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


I went so far, in the evening, as to make a beginning. The weather had changed back, a
great wind was abroad, and beneath the lamp, in my room, with Flora at peace beside
me, I sat for a long time before a blank sheet of paper and listened to the lash of the rain
and the batter of the gusts. Finally I went out, taking a candle; I crossed the passage
and listened a minute at Miles’s door. What, under my endless obsession, I had been
impelled to listen for was some betrayal of his not being at rest, and I presently caught
one, but not in the form I had expected. His voice tinkled out. “I say, you there-come
in.” It was a gaiety in the gloom!

I went in with my light and found him, in bed, very wide awake, but very much at his
ease. “Well, what are you up to?” he asked with a grace of sociability in which it
occurred to me that Mrs. Grose, had she been present, might have looked in vain for
proof that anything was “out.” I stood over him with my candle. “How did you know I
was there?” “Why, of course I heard you. Did you fancy you made no noise? You’re
like a troop of cavalry!” he beautifully laughed.

“Then you weren’t asleep?” “Not much! I lie awake and think.”

I had put my candle, designedly, a short way off, and then, as he held out his friendly
old hand to me, had sat down on the edge of his bed. “What is it,” I asked, “that you
think of?” “What in the world, my dear, but you?” “Ah, the pride I take in your
appreciation doesn’t insist on that! I had so far rather you slept.” “Well, I think also,
you know, of this queer business of ours.” I marked the coolness of his firm little hand.
“Of what queer business, Miles?” “Why, the way you bring me up. And all the rest!” I
fairly held my breath a minute, and even from my glimmering taper there was light
enough to show how he smiled up at me from his pillow. “What do you mean by all
the rest?” “Oh, you know, you know!” I could say nothing for a minute, though I felt,
as I held his hand and our eyes continued to meet, that my silence had all the air of
admitting his charge and that nothing in the whole world of reality was perhaps at that
moment so fabulous as our actual relation. “Certainly you shall go back to school,” I
said, “if it be that that troubles you. But not to the old place-we must find another, a
better. How could I know it did trouble you, this question, when you never told me so,
never spoke of it at all?” His clear, listening face, framed in its smooth whiteness, made
him for the minute as appealing as some wistful patient in a children’s hospital; and I
would have given, as the resemblance came to me, all I possessed on earth really to be
the nurse or the sister of charity who might have helped to cure him.

Well, even as it was, I perhaps might help! “Do you know you’ve never said a word to
me about your school-I mean the old one; never mentioned it in any way?” He seemed
to wonder; he smiled with the same loveliness. But he clearly gained time; he waited,
he called for guidance. “Haven’t I?” It wasn’t for me to help him-it was for the thing I
had met!
<- 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