For some months past she had felt ill at ease when she was alone with this rough, stern son of hers. Her shallow, secret nature was troubled when their eyes met. She used to wonder if he suspected anything.
The narrator explains Mrs. Vane’s thoughts and feelings toward her son James the night before he leaves for Australia. James suspects his mother of not having good motives for encouraging the relationship between his sister Sibyl and Dorian. James needs to protect Sibyl from the world she knows nothing about, especially with her mother doing nothing to shield her.
The passers-by glanced in wonder at the sullen, heavy youth, who, in coarse, ill-fitting clothes, was in the company of such a graceful, refined-looking girl. He was like a common gardener walking with a rose.
As Sibyl and James walk down the street together, the narrator notes how incongruous they look side by side. Sibyl carries herself with a carefree grace, untouched by any evils of the world at this point, while James bears the burden of worrying about her. Their appearances evoke a distinction as striking as a gardener with a prize rose.
“He is not the man I’m looking for,” he exclaimed, “and I want no man’s money. I want a man’s life. The man whose life I want must be nearly forty by now. This one is little more than a boy. Thank God, I have not got his blood upon my hands.”
James Vane responds to a woman encouraging him to kill and rob Dorian. Although James seeks Dorian in order to kill him, he believes someone who looks as young as Dorian could not have been the man responsible for his sister’s death twenty years prior. He seeks justice for his sister, but his overall good nature shows through in his gratitude that he did not kill a man he ironically regards as innocent.