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The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

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Chopin's beautiful sorrows, and the mighty harmonies of Beethoven
himself, fell unheeded on his ear. He collected together from all
parts of the world the strangest instruments that could be found,
either in the tombs of dead nations or among the few savage tribes
that have survived contact with Western civilizations, and loved to
touch and try them. He had the mysterious juruparis of the Rio Negro
Indians, that women are not allowed to look at, and that even youths
may not see till they have been subjected to fasting and scourging,
and the earthen jars of the Peruvians that have the shrill cries of
birds, and flutes of human bones such as Alfonso de Ovalle heard in
Chili, and the sonorous green stones that are found near Cuzco and
give forth a note of singular sweetness. He had painted gourds
filled with pebbles that rattled when they were shaken; the long
clarin of the Mexicans, into which the performer does not blow, but
through which he inhales the air; the harsh turé of the Amazon
tribes, that is sounded by the sentinels who sit all day long in
trees, and that can be heard, it is said, at a distance of three
leagues; the teponaztli, that [70] has two vibrating tongues of wood,
and is beaten with sticks that are smeared with an elastic gum
obtained from the milky juice of plants; the yotl-bells of the
Aztecs, that are hung in clusters like grapes; and a huge cylindrical
drum, covered with the skins of great serpents, like the one that
Bernal Diaz saw when he went with Cortes into the Mexican temple, and
of whose doleful sound he has left us so vivid a description. The
fantastic character of these instruments fascinated him, and he felt
a curious delight in the thought that Art, like Nature, has her
monsters, things of bestial shape and with hideous voices. Yet,
after some time, he wearied of them, and would sit in his box at the
Opera, either alone or with Lord Henry, listening in rapt pleasure to
"Tannhäuser," and seeing in that great work of art a presentation of
the tragedy of his own soul.

On another occasion he took up the study of jewels, and appeared at a
costume ball as Anne de Joyeuse, Admiral of France, in a dress
covered with five hundred and sixty pearls. He would often spend a
whole day settling and resettling in their cases the various stones
that he had collected, such as the olive-green chrysoberyl that turns
red by lamplight, the cymophane with its wire-like line of silver,
the pistachio-colored peridot, rose-pink and wine-yellow topazes,
carbuncles of fiery scarlet with tremulous four-rayed stars, flame-
red cinnamon-stones, orange and violet spinels, and amethysts with
their alternate layers of ruby and sapphire. He loved the red gold
of the sunstone, and the moonstone's pearly whiteness, and the broken
rainbow of the milky opal. He procured from Amsterdam three emeralds
of extraordinary size and richness of color, and had a turquoise de
la vieille roche that was the envy of all the connoisseurs.

He discovered wonderful stories, also, about jewels. In Alphonso's
"Clericalis Disciplina" a serpent was mentioned with eyes of real
jacinth, and in the romantic history of Alexander he was said to have
found snakes in the vale of Jordan "with collars of real emeralds
growing on their backs." There was a gem in the brain of the dragon,
Philostratus told us, and "by the exhibition of golden letters and a
scarlet robe" the monster could be thrown into a magical sleep, and
slain. According to the great alchemist Pierre de Boniface, the
diamond rendered a man invisible, and the agate of India made him
eloquent. The cornelian appeased anger, and the hyacinth provoked
sleep, and the amethyst drove away the fumes of wine. The garnet
cast out demons, and the hydropicus deprived the moon of her color.
The selenite waxed and waned with the moon, and the meloceus, that
discovers thieves, could be affected only by the blood of kids.
Leonardus Camillus had seen a white stone taken from the brain of a
newly-killed toad, that was a certain antidote against poison. The
bezoar, that was found in the heart of the Arabian deer, was a charm
that could cure the plague. In the nests of Arabian birds was the
aspilates, that, according to Democritus, kept the wearer from any
danger by fire.

The King of Ceilan rode through his city with a large ruby in his
hand, as the ceremony of his coronation. The gates of the palace of
John the Priest were "made of sardius, with the horn of the horned
[71] snake inwrought, so that no man might bring poison within."
Over the gable were "two golden apples, in which were two
carbuncles," so that the gold might shine by day, and the carbuncles
by night. In Lodge's strange romance "A Margarite of America" it was
stated that in the chamber of Margarite were seen "all the chaste
ladies of the world, inchased out of silver, looking through fair
mirrours of chrysolites, carbuncles, sapphires, and greene
emeraults." Marco Polo had watched the inhabitants of Zipangu place
a rose-colored pearl in the mouth of the dead. A sea-monster had
been enamoured of the pearl that the diver brought to King Perozes,
and had slain the thief, and mourned for seven moons over his loss.
When the Huns lured the king into the great pit, he flung it away,--
Procopius tells the story,--nor was it ever found again, though the
Emperor Anastasius offered five hundred-weight of gold pieces for it.
The King of Malabar had shown a Venetian a rosary of one hundred and
four pearls, one for every god that he worshipped.

When the Duke de Valentinois, son of Alexander VI., visited Louis
XII. of France, his horse was loaded with gold leaves, according to
Brantôme, and his cap had double rows of rubies that threw out a
great light. Charles of England had ridden in stirrups hung with
three hundred and twenty-one diamonds. Richard II. had a coat,
valued at thirty thousand marks, which was covered with balas rubies.
Hall described Henry VIII., on his way to the Tower previous to his
coronation, as wearing "a jacket of raised gold, the placard
embroidered with diamonds and other rich stones, and a great
bauderike about his neck of large balasses." The favorites of James
I. wore ear-rings of emeralds set in gold filigrane. Edward II. gave
to Piers Gaveston a suit of red-gold armor studded with jacinths, and
a collar of gold roses set with turquoise-stones, and a skull-cap
parsemé with pearls. Henry II. wore jewelled gloves reaching to the
elbow, and had a hawk-glove set with twelve rubies and fifty-two
great pearls. The ducal hat of Charles the Rash, the last Duke of
Burgundy of his race, was studded with sapphires and hung with pear-
shaped pearls.

How exquisite life had once been! How gorgeous in its pomp and
decoration! Even to read of the luxury of the dead was wonderful.

Then he turned his attention to embroideries, and to the tapestries
that performed the office of frescos in the chill rooms of the
Northern nations of Europe. As he investigated the subject,--and he
always had an extraordinary faculty of becoming absolutely absorbed
for the moment in whatever he took up,--he was almost saddened by the
reflection of the ruin that time brought on beautiful and wonderful
things. He, at any rate, had escaped that. Summer followed summer,
and the yellow jonquils bloomed and died many times, and nights of
horror repeated the story of their shame, but he was unchanged. No
winter marred his face or stained his flower-like bloom. How
different it was with material things! Where had they gone to?
Where was the great crocus-colored robe, on which the gods fought
against the giants, that had been worked for Athena? Where the huge
velarium that Nero had stretched across the Colosseum at Rome, on
which were represented the starry sky, and Apollo driving a chariot
drawn by [72] white gilt-reined steeds? He longed to see the curious
table-napkins wrought for Elagabalus, on which were displayed all the
dainties and viands that could be wanted for a feast; the mortuary
cloth of King Chilperic, with its three hundred golden bees; the
fantastic robes that excited the indignation of the Bishop of Pontus,
and were figured with "lions, panthers, bears, dogs, forests, rocks,
hunters,--all, in fact, that a painter can copy from nature;" and the
coat that Charles of Orleans once wore, on the sleeves of which were
embroidered the verses of a song beginning "Madame, je suis tout
joyeux," the musical accompaniment of the words being wrought in gold
thread, and each note, a square shape in those days, formed with four
pearls. He read of the room that was prepared at the palace at
Rheims for the use of Queen Joan of Burgundy, and was decorated with
"thirteen hundred and twenty-one parrots, made in broidery, and
blazoned with the king's arms, and five hundred and sixty-one
butterflies, whose wings were similarly ornamented with the arms of
the queen, the whole worked in gold." Catherine de Médicis had a
mourning-bed made for her of black velvet powdered with crescents and
suns. Its curtains were of damask, with leafy wreaths and garlands,
figured upon a gold and silver ground, and fringed along the edges
with broideries of pearls, and it stood in a room hung with rows of
the queen's devices in cut black velvet upon cloth of silver. Louis
XIV. had gold-embroidered caryatides fifteen feet high in his
apartment. The state bed of Sobieski, King of Poland, was made of
Smyrna gold brocade embroidered in turquoises with verses from the
Koran. Its supports were of silver gilt, beautifully chased, and
profusely set with enamelled and jewelled medallions. It had been
taken from the Turkish camp before Vienna, and the standard of
Mohammed had stood under it.

And so, for a whole year, he sought to accumulate the most exquisite
specimens that he could find of textile and embroidered work, getting
the dainty Delhi muslins, finely wrought, with gold-threat palmates,
and stitched over with iridescent beetles' wings; the Dacca gauzes,
that from their transparency are known in the East as "woven air,"
and "running water," and "evening dew;" strange figured cloths from
Java; elaborate yellow Chinese hangings; books bound in tawny satins
or fair blue silks and wrought with fleurs de lys, birds, and images;
veils of lacis worked in Hungary point; Sicilian brocades, and stiff
Spanish velvets; Georgian work with its gilt coins, and Japanese
Foukousas with their green-toned golds and their marvellously-
plumaged birds.

