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Nauvoo was supposed to be the kingdom of God on earth, but Will and Liz Lewis are learning that it takes more than dreaming of Zion to make it a reality. Sickness, poverty, and just plain human nature add to the struggles for the Lord's people, but every now and then a glimpse of heaven shines through. Just when things are starting to get settled, though, the old problems start rearing their heads, leaving Will and others wondering if they will be there to reap the harvest they have so carefully sown.
Meanwhile, Jeff and Abby—in modern-day Nauvoo—are dealing with challenges of their own. As their newborn baby fights for his life, they must come to grips with their personal faith. Can they, like their ancestors, continue to trust in God when there seems to be no trace o Him in their trials?
Beloved novelist Dean Hughes skillfully interweaves the stories of two couples separated by five generations and 150 years, providing a unique perspective on Church history and showing how much we can learn from those who went before us.
Interview with Dean Hughes:
Do you have certain tools you go to for the history part of your books?
Research has become much easier in recent years. There was a time when I sat in a library or archive for many hours, and I still do that at times, but I can find much of what I’m looking for at home now. When I’m starting a new project, I like to go to Curt Bench’s store, Benchmark Books, in Salt Lake City. I try to find the seminal works on a subject: especially the general books that give me an overview of the period I want to understand. The bibliographies in those books guide me to others sources, and the nice thing is, I can sit at home and order most of what I want to find, including many works that are out of print.
As I figure out my plot and know more exactly what I need to know, I look for books on nineteenth-century farming techniques or log cabin construction. What’s great, though, is that the Internet is replete with sites that zero in on specific information. There was a time when I had to go to LDS Church archives to find materials that are now published online. (The Joseph Smith Papers, both online, and in published form) have been a big help for me, for example. I write on an iMac with a twenty-seven inch screen, and I type my notes instead of taking them by hand. I can juxtapose my notes and the page I’m writing on the same screen, and then check details without much trouble, simply using keywords to find what I’m looking for.
I also find that I Google all sorts of things. If I’m writing a scene that involves an actual person, for instance, such as Eliza R. Smith, I wonder exactly how old she is and instead of looking through books or notes, I Google her name, and spot a bio, which always provides her birthdate. In a few seconds I know exactly how old she was in 1843 (thirty-nine, as a matter of fact). I have to be careful, because web sites are not all of equal quality, and there are mistakes all over the place, but I love to hit a couple of buttons and get instant information. My biggest challenge is that there is more information available than I can possibly read; sooner or later, I have to write the book.
What inspires the ideas for your fiction?
People often ask me where I get my ideas, but I hardly know what to say. For some reason that’s what my brain does pretty much all day. It grabs on to some little clue and says, “Hey, Dean, you could write about that some time.” I guess it’s a habit of mind from writing for thirty-five years (actually, that’s publishing for thirty-five years; I’ve been writing much longer.) And yet, it seems as though my brain has always been that way. Music, books, movies, the evening news, a conversation overheard, a certain scene or mood or desire: all sorts of things kick off ideas, and then my mind starts turning the idea into a story. In fact, when I’m driving, I fairly often forget where I’m going. My mind is too busy to waste time on such minor things.
- Size: 6" x 9"
- Pages: 464
- Year Published: 2013
- Book on CD: Unabridged, 12 discs
About the Author
Dean Hughes has published books for readers of all ages, including the bestselling historical fiction series Children of the Promise. Through Cloud and Sunshine is his one-hundredth published book. Dean holds a bachelor’s degree from Weber State University and master’s and PhD degrees from the University of Washington. He has taught English at Central Missouri State University and Brigham Young University. Dean and his wife, Kathleen Hurst Hughes, served a mission to Nauvoo, Illinois. The parents of three children and grandparents of nine, they live in Midway, Utah.
Will Lewis pulled off his cap and used a bandanna to wipe his face. Nauvoo was steamy this time of year—hotter than anything he had ever experienced in England. He had been sick with cholera back in May when he and his wife, Liz, had limped off a Mississippi riverboat, and he was still not back to his full strength. He got up early every morning and worked hard, but by afternoon he could feel himself wearing down. It was August now, 1842, and he had had some months to get used to such weather, but today was worse than usual.
Nauvoo was overgrown with corn, the stalks reaching much higher than Will’s head and filling almost every patch of open ground. Will had been forced to plant his garden rather late, but his own corn was coming on strong. He had missed the chance to plant spring vegetables—peas and cabbage and the like—but his potato plants were now producing. His root crops—carrots, beets, parsnips, turnips, onions—were also surviving so far. Weeds were thriving too, and even though he had put in a hard morning plowing deep-rooted grass out on the prairie, he still needed to catch up on his hoeing in town.
Will stretched his back and was about to start hoeing again, but as he glanced past the house he saw a family—a man and woman and three small children—open the gate out front and walk into the yard. John Griggs, a neighbor, was with them, carrying a large travel trunk on his shoulder. He stopped near the house, grunted as he lowered the trunk to the ground, and then walked on toward Will. “What’s this, Brother Lewis?” he called. “I’d heered you’d moved from this place.”
