844 THE PSYCHE
executed, till gradually the stone assumed a- human female form, a shape of beauty, and became converted into the Psyche, fair and glorious—a divine being in human shape. The heavy stone appeared as a gliding, dancing, airy Psyche, with the heavenly innocent smile—the smile that had mirrored itself in the soul of the young artist.
The Star of the roseate dawn beheld and understood what was stirring within the young man, and could read the meaning of the changing colour of his cheek, of the light that flashed from his eye, as he stood busily working, reproducing what had been put into his soul from above.
1 Thou art a master like those masters among the ancient Greeks,' exclaimed his delighted friends : ' soon shall the whole world admire thy Psyche.'
' My Psyche ! ' he repeated. ' Yes, mine. She must be mine. I, too, am an artist, like those great men who are gone. Providence has granted me the boon, and has made me the equal of that lady of noble birth.'
And he knelt down and breathed a prayer of thankfulness to Heaven, and then he forgot Heaven for her sake—for the sake of her picture in stone—for the Psyche which stood there as if formed of snow, blushing in the morning dawn.
He was to see her in reality, the living graceful Psyche, whose words sounded like music in his ears. He could now carry the news into the rich palace that the marble Psyche was finished. He betook himself thither, strode through the open courtyard where the waters ran splashing from the dolphin's jaws into the marble basins, where the snowy lilies and the fresh roses bloomed in abundance. He stepped into the great lofty hall, whose walls and ceilings shone with gilding and bright colours and heraldic devices. Gaily dressed serving-men, adorned with trappings like sleigh horses, walked to and fro, and some reclined at their ease upon the carved oak seats, as if they were the masters of the house. He told them his errand, and was conducted up the shining marble staircase, covered with soft carpets and adorned with many a statue. Then he went on through richly furnished chambers, over mosaic floors, amid gorgeous pictures. All this pomp and luxury seemed to weary him ; but soon he felt relieved, for the princely old master of the house received him most graciously, almost