He had a special passion, also, for ecclesiastical vestments, as
indeed he had for everything connected with the service of the
Church. In the long cedar chests that lined the west gallery of his
house he had stored away many rare and beautiful specimens of what is
really the raiment of the Bride of Christ, who must wear purple and
jewels and fine linen that she may hide the pallid macerated body
that is worn by the suffering that she seeks for, and wounded by
self-inflicted pain. He had a gorgeous cope of crimson silk and
gold-thread damask, figured with a repeating pattern of golden
pomegranates set in six-petalled formal blossoms, beyond which on
either side was the pine- [73] apple device wrought in seed-pearls.
The orphreys were divided into panels representing scenes from the
life of the Virgin, and the coronation of the Virgin was figured in
colored silks upon the hood. This was Italian work of the fifteenth
century. Another cope was of green velvet, embroidered with heart-
shaped groups of acanthus-leaves, from which spread long-stemmed
white blossoms, the details of which were picked out with silver
thread and colored crystals. The morse bore a seraph's head in gold-
thread raised work. The orphreys were woven in a diaper of red and
gold silk, and were starred with medallions of many saints and
martyrs, among whom was St. Sebastian. He had chasubles, also, of
amber-colored silk, and blue silk and gold brocade, and yellow silk
damask and cloth of gold, figured with representations of the Passion
and Crucifixion of Christ, and embroidered with lions and peacocks
and other emblems; dalmatics of white satin and pink silk damask,
decorated with tulips and dolphins and fleurs de lys; altar frontals
of crimson velvet and blue linen; and many corporals, chalice-veils,
and sudaria. In the mystic offices to which these things were put
there was something that quickened his imagination.

For these things, and everything that he collected in his lovely
house, were to be to him means of forgetfulness, modes by which he
could escape, for a season, from the fear that seemed to him at times
to be almost too great to be borne. Upon the walls of the lonely
locked room where he had spent so much of his boyhood, he had hung
with his own hands the terrible portrait whose changing features
showed him the real degradation of his life, and had draped the
purple-and-gold pall in front of it as a curtain. For weeks he would
not go there, would forget the hideous painted thing, and get back
his light heart, his wonderful joyousness, his passionate pleasure in
mere existence. Then, suddenly, some night he would creep out of the
house, go down to dreadful places near Blue Gate Fields, and stay
there, day after day, until he was driven away. On his return he
would sit in front of the picture, sometimes loathing it and himself,
but filled, at other times, with that pride of rebellion that is half
the fascination of sin, and smiling, with secret pleasure, at the
misshapen shadow that had to bear the burden that should have been
his own.

After a few years he could not endure to be long out of England, and
gave up the villa that he had shared at Trouville with Lord Henry, as
well as the little white walled-in house at Algiers where he had more
than once spent his winter. He hated to be separated from the
picture that was such a part of his life, and he was also afraid that
during his absence some one might gain access to the room, in spite
of the elaborate bolts and bars that he had caused to be placed upon
the door.

He was quite conscious that this would tell them nothing. It was
true that the portrait still preserved, under all the foulness and
ugliness of the face, its marked likeness to himself; but what could
they learn from that? He would laugh at any one who tried to taunt
him. He had not painted it. What was it to him how vile and full of
shame it looked? Even if he told them, would they believe it?

Yet he was afraid. Sometimes when he was down at his great [74]
house in Nottinghamshire, entertaining the fashionable young men of
his own rank who were his chief companions, and astounding the county
by the wanton luxury and gorgeous splendor of his mode of life, he
would suddenly leave his guests and rush back to town to see that the
door had not been tampered with and that the picture was still there.
What if it should be stolen? The mere thought made him cold with
horror. Surely the world would know his secret then. Perhaps the
world already suspected it.

For, while he fascinated many, there were not a few who distrusted
him. He was blackballed at a West End club of which his birth and
social position fully entitled him to become a member, and on one
occasion, when he was brought by a friend into the smoking-room of
the Carlton, the Duke of Berwick and another gentleman got up in a
marked manner and went out. Curious stories became current about him
after he had passed his twenty-fifth year. It was said that he had
been seen brawling with foreign sailors in a low den in the distant
parts of Whitechapel, and that he consorted with thieves and coiners
and knew the mysteries of their trade. His extraordinary absences
became notorious, and, when he used to reappear again in society, men
would whisper to each other in corners, or pass him with a sneer, or
look at him with cold searching eyes, as if they were determined to
discover his secret.

Of such insolences and attempted slights he, of course, took no
notice, and in the opinion of most people his frank debonair manner,
his charming boyish smile, and the infinite grace of that wonderful
youth that seemed never to leave him, were in themselves a sufficient
answer to the calumnies (for so they called them) that were
circulated about him. It was remarked, however, that those who had
been most intimate with him appeared, after a time, to shun him. Of
all his friends, or so-called friends, Lord Henry Wotton was the only
one who remained loyal to him. Women who had wildly adored him, and
for his sake had braved all social censure and set convention at
defiance, were seen to grow pallid with shame or horror if Dorian
Gray entered the room.

Yet these whispered scandals only lent him, in the eyes of many, his
strange and dangerous charm. His great wealth was a certain element
of security. Society, civilized society at least, is never very
ready to believe anything to the detriment of those who are both rich
and charming. It feels instinctively that manners are of more
importance than morals, and the highest respectability is of less
value in its opinion than the possession of a good chef. And, after
all, it is a very poor consolation to be told that the man who has
given one a bad dinner, or poor wine, is irreproachable in his
private life. Even the cardinal virtues cannot atone for cold
entrées, as Lord Henry remarked once, in a discussion on the subject;
and there is possibly a good deal to be said for his view. For the
canons of good society are, or should be, the same as the canons of
art. Form is absolutely essential to it. It should have the dignity
of a ceremony, as well as its unreality, and should combine the
insincere character of a romantic play with the wit and beauty that
make such plays charming. Is insincerity such a [75] terrible thing?
I think not. It is merely a method by which we can multiply our
personalities.

Such, at any rate, was Dorian Gray's opinion. He used to wonder at
the shallow psychology of those who conceive the Ego in man as a
thing simple, permanent, reliable, and of one essence. To him, man
was a being with myriad lives and myriad sensations, a complex
multiform creature that bore within itself strange legacies of
thought and passion, and whose very flesh was tainted with the
monstrous maladies of the dead. He loved to stroll through the gaunt
cold picture-gallery of his country-house and look at the various
portraits of those whose blood flowed in his veins. Here was Philip
Herbert, described by Francis Osborne, in his "Memoires on the Reigns
of Queen Elizabeth and King James," as one who was "caressed by the
court for his handsome face, which kept him not long company." Was
it young Herbert's life that he sometimes led? Had some strange
poisonous germ crept from body to body till it had reached his own?
Was it some dim sense of that ruined grace that had made him so
suddenly, and almost without cause, give utterance, in Basil
Hallward's studio, to that mad prayer that had so changed his life?
Here, in gold-embroidered red doublet, jewelled surcoat, and gilt-
edged ruff and wrist-bands, stood Sir Anthony Sherard, with his
silver-and-black armor piled at his feet. What had this man's legacy
been? Had the lover of Giovanna of Naples bequeathed him some
inheritance of sin and shame? Were his own actions merely the dreams
that the dead man had not dared to realize? Here, from the fading
canvas, smiled Lady Elizabeth Devereux, in her gauze hood, pearl
stomacher, and pink slashed sleeves. A flower was in her right hand,
and her left clasped an enamelled collar of white and damask roses.
On a table by her side lay a mandolin and an apple. There were large
green rosettes upon her little pointed shoes. He knew her life, and
the strange stories that were told about her lovers. Had he
something of her temperament in him? Those oval heavy-lidded eyes
seemed to look curiously at him. What of George Willoughby, with his
powdered hair and fantastic patches? How evil he looked! The face
was saturnine and swarthy, and the sensual lips seemed to be twisted
with disdain. Delicate lace ruffles fell over the lean yellow hands
that were so overladen with rings. He had been a macaroni of the
eighteenth century, and the friend, in his youth, of Lord Ferrars.
What of the second Lord Sherard, the companion of the Prince Regent
in his wildest days, and one of the witnesses at the secret marriage
with Mrs. Fitzherbert? How proud and handsome he was, with his
chestnut curls and insolent pose! What passions had he bequeathed?
The world had looked upon him as infamous. He had led the orgies at
Carlton House. The star of the Garter glittered upon his breast.
Beside him hung the portrait of his wife, a pallid, thin-lipped woman
in black. Her blood, also, stirred within him. How curious it all
seemed!

Yet one had ancestors in literature, as well as in one's own race,
nearer perhaps in type and temperament, many of them, and certainly
with an influence of which one was more absolutely conscious. There
[76] were times when it seemed to Dorian Gray that the whole of
history was merely the record of his own life, not as he had lived it
in act and circumstance, but as his imagination had created it for
him, as it had been in his brain and in his passions. He felt that
he had known them all, those strange terrible figures that had passed
across the stage of the world and made sin so marvellous and evil so
full of wonder. It seemed to him that in some mysterious way their
lives had been his own.

The hero of the dangerous novel that had so influenced his life had
himself had this curious fancy. In a chapter of the book he tells
how, crowned with laurel, lest lightning might strike him, he had
sat, as Tiberius, in a garden at Capri, reading the shameful books of
Elephantis, while dwarfs and peacocks strutted round him and the
flute-player mocked the swinger of the censer; and, as Caligula, had
caroused with the green-shirted jockeys in their stables, and supped
in an ivory manger with a jewel-frontleted horse; and, as Domitian,
had wandered through a corridor lined with marble mirrors, looking
round with haggard eyes for the reflection of the dagger that was to
end his days, and sick with that ennui, that taedium vitae, that
comes on those to whom life denies nothing; and had peered through a
clear emerald at the red shambles of the Circus, and then, in a
litter of pearl and purple drawn by silver-shod mules, been carried
through the Street of Pomegranates to a House of Gold, and heard men
cry on Nero Caesar as he passed by; and, as Elagabalus, had painted
his face with colors, and plied the distaff among the women, and
brought the Moon from Carthage, and given her in mystic marriage to
the Sun.

