The Picture of Dorian Gray eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 205 pages of information about The Picture of Dorian Gray.

“Oh, I hope not!” murmured Lord Henry, who was scanning the occupants of the gallery through his opera-glass.

“Don’t pay any attention to him, Dorian,” said Hallward.  “I understand what you mean, and I believe in this girl.  Any one you love must be marvellous, and any girl that has the effect you describe must be fine and noble.  To spiritualize one’s age,—­that is something worth doing.  If this girl can give a soul to those who have lived without one, if she can create the sense of beauty in people whose lives have been sordid and ugly, if she can strip them of their selfishness and lend them tears for sorrows that are not their own, she is worthy of all your adoration, worthy of the adoration of the world.  This marriage is quite right.  I did not think so at first, but I admit it now.  God made Sibyl Vane for you.  Without her you would have been incomplete.”

“Thanks, Basil,” answered Dorian Gray, pressing his hand.  “I [37] knew that you would understand me.  Harry is so cynical, he terrifies me.  But here is the orchestra.  It is quite dreadful, but it only lasts for about five minutes.  Then the curtain rises, and you will see the girl to whom I am going to give all my life, to whom I have given everything that is good in me.”

A quarter of an hour afterwards, amidst an extraordinary turmoil of applause, Sibyl Vane stepped on to the stage.  Yes, she was certainly lovely to look at,—­one of the loveliest creatures, Lord Henry thought, that he had ever seen.  There was something of the fawn in her shy grace and startled eyes.  A faint blush, like the shadow of a rose in a mirror of silver, came to her cheeks as she glanced at the crowded, enthusiastic house.  She stepped back a few paces, and her lips seemed to tremble.  Basil Hallward leaped to his feet and began to applaud.  Dorian Gray sat motionless, gazing on her, like a man in a dream.  Lord Henry peered through his opera-glass, murmuring, “Charming! charming!”

The scene was the hall of Capulet’s house, and Romeo in his pilgrim’s dress had entered with Mercutio and his friends.  The band, such as it was, struck up a few bars of music, and the dance began.  Through the crowd of ungainly, shabbily-dressed actors, Sibyl Vane moved like a creature from a finer world.  Her body swayed, as she danced, as a plant sways in the water.  The curves of her throat were like the curves of a white lily.  Her hands seemed to be made of cool ivory.

Yet she was curiously listless.  She showed no sign of joy when her eyes rested on Romeo.  The few lines she had to speak,—­

     Good pilgrim, you do wrong your hand too much,
        Which mannerly devotion shows in this;
     For saints have hands that pilgrims’ hands do touch,
        And palm to palm is holy palmers’ kiss,—­

with the brief dialogue that follows, were spoken in a thoroughly artificial manner.  The voice was exquisite, but from the point of view of tone it was absolutely false.  It was wrong in color.  It took away all the life from the verse.  It made the passion unreal.

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The Picture of Dorian Gray from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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