Will took some careful steps as he worked his way out of the garden row. “We have moved, Brother Griggs,” he said, shaking John’s hand. “We’re staying in our new place now, but I thought I’d keep this garden going and see what I could harvest from it—if everything doesn’t burn up in the heat.”
Brother Griggs laughed. “That’s what I thought last year when we first come, but some plants like the heat. I never seen corn grow like it does here.”
Will had never seen this kind of “corn” grow at all. What he had called corn in England was called wheat here, and this American “maize” wasn’t anything he’d ever tried to raise. But Will’s attention was drawn to the family standing behind John. “Are these folks planning to move into this old cabin?” he asked.
“We was thinkin’ so. What’s yer ’pinion? Will the roof hold out the weather one more winter?”
By then the man of the family had stepped up alongside Brother Griggs. He was a stubby fellow dressed in homespun trousers and a worn linen shirt that was stained yellow around the neck. He was maybe thirty years old and was built strong, with thick legs and arms. He had a heavy growth of whiskers. “Lewis, is it?” he asked.
“Aye. Will Lewis.”
“Then ye’re Welsh, the same as us.”
“Back in time, we were. But I was raised in Herefordshire, in England, along the border of Wales.”
“Johns is my name. Daniel Johns. And Welsh through and through, from Merthyr Tydfil.”
“Are you only just come off the boat?”
“No. Not at all. We been here half a hour, maybe more.” He grinned.
Will laughed and then shook hands with Sister Johns and greeted the children. “My wife and I lived in this shack when we first got here,” he told Brother and Sister Johns. “The family that owns the lot would be happy to sell it—so if you find it a good place to put down roots, you could purchase the land and build a better house right here.”
“But you chose not to do that yerself?”
“No. We picked out a lot up this hill to the east, on top of the bluffs.”
“I cannot say what we might do in time,” Brother Johns said. “For now, we need someplace to lay our heads for the winter.”
“You can get by in this old cabin for a time. But before snow flies, there’s plenty to ‘fix up,’ as people say here. If you can purchase yourself a lot and start felling trees—or buy timber—folks will help you raise a good log house. That’s what they did for us.”
“It’s that ‘purchase’ part I cannot manage just yet,” Brother Johns said. “This shanty will have to do until I find work and can save some money.”
Will nodded. He was still holding the brim of his cap in one hand. He wiped his face again. “I’ll tell you what. If you want to help me tend to this garden, we can share what comes of it. That will help you get through the winter. And Sister Johns, if you can learn to make cornbread—and even more, if you can learn to eat the stuff—I’ll turn this stand of maize over to you. I’m raising a fair crop at the Big Field outside town. I’ll have enough to grind for our own needs.”
Sister Johns nodded, but she looked so weary, Will wondered whether she had heard what he had said.
“I wish we’d ha’ come when you come,” Brother Johns said. “Brother Griggs was tellin’ me ’bout that farm. He says ever’one can plant there, if they like. But I know nothin’ ’bout farmin’ at all. I been a coal miner since I was a lad, nine years old.”
“I can help a little, Brother Johns. I can plow some ground for you out there so it will be ready to plant next year.”
Brother Griggs said, “Will bought hisself four yoke o’ oxen. He plows ground for people who wants to open up them prairie lands.”
“Six teams, now,” Will said. “I had to buy two more. That heavy grass wears down oxen faster than I ever would ha’ thought. I plow with three teams and change off, or sometimes use six yoke, all together.”
“How much do you charge for that, Brother Lewis?” Brother Johns asked.
“Well … two dollars an acre. But if you don’t have it, you can pay me later. We all try to help new folks get started.”
“Thank you, Brother Lewis,” Sister Johns said. “Those is the most hopeful words we’ve heard so far.”
Sister Johns was short, like her husband, but she was pale and thin, the skin of her face drawn tight over her cheekbones. She had some missing teeth in front, and the teeth that were left were mostly brown and broken. She was probably around the age of her husband, but she looked older. She was holding a baby who was just as thin.
“Did you have a hard crossing?” Will asked.
“I cannot think how we ever come through alive,” she said. “Li’l Peter and me, we was the worst, but all of us puked up more’n we ever held down.” A little boy, about four, was standing close to Sister Johns on one side, and a younger girl on the other. Both of them looked too weary to stand up much longer.
“Do you have bedding and dishes and—”
“We do,” Brother Johns said. “We ain’t quite so bad off as we look just now. An’ I can labor twelve hours a day. If someone will give me a chance, I’ll prove myself.”
Will didn’t want to tell Brother Johns how few jobs were available in Nauvoo. It was a matter of everyone scratching out a living however they could. But Will said, “For now, get some rest. It won’t be long ’til you can start cutting this corn. My wife and I don’t have much ourselves just yet, but we can spare a little food to help you get by—and Brother Griggs and I will let your neighbors know that you need help until you—”
“I don’t want a handout,” Brother Johns said. “I on’y need work.”
