But he could always see the room and Francey working there, and the slender, joyful body of the faun poised on the verge of its mystic dance. Once, Francey was too strong for him, and they bought tickets for the theatre, and he sat hunched beside her in the front row of the cheap seats and stared down at the great square of light like an outcast gazing at the golden gates of Paradise.
Later the same friend wrote: "Debussy was invited to appear at Queen's Hall with the London Symphony Orchestra, on February 1, 1908, to conduct his 'Afternoon of a Faun, and 'The Sea. The ovation he received from the English public was exceptional.
His eyes were fixed and fascinated by the simulacra of the wood, and could not see his hands, and so at last, and suddenly, it seemed, he lay in the sunlight, beautiful with his olive skin, dark haired, dark eyed, the gleaming bodily vision of a strayed faun.
As he spoke, the young Italian made a skip and jump, light enough for a veritable faun; so as to place himself quite beyond the reach of the fair hand that was outstretched, as if to settle the matter by actual examination. "I shall be like a wolf of the Apennines," he continued, taking his stand on the other side of the Dying Gladiator, "if you touch my ears ever so softly.
He had just given the world the last of those incomparable works which it was to have finished from his hand; the 'Marble Faun' had worthily followed, at a somewhat longer interval than usual, the 'Blithedale Romance', and the 'House of Seven Gables', and the 'Scarlet Letter', and had, perhaps carried his name higher than all the rest, and certainly farther.
Kenyon, if Hilda and you and I if I, at least had pointed ears! For I suppose the Faun had no conscience, no remorse, no burden on the heart, no troublesome recollections of any sort; no dark future either." "What a tragic tone was that last, Miriam!" said the sculptor; and, looking into her face, he was startled to behold it pale and tear-stained. "How suddenly this mood has come over you!"
Zenobia betrays Priscilla; and is betrayed in turn by Hollingsworth, as well as the interests of the association which had been committed to his charge. The kernel of "The Marble Faun" is original sin. It is a story of the fall of man, told again in the light of modern science.
And no one heard her, except the birds and a squirrel or two, and perhaps a stone faun, whose pretty face seemed to turn a laughing look on her as she raced past its pedestal. The way was uphill; it was sunny, and Kathleen had run her hardest, though her brothers caught her up before she reached the great black shadow of the dinosaurus.
A wasting away of his whole physical substance ensued; and he died, almost suddenly, while in years he might be considered hardly past the prime of his life. A sensitive eye can trace the effects of the death-blow all through The Marble Faun, and still more in Septimius and Grimshawe, published after his death.
The Faun, the Titan, and the Satyr had a meaning for him, which he sought to set forth in accordance with the semi-religious, semi-poetical traditions of his race; and when he was at work upon a myth of nature-forces, he well knew that at the other end of the scale, separated by no spiritual barrier, but removed to an almost infinite distance of refinement, Zeus, Phoebus, and Pallas claimed his loftier artistic inspiration.