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of such insolences and attempted slights he, of course, took no notice, and in the opinion of most people his frank debonair manner, his charming boyish smile, and the infinite grace of that wonderful youth that seemed never to leave him, were in themselves a sufficient answer to the calumnies, for so they termed them, that were circulated about him. it was remarked, however, that some of those who had been most intimate with him appeared, after a time, to shun him. women who had wildly adored him, and for his sake had braved all social censure and set convention at defiance, were seen to grow pallid with shame or horror if dorian gray entered the room.
"my dear boy, you are really beginning to moralize. you will soon be going about like the converted, and the revivalist, warning people against all the sins of which you have grown tired. you are much too delightful to do that. besides, it is no use. you and i are what we are, and will be what we will be. as for being poisoned by a book, there is no such thing as that. art has no influence upon action. it annihilates the desire to act. it is superbly sterile. the books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame. that is all. but we wont discuss literature. come round to-morrow. i am going to ride at eleven. we might go together, and i will take you to lunch afterwards with lady branksome. she is a charming woman, and wants to consult you about some tapestries she is thinking of buying. mind you come. or shall we lunch with our little duchess? she says she never sees you now. perhaps you are tired of gladys? i thought you would be. her clever tongue gets on ones nerves. well, in any case, be here at eleven."
with a stifled sob the lad leaped from the couch, and, rushing over to hallward, tore the knife out of his hand, and flung it to the end of the studio. "dont, basil, dont!" he cried. "it would be murder!"
"i have not the slightest idea. if basil chooses to hide himself, it is no business of mine. if he is dead, i dont want to think about him. death is the only thing that ever terrifies me. i hate it."
she shrank from him. then she laughed and put her hand on his arm. he was merely a boy.
they walked side by side in the direction of the avenue for nearly fifty yards without speaking. then dorian looked at lord henry and said, with a heavy sigh, "it is a bad omen, harry, a very bad omen."
"you swear this?"