Over and over again Dorian used to read this fantastic chapter, and
the chapter immediately following, in which the hero describes the
curious tapestries that he had had woven for him from Gustave
Moreau's designs, and on which were pictured the awful and beautiful
forms of those whom Vice and Blood and Weariness had made monstrous
or mad: Filippo, Duke of Milan, who slew his wife, and painted her
lips with a scarlet poison; Pietro Barbi, the Venetian, known as Paul
the Second, who sought in his vanity to assume the title of Formosus,
and whose tiara, valued at two hundred thousand florins, was bought
at the price of a terrible sin; Gian Maria Visconti, who used hounds
to chase living men, and whose murdered body was covered with roses
by a harlot who had loved him; the Borgia on his white horse, with
Fratricide riding beside him, and his mantle stained with the blood
of Perotto; Pietro Riario, the young Cardinal Archbishop of Florence,
child and minion of Sixtus IV., whose beauty was equalled only by his
debauchery, and who received Leonora of Aragon in a pavilion of white
and crimson silk, filled with nymphs and centaurs, and gilded a boy
that he might serve her at the feast as Ganymede or Hylas; Ezzelin,
whose melancholy could be cured only by the spectacle of death, and
who had a passion for red blood, as other men have for red wine,--the
son of the Fiend, as was reported, and one who had cheated his father
at dice when gambling with him for his own soul; Giambattista Cibo,
who in mockery took the name of Innocent, and into whose torpid veins
the blood of three lads was infused by a [77] Jewish doctor;
Sigismondo Malatesta, the lover of Isotta, and the lord of Rimini,
whose effigy was burned at Rome as the enemy of God and man, who
strangled Polyssena with a napkin, and gave poison to Ginevra d'Este
in a cup of emerald, and in honor of a shameful passion built a pagan
church for Christian worship; Charles VI., who had so wildly adored
his brother's wife that a leper had warned him of the insanity that
was coming on him, and who could only be soothed by Saracen cards
painted with the images of Love and Death and Madness; and, in his
trimmed jerkin and jewelled cap and acanthus-like curls, Grifonetto
Baglioni, who slew Astorre with his bride, and Simonetto with his
page, and whose comeliness was such that, as he lay dying in the
yellow piazza of Perugia, those who had hated him could not choose
but weep, and Atalanta, who had cursed him, blessed him.

There was a horrible fascination in them all. He saw them at night,
and they troubled his imagination in the day. The Renaissance knew
of strange manners of poisoning,--poisoning by a helmet and a lighted
torch, by an embroidered glove and a jewelled fan, by a gilded
pomander and by an amber chain. Dorian Gray had been poisoned by a
book. There were moments when he looked on evil simply as a mode
through which he could realize his conception of the beautiful.

CHAPTER X

[...77] It was on the 7th of November, the eve of his own thirty-
second birthday, as he often remembered afterwards.

He was walking home about eleven o'clock from Lord Henry's, where he
had been dining, and was wrapped in heavy furs, as the night was cold
and foggy. At the corner of Grosvenor Square and South Audley Street
a man passed him in the mist, walking very fast, and with the collar
of his gray ulster turned up. He had a bag in his hand. He
recognized him. It was Basil Hallward. A strange sense of fear, for
which he could not account, came over him. He made no sign of
recognition, and went on slowly, in the direction of his own house.

But Hallward had seen him. Dorian heard him first stopping, and then
hurrying after him. In a few moments his hand was on his arm.

"Dorian! What an extraordinary piece of luck! I have been waiting
for you ever since nine o'clock in your library. Finally I took pity
on your tired servant, and told him to go to bed, as he let me out.
I am off to Paris by the midnight train, and I wanted particularly to
see you before I left. I thought it was you, or rather your fur
coat, as you passed me. But I wasn't quite sure. Didn't you
recognize me?"

"In this fog, my dear Basil? Why, I can't even recognize Grosvenor
Square. I believe my house is somewhere about here, but I don't feel
at all certain about it. I am sorry you are going away, as I have
not seen you for ages. But I suppose you will be back soon?"

"No: I am going to be out of England for six months. I intend [78]
to take a studio in Paris, and shut myself up till I have finished a
great picture I have in my head. However, it wasn't about myself I
wanted to talk. Here we are at your door. Let me come in for a
moment. I have something to say to you."

"I shall be charmed. But won't you miss your train?" said Dorian
Gray, languidly, as he passed up the steps and opened the door with
his latch-key.

The lamp-light struggled out through the fog, and Hallward looked at
his watch. "I have heaps of time," he answered. "The train doesn't
go till twelve-fifteen, and it is only just eleven. In fact, I was
on my way to the club to look for you, when I met you. You see, I
shan't have any delay about luggage, as I have sent on my heavy
things. All I have with me is in this bag, and I can easily get to
Victoria in twenty minutes."

Dorian looked at him and smiled. "What a way for a fashionable
painter to travel! A Gladstone bag, and an ulster! Come in, or the
fog will get into the house. And mind you don't talk about anything
serious. Nothing is serious nowadays. At least nothing should be."

Hallward shook his head, as he entered, and followed Dorian into the
library. There was a bright wood fire blazing in the large open
hearth. The lamps were lit, and an open Dutch silver spirit-case
stood, with some siphons of soda-water and large cut-glass tumblers,
on a little table.

"You see your servant made me quite at home, Dorian. He gave me
everything I wanted, including your best cigarettes. He is a most
hospitable creature. I like him much better than the Frenchman you
used to have. What has become of the Frenchman, by the bye?"

Dorian shrugged his shoulders. "I believe he married Lady Ashton's
maid, and has established her in Paris as an English dressmaker.
Anglomanie is very fashionable over there now, I hear. It seems
silly of the French, doesn't it? But--do you know?--he was not at
all a bad servant. I never liked him, but I had nothing to complain
about. One often imagines things that are quite absurd. He was
really very devoted to me, and seemed quite sorry when he went away.
Have another brandy-and-soda? Or would you like hock-and-seltzer? I
always take hock-and-seltzer myself. There is sure to be some in the
next room."

"Thanks, I won't have anything more," said Hallward, taking his cap
and coat off, and throwing them on the bag that he had placed in the
corner. "And now, my dear fellow, I want to speak to you seriously.
Don't frown like that. You make it so much more difficult for me."

"What is it all about?" cried Dorian, in his petulant way, flinging
himself down on the sofa. "I hope it is not about myself. I am
tired of myself to-night. I should like to be somebody else."

"It is about yourself," answered Hallward, in his grave, deep voice,
"and I must say it to you. I shall only keep you half an hour."

Dorian sighed, and lit a cigarette. "Half an hour!" he murmured.

[79] "It is not much to ask of you, Dorian, and it is entirely for
your own sake that I am speaking. I think it right that you should
know that the most dreadful things are being said about you in
London,--things that I could hardly repeat to you."

"I don't wish to know anything about them. I love scandals about
other people, but scandals about myself don't interest me. They have
not got the charm of novelty."

"They must interest you, Dorian. Every gentleman is interested in
his good name. You don't want people to talk of you as something
vile and degraded. Of course you have your position, and your
wealth, and all that kind of thing. But position and wealth are not
everything. Mind you, I don't believe these rumors at all. At
least, I can't believe them when I see you. Sin is a thing that
writes itself across a man's face. It cannot be concealed. People
talk of secret vices. There are no such things as secret vices. If
a wretched man has a vice, it shows itself in the lines of his mouth,
the droop of his eyelids, the moulding of his hands even. Somebody--
I won't mention his name, but you know him--came to me last year to
have his portrait done. I had never seen him before, and had never
heard anything about him at the time, though I have heard a good deal
since. He offered an extravagant price. I refused him. There was
something in the shape of his fingers that I hated. I know now that
I was quite right in what I fancied about him. His life is dreadful.
But you, Dorian, with your pure, bright, innocent face, and your
marvellous untroubled youth,--I can't believe anything against you.
And yet I see you very seldom, and you never come down to the studio
now, and when I am away from you, and I hear all these hideous things
that people are whispering about you, I don't know what to say. Why
is it, Dorian, that a man like the Duke of Berwick leaves the room of
a club when you enter it? Why is it that so many gentlemen in London
will neither go to your house nor invite you to theirs? You used to
be a friend of Lord Cawdor. I met him at dinner last week. Your
name happened to come up in conversation, in connection with the
miniatures you have lent to the exhibition at the Dudley. Cawdor
curled his lip, and said that you might have the most artistic
tastes, but that you were a man whom no pure-minded girl should be
allowed to know, and whom no chaste woman should sit in the same room
with. I reminded him that I was a friend of yours, and asked him
what he meant. He told me. He told me right out before everybody.
It was horrible! Why is your friendship so fateful to young men?
There was that wretched boy in the Guards who committed suicide. You
were his great friend. There was Sir Henry Ashton, who had to leave
England, with a tarnished name. You and he were inseparable. What
about Adrian Singleton, and his dreadful end? What about Lord Kent's
only son, and his career? I met his father yesterday in St. James
Street. He seemed broken with shame and sorrow. What about the
young Duke of Perth? What sort of life has he got now? What
gentleman would associate with him? Dorian, Dorian, your reputation
is infamous. I know you and Harry are great friends. I say nothing
about that now, but [80] surely you need not have made his sister's
name a by-word. When you met Lady Gwendolen, not a breath of scandal
had ever touched her. Is there a single decent woman in London now
who would drive with her in the Park? Why, even her children are not
allowed to live with her. Then there are other stories,--stories
that you have been seen creeping at dawn out of dreadful houses and
slinking in disguise into the foulest dens in London. Are they true?
Can they be true? When I first heard them, I laughed. I hear them
now, and they make me shudder. What about your country-house, and
the life that is led there? Dorian, you don't know what is said
about you. I won't tell you that I don't want to preach to you. I
remember Harry saying once that every man who turned himself into an
amateur curate for the moment always said that, and then broke his
word. I do want to preach to you. I want you to lead such a life as
will make the world respect you. I want you to have a clean name and
a fair record. I want you to get rid of the dreadful people you
associate with. Don't shrug your shoulders like that. Don't be so
indifferent. You have a wonderful influence. Let it be for good,
not for evil. They say that you corrupt every one whom you become
intimate with, and that it is quite sufficient for you to enter a
house, for shame of some kind to follow after you. I don't know
whether it is so or not. How should I know? But it is said of you.
I am told things that it seems impossible to doubt. Lord Gloucester
was one of my greatest friends at Oxford. He showed me a letter that
his wife had written to him when she was dying alone in her villa at
Mentone. Your name was implicated in the most terrible confession I
ever read. I told him that it was absurd,--that I knew you
thoroughly, and that you were incapable of anything of the kind.
Know you? I wonder do I know you? Before I could answer that, I
should have to see your soul."

