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as soon as campbell had left, he went upstairs. there was a horrible smell of nitric acid in the room. but the thing that had been sitting at the table was gone.
"there is really not much to tell," cried dorian as they took their seats at the small round table. "what happened was simply this. after i left you yesterday evening, harry, i dressed, had some dinner at that little italian restaurant in rupert street you introduced me to, and went down at eight oclock to the theatre. sibyl was playing rosalind. of course, the scenery was dreadful and the orlando absurd. but sibyl! you should have seen her! when she came on in her boys clothes, she was perfectly wonderful. she wore a moss-coloured velvet jerkin with cinnamon sleeves, slim, brown, cross-gartered hose, a dainty little green cap with a hawks feather caught in a jewel, and a hooded cloak lined with dull red. she had never seemed to me more exquisite. she had all the delicate grace of that tanagra figurine that you have in your studio, basil. her hair clustered round her face like dark leaves round a pale rose. as for her acting--well, you shall see her to-night. she is simply a born artist. i sat in the dingy box absolutely enthralled. i forgot that i was in london and in the nineteenth century. i was away with my love in a forest that no man had ever seen. after the performance was over, i went behind and spoke to her. as we were sitting together, suddenly there came into her eyes a look that i had never seen there before. my lips moved towards hers. we kissed each other. i cant describe to you what i felt at that moment. it seemed to me that all my life had been narrowed to one perfect point of rose-coloured joy. she trembled all over and shook like a white narcissus. then she flung herself on her knees and kissed my hands. i feel that i should not tell you all this, but i cant help it. of course, our engagement is a dead secret. she has not even told her own mother. i dont know what my guardians will say. lord radley is sure to be furious. i dont care. i shall be of age in less than a year, and then i can do what i like. i have been right, basil, havent i, to take my love out of poetry and to find my wife in shakespeares plays? lips that shakespeare taught to speak have whispered their secret in my ear. i have had the arms of rosalind around me, and kissed juliet on the mouth."
"yes, it was very curious. i dont know what made me say it. some whim, i suppose. it looked the loveliest of little live things. but i am sorry they told you about the man. it is a hideous subject."
"great things have been thrust on us, gladys."
"well, dorian," he said at length, with a sad smile, "i wont speak to you again about this horrible thing, after to-day. i only trust your name wont be mentioned in connection with it. the inquest is to take place this afternoon. have they summoned you?"
at last the door opened and his servant entered. he turned glazed eyes upon him.
"i never tilt against beauty," he said, with a wave of his hand.