San Francisco: Francis, Valentine & Co., 1880. pp. Original yellow printed wrappers, stitched as issued. Light soiling and wear, contemporary annotation to front cover. Minor soiling and toning to text, one pencil notation in margin. Very good. Item #2080
A synopsis of the play written by California dramatist Sam W. Smith, the premise of which is "founded on an episode in the Mountain Meadows Massacre" and features "realistic tableaux representing the massacre of the emigrants!" among other scenes. The first page lists the four acts and the characters together with the actors in the performance. Among the characters are "Elder Force, a secret agent of Brigham Young," "Piute Sam, Chief of the Mormon Indian allies," "Daniel Knight, a Mormon of doubtful conversion," "Fonda, a waif hunted by the Mormons," and "Ruth, an emigrant of African persuasion." The four acts -- Shadows, Clouds, Gloom, and Sunshine -- trace the wagon train's journey from Missouri to Salt Lake and on through Death Valley to California. Unlike the real Mountain Meadows Massacre, the emigrants here survive to tell the tale. Stopped in the valley of Mountain Meadows, the emigrants send to Salt Lake for provisions and a guide. While there, the scout, Jack Croft, rescues the waif Fonda before she can be compelled into a Mormon harem. The synopsis notes, "The Mormon elder, and Daniel Knight, his henchman, who is of the sweet-scented brotherhood of 'Destroying Angels,' plot the massacre of the emigrants with the Indians, but nevertheless, become guides to the train, with the secret intention of leading it to destruction in some manner, and with the ultimate object of bringing Fonda back to Mormon captivity and pious lust." Thus our real plot is revealed. The Mormon guides lead the train to Death Valley, intending to kill everyone by means of privation, and there they kidnap Fonda, who is rescued once again by Jack Croft who forces the Mormons to reveal their hidden stash of water to the emigrant train and to return Fonda to secular safety. Jack and Fonda eventually form an understanding, uniting our hero and heroine whose "progeny now help to compose the manhood and womanhood of the Golden State." Rare -- we locate three copies in OCLC, at Harvard, the Utah Historical Society, and Indiana University.