Will wondered whether he should offer Brother Johns a job. He had his farm at the Big Field to look after, and he plowed for other men, and he had begun to cut roads. He had used the skills he had learned grading railroad beds in England to make a man a good road. That job had led to an offer from a Hancock County official. Will was now cutting eight miles of new public road, with more roads promised him as soon as he could get to them. So he actually needed some help. The problem was, he was trying to get money ahead for the brick house he hoped to build next season, and he also wanted to buy a farm of his own.
Will had his dreams. He wanted that farm, but also a fine house in town, and he wanted Liz to have rugs on the floor, fancy furniture, even a pianoforte—everything she had once had in Ledbury. But getting started had been more expensive than he had expected. He had bought a building lot in timbered land on the bluff, so he hadn’t had to buy logs, but he had purchased window sashes and doors, and shingles for the roof. He had also had to buy a strong plow with an iron share—to turn the prairie sod—and he had needed tools. There had been a well to dig and to outfit, and the groundwater was so full of lime, he already knew he needed a cistern to collect and store rainwater. He had bought a cow and had penned it in with a makeshift fence, but he needed to build a cowshed and a good corral. The cow—along with a churn and butter molds—had all cost money, and so had a pregnant Berkshire sow and a flock of chickens. The money Liz’s father had given her was gone now, spent on the oxen, and most of his own savings were spent besides.
He certainly could have used a hired man, but paying Brother Johns would cut into Will’s profit, and he knew only one way to get ahead. He needed to use his own strong back to earn and save every dollar he could. The roadwork had been helpful because the pay was in cash—a rare thing in Hancock County—but the plowing for farmers usually paid out in a few bags of grain, or maybe some chickens. People starting out were like Brother Johns. They needed to prepare land for farming, but they had no cash and sometimes nothing to trade. They all intended to pay him in time, but Will wondered how he could ever accomplish his plans if he didn’t get something in his hand more often—and more quickly—for the work he had already done.
So Will didn’t offer work to Brother Johns. It was Brother Griggs who said, “Let me do some askin’ about. The Law brothers is openin’ up a gristmill and a sawmill, and they might be lookin’ to hire some men.”
“And I’ll help you repair that roof,” Will said.
“Just show me what needs to be done and I’ll take it on myself.”
Will nodded. He wiped his face again, and then he handed the hoe to Brother Johns. “I’ll let you take over this garden,” he said. “But I’d recommend you not hoe until morning. Get out of this heat until then.”
“Is it always this hot?” Sister Johns asked. She used her sleeve to wipe sweat from her face.
“No,” Brother Griggs said. “In winter, it’s so cold your nose freezes shut when you take a deep breath.” He laughed. “So just take an average, summer and winter, and it all evens out.”
Brother Johns did laugh a little, but Sister Johns looked down at her baby as if to say, “I’m sorry, little one, that I brought you into this.”
“Sister Johns,” Will said, “it’s Zion. It’s more work than I ever imagined, but it’s worth it. In ten years it will be the finest place in the world to live.”
“I know. It’s what we keep sayin.’ But I didn’t know what it was like to cross a ocean.”
Will patted her on the shoulder. “I know,” he said. “But it’s behind us now. We have to look ahead, not back.”
She was nodding, and so was Brother Johns, but Will knew it would take them a while before they stopped wondering whether they should have stayed in Wales. And there were harder things to deal with than the weather and the poverty. Will wondered whether anyone had told them that Joseph Smith was hiding out these days and they may not see him for a time. Lilburn Boggs, the former governor of Missouri, had survived a pistol wound in May, and he had accused Joseph Smith of ordering Orrin Porter Rockwell, a fellow Mormon, to pull the trigger. Governor Carlin of Illinois had agreed to an extradition order, and Joseph had been arrested. Only a judgment in Joseph’s favor in the Nauvoo Municipal Court had delayed his being hauled back to Missouri. But he was being sought again, and the fact was, Joseph didn’t dare allow himself to be taken. He knew that he would be murdered in Missouri.
There were also other problems that worried Will just as much. John C. Bennett, who had served as a counselor in the First Presidency to Joseph Smith and also as mayor of Nauvoo, had been accused of immoral behavior and had been excommunicated from the Church. But since then he had been writing letters to newspapers “exposing” Joseph Smith as the “King of Impostors.”
Will believed that all of Bennett’s claims were outright lies, but he knew the effect the man’s accusations were having on people across the country, especially in Hancock County. He had seen plenty of animosity as he dealt with local citizens. There were now around five thousand Mormons in Nauvoo, and the influx of immigrants was shifting the balance of power. Such rapid change was both angering and frightening to those who had lived in the county before the Saints had begun to settle in the area.
