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Full Online Book HomeLong StoriesA Study In Scarlet - PART II - Chapter II - THE FLOWER OF UTAH
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A Study In Scarlet - PART II - Chapter II - THE FLOWER OF UTAH Post by :win_thomas Category :Long Stories Author :Arthur Conan Doyle Date :December 2010 Read :3235

Click below to download : A Study In Scarlet - PART II - Chapter II - THE FLOWER OF UTAH (Format : PDF)

A Study In Scarlet - PART II - Chapter II - THE FLOWER OF UTAH

THIS is not the place to commemorate the trials and
privations endured by the immigrant Mormons before they came
to their final haven. From the shores of the Mississippi to
the western slopes of the Rocky Mountains they had struggled
on with a constancy almost unparalleled in history. The
savage man, and the savage beast, hunger, thirst, fatigue,
and disease -- every impediment which Nature could place in
the way, had all been overcome with Anglo-Saxon tenacity.
Yet the long journey and the accumulated terrors had shaken
the hearts of the stoutest among them. There was not one who
did not sink upon his knees in heartfelt prayer when they saw
the broad valley of Utah bathed in the sunlight beneath them,
and learned from the lips of their leader that this was the
promised land, and that these virgin acres were to be theirs
for evermore.

Young speedily proved himself to be a skilful administrator
as well as a resolute chief. Maps were drawn and charts
prepared, in which the future city was sketched out. All
around farms were apportioned and allotted in proportion to
the standing of each individual. The tradesman was put to
his trade and the artisan to his calling. In the town
streets and squares sprang up, as if by magic. In the
country there was draining and hedging, planting and
clearing, until the next summer saw the whole country golden
with the wheat crop. Everything prospered in the strange
settlement. Above all, the great temple which they had
erected in the centre of the city grew ever taller and
larger. From the first blush of dawn until the closing of
the twilight, the clatter of the hammer and the rasp of the
saw was never absent from the monument which the immigrants
erected to Him who had led them safe through many dangers.

The two castaways, John Ferrier and the little girl who had
shared his fortunes and had been adopted as his daughter,
accompanied the Mormons to the end of their great pilgrimage.
Little Lucy Ferrier was borne along pleasantly enough in
Elder Stangerson's waggon, a retreat which she shared with
the Mormon's three wives and with his son, a headstrong
forward boy of twelve. Having rallied, with the elasticity
of childhood, from the shock caused by her mother's death,
she soon became a pet with the women, and reconciled herself
to this new life in her moving canvas-covered home. In the
meantime Ferrier having recovered from his privations,
distinguished himself as a useful guide and an indefatigable
hunter. So rapidly did he gain the esteem of his new
companions, that when they reached the end of their wanderings,
it was unanimously agreed that he should be provided with as
large and as fertile a tract of land as any of the settlers,
with the exception of Young himself, and of Stangerson, Kemball,
Johnston, and Drebber, who were the four principal Elders.

On the farm thus acquired John Ferrier built himself a
substantial log-house, which received so many additions in
succeeding years that it grew into a roomy villa. He was a
man of a practical turn of mind, keen in his dealings and
skilful with his hands. His iron constitution enabled him to
work morning and evening at improving and tilling his lands.
Hence it came about that his farm and all that belonged to
him prospered exceedingly. In three years he was better off
than his neighbours, in six he was well-to-do, in nine he was
rich, and in twelve there were not half a dozen men in the
whole of Salt Lake City who could compare with him. From the
great inland sea to the distant Wahsatch Mountains there was
no name better known than that of John Ferrier.

There was one way and only one in which he offended the
susceptibilities of his co-religionists. No argument or
persuasion could ever induce him to set up a female
establishment after the manner of his companions. He never
gave reasons for this persistent refusal, but contented
himself by resolutely and inflexibly adhering to his
determination. There were some who accused him of
lukewarmness in his adopted religion, and others who put it
down to greed of wealth and reluctance to incur expense.
Others, again, spoke of some early love affair, and of a
fair-haired girl who had pined away on the shores of the
Atlantic. Whatever the reason, Ferrier remained strictly
celibate. In every other respect he conformed to the
religion of the young settlement, and gained the name of
being an orthodox and straight-walking man.