"To see my soul!" muttered Dorian Gray, starting up from the sofa and
turning almost white from fear.

"Yes," answered Hallward, gravely, and with infinite sorrow in his
voice,--"to see your soul. But only God can do that."

A bitter laugh of mockery broke from the lips of the younger man.
"You shall see it yourself, to-night!" he cried, seizing a lamp from
the table. "Come: it is your own handiwork. Why shouldn't you look
at it? You can tell the world all about it afterwards, if you
choose. Nobody would believe you. If they did believe you, they'd
like me all the better for it. I know the age better than you do,
though you will prate about it so tediously. Come, I tell you. You
have chattered enough about corruption. Now you shall look on it
face to face."

There was the madness of pride in every word he uttered. He stamped
his foot upon the ground in his boyish insolent manner. He felt a
terrible joy at the thought that some one else was to share his
secret, and that the man who had painted the portrait that was the
origin of all his shame was to be burdened for the rest of his life
with the hideous memory of what he had done.

"Yes," he continued, coming closer to him, and looking steadfastly
into his stern eyes, "I will show you my soul. You shall see the
thing that you fancy only God can see."

[81] Hallward started back. "This is blasphemy, Dorian!" he cried.
"You must not say things like that. They are horrible, and they
don't mean anything."

"You think so?" He laughed again.

"I know so. As for what I said to you to-night, I said it for your
good. You know I have been always devoted to you."

"Don't touch me. Finish what you have to say."

A twisted flash of pain shot across Hallward's face. He paused for a
moment, and a wild feeling of pity came over him. After all, what
right had he to pry into the life of Dorian Gray? If he had done a
tithe of what was rumored about him, how much he must have suffered!
Then he straightened himself up, and walked over to the fireplace,
and stood there, looking at the burning logs with their frost-like
ashes and their throbbing cores of flame.

"I am waiting, Basil," said the young man, in a hard, clear voice.

He turned round. "What I have to say is this," he cried. "You must
give me some answer to these horrible charges that are made against
you. If you tell me that they are absolutely untrue from beginning
to end, I will believe you. Deny them, Dorian, deny them! Can't you
see what I am going through? My God! don't tell me that you are
infamous!"

Dorian Gray smiled. There was a curl of contempt in his lips. "Come
up-stairs, Basil," he said, quietly. "I keep a diary of my life from
day to day, and it never leaves the room in which it is written. I
will show it to you if you come with me."

"I will come with you, Dorian, if you wish it. I see I have missed
my train. That makes no matter. I can go to-morrow. But don't ask
me to read anything to-night. All I want is a plain answer to my
question."

"That will be given to you up-stairs. I could not give it here. You
won't have to read long. Don't keep me waiting."

CHAPTER XI

[...81] He passed out of the room, and began the ascent, Basil
Hallward following close behind. They walked softly, as men
instinctively do at night. The lamp cast fantastic shadows on the
wall and staircase. A rising wind made some of the windows rattle.

When they reached the top landing, Dorian set the lamp down on the
floor, and taking out the key turned it in the lock. "You insist on
knowing, Basil?" he asked, in a low voice.

"Yes."

"I am delighted," he murmured, smiling. Then he added, somewhat
bitterly, "You are the one man in the world who is entitled to know
everything about me. You have had more to do with my life than you
think." And, taking up the lamp, he opened the door and went in. A
cold current of air passed them, and the light shot up for a moment
in a flame of murky orange. He shuddered. "Shut the door behind
you," he said, as he placed the lamp on the table.

[82] Hallward glanced round him, with a puzzled expression. The room
looked as if it had not been lived in for years. A faded Flemish
tapestry, a curtained picture, an old Italian cassone, and an almost
empty bookcase,--that was all that it seemed to contain, besides a
chair and a table. As Dorian Gray was lighting a half-burned candle
that was standing on the mantel-shelf, he saw that the whole place
was covered with dust, and that the carpet was in holes. A mouse ran
scuffling behind the wainscoting. There was a damp odor of mildew.

"So you think that it is only God who sees the soul, Basil? Draw
that curtain back, and you will see mine."

The voice that spoke was cold and cruel. "You are mad, Dorian, or
playing a part," muttered Hallward, frowning.

"You won't? Then I must do it myself," said the young man; and he
tore the curtain from its rod, and flung it on the ground.

An exclamation of horror broke from Hallward's lips as he saw in the
dim light the hideous thing on the canvas leering at him. There was
something in its expression that filled him with disgust and
loathing. Good heavens! it was Dorian Gray's own face that he was
looking at! The horror, whatever it was, had not yet entirely marred
that marvellous beauty. There was still some gold in the thinning
hair and some scarlet on the sensual lips. The sodden eyes had kept
something of the loveliness of their blue, the noble curves had not
yet passed entirely away from chiselled nostrils and from plastic
throat. Yes, it was Dorian himself. But who had done it? He seemed
to recognize his own brush-work, and the frame was his own design.
The idea was monstrous, yet he felt afraid. He seized the lighted
candle, and held it to the picture. In the left-hand corner was his
own name, traced in long letters of bright vermilion.

It was some foul parody, some infamous, ignoble satire. He had never
done that. Still, it was his own picture. He knew it, and he felt
as if his blood had changed from fire to sluggish ice in a moment.
His own picture! What did it mean? Why had it altered? He turned,
and looked at Dorian Gray with the eyes of a sick man. His mouth
twitched, and his parched tongue seemed unable to articulate. He
passed his hand across his forehead. It was dank with clammy sweat.

The young man was leaning against the mantel-shelf, watching him with
that strange expression that is on the faces of those who are
absorbed in a play when a great artist is acting. There was neither
real sorrow in it nor real joy. There was simply the passion of the
spectator, with perhaps a flicker of triumph in the eyes. He had
taken the flower out of his coat, and was smelling it, or pretending
to do so.

"What does this mean?" cried Hallward, at last. His own voice
sounded shrill and curious in his ears.

"Years ago, when I was a boy," said Dorian Gray, "you met me, devoted
yourself to me, flattered me, and taught me to be vain of my good
looks. One day you introduced me to a friend of yours, who explained
to me the wonder of youth, and you finished a portrait of me that
revealed to me the wonder of beauty. In a mad moment, that [83] I
don't know, even now, whether I regret or not, I made a wish.
Perhaps you would call it a prayer . . . ."

"I remember it! Oh, how well I remember it! No! the thing is
impossible. The room is damp. The mildew has got into the canvas.
The paints I used had some wretched mineral poison in them. I tell
you the thing is impossible."

"Ah, what is impossible?" murmured the young man, going over to the
window, and leaning his forehead against the cold, mist-stained
glass.

"You told me you had destroyed it."

"I was wrong. It has destroyed me."

"I don't believe it is my picture."

"Can't you see your romance in it?" said Dorian, bitterly.

"My romance, as you call it . . ."

"As you called it."

"There was nothing evil in it, nothing shameful. This is the face of
a satyr."

"It is the face of my soul."

"God! what a thing I must have worshipped! This has the eyes of a
devil."

"Each of us has Heaven and Hell in him, Basil," cried Dorian, with a
wild gesture of despair.

Hallward turned again to the portrait, and gazed at it. "My God! if
it is true," he exclaimed, "and this is what you have done with your
life, why, you must be worse even than those who talk against you
fancy you to be!" He held the light up again to the canvas, and
examined it. The surface seemed to be quite undisturbed, and as he
had left it. It was from within, apparently, that the foulness and
horror had come. Through some strange quickening of inner life the
leprosies of sin were slowly eating the thing away. The rotting of a
corpse in a watery grave was not so fearful.

His hand shook, and the candle fell from its socket on the floor, and
lay there sputtering. He placed his foot on it and put it out. Then
he flung himself into the rickety chair that was standing by the
table and buried his face in his hands.

"Good God, Dorian, what a lesson! what an awful lesson!" There was
no answer, but he could hear the young man sobbing at the window.

"Pray, Dorian, pray," he murmured. "What is it that one was taught
to say in one's boyhood? 'Lead us not into temptation. Forgive us
our sins. Wash away our iniquities.' Let us say that together. The
prayer of your pride has been answered. The prayer of your
repentance will be answered also. I worshipped you too much. I am
punished for it. You worshipped yourself too much. We are both
punished."

Dorian Gray turned slowly around, and looked at him with tear-dimmed
eyes. "It is too late, Basil," he murmured.

"It is never too late, Dorian. Let us kneel down and try if we can
remember a prayer. Isn't there a verse somewhere, 'Though your sins
be as scarlet, yet I will make them as white as snow'?"

[84] "Those words mean nothing to me now."

"Hush! don't say that. You have done enough evil in your life. My
God! don't you see that accursed thing leering at us?"

Dorian Gray glanced at the picture, and suddenly an uncontrollable
feeling of hatred for Basil Hallward came over him. The mad passions
of a hunted animal stirred within him, and he loathed the man who was
seated at the table, more than he had ever loathed anything in his
whole life. He glanced wildly around. Something glimmered on the
top of the painted chest that faced him. His eye fell on it. He
knew what it was. It was a knife that he had brought up, some days
before, to cut a piece of cord, and had forgotten to take away with
him. He moved slowly towards it, passing Hallward as he did so. As
soon as he got behind him, he seized it, and turned round. Hallward
moved in his chair as if he was going to rise. He rushed at him, and
dug the knife into the great vein that is behind the ear, crushing
the man's head down on the table, and stabbing again and again.

There was a stifled groan, and the horrible sound of some one choking
with blood. The outstretched arms shot up convulsively three times,
waving grotesque stiff-fingered hands in the air. He stabbed him
once more, but the man did not move. Something began to trickle on
the floor. He waited for a moment, still pressing the head down.
Then he threw the knife on the table, and listened.

He could hear nothing, but the drip, drip on the threadbare carpet.
He opened the door, and went out on the landing. The house was quite
quiet. No one was stirring.

He took out the key, and returned to the room, locking himself in as
he did so.

The thing was still seated in the chair, straining over the table
with bowed head, and humped back, and long fantastic arms. Had it
not been for the red jagged tear in the neck, and the clotted black
pool that slowly widened on the table, one would have said that the
man was simply asleep.