Will wasn’t happy with the attitude of some of the Saints, either. There were always rumors being passed around the city, and some of them were critical of Joseph Smith. Life was hard here, and some people were doubting that they had been wise in coming.
Will did want a house and a farm. But more than that, he wanted to live with a people who followed Jesus Christ. He told himself every day not to listen to rumors, not to worry what John Bennett and a few others had to say, but to keep his eyes on the reason he had brought Liz to live in Zion. She was expecting a baby in October, and he wanted their child—and all the children they would have—to be raised among the Saints.
“Brother Griggs tells us there’s been a good deal of sickness here,” Sister Johns said. She looked at her baby again, and Will knew what she was thinking.
Will tried to think what to do. He had his dreams, but he also wanted this new family to feel what Zion could be. He hoped they wouldn’t be too disappointed by some of the difficulties they would face. Some Saints had already moved away, disillusioned. He hesitated, wondering whether he would regret his words, but then said, “Brother Johns, I could use some help some days. It’s hard to plow with so many oxen—keep the rows straight and scour the blade as I go. If you can’t find any better work, I could pay you a dollar a day to labor with me. I’m thinking I could get more acres finished in a day and come out just as well.”
“That would be fine indeed, Brother Lewis,” Brother Johns said. “And I’d learn somethin’ about farmin’ at the same time.”
“Aye. No question.”
But Will was watching Sister Johns, whose eyes had filled with tears. “Thank you. Oh, thank you,” she was saying. What Will couldn’t push away entirely, however, was his concern that the wages he paid someone else might actually set his own plans back. The house he wanted to build was already seeming less of a possibility for the coming year.
• • •
Liz Lewis had walked out to “get a little air,” but she hadn’t lasted long. The temperature in the house was oppressive, but the outside air was worse. There was not even a breeze to stir the leaves on the trees. Her baby was squirming inside her, as though too hot itself, and that made her wonder how she could hold out for two more months. She was not sleeping well. In England temperatures always cooled at night, and she could snuggle down in her bed. But the heat in Nauvoo persisted all night, and her body seemed a furnace. She had tried to find good positions for sleeping, but she simply never felt comfortable. She knew she kept Will awake with all her turning and shifting. The truth was, she resented him a little when he did sleep, no matter how hard he worked every day. But all that was part of the crossness she was feeling lately.
Liz sat on one of the straight-backed chairs Will had brought home that summer. They were someone’s castoffs, but of pretty good quality, and Will had repaired the broken rungs. He kept saying he wanted to buy better furniture now that they were in their new cabin, but Liz knew it bothered him to spend anything right now. He had promised her father that she wouldn’t have to live in a log cabin very long. Sometimes she thought Will worried more about that promise than he worried about her—and was much too stubborn for his own good. She tried to remind herself that he was never lazy, that he would always work hard to provide for her, but she still wished he would work fewer hours and come home to her more often.
Liz actually knew that she should be pleased that she and Will had come as far as they had in such a short time. Will had prepared a few logs even when he was still weak, but then their neighbor, Warren Baugh, had gathered a group of Church brothers and they had finished felling a good number of white oaks. A week later, some of the same men had returned and raised the cabin in a single day. It was a “block house,” made of hewn logs, squared to give the outside of the house a flat surface. Will hadn’t plastered the house yet, but it was one of the things he soon planned to do—or at least he kept saying that he would. What he had done was put down split-log puncheon floors so that Liz wasn’t walking on dirt. The thick walls were well chinked, and Will had bought and installed sashes with glass windows. The house had two rooms: a large living area, sixteen by sixteen feet, with a fireplace and a dry sink, and also a separate bedroom. That was more than most newcomers had, but then, the builders had followed Will’s plan.
The house was not as hot as the badly chinked shack they had lived in on Partridge Street, but that was hard to remember on a day like this when the humid air seemed to penetrate the walls. It didn’t help that Liz was carrying an extra layer of fat. When she had first arrived in Nauvoo, she had talked to Patty Sessions, a midwife, who had told her she was too thin—and that wasn’t good for the baby. Liz had made up for that since then, but she felt ugly when she looked in her little mirror and saw her rounded cheeks. She had always been told how pretty she was, with her dark hair and pale green eyes. She knew it was vain to worry about her looks, but in truth, she hated to think that her beauty would wear out here amid all her work, and with the birth of more children.
Liz had been telling herself that she would soon have to cook something for dinner, but she kept putting off building a fire. And then, to her surprise, Will walked into the house. She had expected him to work in the garden much longer. He had left very early that morning, but he had returned to the house not long after noon and said that his oxen simply couldn’t keep working in the heat. He had decided to let them rest in the shade at the farm where he boarded them while he caught up on his garden.
“Too hot for oxen, but not for you?” Liz had asked him.
But he had responded the way he always did. “I can’t just sit here all afternoon. There’s too much to do.”
