THE PSYCHE 843
that the Psyche must henceforth live in marble. He already possessed a costly block of that stone. It had been lying for years, the property of his parents, in the courtyard. Fragments of glass, fennel tops, and remains of artichokes had gathered about it and sullied its purity ; but under the surface the block was as white as the mountain snow ; and from this block the Psyche was to arise.'
Now, it happened one morning—the bright Star tells nothing about this, but we know it occurred—that a noble Roman company came into the narrow lane. The carriage stopped a little way off, the company came to inspect the young sculptor's work, for they had heard it spoken of by chance. And who were these distinguished guests ? Poor young man ! or fortunate young man he might be called. The young girl stood in the room and smiled radiantly when her father said to her, ' It is your living image.' That smile could not be copied, any more than the look could be reproduced, the wonderful look which she cast upon the young artist. It was a look that seemed at once to elevate and to crush him.
1 The Psyche must be executed in marble,' said the wealthy patrician. And those were words of life for the dead clay and the heavy block of marble, and words of life likewise for the deeply-moved artist. ' When the work is finished I will purchase it,' continued the rich noble.
A new era seemed to have arisen in the poor studio. Life and cheerfulness gleamed there, and busy industry plied its work. The beaming Morning Star beheld how the work progressed. The clay itself seemed inspired since she had been there, and moulded itself, in heightened beauty, to a likeness of the well-known features.
' Now I know what life is,' cried the artist rejoicingly ; ' it is Love ! It is the lofty abandonment of self for the dawning of the beautiful in the soul ! What my friends call life and enjoyment is a passing shadow ; it is like bubbles among seething dregs, not the pure heavenly wine that consecrates us to life.'
The marble block was reared in its place. The chisel struck great fragments from it ; the measurements were taken, points and lines were made, the mechanical part was