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Lucy Mack Smith-Vision of the Angel Moroni


THE next day, my husband, Alvin, and Joseph, were reaping together in the field, and as they were reaping, Joseph stopped quite suddenly, and seemed to be in a very deep study. Alvin, observing it, hurried him, saying, "We must not slacken our hands or we will not be able to complete our task." Upon this Joseph went to work again, and after laboring a short time, he stopped just as he had done before. This being quite unusual and strange, it attracted the attention of his father, upon which he discovered that Joseph was very pale. My husband, supposing that he was sick, told him to go to the house, and have his mother doctor him. He accordingly ceased his work, and started, but on coming to a beautiful green, under an apple tree, he stopped and lay down, for he was so weak he could proceed no further. He was here but a short time, when the messenger whom he saw the previous night, visited him again, and the first thing he said was, "Why did you not tell your father that which I commanded you to tell him?" Joseph replied, "I was afraid my father would not believe me." The angel rejoined, "He will believe every word you say to him."

Joseph then promised the angel that he would do as he had been commanded. Upon this, the messenger departed, and Joseph returned to the field, where he had left my husband and Alvin; but when he got there, his father had just gone to the house, as he was somewhat unwell. Joseph then desired Alvin to go straightway and see his father, and inform him that he had something of great importance to communicate to him, and that he wanted him to come out into the field where they were at work. Alvin did as he was requested, and when my husband got there Joseph related to him all that had passed between him and the angel the previous night and that morning. Having heard this account, his father charged him not to fail in attending strictly to the instruction which he had received from this heavenly messenger.

Soon after Joseph had this conversation with his father, he repaired to the place where the plates were deposited, which place he describes as follows:

"Convenient to the village of Manchester, Ontario Co., New York, stands a hill of considerable size, and the most elevated of any in the neighborhood. On the west side of this hill, not far from the top, under a stone of considerable size, lay the plates, deposited in a stone box. This stone was thick and rounding in the middle, on the upper side, and thinner towards the edges, so that the middle part of it was visible above the ground; but the edge all around was covered with earth.

"Having removed the earth, I obtained a lever which I got fixed under the edge of the stone, and with a little exertion raised it up. I looked in, and there, indeed, did I behold the plates! the Urim and Thummim, and the breast-plate, as stated by the messenger."

While Joseph remained here, the angel showed him, by contrast, the difference between good and evil, and likewise the consequences of both obedience and disobedience to the commandments of God, in such a striking manner, that the impression was always vivid in his memory until the very end of his days; and in giving a relation of this circumstance, not long prior to his death, he remarked, that "ever afterwards he was willing to keep the commandments of God".

Furthermore, the angel told him, at the interview mentioned last, that the time had not yet come for the plates to be brought forth to the world; that he could not take them from the place wherein they were deposited until he had learned to keep the commandments of God—not only till he was willing but able to do it. The angel bade Joseph come to this place every year, at the same time of the year, and he would meet him there and give him further instructions.

The ensuing evening, when the family were altogether, Joseph made known to them all that he had communicated to his father in the field, and also of his finding the record, as well as what passed between him and the angel while he was at the place where the plates were deposited.

Sitting up late that evening, in order to converse upon these things, together with over-exertion of mind, had much fatigued Joseph; and when Alvin observed it, he said, "Now, brother, let us go to bed, and rise early in the morning, in order to finish our day's work at an hour before sunset, then, if mother will get our suppers early, we will have a fine long evening, and we will all sit down for the purpose of listening to you while you tell us the great things which God has revealed to you".

Accordingly, by sunset the next day, we were all seated, and Joseph commenced telling us the great and glorious things which God had manifested to him; but, before proceeding, he charged us not to mention out of the family that which he was about to say to us, as the world was so wicked that when they came to a knowledge of these things they would try to take our lives; and that when we should obtain the plates, our names would be cast out as evil by all people. Hence the necessity of suppressing these things as much as possible, until the time should come for them to go forth to the world.

After giving us this charge, he proceeded to relate further particulars concerning the work which he was appointed to do, and we received them joyfully, never mentioning them except among ourselves, agreeable to the instructions which we had received from him.

