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The campfire cast long red spirals into the blackness of the night. A crimson streak stretched and reached out as if to tantalize the air around it. For one long second it shone triumphantly, then curled and vanished like mist among the embers. The wood crackled and twisted into fantastic shapes with a slow drawn-out hiss as the flames leapt up, danced and slowly disappeared.
In the long, dark shadows on the ground four Elders sat, quietly discussing the journey. Zachary was perfectly still, his keen gray eyes focused on the low flame. Gregory's long, thin features revealed the rigid face of an ascetic. Ezekiel's old tired frame huddled close to the warmth of the fire. Jonathan's blue eyes moved quickly, taking in the scene behind him. He alone was impatient to depart.
Beyond the fire, far off on the horizon, were the first rays of a cold gray dawn. The wagons stood ready, filled with food and clothing, medicine and tools. People hurried quietly to pack in the last few treasured possessions. An old woman hastily put in a bulky parcel from which emerged sounds of chirping. A young man carefully placed a crate of fragile china dishes into his wagon. A child slipped in a small rag doll.
The Elders seated around the fire saw the thin long rays of light in the distance. They glanced at each other and stood up, slowly and deliberately. Gregory stamped out the fire. The people stopped what they were doing and gathered closer, with the anxious anticipation of what was to come and the dread of leaving whatever used to be.
Zachary straightened himself to his full height and stood like a giant among them. And then he spoke. "Brethren, we are about to embark on a long and needsbehazardous journey across the land. But we are of stout hearts and good spirit, for we are Mormons. Remember always that as long as we remain united in fellowship and understanding, as long as each man does the task which has been allotted to him and all men help each other, we will remain victorious and will reach our promised land, as did so many of our brethren before us. Let us go now and may the Lord bless us on our journey."
There was a long resounding murmur of Amen. And then the people went towards their wagons. Men shook hands with each other and wished goodspeed. Women got their children into the wagons. All was done silently and efficiently as had been planned. Finally the Elders mounted their horses. Zachary sat straight in his saddle. Ezekiel's shoulders stooped with age but his soul was sturdy. Gregory's body was taut and disciplined. Jonathan's mouth was firm and straight, but his eyes were everywhere, anxious to get the parting over with.
A long, loud note from the horn echoed through the camp. The four horses shivered slightly and then all started at once on the road to the west. The first horse-drawn wagon followed. The man who sat at its mouth had the eyes of a visionary. His was the longing for a home in the wilderness he had not yet seen. Another wagon, drawn by a double yoke of oxen, followed. Tied to it was a young cow. Slowly one wagon started, and then another, until there was a long slow procession of covered wagons moving along a wide road beneath the trees. Only a few people were left standing near the ashes of the campfire. They turned at last and returned to their desolated homes, silently weeping for the friends and relatives who had left. But on the faces of those who had gone ahead there were expressions not only of determination but also a joy. For all of them were moving westward to find what every human being seeks--a home.
As the long trail of wagons rolled along in a straight steady line, far off behind them on the horizon there was a soft arc of light. The first rays of the sun suddenly burst through the clouds and shone triumphantly across the trail.
Posted September 24, 2007
The experience of the Mormon migration comes alive through the story of Ellen. A teen, awakening to the world, encounters the need, common to people of any faith, to be loved and accepted. The rich insights and imagery are a must for readers seeking a magical lift.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.