The Ward of the Three Guardians
ON the afternoon of New Year’s Day in 1858, the medley of troops, teamsters, and adventurers who composed what was called the Utah Expedition lay huddled in a dreary camp, seven thousand feet above the level of the sea, in the shallow valley of Black’s Fork, a few miles south of a little stone redoubt named Fort Bridger, which is still visible from the track of the Pacific railroad. They had marched from the frontier of Missouri in June, confident of entering the Salt Lake Valley before the first bleak storms of the autumn. But the Mormons rose in arms, fortified the canyons which were the avenues to their capital, harassed the army by burning wagon trains and stampeding the quartermaster’s cattle, and finally arrested its march in this desolate spot, a hundred and fifty miles east of the Salt Lake, from which it was separated by the massive and snow-bound barrier of the Wasatch Mountains. Between bluffs three or four hundred feet high the river murmured down to the fort under a sheet of ice, and ran zigzag along a strip of bottom-land half a mile wide, which was clad in unbroken snow save in the bends of the stream, where it was dotted with log-huts and tents, from whose chimneys a hundred thin ribbons of smoke floated quietly up into the sky. Among them rose a tall flag-staff, shaped from a mountain pine, on which a starred-and-striped ensign was flapping in the frosty air. A few shivering willow bushes and cottonwoods, despoiled of foliage and charred by fires set by the Mormons, lined the edges of the fork, but no evergreens softened the glare of the landscape, and, besides the streamers of smoke, not a sign of life was visible, except on the flat tops of the bluffs where sentinels were pacing.
Inside of a wide - spreading hospitaltent, which was pitched near the centre of the camp and loomed conspicuously above its neighbors, there was a gathering, this dreary afternoon, whose gayety was in merry contrast with the savage and sombre scenery without. The officers had conspired with the only lady who was sharing the discomforts of the campaign — the wife of the lieutenantcolonel of one of the infantry regiments — to celebrate the day with the best approach Camp Scott could make to the New Year’s usages of the Fifth Avenue. The lieutenant-colonel’s wife was an older campaigner than most of the conspirators. In fever-hospitals at Yera Cruz, in tangled ambushes among the Everglades, and in all the perils of frontier service, she had followed her husband for twenty years, with a fortitude that rendered her ingenious in the expedients of military life. So in a hospitable chimney built of timber and clay at one end of the tent a huge fire was devouring half a cord of logs; the floor of the pavilion was laid with planks from dismantled wagons; and on a long table built of the same material, and covered with strips of gaudy calico provided by the sutler for the Salt Lake market, there were the remnants of a feast, the masterpiece of which was a monstrous pie, secretly composed by the general’s aide from dried apples and dough, with some hair oil that had been discovered among the sutler’s stores. Butter for many a month had been a thing only of memory and of hope. So with lard. So also with all fresh fruits and vegetables. The wagon trains which the Mormons intercepted and burned two months before contained almost all the bacon that belonged to the army rations, and four thousand men were struggling to survive the winter of an Esquimau without the aid of his usual diet. So familiar had the situation become that the disclosure of the composition of the pie crust caused not a qualm in the most delicate stripling who partook of it.
It was during the burst of laughter which greeted the revelation of the secret of the pastry that the general, tapping my shoulder, drew me aside into a corner of the tent, and startled me with the whisper, “ Would you like to go to church on Easter in New York? ” I think it must have been a minute before I replied; for something in his manner satisfied me that he was not joking, and set my fancy wandering off across a thousand miles of snowy desert, and then floating down the Missouri River, steaming across the land a thousand miles further, and arriving at Trinity Church on a sparkling morning of the early spring, when the yellow buds of the willows were swelling in the grave-yard, and a battalion of pretty girls, with dainty new bonnets, was pressing through the portal to the music of organ and orchestra and chanting children’s voices.
Five days afterwards I had finished my preparations for the long and perilous winter journey to “ the States.” Half a dozen men, selected for my companions and escort, were sworn to secrecy as to even the fact of the adventure; and its purpose was only communicated to me in confidence, lest some accident might befall the dispatches which I was to bear. The situation was indeed serious. A private inspection of the commissary stores had convinced the general that they were insufficient to subsist the army till military operations could be resumed against the Mormons; the dispatches contained an earnest appeal to General Scott to force a convoy of provisions through to the camp; and I was warned that the fortunes of the campaign would largely depend upon the safety and speed of my journey.
It was a dark and dismal evening when I raked the ashes over the embers of my camp fire, tied up the door of my tent, and crossed the ice at the bend of the creek to take supper with the general and get my last instructions. I was to set out before dawn the next morning, and, for fear of outlying parties of Mormons, instead of striking due east was to travel south along Green River to the mouth of Bitter Creek, follow that up as far as the snow would permit, and then journey northeast, by the compass, across the table-land towards the Wind River Mountains, till I should reach the Sweetwater and the Oregon trail that leads through the South Pass. At the general’s table I found the famous old trapper, Jim Bridger, who had been summoned there to give me information about the route.
Bridger was a marvelous and interesting character. In physical appearance a counterpart of Cooper’s Leatherstocking, he was unbent by age, without a morsel of superfluous flesh, and lithe and sinewy as a willow wand, with a skin as brown and wrinkled as parchment shriveled by heat. For almost fifty years he had trapped and hunted in these boundless western wilds, from the Red River of the North to the Staked Plains of Texas. He gazed upon the expanse of the Great Salt Lake a generation before Frémont trod the shore. Even as early as 1830, so he often asserted, he had seen the wonders of the Fire River Valley, a tale which we were fond of inciting him to tell, and to which we listened with a steadfast incredulity that reached its climax when the old man, after a description of the head waters of the Yellowstone as abounding in orange groves and crocodiles, insisted that the ground spit fire at every step and spouted forth geysers three hundred feet high. Peace to his prevaricating soul! We know today that what we esteemed his most monstrous he was seasoned with truth.
One of Bridger’s aggressive traits was a fanatical faith that everything loveliest in the world was to be found somewhere between Kansas City on the one side and Sacramento on the other. The fascinating feature of the general’s supper consisted of a course of beef sausages, which were manufactured by an ingenious machine that had just been constructed by a corporal who was detailed for duty as a carpenter. This machine was the envy and the despair of every inhabitant of the camp who had tasted of its products, for the daily diet at all the other mess-tables had now for many weeks consisted of steaks and joints from the tough cattle of the quartermaster’s trains, which tasked the strongest jaws and the most resolute digestion. Bridger honestly regarded the device of this machine as worth in itself the whole cost and peril of the Utah Expedition. He would sit by the hour watching its operations with the immobile interest of an Indian. I doubt whether he ever had heard of the Jacquard loom, or of Erastus Bigelow’s carpet-weaving machine; but, even if he had, he would have rated those inventions far inferior in genius and benevolence to Corporal Jenkins’s sausage-mill. Accordingly this evening, when the table was cleared and we were gathered around the fire, Bridger, with a tin mug of apple - jack compounded of whisky and dried apples in one hand, and a pipe stuffed with Lynchburg tobacco in the other, waxed eloquent over the comforts of tlie camp.
“ My last words to you, doctor,” said he, addressing me by name, with an old German title which some of my acquaintances had discovered and imported to the camp, “ are, remember these sassingers when you get to York city. You won’t find their equal in the States, if you s’arch for it from Council Bluffs to Novy Scoshy. What more on airth can a man hanker for this winter, lieutenant? ” he added, diverting his conversation to the general’s aide, who also was sipping apple-jack in a corner of the fireplace.
Now the general’s aide was a handsome young officer who was chafing visibly under the privations of the campaign, and more than once during the autumn had expressed a wish to be plastered with postage stamps and sent East in a mailbag, if he could escape in no other way. “If you mean me, Uncle Jim,” he said quickly, “ I think it’s an infernal shame for the United States to keep a fellow here for six months knee-deep in the snow, with no women in camp except the lieutenant-colonel’s wife. I don’t count for anything the six sergeants’ wives who do washing. The sausages are pretty good, but for my part I want a little more female society.”
