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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 164 pages of information about The Picture of Dorian Gray.

He sighed, and touched the bell.  The portrait must be hidden away at all costs.  He could not run such a risk of discovery again.  It had been mad of him to have the thing remain, even for an hour, in a room to which any of his friends had access.

CHAPTER VIII

[...58] 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, [59] 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’s and ask him to send two of his men round at once.  It seemed to him that as the man left the room he peered in the direction of the screen.  Or was that only his fancy?

After a few moments, Mrs. Leaf, a dear old lady in a black silk dress, with a photograph of the late Mr. Leaf framed in a large gold brooch at her neck, and old-fashioned thread mittens on her wrinkled hands, bustled into the room.

“Well, Master Dorian,” she said, “what can I do for you?  I beg your pardon, sir,”—­here came a courtesy,—­“I shouldn’t call you Master Dorian any more.  But, Lord bless you, sir, I have known you since you were a baby, and many’s the trick you’ve played on poor old Leaf.  Not that you were not always a good boy, sir; but boys will be boys, Master Dorian, and jam is a temptation to the young, isn’t it, sir?”

He laughed.  “You must always call me Master Dorian, Leaf.  I will be very angry with you if you don’t.  And I assure you I am quite as fond of jam now as I used to be.  Only when I am asked out to tea I am never offered any.  I want you to give me the key of the room at the top of the house.”

“The old school-room, Master Dorian?  Why, it’s full of dust.  I must get it arranged and put straight before you go into it.  It’s not fit for you to see, Master Dorian.  It is not, indeed.”

“I don’t want it put straight, Leaf.  I only want the key.”

“Well, Master Dorian, you’ll be covered with cobwebs if you goes into it.  Why, it hasn’t been opened for nearly five years,—­not since his lordship died.”

He winced at the mention of his dead uncle’s name.  He had hateful memories of him.  “That does not matter, Leaf,” he replied.  “All I want is the key.”

“And here is the key, Master Dorian,” said the old lady, after going over the contents of her bunch with tremulously uncertain hands.  “Here is the key.  I’ll have it off the ring in a moment.  But you don’t think of living up there, Master Dorian, and you so comfortable here?”

“No, Leaf, I don’t.  I merely want to see the place, and perhaps store something in it,—­that is all.  Thank you, Leaf.  I hope your rheumatism is better; and mind you send me up jam for breakfast.”

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