850 THE PSYCHE
I Get thee away from me, Satan ! ' said the monk ; and he quitted Angelo.
* There is a devil, a personal devil! This day I have seen him ! ' said the monk to himself. ' Once I extended a finger to him, and he took my whole hand. But no,' he sighed, ' the evil is within me, and it is in yonder man ; but it does not bow him down : he goes abroad with head erect, and enjoys his comfort; and I grasped at comfort in the consolations of religion. If it were nothing but a consolation ? Supposing everything here were, like the world I have quitted, only a beautiful fancy, a delusion like the beauty of the evening clouds, like the misty blue of the distant hills !—when you approach them, they are very different! 0 eternity ! Thou actest like the great calm ocean, that beckons us, and fills us with expectation —and when we embark upon thee, we sink, disappear, and cease to be. Delusion ! away with it! begone ! '
And tearless, but sunk in bitter reflection, he sat upon his hard couch, and then knelt down—before whom ? Before the stone cross fastened to the wall ?—No, it was only habit that made him take this position.
The more deeply he looked into his own heart the blacker did the darkness seem. ' Nothing within, nothing without—this life squandered and cast away! ' And this thought rolled and grew like a snowball, until it seemed to crush him.
II can confide my griefs to none. I may speak to none of the gnawing worm within. My secret is my prisoner; if I let the captive escape, I shall be his ! '
And the godlike power that dwelt within him suffered and strove.
1 0 Lord, my Lord ! ' he cried in his despair.' be merciful, and grant me faith. I threw away the gift thou hadst vouchsafed to me, I left my mission unfulfilled. I lacked strength, and strength thou didst not give me. Immortality —the Psyche in my breast—away with it!—it shall be buried like that Psyche, the best gleam of my life ; never will it arise out of its grave ! *
The Star glowed in the roseate air, the Star that shall surely be extinguished and pass away while the soul still lives on ; its trembling beam fell upon the white wall,