expression of horror and disgust. Milvartin and his friends sat with downcast eyes and bowed heads. But for the rest of the audience, they were serious and solemn as if bearing the utterance of prayer. There was a confused hubbub of sighs, groans, and sobbings; but instantly the woman ceased and sat down, with low convulsive sobs, all the hubbub ceased, and there was silence and expectancy. They were gratified only to the extent that a middle-aged mechanic rose to "interpret," manifestly a failure, as the audience seemed to enjoy the tongues far beyond the interpretation of them. Molroy was speculating on the characters of those who had spoken. His face had for the moment softened into curiosity and pity as he observed, conjectured, and reflected. When the interpreter sat down, Molroy was speculating how many of the people were Dippers, how many were idle attenders. He turned and saw Orson Pratt and Milvartin looking at him; instantly his feelings changed. An impulse seized him to vent on these pretenders, as he thought them, his contempt for their spectacle.
"Mr. Chairman, may I offer my experience?" he said abruptly.
"Certainly, brother," said Orson Pratt.
"A hearty welcome, brother," said a voice here.
"Welcome, brother," said a voice there, and from various parts of the crowd.
Ellen looked at him, wondering and anxious. She saw that in some way he was not himself. With a sonorous hum, which for the moment was wholly mistaken for a variety of the tongues, he began his recitation. It lasted as long as the unknown tongues of the woman. " The Lord be praised this day! He's humbled at last," said Mrs. Molvurra half-aloud, solemnly glancing towards Ellen when his recitation had come to an end.
There was an uncomfortable pause. There was a kind of suspicion; the people groaned and ejaculated very low, and kept one eye on Orson Pratt.
"Will no brother interpret?" said Molroy. " How is that, Mr. Chairman?"
"You are speaking Latin," said Orson Pratt.
"That's right," said Molroy. "Will no brother tackle it?" "The brethren interpret by the Spirit," said the ponderous American
" That chap?" said Molroy, pointing with his whip to the interpreter.
There were ominous laughs and sotto voce communication of comments from the hedge where the Gentiles were lined out in conspicuous wickedness.
"There is no interpretation of what is spoken contentiously and in opposition," said Orson Pratt, with a tincture of ferocity.
" yes! yes! right ! " rose from a number of lips.
" Shut up ! fair play !" came from the Gentile line, and fists were shaken in the direction of the pious legion.
"No interpretation of the Apostles' Creed? The saints are in a poor way, Mr. Pratt," said Molroy recklessly.
"It is not what you spoke, sir; it was the spirit in which it was spoken. This is a religious meeting. You are disturbing and obstructing it," said Orson Pratt excitedly.
" I see the old Adam is the spirit at present working in the chairman," said Molroy, pointing with his whip to Orson Pratt and looking to the audience.
The idle element on the hedge rose to their feet ready for mischief. Wade had withdrawn to the rear. The audience was getting unsettled. Then Enos rose to his feet. He had waited, and with a smile on his face had watched Orson Pratt get things mixed. In the bright afternoon sun shining in his face, Enos had drawn his hat over his brows.
"Mr. Molroy !" said Enos. Molroy had his arms behind his back, and held his whip in his hand. He stood with a recklessness that boded mischief. The devil had been on the point of breaking loose in the Dipper assembly. Molroy instantly fixed his attention on Milvartin.
"Well?" he said.
Enos did not meet Molroy's look, but seemed to address the people. The eyes of those who stood on the hedge gleamed with delight. If young Arrosey was for a row, it would be tremendous odds.
"Mr. Molroy," said Enos, "this is a private meeting. I appeal to you as a gentleman and as a neighbour. The people have come here by my invitation. You are heartily welcome to stay, Mr. Molroy, both this afternoon and evening, if you will give your word not to interfere. Your word," and he paused to give it emphasis, "is of course all I ask."
Enos glanced towards Ellen, and caught her look of approval, and then she turned her eyes anxiously to Molroy. Molroy saw these looks, and his eyes fell, his brows contracted ; he clenched his hands and set his teeth. Had there been on Ellen's face a look of indifference or of censure of himself, it would have gone differently with events. It was not the sweetness, it was not the tenderness, but the agony of her look that fixed his resolution. He was mystified; he was recalled to himself. He felt himself near to her still.
" Mr. Milvartin," said Molroy, " I am a trespasser; I apologise, and I withdraw. I accept no invitation to condone-"
He paused. He was facing the crowd cross-wise, and saw Ellen again.
" It is for their welfare, Mr. Molroy. They are your countrymen as well as mine," said Enos.
