The Quest of the Silver Fleece HTML version
Seventeen: The Rape Of The Fleece
When slowly from the torpor of ether, one wakens to the misty sense of eternal loss, and
there comes the exquisite prick of pain, then one feels in part the horror of the ache when
Zora wakened to the world again. The awakening was the work of days and weeks. At
first in sheer exhaustion, physical and mental, she lay and moaned. The sense of loss—of
utter loss—lay heavy upon her. Something of herself, something dearer than self, was
gone from her forever, and an infinite loneliness and silence, as of endless years, settled
on her soul. She wished neither food nor words, only to be alone. Then gradually the pain
of injury stung her when the blood flowed fuller. As Miss Smith knelt beside her one
night to make her simple prayer Zora sat suddenly upright, white-swathed, dishevelled,
with fury in her midnight eyes.
"I want no prayers!" she cried, "I will not pray! He is no God of mine. He isn't fair. He
knows and won't tell. He takes advantage of us—He works and fools us." All night Miss
Smith heard mutterings of this bitterness, and the next day the girl walked her room like a
tigress,—to and fro, to and fro, all the long day. Toward night a dumb despair settled
upon her. Miss Smith found her sitting by the window gazing blankly toward the swamp.
She came to Miss Smith, slowly, and put her hands upon her shoulders with almost a
"You must forgive me," she pleaded plaintively. "I reckon I've been mighty bad with you,
and you always so good to me; but—but, you see—it hurts so."
"I know it hurts, dear; I know it does. But men and women must learn to bear hurts in this
"Not hurts like this; they couldn't."
"Yes, even hurts like this. Bear and stand straight; be brave. After all, Zora, no man is
quite worth a woman's soul; no love is worth a whole life."
Zora turned away with a gesture of impatience.
"You were born in ice," she retorted, adding a bit more tenderly, "in clear strong ice; but I
was born in fire. I live—I love; that's all." And she sat down again, despairingly, and
stared at the dull swamp. Miss Smith stood for a moment and closed her eyes upon a
"Ice!" she whispered. "My God!"
Then, at length, she said to Zora:
"Zora, there's only one way: do something; if you sit thus brooding you'll go crazy."