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sensible. The fact that the days passed for me without another encounter ought, it
would have appeared, to have done something toward soothing my nerves. Since the
light brush, that second night on the upper landing, of the presence of a woman at the
foot of the stair, I had seen nothing, whether in or out of the house, that one had better
not have seen. There was many a corner round which I expected to come upon Quint,
and many a situation that, in a merely sinister way, would have favored the appearance
of Miss Jessel. The summer had turned, the summer had gone; the autumn had
dropped upon Bly and had blown out half our lights. The place, with its gray sky and
withered garlands, its bared spaces and scattered dead leaves, was like a theater after
the performance-all strewn with crumpled playbills. There were exactly states of the
air, conditions of sound and of stillness, unspeakable impressions of the kind of
ministering moment, that brought back to me, long enough to catch it, the feeling of the
medium in which, that June evening out of doors, I had had my first sight of Quint, and
in which, too, at those other instants, I had, after seeing him through the window,
looked for him in vain in the circle of shrubbery. I recognized the signs, the portents-I
recognized the moment, the spot. But they remained unaccompanied and empty, and I
continued unmolested; if unmolested one could call a young woman whose sensibility
had, in the most extraordinary fashion, not declined but deepened. I had said in my
talk with Mrs. Grose on that horrid scene of Flora’s by the lake-and had perplexed her
by so saying-that it would from that moment distress me much more to lose my power
than to keep it. I had then expressed what was vividly in my mind: the truth that,
whether the children really saw or not-since, that is, it was not yet definitely proved-I
greatly preferred, as a safeguard, the fullness of my own exposure. I was ready to
know the very worst that was to be known. What I had then had an ugly glimpse of
was that my eyes might be sealed just while theirs were most opened. Well, my eyes
were sealed, it appeared, at present-a consummation for which it seemed blasphemous
not to thank God.

There was, alas, a difficulty about that: I would have thanked him with all my soul had
I not had in a proportionate measure this conviction of the secret of my pupils.

How can I retrace today the strange steps of my obsession? There were times of our
being together when I would have been ready to swear that, literally, in my presence,
but with my direct sense of it closed, they had visitors who were known and were
welcome. Then it was that, had I not been deterred by the very chance that such an
injury might prove greater than the injury to be averted, my exultation would have
broken out. “They’re here, they’re here, you little wretches,” I would have cried, “and
you can’t deny it now!” The little wretches denied it with all the added volume of their
sociability and their tenderness, in just the crystal depths of which-like the flash of a
fish in a stream-the mockery of their advantage peeped up. The shock, in truth, had
sunk into me still deeper than I knew on the night when, looking out to see either Quint
or Miss Jessel under the stars, I had beheld the boy over whose rest I watched and who
had immediately brought in with him-had straightway, there, turned it on me-the
lovely upward look with which, from the battlements above me, the hideous apparition
of Quint had played. If it was a question of a scare, my discovery on this occasion had
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