The Quest of the Silver Fleece
Twenty-three: The Training Of Zora
"I did not know the world was so large," remarked Zora as she and Mrs. Vanderpool flew
east and northward on the New York-New Orleans limited. For a long time the girl had
given herself up to the sheer delight of motion. Gazing from the window, she compared
the lands she passed with the lands she knew: noting the formation of the cotton; the kind
and growth of the trees; the state of the roads. Then the comparisons became infinite,
endless; the world stretched on and on until it seemed mere distance, and she suddenly
realized how vast a thing it was and spoke.
Mrs. Vanderpool was amused. "It's much smaller than one would think," she responded.
When they came to Atlanta Zora stared and wrinkled her brows. It was her first large city.
The other towns were replicas of Toomsville; strange in number, not in kind; but this was
different, and she could not understand it. It seemed senseless and unreasonable, and yet
so strangely so that she was at a loss to ask questions. She was very solemn as they rode
on and night came down with dreams.
She awoke in Washington to new fairylands and wonders; the endless going and coming
of men; great piles that challenged heaven, and homes crowded on homes till one could
not believe that they were full of living things. They rolled by Baltimore and
Philadelphia, and she talked of every-day matters: of the sky which alone stood steadfast
amid whirling change; of bits of empty earth that shook themselves here and there loose
from their burden of men, and lay naked in the cold shining sunlight.
All the while the greater questions were beating and curling and building themselves
back in her brain, and above all she was wondering why no one had told her before of all
this mighty world. Mrs. Vanderpool, to whom it seemed too familiar for comment, had
said no word; or, if she had spoken, Zora's ears had not been tuned to understand; and as
they flew toward the towering ramparts of New York, she sat up big with the terror of a
new thought: suppose this world were full yet of things she did not know nor dream of?
How could she find out? She must know.
When finally they were settled in New York and sat high up on the Fifth Avenue front of
the hotel, gradually the inarticulate questioning found words, albeit strange ones.
"It reminds me of the swamp," she said.
Mrs. Vanderpool, just returned from a shopping tour, burst into laughter.
"It is—but I marvel at your penetration."
"I mean, it is moving—always moving."
"The swamp seemed to me unearthly still."