by King Billi
A continuation of Oscar Wildes novel, The Picture of Dorian Grey.
|The Picture of Dorian Gray
Chapter Twenty-One / Epilogue
The next day at two o’clock Henry Wotton rushed home; he took care not to take his usual route and not notice any of the people who passed him. He had no desire to come across anyone he might know today. He hurried to his door.
When he entered the foyer he called his servant and removed his hat and coat, throwing them over his arm as his servant appeared at his calling.
“Franklin could you please telegram the club and cancel any plans I have made. I wish to dine at home tonight.”
“Yes sir,” Franklin replied, nodding.
“Also should anyone call in, tell them I am very busy and do not wish to be disturbed. That should do for now Franklin. Thank you.”
The man nodded and wandered away down the hall.
Lord Henry put his hat and cloak away and passed into the library throwing himself down onto the sofa. He reached for a cigarette but discarded it and instead lay still, breathing slowly, lamenting on the information he had just received.
Dorian had disappeared.
He had just visited Selby Royal that afternoon to meet with Dorian, since he had not arrived at the park as they had arranged. He arrived to find Dorian’s home swarming with policemen. A lone constable at the door allowed him entrance.
Dorian’s whole household it seemed, had the previous night responding to some disturbance found locked in a room at the top of the house; a body, not of their master. Indeed it was said to be ugly and quite abhorrent to look at, and no one it seemed knew his name or how he had come to be there.
As another twist the disappearance of Dorian in the night posed more questions, none of his servants were willing to give up his whereabouts if in fact they knew. It seemed that after the policeman had arrived to their call of help they suddenly had no wish to talk at all, in actual fact each appeared to be in a state of petrified shock.
Lord Henry had climbed the stairs to the landing and entered the secret room; in all the times he had visited he had never set foot in it before but now could see quite clearly why Dorian had kept it locked.
The dead thing had since been removed but its essence still persisted, Lord Henry could feel some evil and immoral presence in the room and kept to lingering in the doorway. The room frightened him!
His eye was suddenly caught by a large canvas leaning against the wall. Why! it was Dorians own portrait, the one Basil Hallward had painted for him all those years ago. Dorian had told him it had been lost. It seemed there was truly much more at work in this boy’s mind than Lord Henry had even seen.
But no, something was wrong. He wasn’t a boy anymore. It had been some eighteen years since this portrait had been painted, several since the last stroke had been applied, yet the elegant face staring back at him from the painting looked just as youthful as it had when Lord Henry had seen it and spoken to it only last night.
‘Quite a mystery,’ Lord Henry reflected reclining in his sofa; Dorian had somehow managed to retain his youthful beauty all this time almost as if he were like the painting itself frozen in a moment in time, when he was at his most glorious.
‘What if he was not aware of it himself? What if he had misplaced his portrait long ago and now after chancing upon it once again saw himself as all others did, was able to look upon his face as a admirer, being reminded by himself of his own utter perfection? What such a thing could do to a person is questionable but what could it do to one like Dorian?
He had told Lord Henry of his plans to change himself, to make himself better. Yes he had started by sparing that charming girl he had met in the country. He could have, after seeing himself in the portrait, very likely seen his own foolishness and his wild thoughts of righteousness.
He probably ran off in that very instant in the night to marry that little country girl quite spontaneously as is his predictable nature. Yes, that is what he has done!
But then there was always the dead man in the locked room. How was that to be explained? Lord Henry shuddered. Such things shouldn’t be brought into the mind; they are far too ugly and are a strain on ones thought.
The man was a hideous form as many had said. Harry had seen Dorian’s portrait in the room himself. The dead man could have been a thief trying to steal the painting away and Dorian catching him in the act could have killed him in a violent temper right there and then and afterwards fled his home to escape retribution for the act.
Eloping, murder, suicide. All were possible reasons for Dorian’s departure, but as promising and stimulating as they were, Harry couldn’t see them fitting in with Dorian’s character.
Why would Dorian be one to give himself up to such a fate so easily, to be left as nothing more than a weeks worth of gossip at the club?
Such a fate was not fit for one like him, to be chatted out of existence with the likes of Basil Hallward and Alan Campbell.
Wherever his whereabouts, he had already sealed his fate. Such a mystery and scandal would be eagerly welcomed by the gossipmonger’s tomorrow.
Perhaps this was what Dorian had sought to escape from or maybe was it something much more personal, something Harry never saw in him, would never have considered seeing in him, He had told Harry how determined he was to change himself for the better. Harry had laughed at him and refused to believe him, and he had dismissed the idea straight away. Had Dorian left in order to act on this proclamation? Had the dead man in the locked room been his hidden secret from which he wanted to escape and was willing to better himself?
Lord Henry didn’t like these thoughts; they were a pain on the mind and left one feeling unhappy. No, Dorian was much too idyllic to have had such an inappropriate ending.
Yes! He had run away with that pretty girl from the country, eloped in the middle of the night. The ugly stranger was simply a burglar who his servants killed when caught stealing their master’s painting. They remained silent so as to hide themselves from suspicion.
Yes that was it! Dorian had escaped and left the world behind. That was indeed a far more fitting ending for him.
Lord Henry reached for a cigarette again relaxing back in his seat feeling confident and quite content that he had put the unpleasantness behind him; He was just considering supper when his servant entered.
“Sorry Sir but the Duchess of Monmouth is at the door and insists on seeing you.”
“I said I didn’t wish to be disturbed.”
“Yes but she says her business is of the upmost importance Sir. She says it concerns Mr Gray.”
“Fine ask her to wait a moment.”
Franklin nodded and left. Lord Henry got up and lit another cigarette as he retrieved his hat and met with the duchess in the hall.
“Ah my dear Gladys,” he said smiling
“Harry, I don’t understand why you’re smiling like that. I have just received some startling news about Dorian which I am certain you must already know about.”
“You’re right, I have heard.”
“Your servant turned me away but I’m afraid I can’t let you shut yourself away like this. I feel that you, of all people, should need consoling after this event.”
“Yes I would think so but unfortunately you caught me a little late; I have already consoled myself. In fact, I have some spare consoling left should you require any.”
“I refuse to believe your attitude Harry,” the Duchess exclaimed. “How you can remain this way after what they’re saying about Dorian?”
“Oh no Gladys! I have already passed through the worry. I have concluded for myself Dorian’s precise actions and am quite content with what I have come up with.”
“How can you know such things?”
“Simple. I have known Dorian for many years, back when he was Basil Hallward the artist’s muse. I have made quite an observation on him for the past several years. He is quite a unique individual, one with a quite unpredictable manner, but like many unpredictable people, acts in a surprisingly predicable manner which I’m sure he has done now.”
“I’m not sure you are right Harry, but you seem very sure of yourself. And your words are comforting... I came here all set to help you cope with this but obviously you are quite capable of helping yourself,”
“Certainly Gladys, now come, I have decided to dine in today. Would you care to join me? I’m sure the cook could make a table for two in a second.”
“Thankyou Harry I will join you.”
“I’ll explain to you my conclusion on Dorian’s fate and after dinner I’m sure you’ll feel the same I do.
Lord Henry led Gladys to the dining room putting out his cigarette as he went.
Tomorrow he would go back to Selby Royal and request if he could have Dorian’s Portrait. One of the finest he had ever seen depicting his friend just as he remembered him. As he would always remember him.