Lucy Ferrier grew up within the log-house, and assisted her
adopted father in all his undertakings. The keen air of the
mountains and the balsamic odour of the pine trees took the
place of nurse and mother to the young girl. As year
succeeded to year she grew taller and stronger, her cheek
more rudy, and her step more elastic. Many a wayfarer upon
the high road which ran by Ferrier's farm felt long-forgotten
thoughts revive in their mind as they watched her lithe
girlish figure tripping through the wheatfields, or met her
mounted upon her father's mustang, and managing it with all
the ease and grace of a true child of the West. So the bud
blossomed into a flower, and the year which saw her father
the richest of the farmers left her as fair a specimen of
American girlhood as could be found in the whole Pacific slope.

It was not the father, however, who first discovered that the
child had developed into the woman. It seldom is in such
cases. That mysterious change is too subtle and too gradual
to be measured by dates. Least of all does the maiden
herself know it until the tone of a voice or the touch of a
hand sets her heart thrilling within her, and she learns,
with a mixture of pride and of fear, that a new and a larger
nature has awoken within her. There are few who cannot
recall that day and remember the one little incident which
heralded the dawn of a new life. In the case of Lucy Ferrier
the occasion was serious enough in itself, apart from its
future influence on her destiny and that of many besides.

It was a warm June morning, and the Latter Day Saints were
as busy as the bees whose hive they have chosen for their
emblem. In the fields and in the streets rose the same hum
of human industry. Down the dusty high roads defiled long
streams of heavily-laden mules, all heading to the west, for
the gold fever had broken out in California, and the Overland
Route lay through the City of the Elect. There, too, were
droves of sheep and bullocks coming in from the outlying
pasture lands, and trains of tired immigrants, men and horses
equally weary of their interminable journey. Through all
this motley assemblage, threading her way with the skill of
an accomplished rider, there galloped Lucy Ferrier, her fair
face flushed with the exercise and her long chestnut hair
floating out behind her. She had a commission from her
father in the City, and was dashing in as she had done many
a time before, with all the fearlessness of youth, thinking
only of her task and how it was to be performed.
The travel-stained adventurers gazed after her in astonishment,
and even the unemotional Indians, journeying in with their
pelties, relaxed their accustomed stoicism as they marvelled
at the beauty of the pale-faced maiden.

She had reached the outskirts of the city when she found the
road blocked by a great drove of cattle, driven by a half-dozen
wild-looking herdsmen from the plains. In her
impatience she endeavoured to pass this obstacle by pushing
her horse into what appeared to be a gap. Scarcely had she
got fairly into it, however, before the beasts closed in
behind her, and she found herself completely imbedded in the
moving stream of fierce-eyed, long-horned bullocks.
Accustomed as she was to deal with cattle, she was not
alarmed at her situation, but took advantage of every
opportunity to urge her horse on in the hopes of pushing her
way through the cavalcade. Unfortunately the horns of one of
the creatures, either by accident or design, came in violent
contact with the flank of the mustang, and excited it to
madness. In an instant it reared up upon its hind legs with
a snort of rage, and pranced and tossed in a way that would
have unseated any but a most skilful rider. The situation
was full of peril. Every plunge of the excited horse brought
it against the horns again, and goaded it to fresh madness.
It was all that the girl could do to keep herself in the
saddle, yet a slip would mean a terrible death under the
hoofs of the unwieldy and terrified animals. Unaccustomed to
sudden emergencies, her head began to swim, and her grip upon
the bridle to relax. Choked by the rising cloud of dust and
by the steam from the struggling creatures, she might have
abandoned her efforts in despair, but for a kindly voice at
her elbow which assured her of assistance. At the same
moment a sinewy brown hand caught the frightened horse by the
curb, and forcing a way through the drove, soon brought her
to the outskirts.

"You're not hurt, I hope, miss," said her preserver, respectfully.

She looked up at his dark, fierce face, and laughed saucily.
"I'm awful frightened," she said, naively; "whoever would
have thought that Poncho would have been so scared by a lot
of cows?"

"Thank God you kept your seat," the other said earnestly.
He was a tall, savage-looking young fellow, mounted on a
powerful roan horse, and clad in the rough dress of a hunter,
with a long rifle slung over his shoulders. "I guess you are
the daughter of John Ferrier," he remarked, "I saw you ride
down from his house. When you see him, ask him if he remembers
the Jefferson Hopes of St. Louis. If he's the same Ferrier,
my father and he were pretty thick."

