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times whether one was reading the spiritual ecstasies of some
mediaeval saint or the morbid confessions of a modern sinner. It
was a poisonous book. The heavy odor of incense seemed to cling
about its pages and to trouble the brain. The mere cadence of the
sentences, the subtle monotony of their music, so full as it was of
complex refrains and movements elaborately repeated, produced
in the mind of the lad, as he passed from chapter to chapter, a form
of reverie, a malady of dreaming, that made him unconscious of
the falling day and creeping shadows.
Cloudless, and pierced by one solitary star, a copper-green sky
gleamed through the windows. He read on by its wan light till he
could read no more.
Then, after his valet had reminded him several times of the lateness
of the hour, he got up, and, going into the next room, placed the
book on the little Florentine table that always stood at his bedside,
and began to dress for dinner.
It was almost nine o’clock before he reached the club, where he
found Lord Henry sitting alone, in the morning-room, looking very
“I am so sorry, Harry,” he cried, “but really it is entirely your fault.
That book you sent me so fascinated me that I forgot how the time
was going.” “Yes: I thought you would like it,” replied his host,
rising from his chair.
“I didn’t say I liked it, Harry. I said it fascinated me. There is a
great difference.” “Ah, you have discovered that?” murmured
Lord Henry. And they passed into the dining-room.