PART II. The Country of the Saints.
5. CHAPTER V. THE AVENGING ANGELS.
When he turned the corner, he came full in sight of the spot
where the fire had been lit. There was still a glowing pile
of wood ashes there, but it had evidently not been tended
since his departure. The same dead silence still reigned all
round. With his fears all changed to convictions, he hurried
on. There was no living creature near the remains of the
fire: animals, man, maiden, all were gone. It was only too
clear that some sudden and terrible disaster had occurred
during his absence -- a disaster which had embraced them all,
and yet had left no traces behind it.
Bewildered and stunned by this blow, Jefferson Hope felt his
head spin round, and had to lean upon his rifle to save
himself from falling. He was essentially a man of action,
however, and speedily recovered from his temporary impotence.
Seizing a half-consumed piece of wood from the smouldering
fire, he blew it into a flame, and proceeded with its help to
examine the little camp. The ground was all stamped down by
the feet of horses, showing that a large party of mounted men
had overtaken the fugitives, and the direction of their
tracks proved that they had afterwards turned back to Salt
Lake City. Had they carried back both of his companions with
them? Jefferson Hope had almost persuaded himself that they
must have done so, when his eye fell upon an object which
made every nerve of his body tingle within him. A little way
on one side of the camp was a low-lying heap of reddish soil,
which had assuredly not been there before. There was no
mistaking it for anything but a newly-dug grave. As the
young hunter approached it, he perceived that a stick had
been planted on it, with a sheet of paper stuck in the cleft
fork of it. The inscription upon the paper was brief, but to
FORMERLY OF SALT LAKE CITY,
Died August 4th, 1860.
The sturdy old man, whom he had left so short a time before,
was gone, then, and this was all his epitaph. Jefferson Hope
looked wildly round to see if there was a second grave, but
there was no sign of one. Lucy had been carried back by
their terrible pursuers to fulfil her original destiny, by
becoming one of the harem of the Elder's son. As the young
fellow realized the certainty of her fate, and his own
powerlessness to prevent it, he wished that he, too, was
lying with the old farmer in his last silent resting-place.