The Rainbow Trail by Zane Grey
In October Shefford arranged for a hunt in the Cresaw Mountains with Joe Lake and Nas Ta Bega. The Indian had gone home for a short visit, and upon his return the party expected to start. But Nas Ta Bega did not come back. Then the arrival of a Piute with news that excited Withers and greatly perturbed Lake convinced Shefford that something was wrong.
The little trading-post seldom saw such disorder; certainly Shefford had never known the trader to neglect work. Joe Lake threw a saddle on a mustang he would have scorned to notice in an ordinary moment, and without a word of explanation or farewell rode hard to the north on the Stonebridge trail.
Shefford had long since acquired patience. He was curious, but he did not care particularly what was in the wind. However, when Withers came out and sent an Indian to drive up the horses Shefford could not refrain from a query.
"I hate to tell you," replied the trader.
"Go on," added Shefford, quickly.
"Did I tell you about the government sending a Supreme Court judge out to Utah to prosecute the polygamists?"
"No," replied Shefford.
"I forgot to, I reckon. You've been away a lot. Well, there's been hell up in Utah for six months. Lately this judge and his men have worked down into southern Utah. He visited Bluff and Monticello a few weeks ago. . . . Now what do you think?"
"Withers! Is he coming to Stonebridge?"
"He's there now. Some one betrayed the whereabouts of the hidden village over in the canyon. All the women have been arrested and taken to Stonebridge. The trial begins to-day."
"Arrested!" echoed Shefford, blankly. "Those poor, lonely, good women? What on earth for?"
"Sealed wives!" exclaimed Withers, tersely. "This judge is after the polygamists. They say he's absolutely relentless."
"But--women can't be polygamists. Their husbands are the ones wanted."
"Sure. But the prosecutors have got to find the sealed wives--the second wives--to find the law-breaking husbands. That'll be a job, or I don't know Mormons. . . . Are you going to ride over to Stonebridge with me?"
Shefford shrank at the idea. Months of toil and pain and travail had not been enough to make him forget the strange girl he had loved. But he had remembered only at poignant intervals, and the lapse of time had made thought of her a dream like that sad dream which had lured him into the desert. With the query of the trader came a bitter-sweet regret.
"Better come with me," said Withers. "Have you forgotten the Sago Lily? She'll be put on trial. . . . That girl--that child! . . . Shefford, you know she hasn't any friends. And now no Mormon man are protect her, for fear of prosecution."
"I'll go," replied Shefford, shortly.
The Indian brought up the horses. Nack-yal was thin from his long travel during the hot summer, but he was as hard as iron, and the way he pointed his keen nose toward the Sagi showed how he wanted to make for the upland country, with its clear springs and valleys of grass. Withers mounted his bay and with a hurried farewell to his wife spurred the mustang into the trail. Shefford took time to get his weapons and the light pack he always carried, and then rode out after the trader.
The pace Withers set was the long, steady lope to which these Indian mustangs had been trained all their lives. In an hour they reached the mouth of the Sagi, and at sight of it it seemed to Shefford that the hard half-year of suffering since he had been there had disappeared. Withers, to Shefford's regret, did not enter the Sagi. He turned off to the north and took a wild trail into a split of the red wall, and wound in and out, and climbed a crack so narrow that the light was obscured and the cliffs could be reached from both sides of a horse.
Once up on the wild plateau, Shefford felt again in a different world from the barren desert he had lately known. The desert had crucified him and had left him to die or survive, according to his spirit and his strength. If he had loved the glare, the endless level, the deceiving distance, the shifting sand, it had certainly not been as he loved this softer, wilder, more intimate upland. With the red peaks shining up into the blue, and the fragrance of cedar and pinyon, and the purple sage and flowers and grass and splash of clear water over stones--with these there came back to him something that he had lost and which had haunted him.
It seemed he had returned to this wild upland of color and canyon and lofty crags and green valleys and silent places with a spirit gained from victory over himself in the harsher and sterner desert below. And, strange to him, he found his old self, the dreamer, the artist, the lover of beauty, the searcher for he knew not what, come to meet him on the fragrant wind.
He felt this, saw the old wildness with glad eyes, yet the greater part of his mind was given over to the thought of the unfortunate women he expected to see in Stonebridge.
Withers was harder to follow, to keep up with, than an Indian. For one thing he was a steady and tireless rider, and for another there were times when he had no mercy on a horse. Then an Indian always found easier steps in a trail and shorter cuts. Withers put his mount to some bad slopes, and Shefford had no choice but to follow. But they crossed the great broken bench of upland without mishap, and came out upon a promontory of a plateau from which Shefford saw a wide valley and the dark-green alfalfa fields of Stonebridge.
