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Written for Moore's Rural New-Yorker.
ERRORS OF THE HEAD AND HEART.
A TALE OF THE MORMONS.
BY EDWARD WEBSTER.
[Continued from last number.]
A REGIMENT of Illinois militia had been or-dered out by Governor FORD, as a “law and order" force to keep the peace and prevent acts of bloodshed between the Mormons and their opponents ; but they arrived upon the ground too late to hinder the expulsion. Indeed, it is doubtful whether they would have strenuously opposed it, even if they had, for they were part and parcel of the anti-Mormon party, and, as a consequence, sympathized with them secretly, if they did not fraternize openly. At all events, the squad of armed men who perpe-trated the outrage on CARTER acted ostensibly under State authority, a cover too often made use of, both before and since, as a shield for the perpetration of the most dastardly acts of vio-lence and wrong. Whether they reported, the exploit to higher authority claiming the reward for deeds of prowess, or repented of it after-wards when their blood had time to cool, we are incompetent to say, further than that they showed no disposition to harrass the helpless family, but furnished them with food and com-fortable quarters for the night in one of the deserted houses. None of the captives, howev-er, took heed to the one, or tasted the other; the children wept until they fell asleep from sheer exhaustion, but the mother, with her head bowed down in grief and horror, sat stupefied and bewildered, while hour after hour glided away.
The sun, while these matters were transpir-ing, had wheeled his great red disc down the western sky, until it buried itself beyond the river in the bosom of the prairie ; twilight, and then thick darkness had succeeded, unlit by the rays of a solitary star, for dense clouds had slowly risen above the horizon until they en-velope d the whole heavens ; the whip-poor-will had discontinued his note, the bat had ceased his flight, and even the owl, whose lonely hoot-ings sounded like a lamentation, had folded his wings and choked down his sobbings, for his great round eyes were not of sufficient magni-tude to catch a single ray of illumination. The monotonous note of the fall cricket alone through the night broke the death-like stillness that pervaded the scene. A camp fire was burning in the area before the temple, its flickering rays illuminating a brief space around with an un-certain light, near which lounged a guard in that careless and unmilitary aspect so charac-teristic of State militia. A single sentinel also stood before the door of the house in which the captive family were confined, but his musket leaned against the door-post, and his whole air betokened a man detailed for the performance of an irksome and unnecessary duty. As the night wore on, the camp fire burned down into a mass of glowing embers, now and then shoot-ing out a tongue of half smothered flame, as some buried and unconsumed brand by chance received a breath of vital air, and anon sinking down again, leaving the scene around all the darker for the fitful illumination. The guard around the fire had fallen away into half-un-consciousness, while the lone sentinel at the door had stretched himself out upon the steps and entirely gone off into the land of dreams. A solitary candle, with untrimmed wick, was burning dimly in the room occupied by the woman and children, disclosing through the shutterless and uncurtained windows the scene within.
An hour before the break of day, two human figures glided along amid the darkness of the deserted streets, with the noiseless step of a cat stealing upon her prey, ever and anon paus-ing to listen, and then gradually approaching the light of the watch fire. As they turned the corner of a street which gave them full view of the house, from the window of which streamed the light of the candle, one remained behind, while the other approached more cautiously and alone. Having taken a thorough survey, and I apparently satisfied himself of the true position of things, he retreated to the side of his com-panion, and, after a brief consultation, both advanced together. One of them passed in over the prostrate and unconscious form of the sen-tinel, while the other quietly drew from his pocket a flask of liquid, and amused himself by pouring a portion of the contents down the bar-rel and into the pan of the sentinel's musket; then passing along half creeping, he mingled with the sleepy guard around the fire, and, with a dexterous movement, from time to time ad-ministered a similar dose to each of their fire-locks in turn, after which he withdrew in the same manner he had approached. Meantime his companion, who had entered the house, ap-proached the female and whispered in her ear. She started from her seat and would have shrieked and fallen, if he had not placed his hand upon her mouth, at the same time catch-ing her in his arms.
"Keep quiet, for the lore of GOD!" whisper-ed her husband—for it was he—"I am safe and sound as you see, and am come to rescue you and our children from this den of thieves!" So saying, and without more delay, he proceeded to awaken the sleepers as quietly as possible, and taking the boy, who was the heavier, in his arms, he bade his wife follow with the other, at the same time charging her to be specially care-ful how she stepped over the body of the pros-trate sentinel. Thus they passed quietly from : the house and its dangerous vicinity, and being joined by their companion, vanished amid the grey shadows of the morning, which at the moment began breaking in the East.