How quickly it had all been done! He felt strangely calm, and,
walking over to the window, opened it, and stepped out on the
balcony. The wind had blown the fog away, and the sky was like a
monstrous peacock's tail, starred with myriads of golden eyes. He
looked down, and saw the policeman going his rounds and flashing a
bull's-eye lantern on the doors of the silent houses. The crimson
spot of a prowling hansom gleamed at the corner, and then vanished.
A woman in a ragged shawl was creeping round by the railings,
staggering as she went. Now and then she stopped, and peered back.
Once, she began to sing in a hoarse voice. The policeman strolled
over and said something to her. She stumbled away, laughing. A
bitter blast swept across the Square. The gas-lamps flickered, and
became blue, and the leafless trees shook their black iron branches
as if in pain. He shivered, and went back, closing the window behind
him.

He passed to the door, turned the key, and opened it. He did not
even glance at the murdered man. He felt that the secret of the
whole thing was not to realize the situation. The friend who had
painted [85] the fatal portrait, the portrait to which all his misery
had been due, had gone out of his life. That was enough.

Then he remembered the lamp. It was a rather curious one of Moorish
workmanship, made of dull silver inlaid with arabesques of burnished
steel. Perhaps it might be missed by his servant, and questions
would be asked. He turned back, and took it from the table. How
still the man was! How horribly white the long hands looked! He was
like a dreadful wax image.

He locked the door behind him, and crept quietly down-stairs. The
wood-work creaked, and seemed to cry out as if in pain. He stopped
several times, and waited. No: everything was still. It was merely
the sound of his own footsteps.

When he reached the library, he saw the bag and coat in the corner.
They must be hidden away somewhere. He unlocked a secret press that
was in the wainscoting, and put them into it. He could easily burn
them afterwards. Then he pulled out his watch. It was twenty
minutes to two.

He sat down, and began to think. Every year--every month, almost--
men were strangled in England for what he had done. There had been a
madness of murder in the air. Some red star had come too close to
the earth.

Evidence? What evidence was there against him? Basil Hallward had
left the house at eleven. No one had seen him come in again. Most
of the servants were at Selby Royal. His valet had gone to bed.

Paris! Yes. It was to Paris that Basil had gone, by the midnight
train, as he had intended. With his curious reserved habits, it
would be months before any suspicions would be aroused. Months?
Everything could be destroyed long before then.

A sudden thought struck him. He put on his fur coat and hat, and
went out into the hall. There he paused, hearing the slow heavy
tread of the policeman outside on the pavement, and seeing the flash
of the lantern reflected in the window. He waited, holding his
breath.

After a few moments he opened the front door, and slipped out,
shutting it very gently behind him. Then he began ringing the bell.
In about ten minutes his valet appeared, half dressed, and looking
very drowsy.

"I am sorry to have had to wake you up, Francis," he said, stepping
in; "but I had forgotten my latch-key. What time is it?"

"Five minutes past two, sir," answered the man, looking at the clock
and yawning.

"Five minutes past two? How horribly late! You must wake me at nine
to-morrow. I have some work to do."

"All right, sir."

"Did any one call this evening?"

"Mr. Hallward, sir. He stayed here till eleven, and then he went
away to catch his train."

"Oh! I am sorry I didn't see him. Did he leave any message?"

"No, sir, except that he would write to you."

[86] "That will do, Francis. Don't forget to call me at nine
tomorrow."

"No, sir."

The man shambled down the passage in his slippers.

Dorian Gray threw his hat and coat upon the yellow marble table, and
passed into the library. He walked up and down the room for a
quarter of an hour, biting his lip, and thinking. Then he took the
Blue Book down from one of the shelves, and began to turn over the
leaves. "Alan Campbell, 152, Hertford Street, Mayfair." Yes; that
was the man he wanted.

CHAPTER XII

[...86] At nine o'clock the next morning his servant came in with a
cup of chocolate on a tray, and opened the shutters. Dorian was
sleeping quite peacefully, lying on his right side, with one hand
underneath his cheek. He looked like a boy who had been tired out
with play, or study.

The man had to touch him twice on the shoulder before he woke, and as
he opened his eyes a faint smile passed across his lips, as though he
had been having some delightful dream. Yet he had not dreamed at
all. His night had been untroubled by any images of pleasure or of
pain. But youth smiles without any reason. It is one of its
chiefest charms.

He turned round, and, leaning on his elbow, began to drink his
chocolate. The mellow November sun was streaming into the room. The
sky was bright blue, and there was a genial warmth in the air. It
was almost like a morning in May.

Gradually the events of the preceding night crept with silent blood-
stained feet into his brain, and reconstructed themselves there with
terrible distinctness. He winced at the memory of all that he had
suffered, and for a moment the same curious feeling of loathing for
Basil Hallward, that had made him kill him as he sat in the chair,
came back to him, and he grew cold with passion. The dead man was
still sitting there, too, and in the sunlight now. How horrible that
was! Such hideous things were for the darkness, not for the day.

He felt that if he brooded on what he had gone through he would
sicken or grow mad. There were sins whose fascination was more in
the memory than in the doing of them, strange triumphs that gratified
the pride more than the passions, and gave to the intellect a
quickened sense of joy, greater than any joy they brought, or could
ever bring, to the senses. But this was not one of them. It was a
thing to be driven out of the mind, to be drugged with poppies, to be
strangled lest it might strangle one itself.

He passed his hand across his forehead, and then got up hastily, and
dressed himself with even more than his usual attention, giving a
good deal of care to the selection of his necktie and scarf-pin, and
changing his rings more than once.

He spent a long time over breakfast, tasting the various dishes,
talking to his valet about some new liveries that he was thinking of
[87] getting made for the servants at Selby, and going through his
correspondence. Over some of the letters he smiled. Three of them
bored him. One he read several times over, and then tore up with a
slight look of annoyance in his face. "That awful thing, a woman's
memory!" as Lord Henry had once said.

When he had drunk his coffee, he sat down at the table, and wrote two
letters. One he put in his pocket, the other he handed to the valet.

"Take this round to 152, Hertford Street, Francis, and if Mr.
Campbell is out of town, get his address."

As soon as he was alone, he lit a cigarette, and began sketching upon
a piece of paper, drawing flowers, and bits of architecture, first,
and then faces. Suddenly he remarked that every face that he drew
seemed to have an extraordinary likeness to Basil Hallward. He
frowned, and, getting up, went over to the bookcase and took out a
volume at hazard. He was determined that he would not think about
what had happened, till it became absolutely necessary to do so.

When he had stretched himself on the sofa, he looked at the title-
page of the book. It was Gautier's "Emaux et Camées," Charpentier's
Japanese-paper edition, with the Jacquemart etching. The binding was
of citron-green leather with a design of gilt trellis-work and dotted
pomegranates. It had been given to him by Adrian Singleton. As he
turned over the pages his eye fell on the poem about the hand of
Lacenaire, the cold yellow hand "du supplice encore mal lavée," with
its downy red hairs and its "doigts de faune." He glanced at his own
white taper fingers, and passed on, till he came to those lovely
verses upon Venice:

Sur une gamme chromatique,
Le sein de perles ruisselant,
La Vénus de l'Adriatique
Sort de l'eau son corps rose et blanc.

Les dômes, sur l'azur des ondes
Suivant la phrase au pur contour,
S'enflent comme des gorges rondes
Que soulève un soupir d'amour.

L'esquif aborde et me dépose,
Jetant son amarre au pilier,
Devant une façade rose,
Sur le marbre d'un escalier.

How exquisite they were! As one read them, one seemed to be floating
down the green water-ways of the pink and pearl city, lying in a
black gondola with silver prow and trailing curtains. The mere lines
looked to him like those straight lines of turquoise-blue that follow
one as one pushes out to the Lido. The sudden flashes of color
reminded him of the gleam of the opal-and-iris-throated birds that
flutter round the tall honey-combed Campanile, or stalk, with such
stately grace, through the dim arcades. Leaning back with half-
closed eyes, he kept saying over and over to himself,--

Devant une façade rose,
Sur le marbre d'un escalier.

[88] The whole of Venice was in those two lines. He remembered the
autumn that he had passed there, and a wonderful love that had
stirred him to delightful fantastic follies. There was romance in
every place. But Venice, like Oxford, had kept the background for
romance, and background was everything, or almost everything. Basil
had been with him part of the time, and had gone wild over Tintoret.
Poor Basil! what a horrible way for a man to die!

He sighed, and took up the book again, and tried to forget. He read
of the swallows that fly in and out of the little café at Smyrna
where the Hadjis sit counting their amber beads and the turbaned
merchants smoke their long tasselled pipes and talk gravely to each
other; of the Obelisk in the Place de la Concorde that weeps tears of
granite in its lonely sunless exile, and longs to be back by the hot
lotus-covered Nile, where there are Sphinxes, and rose-red ibises,
and white vultures with gilded claws, and crocodiles, with small
beryl eyes, that crawl over the green steaming mud; and of that
curious statue that Gautier compares to a contralto voice, the
"monstre charmant" that couches in the porphyry-room of the Louvre.
But after a time the book fell from his hand. He grew nervous, and a
horrible fit of terror came over him. What if Alan Campbell should
be out of England? Days would elapse before he could come back.
Perhaps he might refuse to come. What could he do then? Every
moment was of vital importance.

They had been great friends once, five years before,--almost
inseparable, indeed. Then the intimacy had come suddenly to an end.
When they met in society now, it was only Dorian Gray who smiled:
Alan Campbell never did.

