â€œOh, I canâ€™t explain. When I like people immensely, I never tell their names to any one. It is like surrendering a part of them. I have grown to love secrecy. It seems to be the one thing that can make modern life mysterious or marvellous to us. The commonest thing is delightful if one only hides it. When I leave town now I never tell my people where I am going. If I did, I would lose all my pleasure. It is a silly habit, I dare say, but somehow it seems to bring a great deal of romance into oneâ€™s life. I suppose you think me awfully foolish about it?â€
â€œNot at all,â€ answered Lord Henry, â€œnot at all, my dear Basil. You seem to forget that I am married, and the one charm of marriage is that it makes a life of deception absolutely necessary for both parties. I never know where my wife is, and my wife never knows what I am doing. When we meetâ€”we do meet occasionally, when we dine out together, or go down to the Dukeâ€™sâ€”we tell each other the most absurd stories with the most serious faces. My wife is very good at itâ€”much better, in fact, than I am. She never gets confused over her dates, and I always do. But when she does find me out, she makes no row at all. I sometimes wish she would; but she merely laughs at me.â€
â€œI hate the way you talk about your married life, Harry,â€ said Basil Hallward, strolling towards the door that led into the garden. â€œI believe that you are really a very good husband, but that you are thoroughly ashamed of your own virtues. You are an extraordinary fellow. You never say a moral thing, and you never do a wrong thing. Your cynicism is simply a pose.â€
â€œBeing natural is simply a pose, and the most irritating pose I know,â€ cried Lord Henry, laughing; and the two young men went out into the garden together and ensconced themselves on a long bamboo seat that stood in the shade of a tall laurel bush. The sunlight slipped over the polished leaves. In the grass, white daisies were tremulous.
After a pause, Lord Henry pulled out his watch. â€œI am afraid I must be going, Basil,â€ he murmured, â€œand before I go, I insist on your answering a question I put to you some time ago.â€
â€œWhat is that?â€ said the painter, keeping his eyes fixed on the ground.
â€œYou know quite well.â€
â€œI do not, Harry.â€