Peace McBride, an apprentice seamstress, and her mistress, Mrs. Root, have heard the Prophet Joseph Smith preach, studied the Book of Mormon, and been baptized into the Church. Now Peace has received Sister Root’s permission and the necessary money to visit her family in a distant county to share her joy in the gospel with them.
On the eve of a brand new decade, December 31, 1839, Peace was bundled in a warm cloak and sitting on top of a coach. Only something as important as the gospel could make Peace take such a journey. Sister Root had tried for days to find someone who was traveling toward the town of Chester Springs, but there were few travelers this time of year. Even so, not a seat was left inside the coach, and no one had been willing to give up his seat to the young girl. I won’t think of the cold, Peace decided. I’ll think of how warm I was after my baptism, of Sister Root’s warm parlor, of anything but the cold.
Cheerfully she hugged a paper-wrapped parcel to her chest. It was Sister Root’s copy of the Book of Mormon. She had given it to Peace as the excited girl had boarded the stage. “I shouldn’t let you be doing this,” Sister Root had fretted. “But since you’re going, here, take the book. It won’t do you much good to just talk about it—your folks need a chance to read it.”
Feeling cold creep around her toes as the coach got farther and farther from Philadelphia, Peace wriggled them and thought about the past few weeks. There had been such a change in her employer! Peace could remember when sour words and slaps were served up regularly to her. Sister Root’s whole manner had changed from the time that she first listened to the Prophet.
Glancing around, Peace noticed that the slush in the road had frozen. She stomped her feet and moved her arms to keep warm. Finally she saw the inn up ahead. It was a two-day trip home, and whenever she made it, she always stayed there.
After a warm meal, Peace felt better and hurried to her room. She knew that the coach would leave shortly after dawn, and she needed all the sleep that she could get. Wrapping herself in the quilts, she drifted peacefully to sleep.
Several hours later she awoke as cold again gripped her. The cozy little room that she had enjoyed in the summer was far from any heat source. Seeing frost forming around the window and on the panes, Peace knew that it was frightfully cold. Reaching for her cloak, she hastily put it on over her nightclothes. Back under the covers, she shivered until she was warm enough to fall asleep again.
The frost was so thick on the panes when Peace awoke a second time that light from the feeble sunrise hardly penetrated the room. She dressed under the covers, then hurried to the gathering room. The other travelers were already huddled around the fire, so she had to stand behind them, where she could barely feel its warmth.
A warm breakfast and cheerful words from the inn-keeper helped. Bracing herself, Peace again took her seat on top of the coach. This time she wore all the clothes that she had brought with her. Yet, before noon, her throat was scratchy. By evening, she was really sick. As the coach approached Chester Springs, she was so ill that she hardly knew what was happening around her.
A kind farmer going her way agreed to take Peace to her family’s farm. It was only two miles outside of town, but to Peace the trip took forever. Each time the wagon hit a rut, her head seemed to explode with pain.
Hearing her mother’s voice was almost like being in heaven. Peace tried to rise from where she lay in the back of the farmer’s wagon, but she sank back weakly.
“Peace!” her mother cried. “Whatever are you doing here?” She bustled around and fussed as the farmer and Mr. McBride carried the girl into the house.
It was bliss for Peace to lie in a soft, warm bed in the safety of her home. Her mother helped undress her and started to take the paper-wrapped parcel from her.
“No!” Peace mumbled. “I need to keep this with me. It’s why I came here, and it’s very important.”
“Important or not,” her mother said firmly, “it’s going on the dresser. It will be there when you get better.”
It was a week before Peace felt well enough to even sit up. She had developed a fever and a deep cough and was able to do little but lie there and try to get well.
“You’re awake!” her mother said cheerfully one morning as she came into Peace’s room. “After breakfast and a wash, you’ll feel much better, I’m sure.”
Peace smiled at her mother. It was so good to be home. Looking over at the dresser, she noticed that the parcel was gone. “Where did my book go?”
“I have it, but not for long.”
Peace looked up in surprise at the angry tone of her mother’s voice.
