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Chapter 12

  • It was on the ninth of November, the eve of his own thirty-eighth birthday, a_e often remembered afterwards.
  • He was walking home about eleven o'clock from Lord Henry's, where he had bee_ining, and was wrapped in heavy furs, as the night was cold and foggy. At th_orner of Grosvenor Square and South Audley Street, a man passed him in th_ist, walking very fast and with the collar of his grey ulster turned up. H_ad a bag in his hand. Dorian recognized him. It was Basil Hallward. A strang_ense of fear, for which he could not account, came over him. He made no sig_f recognition and went on quickly in the direction of his own house.
  • But Hallward had seen him. Dorian heard him first stopping on the pavement an_hen hurrying after him. In a few moments, his hand was on his arm.
  • "Dorian! What an extraordinary piece of luck! I have been waiting for you i_our library ever since nine o'clock. Finally I took pity on your tire_ervant and told him to go to bed, as he let me out. I am off to Paris by th_idnight train, and I particularly wanted to see you before I left. I though_t was you, or rather your fur coat, as you passed me. But I wasn't quit_ure. Didn't you recognize me?"
  • "In this fog, my dear Basil? Why, I can't even recognize Grosvenor Square. _elieve my house is somewhere about here, but I don't feel at all certai_bout it. I am sorry you are going away, as I have not seen you for ages. Bu_ suppose you will be back soon?"
  • "No: I am going to be out of England for six months. I intend to take a studi_n Paris and shut myself up till I have finished a great picture I have in m_ead. However, it wasn't about myself I wanted to talk. Here we are at you_oor. Let me come in for a moment. I have something to say to you."
  • "I shall be charmed. But won't you miss your train?" said Dorian Gra_anguidly as he passed up the steps and opened the door with his latch-key.
  • The lamplight struggled out through the fog, and Hallward looked at his watch.
  • "I have heaps of time," he answered. "The train doesn't go till twelve- fifteen, and it is only just eleven. In fact, I was on my way to the club t_ook for you, when I met you. You see, I shan't have any delay about luggage, as I have sent on my heavy things. All I have with me is in this bag, and _an easily get to Victoria in twenty minutes."
  • Dorian looked at him and smiled. "What a way for a fashionable painter t_ravel! A Gladstone bag and an ulster! Come in, or the fog will get into th_ouse. And mind you don't talk about anything serious. Nothing is seriou_owadays. At least nothing should be."
  • Hallward shook his head, as he entered, and followed Dorian into the library.
  • There was a bright wood fire blazing in the large open hearth. The lamps wer_it, and an open Dutch silver spirit-case stood, with some siphons of soda- water and large cut-glass tumblers, on a little marqueterie table.
  • "You see your servant made me quite at home, Dorian. He gave me everything _anted, including your best gold-tipped cigarettes. He is a most hospitabl_reature. I like him much better than the Frenchman you used to have. What ha_ecome of the Frenchman, by the bye?"
  • Dorian shrugged his shoulders. "I believe he married Lady Radley's maid, an_as established her in Paris as an English dressmaker. Anglomania is ver_ashionable over there now, I hear. It seems silly of the French, doesn't it?
  • But—do you know?—he was not at all a bad servant. I never liked him, but I ha_othing to complain about. One often imagines things that are quite absurd. H_as really very devoted to me and seemed quite sorry when he went away. Hav_nother brandy-and-soda? Or would you like hock-and-seltzer? I always tak_ock-and-seltzer myself. There is sure to be some in the next room."
  • "Thanks, I won't have anything more," said the painter, taking his cap an_oat off and throwing them on the bag that he had placed in the corner. "An_ow, my dear fellow, I want to speak to you seriously. Don't frown like that.
  • You make it so much more difficult for me."
  • "What is it all about?" cried Dorian in his petulant way, flinging himsel_own on the sofa. "I hope it is not about myself. I am tired of myself to- night. I should like to be somebody else."
  • "It is about yourself," answered Hallward in his grave deep voice, "and I mus_ay it to you. I shall only keep you half an hour."
  • Dorian sighed and lit a cigarette. "Half an hour!" he murmured.
  • "It is not much to ask of you, Dorian, and it is entirely for your own sak_hat I am speaking. I think it right that you should know that the mos_readful things are being said against you in London."
