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“Curse you,” he answered, “don’t call me that.” She snapped her
fingers. “Prince Charming is what you like to be called, ain’t it?”
she yelled after him.
The drowsy sailor leapt to his feet as she spoke, and looked wildly
round. The sound of the shutting of the hall door fell on his ear. He
rushed out as if in pursuit.
Dorian Gray hurried along the quay through the drizzling rain. His
meeting with Adrian Singleton had strangely moved him, and he
wondered if the ruin of that young life was really to be laid at his
door, as Basil Hallward had said to him with such infamy of insult.
He bit his lip, and for a few seconds his eyes grew sad. Yet, after
all, what did it matter to him? One’s days were too brief to take the
burden of another’s errors on one’s shoulders. Each man lived his
own life, and paid his own price for living it. The only pity was
one had to pay so often for a single fault. One had to pay over and
over again, indeed. In her dealings with man Destiny never closed
There are moments, psychologists tell us, when the passion for sin,
or for what the world calls sin, so dominates a nature, that every
fibre of the body, as every cell of the brain, seems to be instinct
with fearful impulses. Men and women at such moments lose the
freedom of their will. They move to their terrible end as
automatons move. Choice is taken from them, and conscience is
either killed, or, if it lives at all, lives but to give rebellion its
fascination, and disobedience its charm. For all sins, as theologians
weary not of reminding us, are sins of disobedience. When that
high spirit, that morning-star of evil, fell from heaven, it was as a
rebel that he fell.
Callous, concentrated on evil, with stained mind, and soul hungry
for rebellion, Dorian Gray hastened on, quickening his steps as he
went, but as he darted aside into a dim archway, that had served
him often as a short cut to the ill-famed place where he was going,
he felt himself suddenly seized from behind, and before he had
time to defend himself he was thrust back against the wall, with a
brutal hand round his throat.
He struggled madly for life, and by a terrible effort wrenched the
tightening fingers away. In a second he heard the click of a
revolver, and saw the gleam of a polished barrel pointing straight
at his head, and the dusky form of a short thickset man facing him.
“What do you want?” he gasped.
“Keep quiet,” said the man. “If you stir, I shoot you.” “You are
mad. What have I done to you?” “You wrecked the life of Sibyl
Vane,” was the answer, “and Sibyl Vane was my sister. She killed
herself. I know it. Her death is at your door. I swore I would kill