“How did you come by such a book,” her mother asked.
“Sister Root gave it to me.”
“I should never have let you go off on your own.”
“But, Mother, you know I had to. It was an opportunity for the whole family for me to train with such a great dressmaker.”
“She promised to watch over you!”
Peace smiled at her mother and hoped to get her in a better mood. “She watched over me very well. Do you know anything about the Book of Mormon?”
“Reverend Thompson said that the book is of the devil. He told me to burn it!”
Peace sat up in bed. “You didn’t, did you?” she cried.
“Not yet.” Her mother’s face softened. “It seemed to mean so much to you. And you came so far to bring it to us. I’ll admit that I was a little curious about it, because you value it, so I read a little of it.”
“Did it sound like the devil wrote it?” Peace asked softly.
“Well, no,” her mother admitted and smiled back at Peace. “I read a beautiful story about the Savior visiting a strange people in a land that I never heard of.”
“Yes, that’s it. I have to say that it was a beautiful tale!”
“Oh, Mother,” Peace said fervently, “it’s more than a tale. It’s true—every word of it! If you read about it and pray about it, you’ll know that too.”
“Reverend Thompson said that no God-loving person would get involved with this book. He’s a good man, and he’s been our minister since you were a baby.”
Peace didn’t know what to say. Reverend Thompson was a good man. He’d been more than kind to her over the years. “Have the Mormon elders been in this area?”
“Yes, they have,” her mother answered. “Why?”
“Did many people listen and join the Church?”
“Yes. In fact, the number of people in our church has dwindled. And Reverend Thompson is very unhappy about it.”
“There, Mother. That’s your answer. Reverend Thompson is afraid that he’ll lose his congregation.”
Now it was her mother’s turn to look thoughtful. “You may be right. …”
“Mother, will you and Father read the whole book—and pray sincerely about it? Then if you have any questions, we can ask the elders to come visit.”
“I’m still not sure.”
“Please? It means so much to me.”
Peace’s mother loved her oldest daughter very much. She had been parted from her for a long time, and she felt that it wouldn’t hurt to do as Peace asked.
“All right. I will read it, and I’ll ask your father if he will too. I can’t promise more than that.”
“I know,” Peace said understandingly. “Sister Root didn’t want to believe, either. She wouldn’t let me be baptized until she knew more about the Church.”
“Rightly so,” her mother agreed. “I guess that maybe she was caring for you well.”
With just a few days left till she had to go back, Peace spent all the time that she could with her two brothers and three little sisters. She talked to them about the big city and the things that she had seen. “Not long ago I went into a big church near Mistress Root’s shop. There was a man speaking there,” she told them. “His name is Joseph Smith. He’s a very great man, and he’s a prophet.”
“Like Moses?” Jimmy asked in wonder.
“Yes, like Moses. When he talked, I felt that he had great power. We all felt it, and it changed my life.” She told them all that had happened to her. She told them, too, about the Savior and His visit to the New World. They listened eagerly as she told them stories from the Book of Mormon.
Because it was winter, the McBrides spent most of their time indoors. Peace read the Book of Mormon to her father as he mended harnesses and to her mother while she knitted. They listened intently to what Peace read, and her brothers and sisters did too.
Peace attended sacrament meeting at the small branch. Afterward she invited the elders to visit her family. When they came, her father asked many questions. He didn’t say much but nodded his head as the elders answered him.
The time soon came when Peace had to leave. Her heart was heavy because her parents still had not committed themselves to joining the Church.
Her father took her in their wagon to the inn and placed her bag inside the boot of the coach. Peace had a seat inside this time. She also had a warm quilt that her mother made for her to wrap up in.
“Good-bye, Peace,” her father told her, giving her a big hug. “I know what you want from your mother and me. I’m proud of you for believing your religion enough to suffer hardship to try to bring it to us. We’re not ready yet. Don’t give up on us, though. Just give us time.”
Peace left with a warm feeling. She knew that no matter what happened, she had done what she could to teach her family. Now she would give time and the Holy Ghost a chance to finish the work.