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


CHAPTER V

Oh, she let me know as soon as, round the corner of the house, she loomed again into
view. “What in the name of goodness is the matter-?” She was now flushed and out of
breath.

I said nothing till she came quite near. “With me?” I must have made a wonderful face.
“Do I show it?” “You’re as white as a sheet. You look awful.” I considered; I could meet
on this, without scruple, any innocence. My need to respect the bloom of Mrs. Grose’s
had dropped, without a rustle, from my shoulders, and if I wavered for the instant it
was not with what I kept back. I put out my hand to her and she took it; I held her hard
a little, liking to feel her close to me. There was a kind of support in the shy heave of
her surprise. “You came for me for church, of course, but I can’t go.” “Has anything
happened?” “Yes. You must know now. Did I look very queer?” “Through this
window? Dreadful!” “Well,” I said, “I’ve been frightened.” Mrs. Grose’s eyes expressed
plainly that she had no wish to be, yet also that she knew too well her place not to be
ready to share with me any marked inconvenience. Oh, it was quite settled that she
must share! “Just what you saw from the dining room a minute ago was the effect of
that. What I saw-just before-was much worse.” Her hand tightened. “What was it?”
“An extraordinary man. Looking in.” “What extraordinary man?” “I haven’t the least
idea.” Mrs. Grose gazed round us in vain. “Then where is he gone?” “I know still less.”
“Have you seen him before?” “Yes-once. On the old tower.” She could only look at me
harder. “Do you mean he’s a stranger?” “Oh, very much!” “Yet you didn’t tell me?”
“No-for reasons. But now that you’ve guessed-” Mrs. Grose’s round eyes encountered
this charge. “Ah, I haven’t guessed!” she said very simply. “How can I if you don’t
imagine?” “I don’t in the very least.” “You’ve seen him nowhere but on the tower?”
“And on this spot just now.”

Mrs. Grose looked round again. “What was he doing on the tower?” “Only standing
there and looking down at me.” She thought a minute. “Was he a gentleman?” I found I
had no need to think. “No.” She gazed in deeper wonder. “No.” “Then nobody about
the place? Nobody from the village?” “Nobody-nobody. I didn’t tell you, but I made
sure.” She breathed a vague relief-this was, oddly, so much to the good. It only went
indeed a little way. “But if he isn’t a gentleman-” “What is he? He’s a horror.” “He’s-
God help me if I know what he is!” Mrs. Grose looked round once more; she fixed her
eyes on the duskier distance, then, pulling herself together, turned to me with abrupt
inconsequence.

“It’s time we should be at church.” “Oh, I’m not fit for church!” “Won’t it do you
good?” “It won’t do them-!” I nodded at the house.

“The children?” “I can’t leave them now.” I spoke boldly. “I’m afraid of him.” Mrs.
Grose’s large face showed me, at this, for the first time, the faraway faint glimmer of a
consciousness more acute: I somehow made out in it the delayed dawn of an idea I
myself had not given her and that was as yet quite obscure to me. It comes back to me
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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library-The Turn of the Screw by Henry James



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