Riders of the Purple Sage HTML version

The Invisible Hand
Jane received a letter from Bishop Dyer, not in his own handwriting, which stated
that the abrupt termination of their interview had left him in some doubt as to her
future conduct. A slight injury had incapacitated him from seeking another
meeting at present, the letter went on to say, and ended with a request which
was virtually a command, that she call upon him at once.
The reading of the letter acquainted Jane Withersteen with the fact that
something within her had all but changed. She sent no reply to Bishop Dyer nor
did she go to see him. On Sunday she remained absent from the service--for the
second time in years--and though she did not actually suffer there was a dead-
lock of feelings deep within her, and the waiting for a balance to fall on either side
was almost as bad as suffering. She had a gloomy expectancy of untoward
circumstances, and with it a keen-edged curiosity to watch developments. She
had a half-formed conviction that her future conduct--as related to her
churchmen--was beyond her control and would be governed by their attitude
toward her. Something was changing in her, forming, waiting for decision to
make it a real and fixed thing. She had told Lassiter that she felt helpless and lost
in the fateful tangle of their lives; and now she feared that she was approaching
the same chaotic condition of mind in regard to her religion. It appalled her to find
that she questioned phases of that religion. Absolute faith had been her serenity.
Though leaving her faith unshaken, her serenity had been disturbed, and now it
was broken by open war between her and her ministers. That something within
her--a whisper--which she had tried in vain to hush had become a ringing voice,
and it called to her to wait. She had transgressed no laws of God. Her
churchmen, however invested with the power and the glory of a wonderful creed,
however they sat in inexorable judgment of her, must now practice toward her
the simple, common, Christian virtue they professed to preach, "Do unto others
as you would have others do unto you!"
Jane Withersteen, waiting in darkness of mind, remained faithful still. But it was
darkness that must soon be pierced by light. If her faith were justified, if her
churchmen were trying only to intimidate her, the fact would soon be manifest, as
would their failure, and then she would redouble her zeal toward them and
toward what had been the best work of her life--work for the welfare and
happiness of those among whom she lived, Mormon and Gentile alike. If that
secret, intangible power closed its toils round her again, if that great invisible
hand moved here and there and everywhere, slowly paralyzing her with its
mystery and its inconceivable sway over her affairs, then she would know
beyond doubt that it was not chance, nor jealousy, nor intimidation, nor
ministerial wrath at her revolt, but a cold and calculating policy thought out long
before she was born, a dark, immutable will of whose empire she and all that was
hers was but an atom.
Then might come her ruin. Then might come her fall into black storm. Yet she
would rise again, and to the light. God would be merciful to a driven woman who
had lost her way.