Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

would think of looking to a wife! Paradoxical as this assertion may be, I have repeatedly heard it made among Mormons, yet never with the faintest hint at a denial. Indeed, the style o'f her few short sentences addressed to me seemed to show that she gloried in it.

After my recovery behind the charitable shelter of the milk-bowl, I could not succeed in disciplining my mind as thoroughly as I had my face. That poor monogamic brain of mine kept pondering and dreaming as if it were dazed. How could those pretty young women sit and look at each other's babies — both of nearly the same age; hear the matron talk of the youthful apostle to the'Gentiles now gathering in the elect from foreign parts; see, each in the opposite infant, the plain apostolic seal stamped on its little countenance, — yet rock away so cheerfully and talk baby Latin so blithely; be-sister each other, and give mutual advice about the cut of long clothes, or the management of teething? Heavens! What strange unsexing operation must their souls have gone through to keep them from frenzy—murder— suicide? I afterward put this question to their fatherin-law, Heber the first, and his terse, all-conclusive explanation was, "Triumph o' grace."

I know that conscience is mostly custom, that taste is training, and shame the sense of being singular. Still I confess that my imagination's utmost stretch falls short of realizing how that double pair, baby and mother, can sit vis-d-vis all day long, and not feel hate, horror, hell itself striving somewhere in their depths! I ache as I look at them; for it seems as if those breasts which suckle the babies, must suffer such frightful tension as sometimes, instead "of wholesome human milk, to yield gall and blood!

I should have felt relieved if those two pretty young girls of a sudden had leaped up and fired their babies at each other's heads, pounced upon each other with a tigrine spring, seamed each other's faces with relentless nails, tore hair, gouged eyes, bit, maimed, killed! Then would they have shown decidedly less grace, but considerably more humanity. The saints would have evaporated, but in their places would be women.

I meant to say just what I have written; so I felt glad that these charming, kindly, self-crucify ing creatures offered not the slightest objection to my paying a quarter for my bowl of milk and buttered slice. I never belonged to that class who believe a good dinner equivalent to a contract to lie for the flattery of one's host. Truth always, on my time-table, has the right of way over turbot.

After leaving Kimball's, we rode a distance of twenty-nine miles through a continuation of the widening gallery which had hitherto led us through the Wahsatch, stopping about midway at Mountain Dell, where a beautiful stream ran crystal-clear to unite its waters with the Salt Lake Basin, and where I had time to take the first invigorating plunge which I had enjoyed since leaving Denver. This description of the refreshing bath is perhaps rather too conventional and rhapsodic; for my action was a much sedater one, and consisted in lying down and having the dust washed from my parched body by a flow of deliciously pure water, two or three feet deep above the pebbly bottom.

I found the effect of the bath so sedative that I enjoyed, after returning to my seat, the first unbroken sleep I had known in several days.

I was awakened by my companions to enjoy the weird picturesqueness of a fire kindled by camping emigrants, and flashing its spectral light upon a fine perpendicular precipice of white granite, just as we broke through the western face of the Wahsatch, and came to the head of the foot-hills from which the vast basin of the Lake is for the first time visible, with the embowered City of the Saints sleeping at the bottom of its vast cradle.

Under a vague mysterious moonlight we whirled of a sudden among the adobe houses and the shadowy streets of Brigham's capital. Going at once to the only hotel of the town, in fifteen minutes, and with our piles of Eastern letters unread, we were, for the first tune in six days and nights, as soundly asleep as Epimenides.

CHAPTER VII.

THE NEW JERUSALEM.

The original sense in which I use the title to this chapter will be defended as I proceed. I certainly do not bestow the name of New Jerusalem upon the Mormon capital because of its bearing any resemblance to the city of the disembodied saints.

Among the many courtesies extended our party by Mr. Holladay and others connected with the Overland road was a letter from Mr. Center, commending us to the attention of Mr. Rumfield, representative of the Wells-Fargo interest at Salt Lake City. Through this gentleman we made the acquaintance of Mr. Stein, then Mr. Holladay's agent at the same place, and since occupying an important position as manager of one of that great stage-man's new lines, for which he is eminently fitted by a grade of business talents and indefatigable industry seldom met with at the East or West.

These gentlemen formed the capital of acquaintanceship upon which we began business in Utah. To them we owe innumerable and peculiar facilities for the study of Salt Lake City, its scenery, its people. r.n:l its usages, though they are responsible for none of my opinions.

The Salt Lake Hotel, where we stopped, is the only one frequented by Gentiles; indeed, the only one which claims any position corresponding to the hotels at the East. It is a good-sized house of two stories in height, with broad verandas on its facade. Our rooms opened upon the upper one, and thence we had a fine view 'of the principal street.

The peculiarities of Mormonism are not external; and a traveller merely seeing the city in transiiu, must be disappointed of the keen, fresh sensation which people expect in visiting the centre of the most remarkable social system in Christendom.

The hotel we found to differ in no important respect from the well kept, homely tavern of any quiet Eastern village. Tourists fortunate enough to have received their first impressions of Green Mountain scenery before Vermont began to be crossed by its net-work of iron rails, used to see a very similar tavern on their way over the magnificent stage road from Troy to Rutland, when they halted for dinner the first day out at " Love's," in Bennington. Townsend, who keeps the Salt Lake Hotel, is a gruff but obliging man, between fifty and sixty. It never occurred to me that he was a Saint until Heber Kimball called him " brother;" and the unobtrusiveness of polygamy at its very head-quarters may be inferred from the fact that a week elapsed before it occurred to me that the industrious old lady who gave* us such nice little dishes of hot scrambled eggs, and made us fresh coffee when we came down late to breakfast was one Mrs. Townsend, and a younger woman who took such good care of our rooms was another.

The only peculiarity of the hotel was its lack of a bar-room; and with this few people obliged to make any protracted stay at a Western hotel will be disposed to quarrel. The deficiency was a guarantee of quiet nights and orderly days. From sunrise till sunset the long line of tie-posts in front of Townsend's

« ZurückWeiter »