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.”
“Yes—yes,” cried Zora, eagerly, brushing back the rumpled hair; “and so did the city, at first, to me.”
“Still! New York?”
“Yes. You see, I saw the buildings and forgot the men; and the buildings were so tall and silent against Heaven. And then I came to see the people, and suddenly I knew the city was like the swamp, always restless and changing.”
“And more beautiful?” suggested Mrs. Vanderpool, slipping her arms into her lounging-robe.
“Oh, no; not nearly so beautiful. And yet—more interesting.” Then with a puzzled look: “I wonder why?”
“Perhaps because it’s people and not things.”
“It’s people in the swamp,” asserted Zora, dreamily, smoothing out the pillows of the couch, “‘little people,’ I call them. The difference is, I think, that there I know how the story will come out; everything is changing, but I know how and why and from what and to what. Now here, everything seems to be happening; but what is it that is happening?”
“You must know what has happened, to know what may happen,” said Mrs. Vanderpool.
“But how can I know?”
“I’ll get you some books to-morrow.”
“I’d like to know what it means,” wistfully.
“It is meaningless.” The woman’s cynicism was lost upon Zora, of course, but it possessed the salutary effect of stimulating the girl’s thoughts, encouraging her to discover for herself.
“I think not; so much must mean something,” she protested.
Zora gathered up the clothes and things and shaded the windows, glancing the while down on the street.
“Everybody is going, going,” she murmured. “I wonder where. Don’t they ever get there?”
“Few arrive,” said Mrs. Vanderpool. Zora softly bent and passed her cool soft hand over her forehead.
“Then why do they go?”
“The zest of the search, perhaps.”
“No,” said Zora as she noiselessly left the room and closed the door; “no, they are searching for something they have lost. Perhaps they, too, are searching for the Way,” and the tears blinded her eyes.
Mrs. Vanderpool lay in the quiet darkened room with a puzzled smile on her lips. A month ago she had not dreamed that human interest in anybody would take so strong a hold upon her as her liking for Zora had done. She was a woman of unusual personal charm, but her own interest and affections were seldom stirred. Had she been compelled to earn a living she would have made a successful teacher or manipulator of men. As it was, she viewed the human scene with detached and cynical interest. She had no children, few near relations, a husband who went his way and still was a gentleman.