That wouldn’t have been so bad if he hadn’t stepped through the door just when she was sitting down. She stood now and said, “I was just going to start a fire. But you don’t want to eat already, do you?”
“No. I’m leaving again. Brother Lancaster promised to pay me for the plowing I did for him last month. I need to walk out to his place and see what I can get from him.”
“Walk out there in this heat?”
“Not to the farm. Just to his place on the east edge of town.”
“Couldn’t you rest a little, just once, and—”
“Certainly. And I will one of these days.” He smiled at her. “But I’ve wanted to get that money for the last fortnight and I haven’t found time to call on him.”
Liz gave up. Will would rest someday, all right—when he was in his grave. She worried sometimes that he would reach that grave way too early. “When should I plan to have supper ready?”
“There’s no hurry. Don’t even think about starting a fire in the house. If we need to cook something, I’ll build a fire outside when I get back.”
Now she was a little ashamed for the resentment she had been feeling. He was such a gentle, good man—and he was looking very handsome with his good-hearted smile and his face so browned from the sun.
“Why cook anything?” Will asked. “Don’t we have some bread and butter we can eat? That’s all I need—that and a gallon of cold water.”
“Did you bring anything fresh-picked from the garden?”
“I should have pulled a few carrots and parsnips, but there’s a new family down there, and they need the food more than we do.” She watched him look down at the floor. She could always guess when he thought he’d let her down. “A Welsh family named Johns are going to stay in that old shack. They look like ghosts, all of them, worn down about as bad as anyone I’ve seen get off the boat.”
“Other than you, you mean?”
“Maybe. But I didn’t look at me.”
Will nodded. “I told Brother Johns he could keep up the garden and I would help him, and then we’d share the pickings. I know you were expecting to have a root crop to store for the winter, but I don’t know how I can haul everything back here right in front of their noses—when they hardly have anything to get by on.”
Liz understood that. She would have done the same thing, she was sure, and she was glad Will thought that way. “That’s fine,” she said. “But we need to think about winter. We have pigs to slaughter, but we can’t live on pork and cornbread.”
“I know. I thought about that when I was walking up here. That’s why I’m calling on Lancaster. If he’ll pay me, I can buy enough beans and wheat flour to get us through.”
She nodded. She was well aware that many people had less than she did. But she didn’t like cornbread, and Will hadn’t planted wheat this season. If Brother Lancaster didn’t pay them, and they couldn’t buy wheat flour, she hated to think how long the winter would drag on.
“Lie down for a while, Liz. You look tired.”
Liz didn’t need to be told how awful she looked. “I’ll lie down when you do,” she said, hearing the crossness return to her voice. She even saw Will cringe, as if to say, “Uh-oh. I just said the wrong thing.” And then he cleared out.
Liz was sorry. She told herself that when he came back she needed to tell him that she appreciated his hard work. But for now, she could only think of what she had just lost. She had helped Will sow that garden, and she had hoed weeds when she was in no condition for such work. Now everything was probably gone—or at least split in half. She had counted on having those potatoes for the winter.
• • •
Will was worried about Liz. She didn’t look well, and she was hard to please lately. Though his own mother had gone through lots of pregnancies, Will didn’t remember her ever being quite so peevish. That only led him to his most pervasive thought: he had taken Liz away from a life of luxury and ease, and she was holding up surprisingly well. She was working hard, and she never complained about the load she carried. His solution was always the same. He needed to earn more money. He needed to buy bricks. He needed to build a house with thick walls. In time, he wanted to hire a young woman to do some of the cooking and housecleaning. He knew that he was cheating Liz every time he plowed a man’s field and then let him off without paying. This was their business venture—the one Joseph Smith had recommended to him—but it wasn’t a business at all if he ended up wearing out his oxen and receiving nothing for his work.didn’t
Will walked out Mulholland Street to the east end of town. This was the main thoroughfare of the upper part of Nauvoo, but today no wagons were passing through. There were not even any children playing outside the log houses. He turned north and passed Hyrum Smith’s farm, and he did glimpse, in a pond at the bottom of a gully, a little band of naked boys splashing in the water.
He had been to Marcus Lancaster’s house once before to ask about the money, but Brother Lancaster had said at the time that he didn’t have any cash, that he would try to pay Will next month. Well, it was “next month” now, and Will wasn’t leaving until he received at least partial payment—if not in cash, in something Will could use for barter.
Brother Lancaster worked with leather. He and his sons did some tanning and some harness repair—that sort of thing—in a log shed out back of his house. When Will reached the Lancaster place, he walked to the shed, but he found no one there, so he came back around the house and knocked on the front door. When the door opened, Brother Lancaster was standing in front of him in his shirtsleeves. “Oh, Brother Lewis,” he said. Will heard the uneasiness in his voice.
“I was just wondering,” Will said, “if I could get what you owe me today. I need at least some of it.”
Brother Lancaster stepped outside and shut the door behind him. He was a tall man, big in the chest, but he had a face like a bookkeeper—thoughtful and serious. “Shor is hot,” he said. “You ever seen it this hot before?”
