Summary: Part II, Chapter III: John Ferrier Talks with the Prophet

Ferrier thinks that he won’t let Lucy marry a Mormon, though he would never speak these thoughts aloud for fear of inciting the secret group that punishes anyone who disagrees with the Church. One morning, Brigham Young pays Ferrier a visit. He chides Ferrier for his lack of wives and says he’s heard rumors that Lucy’s engaged to a Christian. Young demands that Lucy marry the son of one of the Elders, but he’ll allow Lucy one month to choose which son. A frightened Lucy overhears the conversation, but Ferrier reassures her that he’ll send a message to Hope and that if Hope doesn’t rescue them, they’ll flee.

Summary: Part II, Chapter IV: A Flight for Life

The next day, Ferrier travels into town to send a message to Hope. When Ferrier returns home, he finds two young men waiting: Drebber and Stangerson, the men who want to marry Lucy. Drebber and Stangerson argue over who has a stronger claim on her based on how many wives and how much money each has. When Ferrier demands that Drebber and Stangerson leave, they become angry and threaten him. Ferrier worries about the consequences of his actions, but he hides his fear from Lucy. 

The next morning, he wakes up to find a note on his bed that refers to the twenty-nine days remaining for Lucy to make her decision. From that day on, Ferrier and Lucy find messages throughout the house that mention the number of remaining days. They continue to wait for Hope, since Ferrier knows they are no longer able to escape on their own, as the roads are guarded and he doesn’t have the skills to lead them through the mountains. The evening before the final day, just as Ferrier despairs of finding a solution, he hears a tapping outside. He opens the door, and a figure crawls inside. Hope has returned.

Hope eats while he and Ferrier discuss their escape. Hope says they will flee to Carson City, Nevada, through the mountains. Hope, Ferrier, and Lucy pack up food, water, money, and a few belongings and then exit through the window and scurry toward a gap in the hedge. They are almost caught by the sentries posted all around the farmhouse’s perimeter, but Hope hears the men and pulls Ferrier and Lucy into the shadows. They listen as the sentries communicate through animal sounds and secret phrases. 

When it is safe to do so, Hope, Ferrier, and Lucy continue onward through the fields, to the road, and down a footpath that leads them to the base of the mountains, where Hope has horses and a mule waiting that they can ride. They make their way along the difficult track, with Hope leading, for some time. Then Lucy spies a lookout who challenges their passage, but they repeat the secret phrase they heard the sentries use earlier, and the lookout lets them keep going. Hope, Ferrier, and Lucy know they are out of Mormon territory at last.

Analysis: Part II, Chapters III–IV

In these fast-paced chapters, the rising action of Part II is accelerated by Brigham Young’s ultimatum, and the sense of danger increases. Brigham Young’s arrival at John Ferrier’s home is preceded by a long description of the terrible power of the Mormon Church in Utah, strongly signaling to readers that Young’s visit means danger. Ferrier’s reaction to seeing Young approach his door shows that he too is well aware of Young’s power and has likely heard the troubling stories about Young’s Avenging Angels. Young’s ultimatum and the time limit of one month for Lucy to decide whom she will marry provides the central conflict for the rest of Part II and adds a feeling of urgency to the story.

The tension rises with the re-introduction of Enoch Drebber and Joseph Stangerson, marking the first time readers have seen these two men alive. Readers may remember Dr. Watson’s description of the face of the dead Enoch Drebber from Chapter III of Part I as hateful and “malignant.” Watson’s characterization proves apt when Drebber and Stangerson casually negotiate over the life of Lucy Ferrier as if she were property and then loudly threaten John Ferrier when he takes offense and kicks them out. John Ferrier soon realizes there is real menace behind these threats when he starts receiving sinister, daily reminders that Lucy’s freedom has an expiration date. With each passing day, the tension increases as the Ferriers await the arrival of their would-be savior, Jefferson Hope. When Hope does finally come, the feeling of impending doom has become almost unbearable, and the Ferriers’ desperation culminates in their narrow escape from the “Land of the Saints.” Jefferson Hope’s personal characteristics of determination, cunning, and physical prowess, which Holmes and Watson have experienced first-hand, are on full display as he helps the Ferriers navigate their way to freedom.