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Shakespeare’s plays and left them lovelier for its presence, a reed
through which Shakespeare’s music sounded richer and more full
of joy. The moment she touched actual life, she marred it, and it
marred her, and so she passed away.
Mourn for Ophelia, if you like. Put ashes on your head because
Cordelia was strangled. Cry out against Heaven because the
daughter of Brabantio died. But don’t waste your tears over Sibyl
Vane. She was less real than they are.” There was silence. The
evening darkened in the room. Noiselessly, and with silver feet,
the shadows crept in from the garden. The colours faded wearily
out of things.
After some time Dorian Gray looked up. “You have explained me
to myself, Harry,” he murmured, with something of a sigh of relief.
“I felt all that you have said, but somehow I was afraid of it, and I
could not express it to myself. How well you know me! But we will
not talk again of what has happened. It has been a marvellous
experience. That is all. I wonder if life has still in store for me
anything as marvellous.” “Life has everything in store for you,
Dorian. There is nothing that you, with your extraordinary good
looks, will not be able to do.” “But suppose, Harry, I became
haggard, and old, and wrinkled? What then?”
“Ah, then,” said Lord Henry, rising to go, “then, my dear Dorian,
you would have to fight for your victories. As it is, they are
brought to you. No, you must keep your good looks. We live in an
age that reads too much to be wise, and that thinks too much to be
beautiful. We cannot spare you. And now you had better dress,
and drive down to the club. We are rather late, as it is.” “I think I
shall join you at the Opera, Harry. I feel too tired to eat anything.
What is the number of your sister’s box?” “Twenty-seven, I believe.
It is on the grand tier. You will see her name on the door. But I am
sorry you won’t come and dine.” “I don’t feel up to it,” said
Dorian, listlessly. “But I am awfully obliged to you for all that you
have said to me. You are certainly my best friend. No one has ever
understood me as you have.” “We are only at the beginning of our
friendship, Dorian,” answered Lord Henry, shaking him by the
hand. “Good-bye. I shall see you before nine-thirty, I hope.
Remember, Patti is singing.” As he closed the door behind him,
Dorian Gray touched the bell, and in a few minutes Victor
appeared with the lamps and drew the blinds down. He waited
impatiently for him to go. The man seemed to take an interminable
time over everything.
As soon as he had left, he rushed to the screen, and drew it back.
No; there was no further change in the picture. It had received the
news of Sibyl Vane’s death before he had known of it himself. It