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you in return. For years I have sought you. I had no clue, no trace.
The two people who could have described you were dead. I knew
nothing of you but the pet name she used to call you. I heard it to-
night by chance. Make your peace with God, for to-night you are
going to die.” Dorian Gray grew sick with fear. “I never knew
her,” he stammered. “I never heard of her. You are mad.” “You
had better confess your sin, for as sure as I am James Vane, you are
going to die.” There was a horrible moment. Dorian did not know
what to say or do.
“Down on your knees!” growled the man. “I give you one minute
to make your peace-no more. I go on board to-night for India, and
I must do my job first. One minute. That’s all.” Dorian’s arms fell
to his side. Paralyzed with terror, he did not know what to do.
Suddenly a wild hope flashed across his brain. “Stop,” he cried.
“How long ago is it since your sister died? Quick, tell me!”
“Eighteen years,” said the man. “Why do you ask me? What do
years matter?” “Eighteen years,” laughed Dorian Gray, with a
touch of triumph in his voice.
“Eighteen years! Set me under the lamp and look at my face.”
James Vane hesitated for a moment, not understanding what was
meant. Then he seized Dorian Gray and dragged him from the
Dim and wavering as was the wind-blown light, yet it served to
show him the hideous error, as it seemed, into which he had
fallen, for the face of the man he had sought to kill had all the
bloom of boyhood, all the unstained purity of youth.
He seemed little more than a lad of twenty summers, hardly older,
if older indeed at all, than his sister had been when they had
parted so many years ago. It was obvious that this was not the man
who had destroyed her life.
He loosened his hold and reeled back. “My God! my God!” he
cried, “and I would have murdered you!” Dorian Gray drew a
long breath. “You have been on the brink of committing a terrible
crime, my man,” he said, looking at him sternly. “Let this be a
warning to you not to take vengeance into your own hands.”
“Forgive me, sir,” muttered James Vane. “I was deceived. A chance
word I heard in that damned den set me on the wrong track.” “You
had better go home, and put that pistol away, or you may get into
trouble,” said Dorian, turning on his heel, and going slowly down
James Vane stood on the pavement in horror. He was trembling
from head to foot. After a little while a black shadow that had been
creeping along the dripping wall, moved out into the light and
came close to him with stealthy footsteps. He felt a hand laid on his