The Worship of Sibyl Vane
‘I suppose you have heard the news, Basil?’ said Lord Henry the following evening. They were in the dining-room of the Bristol Hotel.
‘No, Harry,’ answered the artist, giving his hat and coat to the waiter. ‘What is it?’
‘Dorian Gray is going to be married,’ said Lord Henry, watching him as he spoke.
Hallward frowned. ‘Dorian going to be married!’ he cried. ‘Impossible!’
‘It is perfectly true.’
‘To some little actress.’
‘But it would be absurd for him to marry someone like that.’
‘If you want to make him marry this girl tell him that, Basil. He is sure to do it, then. Whenever a man does a completely stupid thing, it is always for a good reason.’
‘I hope this girl is good, Harry.’
‘Oh, she is better than good — she is beautiful,’ said Lord Henry. ‘Dorian says that she is beautiful and he is not often wrong about these things. Your portrait has helped him understand beauty in others. We are to see her tonight, if that boy doesn’t forget.’
‘But how can Dorian marry an actress, Harry? It is absurd,’ cried the painter, walking up and down the room, biting his lip.
‘Dorian Gray falls in love with a beautiful actress who plays Juliet. He asks her to marry him. Why not? I hope that Dorian Gray marries this girl and worships her for six months. Then he can suddenly become fascinated by another woman.’
‘You don’t mean a word of that, Harry! I know you don’t really want Dorian Gray’s life to be spoiled. You are much better than you pretend to be.’
Lord Henry laughed. ‘The reason we all like to think so well of others is because we are afraid for ourselves. But here is Dorian himself. He will tell you more than I can.’
‘My dear Harry, my dear Basil, you must both congratulate me!’ said the boy, throwing off his coat and shaking each of his friends’ hands. ‘I have never been so happy. Of course it is sudden — all the best things are. And yet it seems to me to be the one thing I have been looking for all my life.’
‘I hope you will always be very happy, Dorian,’ said Hallward, ‘but why did you not tell me? You told Harry.’
‘There really is not much to tell,’ cried Dorian. ‘Last night I went to see her again. After, when we were sitting together, there came into her eyes a wonderful look. It was something I had never seen there before. We kissed each other. I can’t describe to you what I felt at that moment.’
‘Have you seen her today?’ asked Lord Henry.
Dorian Gray shook his head. ‘I have left her in Shakespeare’s forest. I will find her in his garden.’
‘At what exact point did you use the word «marry», Dorian? And how did she answer? Perhaps you forgot all about it.’
‘My dear Harry, it was not a business meeting. I told her I loved her. The whole world is nothing to me compared to her.’
‘But my dear Dorian -‘
Hallward put his hand on Lord Henry’s arm. ‘Don’t Harry. You have annoyed Dorian. He is not like other men. He would never harm anyone.’
Lord Henry looked across the table. ‘Dorian is never annoyed with me,’ he answered.
Dorian Gray laughed. ‘When I am with Sibyl Vane I don’t believe in anything you have taught me. I forget all your fascinating, terrible ideas.’
‘And those are… ?’ asked Lord Henry, helping himself to some salad.
‘Oh, your ideas about life, your ideas about love, your ideas about pleasure. All your ideas, Harry.’
‘Pleasure is the only thing worth having ideas about,’ he answered, in his slow, musical voice. ‘When we are happy we are always good, but when we are good we are not always happy.’
‘I know what pleasure is,’ cried Dorian Gray. ‘It is to worship someone.’
‘That is certainly better than when someone worships you.’
‘Harry, you are terrible! I don’t know why I like you so much. Let us go down to the theatre. When you see Sibyl you will change your ideas.’
They got up and put on their coats. The painter was silent and thoughtful. He felt very sad. Dorian Gray would never again be to him all that he had been in the past. Life had come between them.
When he arrived at the theatre it seemed to Hallward that he had grown years older.