From this time forth, Joseph continued to receive instructions from the Lord, and we continued to get the children together every evening for the purpose of listening while he gave us a relation of the same. I presume our family presented an aspect as singular as any that ever lived upon the face of the earth—all seated in a circle, father, mother, sons and daughters, and giving the most profound attention to a boy, eighteen years of age, who had never read the Bible through in his life: he seemed much less inclined to the perusal of books than any of the rest of our children, but far more given to meditation and deep study.

We were now confirmed in the opinion that God was about to bring to light something upon which we could stay our minds, or that would give us a more perfect knowledge of the plan of salvation and the redemption of the human family. This caused us greatly to rejoice, the sweetest union and happiness pervaded our house, and tranquility reigned in our midst.

During our evening conversations, Joseph would occasionally give us some of the most amusing recitals that could be imagined. He would describe the ancient inhabitants of this continent, their dress, mode of traveling, and the animals upon which they rode; their cities, their buildings, with every particular; their mode of warfare; and also their religious worship. This he would do with as much ease, seemingly, as if he had spent his whole life with them.

On the twenty-second of September, 1824, Joseph again visited the place where he found the plates the year previous; and supposing at this time that the only thing required, in order to possess them until the time for their translation, was to be able to keep the commandments of God—and he firmly believed he could keep every commandment which had been given him—he fully expected to carry them home with him. Therefore, having arrived at the place, and uncovering the plates, he put forth his hand and took them up, but, as he was taking them hence, the unhappy thought darted through his mind that probably there was something else in the box besides the plates, which would be of some pecuniary advantage to him. So, in the moment of excitement, he laid them down very carefully, for the purpose of covering the box, lest some one might happen to pass that way and get whatever there might be remaining in it. After covering it, he turned round to take the Record again, but behold it was gone, and where, he knew not, neither did he know the means by which it had been taken from him.

At this, as a natural consequence, he was much alarmed. He kneeled down and asked the Lord why the Record had been taken from him; upon which the angel of the Lord appeared to him, and told him that he had not done as he had been commanded, for in a former revelation he had been commanded not to lay the plates down, or put them for a moment out of his hands, until he got into the house and deposited them in a chest or trunk, having a good lock and key, and, contrary to this, he had laid them down with the view of securing some fancied or imaginary treasure that remained.

In the moment of excitement, Joseph was overcome by the powers of darkness, and forgot the injunction that was laid upon him.

Having some further conversation with the angel, on this occasion, Joseph was permitted to raise the stone again, when he beheld the plates as he had done before. He immediately reached forth his hand to take them, but instead of getting them, as he anticipated, he was hurled back upon the ground with great violence. When he recovered, the angel was gone, and he arose and returned to the house, weeping for grief and disappointment.

As he was aware that we would expect him to bring the plates home with him, he was greatly troubled, fearing that we might doubt his having seen them. As soon as he entered the house, my husband asked if he had obtained the plates. The answer was, "No, father, I could not get them."

His father then said, "Did you see them?"

"Yes," replied Joseph, "I saw them, but could not take them."

"I would have taken them," rejoined his father, with much earnestness, "if I had been in your place."

"Why," returned Joseph, in quite a subdued tone, "you do not know what you say. I could not get them, for the angel of the Lord would not let me."

Joseph then related the circumstance in full, which gave us much uneasiness, as we were afraid that he might utterly fail of obtaining the Record through some neglect on his part. We, therefore, doubled our diligence in prayer and supplication to God, in order that he might be more fully instructed in his duty, and be preserved from all the wiles and machinations of him "who lieth in wait to deceive."

We were still making arrangements to build us a comfortable house, the management and control of which devolved chiefly upon Alvin. And when November, 1822, 1 arrived, the frame was raised, and all the materials necessary for its speedy completion were procured. This opened to Alvin's mind the pleasing prospect of seeing his father and mother once more comfortable and happy. He would say, "I am going to have a nice, pleasant room for father and mother to sit in, and everything arranged for their comfort, and they shall not work any more as they have done."

pp. 81-87


ON THE 15th of Nov. 1824, about ten o'clock in the morning, Alvin was taken very sick with the bilious colic. He came to the house in much distress, and requested his father to go immediately for a physician. He accordingly went, obtaining one by the name of Greenwood, who, on arriving, immediately administered to the patient a heavy dose of calomel. I will here notice, that this Dr. Greenwood was not the physician commonly employed by the family; he was brought in consequence of the family physician's absence. And on this account, as I suppose, Alvin at first refused to take the medicine, but by much persuasion, he was prevailed on to do so.