“This is my first summer here, but no, I don’t think so. I guess yesterday was about as bad.”
“I think it’s even worse today.”
Will hadn’t come to talk about the weather, and he could pretty well guess what all this was leading to. But he had been preparing his arguments all the way out here. “You said last month you could pay me by now. I’m trying get some supplies put away before winter, and I need some ready cash.”
“Who do you know who pays ready cash?” Brother Lancaster asked. His voice sounded tight now, as though he were annoyed that Will would suggest such a thing.
Will drew in some breath and said calmly, “You hired me for two dollars an acre, Brother Lancaster, and I plowed twenty acres for you. That’s forty dollars you owe me. I can’t carry that much on credit. If I do that for everyone, I’ll be broke and my oxen will be dead.”
“Then I’ll tell you what. Go around to all the men in town who owe money to me, and get a few dollars from each one of ’em. I’m up against the same problem. I’ve done a lot of work this year—and how much do I have to show for it?”
Will looked down at his own worn boots, and noticed at the same time that Lancaster’s boots looked new. He had also caught a glimpse inside the house and seen that Sister Lancaster had nice furniture: a set of overstuffed chairs and an oak cabinet. He suspected that Brother Lancaster hadn’t invited him in for exactly that reason—that he didn’t want Will to see how well he lived. “But Marcus,” Will persisted, “I didn’t do ‘a few dollars’ worth’ of work for you. I was out there the better part of a month, and I was pushing my oxen just as many hours as they could take. You agreed to the price. You never said once that you wouldn’t be able to pay me.”
“I will pay you. As soon as I can. That’s all I can tell you.”
“You must have some tanned hides you could give me—or something I could turn into a little cash. I would even take Nauvoo scrip.”
“If I had something, I’d give it to you.” He put his hands on his hips. “You don’t sound much like a brother in the gospel to me, Will, staring me in the eye like that, telling me what I’ve got to do—and when I’ve got to do it.”gotwhen
“I thought a brother in the gospel kept his promises. Did I get that wrong?”
“I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to ask you to get off my property. You can’t talk to me that way. You opened that land for me, and I appreciate it. But I won’t be planting until next spring. When I see a harvest from it, I can pay you then.”
“So you’re telling me to wait a year before I see one penny from all the work I did for you. Is that it?”
Will realized that he had moved in a little too close to Brother Lancaster, and the man took a step back. “Will, that’s enough. I’ll pay you something this year if I can. But you have to be reasonable, and—”
“Reasonable? I need to live now. I’ve got a baby coming—”now.
“And I’ve got a whole houseful of children to feed—grown boys who can eat more than you and me put together. I’ve given you my answer, and if you don’t like it, take me to bishop’s court. But the bishop will tell you just what I did. We’re all brothers in the gospel and we have to move ahead together as best we can.”
Will stepped back. He took another breath. He knew he didn’t want to go before his bishop and report that he had knocked a brother down—and he was feeling close to doing just that. He took another few seconds to collect himself, and then he said, “Brother Lancaster, a boat came in this morning. Some Church members named Johns arrived, and they had a little bedding and a few pots and pans—but mostly they had nothing. They took over that old cabin Liz and I lived in at first, and I told them they could have half of what they harvest from the garden I planted. I told Brother Johns I could give him a little work. When people are destitute, we have to stand with them and help them every way we can. But it’s different to live the way you do, and to hire me to do your work and not give me a farthing for it—and then tell me I’m not a good brother in the gospel because I expect to get paid before a whole year has gone by.”nothing.
“Will, there’s nothing more to say. I can’t pay you right now.”
“All right, then. You’re a religious man. Go back in your house and kneel down and tell the Lord that that’s how you plan to operate. If you feel all right about yourself after you’ve done that, let me know.”
“I can pray just fine. I’m an honest man, and I’ve been honest with you. I think you’re the one who needs to do some praying—and repenting.”
Will came close. His fist doubled and he brought his arm back. But he didn’t swing. He slowly dropped his arm, and then he turned and walked away. But all the way back to his pregnant wife, he tried to convince himself that he was a good enough man to live in Zion—without knocking down some of his brothers. And he tried to think how he was ever going to build Liz a house if he couldn’t get paid for his work.
by Audra - reviewed on May 27, 2013
This book is a wonderful continuation of the first book in this series. I love to read stories about the lives of the early saints and the sacrifices they made to be a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Dean Hughes does an amazing job telling the story of the Will Lewis family and the Jeff Lewis family. Can't wait until the next book!
