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young is never to have an emotion that is unbecoming. Come to the
club with Basil and myself. We will smoke cigarettes and drink to
the beauty of Sibyl Vane. She is beautiful. What more can you
want?” “Go away, Harry,” cried the lad. “I want to be alone. Basil,
you must go. Ah! can’t you see that my heart is breaking?” The hot
tears came to his eyes. His lips trembled, and rushing to the back of
the box, he leaned up against the wall, hiding his face in his hands.
“Let us go, Basil,” said Lord Henry, with a strange tenderness in
his voice; and the two young men passed out together.

A few moments afterwards the footlights flared up, and the curtain
rose on the third act. Dorian Gray went back to his seat. He looked
pale, and proud, and indifferent. The play ragged on, and seemed
interminable. Half of the audience went out, tramping in heavy
boots, and laughing. The whole thing was a fiasco. The last act was
played to almost empty benches. The curtain went down on a
titter, and some groans.

As soon as it was over, Dorian Gray rushed behind the scenes into
the greenroom. The girl was standing there alone, with a look of
triumph on her face. Her eyes lit with an exquisite fire. There was a
radiance about her. Her parted lips were smiling over some secret
of their own.

When he entered, she looked at him and an expression of infinite
joy came over her. “How badly I acted to-night, Dorian!” she cried.
“Horribly!” he answered, gazing at her in amazement, “horribly! It
was dreadful. Are you ill? You have no idea what it was. You have
no idea what I suffered.” The girl smiled. “Dorian,” she answered,
lingering over his name with longdrawn music in her voice, as
though it were sweeter than honey to the red petals of her mouth-
“Dorian, you should have understood. But you understand now,
don’t you?” “Understand what?” he asked angrily.

“Why I was so bad to-night. Why I shall always be bad. Why I
shall never act well again.” He shrugged his shoulders. “You are
ill, I suppose. When you are ill you shouldn’t act. You make
yourself ridiculous. My friends were bored. I was bored.” She
seemed not to listen to him. She was transfigured with joy. An
ecstasy of happiness dominated her.

“Dorian, Dorian,” she cried, “before I knew you, acting was the
one reality of my life. It was only in the theatre that I lived. I
thought that it was all true. I was Rosalind one night, and Portia
the other. The joy of Beatrice was my joy, and the sorrows of
Cordelia were mine also. I believed in everything. The common
people who acted with me seemed to me to be godlike. The
painted scenes were my world. I knew nothing but shadows, and I
thought them real. You came-oh, my beautiful love!- and you
<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library-The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

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