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expression looked different. One would have said that there was a
touch of cruelty in the mouth. It was certainly strange.
He turned round, and, walking to the window, drew up the blind.
The bright dawn flooded the room, and swept the fantastic
shadows into dusky corners, where they lay shuddering. But the
strange expression that he had noticed in the face of the portrait
seemed to linger there, to be more intensified even. The quivering,
ardent sunlight showed him the lines of cruelty round the mouth
as clearly as if he been looking into a mirror after he had done
some dreadful thing.
He winced, and taking up from the table an oval glass framed in
ivory Cupids, one of Lord Henry’s many presents to him, glanced
hurriedly into its polished depths. No line like that warped his red
lips. What did it mean? He rubbed his eyes, and came close to the
picture, and examined it again.
There were no signs of any change when he looked into the actual
painting, and yet there was no doubt that the whole expression had
altered. It was not a mere fancy of his own. The thing was horribly
He threw himself into a chair, and began to think. Suddenly there
flashed across his mind what he had said in Basil Hallward’s
studio the day the picture had been finished. Yes, he remembered
it perfectly. He had uttered a mad wish that he himself might
remain young, and the portrait grow old; that his own beauty
might be untarnished, and the face on the canvas bear the burden
of his passions and his sins; that the painted image might be seared
with the lines of suffering and thought, and that he might keep all
the delicate bloom and loveliness of his then just conscious
boyhood. Surely his wish had not been fulfilled? Such things were
impossible. It seemed monstrous even to think of them. And, yet,
there was the picture before him, with the touch of cruelty in the
Cruelty! Had he been cruel? It was the girl’s fault, not his. He had
dreamed of her as a great artist, had given his love to her because
he had thought her great.
Then she had disappointed him. She had been shallow and
unworthy. And, yet, a feeling of infinite regret came over him, as
he thought of her lying at his feet sobbing like a little child. He
remembered with what callousness he had watched her.
Why had he been made like that? Why had such a soul been given
to him? But he had suffered also. During the three terrible hours
that the play had lasted, he had lived centuries of pain, aeon upon
aeon of torture. His life was well worth hers.