Perfect Historical blend of fiction and fact
by Kathie - reviewed on May 28, 2013
Just as with his other historical novels, Dean Hughes has outdone himself again with this book. It is a perfect blend of historical fact, mingled with his own fictional characters. What makes this series unique is how he ties in his early Nauvoo characters, with his modern day Nauvoo characters. They seem to have the same struggles, trials, and joys. It is a beautiful example of how humanity doesn't differ all that much across time. It is a compelling read, and although some of the events that happened in the 1840’s are difficult to write about (and almost as difficult to read – without some tissues close at hand), he does a remarkable and touching job. This is the second book in the series, and he continues perfectly from the first series. He brings the characters and the time period they lived in to life. He gives his readers something to think about, in addition to entertaining. Mr. Hughes has done extensive research on the time period, and what was going on, and how people lived, and it shows in his writing. Dean Hughes brings the story to life, and you can see what is going on, and you cry with them, and laugh with them. A truly good author can make you feel as though you witnessed firsthand what is occurring with their characters, almost as if it happened to you. Dean Hughes accomplishes that. I long to re-visit Nauvoo, so I can walk the streets there with his characters in mind. I loved the first two books in this series - I look forward to the next. No matter what happens, Dean, keep them coming!!
Another Wonderful Church History Story
by Herb & Laurine - reviewed on May 13, 2013
I received Volume 2 of Come to Zion: Through Cloud and Sunshine as a free ebook. I have previously read many Dean Hughes books including the Children of the Promise and the Hearts of the Children series. I also read volume 1 of the Come to Zion: The Winds and the Waves. All of the Dean Hughes books are well-written and authentic and Through Cloud and Sunshine is no exception. This is another home run by Dean Hughes. Through Cloud and Sunshine is a faith promoting and uplifting glimpse into the lives of the Lewis family--early and modern day pioneers. The challenges and opportunities that the Lewis family faced and is facing provides an opportunity to reflect on what the gospel of Jesus Christ should mean in our lives. I look forward to reading volume 3.
by Joyce - reviewed on June 26, 2013
I absolutely loved the first book of "Come to Zion" and I feel the same way about the second book. I love all of the historical information combined with the story of the Lewis family! I can hardly wait for the next volume. Don't keep us waiting too long Dean.
A thought provoking look into early church history
by Michelle - reviewed on May 15, 2013
I was waiting impatiently for the continuation of the Come To Zion series and was not disappointed. I love how Dean Hughes can make history come alive for me. I've heard much about the early history of the church, but have not put much thought into the feelings of those involved. This book made me feel involved in the character's lives but also made me consider what life may have been like for those actually involved. I am impressed with their dedication, sacrifice, and willingness to build up Zion, even in the face of extreme hardship. I am eager to learn more from the next book in the series.
Faithfully Keeps Story Moving
by Diane - reviewed on May 17, 2013
This second book by Dean Hughes continues without a hiccup from the first book--especially with the summarizing prologue. The characters stay in step with historical facts yet bring personal feelings and responses missing from bare facts. The one down point for me is the back and forth story between the pioneer couple and the modern couple. Sometimes that transition from chapter to chapter is difficult to follow. Perhaps if Hughes had used a journal from the pioneer couple to spin off the modern couple's experiences and feelings about Nauvoo, the flow would have been smoother. Nevertheless, the book is worth reading and hopefully will be followed by a third book.
by Gary - reviewed on June 08, 2013
It was a wonderful read. I could hardly put it down. Thank you so much Dean. I look forward to more.
by Lisa - reviewed on July 30, 2013
Nauvoo is supposed to be Zion, but it's proving to be slightly less than perfect for Jeff and Abby. Similarly, their ancestors Will and Liz found Nauvoo to be an unforgiving place. Death, sickness, and poverty were among the top of their worries. Survival was not going to be easy. However, Will and Liz are able to see past that at times to what Nauvoo could be like under the right circumstances. There will be many more struggles than good times though, and Will and Liz will have their faith tested to the max. Likewise, Jeff and Abby will have to work hard to find the good in their situation. Maybe with a lot of work Nauvoo can become the place it was meant to be for all four people. This is a sequel to The Wind and the Waves, but there is a very good summary in the beginning, so you don't feel like you've missed anything. It was exciting to read because these characters are familiar and feel like old friends if you've read the first book. Once again, the main story is with Will and Liz, while Jeff and Abby prove to be a small side story that shows remarkable connection to Will and Liz. There are a lot of struggles here, particularly for Will and Liz. As they struggle through things with the other early LDS members, you get a real feel for the hardships they faced. While Nauvoo was supposed to be Zion, the reality was much different. What I really enjoy about these books is the author's choice to take on the negative aspects in church history head-on. There were a lot of bad things that happened (and bad people to go along with them), and none of them are glossed over or ignored. It really shows how hard it can be to keep with faith when flawed people are involved. Will and Liz really struggle with their decision to come to Nauvoo still, and I can't say that I blame them. I really appreciate the struggle that they went through. Jeff and Abby have some equally heart wrenching moments. This book kept me interested to the end, and I can't wait to read more! Book provided for review.
