The Quest of the Silver Fleece HTML version

Twenty-seven: The Vision Of Zora
How Zora found the little church she never knew; but somehow, in the long dark
wanderings which she had fallen into the habit of taking at nightfall, she stood one
evening before it. It looked warm, and she was cold. It was full of her people, and she
was very, very lonely. She sat in a back seat, and saw with unseeing eyes. She said again,
as she had said to herself a hundred times, that it was all right and just what she had
expected. What else could she have dreamed? That he should ever marry her was beyond
possibility; that had been settled long since—there where the tall, dark pines, wan with
the shades of evening, cast their haunting shadows across the Silver Fleece and half hid
the blood-washed west. After that he would marry some one else, of course; some good
and pure woman who would help and uplift and serve him.
She had dreamed that she would help—unknown, unseen—and perhaps she had helped a
little through Mrs. Vanderpool. It was all right, and yet why so suddenly had the threads
of life let go? Why was she drifting in vast waters; in uncharted wastes of sea? Why was
the puzzle of life suddenly so intricate when but a little week ago she was reading it, and
its beauty and wisdom and power were thrilling her delighted hands? Could it be possible
that all unconsciously she had dared dream a forbidden dream? No, she had always
rejected it. When no one else had the right; when no one thought; when no one cared, she
had hovered over his soul as some dark guardian angel; but now, now somebody else was
receiving his gratitude. It was all right, she supposed; but she, the outcast child of the
swamp, what was there for her to do in the great world—her, the burden of whose sin—
But then came the voice of the preacher: "Behold the Lamb of God, that taketh away the
sin of the world."
She found herself all at once intently listening. She had been to church many times
before, but under the sermons and ceremonies she had always sat coldly inert. In the
South the cries, contortions, and religious frenzy left her mind untouched; she did not
laugh or mock, she simply sat and watched and wondered. At the North, in the white
churches, she enjoyed the beauty of wall, windows, and hymn, liked the voice and
surplice of the preacher; but his words had no reference to anything in which she was
interested. Here suddenly came an earnest voice addressed, by singular chance, to her of
all the world.
She listened, bending forward, her eyes glued to the speaker's lips and letting no word
drop. He had the build and look of the fanatic: thin to emancipation; brown; brilliant-
eyed; his words snapped in nervous energy and rang in awful earnestness.
"Life is sin, and sin is sorrow. Sorrow is born of selfishness and self-seeking—our own
good, our own happiness, our own glory. As if any one of us were worth a life! No,
never. A single self as an end is, and ought to be, disappointment; it is too low; it is
nothing. Only in a whole world of selves, infinite, endless, eternal world on worlds of