“No; he did not know it was I. I was just a Voice from nowhere calling to him. I thought I was right. I wrote each day, sometimes twice, sending bits of verse, quotations, references, all saying the same thing: Right always triumphs. But it doesn’t, does it?”
“No. It never does save by accident.”
“I do not think that is quite so,” Zora pondered aloud, “and I am a little puzzled. I do not belong in this world where Right and Wrong get so mixed. With us yonder there is wrong, but we call it wrong—mostly. Oh, I don’t know; even there things are mixed.” She looked sadly at Mrs. Vanderpool, and the fear that had been hovering behind her mistress’s eyes became visible.
“It was so beautiful,” said Zora. “I expected a great thing of you—a sacrifice. I do not blame you because you could not do it; and yet—yet, after this,—don’t you see?—I cannot stay here.”
Mrs. Vanderpool arose and walked over to her. She stood above her, in her silken morning-gown, her brown and gray sprinkled hair rising above the pale, strong-lined face.
“Zora,” she faltered, “will you leave me?”
Zora answered, “Yes.” It was a soft “yes,” a “yes” full of pity and regret, but a “yes” that Mrs. Vanderpool knew in her soul to be final.
She sat down again on the lounge and her fingers crept along the cushions.
“Ambassadorships come—high,” she said with a catch in her voice. Then after a pause: “When will you go, Zora?”
“When you leave for the summer.”
Mrs. Vanderpool looked out upon the beautiful city. She was a little surprised at herself. She had found herself willing to sacrifice almost anything for Zora. No living soul had ever raised in her so deep an affection, and yet she knew now that, although the cost was great, she was willing to sacrifice Zora for Paris. After all, it was not too late; a rapid ride even now might secure high office for Alwyn and make Cresswell ambassador. It would be difficult but possible. But she had not the slightest inclination to attempt it, and she said aloud, half mockingly:
“You are right, Zora. I promised—and—I lied. Liars have no place in heaven and heaven is doubtless a beautiful place—but oh, Zora! you haven’t seen Paris!”
Two months later they parted simply, knowing well it was forever. Mrs. Vanderpool wrote a check.
“Use this in your work,” she said. “Miss Smith asked for it long ago. It is—my campaign contribution.”
Zora smiled and thanked her. As she put the sealed envelope in her trunk her hand came in contact with a long untouched package. Zora took it out silently and opened it and the beauty of it lightened the room.
“It is the Silver Fleece,” said Zora, and Mrs. Vanderpool kissed her and went.
Zora walked alone to the vaulted station. She did not try to buy a Pullman ticket, although the journey was thirty-six hours. She knew it would be difficult if not impossible and she preferred to share the lot of her people. Once on the foremost car, she leaned back and looked. The car seemed clean and comfortable but strangely short. Then she realized that half of it was cut off for the white smokers and as the door swung whiffs of the smoke came in. But she was content for she was almost alone.