8: Decisions And Foretellings

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Shortly after breakfast the following morning, which she had forced herself to eat despite an unsettled stomach, Ever left the house under the pretense of making an early start at the infirmary. She presented herself at the door to Bishop Royce's private office in the new wing of the Council building. The Bishop opened the door himself only moments after she knocked. His eyes widened when he saw her.

"Sister Oaks," he said, showing her in and offering her a seat in front of the large, heavy table that seemed to serve as both desk and meeting table. "What can I do for you this morning? I should say that I'm expecting at least a few appointments this morning, given the Council's announcements yesterday, so you'll forgive me if I have to cut this short at some point."

Bishop Royce was a polite, stocky man with thinning brown hair and a trustworthy face. He'd been a popular Bishop for all of his tenure, and Ever liked him. She cleared her throat nervously.

"If I take your meaning correctly, Bishop," she said, "I believe I am one of those appointments."

"What do you mean, sister?" he asked. The look of confusion on his face made Ever want to giggle. She stifled the feeling quickly. The last thing she needed was the Bishop thinking that she made this request lightly.

"I want to join the second expedition north," said Ever.

To his credit, Bishop Royce appeared to take her request entirely seriously. Less than ten minutes later Ever walked out of his office with an appointment to meet again later that day with her foster father present. A line of young men had formed outside the Bishop's door, all of them members of the high priesthood—Elders—and all of them buzzing with the same nervous excitement that Ever had seen on Dallin's face just last night.

She had known the Bishop would want to consult with Elder Orton, if he even gave her request real consideration, but it still irked her. She was a grown woman. Why should a man have to speak for her? The customs of Bountiful were set, however, and unmarried women under the age of twenty-five were technically still wards of their fathers. Ever had thought it important that she appear herself, without the benefit of a guardian, to make her plea before Bishop Royce, the same as all of the other candidates. How could he believe she was capable of making the long journey to the Maine, sure to be fraught with dangers and hardships, if she couldn't even stand up on her own and ask for it?

The morning was cool, the first true stirrings of autumn were on the wind that gusted through the pines. With winter less than two months away, it was hardly the best time of year to be leaving on a long journey north, but the timing was unavoidable. Ever was in the middle of making a mental inventory of the clothes she would need when she remembered that the Council hadn't given her permission to go yet. She couldn't tell if her easy certainty was due to her prayers last night or simply to her own stubborn refusal to admit that it could happen without her.

Trying to keep the confident state of mind she felt when she woke up that morning, Ever made her way to her father's workshop and knocked on the door.

* * *

Several hours later, Ever sat before Bishop Royce again, in the same chair she had sat in that morning, with Elder Orton beside her. This time, however, the other two members of the Bishopric were present: Elder Meacham sat to the Bishop's right, Elder Cardon to his left. Jared's father was a comfort, as she knew he would treat her fairly, but Ever could have done without Elder Cardon's critical stare. I suppose I should just be grateful they took me seriously enough to show up.

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