"Hadn't you better come and ask yourself?" she asked, demurely.

The young fellow seemed pleased at the suggestion, and his dark
eyes sparkled with pleasure. "I'll do so," he said, "we've been
in the mountains for two months, and are not over and above in
visiting condition. He must take us as he finds us."

"He has a good deal to thank you for, and so have I," she answered,
"he's awful fond of me. If those cows had jumped on me he'd have
never got over it."

"Neither would I," said her companion.

"You! Well, I don't see that it would make much matter
to you, anyhow. You ain't even a friend of ours."

The young hunter's dark face grew so gloomy over this remark
that Lucy Ferrier laughed aloud.

"There, I didn't mean that," she said; "of course, you are a
friend now. You must come and see us. Now I must push along,
or father won't trust me with his business any more. Good-bye!"

"Good-bye," he answered, raising his broad sombrero, and
bending over her little hand. She wheeled her mustang round,
gave it a cut with her riding-whip, and darted away down the
broad road in a rolling cloud of dust.

Young Jefferson Hope rode on with his companions, gloomy and
taciturn. He and they had been among the Nevada Mountains
prospecting for silver, and were returning to Salt Lake City
in the hope of raising capital enough to work some lodes
which they had discovered. He had been as keen as any of
them upon the business until this sudden incident had drawn
his thoughts into another channel. The sight of the fair
young girl, as frank and wholesome as the Sierra breezes,
had stirred his volcanic, untamed heart to its very depths.
When she had vanished from his sight, he realized that a crisis
had come in his life, and that neither silver speculations
nor any other questions could ever be of such importance to
him as this new and all-absorbing one. The love which had
sprung up in his heart was not the sudden, changeable fancy
of a boy, but rather the wild, fierce passion of a man of
strong will and imperious temper. He had been accustomed
to succeed in all that he undertook. He swore in his heart
that he would not fail in this if human effort and human
perseverance could render him successful.

He called on John Ferrier that night, and many times again,
until his face was a familiar one at the farm-house.
John, cooped up in the valley, and absorbed in his work,
had had little chance of learning the news of the outside world
during the last twelve years. All this Jefferson Hope was
able to tell him, and in a style which interested Lucy as
well as her father. He had been a pioneer in California,
and could narrate many a strange tale of fortunes made and
fortunes lost in those wild, halcyon days. He had been a
scout too, and a trapper, a silver explorer, and a ranchman.
Wherever stirring adventures were to be had, Jefferson Hope
had been there in search of them. He soon became a favourite
with the old farmer, who spoke eloquently of his virtues.
On such occasions, Lucy was silent, but her blushing cheek
and her bright, happy eyes, showed only too clearly that her
young heart was no longer her own. Her honest father may not
have observed these symptoms, but they were assuredly not
thrown away upon the man who had won her affections.

It was a summer evening when he came galloping down the road
and pulled up at the gate. She was at the doorway, and came
down to meet him. He threw the bridle over the fence and
strode up the pathway.

"I am off, Lucy," he said, taking her two hands in his,
and gazing tenderly down into her face; "I won't ask you
to come with me now, but will you be ready to come when
I am here again?"

"And when will that be?" she asked, blushing and laughing.

"A couple of months at the outside. I will come and claim
you then, my darling. There's no one who can stand between us."

"And how about father?" she asked.

"He has given his consent, provided we get these mines
working all right. I have no fear on that head."

"Oh, well; of course, if you and father have arranged it all,
there's no more to be said," she whispered, with her cheek
against his broad breast.

"Thank God!" he said, hoarsely, stooping and kissing her.
"It is settled, then. The longer I stay, the harder it will
be to go. They are waiting for me at the canon. Good-bye,
my own darling -- good-bye. In two months you shall see me."

He tore himself from her as he spoke, and, flinging himself
upon his horse, galloped furiously away, never even looking
round, as though afraid that his resolution might fail him if
he took one glance at what he was leaving. She stood at the
gate, gazing after him until he vanished from her sight. Then
she walked back into the house, the happiest girl in all Utah.

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