“Wake up, Emily,” father’s voice interrupted a wonderful dream Emily was having. “We’re almost in Nauvoo.”
“Already?” Emily sat up quickly and looked over the side of the jostling wagon. Beautiful farms and buildings seemed to completely surround her. She stood up and held on to the back of the buckboard seat her father was sitting on.
“That was a fast trip,” she said, looking out into the distance over the rolling hills that led back to their little home.
“Sure. Everything goes fast when you are fast asleep,” father said, chuckling. His hands loosely held the leather reins while he whistled in tune with the jingling sounds and creaks of the wagon and horses.
“So, where are we going today?” asked Emily.
“Well, I’d like to show you a little surprise first, and then we need to go to Brother Williams’ store. I’ll be there for awhile talking to him. I figure you could look around while I’m in there if you don’t stray far—and then one last stop at the Kimball Drug Store.”
“A surprise? What kind of a surprise?” Emily asked, still holding tightly to the seat. The bumps in the road made her seem to dance while trying to stand up.
“You’ll see soon enough,” father responded. Then he pointed to a beautiful brick house that Emily knew meant they were within Nauvoo city limits. She loved that home and always looked for it on these rare trips into town. Several minutes passed as they passed building after building. Some were brick, most were log, and some were in stages of both, but everywhere they looked, there were people doing something. Nauvoo was certainly growing and growing fast.
“Your surprise is up ahead,” father said, pointing at the next block. Emily squinted hard to see what he was pointing at. All she could see were some trees and what looked like the beginning of a building.
“What is it?” she asked. Her father only smiled and urged the team to speed up a little. As they got closer Emily noticed that there were several men moving around the foundation and working on large blocks of stone. The foundation itself and all the cut pieces of rock strewn around it seemed to sparkle with glitter. The sun reflected off the building and gave a beautiful glow to it.
“That’s where they’re building the temple, sweetheart,” father said quietly, almost reverently.
The tone in his voice seemed to hush all the sounds around them as Emily looked in wonder at the beginnings of such a wonderful place.
“Is it going to look like the Kirtland temple?” Emily asked as they passed the site.
“I don’t think it’ll be exactly the same, sweetheart. It will be beautiful regardless of what it looks like. I might even have a chance to work on it soon. Several of our friends have already given of their time to help, and now I think it’s my turn.”
Emily thought about that for a minute as she looked back at the glimmering rocks. They started down the hill toward the river and the center of town. Everywhere she looked, Emily saw people involved in the day-to-day tasks of building a city. Only last year this place had been too swampy for even a horse to get through and now there were streets, homes, stores, and more people moving in every day. Nauvoo was going to be the best place ever, thought Emily. She felt for sure that this is where they would finally stay for a long time.
“Brother Williams’ place is right on ahead. While I’m in there, you can look around. Just don’t go too far--all right?” father said as he maneuvered the wagon down the hole-ridden road. “Be close enough so that when I call for you, you will hear me.”
“I promise, father,” said Emily, already looking around for something to go and see.
As they pulled up to the Williams’ store, Emily jumped out of the back of the wagon and looked both ways up and down the street. There was so much to see here, but she knew that she shouldn’t go too far. Emily walked over to a log fence and climbed up on it to get a better view of everything around her. Once there, she closed her eyes and started to listen to all the sounds making the music of Nauvoo. With the breeze blowing gently against her face, Emily listened to passing conversations, the whoosh of a nearby blacksmith’s bellows, horses and wagons, the banging of a hammer against hard wood which sent a slight echo through the air, and laughter. Laughter? That sounded like it needed further investigation.
Emily jumped down off the fence and began walking towards the sound of laughter and kids playing. After going about a block, she found an empty lot full of high grass and sweaty boys. About ten or twelve boys were there playing stickball and having what looked like a great time. That, of course, was fine, but there was one big problem about the whole situation as far as Emily was concerned.
“Boys,” Emily muttered under her breath while wrinkling up her nose in disgust. She was about to turn away and go looking for fun elsewhere when she heard her name being called.
“Emily! Hello there!” the voice was coming from one of the boys playing ball. Emily squinted into the sun and realized it was Adam Curry. Her heart began to race, and her hands began fumbling with her somewhat disheveled dress.
“Hey! Want to play?” Adam yelled from the other side of the field. Emily just shook her head in response, too nervous to say much of anything. She watched as Adam shrugged and went back to playing ball.
“His birthday is in a couple of days.” This time the voice Emily heard was coming from right behind her. She quickly looked back and saw Adam’s father.
“Oh, hello Brother Curry. How are you?”
“Fine, mighty fine. And how is our Emily today? And your father and family?” Brother Curry asked, taking off his hat and leaning on the tree next to where Emily was standing.
“I’m fine. So is my family. I’m in town with my father. He’s down at Brother Williams’ store talking about next spring.” Emily looked back towards the playing boys. “Did you say that it was Adam’s birthday in a couple of days?”
“Yes, ma’am, it is. He’s going to be fourteen years old. Quite the handsome young man,” Brother Curry responded with a sly smile.
“Yes, he is...er, I mean,” Emily began stuttering while her cheeks flushed a brilliant red. “I mean, um, that’s nice.” Brother Curry’s smile grew wider and a twinkle appeared in his eye. Emily quickly looked away from him and tried to think of a way to change the subject.
