Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers

Help / FAQ

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

so exactly what I should have to meet that, as the prospect grew sharp to me, I at last let
myself go.

I got, so far as the immediate moment was concerned, away; I came straight out of the
churchyard and, thinking hard, retraced my steps through the park. It seemed to me
that by the time I reached the house I had made up my mind I would fly. The Sunday
stillness both of the approaches and of the interior, in which I met no one, fairly excited
me with a sense of opportunity. Were I to get off quickly, this way, I should get off
without a scene, without a word. My quickness would have to be remarkable, however,
and the question of a conveyance was the great one to settle. Tormented, in the hall,
with difficulties and obstacles, I remember sinking down at the foot of the staircase-
suddenly collapsing there on the lowest step and then, with a revulsion, recalling that it
was exactly where more than a month before, in the darkness of night and just so
bowed with evil things, I had seen the specter of the most horrible of women. At this I
was able to straighten myself; I went the rest of the way up; I made, in my
bewilderment, for the schoolroom, where there were objects belonging to me that I
should have to take. But I opened the door to find again, in a flash, my eyes unsealed.
In the presence of what I saw I reeled straight back upon my resistance.

Seated at my own table in clear noonday light I saw a person whom, without my
previous experience, I should have taken at the first blush for some housemaid who
might have stayed at home to look after the place and who, availing herself of rare
relief from observation and of the schoolroom table and my pens, ink, and paper, had
applied herself to the considerable effort of a letter to her sweetheart. There was an
effort in the way that, while her arms rested on the table, her hands with evident
weariness supported her head; but at the moment I took this in I had already become
aware that, in spite of my entrance, her attitude strangely persisted. Then it was-with
the very act of its announcing itself-that her identity flared up in a change of posture.
She rose, not as if she had heard me, but with an indescribable grand melancholy of
indifference and detachment, and, within a dozen feet of me, stood there as my vile
predecessor. Dishonored and tragic, she was all before me; but even as I fixed and, for
memory, secured it, the awful image passed away. Dark as midnight in her black dress,
her haggard beauty and her unutterable woe, she had looked at me long enough to
appear to say that her right to sit at my table was as good as mine to sit at hers. While
these instants lasted, indeed, I had the extraordinary chill of feeling that it was I who
was the intruder. It was as a wild protest against it that, actually addressing her“You
terrible, miserable woman!”- I heard myself break into a sound that, by the open door,
rang through the long passage and the empty house. She looked at me as if she heard
me, but I had recovered myself and cleared the air. There was nothing in the room the
next minute but the sunshine and a sense that I must stay.
<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library-The Turn of the Screw by Henry James

All Contents Copyright © All rights reserved.
Further Distribution Is Strictly Prohibited.

About Us | Advertising | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Home Page

In Association with