He wrote to Cecile once:
Hereafter keep clear of men like Graylock and like me. We're both of a
stripe--the same sort under our skins. I've known him all my life. It all
depends upon the opportunity, the circumstances, and the woman. And, what
is a woman between friends--between such friends as Graylock and I once
were--or between the sort of friends we have now become? Keep clear of
such men as we are. We were boys together.
For a week or two he kept his door locked and lived on what the janitor
provided for him, never going out of the studio at all.
He did no work, although there were several unexecuted commissions awaiting
his attention and a number of sketches, clay studies, and one marble standing
around the studio in various stages of progress. The marble was the Annunciation.
The head and throat and slender hands were completed, and one slim naked
Sometimes he wandered from one study to the next, vague-eyed, standing
for a long time before each, staring, lost in thought. Sometimes, in the
evening he read, choosing a book at random among the motley collection
in a corner case--a dusty, soiled assortment of books, ephemeral novels
of the moment, ponderous volumes which are in everybody's library but which
nobody reads, sets of histories, memoirs, essays, beautifully bound and
once cared for, but now dirty from neglect--jetsam from a wrecked home.
There had been a time when law, order and neatness formed the basis of
Drene's going forth and coming in. He had been exact, precise, fastidious;
he had been sensitive to environment, a lover of beautiful things, a man
who deeply appreciated any symbol that suggested home and hearth and family.
But when these three were shattered in the twinkling of an eye, something
else broke, too. And he gradually emerged from chaos, indifferent to all
that had formerly been a part of him, a silent emotionless, burnt out thing,
callous to all that he had once cared for.
Yet something of what he had been must have remained latent within him
for with unimpaired precision and logic he constructed his clay and chiseled
his marble; and there must have been in him something to express, for the
beauty of his work, spiritual and material, had set him high among the
highest in his profession.
Sometimes sorrow changes the dross from the lamp of the spirit so that
it burns with a purity almost unearthly; sometimes sorrow sears, rendering
the very soul insensible; and sometimes sorrow remains under the ashes,
a living coal steadily consuming all that is noble, hardening all that
is ignoble; and is extinguished leaving a devil behind it--fully equipped
to slay the crippled soul.
Alone in his studio at night, motionless in his chair, Drene was becoming
aware of this devil. Reading by lamplight he grew conscious of it; recognized
it as a companion of many years, now understanding that although pain had
ended, hatred had remained, hiding, biding, and very, very quiet.
And suddenly this hatred had flamed like hell-fire, amazing even himself--that
day when, lifted out of his indifference for an instant by a young girl's
gaiety--and with a smile, half-responsive, on his own unaccustomed lips,
he had learned from her in the same instant, that the man he had almost
ceased to remember was honestly in love with her.
And suddenly he knew that he hated and that he should strike, and that
there could be no comparison in perfection between hatred and what perhaps
Sometimes, at night, lying on the studio couch, he found himself still
hesitating. Could Graylock be reached after death? Was it possible? If
he broke his word after Graylock was dead could he still strike and reach
him through the woman for whose sake he, Graylock, was going to step out
That occupied his mind continually, now. Was there anybody who could
tell him about such matters? Did clergymen really know whether the soul
survived? And if it did, and if truly there were a hell, could a living
man add anything to its torments for his enemy's benefit?
One day the janitor, lingering, ventured to ask Drene whether he was feeling
"Yes" said Drene, "I am well."
The janitor spoke of his not eating. And, as Drene said nothing,
he mentioned the fact that Drene had not set foot outside his own quarters
in many weeks.
Drene nodded: "I expect to go for a walk this evening."
But he did not. He lay on his couch, eyes open in the darkness, wondering
what Graylock was doing, how he lived, what occupied his days.
What were the nights of a condemned man like? Did Graylock sleep?
Did he suffer? Was the suspense a living death to him? Had he ever suspected
him, Drene, of treachery after he, Graylock, had fulfilled his final part
of the bargain.
For a long time, now, a fierce curiosity concerning what Graylock was thinking
and doing had possessed Drene. What does a man, who is in good physical
health, do, when he is at liberty to compute to the very second how many
seconds of life remain for him?
Drene's sick brain ached with the problem day and night.
In November the snow fell. Drene had not been out except in imagination.
Day after day, in imagination, he had followed Graylock, night after night,
slyly, stealthily, shirking after him through busy avenues at midday, lurking
by shadowy houses at midnight, burning to see what expression this man
wore, what was imprinted on his features;--obsessed by a desire to learn
what he might be thinking--with death drawing nearer.
But Drene, in the body, had never stirred from his own chilly room--a gaunt,
fierce-eyed thing, unkempt, half-clothed, huddled all day in his chair
brooding above his bitten nails, or flung starkly across his couch at night
staring at the stars through the dirty crust of glass above.
One night in December when the stars were all staring steadily back at
him, and his thoughts were out somewhere in the darkness following his
enemy, he heard somebody laughing in the room.
For a while he lay very still, listening; but when he realized that the
laughter was his own he sat up, pressing his temples between hot and trembling
It seemed to silence the laughter: terror subsided to a tremulous apprehension--as
though he had been on the verge of something horrible sinking into it for
a moment--but had escaped.
Again he found himself thinking of Graylock, and presently he laughed;
then frightened, checked himself. But his fevered brain had been afire
too long; he lay fighting with his thoughts to hold them in leash lest
they slip out into the night like blood hounds on the trail of the man
they had dogged so long.
Trembling, terrified, he set his teeth in his bleeding lip, and clenched
his gaunt fists: He could not hold his thoughts in leash; could not control
the terrifying laughter; hatred blazed like hell-fire scorching the soul
in him, searing his aching brain with flames which destroy.
In the darkness he struggled blindly to his feet; and he saw the stars
through the glass roof all ablaze in the midnight sky; saw the infernal
flicker of pale flames in the obscurity around him, heard a voice calling
for help--his own voice--
Then something stirred in the darkness; he listened, stared, striving to
pierce the obscurity with fevered eyes.
Long since the cloths that swathed the clay figures in the studio had dried
out unnoticed by him. He gazed from one to another, holding his breath.
Then his eyes rested upon the altar piece, fell on the snowy foot, were
lifted inch by inch along the marble folds upward slowly to the slim and
"Oh, God!" he whispered, knowing he had gone mad at last.
For, under the carven fingers, the marble folds of the robe over the heart
were faintly glowing from some inward radiance. And, as he reeled forward
and dropped at the altar foot, lifting his burning eyes, he saw the child-like
head bend toward him from the slender neck--saw that the eyes were faintly
"Mother of God!" he screamed, "my mind is dying--my mind is dying! . .
. We were boys, he and I. . . . Let God judge him. . . . Let him be judged
. . . mercifully. . . . I am worse than he. . . . There is no hell. I have
striven to fashion one--I have desired to send him thither--Mother of God--Cecile--"
Under his fevered eyes he was confusing them, now, and he sank down close
against the pedestal and laid his f ace against her small cold foot.
"I am sick," he rambled on--"and very tired. . . . We were boys together,
Cecile. . . . When I am in my right mind I would not harm him. . . . He
was so handsome and daring. There was nothing he dared not do. . . . So
young, and straight, and daring. . . . I would not harm him. Or you, Cecile.
. . . Only I am sick, burning out, with only a crippled mind left--from
being badly hurt--It never got well. . . . And now it is dying of its hurt--Cecile!--Mother
of God!--before it dies I do forgive him--and ask forgiveness--for Christ's
Toward noon the janitor broke in the door.