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



The studio was filled with the rich odour of roses, and when the
light summer wind stirred amidst the trees of the garden there
came through the open door the heavy scent of the lilac, or the
more delicate perfume of the pink-flowering thorn.

From the corner of the divan of Persian saddle-bags on which he
was lying, smoking, as was his custom, innumerable cigarettes,
Lord Henry Wotton could just catch the gleam of the honey-sweet
and honey-coloured blossoms of a laburnum, whose tremulous
branches seemed hardly able to bear the burden of a beauty so
flamelike as theirs; and now and then the fantastic shadows of
birds in flight flitted across the long tussore-silk curtains that were
stretched in front of the huge window, producing a kind of
momentary Japanese effect, and making him think of those pallid
jade-faced painters of Tokio who, through the medium of an art
that is necessarily immobile, seek to convey the sense of swiftness
and motion. The sullen murmur of the bees shouldering their way
through the long unmown grass, or circling with monotonous
insistence round the dusty gilt horns of the straggling woodbine,
seemed to make the stillness more oppressive. The dim roar of
London was like the burdon note of a distant organ.

In the centre of the room, clamped to an upright easel, stood the
full-length portrait of a young man of extraordinary personal
beauty, and in front of it, some little distance away, was sitting the
artist himself, Basil Hallward, whose sudden disappearance some
years ago caused, at the time, such public excitement, and gave rise
to so many strange conjectures.

As the painter looked at the gracious and comely form he had so
skilfully mirrored in his art, a smile of pleasure passed across his
face, and seemed about to linger there. But he suddenly started up,
and, closing his eyes, placed his fingers upon the lids, as though he
sought to imprison within his brain some curious dream from
which he feared he might awake.

“It is your best work, Basil, the best thing you have ever done,”
said Lord Henry, languidly. “You must certainly send it next year
to the Grosvenor. The Academy is too large and too vulgar.
Whenever I have gone there, there have either been so many
people that I have not been able to see the pictures, which was
dreadful, or so many pictures that I have not been able to see the
people, which was worse. The Grosvenor is really the only place.”
“I don’t think I shall send it anywhere,” he answered, tossing his
head back in that odd way that used to make his friends laugh at
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