“Someone’s sure kicking up the dust, Papa. Do you think he’s rushing here to buy our apples?” David asked as he nudged his father’s arm.
David’s father raised his hand to his eyes, squinting into the sunlight. He watched the approaching horse and rider. “I guess word has got around that we have the best apples in the county,” he teased.
“John Chidester!” yelled the man on horseback. The rider waved to signal to John and his son to stop.
“Here, David. You take over,” Papa said as he handed the reins to his son. “I’ll get ready for our customer.” He climbed over the backboard and into the wagon.
As the approaching horse drew near, David exclaimed, “Papa, it’s the Prophet!”
The horse slowed to a trot as it neared the slow-moving wagon. “John, I need your help!”
“Brother Joseph! What can I get for you today? A dozen apples, maybe two?”
“I need the whole wagon!” the Prophet exclaimed. He pulled the reins on his horse and slid off the saddle. “A mob is coming around the bend!” he said as he motioned down the dirt road. “Hide me! Quick!”
“David! Rein the horses!” commanded his father. “Help me rearrange the apples!”
David stopped the horses. He jumped into the back of the wagon and helped his father quickly scoop away armfuls of apples. They made a space big enough to hide a man.
“Hide here,” Papa said. He extended his hand to the Prophet and pulled him into the wagon.
“Thank you, John,” Joseph said. He crawled into the empty space. David and his father covered Joseph Smith with apples.
“Papa, look!” David exclaimed, pointing down the road. “They’re coming!”
Papa climbed out of the wagon. “David, get back onto the wagon seat and turn the wagon around. Take the shortcut back to town. I’ll distract this mob.” Papa mounted Joseph’s horse and galloped off into the opposite direction.
David clicked his tongue at the horses and commanded, “Get home!” The horses trotted toward town. But they were not quick enough. The wagon was soon overtaken by the mob.
“Hey, boy, stop those horses!” shouted a man from behind. David turned to see one of the mob galloping up to the wagon. Other men were close behind. David could not see his father. He felt scared. He pulled the reins on the horses.
“Search the wagon!” commanded the man.
David quickly looked down at the wagon full of apples. To his horror, he noticed the Prophet’s feet poking out of the pile of apples. But it was too late. There was nothing he could do.
Three men got off their horses and ran to the wagon. David silently prayed, Please, Heavenly Father, protect the Prophet. Hide his feet from these men. The men rummaged through the wagon.
“Apples! That’s all that’s here! Just apples!” one of the men shouted to his leader. He turned to David. “Your old man was right, boy,” he sneered. “Bunch of apples. He and his horse didn’t have to be tied up to a tree after all.”
“Joe Smith must be heading to town on foot,” yelled the leader. “Let’s head him off!”
Remounting their horses, the mob galloped off toward Nauvoo.
David was relieved. Heavenly Father, he silently prayed, I thank thee for answering my prayer. David realized that the danger wasn’t over yet. He still had to get the Prophet to safety. And he had to get help for his father. He whipped the reins to start the horses. They again headed toward town.
The wagon came to a fork in the road. David remembered that his father had told him to take the shortcut. He steered the horses to the left.
Suddenly a flash of lightning struck just ahead of the wagon. The horses jumped in fright, and David was thrown backward. He dropped the reins. The horses began to run out of control.
Clinging to the backboard he struggled to reach the reins, pleading to Heavenly Father for help. Finally he managed to lower himself to the footboard and grab the reins. Bracing himself against the seat, he pulled on the reins.
As the horses slowed to a trot, he realized that they had reached Nauvoo. He drove the wagon to the Prophet’s home and delivered him to safety.
“David, that was some ride,” Joseph said as he climbed out of the wagon. He reached up and shook David’s hand. “Thank you. You saved my life.”
“With Heavenly Father’s help,” David answered. “I prayed for protection the whole way. Now I need to help my father.”
“No need to worry about your father, David,” Joseph said. “He seems to be all right.” The Prophet pointed down the road.
David turned to see his father approaching on horseback. “Papa!” David jumped from the wagon and ran to his father. “You’re safe! But how?”
“Some travelers saw me and rescued me,” he said as he dismounted the horse and gave David a hug. “I’m glad you’re safe! How did you get past the mob? Some of those men planned to hide on the shortcut road and take you by surprise.”
“We started down that road, Papa, but there was a lightning strike, and the horses went wild and wouldn’t take the shortcut road. They ran so fast that they nearly toppled the wagon!”
“I believe we were well protected”—Joseph approached them and placed his hand on David’s shoulder—“thanks to your prayers.”