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“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,”
“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 his
portrait leering in the sunlight. On the floor in front of it the torn
curtain was lying. He remembered that the night before he had
forgotten, for the first time in his life, to hide the fatal canvas, and
was about to rush forward, when he drew back with a shudder.
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 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 heaved a deep breath, opened the door a little wider, and with
half-closed eyes and averted head walked quickly in, 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 right over the picture.
There he stopped, feeling afraid to turn round, and his eyes fixed
themselves on the intricacies of the pattern before him. He heard