Dreams of Completion, Part Three
19 April 1829
Moroni appears, in the dream, over Joseph’s teenage bed. Joseph has to be quiet, because all his brothers are sleeping around him, but Moroni speaks as if no one else were there at all.
Joseph—he says—where are the pages?
Joseph doesn’t have to look under his pillow to know they’re not there. He’s lost them. He’s lost them, and he wants to make excuses or even lie about it, but he’s standing in the presence of an angel. An angel who died in crushing loneliness to preserve the book Joseph has just lost.
I’ve lost them—again, says Joseph. He can’t look Moroni in the eye. I’ve lost them again and God, who knows my family is good at losing everything, should probably just find someone else to do his work this time.
No, says Moroni, No, it’s far too late for that.
So what do I do? says Joseph. Is there another book?
Just one, says Moroni, but it’s not the same. Like the Israelites in Moses’ day, you lost the law God wanted to give you. You couldn’t stand my father’s book, so all that’s left for you is mine.
Then Moroni rolls up his sleeve and Joseph sees for the first time that carved and scarred into his arm are the characters of the old language. Joseph’s eyes sting then and he understands at once that it’s because their surfaces are turning into stone, crusting over hard into an inescapable Urim and Thumim.
So when Joseph looks up he can’t help but read the Lamentations of Moroni, can’t help but read the unthinkable wars to come in the last days, when death falls like rain from the sky, and as a copy of the book is carved into Joseph’s mind he screams and he screams and he screams.
And he is still screaming when he wakes up and Emma is holding him tight, as if he were about to die, and Emma is desperately whispering to him that it’s all right it’s all right it’s all right.