He was an extremely clever young man, though he had no real
appreciation of the visible arts, and whatever little sense of the
beauty of poetry he possessed he had gained entirely from Dorian.
His dominant intellectual passion was for science. At Cambridge he
had spent a great deal of his time working in the Laboratory, and had
taken a good class in the Natural Science tripos of his year.
Indeed, he was still devoted to the study of chemistry, and had a
laboratory of his own, in which he used to shut himself up all day
long, greatly to the annoyance of his mother, who had set her heart
on his standing for Parliament and had a vague idea that a chemist
was a person who made up prescriptions. He was an excellent
musician, however, as well, and played both the violin and the piano
better than most amateurs. In fact, it was music that had first
brought him and Dorian Gray together,--music and that indefinable
attraction that Dorian seemed to be able to exercise whenever he
wished, and indeed exercised often without being conscious of it.
They had met at Lady Berkshire's the night that Rubinstein played
there, and after that used to be always seen together at the Opera,
and wherever good music was going on. For eighteen months their
intimacy lasted. Campbell was always either at Selby Royal or in
Grosvenor Square. To him, as to many others, Dorian Gray was the
type of everything that is wonderful and fascinating in life.
Whether or not a quarrel had taken place between them no one ever
knew. But suddenly people remarked that they scarcely spoke when
[89] they met, and that Campbell seemed always to go away early from
any party at which Dorian Gray was present. He had changed, too,--
was strangely melancholy at times, appeared almost to dislike hearing
music of any passionate character, and would never himself play,
giving as his excuse, when he was called upon, that he was so
absorbed in science that he had no time left in which to practise.
And this was certainly true. Every day he seemed to become more
interested in biology, and his name appeared once or twice in some of
the scientific reviews, in connection with certain curious
experiments.

This was the man that Dorian Gray was waiting for, pacing up and down
the room, glancing every moment at the clock, and becoming horribly
agitated as the minutes went by. At last the door opened, and his
servant entered.

"Mr. Alan Campbell, sir."

A sigh of relief broke from his parched lips, and the color came back
to his cheeks.

"Ask him to come in at once, Francis."

The man bowed, and retired. In a few moments Alan Campbell walked
in, looking very stern and rather pale, his pallor being intensified
by his coal-black hair and dark eyebrows.

"Alan! this is kind of you. I thank you for coming."

"I had intended never to enter your house again, Gray. But you said
it was a matter of life and death." His voice was hard and cold. He
spoke with slow deliberation. There was a look of contempt in the
steady searching gaze that he turned on Dorian. He kept his hands in
the pockets of his Astrakhan coat, and appeared not to have noticed
the gesture with which he had been greeted.

"It is a matter of life and death, Alan, and to more than one person.
Sit down."

Campbell took a chair by the table, and Dorian sat opposite to him.
The two men's eyes met. In Dorian's there was infinite pity. He
knew that what he was going to do was dreadful.

After a strained moment of silence, he leaned across and said, very
quietly, but watching the effect of each word upon the face of the
man he had sent for, "Alan, in a locked room at the top of this
house, a room to which nobody but myself has access, a dead man is
seated at a table. He has been dead ten hours now. Don't stir, and
don't look at me like that. Who the man is, why he died, how he
died, are matters that do not concern you. What you have to do is
this--"

"Stop, Gray. I don't want to know anything further. Whether what
you have told me is true or not true, doesn't concern me. I entirely
decline to be mixed up in your life. Keep your horrible secrets to
yourself. They don't interest me any more."

"Alan, they will have to interest you. This one will have to
interest you. I am awfully sorry for you, Alan. But I can't help
myself. You are the one man who is able to save me. I am forced to
bring you into the matter. I have no option. Alan, you are a
scientist. You know about chemistry, and things of that kind. You
have made experiments. What you have got to do is to destroy the
[90] thing that is up-stairs,--to destroy it so that not a vestige
will be left of it. Nobody saw this person come into the house.
Indeed, at the present moment he is supposed to be in Paris. He will
not be missed for months. When he is missed, there must be no trace
of him found here. You, Alan, you must change him, and everything
that belongs to him, into a handful of ashes that I may scatter in
the air."

"You are mad, Dorian."

"Ah! I was waiting for you to call me Dorian."

"You are mad, I tell you,--mad to imagine that I would raise a finger
to help you, mad to make this monstrous confession. I will have
nothing to do with this matter, whatever it is. Do you think I am
going to peril my reputation for you? What is it to me what devil's
work you are up to?"

"It was a suicide, Alan."

"I am glad of that. But who drove him to it? You, I should fancy."

"Do you still refuse to do this, for me?"

"Of course I refuse. I will have absolutely nothing to do with it.
I don't care what shame comes on you. You deserve it all. I should
not be sorry to see you disgraced, publicly disgraced. How dare you
ask me, of all men in the world, to mix myself up in this horror? I
should have thought you knew more about people's characters. Your
friend Lord Henry Wotton can't have taught you much about psychology,
whatever else he has taught you. Nothing will induce me to stir a
step to help you. You have come to the wrong man. Go to some of
your friends. Don't come to me."

"Alan, it was murder. I killed him. You don't know what he had made
me suffer. Whatever my life is, he had more to do with the making or
the marring of it than poor Harry has had. He may not have intended
it, the result was the same."

"Murder! Good God, Dorian, is that what you have come to? I shall
not inform upon you. It is not my business. Besides, you are
certain to be arrested, without my stirring in the matter. Nobody
ever commits a murder without doing something stupid. But I will
have nothing to do with it."

"All I ask of you is to perform a certain scientific experiment. You
go to hospitals and dead-houses, and the horrors that you do there
don't affect you. If in some hideous dissecting-room or fetid
laboratory you found this man lying on a leaden table with red
gutters scooped out in it, you would simply look upon him as an
admirable subject. You would not turn a hair. You would not believe
that you were doing anything wrong. On the contrary, you would
probably feel that you were benefiting the human race, or increasing
the sum of knowledge in the world, or gratifying intellectual
curiosity, or something of that kind. What I want you to do is
simply what you have often done before. Indeed, to destroy a body
must be less horrible than what you are accustomed to work at. And,
remember, it is the only piece of evidence against me. If it is
discovered, I am lost; and it is sure to be discovered unless you
help me."

[91] "I have no desire to help you. You forget that. I am simply
indifferent to the whole thing. It has nothing to do with me."

"Alan, I entreat you. Think of the position I am in. Just before
you came I almost fainted with terror. No! don't think of that.
Look at the matter purely from the scientific point of view. You
don't inquire where the dead things on which you experiment come
from. Don't inquire now. I have told you too much as it is. But I
beg of you to do this. We were friends once, Alan."

"Don't speak about those days, Dorian: they are dead."

"The dead linger sometimes. The man up-stairs will not go away. He
is sitting at the table with bowed head and outstretched arms. Alan!
Alan! if you don't come to my assistance I am ruined. Why, they will
hang me, Alan! Don't you understand? They will hang me for what I
have done."

"There is no good in prolonging this scene. I refuse absolutely to
do anything in the matter. It is insane of you to ask me."

"You refuse absolutely?"

"Yes."

The same look of pity came into Dorian's eyes, then he stretched out
his hand, took a piece of paper, and wrote something on it. He read
it over twice, folded it carefully, and pushed it across the table.
Having done this, he got up, and went over to the window.

Campbell looked at him in surprise, and then took up the paper, and
opened it. As he read it, his face became ghastly pale, and he fell
back in his chair. A horrible sense of sickness came over him. He
felt as if his heart was beating itself to death in some empty
hollow.

After two or three minutes of terrible silence, Dorian turned round,
and came and stood behind him, putting his hand upon his shoulder.

"I am so sorry, Alan," he murmured, "but you leave me no alternative.
I have a letter written already. Here it is. You see the address.
If you don't help me, I must send it. You know what the result will
be. But you are going to help me. It is impossible for you to
refuse now. I tried to spare you. You will do me the justice to
admit that. You were stern, harsh, offensive. You treated me as no
man has ever dared to treat me,--no living man, at any rate. I bore
it all. Now it is for me to dictate terms."

Campbell buried his face in his hands, and a shudder passed through
him.

"Yes, it is my turn to dictate terms, Alan. You know what they are.
The thing is quite simple. Come, don't work yourself into this
fever. The thing has to be done. Face it, and do it."

A groan broke from Campbell's lips, and he shivered all over. The
ticking of the clock on the mantel-piece seemed to him to be dividing
time into separate atoms of agony, each of which was too terrible to
be borne. He felt as if an iron ring was being slowly tightened
round his forehead, and as if the disgrace with which he was
threatened had already come upon him. The hand upon his shoulder
weighed like a hand of lead. It was intolerable. It seemed to crush
him.

"Come, Alan, you must decide at once."

[92] He hesitated a moment. "Is there a fire in the room up-stairs?"
he murmured.

"Yes, there is a gas-fire with asbestos."

"I will have to go home and get some things from the laboratory."

"No, Alan, you need not leave the house. Write on a sheet of note-
paper what you want, and my servant will take a cab and bring the
things back to you."

Campbell wrote a few lines, blotted them, and addressed an envelope
to his assistant. Dorian took the note up and read it carefully.
Then he rang the bell, and gave it to his valet, with orders to
return as soon as possible, and to bring the things with him.

When the hall door shut, Campbell started, and, having got up from
the chair, went over to the chimney-piece. He was shivering with a
sort of ague. For nearly twenty minutes, neither of the men spoke.
A fly buzzed noisily about the room, and the ticking of the clock was
like the beat of a hammer.

As the chime struck one, Campbell turned around, and, looking at
Dorian Gray, saw that his eyes were filled with tears. There was
something in the purity and refinement of that sad face that seemed
to enrage him. "You are infamous, absolutely infamous!" he muttered.

"Hush, Alan: you have saved my life," said Dorian.

"Your life? Good heavens! what a life that is! You have gone from
corruption to corruption, and now you have culminated in crime. In
doing what I am going to do, what you force me to do, it is not of
your life that I am thinking."

"Ah, Alan," murmured Dorian, with a sigh, "I wish you had a
thousandth part of the pity for me that I have for you." He turned
away, as he spoke, and stood looking out at the garden. Campbell
made no answer.

After about ten minutes a knock came to the door, and the servant
entered, carrying a mahogany chest of chemicals, with a small
electric battery set on top of it. He placed it on the table, and
went out again, returning with a long coil of steel and platinum wire
and two rather curiously-shaped iron clamps.

"Shall I leave the things here, sir?" he asked Campbell.