Stonebridge lay in the center of a fertile valley surrounded by pink cliffs. It must have been a very old town, certainly far older than Bluff or Monticello, though smaller, and evidently it had been built to last. There was one main street, very wide, that divided the town and was crossed at right angles by a stream spanned by a small natural stone bridge. A line of poplar-trees shaded each foot-path. The little log cabins and stone houses and cottages were half hidden in foliage now tinted with autumn colors. Toward the center of the town the houses and stores and shops fronted upon the street and along one side of a green square, or plaza. Here were situated several edifices, the most prominent of which was a church built of wood, whitewashed, and remarkable, according to Withers, for the fact that not a nail had been used in its construction. Beyond the church was a large, low structure of stone, with a split-shingle roof, and evidently this was the town hall.
Shefford saw, before he reached the square, that this day in Stonebridge was one of singular action and excitement for a Mormon village. The town was full of people and, judging from the horses hitched everywhere and the big canvas-covered wagons, many of the people were visitors. A crowd surrounded the hall--a dusty, booted, spurred, shirt-sleeved and sombreroed assemblage that did not wear the hall-mark Shefford had come to associate with Mormons. They were riders, cowboys, horse-wranglers, and some of them Shefford had seen in Durango. Navajos and Piutes were present, also, but they loitered in the background.
Withers drew Shefford off to the side where, under a tree, they hitched their horses.
"Never saw Stonebridge full of a riffraff gang like this to-day," said Withers. "I'll bet the Mormons are wild. There's a tough outfit from Durango. If they can get anything to drink--or if they've got it-- Stonebridge will see smoke to-day! . . . Come on. I'll get in that hall."
But before Withers reached the hall he started violently and pulled up short, then, with apparent unconcern, turned to lay a hand upon Shefford. The trader's face had blanched and his eyes grew hard and shiny, like flint. He gripped Shefford's arm.
"Look! Over to your left!" he whispered. "See that gang of Indians there--by the big wagon. See the short Indian with the chaps. He's got a face big as a ham, dark, fierce. That's Shadd! . . . You ought to know him. Shadd and his outfit here! How's that for nerve? But he pulls a rein with the Mormons."
Shefford's keen eye took in a lounging group of ten or twelve Indians and several white men. They did not present any great contrast to the other groups except that they were isolated, appeared quiet and watchful, and were all armed. A bunch of lean, racy mustangs, restive and spirited, stood near by in charge of an Indian. Shefford had to take a second and closer glance to distinguish the half-breed. At once he recognized in Shadd the broad-faced squat Indian who had paid him a threatening visit that night long ago in the mouth of the Sagi. A fire ran along Shefford's veins and seemed to concentrate in his breast. Shadd's dark, piercing eyes alighted upon Shefford and rested there. Then the half-breed spoke to one of his white outlaws and pointed at Shefford. His action attracted the attention of others in the gang, and for a moment Shefford and Withers were treated to a keen-eyed stare.
The trader cursed low. "Maybe I wouldn't like to mix it with that damned breed," he said. "But what chance have we with that gang? Besides, we're here on other and more important business. All the same, before I forget, let me remind you that Shadd has had you spotted ever since you came out here. A friendly Piute told me only lately. Shefford, did any Indian between here and Flagstaff ever see that bunch of money you persist in carrying?"
"Why, yes, I suppose so--'way back in Tuba, when I first came out," replied Shefford.
"Huh! Well, Shadd's after that. . . . Come on now, let's get inside the hall."
The crowd opened for the trader, who appeared to be known to everybody.
A huge man with a bushy beard blocked the way to a shut door.
"Hello, Meade!" said Withers. "Let us in."
The man opened the door, permitted Withers and Shefford to enter, and then closed it.
Shefford, coming out of the bright glare of sun into the hall, could not see distinctly at first. His eyes blurred. He heard a subdued murmur of many voices. Withers appeared to be affected with the same kind of blindness, for he stood bewildered a moment. But he recovered sooner than Shefford. Gradually the darkness shrouding many obscure forms lifted. Withers drew him through a crowd of men and women to one side of the hall, and squeezed along a wall to a railing where progress was stopped.
Then Shefford raised his head to look with bated breath and strange curiosity.
