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maker, who was still gasping for breath. “Where shall we put it,
“Oh, anywhere. Here: this will do. I don’t want to have it hung up.
Just lean it against the wall. Thanks.” “Might one look at the work
of art, sir?” Dorian started. “It would not interest you, Mr.
Hubbard,” he said, keeping his eye on the man. He felt ready to
leap upon him and fling him to the ground if he dared to lift the
gorgeous hanging that concealed the secret of his life. “I shan’t
trouble you any more now. I am much obliged for your kindness in
coming round.” “Not at all, not at all, Mr. Gray. Ever ready to do
anything for you, sir.” And Mr. Hubbard tramped downstairs,
followed by the assistant, who glanced back at Dorian with a look
of shy wonder in his rough, uncomely face. He had never seen any
one so marvellous.
When the sound of their footsteps had died away, Dorian locked
the door, and put the key in his pocket. He felt safe now. No one
would ever look upon the horrible thing. No eye but his would
ever see his shame.
On reaching the library he found that it was just after five o’clock,
and that the tea had been already brought up. On a little table of
dark perfumed wood thickly encrusted with nacre, a present from
Lady Radley, his guardian’s wife, a pretty professional invalid,
who had spent the preceding winter in Cairo, was lying a note
from Lord Henry, and beside it was a book bound in yellow paper,
the cover slightly torn and the edges soiled. A copy of the third
edition of The St. James Gazette had been placed on the tea-tray. It
was evident that Victor had returned. He wondered if he had met
the men in the hall as they were leaving the house, and had
wormed out of them what they had been doing. He would be sure
to miss the picture-had no doubt missed it already, while he had
been laying the tea-things. The screen had not been set back, and a
blank space was visible on the wall. Perhaps some night he might
find him creeping upstairs and trying to force the door of the room.
It was a horrible thing to have a spy in one’s house. He had heard
of rich men who had been blackmailed all their lives by some
servant who had read a letter, or overheard a conversation, or
picked up a card with an address, or found beneath a pillow a
withered flower or a shred of crumpled lace.
He sighed, and, having poured himself out some tea, opened Lord
Henry’s note. It was simply to say, that he sent him round the
evening paper, and book that might interest him, and that he
would be at the club at eight-fifteen. He opened The St. James
languidly, and looked through it. A red pencil-mark on the fifth
page caught his eye. It drew attention to the following paragraph: