Awakened by her father, Maron risked her life and ran most of the night to warn the leader, Teomnihah, of impending danger. After her arrival at the home where Teomnihah was staying, a knock was heard at the door, and a guard demanded to know what was going on. Unsatisfied with the reply, he broke down the door, but not before Maron was hidden inside a large basket.
You were given orders,” the man snapped. “No more meetings with more than two of you together at one time. And no more talk of a savior.”
Maron pressed her face against the inside of the basket, trying to see through the woven straw.
“Nephites!” The huge man spit again and waved his sword wildly. “King Jacob will rule. Mocum will see to that!”
Two more guards entered the house. “Take them away,” the first guard ordered. “I knew they could not keep from meeting. Twelve of them! A fine lot of prisoners we have captured.”
Maron’s mind raced as fast as her heart. It ached just as much too. Had she been the one to cause all this? Tears welled in her eyes, but she refused to let them fall. She must do nothing more to bring harm to these good men.
The three guards shoved the Nephite men outside.
“Only at night the daughter of Tat goes home,” Teomnihah said loudly as he passed through the doorway.
“Silence!” a tall guard cried, striking Teomnihah across the cheek before turning back and searching the room with his eyes. Maron closed her eyes and held her breath until she no longer heard footsteps.
There were blankets and clothing in the basket, making it stuffy and sweaty, but Maron dared not leave it. Pushing her face once more against the straw wall, she breathed deeply. Why didn’t I realize that Kurom would also be under guard? How could I have been so foolish? Over and over her father’s words sang in her mind—“Your acts must never be more eager than your thoughts.”
Rays of sunlight were beginning to appear in the doorway. Maron’s cramped arms and legs ached. She yearned to stretch, to run, to be home. But Teomnihah’s words were clear. She must wait until nightfall. Snuggling into a scratchy blanket, she worried and blamed and feared until she finally fell asleep.
When she awoke, the sun was burning brightly. In the stuffy basket Maron caught a whiff of springtime freshness as a breeze gently entered the room. She moved her hand toward her eyes but could not reach her face. Her legs were numb, and a sharp pain shot up her sweaty back. Through the basket weave she saw the bread and cheese near the cupboard. She had been hungry before, but now she was starving. She could see or hear no one.
“There is no choice,” she murmured. “I’d rather be a prisoner than stay here any longer.” Pushing up the lid, she struggled to stand. The cover opened easily, falling back on its leather hinges. But Maron slumped back onto the blanket, her legs unable to hold her.
“I will not cry. I will not cry. I will not cry,” Maron hissed through her clenched teeth.
Relaxing in the basket, she let the fresh air envelop her. Slowly she wiggled her arms, then her legs. She felt relieved as life tingled into her legs and feet. She stood carefully, testing one leg and then the other. Finally she climbed out of the basket and hurried to the bread and cheese, eating her fill and putting the rest in her cloak pocket.
It wasn’t until Maron had eaten that she realized that just as the night had been too still, so was the day. Once more fear raced through her. Crawling to the broken door, she peered out. There were no people, no movements, no sounds.
I must get home to Father. He will protect me. Hurriedly Maron jumped to her feet and ran from the house. Staying close to the row of houses, she scurried down the path that led out of the city. The sun shone directly overhead in a clear blue sky. The gentle breeze barely moved the tall grasses. Stumbling, falling, sliding, Maron made her way down the hillside toward the forest.
“Stop! Stop!” a voice far behind her shouted. Instead of stopping, she ran faster. An arrow whizzed past her right arm and lodged in a tree.
Her stiff, sore legs begged to stop, but the fear pounding in her heart pushed her on faster and faster until she was concealed by the dense forest. Reluctantly she slowed to a trot. Her lungs burned with each gasp of air and her feet were bleeding, but she hurried on, afraid to stop. The gasp and hiss of her own breathing exploded in her head so loudly that she wasn’t aware of the sounds now filling the world. The gentle breeze began to whip, and the spring air began to chill. By the time Maron noticed anything, the sun was disappearing behind ominous black clouds. “I’m almost home,” Maron whispered, unable to keep the tears inside any longer. “I’m almost home.”
But the wind was now whipping and beating so hard that Maron could no longer run. Fighting to even walk against the wind, she dodged the flailing tree limbs and flying leaves. Never before had she seen such a storm. Every step became more difficult. Rain began pouring from the black clouds—great sheets of water that drenched her cloak, her tunic, and her nightclothes.
