The Quest of the Silver Fleece
Nine: The Planting
Zora looked down upon Bles, where he stood to his knees in mud. The toil was beyond
exhilaration—it was sickening weariness and panting despair. The great roots, twined in
one unbroken snarl, clung frantically to the black soil. The vines and bushes fought back
with thorn and bramble. Zora stood wiping the blood from her hands and staring at Bles.
She saw the long gnarled fingers of the tough little trees and they looked like the fingers
of Elspeth down there beneath the earth pulling against the boy. Slowly Zora forgot her
blood and pain. Who would win—the witch, or Jason?
Bles looked up and saw the bleeding hands. With a bound he was beside her.
"Zora!" The cry seemed wrung from his heart by contrition. Why had he not known—not
seen before! "Zora, come right out of this! Sit down here and rest."
She looked at him unwaveringly; there was no flinching of her spirit.
"I sha'n't do it," she said. "You'se working, and I'se going to work."
"But—Zora—you're not used to such work, and I am. You're tired out."
"So is you," was her reply.
He looked himself over ruefully, and dropping his axe, sat down beside her on a great
log. Silently they contemplated the land; it seemed indeed a hopeless task. Then they
looked at each other in sudden, unspoken fear of failure.
"If we only had a mule!" he sighed. Immediately her face lighted and her lips parted, but
she said nothing. He presently bounded to his feet.
"Never mind, Zora. To-morrow is Saturday, and I'll work all day. We just will get it
done—sometime." His mouth closed with determination.
"We won't work any more today, then?" cried Zora, her eagerness betraying itself despite
her efforts to hide it.
"You won't," affirmed Bles. "But I've got to do just a little—"
But Zora was adamant: he was tired; she was tired; they would rest. To-morrow with the
rising sun they would begin again.
"There'll be a bright moon tonight," ventured Bles.
"Then I'll come too," Zora announced positively, and he had to promise for her sake to