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



It was a lovely night, so warm that he threw his coat over his arm,
and did not even put his silk scarf round his throat. As he strolled
home, smoking his cigarette, two young men in evening dress
passed him. He heard one of them whisper to the other, “That is
Dorian Gray.” He remembered how pleased he used to be when he
was pointed out, or stared at, or talked about. He was tired of
hearing his own name now. Half the charm of the little village
where he had been so often lately was that no one knew who he
was. He had often told the girl whom he had lured to love him that
he was poor, and she had believed him. He had told her once that
he was wicked, and she had laughed at him, and answered that
wicked people were always very old and very ugly. What a laugh
she had!- just like a thrush singing. And how pretty she had been
in her cotton dresses and her large hats! She knew nothing, but she
had everything that he had lost.

When he reached home, he found his servant waiting up for him.
He sent him to bed, and threw himself down on the sofa in the
library, and began to think over some of the things that Lord
Henry had said to him.

Was it really true that one could never change? He felt a wild
longing for the unstained purity of his boyhood-his rose-white
boyhood, as Lord Henry had once called it. He knew that he had
tarnished himself, filled his mind with corruption and given horror
to his fancy; that he had been an evil influence to others and had
experienced a terrible joy in being so; and that of the lives that had
crossed his own it had been the fairest and the most full of promise
that he had brought to shame. But was it all irretrievable? Was
there no hope for him? Ah! in what a monstrous moment of pride
and passion he had prayed that the portrait should bear the burden
of his days, and he keep the unsullied splendour of eternal youth!
All his failure had been due to that. Better for him that each sin of
his life had brought its sure, swift penalty along with it. There was
purification in punishment. Not “Forgive us our sins” but “Smite
us for our iniquities” should be the prayer of man to a most just

The curiously-carved mirror that Lord Henry had given to him, so
many years ago now, was standing on the table, and the white-
limbed Cupids laughed round it as of old. He took it up, as he had
done on that night of horror, when he had first noted the change in
the fatal picture, and with wild tear-dimmed eyes looked into its
polished shield. Once, some one who had terribly loved him, had
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