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

declined, I had arranged with Mrs. Grose that, should the evening show improvement,
we would attend together the late service. The rain happily stopped, and I prepared for
our walk, which, through the park and by the good road to the village, would be a
matter of twenty minutes. Coming downstairs to meet my colleague in the hall, I
remembered a pair of gloves that had required three stitches and that had received
them-with a publicity perhaps not edifying-while I sat with the children at their tea,
served on Sundays, by exception, in that cold, clean temple of mahogany and brass, the
“grown-up” dining room. The gloves had been dropped there, and I turned in to
recover them. The day was gray enough, but the afternoon light still lingered, and it
enabled me, on crossing the threshold, not only to recognize, on a chair near the wide
window, then closed, the articles I wanted, but to become aware of a person on the
other side of the window and looking straight in. One step into the room had sufficed;
my vision was instantaneous; it was all there. The person looking straight in was the
person who had already appeared to me. He appeared thus again with I won’t say
greater distinctness, for that was impossible, but with a nearness that represented a
forward stride in our intercourse and made me, as I met him, catch my breath and turn
cold. He was the same-he was the same, and seen, this time, as he had been seen
before, from the waist up, the window, though the dining room was on the ground
floor, not going down to the terrace on which he stood. His face was close to the glass,
yet the effect of this better view was, strangely, only to show me how intense the
former had been. He remained but a few secondslong enough to convince me he also
saw and recognized; but it was as if I had been looking at him for years and had known
him always. Something, however, happened this time that had not happened before;
his stare into my face, through the glass and across the room, was as deep and hard as
then, but it quitted me for a moment during which I could still watch it, see it fix
successively several other things. On the spot there came to me the added shock of a
certitude that it was not for me he had come there. He had come for someone else.

The flash of this knowledge-for it was knowledge in the midst of dread-produced in
me the most extraordinary effect, started, as I stood there, a sudden vibration of duty
and courage. I say courage because I was beyond all doubt already far gone. I bounded
straight out of the door again, reached that of the house, got, in an instant, upon the
drive, and, passing along the terrace as fast as I could rush, turned a corner and came
full in sight. But it was in sight of nothing now-my visitor had vanished. I stopped, I
almost dropped, with the real relief of this; but I took in the whole scene-I gave him
time to reappear. I call it time, but how long was it? I can’t speak to the purpose today
of the duration of these things. That kind of measure must have left me: they couldn’t
have lasted as they actually appeared to me to last. The terrace and the whole place, the
lawn and the garden beyond it, all I could see of the park, were empty with a great

There were shrubberies and big trees, but I remember the clear assurance I felt that
none of them concealed him. He was there or was not there: not there if I didn’t see
him. I got hold of this; then, instinctively, instead of returning as I had come, went to
the window. It was confusedly present to me that I ought to place myself where he had
<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library-The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

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