“ Female society is it you want? ” replied Bridger; “ why, man, there’s some twenty thousand of it across the mountains, just one hundred and thirteen miles; and you ’ll be in the thick of it before June. Can’t you wait till then ? ”
“ But, Uncle Jim,” returned the lieutenant, “ I don’t believe, from all I’ve heard about the folks in the valley, that it ’s the kind that I care for.”
“ You ’re a derned sight too proud for your business, young man,” hotly responded Bridger. “ I know that you ’re an eddicated cuss, but my natteral eye for a woman is as sharp as yours. For ten year and more, down yonder on the fork, I’ve seen every hand-cart train that forded Green River bound for the lake, and you ’re out in your reck’ning if you think you can’t find as eddicated women in the valley as any you’ve got at home. Now, there’s Sam Peckham’s wives,” continued the old man, while he filled his pipe; “ there was sixteen of ’em when I last heard of Peckham, and the last time I saw ’em myself was three year ago, when I was over in the city a-bargaining of the old fort to Lew Robinson. We went up to Peckham’s to sign the papers, and there was Jane Moore, — his fourth. I tell you, young man, that you ’ll s’arch far and long in York city for such a woman as she is,”
“ Who ’s Sam Peckham? ” struck in the quartermaster, joining our group by the fireside and stirring his mug with an iron spoon as he approached.
“ Who’s Sam Peckham? ” responded Bridger, repeating the question. " Why, Captain John, I'd ’a’ suspected you ’d ’a’ known more ’n that about the people over in the valley that you ’re going to do your trading with next summer, if you can get within bargaining distance of ’em. Sam — why, he’s clear ’way up nigh the top of the whole Mormon pack. Not a picter card, but about a ten spot. He’s one of the twelve apostles. You see Sam had a way of keeping in with the right and left bowers and the other picter cards, — I mean Brigham and Heber and the rest of the saints high in glory, — and he made a good thing out of it, and he’s got about as many flocks of all kinds, two-legged or four-legged, as any of the fellers in the Old Testament that they like to preach about in the Mormon Tabernacle. He was their Perpetooal ’Migratin Agent five year, more or less, shipping all the saints from England; and he kind of sot his brand on the purtiest there was, and when they got as far along as the top of the bench above the city, the whole lot of picter cards was there and picked ’em out from the hand-carts accordin’ to the marks that the ’postle to the Gentiles had writ over aforehand. But Sam, —he was an old head! He ’d got a kind of privit brand of his own, and he sent along only five marked with it, which all was saved up for him. But when he come back hisself he brought eleven more in a lump.”
“ Now, Jane Moore, as I was a-saying,” continued the old man, addressing himself again to the young lieutenant, who sat drumming with his fingers on the bottom of the tin mug which he had emptied and turned upside down, “ Jane was Sam’s fourth, and was one of them that come ahead. I was there the day they crossed the fork. First there come some cows and twenty or thirty women a-wading across, and then there come a string of hand-carts, with pervisions and furniture and babies in ’em, and the men a-hauling and a-pushing of ’em, and then there come a wagon with two steers and a piano and a looking-glass with a gold frame — as handsome a looking-glass as you ’ll find in any bar-room in St. Louis — and a sick woman in the bottom of the wagon along with the piano, and then there come Jane and Henerietta.”
“ I suppose that Henerietta,” interrupted the lieutenant, adopting Bridger’s superfluous syllable, “ was Sammy’s fifth.”
“You’re wrong there, lieutenant,” said Uncle Jim, “ as you’d found out soon if you had n’t been so quick. Henerietta was the purtiest eight-year-old girl that ever I saw afoot with a hand-cart train; and Jane, she was over-young looking to he her mother. Well, they two stood atop of the hank, up in the greasewood, watching the wagon slant down the cut in the clay to the fork. But when the steers touched water they just shied off sideways, and the tongue it snapped short off, and the wagon slipped on the off-wheels and just tipped the whole load into the fork, — the piano and the sick woman and the looking-glass. The woman, she floated; and the looking-glass, it smashed; and we hooked the piano out chock full of water, and carried the whole of ’em up to the fort. It was hard to pull that looking-glass all the way from Ioway city and smash it just here almost in sight of the Promised Land.”
Here Bridger paused for a moment, utterly absorbed in a silent calculation of the cost of the looking-glass and its transportation, and the total loss by the breakage, and I doubt whether he ever would have regained the thread of the story but for Captain John, who broke the pause by asking, “ Whereabouts on the bank do you say that you left Jane and Henerietta standing four years ago, Uncle Jim? If they ’re still there, I’ll send down to-morrow morning and fetch them up to camp. It’s cold weather for an ' eddicated ’ woman and girl to be out so long.”
“That ain’t fair, Captain John,” said Bridger. “ As soon as we’d picked the sick old woman out of the fork, we took her up to the fort, and she died there two days after. I obsarved that she took to the Christian scripters, instead of Jo Smith’s Mormon Bible, for her dyin’ consolations. She was a poor old creeter from Cornwall. Lots of ’em come from thereabouts. It ’s a mining country, as I’ve heerd, and I s’pose that the poor ereeters who live in the burrows there think that everything that sunlight lays on must be as good as it is bright. If it wa’ n’t so, there would n’t be so many of ’em trapped by such smooth-tongued fellers as Sam Peckham. We buried the old woman just behind the northeast corner of the fort, inside of that place that your artillery major has put up with a brass gun in it. He calls it a demilunette, but it looks to me like any other ornery stone-wall. I took Henerietta on to my old shoulders, with her party little ankles hanging one down on each side, and carried her across the water on my back.”
Just here the adjutant entered the tent with my bundles of dispatches, sealed, and securely bound with red tape. The last farewell was soon said, and I was wandering through the camp to warn my companions to be ready betimes in the morning.
Our party was in the saddle by starlight, before the first streak of dawn glimmered above the eastern bluff, and when Camp Scott awoke to another day of its monotonous life, we were ten miles away on the trail to Henry’s Pork, where we were to select our horses and packmules from the herds which were pasturing there near the dragoons’ camp. That evening a courier from Camp Scott brought down to me another package of dispatches, and a letter from the general’s aide, the young lieutenant, which inclosed one of the neat little three-cornered notes in which the pass-words for the day were usually communicated to those who were entitled to them. Opening it, I read: —
HEADQUARTERS CAMP SCOTT, } January 8, 1858.
Parole : Jackson and New Orleans.
Countersign: Henerietta’s ankles.
The next morning we were far away on our bleak journey to the States, — a journey of a thousand miles through snowdrifts, in which we should find only two spots where there was a roof that sheltered a white man.
It was near sunset on a bitter afternoon early in February, when we struck the Oregon trail. For two days we had not been able to collect fuel for a fire. The snow lay so deep on this part of the route across the dreary table - land that during the whole of the preceding week we were compelled to break the crust and trample a path ourselves, to make a passage for our animals, and we were fortunate to accomplish in this way five or six miles between sunrise and sunset. This day the thermometer had marked eighteen degrees below zero at noon. Every one of us was weary and on the verge of sickness, and several were frostbitten. But there was spirit enough left to raise a hearty cheer when Jo Brooks, who led the trampling column and had just surmounted a swell in the table-land, pointed to some dark knolls in the distance and cried out, “ The Sweetwater!”
We toiled with renewed courage long after the yellow streaks of sunset had faded into gray in the gloomy evening sky. The snow became thinner after the crest of the bluff was turned which bounded southward the bottom-lands of the stream, and soon we were able to mount and press forward with increasing speed. The outlines of the dark knolls grew more distinct in the dusk, and were recognizable as the cliffs on the other side of the river. At last we crossed the frozen ruts of the broad emigrant-road, but did not rest until we reached the riverside at a bend where the current was so swift that a strip a hundred feet long was free of ice, — a welcome sight to our eyes, for ever since we began to ascend Bitter Creek, more than a fortnight before, we bad obtained water only by melting the snow.
After unpacking the mules and turning them loose to pick a difficult meal of bunch-grass, the first care was to search for wild-sage bushes enough to make a fire for warmth and cooking. I remained by the pack-saddles while my companions dispersed on this business. The search was long, but one man after another brought his scanty tribute to the pile of brush, until the store was large enough to justify kindling part of it, and the first gleam of the blaze was greeted with shouts from the distant searchers.
