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more oppressive, and the dim roar of London was like the
bourdon note of a distant organ.
In the centre of the room, clamped to an upright easel,
stood the full-length portrait of a young man of
extraordinary personal beauty, and in front of it, some
little distance away, was sitting the artist himself, Basil
Hallward, whose sudden disappearance some years ago
caused, at the time, such public excitement, and gave rise
to so many strange conjectures.
As he looked at the gracious and comely form he had
so skilfully mirrored in his art, a smile of pleasure passed
across his face, and seemed about to linger there. But he
suddenly started up, and, closing his eyes, placed his
fingers upon the lids, as though he sought to imprison
within his brain some curious dream from which he feared
he might awake.
‘It is your best work, Basil, the best thing you have
ever done,’ said Lord Henry, languidly. ‘You must
certainly send it next year to the Grosvenor. The
Academy is too large and too vulgar. The Grosvenor is the
only place.’
‘I don’t think I will send it anywhere,’ he answered,
tossing his head back in that odd way that used to make
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