THE PSYCHE 845
heartily ; and when he took his leave he was requested to step into the Signora's apartment, for she, too, wished to see him. The servants led him through more luxurious halls and chambers into her room, where she appeared the chief and leading ornament.
She spoke to him. No hymn of supplication, no holy chant could melt his soul like the sound of her voice. He took her hand and lifted it to his lips : no rose was softer, but a fire thrilled through him from this rose—a feeling of power came upon him, and words poured from his tongue —he knew not what he said. Does the crater of the volcano know that glowing lava is pouring from it ? He confessed what he felt for her. She stood before him astonished, offended, proud, with contempt in her face, an expression as if she had suddenly touched a wet, clammy frog ; her cheeks reddened, her lips grew white, and her eyes flashed fire, though they were dark as the blackness of night
' Madman ! ' she cried, ' awray ! begone ! '
And she turned her back upon him. Her beautiful face wore an expression like that of the stony countenance with the snaky locks.
Like a stricken, fainting man, he tottered down the stair and out into the street. Like a man walking in his sleep, he found his way back to his dwelling. Then he woke up to madness and agony, and seized his hammer, swung it high in the air, and rushed forward to shatter the beautiful marble image. But, in his pain, he had not noticed that his friend Angelo stood beside him ; and Angelo held back his arm with a strong grasp, crying,
' Are you mad ? What are you about ? '
They struggled together. Angelo was the stronger ; and with a deep sigh of exhaustion, the young artist threw himself into a chair.
* What has happened ? ' asked Angelo. ' Command yourself. Speak ! '
But what could he say ? How could he explain ? And as Angelo could make no sense of his friend's incoherent words, he forbore to question him further, and merety said,
1 Your blood grows thick from your eternal dreaming. Be a man, as all others are, and don't go on living in ideals.