Jo Brooks was the last to return to camp, and came loaded with an armful of boards, each three or four feet long and about a foot wide. My first thought was that he had happened upon a wagon which had been abandoned by the side of the trail; and I was just on the point of proposing that we should bring in the rest of the vehicle, when I recognized, by the light of the flame which sprang up as he cast one of the boards upon the smoking brush, the very different source from which he had obtained them. Something in my look compelled Jo to an apology, which he was quick to make, and which took the tone of a defense.
“ When I helped bury the poor creeturs, now three years ago, doctor,” said he, “ I never thought I’d have come to this. But somebody will suffer to-night, sir, after all the men have gone through these twodays, unless this fire can be kept up till we get into marching order again, and I don’t believe there’s a single ghost among the whole of them as would grudge his wooden tombstone to keep a fellow from freezing. I never did tlie like of it but once before,” Jo continued. “ That was in the early spring of ’52, ten miles the other side of Fort. Laramie. Two of us had gone out still-hunting after buffalo, and were caught in a storm one afternoon, with the sleet driving right into our eyes so that we could n’t make a hundred yards an hour towards the fort; and we were soon out of our reckoning and quarreling about the points of the compass. It was near midnight when the storm held up, and it cleared off bitter cold. We were huddled in a gully, where we ’d sought shelter below the top of the bluff, so that the body of the storm swept over our heads; but we were wet to the skin, and our clothes were frozen stiff to our backs. Bob Hutchins was the first to crawl out, and then came back almighty quick, looking scared. Just up above us, on the edge of the bluff, he had run square on to two of those kind of fourpost bedsteads, sir, that the Sioux bury theirdeadon. Bob was thinking of ghosts, but the only thing I could get to thinking of was fire-wood. It took a while for me to pry Bob’s courage up to the mark, but I got him up to it at last, and in less than half an hour we had both of those four-posters down, and everything there was on top of them, and we burned the whole of it that night. If we 'd been seen or known by any of the Ogalallays about the fort, the skin on our heads would n’t have been worth insuring for ninety-nine and nine tenths per cent.; but two dead Injuns saved two live white men from freezing that night, and this ’ere lot of head-boards, sir, is going to help do the same by six more.”
I brought tlie rest of the boards to the fire and examined them by the blaze. Some traces of red chalk were visible on one or two of them, but rain and snow in the three years had effaced all their meaning. Not a single word or figure was intelligible. While I made the examination, Jo discoursed to his companions about the burying-ground which he had robbed of this lumber.
“ I thought I knew the place, boys,” said he, " the moment we turned the swell of the ground and caught sight of the river; but I was n’t dead certain of it, and if there’s one thing more than another that I’ve learned in ten years’ knocking round in these parts it is not to fire till I’m sure of my shot. It did n’t seem to me, though, that there could be two bends in a hundred miles like this one; and so, while the rest of you were looking after the horses, I crossed the river on the ice, and, sure enough, there was the old ship-fever camp of 1855, where I was nurse. It was a Mormon hand-cart train. Somebody 'd got shipfeveron the voyage, and it broke out bad among them before they got to Laramie. The major would n’t let them stop at the fort, but sent the army doctor out to them with a lot of medicine; and somehow, after a while they crawled along as far as here, when they had to haul over across the river and set up a regular hospital for six weeks and more. Two thirds of the poor devils died and were buried yonder, and there is n’t one of those boards that I did n’t see as wet with tears as if it had been rained on.”
At dawn, the next day, Jo and I started from the camp to gather up the mules, leaving the rest of the men busy arranging the packs and cooking the morning meal. When we were out of ear-shot I said to him, “ You have n’t kept good faith with me, Jo Brooks. You know as well as I do that I would n’t have trusted you on this journey if I had suspected that you ever were a Mormon.”
“ I never was a Mormon, sir,” answered Jo. “ What makes you think I was ? ”
“ How did you happen to be traveling with a Mormon hand-cart train three years ago?” I replied.
“Bless your soul, sir,” said Jo, “if that’s what troubles you, I can make it clear enough in twenty words. You see I’ve been a good deal of a vagabond in my day, and in the spring of 1855 I was lying round loose in Saint Jo, ready for a job of any sort, and the job came along then in this fashion. There was a lady at the hotel, who had been there some days, waiting for another lady to come up the river. She came at last — this other lady — the whole way from New Orleans, alone except for a little girl there was with her. These two women were bound for Salt Lake, and Bob Hutchins was there to take them out, — the same fellow I told you of last night, sir. Bob was a sneaking kind of Mormon; that is to say, he was a hot one in the valley, and cooled off and made believe Gentile at the forts or down in the States. He hired me to help, and we started out, — the two ladies, and Bob and I, and the little girl with us. The women and the girl rode in a four-mule wagon, with a piano and a big looking-glass, and tied themselves up of nights; and Bob and I, we drove on the front seat by day and slept outside by night on buffalo skins. We’d passed Laramie, say thirty miles, when we caught up with the sick hand-cart train; and the two women did what the major and the folks at the fort had n’t the stuff in them to do. They just went in among those poor devils as if they’d been their own flesh and blood; and what was more, they put Bob and me to nursing, too. Bob was scared of the fever, — he always was a coward,—and the second night he cleared out and took the four mules along with him, and hide nor hair of that fellow has been seen in these parts since. While we were lying here, a party of Mormons from the valley came along, going East, and the ladies paid me off, and one of them turned about and went back with the missionaries. But I stood by the camp till what was left of the handcart people got a-going again, and then I bargained with some Oregon emigrants, that were passing, for a yoke of steers to pull the wagon with the other lady and the girl. I saw them all off on the way to the valley, and then I doubled back to Fort Kearney and hired myself out to the sutler there for that winter.”
“ Yes,” said I, “ I know all about that. The little girl’s name was Henrietta, and the name of the woman that went on with her was Jane Moore, and the other woman’s name was — what was her name, Jo? ”
“ It was an uncommon name, sir,” said Jo, looking almost as frightened as Bob Hutchins when they burned the Indian mummies. “ How did you know about all this, sir? ”
“ I shan’t tell you, Jo,” said I; “ but do you pledge me your word of honor that you never were a Mormon? ”
“I do, sir,” replied Jo.
Six months later, a brilliant evening in July, I was sitting with Peter Dotson, the United States marshal, upon the veranda of my little adobe cottage in Salt Lake City. I went to church in New York on Easter, and saw the pretty girls and new spring bonnets; returned to the camp in May, across green plains and torrents laughing in the sunshine, where so little while ago there stretched dreary wastes laced by ice - bound rivers; and entered the Mormon capital in June, a few days after the peace commissioners who carried President Buchanan’s pardon to Brigham and Heber and the rest of Uncle Jim Bridger’s “ picter-cards ” and “ ten spots,” Sam Peckham included.
As we rode through Echo Canyon we inspected with curiosity the rude embankments which the saints threw up against the approach of the army. Then we crossed the Weber River, traversed a chain of romantic gorges, climbed a steep pass of the Wasatch range, and at last began the descent into the valley of the Salt Lake. All along the slope of the mountain the path was lined with rose-bushes in full bloom, with clusters of columbines, and with party-colored tufts of wild flowers drooping under the weight of rain - drops. A dense mist sprinkled the hill-sides, so that we did not obtain our first view of the beautiful city until we emerged from Emigration Canyon. Then the sky was clear overhead, and the sun was burning away the clouds from all the summits of the western mountains. But they still clung to the peaks which bound the valley on the southeast, and there they almost covered the snow on the crests of the range. At our feet lay the deserted Mormon capital, embowered in foliage. The line of the Great Salt Lake glittered on the western horizon.