This dose of calomel lodged in his stomach, and all the medicine afterwards freely administered by four very skillful physicians could not remove it.

On the third day of his sickness, Dr. McIntyre, whose services were usually employed by the family, as he was considered very skillful, was brought, and with him four other eminent physicians. But it was all in vain, their exertions proved unavailing, just as Alvin said would be the case—he told them the calomel was still lodged in the same place, after some exertion had been made to carry it off, and that it must take his life.

On coming to this conclusion, he called Hyrum to him, and said, "Hyrum, I must die. Now I want to say a few things, which I wish to have you remember. I have done all I could to make our dear parents comfortable. I want you to go on and finish the house and take care of them in their old age, and do not any more let them work hard, as they are now in old age."

He then called Sophronia to him, and said to her, "Sophronia, you must be a good girl, and do all you can for father and mother—never forsake them; they have worked hard, and they are now getting old. Be kind to them, and remember what they have done for us."

In the latter part of the fourth night he called for all the children, and exhorted them separately in the same strain as above. But when he came to Joseph, he said, "I am now going to die, the distress which I suffer, and the feelings that I have, tell me my time is very short. I want you to be a good boy, and do everything that lies in your power to obtain the Record. Be faithful in receiving instruction, and in keeping every commandment that is given you. Your brother Alvin must leave you; but remember the example which he has set for you; and set the same example for the children that are younger than yourself, and always be kind to father and mother."

He then asked me to take my little daughter Lucy 1 up, and bring her to him, for he wished to see her. He was always very fond of her, and was in the habit of taking her up and caressing her, which naturally formed a very strong attachment on her part for him. I went to her, and said: "Lucy, Alvin wants to see you." At this, she started from her sleep, and screamed out, "Amby, Amby"; (she could not talk plain, being very young). We took her to him, and when she got within reach of him, she sprang from my arms and caught him around the neck, and cried out, "Oh, Amby," and kissed him again and again.

"Lucy," said he, "you must be the best girl in the world, and take care of mother; you can't have your Amby any more. Amby is going away; he must leave little Lucy." He then kissed her, and said, "take her away, I think my breath offends her." We took hold of her to take her away; but she clinched him with such a strong grasp, that it was with difficulty we succeeded in disengaging her hands.

As I turned with the child to leave him he said, "Father, mother, brothers, and sisters, farewell! I can now breathe out my life as calmly as a clock." Saying this, he immediately closed his eyes in death.

The child still cried to go back to Alvin. One present observed to the child, "Alvin is gone; an angel has taken his spirit to heaven." Hearing this, the child renewed her cries, and, as I bent over his corpse with her in my arms, she again threw her arms around him, and kissed him repeatedly. And until the body was taken from the house she continued to cry, and to manifest such mingled feelings of both terror and affection at the scene before her, as are seldom witnessed.

Alvin was a youth of singular goodness of disposition—kind and amiable, so that lamentation and mourning filled the whole neighborhood in which he resided.

By the request of the principal physician, Alvin was cut open, in order to discover, if it were possible, the cause of his death. On doing so, they found the calomel lodged in the upper bowels, untouched by anything which he had taken to remove it, and as near as possible in its natural state, surrounded as it was with gangrene.

A vast concourse of people attend his obsequies, who seemed very anxious to show their sympathy for us in our bereavement.

Alvin manifested, if such could be the case, greater zeal and anxiety in regard to the Record that had been shown to Joseph, than any of the rest of the family; in consequence of which we could not bear to hear anything said upon the subject. Whenever Joseph spoke of the Record, it would immediately bring Alvin to our minds, with all his zeal, and with all his kindness; and, when we looked to his place, and realized that he was gone from it, to return no more in this life, we all with one accord wept over our irretrievable loss, and we could "not be comforted, because he was not."

pp. 87-90


SHORTLY after the death of Alvin, a man commenced laboring in the neighborhood, to effect a union of the different churches, in order that all might be agreed, and thus worship God with one heart and with one mind.

