"Ah! this morning! You have lived since then."
There came a knock at the door, and the butler entered with a
laden tea-tray and set it down upon a small Japanese table.
There was a rattle of cups and saucers and the hissing of a fluted
Georgian urn. Two globe-shaped china dishes were brought
in by a page. Dorian Gray went over and poured out the tea.
The two men sauntered languidly to the table and examined what was
under the covers.
"Let us go to the theatre to-night,"
said Lord Henry.
"There is sure to be something on, somewhere. I have promised
to dine at White's, but it is only with an old friend,
so I can send him a wire to say that I am ill, or that I am
prevented from coming in consequence of a subsequent engagement.
I think that would be a rather nice excuse: it would have all
the surprise of candour."
"It is such a bore putting on one's dress-clothes,"
"And, when one has them on, they are so horrid."
answered Lord Henry dreamily,
"the costume of the nineteenth century is detestable. It is so sombre, so depressing. Sin is the only
real colour-element left in modern life."
"You really must not say things like that before Dorian, Harry."
"Before which Dorian? The one who is pouring out tea for us,
or the one in the picture?"
"I should like to come to the theatre with you, Lord Henry,"
said the lad.
"Then you shall come; and you will come, too, Basil, won't you?"
"I can't, really. I would sooner not. I have a lot of work to do."
"Well, then, you and I will go alone, Mr. Gray."
"I should like that awfully."
The painter bit his lip and walked over, cup in hand, to the picture.
"I shall stay with the real Dorian,"
he said, sadly.
"Is it the real Dorian?"
cried the original of the portrait,
strolling across to him.
"Am I really like that?"
"Yes; you are just like that."
"How wonderful, Basil! At least you are like it in appearance. But it will never alter,"
"That is something."
"What a fuss people make about fidelity!"
exclaimed Lord Henry.
"Why, even in love it is purely a question for physiology.
It has nothing to do with our own will. Young men want to
be faithful, and are not; old men want to be faithless, and cannot:
that is all one can say."
"Don't go to the theatre to-night, Dorian,"
"Stop and dine with me."
"I can't, Basil."
"Because I have promised Lord Henry Wotton to go with him."
"He won't like you the better for keeping your promises.
He always breaks his own. I beg you not to go."
Dorian Gray laughed and shook his head.
"I entreat you."
The lad hesitated, and looked over at Lord Henry, who was watching
them from the tea-table with an amused smile.
"I must go, Basil,"
said Hallward, and he went over and laid down his cup on the tray.
"It is rather late, and, as you have to dress,
you had better lose no time. Good-bye, Harry. Good-bye, Dorian.
Come and see me soon. Come to-morrow."
"You won't forget?"
"No, of course not,"
"And ... Harry!"
"Remember what I asked you, when we were in the garden this morning."
"I have forgotten it."
"I trust you."
"I wish I could trust myself,"
said Lord Henry, laughing.
"Come, Mr. Gray,
my hansom is outside, and I can drop you at your own place. Good-bye, Basil.
It has been a most interesting afternoon."
As the door closed behind them, the painter flung himself down on a sofa,
and a look of pain came into his face.
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