  • "I don't wish to know anything about them. I love scandals about other people, but scandals about myself don't interest me. They have not got the charm o_ovelty."
  • "They must interest you, Dorian. Every gentleman is interested in his goo_ame. You don't want people to talk of you as something vile and degraded. O_ourse, you have your position, and your wealth, and all that kind of thing.
  • But position and wealth are not everything. Mind you, I don't believe thes_umours at all. At least, I can't believe them when I see you. Sin is a thin_hat writes itself across a man's face. It cannot be concealed. People tal_ometimes of secret vices. There are no such things. If a wretched man has _ice, it shows itself in the lines of his mouth, the droop of his eyelids, th_oulding of his hands even. Somebody—I won't mention his name, but you kno_im—came to me last year to have his portrait done. I had never seen hi_efore, and had never heard anything about him at the time, though I hav_eard a good deal since. He offered an extravagant price. I refused him. Ther_as something in the shape of his fingers that I hated. I know now that I wa_uite right in what I fancied about him. His life is dreadful. But you, Dorian, with your pure, bright, innocent face, and your marvellous untrouble_outh— I can't believe anything against you. And yet I see you very seldom, and you never come down to the studio now, and when I am away from you, and _ear all these hideous things that people are whispering about you, I don'_now what to say. Why is it, Dorian, that a man like the Duke of Berwic_eaves the room of a club when you enter it? Why is it that so many gentleme_n London will neither go to your house or invite you to theirs? You used t_e a friend of Lord Staveley. I met him at dinner last week. Your nam_appened to come up in conversation, in connection with the miniatures yo_ave lent to the exhibition at the Dudley. Staveley curled his lip and sai_hat you might have the most artistic tastes, but that you were a man whom n_ure-minded girl should be allowed to know, and whom no chaste woman shoul_it in the same room with. I reminded him that I was a friend of yours, an_sked him what he meant. He told me. He told me right out before everybody. I_as horrible! Why is your friendship so fatal to young men? There was tha_retched boy in the Guards who committed suicide. You were his great friend.
  • There was Sir Henry Ashton, who had to leave England with a tarnished name.
  • You and he were inseparable. What about Adrian Singleton and his dreadful end?
  • What about Lord Kent's only son and his career? I met his father yesterday i_t. James's Street. He seemed broken with shame and sorrow. What about th_oung Duke of Perth? What sort of life has he got now? What gentleman woul_ssociate with him?"
  • "Stop, Basil. You are talking about things of which you know nothing," sai_orian Gray, biting his lip, and with a note of infinite contempt in hi_oice. "You ask me why Berwick leaves a room when I enter it. It is because _now everything about his life, not because he knows anything about mine. Wit_uch blood as he has in his veins, how could his record be clean? You ask m_bout Henry Ashton and young Perth. Did I teach the one his vices, and th_ther his debauchery? If Kent's silly son takes his wife from the streets, what is that to me? If Adrian Singleton writes his friend's name across _ill, am I his keeper? I know how people chatter in England. The middl_lasses air their moral prejudices over their gross dinner-tables, and whispe_bout what they call the profligacies of their betters in order to try an_retend that they are in smart society and on intimate terms with the peopl_hey slander. In this country, it is enough for a man to have distinction an_rains for every common tongue to wag against him. And what sort of lives d_hese people, who pose as being moral, lead themselves? My dear fellow, yo_orget that we are in the native land of the hypocrite."
  • "Dorian," cried Hallward, "that is not the question. England is bad enough _now, and English society is all wrong. That is the reason why I want you t_e fine. You have not been fine. One has a right to judge of a man by th_ffect he has over his friends. Yours seem to lose all sense of honour, o_oodness, of purity. You have filled them with a madness for pleasure. The_ave gone down into the depths. You led them there. Yes: you led them there, and yet you can smile, as you are smiling now. And there is worse behind. _now you and Harry are inseparable. Surely for that reason, if for none other, you should not have made his sister's name a by-word."
  • "Take care, Basil. You go too far."
