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


CHAPTER VII

I got hold of Mrs. Grose as soon after this as I could; and I can give no intelligible
account of how I fought out the interval. Yet I still hear myself cry as I fairly threw
myself into her arms: “They know-it’s too monstrous: they know, they know!” “And
what on earth-?” I felt her incredulity as she held me.

“Why, all that we know-and heaven knows what else besides!” Then, as she released
me, I made it out to her, made it out perhaps only now with full coherency even to
myself. “Two hours ago, in the garden”- I could scarce articulate“Flora saw!” Mrs.
Grose took it as she might have taken a blow in the stomach. “She has told you?” she
panted.

“Not a word-that’s the horror. She kept it to herself. The child of eight, that child!”
Unutterable still, for me, was the stupefaction of it.

Mrs. Grose, of course, could only gape the wider. “Then how do you know?” “I was
there-I saw with my eyes: saw that she was perfectly aware.” “Do you mean aware of
him?” “No-of her.” I was conscious as I spoke that I looked prodigious things, for I got
the slow reflection of them in my companion’s face. “Another person-this time; but a
figure of quite as unmistakable horror and evil: a woman in black, pale and dreadful-
with such an air also, and such a face!- on the other side of the lake. I was there with the
child-quiet for the hour; and in the midst of it she came.” “Came how-from where?”
“From where they come from! She just appeared and stood there-but not so near.”
“And without coming nearer?” “Oh, for the effect and the feeling, she might have been
as close as you!” My friend, with an odd impulse, fell back a step. “Was she someone
you’ve never seen?” “Yes. But someone the child has. Someone you have.” Then, to
show how I had thought it all out: “My predecessor-the one who died.” “Miss Jessel?”
“Miss Jessel. You don’t believe me?” I pressed.

She turned right and left in her distress. “How can you be sure?” This drew from me,
in the state of my nerves, a flash of impatience. “Then ask Flora-she’s sure!” But I had
no sooner spoken than I caught myself up. “No, for God’s sake, don’t! She’ll say she
isn’t-she’ll lie!” Mrs. Grose was not too bewildered instinctively to protest. “Ah, how
can you?” “Because I’m clear. Flora doesn’t want me to know.” “It’s only then to spare
you.” “No, no-there are depths, depths! The more I go over it, the more I-see in it, and
the more I see in it, the more I fear. I don’t know what I don’t see-what I don’t fear!”
Mrs. Grose tried to keep up with me. “You mean you’re afraid of seeing her again?”
“Oh, no; that’s nothing-now!” Then I explained. “It’s of not seeing her.” But my
companion only looked wan. “I don’t understand you.” “Why, it’s that the child may
keep it up-and that the child assuredly willwithout my knowing it.” At the image of
this possibility Mrs. Grose for a moment collapsed, yet presently to pull herself together
again, as if from the positive force of the sense of what, should we yield an inch, there
would really be to give way to. “Dear, dearwe must keep our heads! And after all, if
she doesn’t mind it-!” She even tried a grim joke. “Perhaps she likes it!” “Likes such
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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library-The Turn of the Screw by Henry James



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