IRENE {changing to a tone full of warmth and feeling}. But that statue in the wet, living clay, that I loved — as it rose up, a vital human creature out of these raw, shapeless masses — for that was our creation, our child. Mine and yours.

It is, in reality, because of her strong feelings that she has kept aloof from Rubek for five years. But when she hears now of what he has done to the child — her child — all her powerful nature rises up against him in resentment. Rubek, in a mental agony, endeavours to explain, while she listens like a tigress whose cub has been wrested from her by a thief.

RUBEK. I was young then — with no experience of life. The Resurrection, I thought, would be most beautifully and exquisitely figured as a young unsullied woman — with none of a life’s experience — awakening to light and glory without having to put away from her anything ugly and impure.

With larger experience of life he has found it necessary to alter his ideal somewhat, he has made her child no longer a principal, but an intermediary figure. Rubek, turning towards her, sees her just about to stab him. In a fever of terror and thought he rushes into his own defence, pleading madly for the errors he has done. It seems to Irene that he is endeavouring to render his sin poetical, that he is penitent but in a luxury of dolour. The thought that she has given up herself, her whole life, at the bidding of his false art, rankles in her heart with a terrible persistence. She cries out against herself, not loudly, but in deep sorrow.

IRENE {with apparent self-control}. I should have borne children into the world — many children — real children — not such children as are hidden away in grave-vaults. That was my vocation. I ought never to have served you — poet.