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the next hours, was to deepen almost to pain. Mrs. Grose was aware, I could judge, of
what she had produced in me, and she followed it up with assurance. “You might as
well believe it of the little lady. Bless her,” she added the next moment-“look at her!” I
turned and saw that Flora, whom, ten minutes before, I had established in the
schoolroom with a sheet of white paper, a pencil, and a copy of nice “round o’s,” now
presented herself to view at the open door. She expressed in her little way an
extraordinary detachment from disagreeable duties, looking to me, however, with a
great childish light that seemed to offer it as a mere result of the affection she had
conceived for my person, which had rendered necessary that she should follow me. I
needed nothing more than this to feel the full force of Mrs. Grose’s comparison, and,
catching my pupil in my arms, covered her with kisses in which there was a sob of

Nonetheless, the rest of the day I watched for further occasion to approach my
colleague, especially as, toward evening, I began to fancy she rather sought to avoid
me. I overtook her, I remember, on the staircase; we went down together, and at the
bottom I detained her, holding her there with a hand on her arm. “I take what you said
to me at noon as a declaration that you’ve never known him to be bad.” She threw back
her head; she had clearly, by this time, and very honestly, adopted an attitude. “Oh,
never known him-I don’t pretend that!” I was upset again. “Then you have known
him-?” “Yes indeed, miss, thank God!” On reflection I accepted this. “You mean that a
boy who never is-?” “Is no boy for me!” I held her tighter. “You like them with the
spirit to be naughty?” Then, keeping pace with her answer, “So do I!” I eagerly brought

“But not to the degree to contaminate-” “To contaminate?”- my big word left her at a
loss. I explained it. “To corrupt.” She stared, taking my meaning in; but it produced in
her an odd laugh. “Are you afraid he’ll corrupt you?” She put the question with such a
fine bold humor that, with a laugh, a little silly doubtless, to match her own, I gave way
for the time to the apprehension of ridicule.

But the next day, as the hour for my drive approached, I cropped up in another place.
“What was the lady who was here before?” “The last governess? She was also young
and pretty-almost as young and almost as pretty, miss, even as you.” “Ah, then, I hope
her youth and her beauty helped her!” I recollect throwing off. “He seems to like us
young and pretty!” “Oh, he did,” Mrs. Grose assented: “it was the way he liked
everyone!” She had no sooner spoken indeed than she caught herself up. “I mean that’s
his waythe master’s.” I was struck. “But of whom did you speak first?” She looked
blank, but she colored. “Why, of him.” “Of the master?” “Of who else?” There was so
obviously no one else that the next moment I had lost my impression of her having
accidentally said more than she meant; and I merely asked what I wanted to know.
“Did she see anything in the boy-?” “That wasn’t right? She never told me.” I had a
scruple, but I overcame it. “Was she careful-particular?” Mrs. Grose appeared to try to
be conscientious. “About some things-yes.” “But not about all?” Again she considered.
“Well, miss-she’s gone. I won’t tell tales.” “I quite understand your feeling,” I hastened
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