Afraid? What did it matter? I committed the unpardonable sin, stripped off the sheet, and with the big syringe wetted down the grey clay of that statue of Vera?s we had all been so curious about. Her well-kept secret was before me, but I only know that it was a female figure, whether a Psyche or a Niobe I neither{9} knew or cared, nor whether it was good, bad, or indifferent. Vera had only a week to finish the statue that was to compete for the prize she had strained every nerve to win. Three times I wetted down the clay for my friend; after that I forgot it and the statue fell to pieces. Vera had other work to do, and so had I. We ourselves were at rather an important juncture in our lives. J. had just finished his decorative painting, Diana of the Tides, for the Smithsonian Institute in Washington; he was ???? on the point of sending out cards for his exhibition. All this was swept into the background of our thoughts. We lived only for tidings of the South. All day long we could only speak, only think of Calabria and Sicily. At night we only slept to dream of them, to wake from the terror of the nightmare to the greater terror of the reality, and then to sleep painfully again. A feverish desire to do something, to be of some use, seemed to drive us and all the Americans and English we saw. Inaction became intolerable; we were scourged by pity and sorrow into some sort of doing, whether it was of any use or not.

Athol alone of all our intimates stood steady{10} at his post, his finger on the pulse of Europe. His work was quadrupled. Instead of being jarred and thrown off the track like the rest of us, he toiled day and night, sometimes without sleep, often without food, in order that his words?words that would sway a nation, influence a world?should be the wisest, the best words that it was possible for him to say.

When I found that I could be of some small use (or I thought I could) by running about picking up little straws of news for Athol, who was sending off despatches day and night, I took heart and felt that I could get through the day. It may not have been of much real use to him or to Sicily and Calabria, but it was of use to me. Besides, the most infinitesimal thing counts, the universe is built of atoms. For these stricken people to have their story well told was surely something. It was a little comfort to me, it gave me all the repose of mind I knew in those first days to gather these tiny straws, whether or no they were woven into the texture of my friend?s ?story.? It helped me to bear the strain if it did not help Athol to do his work.