Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers
and Miss Jessel only for the little lady. When he had gone off with the fellow, I mean,
and spent hours with him.” “He then prevaricated about it-he said he hadn’t?” Her
assent was clear enough to cause me to add in a moment: “I see. He lied.” “Oh!” Mrs.
Grose mumbled. This was a suggestion that it didn’t matter; which indeed she backed
up by a further remark. “You see, after all, Miss Jessel didn’t mind. She didn’t forbid
him.” I considered. “Did he put that to you as a justification?” At this she dropped
again. “No, he never spoke of it.” “Never mentioned her in connection with Quint?”
She saw, visibly flushing, where I was coming out. “Well, he didn’t show anything. He
denied,” she repeated; “he denied.” Lord, how I pressed her now! “So that you could
see he knew what was between the two wretches?” “I don’t know-I don’t know!” the
poor woman groaned.
“You do know, you dear thing,” I replied; “only you haven’t my dreadful boldness of
mind, and you keep back, out of timidity and modesty and delicacy, even the
impression that, in the past, when you had, without my aid, to flounder about in
silence, most of all made you miserable. But I shall get it out of you yet! There was
something in the boy that suggested to you,” I continued, “that he covered and
concealed their relation.” “Oh, he couldn’t prevent-” “Your learning the truth? I
daresay! But, heavens,” I fell, with vehemence, athinking, “what it shows that they
must, to that extent, have succeeded in making of him!” “Ah, nothing that’s not nice
now!” Mrs. Grose lugubriously pleaded.
“I don’t wonder you looked queer,” I persisted, “when I mentioned to you the letter
from his school!” “I doubt if I looked as queer as you!” she retorted with homely force.
“And if he was so bad then as that comes to, how is he such an angel now?” “Yes,
indeed-and if he was a fiend at school! How, how, how? Well,” I said in my torment,
“you must put it to me again, but I shall not be able to tell you for some days. Only, put
it to me again!” I cried in a way that made my friend stare.
“There are directions in which I must not for the present let myself go.” Meanwhile I
returned to her first example-the one to which she had just previously referred-of the
boy’s happy capacity for an occasional slip. “If Quint-on your remonstrance at the time
you speak of-was a base menial, one of the things Miles said to you, I find myself
guessing, was that you were another.” Again her admission was so adequate that I
continued: “And you forgave him that?” “Wouldn’t you?” “Oh, yes!” And we
exchanged there, in the stillness, a sound of the oddest amusement. Then I went on: “At
all events, while he was with the man-” “Miss Flora was with the woman. It suited
them all!” It suited me, too, I felt, only too well; by which I mean that it suited exactly
the particularly deadly view I was in the very act of forbidding myself to entertain. But
I so far succeeded in checking the expression of this view that I will throw, just here, no
further light on it than may be offered by the mention of my final observation to Mrs.
Grose. “His having lied and been impudent are, I confess, less engaging specimens
than I had hoped to have from you of the outbreak in him of the little natural man.
Still,” I mused, “they must do, for they make me feel more than ever that I must
watch.” It made me blush, the next minute, to see in my friend’s face how much more
unreservedly she had forgiven him than her anecdote struck me as presenting to my