  • "I must speak, and you must listen. You shall listen. When you met Lad_wendolen, not a breath of scandal had ever touched her. Is there a singl_ecent woman in London now who would drive with her in the park? Why, even he_hildren are not allowed to live with her. Then there are other stories— stories that you have been seen creeping at dawn out of dreadful houses an_linking in disguise into the foulest dens in London. Are they true? Can the_e true? When I first heard them, I laughed. I hear them now, and they make m_hudder. What about your country-house and the life that is led there? Dorian, you don't know what is said about you. I won't tell you that I don't want t_reach to you. I remember Harry saying once that every man who turned himsel_nto an amateur curate for the moment always began by saying that, and the_roceeded to break his word. I do want to preach to you. I want you to lea_uch a life as will make the world respect you. I want you to have a clea_ame and a fair record. I want you to get rid of the dreadful people yo_ssociate with. Don't shrug your shoulders like that. Don't be so indifferent.
  • You have a wonderful influence. Let it be for good, not for evil. They sa_hat you corrupt every one with whom you become intimate, and that it is quit_ufficient for you to enter a house for shame of some kind to follow after. _on't know whether it is so or not. How should I know? But it is said of you.
  • I am told things that it seems impossible to doubt. Lord Gloucester was one o_y greatest friends at Oxford. He showed me a letter that his wife had writte_o him when she was dying alone in her villa at Mentone. Your name wa_mplicated in the most terrible confession I ever read. I told him that it wa_bsurd—that I knew you thoroughly and that you were incapable of anything o_he kind. Know you? I wonder do I know you? Before I could answer that, _hould have to see your soul."
  • "To see my soul!" muttered Dorian Gray, starting up from the sofa and turnin_lmost white from fear.
  • "Yes," answered Hallward gravely, and with deep-toned sorrow in his voice, "t_ee your soul. But only God can do that."
  • A bitter laugh of mockery broke from the lips of the younger man. "You shal_ee it yourself, to-night!" he cried, seizing a lamp from the table. "Come: i_s your own handiwork. Why shouldn't you look at it? You can tell the worl_ll about it afterwards, if you choose. Nobody would believe you. If they di_elieve you, they would like me all the better for it. I know the age bette_han you do, though you will prate about it so tediously. Come, I tell you.
  • You have chattered enough about corruption. Now you shall look on it face t_ace."
  • There was the madness of pride in every word he uttered. He stamped his foo_pon the ground in his boyish insolent manner. He felt a terrible joy at th_hought that some one else was to share his secret, and that the man who ha_ainted the portrait that was the origin of all his shame was to be burdene_or the rest of his life with the hideous memory of what he had done.
  • "Yes," he continued, coming closer to him and looking steadfastly into hi_tern eyes, "I shall show you my soul. You shall see the thing that you fanc_nly God can see."
  • Hallward started back. "This is blasphemy, Dorian!" he cried. "You must no_ay things like that. They are horrible, and they don't mean anything."
  • "You think so?" He laughed again.
  • "I know so. As for what I said to you to-night, I said it for your good. Yo_now I have been always a stanch friend to you."
  • "Don't touch me. Finish what you have to say."
  • A twisted flash of pain shot across the painter's face. He paused for _oment, and a wild feeling of pity came over him. After all, what right had h_o pry into the life of Dorian Gray? If he had done a tithe of what wa_umoured about him, how much he must have suffered! Then he straightene_imself up, and walked over to the fire-place, and stood there, looking at th_urning logs with their frostlike ashes and their throbbing cores of flame.
  • "I am waiting, Basil," said the young man in a hard clear voice.
  • He turned round. "What I have to say is this," he cried. "You must give m_ome answer to these horrible charges that are made against you. If you tel_e that they are absolutely untrue from beginning to end, I shall believe you.
  • Deny them, Dorian, deny them! Can't you see what I am going through? My God!
  • don't tell me that you are bad, and corrupt, and shameful."
  • Dorian Gray smiled. There was a curl of contempt in his lips. "Come upstairs, Basil," he said quietly. "I keep a diary of my life from day to day, and i_ever leaves the room in which it is written. I shall show it to you if yo_ome with me."
  • "I shall come with you, Dorian, if you wish it. I see I have missed my train.
  • That makes no matter. I can go to-morrow. But don't ask me to read anythin_o-night. All I want is a plain answer to my question."
  • "That shall be given to you upstairs. I could not give it here. You will no_ave to read long."