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


The way seemed interminable, and the streets like the black web of
some sprawling spider. The monotony became unbearable, and, as
the mist thickened, he felt afraid.

Then they passed by lonely brickfields. The fog was lighter here,
and he could see the strange bottle-shaped kilns with their orange
fan-like tongues of fire. A dog barked as they went by, and far
away in the darkness some wandering seagull screamed. The horse
stumbled in a rut, then swerved aside, and broke into a gallop.
After some time they left the clay road, and rattled again over
rough-paven streets. Most of the windows were dark, but now and
then fantastic shadows were silhouetted against some lamp-lit
blind. He watched them curiously. They moved like monstrous
marionettes, and made gestures like live things. He hated them. A
dull rage was in his heart. As they turned a corner a woman yelled
something at them from an open door, and two men ran after the
hansom for about a hundred yards. The driver beat at them with
his whip.

It is said that passion makes one think in a circle. Certainly with
hideous iteration the bitten lips of Dorian Gray shaped and
reshaped those subtle words that dealt with soul and sense, till he
had found in them the full expression, as it were, of his mood, and
justified, by intellectual approval, passions that without such
justification would still have dominated his temper. From cell to
cell of his brain crept the one thought; and the wild desire to live,
most terrible of all man’s appetites, quickened into force each
trembling nerve and fibre. Ugliness that had once been hateful to
him because it made things real, became dear to him now for that
very reason. Ugliness was the one reality. The coarse brawl, the
loathsome den, the crude vileness of disordered life, the very
vileness of thief and outcast, were more vivid, in their intense
actuality of impression, than all the gracious shapes of Art, the
dreamy shadows of Song. They were what he needed for
forgetfulness. In three days he would be free.

Suddenly the man drew up with a jerk at the top of a dark lane.
Over the low roofs and jagged chimney-stacks of the houses rose
the black masts of ships.

Wreaths of white mist clung like ghostly sails to the yards.
“Somewhere about here, sir, ain’t it?” he asked huskily through the

Dorian started, and peered round. “This will do,” he answered,
and, having got out hastily, and given the driver the extra fare he
had promised him, he walked quickly in the direction of the quay.
Here and there a lantern gleamed at the stern of some huge
merchantman. The light shook and splintered in the puddles. A
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