This seemed about right to me, and I felt much inclined to join in with them; in fact, the most of the family appeared quite disposed to unite with their numbers; but Joseph, from the first, utterly refused even to attend their meetings, saying, "Mother, I do not wish to prevent your going to meeting, or any of the rest of the family's; or your joining any church you please; but, do not ask me to join them. I can take my Bible, and go into the woods, and learn more in two hours, than you can learn at meeting in two years, if you should go all the time."

To gratify me, my husband attended some two or three meetings, but peremptorily refused going any more, either for my gratification, or any other person's.

During this excitement, Joseph would say, it would do us no injury to join them, that if we did, we should not continue with them long, for we were mistaken in them, and did not know the wickedness of their hearts. One day he said, that he would give us an example, and that we might set it down as a prophecy; viz.:

"You look at Deacon Jessup," said he, "and you hear him talk very piously. Well, you think he is a very good man. Now suppose that one of his poor neighbors should owe him the value of a cow, and that this poor man had eight little children; moreover, that he should be taken sick and die, leaving his wife with one cow, but destitute of every other means of supporting herself and family—now I tell you, that Deacon Jessup, religious as he is, would not scruple to take the last cow from the poor widow and orphans in order to secure the debt, notwithstanding he himself has an abundance of everything."

At that time, this seemed impossible to us, yet one year had scarcely expired when we saw Joseph's supposition literally fulfilled.

The shock occasioned by Alvin's death, in a short time passed off, and we resumed our usual avocations with considerable interest. The first move towards business, was to complete the house before mentioned. This we did as speedily as possible, and, when it was finished, Mr. Stoddard, the principal workman, offered for it the sum of fifteen hundred dollars; but my husband refused his offer as he was unwilling to leave the scene of our labor where we had fondly anticipated spending the remainder of our days.

A short time before the house was completed, a man by the name of Josiah Stoal came from Chenango county, New York, with the view of getting Joseph to assist him in digging for a silver mine. 1 He came for Joseph on account of having heard that he possessed certain means by which he could discern things invisible to the natural eye.

Joseph endeavored to divert him from his vain pursuit, but he was inflexible in his purpose and offered high wages to those who would dig for him in search of said mine, and still insisted upon having Joseph to work for him. Accordingly, Joseph and several others returned with him and commenced digging. After laboring for the old gentleman about a month, without success, Joseph prevailed upon him to cease his operations, and it was from this circumstance of having worked by the month, at digging for a silver mine, that the very prevalent story arose of Joseph's having been a money digger.

While Joseph was in the employ of Mr. Stoal, he boarded a short time with one Isaac Hale, and it was during this interval that Joseph became acquainted with his daughter, Miss Emma Hale, to whom he immediately commenced paying his addresses, and was subsequently married.

When Mr. Stoal relinquished his project of digging for silver, Joseph returned to his father's house.

Soon after his return we received intelligence of the arrival of a new agent for the Everson land, of which our farm was a portion. This reminded us of the last payment, which was still due and which must be made before we could obtain a deed of the place.

Shortly after this, a couple of gentleman, one of whom was the before-named Stoal, the other a Mr. Knight, came into the neighborhood for the purpose of procuring a quantity of either wheat or flour; and we, having sown considerable wheat, made a contract with them in which we agreed to deliver a certain quantity of flour to them the ensuing fall, for which we were to receive a sufficient amount of money to make the final payment on our farm. This being done, my husband sent Hyrum to Canandaigua to inform the new agent of the fact, namely, that the money should be forthcoming as soon as the twenty-fifth of December, 1825. This, the agent said, would answer the purpose and he agreed to retain the land until that time. Having thus, as we supposed, made all secure pertaining to the land, we gave ourselves no further uneasiness in regard to the matter.

When the time had nearly arrived for the last payment to be made, and when my husband was about starting for Mr. Stoal's and Mr. Knight's in order to get the money to make the same, Joseph called my husband and myself aside and said, "I have been very lonely ever since Alvin died and I have concluded to get married, and if you have no objections to my uniting myself in marriage with Miss Emma Hale, she would be my choice in preference to any other woman I have ever seen." We were pleased with his choice and not only consented to his marrying her, but requested him to bring her home with him and live with us. Accordingly, he set out with his father for Pennsylvania.

pp. 90-93


A FEW days subsequent to my husband's departure, I set myself to work to put my house in order for the reception of my son's bride, and I felt all that pride and ambition in doing so that is common to mothers upon such occasions.

