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

He neither blanched nor winked. The whole thing was virtually out between us. “Ah,
of course, she’s a jolly, ‘perfect’ lady; but, after all, I’m a fellow, don’t you see? that’s-
well, getting on.”

I lingered there with him an instant ever so kindly. “Yes, you’re getting on.” Oh, but I
felt helpless!

I have kept to this day the heartbreaking little idea of how he seemed to know that and
to play with it. “And you can’t say I’ve not been awfully good, can you?” I laid my
hand on his shoulder, for, though I felt how much better it would have been to walk
on, I was not yet quite able. “No, I can’t say that, Miles.” “Except just that one night,
you know-!” “That one night?” I couldn’t look as straight as he.

“Why, when I went down-went out of the house.” “Oh, yes. But I forget what you did
it for.” “You forget?”- he spoke with the sweet extravagance of childish reproach.

“Why, it was to show you I could!” “Oh, yes, you could.” “And I can again.” I felt that I
might, perhaps, after all, succeed in keeping my wits about me.

“Certainly. But you won’t.” “No, not that again. It was nothing.” “It was nothing,” I
said. “But we must go on.”

He resumed our walk with me, passing his hand into my arm. “Then when am I going
back?” I wore, in turning it over, my most responsible air. “Were you very happy at
school?” He just considered. “Oh, I’m happy enough anywhere!” “Well, then,” I
quavered, “if you’re just as happy here-!” “Ah, but that isn’t everything! Of course you
know a lot-” “But you hint that you know almost as much?” I risked as he paused.

“Not half I want to!” Miles honestly professed. “But it isn’t so much that.” “What is it,
then?” “Well-I want to see more life.” “I see; I see.” We had arrived within sight of the
church and of various persons, including several of the household of Bly, on their way
to it and clustered about the door to see us go in. I quickened our step; I wanted to get
there before the question between us opened up much further; I reflected hungrily that,
for more than an hour, he would have to be silent; and I thought with envy of the
comparative dusk of the pew and of the almost, spiritual help of the hassock on which I
might bend my knees. I seemed literally to be running a race with some confusion to
which he was about to reduce me, but I felt that he had got in first when, before we had
even entered the churchyard, he threw out “I want my own sort!” It literally made me
bound forward. “There are not many of your own sort, Miles!” I laughed. “Unless
perhaps dear little Flora!” “You really compare me to a baby girl?” This found me
singularly weak. “Don’t you, then, love our sweet Flora?” “If I didn’t-and you, too; if I
didn’t-!” he repeated as if retreating for a jump, yet leaving his thought so unfinished
that, after we had come into the gate, another stop, which he imposed on me by the
pressure of his arm, had become inevitable. Mrs. Grose and Flora had passed into the
church, the other worshippers had followed, and we were, for the minute, alone-
among the old, thick graves.

We had paused, on the path from the gate, by a low, oblong, tablelike tomb.
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