Page:Saltus - Oscar Wilde, an idler's impression.djvu/25

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Wilde cut in. “And of a tightness that has been felt even in Tite street. Believe me, I passed the forenoon at the British Museum looking at a gold-piece in a case.”

Afterward we drove to Chelsea. It was a vile night, bleak and bitter. On alighting, a man came up to me. He wore a short jacket which he opened. From neck to waist he was bare. I gave him a shilling. Then came the rebuke. With entire simplicity Wilde took off his overcoat and put it about the man.

But the simplicity seemed to me too Hugoesque and I said: “Why didn't you ask him in to dinner?”

Wilde gestured. “Dinner is not a feast, it is a ceremony.”

Subsequently that ceremony must have been contemplated, for Mrs. Wilde was kind enough to invite me. The invitation reached me sometime in advance and I took it of course that there would be other guests. But on the appointed evening, or what I thought was the appointed even-