President Joseph Smith, Jun. states,
Some time after Mr.Harris had begun to write for me [in 1828], he began to importune me to give him liberty to carry the writings home and show them; and desired of me that I would inquire of the Lord. . . . The answer was that he must not. However, he was not satisfied with this answer, and desired that I should inquire again. I did so, and the answer was as before. Still he could not be contented, but insisted that I should inquire once more. After much solicitation I again inquired of the Lord, and premission was granted him to have the writings on certain conditions; which were, that he show them only to his brother, Preserved Harris, his own wife, his father and his mother, and a Mrs. Cobb, a sister to his wife. (HC 1:21)
Brother Harris bound himself by solemn covenant with President Smith that he would abide by the instructions set down by the Lord. But alas, Brother Harris showed them to others, who then used cunning devices to get the papers away from him, and they are lost unto this day.
At a breakfast prepared by Joseph Smith, Sen. and his wife Lucy Mack in New York, where Joseph Smith the Prophet had gone in search of Martin, Martin Harris came, hours late, and without the manuscript pages. The account reads thus, from the pen of Lucy Mack Smith:
He [Brother Harris] took up his knife and fork as if he were going to use them, but immediately dropped them. Hyrum, observing this, said "Martin, why do you not eat; are you sick" Upon which Mr. Harris pressed his hands upon his temples, and cried out in a tone of deep anguish, "Oh, I have lost my soul! I have lost my soul!"
The next morning, he set out for home. We parted with heavy hearts, for it now appeared that all which we had so fondly anticipated, and which had been the source of so much secret gratification, had in a moment fled, and fled forever.