It is perhaps necessary to explain at this point how CARTER came to be rescued from his perilous position on the river, and was thus en-abled to become the deliverer of his family—The fugitive Mormons on the Iowa side, it seems, had the day previous, and at all times since their expulsion, kept an eye upon the move-ments of their enemies from a bluff covered with tall rank grass, which rose upon the river bank over against Nauvoo. Here a sentinel posted with a glass could observe all that passed within the city, and had noted what happened to CARTER and his family. A small party therefore, with the only boat in their possession, was despatched down the river along shore, until hid from view of either side by a bend in the channel; whereupon they struck imme-diately across, and rescued from his perilous situation the solitary and involuntary voyager. It was therefore with emotions of the profound-est gratitude, and with feelings akin to those of one who experiences a special and divine interposition in his favor, that MILES CASTER found himself in safety and among his brethren. He was destitute of resources, having been robbed of everything by his captors, but he thought not of that while an uncertain fate hung over his family. The sect, however, were in no better condition, being themselves destitute of comfortable quarters, medicine, and even whole-some food—while at the same moment, their own crops, sown by their own hands upon the opposite side of the river, were wasting for the want of harvesters under their very eyes. But all this availed them nothing; the fair fields on which they had expended so much labor were to them a benefit no longer, and the only hope now left was to overtake, as speedily as possi-ble, their comrades, who, since the winter pre-vious, had been proceeding in detachments over the plains in the direction of the setting sun. They themselves were intending to start next day, but in consequence of the captivity of CARTER'S family, at once determined to delay the march and attempt a rescue. A large num-ber volunteered to cross the river for that pur-pose, but one small boat was all they possessed, insufficient to convey the number necessary to effect anything by force. Stratagem was there-fore resorted to, by CARTES and one companion, the success of which We will now proceed to disclose.
The sleeping sentinel, over whose prostrate form our fugitives had passed so noiselessly, resting rather uneasily upon his bed of stone, at length undertook, unconsciously, to change his position, and in doing so, lost his balance and rolled down the steps, overturning his gun in the descent. Leaping to his feet in some-thing of a fright, and grasping his weapon, he looked within the house to assure himself that all was secure, but at a glance perceived that the premises were deserted. More than ever confirmed in his first impression, that he had been prostrated by a blow from an unseen hand, he raised the alarm of a Mormon invasion and rescue, which alarm the guard around the fire in a panic immediately took up and repeated. The light of the morning, however, being now sufficient to admit of seeing that no enemy was in the vicinity, they gathered courage and marched towards the river, without waiting for the muster of their brethren in arms now being awakened within the quarters. As they ap-proached the bank, a boat containing the fugi-tives and their, rescuers was pushing from the shore, and making all haste to put as wide a space of water as possible between them and their pursuers. One or two other boats belong-ing on the Illinois side of the river were lying on the beach, but which the party just leaving had taken the precaution to stave.
"Come ashore instantly, or we'll fire on you!" shouted the leader. No attention was paid to the order, and each moment was widening the distance between them, when the word was given to fire. Every trigger was pulled at the order, but not a gun discharged. A volley of oaths, however, was sent after them instead, and the discomfited party thereupon withdrew from the beach.
The Mormon rear guard, which had been I lingering near the river for the purpose of col-lecting the stragglers of the outcast people, deemed it now no longer safe to remain in that vicinity, and therefore the succeeding morning took up their line of march upon the trail of the advanced companies. A melancholy trail it proved to be, marked at frequent intervals by the graves of old and young, who, from sick-ness and privations, had fallen by the way.—Many of the young men had been detailed to scatter themselves incognito, and seek employ-ment among the farmers of the Western States, in order to obtain the means of aiding their brethren on the way, leaving the old men and those with families to move forward with the trains. The country at this time was engaged in prosecuting the Mexican war, and just as the scattered trains had become consolidated near the banks of the Missouri, they were overtaken by a body of United States troops under Col. KEARNEY bearing a letter from the Secretary of War, asking for a company of five hundred vol-unteers to aid in the subjugation of the Northern provinces. A council of the people was called to consider the matter, at which it was found impossible to meet the requisition with a regi-ment of young men, and they ware therefore about to reject the proposal, when MILES CAR-TER arose and said :
"Although an abused and persecuted people, we are still citizens of the United States, to which we owe allegiance and duty. If we re-ject this proposition under any circumstances, our opponents will reproach us with a want of patriotism, and fix upon us the charge of con-structive treason. I am not without suspicion that the call was suggested at the War office for that very purpose by our enemies ; let us there-fore vindicate ourselves and bring confusion upon them. I, for one, offer myself as a vol-unteer!"
"What, then, will become of your family?" inquired one of the elders. CARTER'S counte-nance fell at the pertinent inquiry, for in the enthusiasm of the moment he had become oblivious of them. He was relieved of the ne-cessity of a reply, however, by another, who suggested that in case the quota of volunteers was obtained, the families should become wards of the church and be supported at the public expense until such time as they should return. This suggestion was immediately adopted, and in three day's time the company was enrolled and ready to march. CARTER was one of them. The leave-taking of their wives and families, in the midst of the wilderness, was a bitter trial, but stern enthusiasm and a sense of duty buoyed them up, and the regiment, enrolled under the banner of the United States, marched away to triumph over the enemies of the Republic, and to conquer for our common country an area of territory sufficient for the seat of a future galaxy of States.
