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



When his servant entered, he looked at him steadfastly, and
wondered if he had thought of peering behind the screen. The man
was quite impassive, and waited for his orders. Dorian lit a
cigarette, and walked over to the glass and glanced into it. He
could see the reflection of Victor’s face perfectly. It was like a
placid mask of servility. There was nothing to be afraid of, there.
Yet he thought it best to be on his guard.

Speaking very slowly, he told him to tell the housekeeper that he
wanted to see her, and then to go to the frame-maker and ask him
to send two of his men round at once. It seemed to him that as the
man left the room his eyes wandered in the direction of the screen.
Or was that merely his own fancy? After a few moments, in her
black silk dress with old-fashioned thread mittens on her wrinkled
hands, Mrs. Leaf bustled into the library. He asked for the key of
the schoolroom.

“The old schoolroom, Mr. Dorian,” she exclaimed. “Why, it is full
of dust. I must get it arranged, and put it straight before you go
into it. It is not fit for you to see, sir. It is not, indeed.” “I don’t
want it put straight, Leaf. I only want the key.” “Well, sir, you’ll be
covered with cobwebs if you go into it. Why, it hasn’t been opened
for nearly five years, not since his lordship died.”

He winced at the mention of his grandfather. He had hateful
memories of him.

“That does not matter,” he answered. “I simply want to see the
place-that is all.

Give me the key.” “And here is the key, sir,” said the old lady,
going over the contents of her bunch with tremulously uncertain
hands. “Here is the key. I’ll have it off the bunch in a moment. But
you don’t think of living up there, sir, and you so comfortable
here?” “No, no,” he cried, petulantly. “Thank you, Leaf. That will
do.” She lingered for a few moments, and was garrulous over some
detail of the household. He sighed, and told her to manage things
as she thought best. She left the room, wreathed in smiles.

As the door closed, Dorian put the key in his pocket, and looked
round the room. His eye fell on a large purple satin coverlet
heavily embroidered with gold, a splendid piece of late
seventeenth-century Venetian work that his grandfather had found
it a convent near Bologna. Yes, that would serve to wrap the
dreadful thing in. It had perhaps served often as a pall for the
dead. Now it was to hide something that had a corruption of its
own, worse than the corruption of death itself-something that
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