The transition from the misty gloom of the mountain gorge was so sudden that the whole party uttered a cry of delight. We spurred our ponies over the slope, those of the company who had lived in the city pointing out the prominent buildings as we galloped along, — the tinned cupola of the City Hall, the Mansion and Lion House of Brigham Young, the structures in Temple Square, and the arsenal. Adown the valley, on each side of the great southern road, lay broad fields of grain to which the showers had imparted a lively green. Through the plain we could trace the windings of the Jordan by the glitter of the sunlight on its bends. As at last we clattered through the city, not a soul was visible except a group of half-naked Indian boys paddling in one of the rivulets which flowed along the gutters. The night of our arrival, Dotson, who was an old settler and had been “ run off ” by the Mormons in 1856, took quiet possession of his house, which consisted of one bedroom, a kitchen, and a pantry, and gave accommodation there and in the yard to the civil officers of the territory, for three or four weeks, until the Mormons returned to the deserted city and Brigham gave permission to the saints to let us lodgings. During this time I inhabited a huge covered wagon, one of the wellknown “ arks of the plains,” which I wheeled into the yard. I used to climb into it at night on a short ladder, which I pulled up after me; and truly there were such attractions in that mediæval style of life that I quitted the old ark with a good deal of regret, to take quarters just across the broad street, in Elder Josiah Baxter’s one-story adobe, of which I secured a lease at an exorbitant rent for six months.
The respect which the army showed for all the possible rights of property of the Mormons was one of the most remarkable instances of good discipline I ever have witnessed. A fortnight elapsed after our arrival before it reached the city. Meanwhile a few hundred Mormons — all men—had come up from their great camp on the western shore of Lake Utah, where the population, withdrawn from their settlements, to the number of nearly thirty-five thousand souls, had overflowed the little town of Provo, and been squalidly lodged ever since the early spring in board shanties, wigwams, log - huts, bowers of willow branches covered with wagon-sheets, and even in holes dug into the hill-sides. The day the troops marched across the town these few hundred men forsook all the public places and watched sullenly, through chinks in barricaded windows, the passage of the blue columns which poured along the lonely streets from morn till sunset. Yet under such circumstances of opportunity and provocation not a single instance of trespass upon a house or a garden-plot could be recorded against a soldier, or even against any one of the thousands of teamsters or camp followers. The army pitched its tents that night on the banks of the Jordan, below the city, and a few days afterwards moved quietly southward to a permanent camp more than thirty miles away, leaving the twenty-one Gentiles who were crowded into Pete Dotson’s little house and yard alone among the Mormon inhabitants, who immediately began to return to the city by thousands. Their trains usually came up the valley from Provo by daylight, and were driven into town after sunset; and from the airy lodgings which I occupied in Dotson’s yard, I could hear, night after night, from dusk to dawn, the incessant tapping of hammers as the boards with which almost every door and window had been covered were torn away. Elder Josiah Baxter, Dotson’s neighbor, arrived among the earliest, and I at once engaged the “ refusal ” of his cottage, which was conditioned upon his obtaining the consent of Brigham to let it to a sinner like myself. We conducted the negotiations in his cellar under circumstances of extreme dampness and secrecy, and Brigham ratified the bargain, probably after devout consideration of the fact that the rate of rent amounted to a bare-faced spoliation of the Gentile tenant. the United States attorney for the Territory.
On this balmy summer evening, then, Pete Dotson and I were sitting upon the veranda, smoking our pipes. Elder Baxter and the two aged Mrs. Baxters were hoeing in the garden (which he had reserved to himself in the lease), and crooning the melodies of their faith while they toiled in the moonlight. The elder was of a morose turn of mind, and yet so practical withal that he was well aware of the relation of rhythm to manual labor. I had observed his method with the Mrs. Baxters before this evening. They would start work to slow metre. His favorite hymn, to begin with,
I remember opened with a stanza alluding rather pointedly to our invasion of the Territory, which ran, —
Require the saints to watch and pray,
That they may keep the narrow way
To the celestial glory.”
The elder “ deaconed ” off the first three verses, and both of the Mrs. Baxters united with him in the fourth. They would hoe down, say, two rows to this dismal tune, and then the elder would strike up something a little more lively:
It has no head to lead it; in it I would not be.
But I ’ve a church not made by man,
Cut in the hills by Brigham'S hand :
A church with gifts and blessings;
Oh, that ’s the church for me ! ”
and both Mrs. Baxters would thereupon fervently repeat, —
The elder’s climax was reached in a sacred ditty entitled The Bridegroom’s Supper: —
That the good of this world all the saints may be sharing ;
For the harvest is ripe, and the reapers have learned
To gather the wheat that the tares may be burned.
Chorus. Come to the supper, come to the supper,
Come to the supper of the great bridegroom.”
I think they always had themselves in mind as the wheat, and their Gentile tenant as the tares. During this chorus both Mrs. Baxters would hoe spasmodically, while the elder would drop his hoe and accompany his voice with a violent clapping of his hands.
On the present occasion we had surmounted the trials of the present day, but had not yet been invited to the bridegroom’s supper, when our attention was diverted from the singing by the arrival of two riders who galloped up to the veranda, hitched their horses carelessly, and in a minute or two were seated like us with their feet over the railing, to the certain disgust of the elder and his brides, for one of them wore a military uniform which the saints detested as the livery of their oppressors. It was the general’s young aide, the compiler of the New Year’s pastry at Camp Scott, and the author of the countersign of the 8th of January. His companion was . . . “ I have not seen either my wife or child since the abduction of the latter in 1854, and I have never been able to hold communication in any manner with my child. Now I am, as your lordship may well believe, most desirous alike to rescue my little girl, now twelve years of age, from the most improper hands to which she has been committed, and from the Mormons’ society altogether, and to prevent Mrs. Perego from regaining possession of her; and it is to request from your lordship any aid which as minister for foreign affairs you may be able to afford me that I venture to intrude myself upon your notice. The mode (if any) in which you can best promote my object of saving my child from apparently almost inevitable ruin will doubtless suggest itself to your lordship; but premising that I yesterday addressed a letter to his excellency, Mr. Dallas, the American minister in London, applying for any aid which he in his official capacity can afford me, I would most respectfully suggest that by your lordship’s communication with the government of the United States on my case, and recommending it to their attention, they might be induced to issue orders to the commander of their forces now proceeding to the Mormon settlement, to the effect that on the capture of the Salt Lake City my daughter shall be committed to safe hands till I shall be apprised of the fact and I can go or send for her, or otherwise to aid me in recovering my daughter. The only apology I can offer to your lordship for thus intruding a matter so wholly domestic upon your attention is this: that, so far as I know, there is no course that I individually can pursue which it is at all probable would be attended with success.”
“ Look here, doctor " exclaimed the latter, after the first greetings were exchanged, “ the general has shirked a pretty piece of work off on me, and I want you to help me through with it. These military folks (begging your pardon, lieutenant) beat civilians all hollow in shirking. If they can find somebody to indorse a paper over to, and to give them a receipt for it, that ’s all they ever care for; ” and saying this he tossed into my lap a bundle of dispatches which the aide had brought from the camp.
“ What is it all about? 55 I asked.
“ Take them inside, and strike a light and read them,” he replied; “ then give me your answer to-night, for I must send word back what we can do about it, and as the lieutenant goes back to-morrow I should like to send by him.”
So I left the three on the veranda cracking jokes upon old Baxter and his wives, whose voices were uplifted just then in the averment, “ Oh, that’s the church for met!” and, lighting a candle inside of the cottage, I read a series of documents which told the following story: —
Mr. Julian Perego was a gentleman of Spanish descent, who resided at St. Albans, in Hertfordshire, England, and possessed a comfortable fortune. Both he and his wife were Romanists, and in 1852 they put their child, a girl then six years old, at a Roman Catholic school in Norfolk. During the next year domestic difficulties arose between the husband and the wife, and in 1854 Mrs. Perego kidnaped the girl from the school and escaped with her to North America. She was met in one of the Western States by her sister, who had emigrated from England a year or two before. The father received information that the mother and child came first to New Orleans and took passage up the Mississippi. Then he obtained tidings of the meeting with the sister; and then all traces of them were lost. Mr. Perego possessed sufficient influence in 1855 to procure special instructions from the home government to the British consuls at New Orleans and some other American ports to assist him to regain his child, but when these instructions reached Louisiana Mrs. Perego and her daughter had departed up the river, and all his attempts to pursue them proved fruitless. At last, early in March, 1858, he received a letter, dated at New Orleans, from John Hyde, a well-known Mormon refugee, which informed him that Mrs. Perego was again in that city, and that the child was living in Utah, under the assumed name of “ Lucy,” with her aunt, Jane Moore, who was a wife of Elder Samuel W. Peckham, an important Mormon dignitary. The following extracts from the correspondence complete the narrative: —
MR. JULIAN PEREGO to the EARL OF MALMESBURY, the British Minister of Foreign Affairs. March 26, 1858.
