Chapter 1

Thestudiowasfilledwiththerichodourofroses,andwhenthelightsummerwindstirredamidstthetreesofthegarden,therecamethroughtheopendoortheheavyscentofthelilac,orthemoredelicateperfumeofthepink-floweringthorn.

FromthecornerofthedivanofPersiansaddle-bagsonwhichhewaslying,smoking,aswashiscustom,innumerablecigarettes,LordHenryWottoncouldjustcatchthegleamofthehoney-sweetandhoney-colouredblossomsofalaburnum,whosetremulousbranchesseemedhardlyabletobeartheburdenofabeautysoflame-likeastheirs;andnowandthenthefantasticshadowsofbirdsinflightflittedacrossthelongtussore-silkcurtainsthatwerestretchedinfrontofthehugewindow,producingakindofmomentaryJapaneseeffect,andmakinghimthinkofthosepallid,jade-facedpaintersofTokyowho,throughthemediumofanartthatisnecessarilyimmobile,seektoconveythesenseofswiftnessandmotion.Thesullenmurmurofthebeesshoulderingtheirwaythroughthelongunmowngrass,orcirclingwithmonotonousinsistenceroundthedustygilthornsofthestragglingwoodbine,seemedtomakethestillnessmoreoppressive.ThedimroarofLondonwaslikethebourdonnoteofadistantorgan.

Inthecentreoftheroom,clampedtoanuprighteasel,stoodthefull-lengthportraitofayoungmanofextraordinarypersonalbeauty,andinfrontofit,somelittledistanceaway,wassittingtheartisthimself,BasilHallward,whosesuddendisappearancesomeyearsagocaused,atthetime,suchpublicexcitementandgaverisetosomanystrangeconjectures.

Ashelookedatthegraciousandcomelyformhehadsoskilfullymirroredinhisart,asmileofpleasurepassedacrosshisface,andseemedabouttolingerthere.

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