Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime

Páginas: 51 (12748 palabras) Publicado: 23 de febrero de 2013
IT WAS LADY WINDERMERE’S last reception before Easter, and
Bentinck House was even more crowded than usual. Six
Cabinet Ministers had come on from the Speaker’s Levee in
their stars and ribands, all the pretty women wore their smartest dresses, and at the end of the picture-gallery stood the
Princess Sophia of Carlsruhe, a heavy Tartar-looking lady,with tiny black eyes and wonderful emeralds, talking bad
French at the top of her voice, and laughing immoderately
at everything that was said to her. It was certainly a wonderful medley of people. Gorgeous peeresses chatted affably to
violent Radicals, popular preachers brushed coat-tails with
eminent sceptics, a perfect bevy of bishops kept following a
stout prima-donna from room to room, onthe staircase stood
several Royal Academicians, disguised as artists, and it was
said that at one time the supper-room was absolutely
crammed with geniuses. In fact, it was one of Lady
Windermere’s best nights, and the Princess stayed till nearly
half-past eleven.
As soon as she had gone, Lady Windermere returned to
the picture-gallery, where a celebrated political economist
was solemnlyexplaining the scientific theory of music to an
indignant virtuoso from Hungary, and began to talk to the
Duchess of Paisley. She looked wonderfully beautiful with
her grand ivory throat, her large blue forget-me-not eyes,
and her heavy coils of golden hair. Or pur they were—not that pale straw colour that nowadays usurps the gracious name
of gold, but such gold as is woven into sunbeams orhidden
in strange amber; and they gave to her face something of the
frame of a saint, with not a little of the fascination of a sinner. She was a curious psychological study. Early in life she
had discovered the important truth that nothing looks so
like innocence as an indiscretion; and by a series of reckless
escapades, half of them quite harmless, she had acquired all
the privileges of apersonality. She had more than once
changed her husband; indeed, Debrett credits her with three
marriages; but as she had never changed her lover, the world
had long ago ceased to talk scandal about her. She was now
forty years of age, childless, and with that inordinate passion
for pleasure which is the secret of remaining young.
Suddenly she looked eagerly round the room, and said, in
herclear contralto voice, ‘Where is my cheiromantist?’
‘Your what, Gladys?’ exclaimed the Duchess, giving an involuntary start.
‘My cheiromantist, Duchess; I can’t live without him at
‘Dear Gladys! you are always so original,’ murmured the
Duchess, trying to remember what a cheiromantist really was,
and hoping it was not the same as a cheiropodist.
‘He comes to see my hand twice a weekregularly,’ continued Lady Windermere, ‘and is most interesting about it.’
‘Good heavens!’ said the Duchess to herself, ‘he is a sort of
cheiropodist after all. How very dreadful. I hope he is a foreigner at any rate. It wouldn’t be quite so bad then.’
‘I must certainly introduce him to you.’
‘Introduce him!’ cried the Duchess; ‘you don’t mean to say
he is here?’ and she began looking aboutfor a small tortoiseshell fan and a very tattered lace shawl, so as to be ready to
go at a moment’s notice.
‘Of course he is here; I would not dream of giving a party
without him. He tells me I have a pure psychic hand, and
that if my thumb had been the least little bit shorter, I should
have been a confirmed pessimist, and gone into a convent.’
‘Oh, I see!’ said the Duchess, feeling verymuch relieved;
‘he tells fortunes, I suppose?’
‘And misfortunes, too,’ answered Lady Windermere, ‘any
amount of them. Next year, for instance, I am in great danger, both by land and sea, so I am going to live in a balloon,6
Lord Arthur Savile’s Crime and Other Stories
and draw up my dinner in a basket every evening. It is all
written down on my little finger, or on the palm of my hand,
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