BARON NAPIER, British Minister at Washinyton, to LEWIS CASS, Secretary of State of the United States. May 24, 1858.
“ I have the honor to transmit to you herewith a copy of a letter addressed by Mr. Julian Perego, of St. Albans, Herts, England, to the Earl of Malmesbury, conveying an account of the circumstances under which his only daughter, Henrietta Perego, was abducted when eight years of age from his control and transferred to the Mormon settlement at Salt Lake City. Her majesty’s government have instructed me to request that you will lend your good offices towards the recovery of the child by directing the military and civil authorities of the United States to afford such assistance as may be in their power to Mr. Perego, or his attorney, or to any of her majesty’s consuls, with the view of securing the personal safety of the daughter and her restoration to her father.”
LEWIS CASS, Secretary of State, to JOHN B. FLOYD, Secretary of War. May 26, 1858. “ I transmit herewith the copy of a communication addressed to this department by Lord Napier, and have the honor to request that you will be so good as to cause the necessary inquiries to be set on foot by the military authorities of the United States, with a view to the restoration of the daughter to her father, in accordance with the wishes expressed by the British government on the subject.”
COLONEL SAMUEL COOPER, Adjutant-General of the United States Army, to the Commanding Officer of the Army in Utah, via Leavenworth City, Kansas. June 15, 1858.
“ The secretary of war desires that you cause inquiries to be instituted for the purpose of gaining information respecting the young woman alluded to in the inclosed letters, and should it appear that she is still among the Mormons that you adopt such measures as may seem to you advisable to bring about her release from their community and her restoration to her friends.”
BREVET BRIGADIER-GENERAL ALBERT S. JOHNSTON, commanding the Department of Utah, to the United States Attorney for the Territory. July 27, 1858.
“ I presume that the duties enjoined upon me in my military capacity in the inclosed correspondence were expected to be performed in the contingency that the relations of the people of this Territory to the federal government should be still unchanged on the reception of the instructions. Now, inasmuch as there has been an amicable adjustment of the difficulties heretofore existing, and the supremacy of the law is reestablished, I do not doubt that under the circumstances the design of the department will be fully accomplished by my handing over the papers to the civil authority, that such proceedings may he instituted as shall lead to the recovery of the little girl and her restoration to her father, in accordance with the request of the British minister, who asks the interposition of our government for that purpose.”
I instantly recognized, of course with some astonishment, that the subjects of these dispatches were the heroines of Bridger’s discourse the night before I left the winter camp on Black’s Fork, and of Jo Brooks’s story on the bank of the Sweetwater, both of which had frequently come back to my mind during the intervening months. Folding up the papers and leaning out of the window, I heard the group on the veranda discussing the chances of discovering the little Henrietta. Baxter and his wives had ceased crooning and hoeing, and had gone to bed.
The attorney was relating how, soon after the receipt of the dispatches, a few hours ago, he had sent a trusty person to Sam Peckham’s house to ask if the fourth Mrs. Beckham had come up yet from Provo. The messenger was received by the first Mrs. Peckham, a sage woman, who suspected at once some secret purpose in the inquiry, and asked for a clearer specification of the wife in question, to which the messenger had replied that her name was Jane Moore, whereupon Sister Peckham denied stoutly that she had now, or ever had, any conjoint wife of that name. Dotson, after cursing the imprudence of the messenger, was declaring his purpose to find the girl and her aunt though he should search for them a year; but one of the others availed himself of the well-worn illustration of the needle and the hay-stack.
I caused not a little wonder, therefore, when I said hopefully to the attorney, “ I’ll take the case with you, and if Peter will give me the appointment of a deputymarshal I’ll engage to find the girl within a week.”
“ I won’t appoint a Mormon,” said Dotson.
“ It is n’t a Mormon that I want,” I replied; “ it’s a fellow named Jo Brooks, who was one of the men that went to the States with me last winter. I hear he came back this summer with a wagon train; and the chances are ten to one that the lieutenant can lay hand upon him over in the camp within twenty-four hours. If I can’t have him, I want Uncle Jim Bridger; and if I can’t have Uncle Jim — well, I might be willing to put up with the lieutenant there, if he ’ll take off his shoulder-straps and enter the civil service.”
“What in thunder do you mean?” exclaimed the person last described.
“ Don ’t you remember,” said I, “ the bogus countersign you sent me down on Henry’s Fork last January? Just remember that, and think of names, and you ’ll begin to get some light about this girl and her aunt.”
“ By Jove, they are the very pair that old Bridger was talking about,” broke out the lieutenant, evidently recalling the evening in the general’s tent.
Then in a few words I told them about Brooks and the burying-ground on the Sweetwater.
The lieutenant rode back to camp the next day with a letter assuring the general that the attorney, with my assistance, would undertake the case, and requesting a modest remittance of money for the expenses of the search. In reply, Jo Brooks was sent over report to me; but we were advised that according to the ordinary course of affairs at Washington no provision had been made of any fund for executing the business en joined in the dispatches; that probably Mr. Cass, Mr. Floyd, and Lord Napier, and the other distinguished gentlemen enumerated in the letters, “counted upon the benevolence of the legal profession.” Lawyers, like physicians, were expected to practice free for ministers’ families, and here were concerned no less than two ministers for foreign affairs and one at war, besides one envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary.
“I suppose,” remarked the attorney dryly, as we finished the reading of the general’s unsatisfactory epistle, “ that we might throw in Sam Peckham for the fifth minister concerned, considering that he’s one of the twelve apostles.”
We were too deep in the case, however, by this time, to retreat for any pecuniary cause; and so that very afternoon Brooks was sworn in as a deputy marshal, intrusted with a writ of habeas corpus which we had sued out in the father’s name, and put on the search for the child. Not to make a long story of his adventures, his previous acquaintance enabled him to discover her and her aunt within a few days, and I the writ was served and return was promptly made to it in the aunt’s name by Brigham Young’s former attorney-general, Hosea Stout, a hot-headed old polygamist, who indiscreetly admitted in the return almost all the facts which we desired to prove.
The hearing before the judges was held in Elder Baxter’s cottage, for it contained the largest room of which any of the Gentiles in the city at that time had possession, since Brigham, while granting his followers leave to let us lodgings, had not yet conceded a place for the business of the courts. My board bedstead, turned up on edge and covered with buffalo robes, was the judicial bench; the judges and the counsel were accommodated with seats on barrels and soapboxes; and Jane and Henrietta occupied my only two chairs. The chief-justice told me long afterwards, in confidence, that the top of the barrel, covered with a striped Navajo blanket, on which he sat gave way at a critical stage of the proceedings, but that a keen sense of the dignity of his office rescued him from the ordinary consequences of such a mishap, and enabled him to sit out the rest of them on the sharp edge of the staves.
The day before the hearing the general sent us private word that he would order a squadron or two of cavalry over to the city, if we apprehended a violent interruption of the trial; but after a consultation between the marshal and the judges the offer was declined, although, to tell the truth, every one of us was sensible that there would be serious risk of an outbreak. The hour fixed for the hearing was three o’clock in the afternoon, and the marshal took the prudent precaution to pack the room beforehand with all the Gentiles there were in the city. Admittance, however, was given to as many Mormons, and a crowd of one or two hundred saints occupied the yard below the veranda, and gazed curiously in through the open windows. I doubt whether there was a man in the room (the judges included) who did not carry a “ six-shooter ” in his pocket or under his coat, tail, and a single shot would have been the signal for a “ free fight.” But the trial was conducted quietly, and even solemnly. The testimony of Jo Brooks, combined with the incautious admissions of the return to the writ, made a perfect case; judgment was awarded for the discharge of Henrietta from ike custody of the aunt and her delivery to us as the representatives of the father, and at sunset on the 4th of August the marshal, the attorney, and myself were left alone with the child in our possession.
