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“There is no use your telling me that you are going to be good,”
cried Lord Henry, dipping his white fingers into a red copper bowl
filled with rose-water.
“You are quite perfect. Pray, don’t change.” Dorian Gray shook his
head. “No, Harry, I have done too many dreadful things in my life.
I am not going to do any more. I began my good actions
yesterday.” “Where were you yesterday?” “In the country, Harry. I
was staying at a little inn by myself.” “My dear boy,” said Lord
Henry, smiling, “anybody can be good in the country. There are no
temptations there. That is the reason why people who live out of
town are so absolutely uncivilized. Civilization is not by any
means an easy thing to attain to. There are only two ways by which
man can reach it. One is by being cultured, the other by being
corrupt. Country people have no opportunity of being either, so
they stagnate.” “Culture and corruption,” echoed Dorian. “I have
known something of both.
It seems terrible to me now that they should ever be found
together. For I have a new ideal, Harry. I am going to alter. I think
I have altered.”
“You have not yet told me what your good action was. Or did you
say you had done more than one?” asked his companion, as he
spilt into his plate a little crimson pyramid of seeded strawberries,
and through a perforated shell-shaped spoon snowed white sugar
“I can tell you, Harry. It is not a story I could tell to any one else. I
spared somebody. It sounds vain, but you understand what I
mean. She was quite beautiful, and wonderfully like Sibyl Vane. I
think it was that which first attracted me to her. You remember
Sibyl, don’t you? How long ago that seems! Well, Hetty was not
one of our own class, of course. She was simply a girl in a village.
But I really loved her. I am quite sure that I loved her. All during
this wonderful May that we have been having, I used to run down
and see her two or three times a week. Yesterday she met me in a
little orchard. The apple-blossoms kept tumbling down on her hair,
and she was laughing. We were to have gone away together this
morning at dawn. Suddenly I determined to leave her as flower-
like as I had found her.” “I should think the novelty of the emotion
must have given you a thrill of real pleasure, Dorian,” interrupted
Lord Henry. “But I can finish your idyll for you.
You gave her good advice, and broke her heart. That was the
beginning of your reformation.” “Harry, you are horrible! You