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was dimly conscious that entirely fresh influences were at work
within him. Yet they seemed to him to have come really from
himself. The few words that Basil’s friend had said to him-words
spoken by chance, no doubt, and with wilful paradox in them-had
touched some secret chord that had never been touched before, but
that he felt was now vibrating and throbbing to curious pulses.
Music had stirred him like that. Music had troubled him many
times. But music was not articulate. It was not a new world, but
rather another chaos, that it created in us. Words! Mere words!
How terrible they were! How clear, and vivid, and cruel. One
could not escape from them. And yet what a subtle magic there
was in them. They seemed to be able to give a plastic form to
formless things, and to have a music of their own as sweet as that
of viol or of lute. Mere words! Was there anything so real as
words? Yes, there had been things in his boyhood that he had not
understood. He understood them now. Life suddenly had become
fiery-coloured to him. It seemed to him that he had been walking
in fire. Why had he not known it? With his subtle smile, Lord
Henry watched him. He knew the precise psychological moment
when to say nothing. He felt intensely interested. He was amazed
at the sudden impression that his words had produced, and,
remembering a book that he had read when he was sixteen, a book
which had revealed to him much that he had not known before, he
wondered whether Dorian Gray was passing through a similar
experience. He had merely shot an arrow into the air. Had it hit the
mark? How fascinating the lad was!
Hallward painted away with that marvellous bold touch of his,
that had the true refinement and perfect delicacy that in art, at any
rate, comes only from strength. He was unconscious of the silence.
“Basil, I am tired of standing,” cried Dorian Gray, suddenly. “I
must go out and sit in the garden. The air is stifling here.” “My
dear fellow, I am so sorry. When I am painting, I can’t think of
anything else. But you never sat better. You were perfectly still.
And I have caught the effect I wanted-the half-parted lips and the
bright look in the eyes. I don’t know what Harry has been saying
to you, but he has certainly made you have the most wonderful
expression. I suppose he has been paying you compliments. You
mustn’t believe a word that he says.” “He has certainly not been
paying me compliments. Perhaps that is the reason that I don’t
believe anything he has told me.” “You know you believe it all,”
said Lord Henry, looking at him with his dreamy, languorous eyes.
“I will go out to the garden with you. It is horribly hot in the
studio. Basil, let us have something iced to drink, something with
strawberries in it.” “Certainly, Harry. Just touch the bell, and when