"Mr. Milvartin," said Molroy, with distinctness, " I withdraw. You are on your own ground;" and he turned to go up the meadow. But Enos strode towards him with extended hand. Molroy turned and confronted him.
"Do not let this interfere with our friendship, Mr. Molroy," said Enos.
" Friendship !" he said, in a curt whisper. He fixed his look on Enos. A frightful struggle renewed itself in his breast. A moment ago the face of Ellen had subdued him, but the emotions that had retreated were surging up again. He was pale with excitement; his hands were clenched, and in one he held a heavy riding-whip. The audience stared open-mouthed and breathless. A hush seemed to dominate all Nature in the meadow by the line of dwarfed and leaning ash trees, silvery bright in the sunglow.
He had held out the hand of friendship to Enos as the brother of Lizzie. What quarrel had he to withhold it now? Enos was a Dipper. But what right had he to interfere and denounce them ? Ah, yes ! but Enos had concealed his being a; Dipper-had disguised himself and worn a mask. He would repudiate all association and acquaintance in the presence of the open-mouthed crowd. These thoughts surged up; but ' with one conclusion still behind, that they were mere pretexts, excuses, and not the real reason. There was another feeling, bitter and deep-the real motive. He was jealous of Enos, with a jealousy direct and absolute, not dependent on the unworthiness of Enos, but concerned only with the fact that Enos had any place whatever in Ellen Molvurra's heart, intensified by the fact that Molroy's own love, that heretofore had never seen the light, was now brought forth in the throes of a most painful birth.
Thus Molroy stood wrestling with his passions. Enos understood what kind of man young Molroy was; what Enos divined or suspected more he kept to himself. It was but for a few moments, for Ellen rose and came across the intervening space. In anguish of heart she laid one hand in the extended hand of Enos and the other on Molroy's shoulder. She looked at her pligbted lover with a look of profound purity of soul and of righteous purpose, and then at Molroy.
" John ! "
He raised his eyes to meet her look, his face constrained with emotion. She had, in the most secret place of her soul, been struggling with a dreadful suspicion, and this was to her a moment of revelation. John Molroy was unmistakably her lover, and his heart was hers; and her own heart had not been her own to bestow on Enos; it had belonged to Molroy. She saw herself, as it were, on the edge of a chasm looking across the abyss to Molroy beyond it, and Enos, to whom she had given her word, standing by her side.
"We can never be anything but friends. Can we, John? You will not refuse?" she said.
With her voice there came to him a momentary thought of those that neither marry nor are given in marriage, but are as the angels. His eyes fell.
"Let us walk a little farther away, Mr. Milvartin," be said, with intense self-restraint.
They walked without speaking some twenty paces away, and, as if by mutual consent, stopped.
" Mr. Milvartin," said Molroy, "in the presence of those people my hand would be more than a personal pledge. I cannot compromise myself; but I know what has taken place between you and Miss Molvurra."
He could not speak further; he held out his hand, and Enos grasped it.
"I admire you!" said Enos. " You do not understand us. You have never inquired from an intelligent Mormon what we believe. You only know us from our enemies."
"Let us not go into that. It's no use," said Molroy bluntly; and again and again he tried to speak to Ellen, but could not.
"Well, let us meet again soon," said Enos. "You'll come to Cairnmore and spend an afternoon, Mr. Molroy?"
" Don't let us be strangers," said Ellen, her eyes half averted and glistening with a tear and her lips trembling. A frown, a momentary and involuntary look of impatience, crept round the eyes of Enos as he noticed her face.
" Good-bye," said Molroy in a whisper as he took her hand, hearing her breathed "good-bye" and seeing her face-a glance visible to himself alone, a memory to treasure, a look of love disguised in vain by fortitude and resolution and proud beauty, all which things were to the casual eye alone visible. He lifted his hat and remained with head uncovered, and bowed till they bad turned and gone a few steps away, and then he walked up the meadow trying to remember where it was that he had last parted with Ellen before he knew of her being engaged to Enos. He was dazed and stupefied, and could not recollect. He went up to the farm street, followed by the eyes of the Dipper congregation, and by the less thoroughly satisfied Gentiles on the meadow-hedge. Molroy's sole intention was to get his horse and ride away, but he was intercepted by Mrs. Pratt.
"You've been making a scene. Now, of what use was that ?" she said. " What could you effect? Nothing ! The people are too stupid."
He looked at her, half credulous, half doubtful, as to her real sentiments.
" You don't identify yourself with them?" he said.