“Are you getting him anything special for his birthday?” she asked, not being able to think of anything else to say.
“Yes, in fact I am,” Brother Curry answered, moving away from the tree and replacing his hat as he walked back into the sun. “Since it’s his fourteenth birthday, I thought I’d get him his scarf.”
“That’s right, you and my father have the same tradition, don’t you?”
“We both got ours when we turned fourteen, so it’s only proper that our sons do the same,” Brother Curry agreed, looking out towards Adam.
Brother Curry and Emily’s father had been childhood friends and had known each other since they were about six years old. They had both lived in Pennsylvania until they married and then moved to Ohio at the same time. Brother Curry and his wife had joined the church first and then convinced Emily’s parents to read the Book of Mormon. They had all stayed close together until the church moved to Missouri. Brother Curry and his family were asked to help settle a little out of the way area in Clay County. Since then, they had stayed best of friends, but not neighbors.
“Did James like his scarf?” Brother Curry questioned.
“Yes, very much. Mother spent weeks on it. It had horses sewn on it, since that was something that he liked so much,” Emily answered.
“Horses, huh? That’s right, I remember now,” Brother Curry said, nodding his head. “I’m having Sister Ricks make Adam’s scarf. She’s going to put books on his, since that’s where he loves to spend so much of his time.”
“What was on John Jr.’s?” Emily asked, referring to Brother Curry’s oldest son.
“Trees,” he quietly answered. “Trees. Seeing that is where I always found him back then. Always climbing, or building a house in one. He loved those trees....”
His voice trailed off as he thought of his son. Emily suddenly realized that she shouldn’t have asked him about John Jr. He had been killed by a mob in Missouri while he was trying to bring supplies to some of the brethren of the church who had been arrested. He was only sixteen years old but had volunteered for the job when his father wasn’t able to go. The officials of Missouri had called it a case of mistaken identity, but Emily’s father had told her what really happened. John Jr. had ridden by a group of Missouri men who had challenged the youngest one there to shoot the next Mormon he saw. John Jr. passed them only minutes later.
Emily remembered how sad everyone was when the news came around. It was particularly hard since Sister Curry had died from pneumonia only months before. Brother Curry blamed the mobs for her death, too, since they had lost their home and were sleeping in the cold and rain when she became sick. How sad those months had been. Emily shivered slightly as the memories flooded her mind.
“Your father’s had little snowflakes,” Brother Curry’s voice brought Emily back to the present.
“Snowflakes?” Emily had never known that. “Why snowflakes?”
“Now that is a question you should ask your father, little lady,” Brother Curry said with a smile.
“My father lost his scarf somewhere I think,” Emily said, trying to remember where it had ended up.
“Not exactly...lost. But that’s another story you’ll need to ask your father about,” he said, looking over Emily’s shoulder. She turned around to see what he was staring at and saw her father walking their way.
“Hello there, John,” father said, extending his hand to Brother Curry. They shook hands warmly and gave each other a quick hug. “How are you? How’s Adam? Amy?”
“We’re all fine, Jonathan. In fact I was just telling Emily about Adam’s birthday and his scarf.”
“That’s right. I’d forgotten that he gets his scarf this year. He’s sure growing up fast,” father said, looking out towards where the boys were still playing ball.
“And handsomely too,” Brother Curry said, winking at Emily. Emily nervously smiled back at him.
“Are we still coming on the fourth for the party?” father asked.
“You’re still invited. Can’t promise how the cooking will be, but I have been practicing my toast and cheese meal extravaganza,” Brother Curry announced with pride.
They all laughed as Emily tried to picture Brother Curry in an apron, cooking dinner.
“Well, I hate to make this a quick visit, but we’ve got to be home before dinner or Ruth will serve me for the soup,” father said, shaking hands again with Brother Curry.
“I’ll see you at the party. And Emily,” he said, leaning down to her, “Adam likes anything about books. You would be sure to impress him that way. If, of course, you want to impress him that is.”
Emily thanked him quietly, hoping her father hadn’t understood what Brother Curry was saying. She didn’t want him to tease her about her feelings for Adam. Luckily, he seemed preoccupied with the time and with Brother Curry.
“Take care, my friend,” father said as they walked away. Brother Curry nodded and waved good-bye. Emily took one last look at Adam, but he was too busy to notice that she was leaving.
They walked to the wagon and both climbed on board. As they went towards the Kimball Drug Store, Emily thought of her father’s scarf. Snowflakes? She figured that would be a good story for the ride home, so she kept quiet about her discussion with Brother Curry for the few minutes it took to go to the older side of town. Kimball’s store was in the area of the old town of Commerce that had been here when the church first moved to the area. It was all a part of Nauvoo now.
“Why are we going to the Drug Store?” asked Emily. “Are we getting something fun?”
“Your mother needs a cone of sugar and some supplies for Christmas.”
“Christmas? That’s five months away!” Emily informed her father.
“Yes, sweetheart, I know. But your mother wants to get working on some special presents for some children she knows so she’ll have them done by then,” he said with a wink.
“Then I guess it’s all right,” Emily said with a smile.
“I’m glad you approve. Now, what’s this I hear about you liking Adam Curry?” father said in his most serious voice. Emily’s stomach sank as she realized that he had been listening. What would she tell him?
“Want me to tell him he has to like you back or else?”
“Father! No!” Emily yelled in protest and panic. He only laughed and urged the horses to go faster.