The Sugar Bowl

Hide Footnotes


“The Sugar Bowl,” Friend, July 2009, 36–37

The Sugar Bowl

Zion shall rejoice upon the hills and flourish (D&C 35:24).

Rachel couldn’t decide. Should she take the music box? Or maybe her doll? Or … ? Her eyes full of tears, she fled from the bedroom to the kitchen. Mother was stirring a pot of stew.

Rachel slid into a kitchen chair and rested her elbows on the table. “Father says I can take something to America, but it must be very small so as not to take up space in the covered wagon.”

A ray of sunshine reached through the window and played on the sugar bowl on the table. Rachel gazed at the sparkle of sun on crystal.

“I’ll take the sugar bowl!” she exclaimed. “Every time I look at it, I’ll remember the sweetness of England.”

“But, dear, it’s glass. It’s sure to break,” Mother said.

“Please, Mother!”

They wrapped the bowl in a soft piece of cloth, put it in a small box, and tied a string around it. All the way to Liverpool on the train, Rachel hugged it to her.

At the boat dock, Rachel looked at the rusty old ship. “Oh, Father, it’s so rickety!”

“God travels with us,” Father said. “There’s nothing to fear.”

Storms followed them across the ocean. The ship creaked and shuddered. Rachel clutched the box to her chest. Whenever a wave sent the box flying from her arms, she dove after it. Then she tore at the string to check the precious sugar bowl.

“You’re wearing the string out,” Mother said as Rachel opened the box time after time.

When the ship finally reached New York, Rachel’s family boarded a train. Mother offered to carry the sugar bowl, but Rachel shook her head.

At last the train pulled into Omaha, Nebraska. Father filled a covered wagon with boxes of clothes and necessities. Bedding was piled on top of the boxes. A tent and Father’s tools were crammed inside. Pans and kettles jangled at the sides of the wagon. Father tucked Rachel’s box into a small space in the wagon. Before dawn, a bugle sounded, and the wagon train moved out.

Problems on the journey were never ending. People got sick. Oxen were often lame. Once from a wagon up ahead came the cry, “Axle down!” The wagons suddenly stopped, confused oxen knocking wagons helter-skelter in clouds of heavy dust.

“My sugar bowl!” Rachel cried. Trying to reach the wagon, Rachel stepped into a bed of cactus. Dozens of little barbs pierced her feet.

Mother used a needle to pick the cactus spines out of Rachel’s throbbing feet. Finally, Rachel found her little box and untied the string. The sugar bowl was safe.

Days turned into weeks and then months. The wagons rolled on. Some days Rachel parched in a dry, hot wind. Other days, great black clouds opened up, and sheets of rain whipped against her as she slogged through heavy, sticky mud.

Rachel held her breath at every river crossing. Sometimes the big wagons overturned, spilling their contents into the water. Crossing the rugged Rocky Mountains, wagons sometimes got too near the cliff and tumbled over. Rachel began to carry her box.

Finally, she looked down upon the Salt Lake Valley. Zion spread before her. She joined the others in shouts of joy mixed with tears.

In the valley, Father used his tools to build a small house. He made chairs, then a table.

Mother covered the table with a tablecloth brought from England. In the center Rachel placed her precious sugar bowl. She slid into a chair and rested her elbows on the table.

A sunbeam found its way through a window. Rachel gazed into the sparkle of sun on crystal. It wasn’t England Rachel thought about now. It was Zion. Rachel was home.

Illustration by Dan Burr