Sam Peckham did not appear in person. The aunt was a neatly dressed woman twenty-eight or thirty years old, reserved in her manner, and bearing a manifest impress of education and polite associations. Remembering Bridger’s description of her, I credited the old guide with accidentally telling the truth. Her self-possession and that of the child were perfect. Evidently they had been instructed beforehand as to the probable result, and had concerted their demeanor. So, when the judgment was pronounced, she quietly delivered the child to the marshal, took Hosea Stout’s arm, and swept out of the room with the air of a grand lady. The child did not shed a tear or make an exclamation, and sat bolt upright in her chair while the audience dispersed, nor did she offer to stir when the senior Mrs. Baxter entered the room and began to remove the barrels and soap-boxes, brush the floor, and put the scanty furniture to rights.
The conversation while the old woman was at work was reserved, for she clearly was bent on playing eavesdropper. At last, having garnished the house, and no pretext offering for a longer stay, the elder’s wife could contain herself no longer. Perching her left elbow on the handle of her broom for a rest, and shaking her right hand defiantly at the marshal, who had not scrupled to intimate that we wished to be left to ourselves, she addressed us as follows: —
“ Ain’t you ashamed of yourselves, you despoilers of the helpless and violators of the innocent, to be sittin’ here in council over this ’ere ewe lamb? Dog on you, Peter Dotson,” she proceeded, directing her indignation specially at the marshal, “ if I ’d ’a’ known what you were a-plottin’ this last week, I’d ’a’ saved that young thing’s soul, and sealed her to a saint in glory, if I had had to make my Josiah take her his own self.”
With this the young girl arose from her chair, and walking quickly to the window where I was standing, and from which I turned as she advanced, struck me a sudden and vigorous blow with her clinched fist in my face.
“ Glory hallelujah!” exclaimed Sister Baxter, escaping rapidly through the door-way, “ the child’s got the Holy Spirit in her, and all the powers of hell can’t snake it out.”
A few minutes afterward we heard the old woman hoeing in her garden-plot and singing dolefully in her usual strain: —
Require the saints to watch and pray,
That they may keep the narrow way
To the celestial glory.”
We had found and captured Henrietta. What to do with the little vixen now was the serious question.
Miss Henrietta Perogo was a blackhaired, brown - eyed gypsy, bounding with unconscious health, and not overgrown, for her age, in bulk or stature. Her passion was satisfied or exhausted by the success of her assault. She listened with evident interest to our discussion of the disposition to be made of her, but refused to reply to any questions, and did not stir again from the chair in which the marshal gently but firmly replaced her until, hearing the decision that we should ask the chief-justice to take care of her, over night, she arose without suggestion, took Dotson’s hand, and did not falter or attempt to escape on the way. It seemed as if she made a nice and accurate discrimination between the lawyers and the officer, regarding the attorney and myself as the active agents, and Peter as the passive instrument of her capture. But on better acquaintance I came to doubt whether her character was mature enough to comprehend such a distinction. In most of her phases she was only a reckless child.
At his little cottage we discovered the chief-justice cooking his own supper with the aid of an Indian boy, whom he had begged or bought from a Uinta chief during the previous winter while I was in the States, and had christened Tom. Tom’s most prominent feature was a wonderful shock of coarse and brilliant black hair, as thick as the fur of a beaver, which the judge caused to be closely cropped at short intervals. How he and his master first devised their means of communication I never knew. When I returned to the camp in May, they possessed a system of exchanging ideas through a combination of pantomime with a gibberish of the Ute and English languages, and the kind old man had made some progress towards instructing Tom, through this obscure medium, in the Christian scheme of salvation.
The object of our visit did not surprise the judge; and he remarked to us, with a dry smile, that he had intended to call at Elder Baxter’s cottage after supper to offer the same service which we came to request. During our conversation Tom and Henrietta struck up a familiar acquaintance, The artful reserve of the girl dissipated like a cloud, and soon she substituted herself for the judge in the culinary processes at the fire-place. She also helped to spread the table, and satisfied us by her share in the meal that mental distress had not impaired her appetite. The novel companionship with Tom diverted her thoughts from her past life, if indeed they ever dwelt there seriously at all. Inquiries which I afterwards made about her mode of living in Elder Peckham’s family led me to believe that within certain simple limits of restraint she had been free from all instruction, and was more truly at this hour a child of nature than the Indian boy was after his half year’s discipline in the judge’s service. Tom made up a bed for her, of skins and blankets, in the corner of a pantry that led out of the kitchen. Then in the kitchen he made a similar bed for himself; and before we left the cottage the two children were sound asleep.
The marshal and the attorney walked back with me to Elder Baxter’s, and there upon the western veranda, where just a week ago the latter had tossed me the general’s dispatches, we resumed consideration of the serious problem what to do with this extraordinary child. The more we considered it the more difficult it appeared. Our hasty and efficient response to the general’s appeal to “ the benevolence of the legal profession " had got us into a predicament of which I suspect that Mrs. Peckham the fourth was not unconscious when she swept out of the court room on Hosea Stout’s arm.
On only one point were we agreed: that was, in cordial imprecations upon Mr. Julian Perego, of St. Albans, Herts, England, for doing his domestic business by proxy. (I must observe here, in justice to us, though I take part of the credit from the record, that during the whole debate no allusion was made to the pecuniary side of the question, although we justly might have reckoned it into the account as an aggravation of the embarrassment.) Midnight overtook us with no intelligent plan devised for disposing of our ward. The difficulty was to combine safety with any decent and adequate provision for her custody and comfort until we could contrive the means of sending her to Washington. We separated, agreeing to meet after breakfast and exchange any ideas which might suggest themselves meanwhile.
I awoke early with a notion about the subject which I proceeded at once to act upon. The sun was rising when, having succeeded in opening Dotson’s barn and saddling my Indian pony without disturbing his household, I rode under Peter’s window and listened to the snoring of the good man. Everything he did was done so thoroughly! If I should wake him by calling from the outside at that hour, so I reasoned, I should risk receiving a shot through the window. In those days every Gentile in the city slept with a revolver by his bedside. Scrawling on a slip of paper, by the uncertain light, “ I’ve gone to Camp Floyd to see the lieutenant-colonel’s wife ; the C. J. and Tom must take care of the girl till I get back,” I pushed it under the window-sash.
By following the great southern road down the valley of the Jordan, the distance to Cedar Valley and Camp Floyd was about fifty miles; but I had heard of a cut-off, leading up a canyon on the east and down another on the west of the Oquirrh Mountains, which would shorten the journey one third. So, instead of following the Jordan southward, I forded the river and rode towards the Oquirrh range across the arid, level bottom of the valley. Three villages (or “ forts,” as the Mormons call them) lay at intervals of six or seven miles along the route. They were disconsolate abodes indeed for human creatures. A thick mud wall, surrounded by a ditch so clogged with filth that the thread of water within it seemed to crawl instead of flow, and inclosing a square about three hundred yards in diameter; a row of crumbling adobes and crazy log - cabins abutting on the wall along each side of the esplanade; half a dozen groups of tow-headed children tumbling over one another like puppies at play; a flock of geese, a few sheep closely shorn, and now and then a cow or an ox straying at will; a bronze-faced, hard-fisted woman milking a goat; and here and there a wagon or a tip-cart roasting in the sunshine, with the wheel-tires dropping from the shrunken felloes, — imagine these in the ease of one of the forts, and you have the picture of all three. The land around them was entirely incapable of cultivation, for want of water to irrigate it. The only fields inclosed and tilled in this part of the valley lay near the foot of the mountains, along the brooks which flowed down the canyons.
