“What is—I thought the President appointed ambassadors.”
“To be sure, but we appoint Presidents,” laughed Mr. Easterly. “Good-day. I shall hope to see you in Washington.”
“Good-day,” Mrs. Vanderpool returned absently.
After he had gone she walked slowly to Zora’s room and opened the door. For a long time she stood quietly looking in. Zora was curled in a chair with a book. She was in dreamland; in a world of books builded thoughtfully for her by Mrs. Vanderpool, and before that by Miss Smith. Her work took but little of her time and left hours for reading and thinking. In that thought-life, more and more her real living centred.
Hour after hour, day after day, she lay buried, deaf and dumb to all else. Her heart cried, up on the World’s four corners of the Way, and to it came the Vision Splendid. She gossiped with old Herodotus across the earth to the black and blameless Ethiopians; she saw the sculptured glories of Phidias marbled amid the splendor of the swamp; she listened to Demosthenes and walked the Appian Way with Cornelia—while all New York streamed beneath her window.
She saw the drunken Goths reel upon Rome and heard the careless Negroes yodle as they galloped to Toomsville. Paris, she knew,—wonderful, haunting Paris: the Paris of Clovis, and St. Louis; of Louis the Great, and Napoleon III; of Balzac, and her own Dumas. She tasted the mud and comfort of thick old London, and the while wept with Jeremiah and sang with Deborah, Semiramis, and Atala. Mary of Scotland and Joan of Arc held her dark hands in theirs, and Kings lifted up their sceptres.
She walked on worlds, and worlds of worlds, and heard there in her little room the tread of armies, the paeans of victory, the breaking of hearts, and the music of the spheres.
Mrs. Vanderpool watched her a while.
“Zora,” she presently broke into the girl’s absorption, “how would you like to be Ambassador to France?”
Miss Caroline Wynn of Washington had little faith in the world and its people. Nor was this wholly her fault. The world had dealt cruelly with the young dreams and youthful ambitions of the girl; partly with its usual heartlessness, partly with that cynical and deadening reserve fund which it has today for its darker peoples. The girl had bitterly resented her experiences at first: she was brilliant and well-trained; she had a real talent for sculpture, and had studied considerably; she was sprung from at least three generations of respectable mulattoes, who had left a little competence which yielded her three or four hundred dollars a year. Furthermore, while not precisely pretty, she was good-looking and interesting, and she had acquired the marks and insignia of good breeding. Perhaps she wore her manners just a trifle consciously; perhaps she was a little