Maron could go no farther. Falling into the mud, she began to cry. “Please, please help me,” she prayed. The mud splashed around her. The rain and wind whistled fiercely. “Please!”
“Maron. Maron.” It was a faint sound.
Surely I must be dreaming. No voice could travel through such a storm. I should have done as Teomnihah said and waited until nightfall.
“Maron. Maron.” The words were clearer now. Startled, Maron jerked her head up to see her brother! As Melekib grabbed frantically at her arm, Maron blinked in disbelief. It was Melekib. The cold wind beat the falling water against her face, but the sight of Melekib kindled hope in her heart and gave her strength.
Melekib helped Maron to her feet and motioned for her to follow. Gratefully she obeyed as the sky ripped apart with bolts of lightning, followed by roaring thunder. Behind them a tree crashed to the ground, fire spitting from it in giant licks.
“Run!” Melekib shouted.
Maron’s energy was spent. Stumbling and slipping in the mud, she tried to hurry, but her legs wouldn’t obey the command.
Melekib’s worried face searched the dim forest. They were almost out, almost to the outskirts of Bountiful. Grabbing Maron’s arm, he half-pulled, half-pushed her out of the forest and into a hut. He had to throw himself against the door and bar it to keep out the raging wind.
Maron recognized the hut as an abandoned house she and Melekib had played in when they were younger. The hard dirt floor was sloshing with water blown through the windows, but her exhausted body could do nothing more than fall in a heap.
Melekib sat beside her, yelling to be heard over the storm. “Father sent me. He was worried.”
Maron nodded. There was no use trying to tell him what had happened over the noise of the storm.
“We shall stay here until the storm is over.” Patting her shoulder reassuringly, Melekib leaned against the cold cement wall to wait.
Instead of getting better, the storm became more ferocious. Lightning and thunder ripped the air, and the wind raged angrily. For a long time the two listened to the storm’s angry cries. Finally Maron sat up next to Melekib and rubbed her aching legs and sore feet. “What is happening?” she asked. “This is more than a storm.”
“I do not know,” Melekib replied, “but God will be with us.” He squeezed her hand three times, a signal their mother had used ever since they could remember for “I love you.”
“It can’t get worse!” Maron shouted. But even as she said the words, the little cement hut shook and the air shattered with thunder and grew colder. The very earth began to shake and tremble. Maron grabbed Melekib as the earth rolled and groaned and the floor beneath them cracked. The walls trembled and the ceiling ruptured. It held a moment, then broke loose on one side, falling into the house. Maron screamed, “Melekib!” But he didn’t answer. A bolt of lightning split the sky, and Maron saw that he had been hit by the edge of the fallen roof. Blood trickled over his closed eyes and down his cheeks. Swaying, trembling, cracking, the earth shook Maron away from Melekib, but she fought her way back to his side. Using her wet cloak, she wiped the blood from his face.
The earth steadied itself momentarily and then trembled again. For a long while the quake pattern repeated itself, first resting then shaking violently. Maron fought to stay at her brother’s side. In another flash of lightning she saw that the bleeding had stopped. But Melekib did not move.
The storm raged for hours. Tired, hurt, and scared, Maron prayed as she tried to minister to Melekib. Then, just as suddenly as it had begun, the earth stopped shaking.
Slowly Melekib rolled his head and sat up. “Oh, my head,” he groaned. “We’ve got to get home.” Melekib tried to stand but fell back groaning.
“Don’t move. You must rest.” Maron tried to comfort him, but her heart raced with fear. What now? she thought. For once my actions must have the wisdom of thought. But no thought came, only tears.
Now the wind and rain stopped, but the stormy dimness faded into absolute darkness—a darkness that filled not only the eyes, but the heart.
“Melekib!” Maron cried. “I am becoming blind like our mother! I cannot see my hand when I place it in front of my face. I am afraid. What is happening?”
“Maron,” Melekib said, “do not be afraid. It is a time to be joyful.”
“Joyful!” she exclaimed. “What are you saying, my brother?”
“Maron, think. Do you not remember Samuel, the Lamanite prophet, saying that there would be terrible storms and that many mountains would be toppled and—”
“And three days of darkness!” Maron broke in.
“There has never been such darkness!” Melekib declared. “It must be the sign of the Savior’s death. It is just as our father and mother told us it would be.”
“It must be so,” Maron whispered reverently. “He is dead! Oh, Melekib, what will happen now?”
(To be concluded.)