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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library-The Turn of the Screw by Henry James


conceit, to assume that I could deal with a boy whose education for the world was all
on the point of beginning. I am unable even to remember at this day what proposal I
framed for the end of his holidays and the resumption of his studies. Lessons with me,
indeed, that charming summer, we all had a theory that he was to have; but I now feel
that, for weeks, the lessons must have been rather my own. I learned something-at
first, certainlythat had not been one of the teachings of my small, smothered life;
learned to be amused, and even amusing, and not to think for the morrow. It was the
first time, in a manner, that I had known space and air and freedom, all the music of
summer and all the mystery of nature. And then there was consideration-and
consideration was sweet. Oh, it was a trap-not designed, but deep-to my imagination,
to my delicacy, perhaps to my vanity; to whatever, in me, was most excitable.

The best way to picture it all is to say that I was off my guard. They gave me so little
trouble-they were of a gentleness so extraordinary. I used to speculate-but even this
with a dim disconnectedness-as to how the rough future (for all futures are rough!)
would handle them and might bruise them. They had the bloom of health and
happiness; and yet, as if I had been in charge of a pair of little grandees, of princes of
the blood, for whom everything, to be right, would have to be enclosed and protected,
the only form that, in my fancy, the afteryears could take for them was that of a
romantic, a really royal extension of the garden and the park. It may be, of course,
above all, that what suddenly broke into this gives the previous time a charm of
stillness-that hush in which something gathers or crouches. The change was actually
like the spring of a beast.

In the first weeks the days were long; they often, at their finest, gave me what I used to
call my own hour, the hour when, for my pupils, teatime and bedtime having come and
gone, I had, before my final retirement, a small interval alone.

Much as I liked my companions, this hour was the thing in the day I liked most; and I
liked it best of all when, as the light faded-or rather, I should say, the day lingered and
the last calls of the last birds sounded, in a flushed sky, from the old trees-I could take
a turn into the grounds and enjoy, almost with a sense of property that amused and
flattered me, the beauty and dignity of the place. It was a pleasure at these moments to
feel myself tranquil and justified; doubtless, perhaps, also to reflect that by my
discretion, my quiet good sense and general high propriety, I was giving pleasure-if he
ever thought of it!- to the person to whose pressure I had responded. What I was doing
was what he had earnestly hoped and directly asked of me, and that I could, after all,
do it proved even a greater joy than I had expected. I daresay I fancied myself, in short,
a remarkable young woman and took comfort in the faith that this would more publicly
appear. Well, I needed to be remarkable to offer a front to the remarkable things that
presently gave their first sign.

It was plump, one afternoon, in the middle of my very hour: the children were tucked
away, and I had come out for my stroll. One of the thoughts that, as I donít in the least
shrink now from noting, used to be with me in these wanderings was that it would be
as charming as a charming story suddenly to meet someone.
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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library-The Turn of the Screw by Henry James



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