Between the first and second forts my pony cast a shoe, which delayed me at least three hours before I could find a blacksmith to replace it. So it was past one o’clock when I rode under the wall of the third fort and turned into Rose Canyon. The heat was intense, and I was almost choked with the dust which rose from the parched soil at every step. The pony was very tired, and so, being satisfied that I should reach the camp long before sunset, I let him jog slowly, nibbling the tops of the tufts of grass which sometimes were so tall that they nodded above the horn of my Mexican saddle. Wherever a scythe could get a fair sweep between the road and the alders which skirted the babbling brook, the Mormons had been mowing, and in a little while I met a wagon laden with the hay and surrounded by half a dozen saints on horseback, who eyed me curiously. Desiring to confirm my belief that I was in Rose Canyon, I asked them whether I was on the right road to reach Cedar Valley and the soldiers’ camp across the mountain. After a brief consultation behind the hay-cart, their leader informed me civilly that I was not, and told me to turn back and take the next canyon to the north; and they were kind enough to detail pne of their number to show me the way. I was cordial in my thanks to the young man, who rode with me across the slopes at least a mile to insure my making no mistake. My sense of obligation was so great that I even lent him my pocket-flask and a plug of tobacco, the first of which he returned to me half empty, and the second he did not return at all. Bidding him a friendly good-by, I trotted into the canyon which he pointed out, pausing only for a moment to cut a switch from a scrub oak, with which I urged the pony into a gallop, while I recalled to mind the New Year’s pie and speculated on what the lieutenant-colonel would give me to-day for dinner.
At last it occurred to me that I had been riding quite long enough to have turned the summit of the ridge, according to every description of the route which had been given me in the city. The flowering shrubs around were very fragrant, and the brook was noisy and cooling, and the scenery very picturesque; but I was not diverted so far from the aim of the journey as to forget to look at my watch. That told me it was already four o’clock, and still I was jogging along upon the ascent. The road dwindled into a wood-trail, with faint signs of wagon tracks; this narrowed into a horsepath; and that disappeared among the grass under a clump of pine-trees, I had been ascending abruptly for two or three miles, and now, a few hundred yards above my head, I could see specks of snow along the rocky edge of the ridge which sharply cut the sky. The sun was setting when the pony stood on the summit, knee-deep in a snow-drift, and from his back I could look down three or four thousand feet — not into Cedar Valley. I believe that I should be pardoned here and hereafter for any disrespectful remarks about my obliging Mormon friends which I might have made had anybody been present to hear them.
There was no alternative but to descend the mountain by the same path by which I had climbed it. Between nine and ten o’clock, by the light of a waning moon, I reached a farm-house on the plain, where I was hospitably received by a saint whose family already had gone to bed. It consisted of two wives and seven children, and the whole household occupied a single room. He gave me a ragged but clean quilt for a covering, and I stretched myself upon the floor with my saddle for a pillow. Pony fared better than his master, for he was picketed within reach of an ample meal of fresh hay. I fell asleep while my host (who, notwithstanding the warmth of the night, was sweltering in a feather-bed) struggled with an argument intended to convince me that the North American Indians are the lost tribes of Israel. The discourse was interspersed with pithy pieces of advice and warning to the two older boys, who got into a fight in bed, and with lamentations over the bad prospects of the crops. In justice to the old man I must add that he was perfectly sincere, and that according to his means he treated me very kindly. His charge the next morning for entertaining me and pony was twelve and one half cents. I put a gold dollar into his hand, and he put it into his pocket before either of his wives could catch a glimpse of it, and blessed me fervently and prayed that I yet might be gathered into the fold by the Good Shepherd. Then I rode away into the canyon from which I had been turned back the previous afternoon, and reached the lieutenant-colonel’s quarters before breakfast.
The scenery of Cedar Valley was enchanting. On every side but the southeast it was encompassed by steep mountains; but there, across a broad interval, the eye could follow for fifty miles the snowy ridge of the Wasatch range. In a gap between the hills in the foreground glimmered the blue basin of Lake Utah. Dense groves of the trees which gave their name to the valley skirted its entire circumference. Near one of these groves the camp was pitched, and almost every tent was prefaced with a bower of cedar branches, and carpeted with the fragrant twigs. The general might have fancied himself Judas Maccabæus keeping the Feast of the Tabernacles with the Jewish army. The dust, however, was almost intolerable when it was raised by petty tempests, which came nobody knew whence, and blew nobody knew where, at any and every hour of the day. As I rode up to the lieutenant-colonel’s tent, one of these provoking gusts swept away the cloth with which the servants were laying the table for breakfast in the bower, and whirled it against pony’s head and shoulders, so that, seizing it, I was able to present myself to its mistress and beg for hospitality and counsel under a flag of truce.
Breakfast over, I stated the case which was perplexing the guardians of our English waif, and found, to my delight, that I had not counted in vain upon the clear insight and sound sense of this excellent lady.
“ The girl,” she said, “ is amused today by her new playmate. But to-morrow she will sorrow for her aunt, and become unmanageable. My advice is that you make friends with the aunt and give the child to her charge until you can send her East. If she has any genuine affection for the child she will undertake the charge — especially if you can pay her for her trouble; and if she does possess the influence you say over Mr. Peckham, he, being a man of substance, can be persuaded by her to give you security that the child shall not be lost or come to harm. What kind of security it shall be is a matter for you lawyers to determine. I think that under the circumstances the father will have no just cause to complain of such a risk. If this plan is not practicable, bring the child here to the camp. I will not engage to take care of her myself, but I will promise to find some one here to lodge her safely and comfortably. I know one of the sergeant’s wives whom I could trust with her; but I do not hesitate to advise adopting the first course, if it is possible, for the sake of the child’s own happiness.”
When pony turned the corner from Main Street in Salt Lake City late that night, I knew by two little specks of fire which were glowing upon the veranda of Elder Baxter’s cottage that the marshal and the attorney were smoking there as usual and awaiting my return. Indeed, they had been waiting in that very place ever since sunset. The diagnosis of the case by the lieutenant-colonel’s wife was perfect. During the day Miss Henrietta had quarreled with Tom, and after that had behaved as ill as possible, slapping, kicking, and even biting every one within her reach. About nine o’clock Tom had come over to Dotson’s with a message from the judge that she had cried herself to sleep.
When I made my report it was voted by our council that the lieutenant-colonel’s wife possessed more common sense than the whole bench and bar of Utah Territory, and the marshal was deputed to enter into immediate negotiations with Jane Moore.
She proved to be a person of strong common sense, although the fact of her conversion to Mormonism would be conclusive to the contrary with unreflecting persons. How a woman of her intelligence and good manners, used to all the best associations of the English middle classes, ever came into her relation to Elder Peckham was and still is to me a puzzle. In the days that followed, I opened the door more than once for an explanation of the mystery, but she always avoided a disclosure. She received the marshal amiably, avowed a sincere acquiescence in the decree of the court for the return of the child to the father, pledged her word to enter into no conspiracy or combination with the mother (who, she told us, had also become a Mormon), and expressed not merely a willingness but an earnest desire to relieve us from our difficult position by taking care of the child in our behalf and inducing Elder Peckham to give security for its safety, although, she said, it doubtless would be necessary to make a liberal provision for the maintenance of the child, in order to gain his consent.
When Dotson repeated this conversation to us, such a complete and instantaneous compliance with our wishes seemed suspicious. It was explained, however, by something which occurred the next day, although we did not know of that until long afterwards. Under pretext of coming to console Miss Henrietta, whose active demonstrations of anger had now subsided into sullenness, Jane Moore procured a private interview with the chief-justice, in which she told him that she loathed her condition and besought his secret aid to enable her to escape from Utah. The plan for her relief did not suggest itself at once, but was developed in connection with the means we adopted later for sending Henrietta to Washington. Meanwhile she served us as a useful ally, although, not possessing the real clew to her conduct, I confess that for a long while I never trusted her completely. Her very astuteness in our interest inspired me with a fear that she was enticing our favor with a sinister purpose. No piece of diplomacy could be more adroit, rapid, or successful than her persuasion of Peckham within forty-eight, hours to give us a bond bearing the names of Brigham Young and Heber Kimball and several other wealthy Mormons as sureties, in a very large sum (I think it was as much as $30,000), for the safe keeping of the child, who was thereupon returned to her care, to the great sorrow of Tom, with whom she had become very friendly again.
One of the stipulations of the arrangement was that the marshal, the attorney, and myself should have free access to Henrietta at all times, and accordingly one of us visited Peckham’s house every day to make sure that no harm should befall our ward. By slow degrees her animosity against the attorney and myself (she never, from the first, showed any against Dotson) changed to mere shyness, and then that disappeared and we became good friends. In the course of these visits it became known to all of us at last, in some insensible way, that Jane Moore desired to escape from her Mormon associations. I do not remember any one conversation in which she told us so, and our knowledge did not come from the chief-justice. He never mentioned her secret interview with him until the moment when it became possible for us to aid her flight.