"Yes," said Dorian. "And I am afraid, Francis, that I have another
errand for you. What is the name of the man at Richmond who supplies
Selby with orchids?"

"Harden, sir."

"Yes,--Harden. You must go down to Richmond at once, see Harden
personally, and tell him to send twice as many orchids as I ordered,
and to have as few white ones as possible. In fact, I don't want any
white ones. It is a lovely day, Francis, and Richmond is a very
pretty place, otherwise I wouldn't bother you about it."

"No trouble, sir. At what time shall I be back?"

Dorian looked at Campbell. "How long will your experiment take,
Alan?" he said, in a calm, indifferent voice. The presence of a
third person in the room seemed to give him extraordinary courage.

Campbell frowned, and bit his lip. "It will take about five hours,"
he answered.

[93] "It will be time enough, then, if you are back at half-past
seven, Francis. Or stay: just leave my things out for dressing. You
can have the evening to yourself. I am not dining at home, so I
shall not want you."

"Thank you, sir," said the man, leaving the room.

"Now, Alan, there is not a moment to be lost. How heavy this chest
is! I'll take it for you. You bring the other things." He spoke
rapidly, and in an authoritative manner. Campbell felt dominated by
him. They left the room together.

When they reached the top landing, Dorian took out the key and turned
it in the lock. Then he stopped, and a troubled look came into his
eyes. He shuddered. "I don't think I can go in, Alan," he murmured.

"It is nothing to me. I don't require you," said Campbell, coldly.

Dorian half opened the door. As he did so, he saw the face of the
portrait grinning in the sunlight. On the floor in front of it the
torn curtain was lying. He remembered that the night before, for the
first time in his life, he had forgotten to hide it, when he crept
out of the room.

But what was that loathsome red dew that gleamed, wet and glistening,
on one of the hands, as though the canvas had sweated blood? How
horrible it was!--more horrible, it seemed to him for the moment,
than the silent thing that he knew was stretched across the table,
the thing whose grotesque misshapen shadow on the spotted carpet
showed him that it had not stirred, but was still there, as he had
left it.

He opened the door a little wider, and walked quickly in, with half-
closed eyes and averted head, determined that he would not look even
once upon the dead man. Then, stooping down, and taking up the gold-
and-purple hanging, he flung it over the picture.

He stopped, feeling afraid to turn round, and his eyes fixed
themselves on the intricacies of the pattern before him. He heard
Campbell bringing in the heavy chest, and the irons, and the other
things that he had required for his dreadful work. He began to
wonder if he and Basil Hallward had ever met, and, if so, what they
had thought of each other.

"Leave me now," said Campbell.

He turned and hurried out, just conscious that the dead man had been
thrust back into the chair and was sitting up in it, with Campbell
gazing into the glistening yellow face. As he was going downstairs
he heard the key being turned in the lock.

It was long after seven o'clock when Campbell came back into the
library. He was pale, but absolutely calm. "I have done what you
asked me to do," he muttered. "And now, good-by. Let us never see
each other again."

"You have saved me from ruin, Alan. I cannot forget that," said
Dorian, simply.

As soon as Campbell had left, he went up-stairs. There was a
horrible smell of chemicals in the room. But the thing that had been
sitting at the table was gone.

CHAPTER XIII

[94] "There is no good telling me you are going to be good, Dorian,"
cried Lord Henry, dipping his white fingers into a red copper bowl
filled with rose-water. "You are quite perfect. Pray don't change."

Dorian shook his head. "No, Harry, I have done too many dreadful
things in my life. I am not going to do any more. I began my good
actions yesterday."

"Where were you yesterday?"

"In the country, Harry. I was staying at a little inn by myself."

"My dear boy," said Lord Henry smiling, "anybody can be good in the
country. There are no temptations there. That is the reason why
people who live out of town are so uncivilized. There are only two
ways, as you know, of becoming civilized. One is by being cultured,
the other is by being corrupt. Country-people have no opportunity of
being either, so they stagnate."

"Culture and corruption," murmured Dorian. "I have known something
of both. It seems to me curious now that they should ever be found
together. For I have a new ideal, Harry. I am going to alter. I
think I have altered."

"You have not told me yet what your good action was. Or did you say
you had done more than one?"

"I can tell you, Harry. It is not a story I could tell to any one
else. I spared somebody. It sounds vain, but you understand what I
mean. She was quite beautiful, and wonderfully like Sibyl Vane. I
think it was that which first attracted me to her. You remember
Sibyl, don't you? How long ago that seems! Well, Hetty was not one
of our own class, of course. She was simply a girl in a village.
But I really loved her. I am quite sure that I loved her. All
during this wonderful May that we have been having, I used to run
down and see her two or three times a week. Yesterday she met me in
a little orchard. The apple-blossoms kept tumbling down on her hair,
and she was laughing. We were to have gone away together this
morning at dawn. Suddenly I determined to leave her as flower-like
as I had found her."

"I should think the novelty of the emotion must have given you a
thrill of real pleasure, Dorian," interrupted Lord Henry. "But I can
finish your idyl for you. You gave her good advice, and broke her
heart. That was the beginning of your reformation."

"Harry, you are horrible! You mustn't say these dreadful things.
Hetty's heart is not broken. Of course she cried, and all that. But
there is no disgrace upon her. She can live, like Perdita, in her
garden."

"And weep over a faithless Florizel," said Lord Henry, laughing. "My
dear Dorian, you have the most curious boyish moods. Do you think
this girl will ever be really contented now with any one of her own
rank? I suppose she will be married some day to a rough carter or a
grinning ploughman. Well, having met you, and loved you, will teach
her to despise her husband, and she will be wretched. From a moral
point of view I really don't think much of your great renunciation.
[95] Even as a beginning, it is poor. Besides, how do you know that
Hetty isn't floating at the present moment in some mill-pond, with
water-lilies round her, like Ophelia?"

"I can't bear this, Harry! You mock at everything, and then suggest
the most serious tragedies. I am sorry I told you now. I don't care
what you say to me, I know I was right in acting as I did. Poor
Hetty! As I rode past the farm this morning, I saw her white face at
the window, like a spray of jasmine. Don't let me talk about it any
more, and don't try to persuade me that the first good action I have
done for years, the first little bit of self-sacrifice I have ever
known, is really a sort of sin. I want to be better. I am going to
be better. Tell me something about yourself. What is going on in
town? I have not been to the club for days."

"The people are still discussing poor Basil's disappearance."

"I should have thought they had got tired of that by this time," said
Dorian, pouring himself out some wine, and frowning slightly.

"My dear boy, they have only been talking about it for six weeks, and
the public are really not equal to the mental strain of having more
than one topic every three months. They have been very fortunate
lately, however. They have had my own divorce-case, and Alan
Campbell's suicide. Now they have got the mysterious disappearance
of an artist. Scotland Yard still insists that the man in the gray
ulster who left Victoria by the midnight train on the 7th of November
was poor Basil, and the French police declare that Basil never
arrived in Paris at all. I suppose in about a fortnight we will be
told that he has been seen in San Francisco. It is an odd thing, but
every one who disappears is said to be seen at San Francisco. It
must be a delightful city, and possess all the attractions of the
next world."

"What do you think has happened to Basil?" asked Dorian, holding up
his Burgundy against the light, and wondering how it was that he
could discuss the matter so calmly.

"I have not the slightest idea. If Basil chooses to hide himself, it
is no business of mine. If he is dead, I don't want to think about
him. Death is the only thing that ever terrifies me. I hate it.
One can survive everything nowadays except that. Death and vulgarity
are the only two facts in the nineteenth century that one cannot
explain away. Let us have our coffee in the music-room, Dorian. You
must play Chopin to me. The man with whom my wife ran away played
Chopin exquisitely. Poor Victoria! I was very fond of her. The
house is rather lonely without her."

Dorian said nothing, but rose from the table, and, passing into the
next room, sat down to the piano and let his fingers stray across the
keys. After the coffee had been brought in, he stopped, and, looking
over at Lord Henry, said, "Harry, did it ever occur to you that Basil
was murdered?"

Lord Henry yawned. "Basil had no enemies, and always wore a
Waterbury watch. Why should he be murdered? He was not clever
enough to have enemies. Of course he had a wonderful genius for
painting. But a man can paint like Velasquez and yet be as dull as
possible. Basil was really rather dull. He only interested me once,
[96] and that was when he told me, years ago, that he had a wild
adoration for you."

"I was very fond of Basil," said Dorian, with a sad look in his eyes.
"But don't people say that he was murdered?"

"Oh, some of the papers do. It does not seem to be probable. I know
there are dreadful places in Paris, but Basil was not the sort of man
to have gone to them. He had no curiosity. It was his chief defect.
Play me a nocturne, Dorian, and, as you play, tell me, in a low
voice, how you have kept your youth. You must have some secret. I
am only ten years older than you are, and I am wrinkled, and bald,
and yellow. You are really wonderful, Dorian. You have never looked
more charming than you do to-night. You remind me of the day I saw
you first. You were rather cheeky, very shy, and absolutely
extraordinary. You have changed, of course, but not in appearance.
I wish you would tell me your secret. To get back my youth I would
do anything in the world, except take exercise, get up early, or be
respectable. Youth! There is nothing like it. It's absurd to talk
of the ignorance of youth. The only people whose opinions I listen
to now with any respect are people much younger than myself. They
seem in front of me. Life has revealed to them her last wonder. As
for the aged, I always contradict the aged. I do it on principle.
If you ask them their opinion on something that happened yesterday,
they solemnly give you the opinions current in 1820, when people wore
high stocks and knew absolutely nothing. How lovely that thing you
are playing is! I wonder did Chopin write it at Majorca, with the
sea weeping round the villa, and the salt spray dashing against the
panes? It is marvelously romantic. What a blessing it is that there
is one art left to us that is not imitative! Don't stop. I want
music to-night. It seems to me that you are the young Apollo, and
that I am Marsyas listening to you. I have sorrows, Dorian, of my
own, that even you know nothing of. The tragedy of old age is not
that one is old, but that one is young. I am amazed sometimes at my
own sincerity. Ah, Dorian, how happy you are! What an exquisite
life you have had! You have drunk deeply of everything. You have
crushed the grapes against your palate. Nothing has been hidden from
you. But it has all been to you no more than the sound of music. It
has not marred you. You are still the same.