A solid second installment for the series.
by Debra - reviewed on May 28, 2013
I received this as a free ebook. I had been anxiously awaiting this second book as I absolutely loved the first one. It was challenging to get the rhythm of the book although the author's synopsis did help. I agree with a previous reviewer that the transition between chapters is a bit rough, but I'm not sure that can be helped when writing simultaneously about two different eras. There were parts of the book that moved very slowly for me, but the story was intriguing and written from an interesting perspective setting it apart from other historical novels about Nauvoo. I look forward to the third installment to see what happens to the characters we have grown to love.
by Kristan - reviewed on July 18, 2013
I absolutely love the way Dean Hughes so perfectly ties his fictional characters with the history of the early saints. He not only teaches us what life was like for them but he also ties in some great ways to apply what they learn to our modern life and makes us truly feel what they felt! He makes his characters real and I can't wait for the next book!
Love this amazing series!
by Cathy - reviewed on June 01, 2013
This book starts right where Come to Zion left off, you want to read that one first, although if it's been awhile the author does provide a nice refresher in introduction. Jeff and Abby are living in Nauvoo almost directly across the street from where his grandfather lived, something that I love. Nauvoo holds a special place in my heart, we were able to spend time there the last couple of summers, and I really love the way Dean Hughes paints the town, people and missionaries of Nauvoo in this series. I love both parts to this story, I love the parts about Will and Liz in the 1840's as well as Jeff and Abby in current Nauvoo. Dean Hughes' characters are well written and easy to get to "know." The plot in both parts is well done to, it feels as though it's something that really happened. Dean Hughes really is at his best with this kind of writing. I can't wait for the third installment of this amazing series!
Intense, touching, and emotional.
by Andrea - reviewed on August 06, 2013
I've often found that second books in series fall far short of my expectations, but Through Cloud and Sunshine is better than the first volume. Jeff and Abby's present day story is much more engaging in this book, and the connection between past and present is clear and enjoyable. The historical time period covered is a tough one in Church history. There were so many problems, physical and spiritual, going on, and I think Hughes did a nice job with this portrayal. A few aspects of the history seemed glossed over initially (ie. polygamy), and while this bothered me at first, when it was eventually addressed it made sense that it was written this way because many of the Saints weren't aware of the practice (or had just heard rumors). There are some pretty intense moments in the story, along with some touching and emotional parts. It was great to see the main characters grow and become better people. I also enjoyed that this series and my current Sunday School lessons are coinciding. Some notes at the end of the chapters or the end of the book with the actual historical information would have been a great addition to this series. While I really enjoy historical fiction, I like to have the details to discern fact from fiction right at my fingertips. I look forward to reading more about Will, Liz, Abby and Jeff when the next book is written.
SO AMAZINGLY GOOD!
by Shauna - reviewed on July 31, 2013
I like to read the WHOLE book...including the preface and the author's notes. I find it fascinating what an author puts into a book. I am always impressed with the amount of research an author must do to write about a different place and a different time. Dean Hughes actually spent a season serving a mission in Nauvoo and pulls from those days for this book. He also writes about how this is is 100th book. He has been "at it for thirty-four years." Sometimes he thinks about retiring as an author but says he is not ready "just yet." He includes in this book about how the hardness of writing is the amount of information one can find now with the help of "Google." How much do you put in a book. How do you keep the book from being a historical text book vs. a novel. I found this passage very interesting: "I suspect that if Joseph Smith or one of the Apostles from his time were to preach in a worship service today, he might shock a modern congregation. For one thing, he would probably look unkempt. Men often owned one suit of clothes, cut and sewn with rough fabrics, and instead of sending those clothes to a dry cleaner, they brushed them off and kept wearing them. They surely looked rumpled, and they didn't bathe or shave as often as men do now. Their teeth were often bad, and as people grew older, they usually had spaces where teeth has been pulled. But more than anything, their sermons probably would have sounded strange to us. Not only did they speak for hours, but they often speculated, starting with an idea and developing it right on the spot. Joseph Smith was not as flamboyant as some, but he was full of surprises. Many of his speeches offered a new 'take' on the doctrine, and he liked homey analogies, humor, and sometimes a challenge to enemies of the Church." Dean Hughes also tells about the amount of drafts he goes through before his wife, his toughest critic, will say she really likes it. That is the most important endorsement he can receive. And now you know a little more of what authors put into the books that we SO LOVE READING!
by Gregory - reviewed on May 19, 2013
The dual story line in this series has caused me to really ponder how life today compares to that of the early saints. I love the real-ness of how Nauvoo is described and the associations among the people there, especially as we read about them side by side with a modern storyline. Dean Hughes allows us a realistic glimpse into the lives of these saints, and it's comforting to know they weren't perfect, but also encouraging to draw from their examples of faith.
Exceeded my Expectations
by mike - reviewed on August 14, 2013
Dean, You did it yet again, I loved the last book, this one exceeded my expectations, it is great! I'm so glad you decided to continue the series. Keep it up, I love your storytelling.