Thus the summer wore away. We had written to Mr. Perego immediately upon the recovery of the child, but in those days four months was the ordinary interval between the dispatch of a letter to England and the receipt of a reply. We had written also to the British minister at Washington, but September drew towards its close without our hearing from him. We learned afterwards that he forwarded the letter to his home government, and awaited its communication to Mr. Perego and formal instructions thereupon before answering us. No opportunity for sending the child East with a suitable escort had presented itself.
The Three Guardians of Miss Henrietta (for thus the marshal, the attorney, and myself had come to be styled by our little Gentile community) were again in consultation one star-lit Sunday evening on the veranda where so many of the scenes in this history were acted. Elder Baxter and the two Mrs. Baxters were silent. Their sacred melodies ceased with the harvesting of the crops. A cool breeze was blowing a suggestion of the coming winter down from the snow-clad mountain tops. Henrietta was the topic of our conversation, and we were agreed that unless some lucky chance should soon occur, it would be necessary to keep the child until spring, for it would not be reasonable to expose her to the hardship of a journey across the plains after the wintry weather had set in. Just then the flickering light of a lantern advanced down the yard, shining on the glossy head of Indian Tom, who was its bearer. He never could be made to wear a cap, although he readily adapted himself to trousers and a shirt and jacket. Behind him trudged the chief-justice. The hour of an unexpected deliverance had come.
“ My good friends,”said the old man, “ I find myself of little use in Utah Territory, and I have made up my mind to go back to where I came from, — probably never to return. All of us here are hard-shell democrats, except the doctor yonder, who is the blackest kind of a black republican; yet, black as he is, he cannot think worse than you or I of the doings of our democratic president in this Mormon business. The Utah expedition has been a political and pecuniary swindle from the beginning to the end. I am going to Washington to free my mind on the subject, and it scarcely will be likely that Mr. Buchanan will desire to retain me in his service after he has heard what I have to say. I want to start within a week, and I have a proposal to make about the little English girl. If you will send her East, with her aunt to take care of her, I will furnish the mules and wagon and driver. I shall travel, myself, in another wagon, with Tom to take care of me. You must provide for the expenses of the girl and her aunt after they reach the frontier, and I will see them safe to Washington. Mr. Peckham, as you know, is absent on a journey to the Southern settlements, and cannot return for a fortnight.”
The next Sunday morning two ambulance wagons, each drawn by an excellent span of mules, rolled out of Salt Lake City, ascended the bench at the foot of the mountain, and soon disappeared within the mouth of Emigration Canyon. Tom was the driver of the first one, and on the seat behind him sat the chief - justice and Miss Henrietta, among rolls of blankets and packages of cooking utensils and provisions. I was the driver of the second wagon, and the marshal and attorney were my companions. At noon we made a halt for lunch, and then resumed the journey. About four o’clock in the afternoon we turned the crest of the mountain, and soon afterwards hauled off from the road into a sheltered ravine, where we prepared to encamp for the night.
It was a wild and gloomy spot, secure from the sight of any passers on the road, and while the rest of us unhitched the mules, Tom and the attorney, first cutting some alder twigs from bushes that hung over the brook which rattled down the glen towards the Weber River, walked back and effaced the tracks of the wagon wheels for some distance from the place where we turned from the traveled path. After dusk we suffered the fire to burn low, and sat long around the glowing embers. About two o’clock we heard the crunching of gravel on the road, as a wagon was driven cautiously down the descent from the west. Every noise was audible with startling distinctness, in the dead stillness of the night, above the monotonous rattle of the torrent. The sound ceased for a moment when the wagon reached the point where we ourselves had left the way. Then it was resumed again; and then it changed into a different kind of crunching, as if the team was moving upon turf. Soon the wagon turned the bend in the ravine and approached our camp-fire. Jo Brooks was the driver, and Jane Moore was his passenger.
The Three Guardians of Miss Henrietta reëntered Salt Lake City the next afternoon.
Late in October I bade farewell to my two associates, and to Utah altogether, and returned to my home in an Eastern city, which I reached a few weeks before Christmas. I found awaiting me two letters from the chief-justice, which told in a few words the rest of Henrietta’s story. In the first letter, dated at Washington, he wrote: —
“ I arrived home in Indiana a week ago. Whatever you choose to think of the English girl and her aunt in other respects, I can convince you, when we meet, that they are good campaigners. We were not delayed an hour by either of them, from sickness or any other cause, on the long journey. Jo Brooks parted from us at Leavenworth City. After staying two days with my family (whom, you know, I had not seen for more than a year) I left Tom with them, and came here without any other delay, and within an hour after my arrival I presented Jane Moore and her niece at the British legation. It will amuse you to know that Lord Napier was quite as much embarrassed about the disposition of them as you were. He did not dare to run the risk of putting them at a hotel, and so they had to be kept at the embassy, and really Lady Napier has been excessively kind to them, and has become much interested in the little girl. Mr. Perego has not been heard from. It has been determined not to wait longer for instructions from him, but to send Jane and the girl to England by next Saturday’s steamer, under the charge of a queen’s messenger. Shortly after our arrival here I received a letter from my wife, with the news that the next day after I left home Mrs. Perego, Henrietta’s mother, came there and demanded her child. She appeared here yesterday, and was permitted by Lady Napier to see the child in the presence of Jane and a trusty attendant. I was myself present during a part of the interview. Without going now into details, I believe that Jane is steadfast in the resolve to lead henceforth a worthy life; and Mrs. Perego declares her intention to return to England on the same steamer and seek a reconciliation with her husband; but I mistrust her even more than you did Jane.”
I add the next letter entire: —
ASTOR HOUSE, NEW YORK, } November 13, 1858. }
My DEAR DOCTOR, — I have just come from the dock, where I waited until the Cunarder put to sea. By this time she is outside of Sandy Hook. It is a beautiful Indian-summer day, and Jane and Henrietta and her mother, with the gentleman who has the child in his care, stood on deck waving hands and handkerchiefs to me as long as we could see one another. Almost the last words of the child before bidding good-by were a message to you, which she made me promise over and over again to be sure to deliver. “ Tell the doctor,” said she, “ that I said I was very sorry that I struck him, and that I would n’t say that I was sorry if I was n’t.”
Twelve years passed before I again saw Salt Lake City, this time as a passenger, with my wife, on the Pacific railroad, the next summer after the silver spike was driven at Ogden. Twelve years full of wonderful changes! Over the wastes which I plodded in my dreary journey with the dispatches, villages had sprung up at every railroad station. The day for such adventures as those of 1858 was past forever.
Many of my old acquaintances had been swept away in the whirlwind of the civil war. The general fell at the head of the rebel army in its hour of victory at Shiloh. The marshal, a West Virginian, fighting I do not know on which side, was killed in the Wilderness. The judge died in bed at home, the second year of the war; and I was sorry to hear that he died a “ copperhead.” Even if it was so, I am sure that the old man was honest according to his light. The attorney was living in Montana, grown rich by mining speculations, and was a candidate for Congress.
Dotson’s house had disappeared with the growth of Salt Lake City. So had the garden where the Baxters hoed and sang. But Elder Josiah’s cottage still was standing, with the veranda, though its western view was cut off by a row of prosperous shops. After visiting this, we mounted the hill to see if any trace was left of Elder Peckham’s house. He had long been gathered to the patriarchs whose example he copied so literally. There it stood, but with another polygamous tenant: a long one-story building with a dozen doors and twice as many windows, — each door opening into the former quarters of one of Peckham’s wives. As we loitered in the yard, a young couple turned the corner of the building, sight-seers like ourselves; they were a square-shouldered, ruddy-faced Englishman, and his young wife, who were stopping at the same tavern with us. He was an officer of the British civil service in New Zealand, who had come up from Panama on a recent steamer and was on his way to England. We had met them first a week before, at the little inn on the shore of Lake Tahoe, that enchanted sea in the bosom of the Sierras. It would be beginning another story to tell how at last in this demure little lady I recognized the elfish WARD OF THE THREE GUARDIANS.
A. G. Browne, Jr.