Protecting the Prophet

“Protecting the Prophet,” Friend, May 2006, 32–33

Protecting the Prophet

(Based on the life history of William Somerville)

The prayers of the faithful shall be heard (2 Ne. 26:15).

William eased onto the floor and carefully laid his gun at his side. “Good-night, Brother Joseph.”

“Sleep well,” the Prophet replied.

William doubted he’d be able to sleep at all. Even when he did rest here on the Smiths’ floor, he often slept fitfully, awakening in starts to watch and listen.

Lying on his back, he stared at the dark ceiling and strained to hear anything suspicious outside—footsteps approaching, horse hooves plodding closer, muffled voices. But the only sounds were chirping crickets and water lapping against the nearby riverbank. William only wished life in Nauvoo could be as peaceful as it seemed tonight.

Lately persecution against the Saints, especially Joseph Smith, had become so great that William now slept in the Nauvoo House as the Prophet’s bodyguard. He lay with his feet braced against the bedroom door, which swung inward. That way an intruder would have to awaken William before being able to reach Joseph.

Eventually William’s eyes drooped closed and he fell into an uneasy sleep, but not for long.

“William, are you awake?” Joseph whispered.

William’s eyes flew open to see the Prophet crouched next to him. He reached for his weapon, but Joseph placed a calming hand on his shoulder. “Why don’t you go home and get some rest in your own bed tonight?”

William blinked in disbelief. “Will you be safe?”

Joseph smiled. “I should think so. The Lord has revealed to me that little children have been praying for my welfare, and He will honor their faith by protecting me. Your guard service will not be needed tonight.”

As William walked down the quiet Nauvoo streets toward home, he glanced up at the stars and grinned. He was grateful to know that he was not the only one helping to protect the Prophet.

Illustrated by Paul Mann