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<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library-The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde


thought of. Against the shell of her ear broke the waves of worldly
cunning. The arrows of craft shot by her.

She saw the thin lips moving, and smiled.
Suddenly she felt the need to speak. The wordy silence troubled
her. “Mother, mother,” she cried, “why does he love me so much? I
know why I love him. I love him because he is like what Love
himself should be. But what does he see in me? I am not worthy of
him. And yet-why, I cannot tell-though I feel so much beneath
him, I don’t feel humble. I feel proud, terribly proud. Mother, did
you love my father as I love Prince Charming?” The elder woman
grew pale beneath the coarse powder that daubed her cheeks, and
her dry lips twitched with a spasm of pain. Sibyl rushed to her,
flung her arms round her neck, and kissed her. “Forgive me,
mother. I know it pains you to talk about our father. But it only
pains you because you loved him so much. Don’t look so sad. I am
as happy to-day as you were twenty years ago. Ah! let me be
happy forever!” “My child, you are far too young to think of falling
in love. Besides, what do you know of this young man. You don’t
even know his name. The whole thing is most inconvenient, and
really, when James is going away to Australia, and I have so much
to think of, I must say that you should have shown more

However, as I said before, if he is rich...” “Ah! mother, mother, let
me be happy!” Mrs. Vane glanced at her, and with one of those
false theatrical gestures that so often become a mode of second
nature to a stage-player, clasped her in her arms. At this moment
the door opened, and a young lad with rough brown hair came
into the room. He was thick-set of figure, and his hands and feet
were large, and somewhat clumsy in movement. He was not so
finely bred as his sister. One would hardly have guessed the close
relationship that existed between them. Mrs. Vane fixed her eyes
on him, and intensified her smile. She mentally elevated her son to
the dignity of an audience. She felt sure that the tableau was

“You might keep some of your kisses for me, Sibyl, I think,” said
the lad, with a good-natured grumble.

“Ah! but you don’t like being kissed, Jim,” she cried. “You are a
dreadful old bear.” And she ran across the room and hugged him.
James Vane looked into his sister’s face with tenderness. “I want
you to come out with me for a walk, Sibyl. I don’t suppose I shall
ever see this horrid London again. I am sure I don’t want to.” “My
son, don’t say such dreadful things,” murmured Mrs. Vane, taking
up a tawdry theatrical dress, with a sigh, and beginning to patch it.
She felt a little disappointed that he had not joined the group. It
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