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<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library-The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde


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 in a moment from fire to sluggish
ice. 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 mantelshelf, watching him
with that strange expression that one sees on the faces of those who
are absorbed in a play when some 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 his 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, crushing the
flower in his hand, “you met 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, even now, I don’t know 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. 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 ideal in it?” said Dorian, bitterly.

“My ideal, as you call it....” “As you called it.” “There was nothing
evil in it, nothing shameful. You were to me such an ideal as I shall
never meet again. This is the face of a satyr.” “Is it the face of my
soul.” “Christ! what a thing I must have worshipped! It has the
eyes of a devil.” “Each of us has Heaven and Hell in him, Basil,”
cried Dorian, with a wild gesture of despair.
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