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



“Mother, mother, I am so happy!” whispered the girl, burying her
face in the lap of the faded, tired-looking woman who, with back
turned to the shrill intrusive light, was sitting in the one arm-chair
that their dingy sitting-room contained.

“I am so happy!” she repeated, “and you must be happy too!” Mrs.
Vane winced, and put her thin bismuth-whitened hands on her
daughter’s head. “Happy!” she echoed, “I am only happy, Sibyl,
when I see you act. You must not think of anything but your acting.
Mr. Isaacs has been very good to us, and we owe him money.” The
girl looked up and pouted. “Money, mother?” she cried. “What
does money matter? Love is more than money.” “Mr. Isaacs has
advanced us fifty pounds to pay off our debts, and to get a proper
outfit for James. You must not forget that, Sibyl. Fifty pounds is a
very large sum. Mr. Isaacs has been most considerate.” “He is not a
gentleman, mother, and I hate the way he talks to me,” said the
girl, rising to her feet, and going over to the window.

“I don’t know how we could manage without him,” answered the
elder woman, querulously.

Sibyl Vane tossed her head and laughed. “We don’t want him any
more, mother. Prince Charming rules life for us now.” Then she
paused. A rose shook in her blood, and shadowed her cheeks.
Quick breaths parted the petals of her lips.

They trembled. Some southern wind of passion swept over her,
and stirred the dainty folds of her dress. “I love him,” she said,

“Foolish child! foolish child!” was the parrot-phrase flung in
answer. The waving of crooked, false-jewelled fingers gave
grotesqueness to the words.

The girl laughed again. The joy of a caged bird was in her voice.
Her eyes caught the melody and echoed it in radiance: then closed
for a moment, as though to hide their secret. When they opened,
the mist of a dream had passed across them.

Thin-lipped wisdom spoke at her from the worn chair, hinted at
prudence, quoted from that book of cowardice whose author apes
the name of common sense. She did not listen. She was free in her
prison of passion. Her prince, Prince Charming, was with her. She
had called on Memory to remake him. She had sent her soul to
search for him, and it had brought him back. His kiss burned again
upon her mouth. Her eyelids were warm with his breath.

Then Wisdom altered its method and spoke of espial and
discovery. This young man might be rich. If so, marriage should be
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