My oldest son had, previous to this, formed a matrimonial relation with one of the most excellent of women, with whom I had seen much enjoyment, and I hoped for as much happiness with my second daughter-in-law as I had received from the society of the first, and there was no reason why I should expect anything to the contrary.

One afternoon, after having completed my arrangements, I fell into a very agreeable train of reflections. The day was exceedingly fine and of itself calculated to produce fine feelings; besides this, every other circumstance seemed to be in unison and to contribute to raise in the heart those soothing and grateful emotions which we all have seasons of enjoying when the mind is at rest. Thus, as I stood musing, among other things, upon the prospect of a quiet and comfortable old age my attention was suddenly arrested by a trio of strangers who were just entering. Upon their near approach I found one of these gentlemen to be Mr. Stoddard, the principal carpenter in building the house in which we then lived.

When they entered the house, I seated them and commenced common-place conversation. But shortly one of them began to ask questions which I considered rather impertinent—questions concerning our making the last payment on the place, and if we did not wish to sell the house; furthermore, where Mr. Smith and my son had gone, etc., etc.

"Sell the house!" I replied, "No, sir, we have no occasion for that; we have made every necessary arrangement to get the deed and also have an understanding with the agent. So you see we are quite secure, in regard to this matter."

To this they made no answer, but went out to meet Hyrum, who was approaching the house. They asked him the same questions and he answered them the same as I had done. When they had experimented in this way to their satisfaction, they proceeded to inform my son that he need put himself to no further trouble with regard to the farm; "for," said they, "we have bought the place and paid for it, and we now forbid your touching anything on the farm; and we also warn you to leave forthwith and give possession to the lawful owners."

This conversation passed within my hearing. When they re-entered the house, I said, "Hyrum, is it a reality? or only a sham to startle us?" But one collected look at the men convinced me of their fiendish determination—I was overcome and fell back into my chair almost deprived of sensibility.

When I recovered, we (Hyrum and myself) talked to them some time, endeavoring to persuade them to change their wicked course; but the only answer we could get from them was, "Well, we've got the place, and d—n you, help yourselves if you can."

Hyrum, in a short time went to an old friend, Dr. Robinson, and related to him the grievous story. Whereupon the old gentleman sat down and wrote at some considerable length the character of the family—our industry and faithful exertions to secure a home, with many commendations calculated to beget confidence in us with respect to business transactions. And keeping this writing in his own hands, he went through the village and in an hour procured sixty subscribers. He then sent the same, by the hand of Hyrum, to the land agent who lived in Canandaigua.

On receiving this the agent was highly enraged. He said the men had told him that Mr. Smith and his son Joseph had run away and that Hyrum was cutting down the sugar orchard, hauling off the rails, burning them, and doing all manner of mischief to the farm. That, believing this statement, he was induced to sell the place, for which he had given a deed and received the money.

Hyrum told him the circumstances under which his father and brother had left home, also the probability of their being detained on the road to attend to some business. Upon this the agent directed him to address a number of letters to my husband and have them sent and deposited in public-houses on the road which he traveled, that perchance some of them might meet his eye and thus cause him to return more speedily than he would otherwise. He then dispatched a messenger to those individuals to whom he had given a deed of the farm in question, with the view of making a compromise with them, but they refused to do anything respecting the matter. The agent sent a message to them, stating that if they did not make their appearance forthwith, he would fetch them with a warrant. To this they gave heed and they came without delay.

The agent strove to convince them of the disgraceful and impolitic course which they were pursuing and endeavored to persuade them to retract and let the land go back into Mr. Smith's hands again.

For some time they said but little, except in a sneering and taunting way, about as follows: "We've got the land, sir, and we've got the deed, so just let Smith help himself. Oh, no matter about Smith, he has gold plates, gold Bibles, he is rich—he don't want anything." But finally they agreed, if Hyrum could raise them one thousand dollars by Saturday at ten o'clock in the evening, they would give up the deed.

It was now Thursday about noon, and Hyrum was at Canadaigua, which was nine miles distant from home, and hither he must ride before he could make the first move towards raising the required amount. He came home with a heavy heart. When he arrived he found his father, who had returned a short time before him. His father had fortunately found, within fifty miles of home, one of those letters which Hyrum had written.

