The Portrait Is Hidden
When the servant entered, Dorian Gray asked him to send Mrs Leaf to him in the library. Mrs Leaf had been with his family for many years. He asked her for the key to the old schoolroom.
‘The old schoolroom, Mr Dorian?’ she cried. ‘But it is full of dust! I must clean it first.’
‘I don’t want it cleaned, Mrs Leaf. I only want the key.’
‘Well, sir, you’ll be covered with dust if you go into it. It hasn’t been open for nearly five years, not since your grandfather died.’
He frowned at this reminder of his grandfather. He had bad memories of all his family. ‘That does not matter,’ he answered. ‘I just want to see the place — that is all. Give me the key.’
‘Here is the key, sir,’ said the old lady. ‘But you are not going to live up there, are you, sir?’
‘No, no,’ he cried. ‘Thank you, Mrs Leaf. You can go.’
An hour later two men arrived to move the portrait.
‘It’s very heavy, sir,’ said one of the men, as they climbed the stairs.
‘I am afraid it is rather heavy,’ said Dorian, as he opened the door of the old schoolroom where he was going to hide the secret of his corrupted soul.
He had not entered the room since he was a child. It was a large room built by his grandfather to keep him at a distance. Every moment of his lonely childhood came back to him as he looked round.
It was a room full of terrible memories, but it was safe. He had the key, and no other person could enter it. The face in the portrait could grow old and ugly. What did it matter? No one could see it. He himself would not see it. He did not have to watch the terrible corruption of his soul. He would stay young — that was enough.
When the men had gone, Dorian locked the door, and put the key in his pocket. He felt safe now. No one would ever look at that horrible thing. Only he would ever see his shame.
He went back to the library and found a note from Lord Henry. In it was a report from the newspaper about Sibyl Vane. Her death was officially described as an accident.
He frowned, and tore the paper in two. Then he walked across the room and threw the pieces away. How ugly it all was! And how horribly real ugliness made things!
Perhaps the servant had read the report, and had begun to suspect something. And, yet, what did it matter? What had Dorian Gray to do with Sibyl Vane’s death? There was nothing to be afraid of. Dorian Gray had not killed her.