PART II. The Country of the Saints.
3. CHAPTER III. JOHN FERRIER TALKS WITH THE PROPHET.
At first this vague and terrible power was exercised only
upon the recalcitrants who, having embraced the Mormon faith,
wished afterwards to pervert or to abandon it. Soon,
however, it took a wider range. The supply of adult women
was running short, and polygamy without a female population
on which to draw was a barren doctrine indeed. Strange
rumours began to be bandied about -- rumours of murdered
immigrants and rifled camps in regions where Indians had
never been seen. Fresh women appeared in the harems of the
Elders -- women who pined and wept, and bore upon their faces
the traces of an unextinguishable horror. Belated wanderers
upon the mountains spoke of gangs of armed men, masked,
stealthy, and noiseless, who flitted by them in the darkness.
These tales and rumours took substance and shape, and were
corroborated and re-corroborated, until they resolved
themselves into a definite name. To this day, in the lonely
ranches of the West, the name of the Danite Band, or the
Avenging Angels, is a sinister and an ill-omened one.
Fuller knowledge of the organization which produced such
terrible results served to increase rather than to lessen the
horror which it inspired in the minds of men. None knew who
belonged to this ruthless society. The names of the
participators in the deeds of blood and violence done under
the name of religion were kept profoundly secret. The very
friend to whom you communicated your misgivings as to the
Prophet and his mission, might be one of those who would come
forth at night with fire and sword to exact a terrible
reparation. Hence every man feared his neighbour, and none
spoke of the things which were nearest his heart.
One fine morning, John Ferrier was about to set out to his
wheatfields, when he heard the click of the latch, and,
looking through the window, saw a stout, sandy-haired,
middle-aged man coming up the pathway. His heart leapt to
his mouth, for this was none other than the great Brigham
Young himself. Full of trepidation -- for he knew that such
a visit boded him little good -- Ferrier ran to the door to
greet the Mormon chief. The latter, however, received his
salutations coldly, and followed him with a stern face into