The following day, by the request of my husband, I went to see an old Quaker, a gentleman with whom we had been quite intimate since our commencement on the farm, and who had always seemed to admire the neat arrangement of the same. We hoped that he would be both able and willing to purchase the place, that we might at least have the benefit of the crops that were upon the ground, as he was a friend and would be disposed to show us favor. But we were disappointed, not in his will or disposition, but in his ability. He had just paid out to the land agent all the money he could spare, to redeem a piece of land belonging to a friend in his immediate neighborhood. If I had arrived at his house thirty minutes sooner, I would have found him with fifteen hundred dollars in his pocket.

When I rehearsed to him what had taken place, he was much distressed for us and very much regretted his inability to relieve our necessity. He said, however, "If I have no money I will try to do something for you, and you may say to your husband that I will see him as soon as I can and let him know what the prospect is."

It was nearly night—the country was new, and my road lay through a dense forest. The distance that I had to travel was ten miles, and that alone, yet I hastened to inform my husband of the disappointment that I had met with.

The old gentleman, as soon as I left, started in search of someone that could afford us assistance, and hearing of a Mr. Durfee, who lived four miles distant, he came the same night and directed us to go and see what he could devise for our benefit.

Accordingly, my husband started without delay for Mr. Durfee's, and arrived at his house before daylight in the morning. He sent my husband three miles further, to one of his sons who was high sheriff, instructing him to say to the young man that his father wished to see him as soon as possible. Mr. Durfee, the younger, was obedient to the call. Immediately after he arrived at his father's, the three proceeded together to see the farm, and arrived about ten o'clock a.m. They tarried a short time, then rode on to see the agent and those villains who held the deed of our place.

The anxiety of mind that I suffered that day can more easily be imagined than described. I now looked upon the proceeds of our industry, which smiled around us on every hand, with a kind of yearning attachment that I never before had experienced; and our early losses I did not feel so keenly for I then realized that we were young and by making some exertions we might improve our circumstances; besides, I had not felt the inconveniences of poverty as I had since.

My husband and the Messrs. Durfee arrived in Canandaigua at half past nine o'clock in the evening. The agent sent immediately for Mr. Stoddard and his friends, and they came without delay; but in order to make difficulty, they contended that it was after ten o'clock. However, not being able to sustain themselves upon this ground, they handed over the deed to Mr. Durfee, the high sheriff, who now became the possessor of the farm.

I stated before that at the time Mr. Smith started to see Knight and Stoal, Joseph accompanied him. When he returned, Joseph also returned with him and remained with us until the difficulty about the farm came to an issue; he then took leave for Pennsylvania, on the same business as before mentioned, and the next January returned with his wife, in good health and fine spirits.

Not long subsequent to his return, my husband had occasion to send him to Manchester on business. As he set off early in the day we expected him home at most by six o'clock in the evening, but when six o'clock came he did not arrive. We always had a peculiar anxiety about him whenever he was absent, for it seemed as though something was always taking place to jeopardize his life. But to return. He did not get home till the night was far spent. On coming in he threw himself into a chair, apparently much exhausted. My husband did not observe his appearance and immediately exclaimed, "Joseph, why are you so late? has anything happened to you? we have been much distressed about you these three hours." As Joseph made no answer he continued his interrogations, until, finally, I said, "Now, father, let him rest a moment—don't trouble him now—you see he is home safe and he is very tired, so pray wait a little."

The fact was, I had learned to be a little cautious about matters with regard to Joseph, for I was accustomed to see him look as he did on that occasion and I could not easily mistake the cause thereof.

Presently he smiled, and said in a calm tone, "I have taken the severest chastisement that I have ever had in my life."

My husband, supposing that it was from some of the neighbours, was quite angry and observed, "I would like to know what business anybody has to find fault with you!"

"Stop, father, stop," said Joseph, "it was the angel of the Lord. As I passed by the hill of Cumorah, where the plates are, the angel met me and said that I had not been engaged enough in the work of the Lord; that the time had come for the record to be brought forth; and that I must be up and doing and set myself about the things which God had commanded me to do. But, father, give yourself no uneasiness concerning the reprimand which I have received, for I now know the course that I am to pursue, so all will be well."

It was also made known to him, at this interview, that he should make another effort to obtain the plates, on the twenty-second of the following September, but this he did not mention to us at that time.

pp. 93-99