The hall was large and had many windows. Men were in consultation upon a platform. Women to the number of twenty sat close together upon benches. Back of them stood another crowd. But the women on the benches held Shefford's gaze. They were the prisoners. They made a somber group. Some were hooded, some veiled, all clad in dark garments except one on the front bench, and she was dressed in white. She wore a long hood that concealed her face. Shefford recognized the hood and then the slender shape. She was Mary--she whom her jealous neighbors had named the Sago Lily. At sight of her a sharp pain pierced Shefford's breast. His eyes were blurred when he forced them away from her, and it took a moment for him to see clearly.
Withers was whispering to him or to some one near at hand, but Shefford did not catch the meaning of what was said. He paid more attention; however, Withers ceased speaking. Shefford gazed upon the crowd back of him. The women were hooded and it was not possible to see what they looked like. There were many stalwart, clean-cut, young Mormons of Joe Lake's type, and these men appeared troubled, even distressed and at a loss. There was little about them resembling the stern, quiet, somber austerity of the more matured men, and nothing at all of the strange, aloof, serene impassiveness of the gray-bearded old patriarchs. These venerable men were the Mormons of the old school, the sons of the pioneers, the ruthless fanatics. Instinctively Shefford felt that it was in them that polygamy was embodied; they were the husbands of the sealed wives. He conceived an absorbing curiosity to learn if his instinct was correct; and hard upon that followed a hot, hateful eagerness to see which one was the husband of Mary.
"There's Bishop Kane," whispered Withers, nudging Shefford. "And there's Waggoner with him."
Shefford saw the bishop, and then beside him a man of striking presence.
"Who's Waggoner?" asked Shefford, as he looked.
"He owns more than any Mormon in southern Utah," replied the trader. "He's the biggest man in Stonebridge, that's sure. But I don't know his relation to the Church. They don't call him elder or bishop. But I'll bet he's some pumpkins. He never had any use for me or any Gentile. A close-fisted, tight-lipped Mormon--a skinflint if I ever saw one! Just look him over."
Shefford had been looking, and considered it unlikely that he would ever forget this individual called Waggoner. He seemed old, sixty at least, yet at that only in the prime of a wonderful physical life. Unlike most of the others, he wore his grizzled beard close-cropped, so close that it showed the lean, wolfish line of his jaw. All his features were of striking sharpness. His eyes, of a singularly brilliant blue, were yet cold and pale. The brow had a serious, thoughtful cast; long furrows sloped down the cheeks. It was a strange, secretive face, full of a power that Shefford had not seen in another man's, full of intelligence and thought that had not been used as Shefford had known them used among men. The face mystified him. It had so much more than the strange aloofness so characteristic of his fellows.
"Waggoner had five wives and fifty-five children before the law went into effect," whispered Withers. "Nobody knows and nobody will ever know how many he's got now. That's my private opinion."
Somehow, after Withers told that, Shefford seemed to understand the strange power in Waggoner's face. Absolutely it was not the force, the strength given to a man from his years of control of men. Shefford, long schooled now in his fair-mindedness, fought down the feelings of other years, and waited with patience. Who was he to judge Waggoner or any other Mormon? But whenever his glance strayed back to the quiet, slender form in white, when he realized again and again the appalling nature of this court, his heart beat heavy and labored within his breast.
Then a bustle among the men upon the platform appeared to indicate that proceedings were about to begin. Some men left the platform; several sat down at a table upon which were books and papers, and others remained standing. These last were all roughly garbed, in riding-boots and spurs, and Shefford's keen eye detected the bulge of hidden weapons. They looked like deputy-marshals upon duty.
Somebody whispered that the judge's name was Stone. The name fitted him. He was not young, and looked a man suited to the prosecution of these secret Mormons. He had a ponderous brow, a deep, cavernous eye that emitted gleams but betrayed no color or expression. His mouth was the saving human feature of his stony face.
Shefford took the man upon the judge's right hand to be a lawyer, and the one on his left an officer of court, perhaps a prosecuting attorney. Presently this fellow pounded upon the table and stood up as if to address a court-room. Certainly he silenced that hallful of people. Then he perfunctorily and briefly stated that certain women had been arrested upon suspicion of being sealed wives of Mormon polygamists, and were to be herewith tried by a judge of the United States Court. Shefford felt how the impressive words affected that silent hall of listeners, but he gathered from the brief preliminaries that the trial could not be otherwise than a crude, rapid investigation, and perhaps for that the more sinister.
