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You must tell me what people you would like to meet, though. I
want it to be a delightful gathering.” “I like men who have a
future, and women who have a past,” he answered.
“Or do you think that would make it a petticoat party?” “I fear so,”
she said, laughing, as she stood up. “A thousand pardons, my dear
Lady Ruxton,” she added, “I didn’t see you hadn’t finished your
cigarette.” “Never mind, Lady Narborough. I smoke a great deal
too much. I am going to limit myself, for the future.” “Pray don’t,
Lady Ruxton,” said Lord Henry. “Moderation is a fatal thing.
Enough is as bad as a meal. More than enough is as good as a
feast.” Lady Ruxton glanced at him curiously. “You must come and
explain that to me some afternoon, Lord Henry. It sounds a
fascinating theory,” she murmured, as she swept out of the room.
“Now, mind you don’t stay too long over your politics and
scandal,” cried Lady Narborough from the door. “If you do, we are
sure to squabble upstairs.” The men laughed, and Mr. Chapman
got up solemnly from the foot of the table and came up to the top.
Dorian Gray changed his seat, and went and sat by Lord Henry.
Mr. Chapman began to talk in a loud voice about the situation in
the House of Commons. He guffawed at his adversaries. The word
doctrinaire-word full of terror to the British mind-reappeared
from time to time between his explosions. An alliterative prefix
served as an ornament of oratory. He hoisted the Union Jack on the
pinnacles of Thought. The inherited stupidity of the race-sound
English common sense he jovially termed it-was shown to be the
proper bulwark for Society.
A smile curved Lord Henry’s lips, and he turned round and looked
“Are you better, my dear fellow?” he asked. “You seemed rather
out of sorts at dinner.” “I am quite well, Harry. I am tired. That is
all.” “You were charming last night. The little Duchess is quite
devoted to you.
She tells me she is going down to Selby.” “She has promised to
come on the twentieth.” “Is Monmouth to be there too?” “Oh, yes,
Harry.” “He bores me dreadfully, almost as much as he bores her.
She is very clever, too clever for a woman. She lacks the indefinable
charm of weakness. It is the feet of clay that makes the gold of the
image precious. Her feet are very pretty, but they are not feet of
clay. White porcelain feet, if you like. They have been through the
fire, and what fire does not destroy, it hardens. She has had
experiences.” “How long has she been married?” asked Dorian.
“An eternity, she tells me. I believe, according to the peerage, it is
ten years, but ten years with Monmouth must have been like
eternity, with time thrown in.