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“You are flirting disgracefully with him,” said Lord Henry to his
cousin. “You had better take care. He is very fascinating.” “If he
were not, there would be no battle.”
“Greek meets Greek then?” “I am on the side of the Trojans. They
fought for a woman.” “They were defeated.” “There are worse
things than capture,” she answered.
“You gallop with a loose rein.” “Pace gives life,” was the riposte. “I
shall write it in my diary to-night.” “What?” “That a burnt child
loves the fire.” “I am not even singed. My wings are untouched.”
“You use them for everything, except flight.” “Courage has passed
from men to women. It is a new experience for us.” “You have a
rival.” “Who?” He laughed. “Lady Narborough,” he whispered.
“She perfectly adores him.” “You fill me with apprehension. The
appeal to Antiquity is fatal to us who are romanticists.”
“Romanticists! You have all the methods of science.” “Men have
“But not explained you.” “Describe us as a sex,” was her challenge.
“Sphinxes without secrets.” She looked at him, smiling. “How long
Mr. Gray is!” she said. “Let us go and help him. I have not yet told
him the colour of my frock.” “Ah! you must suit your frock to his
flowers, Gladys.” “That would be a premature surrender.”
“Romantic Art begins with its climax.” “I must keep an
opportunity for retreat.” “In the Parthian manner?” “They found
safety in the desert. I could not do that.” “Women are not always
allowed a choice,” he answered, but hardly had he finished the
sentence before from the far end of the conservatory came a stifled
groan, followed by the dull sound of a heavy fall. Everybody
started up. The Duchess stood motionless in horror. And with fear
in his eyes Lord Henry rushed through the flapping palms, to find
Dorian Gray lying face downwards on the tiled floor in a death-
He was carried at once into the blue drawing-room, and laid upon
one of the sofas. After a short time he came to himself, and looked
round with a dazed expression.
“What has happened?” he asked. “Oh! I remember. Am I safe here,
Harry,?” He began to tremble.
“My dear Dorian,” answered Lord Henry, “you merely fainted.
That was all.
You must have overtired yourself. You had better not come down
to dinner. I will take your place.” “No, I will come down,” he said,
struggling to his feet. “I would rather come down. I must not be
alone.” He went to his room and dressed. There was a wild
recklessness of gaiety in his manner as he sat at table, but now and
then a thrill of terror ran through him when he remembered that,