The first woman on the foremost bench was led forward by a deputy to a vacant chair on the platform just in front of the judge's table. She was told to sit down, and showed no sign that she had heard. Then the judge courteously asked her to take the chair. She refused. And Stone nodded his head as if he had experienced that sort of thing before. He stroked his chin wearily, and Shefford conceived an idea that he was a kind man, if he was a relentless judge.
"Please remove your veil," requested the prosecutor.
The woman did so, and proved to be young and handsome. Shefford had a thrill as he recognized her. She was Ruth, who had been one of his best-known acquaintances in the hidden village. She was pale, angry, almost sullen, and her breast heaved. She had no shame, but she seemed to be outraged. Her dark eyes, scornful and blazing, passed over the judge and his assistants, and on to the crowd behind the railing. Shefford, keen as a blade, with all his faculties absorbed, fancied he saw Ruth stiffen and change slightly as her glance encountered some one in that crowd. Then the prosecutor in deliberate and chosen words enjoined her to kiss the Bible handed to her and swear to tell the truth. How strange for Shefford to see her kiss the book which he had studied for so many years! Stranger still to hear the low murmur from the listening audience as she took the oath!
"What is your name?" asked Judge Stone, leaning back and fixing the cavernous eyes upon her.
"Ruth Jones," was the cool reply.
"How old are you?"
"Where were you born?" went on the judge. He allowed time for the clerk to record her answers.
"Were your parents Mormons?"
"Are you a Mormon?"
"Are you a married woman?"
The answer was instant, cold, final. It seemed to the truth. Almost Shefford believed she spoke truth. The judge stroked his chin and waited a moment, and then hesitatingly he went on.
"Have you--any children?"
"No." And the blazing eyes met the cavernous ones.
That about the children was true enough, Shefford thought, and he could have testified to it.
"You live in the hidden village near this town?"
"What is the name of this village?"
"It has none."
"Did you ever hear of Fre-donia, another village far west of here?"
"It is in Arizona, near the Utah line. There are few men there. Is it the same kind of village as this one in which you live?"
"What does Fre-donia mean? The name--has it any meaning?"
"It means free women."
The judge maintained silence for a moment, turned to whisper to his assistants, and presently, without glancing up, said to the woman:
"That will do."
Ruth was led back to the bench, and the woman next to her brought forward. This was a heavier person, with the figure and step of a matured woman. Upon removing her bonnet she showed the plain face of a woman of forty, and it was striking only in that strange, stony aloofness noted in the older men. Here, Shefford thought, was the real Mormon, different in a way he could not define from Ruth. This woman seated herself in the chair and calmly faced her prosecutors. She manifested no emotion whatever. Shefford remembered her and could not see any change in her deportment. This trial appeared to be of little moment to her and she took the oath as if doing so had been a habit all her life.
"What is your name?" asked Judge Stone, glancing up from a paper he held.
"Family or married name?"
"My husband's name was Danton."
"Was. Is he living?"
"Where did you live when you were married to him?"
"In St. George, and later here in Stonebridge."
"You were both Mormons?"
"Did you have any children by him?"
"Are they living?"
"One of them is living."
Judge Stone bent over his paper and then slowly raised his eyes to her face.
"Are you married now?"
Again the judge consulted his notes, and held a whispered colloquy with the two men at his table.
"Mrs. Danton, when you were arrested there were five children found in your home. To whom do they belong?"
"Are you their mother?"
"Your husband Danton is the father of only one, the eldest, according to your former statement. Is that correct?"
"Who, then, is the father--or who are the fathers, of your other children?"
"I do not know."
She said it with the most stony-faced calmness, with utter disregard of what significance her words had. A strong, mystic wall of cold flint insulated her. Strangely it came to Shefford how impossible either to doubt or believe her. Yet he did both! Judge Stone showed a little heat.
"You don't know the father of one or all of these children?" he queried, with sharp rising inflection of voice.
"I do not."
"Madam, I beg to remind you that you are under oath."
The woman did not reply.
"These children are nameless, then--illegitimate?"
"You swear you are not the sealed wife of some Mormon?"
"How do you live--maintain yourself?"
"I weave, sew, bake, and work in my garden."
"My men made note of your large and comfortable cabin, even luxurious, considering this country. How is that?"
"My husband left me comfortable."
Judge Stone shook a warning finger at the defendant.
"Suppose I were to sentence you to jail for perjury? For a year? Far from your home and children! Would you speak--tell the truth?"
"I am telling the truth. I can't speak what I don't know. . . . Send me to jail."
