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


Her thus turning her back on me was fortunately not, for my just preoccupations, a
snub that could check the growth of our mutual esteem. We met, after I had brought
home little Miles, more intimately than ever on the ground of my stupefaction, my
general emotion: so monstrous was I then ready to pronounce it that such a child as had
now been revealed to me should be under an interdict. I was a little late on the scene,
and I felt, as he stood wistfully looking out for me before the door of the inn at which
the coach had put him down, that I had seen him, on the instant, without and within, in
the great glow of freshness, the same positive fragrance of purity, in which I had, from
the first moment, seen his little sister. He was incredibly beautiful, and Mrs. Grose had
put her finger on it: everything but a sort of passion of tenderness for him was swept
away by his presence.

What I then and there took him to my heart for was something divine that I have never
found to the same degree in any child-his indescribable little air of knowing nothing in
the world but love. It would have been impossible to carry a bad name with a greater
sweetness of innocence, and by the time I had got back to Bly with him I remained
merely bewildered-so far, that is, as I was not outragedby the sense of the horrible
letter locked up in my room, in a drawer. As soon as I could compass a private word
with Mrs. Grose I declared to her that it was grotesque.

She promptly understood me. “You mean the cruel charge-?”

“It doesn’t live an instant. My dear woman, look at him!” She smiled at my pretention
to have discovered his charm. “I assure you, miss, I do nothing else! What will you say,
then?” she immediately added.

“In answer to the letter?” I had made up my mind. “Nothing.” “And to his uncle?” I
was incisive. “Nothing.” “And to the boy himself?” I was wonderful. “Nothing.” She
gave with her apron a great wipe to her mouth. “Then I’ll stand by you.

We’ll see it out.” “We’ll see it out!” I ardently echoed, giving her my hand to make it a

She held me there a moment, then whisked up her apron again with her detached
hand. “Would you mind, miss, if I used the freedom-” “To kiss me? No!” I took the
good creature in my arms and, after we had embraced like sisters, felt still more
fortified and indignant.

This, at all events, was for the time: a time so full that, as I recall the way it went, it
reminds me of all the art I now need to make it a little distinct. What I look back at with
amazement is the situation I accepted. I had undertaken, with my companion, to see it
out, and I was under a charm, apparently, that could smooth away the extent and the
far and difficult connections of such an effort. I was lifted aloft on a great wave of
infatuation and pity. I found it simple, in my ignorance, my confusion, and perhaps my
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