"I wonder what the rest of your life will be. Don't spoil it by
renunciations. At present you are a perfect type. Don't make
yourself incomplete. You are quite flawless now. You need not shake
your head: you know you are. Besides, Dorian, don't deceive
yourself. Life is not governed by will or intention. Life is a
question of nerves, and fibres, and slowly-built-up cells in which
thought hides itself and passion has its dreams. You may fancy
yourself safe, and think yourself strong. But a chance tone of color
in a room or a morning sky, a particular perfume that you had once
loved and that brings strange memories with it, a line from a
forgotten poem that you had come across again, a cadence from a piece
of music that you had ceased to play,--I tell you, Dorian, that it is
on things like these that our lives depend. Browning writes about
that somewhere; but our [97] own senses will imagine them for us.
There are moments when the odor of heliotrope passes suddenly across
me, and I have to live the strangest year of my life over again.

"I wish I could change places with you, Dorian. The world has cried
out against us both, but it has always worshipped you. It always
will worship you. You are the type of what the age is searching for,
and what it is afraid it has found. I am so glad that you have never
done anything, never carved a statue, or painted a picture, or
produced anything outside of yourself! Life has been your art. You
have set yourself to music. Your days have been your sonnets."

Dorian rose up from the piano, and passed his hand through his hair.
"Yes, life has been exquisite," he murmured, "but I am not going to
have the same life, Harry. And you must not say these extravagant
things to me. You don't know everything about me. I think that if
you did, even you would turn from me. You laugh. Don't laugh."

"Why have you stopped playing, Dorian? Go back and play the nocturne
over again. Look at that great honey-colored moon that hangs in the
dusky air. She is waiting for you to charm her, and if you play she
will come closer to the earth. You won't? Let us go to the club,
then. It has been a charming evening, and we must end it charmingly.
There is some one at the club who wants immensely to know you,--young
Lord Poole, Bournmouth's eldest son. He has already copied your
neckties, and has begged me to introduce him to you. He is quite
delightful, and rather reminds me of you."

"I hope not," said Dorian, with a touch of pathos in his voice. "But
I am tired to-night, Harry. I won't go to the club. It is nearly
eleven, and I want to go to bed early."

"Do stay. You have never played so well as to-night. There was
something in your touch that was wonderful. It had more expression
than I had ever heard from it before."

"It is because I am going to be good," he answered, smiling. "I am a
little changed already."

"Don't change, Dorian; at any rate, don't change to me. We must
always be friends."

"Yet you poisoned me with a book once. I should not forgive that.
Harry, promise me that you will never lend that book to any one. It
does harm."

"My dear boy, you are really beginning to moralize. You will soon be
going about warning people against all the sins of which you have
grown tired. You are much too delightful to do that. Besides, it is
no use. You and I are what we are, and will be what we will be.
Come round tomorrow. I am going to ride at eleven, and we might go
together. The Park is quite lovely now. I don't think there have
been such lilacs since the year I met you."

"Very well. I will be here at eleven," said Dorian. "Good-night,
Harry." As he reached the door he hesitated for a moment, as if he
had something more to say. Then he sighed and went out.

It was a lovely night, so warm that he threw his coat over his arm,
and did not even put his silk scarf round his throat. As he strolled
[98] home, smoking his cigarette, two young men in evening dress
passed him. He heard one of them whisper to the other, "That is
Dorian Gray." He remembered how pleased he used to be when he was
pointed out, or stared at, or talked about. He was tired of hearing
his own name now. Half the charm of the little village where he had
been so often lately was that no one knew who he was. He had told
the girl whom he had made love him that he was poor, and she had
believed him. He had told her once that he was wicked, and she had
laughed at him, and told him that wicked people were always very old
and very ugly. What a laugh she had!--just like a thrush singing.
And how pretty she had been in her cotton dresses and her large hats!
She knew nothing, but she had everything that he had lost.

When he reached home, he found his servant waiting up for him. He
sent him to bed, and threw himself down on the sofa in the library,
and began to think over some of the things that Lord Henry had said
to him.

Was it really true that one could never change? He felt a wild
longing for the unstained purity of his boyhood,--his rose-white
boyhood, as Lord Henry had once called it. He knew that he had
tarnished himself, filled his mind with corruption, and given horror
to his fancy; that he had been an evil influence to others, and had
experienced a terrible joy in being so; and that of the lives that
had crossed his own it had been the fairest and the most full of
promise that he had brought to shame. But was it all irretrievable?
Was there no hope for him?

It was better not to think of the past. Nothing could alter that.
It was of himself, and of his own future, that he had to think. Alan
Campbell had shot himself one night in his laboratory, but had not
revealed the secret that he had been forced to know. The excitement,
such as it was, over Basil Hallward's disappearance would soon pass
away. It was already waning. He was perfectly safe there. Nor,
indeed, was it the death of Basil Hallward that weighed most upon his
mind. It was the living death of his own soul that troubled him.
Basil had painted the portrait that had marred his life. He could
not forgive him that. It was the portrait that had done everything.
Basil had said things to him that were unbearable, and that he had
yet borne with patience. The murder had been simply the madness of a
moment. As for Alan Campbell, his suicide had been his own act. He
had chosen to do it. It was nothing to him.

A new life! That was what he wanted. That was what he was waiting
for. Surely he had begun it already. He had spared one innocent
thing, at any rate. He would never again tempt innocence. He would
be good.

As he thought of Hetty Merton, he began to wonder if the portrait in
the locked room had changed. Surely it was not still so horrible as
it had been? Perhaps if his life became pure, he would be able to
expel every sign of evil passion from the face. Perhaps the signs of
evil had already gone away. He would go and look.

He took the lamp from the table and crept up-stairs. As he unlocked
the door, a smile of joy flitted across his young face and [99]
lingered for a moment about his lips. Yes, he would be good, and the
hideous thing that he had hidden away would no longer be a terror to
him. He felt as if the load had been lifted from him already.

He went in quietly, locking the door behind him, as was his custom,
and dragged the purple hanging from the portrait. A cry of pain and
indignation broke from him. He could see no change, unless that in
the eyes there was a look of cunning, and in the mouth the curved
wrinkle of the hypocrite. The thing was still loathsome,--more
loathsome, if possible, than before,--and the scarlet dew that
spotted the hand seemed brighter, and more like blood newly spilt.

Had it been merely vanity that had made him do his one good deed? Or
the desire of a new sensation, as Lord Henry had hinted, with his
mocking laugh? Or that passion to act a part that sometimes makes us
do things finer than we are ourselves? Or, perhaps, all these?

Why was the red stain larger than it had been? It seemed to have
crept like a horrible disease over the wrinkled fingers. There was
blood on the painted feet, as though the thing had dripped,--blood
even on the hand that had not held the knife.

Confess? Did it mean that he was to confess? To give himself up,
and be put to death? He laughed. He felt that the idea was
monstrous. Besides, who would believe him, even if he did confess?
There was no trace of the murdered man anywhere. Everything
belonging to him had been destroyed. He himself had burned what had
been below-stairs. The world would simply say he was mad. They
would shut him up if he persisted in his story.

Yet it was his duty to confess, to suffer public shame, and to make
public atonement. There was a God who called upon men to tell their
sins to earth as well as to heaven. Nothing that he could do would
cleanse him till he had told his own sin. His sin? He shrugged his
shoulders. The death of Basil Hallward seemed very little to him.
He was thinking of Hetty Merton.

It was an unjust mirror, this mirror of his soul that he was looking
at. Vanity? Curiosity? Hypocrisy? Had there been nothing more in
his renunciation than that? There had been something more. At least
he thought so. But who could tell?

And this murder,--was it to dog him all his life? Was he never to
get rid of the past? Was he really to confess? No. There was only
one bit of evidence left against him. The picture itself,--that was
evidence.

He would destroy it. Why had he kept it so long? It had given him
pleasure once to watch it changing and growing old. Of late he had
felt no such pleasure. It had kept him awake at night. When he had
been away, he had been filled with terror lest other eyes should look
upon it. It had brought melancholy across his passions. Its mere
memory had marred many moments of joy. It had been like conscience
to him. Yes, it had been conscience. He would destroy it.

He looked round, and saw the knife that had stabbed Basil Hallward.
He had cleaned it many times, till there was no stain left upon it.
It was bright, and glistened. As it had killed the painter, so it
[100] would kill the painter's work, and all that that meant. It
would kill the past, and when that was dead he would be free. He
seized it, and stabbed the canvas with it, ripping the thing right up
from top to bottom.

There was a cry heard, and a crash. The cry was so horrible in its
agony that the frightened servants woke, and crept out of their
rooms. Two gentlemen, who were passing in the Square below, stopped,
and looked up at the great house. They walked on till they met a
policeman, and brought him back. The man rang the bell several
times, but there was no answer. The house was all dark, except for a
light in one of the top windows. After a time, he went away, and
stood in the portico of the next house and watched.

"Whose house is that, constable?" asked the elder of the two
gentlemen.

"Mr. Dorian Gray's, sir," answered the policeman.

They looked at each other, as they walked away, and sneered. One of
them was Sir Henry Ashton's uncle.

Inside, in the servants' part of the house, the half-clad domestics
were talking in low whispers to each other. Old Mrs. Leaf was
crying, and wringing her hands. Francis was as pale as death.

After about a quarter of an hour, he got the coachman and one of the
footmen and crept up-stairs. They knocked, but there was no reply.
They called out. Everything was still. Finally, after vainly trying
to force the door, they got on the roof, and dropped down on to the
balcony. The windows yielded easily: the bolts were old.

When they entered, they found hanging upon the wall a splendid
portrait of their master as they had last seen him, in all the wonder
of his exquisite youth and beauty. Lying on the floor was a dead
man, in evening dress, with a knife in his heart. He was withered,
wrinkled, and loathsome of visage. It was not till they had examined
the rings that they recognized who it was.

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