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<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library-The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

But it was a comfort that there could be no uneasiness in a connection with anything so
beatific as the radiant image of my little girl, the vision of whose angelic beauty had
probably more than anything else to do with the restlessness that, before morning,
made me several times rise and wander about my room to take in the whole picture
and prospect; to watch, from my open window, the faint summer dawn, to look at such
portions of the rest of the house as I could catch, and to listen, while, in the fading
dusk, the first birds began to twitter, for the possible recurrence of a sound or two, less
natural and not without, but within, that I had fancied I heard. There had been a
moment when I believed I recognized, faint and far, the cry of a child; there had been
another when I found myself just consciously starting as at the passage, before my
door, of a light footstep. But these fancies were not marked enough not to be thrown
off, and it is only in the light, or the gloom, I should rather say, of other and subsequent
matters that they now come back to me. To watch, teach, “form” little Flora would too
evidently be the making of a happy and useful life. It had been agreed between us
downstairs that after this first occasion I should have her as a matter of course at night,
her small white bed being already arranged, to that end, in my room. What I had
undertaken was the whole care of her, and she had remained, just this last time, with
Mrs. Grose only as an effect of our consideration for my inevitable strangeness and her
natural timidity. In spite of this timidity-which the child herself, in the oddest way in
the world, had been perfectly frank and brave about, allowing it, without a sign of
uncomfortable consciousness, with the deep, sweet serenity indeed of one of Raphael’s
holy infants, to be discussed, to be imputed to her, and to determine us-I felt quite sure
she would presently like me. It was part of what I already liked Mrs. Grose herself for,
the pleasure I could see her feel in my admiration and wonder as I sat at supper with
four tall candles and with my pupil, in a high chair and a bib, brightly facing me,
between them, over bread and milk. There were naturally things that in Flora’s
presence could pass between us only as prodigious and gratified looks, obscure and
roundabout allusions.

“And the little boy-does he look like her? Is he too so very remarkable?” One wouldn’t
flatter a child. “Oh, miss, most remarkable. If you think well of this one!”- and she
stood there with a plate in her hand, beaming at our companion, who looked from one
of us to the other with placid heavenly eyes that contained nothing to check us.

“Yes; if I do-?” “You will be carried away by the little gentleman!” “Well, that, I think,
is what I came for-to be carried away. I’m afraid, however,” I remember feeling the
impulse to add, “I’m rather easily carried away. I was carried away in London!” I can
still see Mrs. Grose’s broad face as she took this in. “In Harley Street?” “Well, miss,
you’re not the first-and you won’t be the last.” “Oh, I’ve no pretension,” I could laugh,
“to being the only one. My other pupil, at any rate, as I understand, comes back
tomorrow?” “Not tomorrow-Friday, miss. He arrives, as you did, by the coach, under
care of the guard, and is to be met by the same carriage.” I forthwith expressed that the
proper as well as the pleasant and friendly thing would be therefore that on the arrival
of the public conveyance I should be in waiting for him with his little sister; an idea in
which Mrs. Grose concurred so heartily that I somehow took her manner as a kind of
<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library-The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

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