Baffled, with despairing, angry impatience, Judge Stone waved the woman away.
"That will do for her. Fetch the next one," he said.
One after another he examined three more women, and arrived, by various questions and answers different in tone and temper, at precisely the same point as had been made in the case of Mrs. Danton. Thereupon the proceedings rested a few moments while the judge consulted with his assistants.
Shefford was grateful for this respite. He had been worked up to an unusual degree of interest, and now, as the next Mormon woman to be examined was she whom he had loved and loved still, he felt rise in him emotion that threatened to make him conspicuous unless it could be hidden. The answers of these Mormon women had been not altogether unexpected by him, but once spoken in cold blood under oath, how tragic, how appallingly significant of the shadow, the mystery, the yoke that bound them! He was amazed, saddened. He felt bewildered. He needed to think out the meaning of the falsehoods of women he knew to be good and noble. Surely religion, instead of fear and loyalty, was the foundation and the strength of this disgrace, this sacrifice. Absolutely, shame was not in these women, though they swore to shameful facts. They had been coached to give these baffling answers, every one of which seemed to brand them, not the brazen mothers of illegitimate offspring, but faithful, unfortunate sealed wives. To Shefford the truth was not in their words, but it sat upon their somber brows.
Was it only his heightened imagination, or did the silence and the suspense grow more intense when a deputy led that dark-hooded, white- clad, slender woman to the defendant's chair? She did not walk with the poise that had been manifest in the other women, and she sank into the chair as if she could no longer stand.
"Please remove your hood," requested the prosecutor.
How well Shefford remembered the strong, shapely hands! He saw them tremble at the knot of ribbon, and that tremor was communicated to him in a sympathy which made his pulses beat. He held his breath while she removed the hood. And then there was revealed, he thought, the loveliest and the most tragic face that ever was seen in a court-room.
A low, whispering murmur that swelled like a wave ran through the hall. And by it Shefford divined, as clearly as if the fact had been blazoned on the walls, that Mary's face had been unknown to these villagers. But the name Sago Lily had not been unknown; Shefford heard it whispered on all sides.
The murmuring subsided. The judge and his assistants stared at Mary. As for Shefford, there was no need of his personal feeling to make the situation dramatic. Not improbably Judge Stone had tried many Mormon women. But manifestly this one was different. Unhooded, Mary appeared to be only a young girl, and a court, confronted suddenly with her youth and the suspicion attached to her, could not but have been shocked. Then her beauty made her seem, in that somber company, indeed the white flower for which she had been named. But, more likely, it was her agony that bound the court into silence which grew painful. Perhaps the thought that flashed into Shefford's mind was telepathic; it seemed to him that every watcher there realized that in this defendant the judge had a girl of softer mold, of different spirit, and from her the bitter truth could be wrung.
Mary faced the court and the crowd on that side of the platform. Unlike the other women, she did not look at or seem to see any one behind the railing. Shefford was absolutely sure there was not a man or a woman who caught her glance. She gazed afar, with eyes strained, humid, fearful.
When the prosecutor swore her to the oath her lips were seen to move, but no one heard her speak.
"What is your name?" asked the judge.
"Mary." Her voice was low, with a slight tremor.
"What's your other name?"
"I won't tell."
Her singular reply, the tones of her voice, her manner before the judge, marked her with strange simplicity. It was evident that she was not accustomed to questions.
"What were your parents' names?"
"I won't tell," she replied, very low.
Judge Stone did not press the point. Perhaps he wanted to make the examination as easy as possible for her or to wait till she showed more composure.
"Were your parents Mormons?" he went on.
"No, sir." She added the sir with a quaint respect, contrasting markedly with the short replies of the women before her.
"Then you were not born a Mormon?"
"How old are you?"
"Seventeen or eighteen. I'm not sure."
"You don't know your exact age?"
"Where were you born?"
"I won't tell."
"Was it in Utah?"
"How long have you lived in this state?"
"Always--except last year."
"And that's been over in the hidden village where you were arrested?"
"But you often visited here--this town Stonebridge?"
"I never was here--till yesterday."
Judge Stone regarded her as if his interest as a man was running counter to his duty as an officer. Suddenly he leaned forward.
"Are you a Mormon now?" he queried, forcibly.
"No, sir," she replied, and here her voice rose a little clearer.
It was an unexpected reply. Judge Stone stared at her. The low buzz ran through the listening crowd. And as for Shefford, he was astounded. When his wits flashed back and he weighed her words and saw in her face truth as clear as light, he had the strangest sensation of joy. Almost it flooded away the gloom and pain that attended this ordeal.
