“Sometimes when you’re tired and want to be alone you can come up here, Zora,” said Miss Smith carelessly. “No one uses this room.”
Zora caught her breath sharply, but said nothing. The next day Miss Smith said to her when she came in:
“I’m busy now, dear, but you go up to your little room and read and I’ll call.”
Zora quietly obeyed. An hour later Miss Smith looked in, then she closed the door lightly and left. Another hour flew by before Zora hurried down.
“I was reading, and I forgot,” she said.
“It’s all right,” returned Miss Smith. “I didn’t need you. And any day, after you get all your lessons, I think Miss Taylor will excuse you and let you go to your room and read.” Miss Taylor, it transpired, was more than glad.
Day after day Bles and Zora visited the field; but ever the ground lay an unrelieved black beneath the bright sun, and they would go reluctantly home again, today there was much work to be done, and Zora labored steadily and eagerly, never pausing, and gaining in deftness and care.
In the afternoon Bles went to town with the school wagon. A light shower flew up from the south, lingered a while and fled, leaving a fragrance in the air. For a moment Zora paused, and her nostrils quivered; then without a word she slipped down-stairs, glided into the swamp, and sped away to the island. She swung across the tree and a low, delighted cry bubbled on her lips. All the rich, black ground was sprinkled with tender green. She bent above the verdant tenderness and kissed it; then she rushed back, bursting into the room.
“It’s come! It’s come!—the Silver Fleece!”
Miss Smith was startled.
“The Silver Fleece!” she echoed in bewilderment.
Zora hesitated. It came over her all at once that this one great all-absorbing thing meant nothing to the gaunt tired-look woman before her.
“Would Bles care if I told?” she asked doubtfully.
“No,” Miss Smith ventured.
And then the girl crouched at her feet and told the dream and the story. Many factors were involved that were quite foreign to the older woman’s nature and training. The recital brought to her New England mind many questions of policy and propriety. And yet, as she looked down upon the dark face, hot with enthusiasm, it all seemed somehow more than right. Slowly and lightly Miss Smith slipped her arm about Zora, and nodded and smiled a perfect understanding. They looked out together into the darkening twilight.
“It is so late and wet and you’re tired tonight—don’t you think you’d better sleep in your little room?”
Zora sat still. She thought of the noisy flaming cabin and the dark swamp; but a contrasting thought of the white bed made her timid, and slowly she shook her head. Nevertheless Miss Smith led her to the room.
“Here are things for you to wear,” she pointed out, opening the bureau, “and here is the bath-room.” She left the girl standing in the middle of the floor.