irrelevance, Oscar, while tossing off glass after glass of liquor, spoke of Phémé, a goddess rare even in mythology, who, after appearing twice in Homer, flashed through a verse of Hesiod and vanished behind a page of Herodotos. In telling of her, suddenly his eyes lifted, his mouth contracted, a spasm of pain — or was it dread? — had gripped him. A moment only. His face relaxed. It had gone.
I have since wondered, could he have evoked the goddess then? For Phémé typified what modern occultism terms the impact — the premonition that surges and warns. It was Wilde's fate to die three times — to die in the dock, to die in prison, to die all along the boulevards of Paris. Often since I have wondered could the goddess then have been lifting, however slightly, some fringe of the crimson curtain, behind which, in all its horror, his destiny crouched. If so, he braved it.
I had looked away. I looked again. Before me was a fat pauper, florid and overdressed, over-