The remaining emigrants reached the Potta-watarnie country late in autumn, where they halted for the winter, cut a store of fodder for their cattle, from the bottom-lands of the Mis-souri, and erected a rude and temporary town, in which they sojourned until the opening of spring. With the first melting of the snow and ice, a detachment of robust men, with imple-ments and seeds, were sent forward to plant and sow a crop of grain in the valley of the Salt Lake, which should serve as a subsistence for the people when they might reach that point in their wanderings. This movement was crown-ed with eminent success, and, when at length the main body reached the valley after the summer's toilsome journey, sick, and destitute, and ready to perish, they found an abundant harvest well secured, huts constructed, and all the other conveniences which time permitted them to make. They were enchanted with the beauty of the scenery, the richness of the soil, the seclusion from the external world, shut in as it is on all sides by lofty mountains, and at once determined to go no further, but to make the valley of the Salt Lake the abode of the Mormon people forever. With an eye of faith they looked upon their wanderings as ended, and Utah as set apart by Divine appointment for the promised land.
The volunteers in the meantime marched vic-toriously through New Mexico, planting in ev-ery town the banner of the United States, until they arrived in California, and joined them-selves to the conquering legions of FREMONT and STOCKTON, who had already brought that land of buried and unknown treasure under the dominion of the Stars and Stripes. Peace was soon after concluded, and the Mormon regi-ment thereupon disbanded; but the paymas-ter's department being destitute of funds, scrip was given them for pay instead, subject to fu-ture redemption. How to join their families was now the question. They had heard that the final determination of the people was to re-main at Salt Lake, but the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada intervened, and pack mules and provisions had to be obtained, in order to ac-complish the arduous journey. To this end, after a consultation, the members dispersed themselves throughout the territory, and, in the seaports and at the ranches, sought employ-ment. CARTER, with two or three of his com-rades, in their perambulations at length arrived at Captain SUTTER'S ranch upon the Sacramento, and offered themselves for hire. Their sun-embrowned faces, enormous beards, and thews endued "by all the hardships and exposures of ranger life, gave them the appearance of despe-radoes rather than of honest men; but, in an unsettled country as California then was, to be reached only by a long and perilous voyage by sea around Cape Horn, or by a still more toilsome and dangerous journey over land, and across the continent, external appearances did not usually go far in making up an estimate of character. The patriarch of the ranch was at the time engaged in the erection of a mill, the raceway of which was yet undug ; so without extended parley, he struck a bargain with the applicants for labor to make the necessary ex-cavations. The ingenuity and mechanical skill of CARTER now came to their aid, promising a handsome speculation out of the undertaking ; for, observing the loose and porous nature of the soil, he directed his associates to open a narrow trench, through which, by diverting the waters of the stream, they might be made auxiliaries in the work. This was accordingly done, and a huge volume was speedily rolling its turbid current through the channel, bearing upon its bosom a burden of sand and gravel. CARTER and his co-laborers were aiding the work, now removing a boulder from the channel, and anon picking loose some more tenacious portion of the bed, when, as the waters partially cleared away, little bars of bright yellow sand remained behind, which seemed too heavy to be removed by the tide. The particles had a singular ap-pearance, being in the shape of smooth thin scales, in many instances taking the form of a piece of battered lead. The idea of its being of any value whatever did not once enter their heads; and for a long time they directed their efforts, by stirring vigorously, to cause it to move out of the channel and deposite itself, they cared not where, upon some broad sand bar of the Sacramento.
A huge pebble of the yellow stuff at length rolled along the channel and came to rest di-rectly under CARTER'S eye, the singular appear-ance of which caused him to examine it mi-nutely. Except in color, it appeared like a piece of iron, which, in a molten state, had been poured into the ragged crevice of a rock ; and which, being subsequently removed, still re-tained a piece of milk white stone firmly set within its bosom. The fragment had appa-rently been rolled along a stream, until all the prominences had become smooth, while in the indentations the sharp outlines of the melted metal still remained. CARTER had seen in a cabinet of minerals beautiful specimens of iron pyrites, that looked like gold; but then this specimen was almost twice as heavy as iron.
"What if it were really gold?" he murmur-ed ; but such an idea seemed too incredible. It staggered him nevertheless, and recollecting to have heard a cheminal lecturer once say, that, of all the counterfeit resemblances of gold in na-ture, not one of them would admit of a shaving being cut away without breaking, he took out his knife and pared off a thread of metal which rolled up before the edge of the blade like a shaving of iron before the chisel of a turning en-gine. Wrought up to the highest pitch of ex-citement as the magnificent truth forced itself upon his conviction, he called out, "In the name of GOD, comrades, we are treading on a bed of gold!"
[Concluded next week.]
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