Dreams of Completion, Part Two
12 April 1829
Joseph and Oliver are standing at a desk over the manuscript. It’s evening, but the room is burning hot, no, boiling hot—the thick, wet heat of late summer and Joseph’s clothes stick to his body and sweat streams down into his eyes as he looks at the lamp they’ve translated by and though something inside of him presses a NO against his lungs and chest, Joseph reaches out to snuff the lamp—he can’t stand the heat—and gathers up the pages to carry outside and into town, to the printer’s.
The last light of dusk disappears quickly, now that the lamp’s been put out, and it begins to grow cold. Joseph is wearing a coat, but the wind picks up and stings the sides of his face, punishing him for his youth, for not being able to grow a good protective beard.
Joseph turns his head away from the wind and with a sinking sensation realizes maybe that’s why it happens, why he doesn’t see it: as soon as he turns his face, the wind races and begins to steal the pages from him, tearing them one by one from his hands. He clutches the rest close to his chest, but the wind still pries them from his arms. He wants to run after them, but he can’t because there’s a thick mist, a darkness to both sides of him, and now the wind blows it over him and there’s only five pages left.
Joseph realizes his only chance is to keep pressing forward, to put one foot in front of another until he makes it to the printer. Now the wind tears another pages out of his arms, tears it so violently from him that he can hear it rip apart in mid-air, or else against the branches of some tree he can’t see in the dark. He steps forward and it’s COLD there’s cold running water filling his boot with muck and silt and Joseph has to turn the other way as the wind steals another page. Three left. Three, and he doesn’t know which way to the printer, so he just runs until the wind knocks his whole body off balance and he falls hard on his side and loses a page—so that there’s only one left when he opens his eyes and sees that he’s fallen into the printer’s shop.
There’s no wind here. It’s eerily calm, and it’s dusk. Joseph is still lying on the ground, so the printer, in his work apron, walks over and extends his hand towards Joseph to help him up.
The printer is Martin Harris. Joseph hands him the last page, only to realize that it isn’t a page from the Book of Mormon at all. It’s a revelation for Joseph and Martin from last year, and fresh shame breaks out across Martin’s face when he sees it.