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


was conscious of the events of life as they occurred. The vicious
cruelty that marred the fine lines of the mouth had, no doubt,
appeared at the very moment that the girl had drunk the poison,
whatever it was. Or was it indifferent to results? Did it merely take
cognizance of what passed within the soul? He wondered, and
hoped that some day he would see the change taking place before
his very eyes, shuddering as he hoped it.

Poor Sibyl! what a romance it had all been! She had often
mimicked death on the stage. Then Death himself had touched her,
and taken her with him. How had she played that dreadful last
scene, Had she cursed him, as she died? No; she had died for love
of him, and love would always be a sacrament to him now. She
had atoned for everything, by the sacrifice she had made of her
life. He would not think any more of what she had made him go
through, on that horrible night at the theatre. When he thought of
her, it would be as a wonderful tragic figure sent on to the world’s
stage to show the supreme reality of Love. A wonderful tragic
figure? Tears came to his eyes as he remembered her childlike look
and winsome fanciful ways and shy tremulous grace. He brushed
them away hastily, and looked again at the picture.

He felt that the time had really come for making his choice. Or had
his choice already been made? Yes, life had decided that for him-
life, and his own infinite curiosity about life. Eternal youth, infinite
passion, pleasure subtle and secret, wild joys and wilder sins-he
was to have all these things. The portrait was to bear the burden of
his shame: that was all.

A feeling of pain crept over him as he thought of the desecration
that was in store for the fair face on the canvas. Once, in boyish
mockery of Narcissus, he had kissed, or feigned to kiss, those
painted lips that now smiled so cruelly at him. Morning after
morning he had sat before the portrait wondering at its beauty,
almost enamoured of it, as it seemed to him at times. Was it to alter
now with every mood to which he yielded? Was it to become a
monstrous and loathsome thing, to be hidden away in a locked
room, to be shut out from the sunlight that had so often touched to
brighter gold the waving wonder of its hair? The pity of it! the pity
of it!

For a moment he thought of praying that the horrible sympathy
that existed between him and the picture might cease. It had
changed in answer to a prayer; perhaps in answer to a prayer it
might remain unchanged. And, yet, who, that knew anything
about Life, would surrender the chance of remaining always
young, however fantastic that chance might be, or with what
fateful consequences it might be fraught? Besides, was it really
<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library-The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde

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