PART II. The Country of the Saints.
3. CHAPTER III. JOHN FERRIER TALKS WITH THE PROPHET.
THREE weeks had passed since Jefferson Hope and his comrades
had departed from Salt Lake City. John Ferrier's heart was
sore within him when he thought of the young man's return,
and of the impending loss of his adopted child. Yet her
bright and happy face reconciled him to the arrangement more
than any argument could have done. He had always determined,
deep down in his resolute heart, that nothing would ever
induce him to allow his daughter to wed a Mormon. Such a
marriage he regarded as no marriage at all, but as a shame
and a disgrace. Whatever he might think of the Mormon
doctrines, upon that one point he was inflexible. He had to
seal his mouth on the subject, however, for to express an
unorthodox opinion was a dangerous matter in those days in
the Land of the Saints.
Yes, a dangerous matter -- so dangerous that even the most
saintly dared only whisper their religious opinions with
bated breath, lest something which fell from their lips might
be misconstrued, and bring down a swift retribution upon
them. The victims of persecution had now turned persecutors
on their own account, and persecutors of the most terrible
description. Not the Inquisition of Seville, nor the German
Vehm-gericht, nor the Secret Societies of Italy, were ever
able to put a more formidable machinery in motion than that
which cast a cloud over the State of Utah.
Its invisibility, and the mystery which was attached to it,
made this organization doubly terrible. It appeared to be
omniscient and omnipotent, and yet was neither seen nor
heard. The man who held out against the Church vanished
away, and none knew whither he had gone or what had befallen
him. His wife and his children awaited him at home, but no
father ever returned to tell them how he had fared at the
hands of his secret judges. A rash word or a hasty act was
followed by annihilation, and yet none knew what the nature
might be of this terrible power which was suspended over
them. No wonder that men went about in fear and trembling,
and that even in the heart of the wilderness they dared not
whisper the doubts which oppressed them.