"I? Oh, dear, no! I don't care a snap of my finger for my husband's affairs. I am not obliged to see eye to eye
with him, and I don't. I never go to 'meetings.' No, Mr. Molroy. But," she continued, in a half-whisper of confidence, changing the subject, " weren't you surprised when you heard of the engagement? Ah! I know you. I'm sure you were quite angry. All you handsome fellows think all the beauties ought to be in love with you, and you're always angry with them for getting engaged to anybody else. I shouldn't wonder, now, if you're swearing to yourself to be very distant and severe to her. Come, Mr. Molroy, do sit down. We can't talk standing. Dear Miss Milvartin will get you some tea. Thank goodness, she's charming enough to console even you. Don't you think she's very beautiful? Confess, Mr. Molroy."
Lizzie was approaching from the house. She was indeed beautiful-all in white from head to foot.
"What was it?" she said to Molroy. "Nothing, Lizzie."
"No, John! Tell me. I had a mind to come down and bring you away."
"Dear Miss Milvartin," said Mrs. Pratt, "let's have some tea together before they come. After that it'll be all fuss."
"No, Lizzie ! I'm going," said Molroy.
"Going, Mr. Molroy ? " exclaimed Mrs. Pratt. "Oh no! Stay! There won't be any more scenes, I pledge my word. I expected such a long talk, and a long walk too-a stroll through the woods to see this marvellous waterfall, and with you, Mr. Molroy, while those blockheads-" She approached nearer, and with a glance of familiarity said in a whisper, "You got my note?"
"Mrs. Pratt, I am sorry," he said politely. " I got your note, but I can't stay."
"Dear Miss Milvartin, he'll stay for you. We'll make your peace with them, Mr. Molroy. Miss Milvartin, come to my assistance and persuade him."
" Won't you stay?" said Lizzie carelessly.
"I really cannot," he said gravely and gently to both. "I'll go down to the gate with you, then," said Lizzie.
"Ah ! I know you lovers. You talk a language of your
own. He is not going to stay, but will have twenty words of good-bye with you. Very well! Good-bye, Mr. Molroy.
I'll leave you. I am no longer young," she said, with a flash of affected gaiety and indifference, and turned to her chair on the edge of the meadow.
" You did not quarrel with Enos ?" said Lizzie, as they went down to the woods.
" I hate this religious humbug and fooling the people." "But it doesn't matter about them, does it? Who are they all? They're of no account, John. They all want to go to America. If they all go together, and to the same place, it's better, isn't it? I understand he wants to help them; and I suppose he can tell them a good deal about the country out there," said Lizzie innocently. "At least I don't quarrel with him on that account myself," she added.
Her seriousness infected her voice as she spoke in this vein of frankness and conviction. They lingered at the gate into the glen, where through green larches the golden light fell on mossy sward sprinkled with tiny flowers, and on trefoil and clover straying out of the fields into the woodland. She stood on the moss and flowers, her figure white in the light and blue in the shadow. She had her hand on the mane of the bay mare, and he stood by the saddle.
"I'd -like to have a horse like this, with a new yellow saddle and bridle."
There was no care on her brow, no line about her open eyes, no sadness, no conflict in her thoughts. Her beauty was moulded by finer emotions, and her voice had taken a finer quality, its tone lower and richer with the deepening of love. She took a white flower from her breast, and inserted it in the buttonhole of his coat. Her hands rested on his breast as her fingers lovingly fixed the flower.
"Can't I understand? I know I'm not educated. But still you don't tell me some things I could understand better than you think, too. You don't look at all yourself," she said, looking in his eyes. "Let me see!" And she lifted his hat off. " I wish I could show you your face in a glass ! "
She was so near, he could see himself reflected in her translucent grey eyes.
" Isn't Sartal your own?" she said, with a look of innocence. " Rich people should be happy ! "
" It will be. I am not the owner yet," he said reservedly. "Tell me what is the matter to-day," she said.
"But I've told you, Lizzie. I hate these Dippers."
"No! I don't mean that. What's troubling you, and making you look as you do? "
"Tell me what you think it is ? " he said.
Instantly with open eyes she answered, "Your father? He objects to our acquaintance; and the money we owe him, too ! "
Then there rose on the air the sound of a hymn. The meeting in the meadow would soon be over, and Lizzie must return.
" Listen ! " she said. " I want to go with you somewhere for a whole day, a long way-a long walk or a long ride. Couldn't we go all day long?"
"To the very end of the Island, Lizzie. Yes ! Why not to-morrow ? "
He spoke a little abruptly. She looked a moment scrutinisingly, and was satisfied.
"Then to-morrow. That hymn's over. I must fly. Goodbye;" and she went back.
He remained at the edge of the wood looking after her. He could hear a voice in solemn monotony. He bowed his head to listen; it was Enos engaged in prayer. Then Molroy rode off-not to Arrosey. He had no immediate aim except to be miles away and alone.