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Whatever their shortcomings, the Mormons were not given to melancholy. Even amid their most sacred rites a hearty outburst of laughter, followed by curious remarks, was nothing uncommon, and a " dipping day" was looked upon more as a day for diversion at the seaside than a day of prayer and fasting.
This turned out to be a day of fun. Several, though willing to become followers of the prophet, refused to face the water; but with a strong man on either side they were quickly rushed in, and the more refractory the subject the louder the laughter on shore. The old woman's turn came, when, partly by force and partly by persuasion, she was got in up to the knees, but she would go no further.
" Willie, Willie !" shouted her " leaders in, " " she's lost a' faith ! She winna budge an inch, and she winna gang doon. " " Doon wi' her, or let her be damned wi' the rest, then, " was the reply; "she was ever a perverse person at ony rate. " This was followed by another outburst of laughter, amid which she went down—but she did not long survive the dipping.
Willie ultimately took up his residence in Tranent; and some years afterwards on the above incident being called to his recollection: —" Tut, tut, " was his reply, " they have a very different way of doing things in America. Some time ago there was a great 'turning' in favour of the 'true faith. ' Natives and others came to the riverside for baptism—the river was wild at the time, the place dangerous, and there was a deal of work to get through. One after another the new disciples were handed over the ledge of the rock, and several went off with the stream; but on the ' dippers' went, heedless of their howls, and all the mane they made was, ' As one goes another comes, hand us over another one. '"
That the followers of Joseph Smith, in the early days at least, were neither solemn during their rites nor choice in their language at other times has already in part been shown, but it could scarcely be otherwise, for as a rule they were drawn from the most illiterate of our mining folks. We knew them well when they flourished most, and we cannot remember one in full communion with any church, nor any labourer or tradesmen ever joining the fraternity. There are no professing followers of the "true faith" in the district now.
We do not remember of Elphinstone ever contributing a single convert to the tenets of Mormonism; but the smaller mining villages of New Winton, Newtown, Pension, and Macmerry became great with " Latter Day Saints, " and yet Tranent was the great centre of attraction for the followers of the " true faith " on a Sunday morning, for there they had a large meeting-place. Here is another instance, not only of their freedom of speech, but of their utter carelessness whether or not they caused pain to their friends and relations.
One Sunday morning when Willie and Charlie M'Neill were on their way in from Macmerry to their meeting-place at Tranent, they met their two cousins Tom and John M'Neill on their way to the Free Church, almost at the church door. The two Mormons halted on beholding them, when Charlie, raising his hands above his head, exclaimed, "Oh, cousins, cousins, are you still going to hell? Turn, turn, come back with us; embrace the ' true faith, ' and you shall find rest to your feet, comfort to your souls, and an everlasting—ha, ha, ha ! " and away they went laughing like to end themselves; while their two friends entered the church, if not in good humour through the interruption, at all events less inclined to embrace the " true faith " than ever they had been.
Richard Weaver had also a good many followers here at one time, but the Salvation Army scarcely ever found a footing.
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