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Suddenly he started. His eyes grew strangely bright and he
gnawed nervously at his under-lip. Between two of the windows
stood a large Florentine cabinet, made out of ebony, and inlaid
with ivory and blue lapis. He watched it as though it were a thing
that could fascinate and make afraid, as though it held something
that he longed for and yet almost loathed. His breath quickened. A
mad craving came over him. He lit a cigarette and then threw it
away. His eyelids drooped till the long fringed lashes almost
touched his cheek. But he still watched the cabinet.
At last he got up from the sofa on which he had been lying, went
over to it, and, having unlocked it, touched some hidden spring. A
triangular drawer passed slowly out. His fingers moved
instinctively towards it, dipped in, and closed on something. It was
a small Chinese box of black and gold-dust lacquer, elaborately
wrought, the sides patterned with curved waves, and the silken
cords hung with round crystals and tasselled in plaited metal
threads. He opened it. Inside was a green paste waxy in lustre, the
odour curiously heavy and persistent.
He hesitated for some moments, with a strangely immobile smile
upon his face. Then shivering, though the atmosphere of the room
was terribly hot, he drew himself up, and glanced at the clock. It
was twenty minutes to twelve. He put the box back, shutting the
cabinet doors as he did so, and went into his bedroom.
As midnight was striking bronze blows upon the dusky air, Dorian
Gray, dressed commonly, and with a muffler wrapped round his
throat, crept quietly out of his house. In Bond Street he found a
hansom with a good horse. He hailed it, and in a low voice gave
the driver an address.
The man shook his head. “It is too far for me,” he muttered.
“Here is a sovereign for you,” said Dorian. “You shall have another
if you drive fast.” “All right, sir,” answered the man, “you will be
there in an hour,” and after his fare had got in he turned his horse
round, and drove rapidly towards the river.