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stammering, yet evidently washed his hands, was rather a treat.
"Ever read any Oscar Wilde?" he asked.
"No. Who wrote it?"
"It's a man--don't you know?"
"Oh, surely." A faint chord was struck in Amory's memory. "Wasn't the
comic opera, 'Patience,' written about him?"
"Yes, that's the fella. I've just finished a book of his, 'The Picture
of Dorian Gray,' and I certainly wish you'd read it. You'd like it. You
can borrow it if you want to."
"Why, I'd like it a lot--thanks."
"Don't you want to come up to the room? I've got a few other books."
Amory hesitated, glanced at the St. Paul's group--one of them was the
magnificent, exquisite Humbird--and he considered how determinate the
addition of this friend would be. He never got to the stage of making
them and getting rid of them--he was not hard enough for that--so he
measured Thomas Parke D'Invilliers' undoubted attractions and value
against the menace of cold eyes behind tortoise-rimmed spectacles that
he fancied glared from the next table.
"Yes, I'll go."
So he found "Dorian Gray" and the "Mystic and Somber Dolores" and the
"Belle Dame sans Merci"; for a month was keen on naught else. The world
became pale and interesting, and he tried hard to look at Princeton
through the satiated eyes of Oscar Wilde and Swinburne--or "Fingal
O'Flaherty" and "Algernon Charles," as he called them in precieuse jest.
He read enormously every night--Shaw, Chesterton, Barrie, Pinero, Yeats,
Synge, Ernest Dowson, Arthur Symons, Keats, Sudermann, Robert Hugh
Benson, the Savoy Operas--just a heterogeneous mixture, for he suddenly
discovered that he had read nothing for years.
Tom D'Invilliers became at first an occasion rather than a friend. Amory
saw him about once a week, and together they gilded the ceiling of
Tom's room and decorated the walls with imitation tapestry, bought at
an auction, tall candlesticks and figured curtains. Amory liked him for
being clever and literary without effeminacy or affectation. In fact,
Amory did most of the strutting and tried painfully to make every remark
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