Dorian in Love
One afternoon, a month later, Dorian Gray was sitting in the little library of Lord Henry’s house in Mayfair. Lord Henry had not yet come in. He was always late. Dorian Gray was bored and once or twice he thought of going away.
At last he heard a step outside and the door opened. ‘How late you are, Harry!’ he said.
‘I’m afraid it is not Harry, Mr Gray. It is only his wife.’
He looked around quickly and got to his feet. ‘I am sorry. I thought -‘
‘I know you quite well by your photographs. I think my husband has got seventeen of them.’
‘Seventeen, Lady Henry?’
‘Well, eighteen, then. And I saw you with him the other night at the theatre. But here is Harry!’
Lord Henry smiled at them both. ‘So sorry I am late, Dorian.’
‘I am afraid I must go,’ said Lady Harry. ‘Goodbye, Mr Gray. Goodbye, Harry. You are eating out, I suppose? I am too. Perhaps I will see you later.’
‘Perhaps, my dear,’ said Lord Harry, shutting the door behind her. Then he lit a cigarette and threw himself down on the sofa.
‘Never marry a woman with fair hair, Dorian,’ he said.
‘Because they are romantic.’
‘But I like romantic people.’
‘Never marry at all, Dorian.’
‘I don’t think I will marry, Harry. I am too much in love.’
‘Who are you in love with?’ asked Lord Henry, after a pause.
‘With an actress,’ said Dorian Gray.
‘You would not say that if you saw her, Harry.’
‘Who is she?’
‘Her name is Sibyl Vane.’
‘I’ve never heard of her.’
‘No one has. People will some day, though. She is an artist.’
‘My dear boy, no woman is an artist. Women never have anything to say but they say it charmingly. How long have you known her?’
‘About three weeks.’
‘And where did you meet her?’
‘I will tell you, Harry, but you must not laugh. After all, it was you who gave me a passion to know everything about life. For days after I met you I searched the streets for beauty. I walked around the East End until I found a dirty little theatre. I see you are laughing. It is horrible of you!’
‘I am not laughing, Dorian. Go on with your story.’
‘The play was Romeo and Juliet. At first I was annoyed at the thought of seeing Shakespeare in such a terrible place. And when a fat old gentleman came out as Romeo I nearly walked out. But then I saw Juliet! Harry, she was the loveliest thing I had ever seen in my life.’
‘When did you meet her?’
‘I went back the next night and the night after that. On the third evening I waited for her outside the theatre.’
‘What was she like?’
‘Sibyl? Oh, she was shy and gentle. She is only seventeen and there is something of a child in her. She said to me, «You look like a prince. I must call you Prince Charming».’
‘Miss Sibyl knows how to flatter you.’
‘You don’t understand her, Harry. She thinks that I am like a person in Shakespeare. She knows nothing of life. Sibyl is the only thing I care about.’
‘That is the reason, I suppose, that you never have dinner with me now. I thought it might be something romantic.’
‘My dear Harry, we eat together every day,’ said Dorian.
‘You always come very late.’
‘Well, I have to see Sibyl play,’ he cried.
‘Can you have dinner with me tonight, Dorian?’
He shook his head. ‘Tonight she is Ophelia,’ he answered, ‘and tomorrow night she will be Juliet.’
‘When is she Sibyl Vane?’
‘How horrible you are! But when you see her you will think differently. I want you and Basil to come and watch her tomorrow night. You are certain to recognize that she is wonderful.’
‘All right. Tomorrow evening. Will you see Basil before then? Or shall I write to him?’
‘Dear Basil! I haven’t seen him for a week. It is rather horrible of me as he sent me my portrait a few days ago. I love looking at it. Perhaps you should write to him. I don’t want to see him alone. He says things that annoy me. He gives me good advice.’
Lord Henry smiled. ‘People are very fond of giving away advice they need themselves.’
‘Oh, Basil is a good man, but I don’t think he really understands about art and beauty. Since I have known you, Harry, I have discovered that.’
‘Basil, my dear boy, puts everything that is charming in him into his work.’
‘I must go now, Harry. My Juliet is waiting for me. Don’t forget about tomorrow. Goodbye.’
As Dorian left the room, Lord Henry began to think about what he had just learned. Certainly few people had ever interested him so much as Dorian Gray. Yet the mad worship of this actress did not make him annoyed or jealous. He was pleased by it. It made the boy more interesting to study.
Later that night, when he arrived home from dinner, Lord Henry saw a telegram on the table near the door. He opened it and read that Dorian Gray was going to marry Sibyl Vane.