The judge bent his head to his assistants as if for counsel. All of them were eager where formerly they had been weary. Shefford glanced around at the dark and somber faces, and a slow wrath grew within him. Then he caught a glimpse of Waggoner. The steel-blue, piercing intensity of the Mormon's gaze impressed him at a moment when all that older generation of Mormons looked as hard and immutable as iron. Either Shefford was over-excited and mistaken or the hour had become fraught with greater suspense. The secret, the mystery, the power, the hate, the religion of a strange people were thick and tangible in that hall. For Shefford the feeling of the presence of Withers on his left was entirely different from that of the Mormon on his other side. If there was not a shadow there, then the sun did not shine so brightly as it had shone when he entered. The air seemed clogged with nameless passion.
"I gather that you've lived mostly in the country--away from people?" the judge began.
"Yes, sir," replied the girl.
"Do you know anything about the government of the United States?"
He pondered again, evidently weighing his queries, leading up to the fatal and inevitable question.
Still, his interest in this particular defendant had become visible.
"Have you any idea of the consequences of perjury?"
"Do you understand what perjury is?"
"It's to lie."
"Do you tell lies?"
"Have you ever told a single lie?"
"Not--yet," she replied, almost whispering.
It was the answer of a child and affected the judge. He fussed with his papers. Perhaps his task was not easy; certainly it was not pleasant. Then he leaned forward again and fixed those deep, cavernous eyes upon the sad face.
"Do you understand what a sealed wife is?"
"I've never been told."
"But you know there are sealed wives in Utah?"
"Yes, sir; I've been told that."
Judge Stone halted there, watching her. The hall was silent except for faint rustlings and here and there deep breaths drawn guardedly. The vital question hung like a sword over the white-faced girl. Perhaps she divined its impending stroke, for she sat like a stone with dilating, appealing eyes upon her executioner.
"Are you a sealed wife?" he flung at her.
She could not answer at once. She made effort, but the words would not come. He flung the question again, sternly.
"No!" she cried.
And then there was silence. That poignant word quivered in Shefford's heart. He believed it was a lie. It seemed he would have known it if this hour was the first in which he had ever seen the girl. He heard, he felt, he sensed the fatal thing. The beautiful voice had lacked some quality before present. And the thing wanting was something subtle, an essence, a beautiful ring--the truth. What a hellish thing to make that pure girl a liar--a perjurer! The heat deep within Shefford kindled to fire.
"You are not married?" went on Judge Stone.
"No, sir," she answered, faintly.
"Have you ever been married?"
"Do you expect ever to be married?"
"Oh! No, sir."
She was ashen pale now, quivering all over, with her strong hands clasping the black hood, and she could no longer meet the judge's glance.
"Have you--any--any children?" the judge asked, haltingly. It was a hard question to get out.
Judge Stone leaned far over the table, and that his face was purple showed Shefford he was a man. His big fist clenched.
"Girl, you're not going to swear you, too, were visited--over there by men . . . You're not going to swear that?"
Judge Stone settled back in his chair, and while he wiped his moist face that same foreboding murmur, almost a menace, moaned through the hall.
Shefford was sick in his soul and afraid of himself. He did not know this spirit that flamed up in him. His helplessness was a most hateful fact.
"Come--confess you are a sealed wife," called her interrogator.
She maintained silence, but shook her head.
Suddenly he seemed to leap forward.
"Unfortunate child! Confess."
That forced her to lift her head and face him, yet still she did not speak. It was the strength of despair. She could not endure much more.
"Who is your husband?" he thundered at her.
She rose wildly, terror-stricken. It was terror that dominated her, not of the stern judge, for she took a faltering step toward him, lifting a shaking hand, but of some one or of some thing far more terrible than any punishment she could have received in the sentence of a court. Still she was not proof against the judge's will. She had weakened, and the terror must have been because of that weakening.
"Who is the Mormon who visits you?" he thundered, relentlessly.
"But you'd know his face. I'll arrest every Mormon in this country and bring him before you. You'd know his face?"
"Oh, I wouldn't. I couldn't tell! . . . I--never--saw his face-- in the light!"
The tragic beauty of her, the certainty of some monstrous crime to youth and innocence, the presence of an agony and terror that unfathomably seemed not to be for herself--these transfixed the court and the audience, and held them silenced, till she reached out blindly and then sank in a heap to the floor.