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


We went straight to the lake, as it was called at Bly, and I daresay rightly called, though
I reflect that it may in fact have been a sheet of water less remarkable than it appeared
to my untraveled eyes. My acquaintance with sheets of water was small, and the pool
of Bly, at all events on the few occasions of my consenting, under the protection of my
pupils, to affront its surface in the old flatbottomed boat moored there for our use, had
impressed me both with its extent and its agitation. The usual place of embarkation was
half a mile from the house, but I had an intimate conviction that, wherever Flora might
be, she was not near home. She had not given me the slip for any small adventure, and,
since the day of the very great one that I had shared with her by the pond, I had been
aware, in our walks, of the quarter to which she most inclined. This was why I had now
given to Mrs. Grose’s steps so marked a direction-a direction that made her, when she
perceived it, oppose a resistance that showed me she was freshly mystified. “You’re
going to the water, miss?- you think she’s in-?” “She may be, though the depth is, I
believe, nowhere very great. But what I judge most likely is that she’s on the spot from
which, the other day, we saw together what I told you.” “When she pretended not to
see-?” “With that astounding self-possession? I’ve always been sure she wanted to go
back alone. And now her brother has managed it for her.”

Mrs. Grose still stood where she had stopped. “You suppose they really talk of them?” I
could meet this with a confidence! “They say things that, if we heard them, would
simply appal us.” “And if she is there-?” “Yes?” “Then Miss Jessel is?” “Beyond a
doubt. You shall see.” “Oh, thank you!” my friend cried, planted so firm that, taking it
in, I went straight on without her. By the time I reached the pool, however, she was
close behind me, and I knew that, whatever, to her apprehension, might befall me, the
exposure of my society struck her as her least danger. She exhaled a moan of relief as
we at last came in sight of the greater part of the water without a sight of the child.
There was no trace of Flora on that nearer side of the bank where my observation of her
had been most startling, and none on the opposite edge, where, save for a margin of
some twenty yards, a thick copse came down to the water.

The pond, oblong in shape, had a width so scant compared to its length that, with its
ends out of view, it might have been taken for a scant river. We looked at the empty
expanse, and then I felt the suggestion of my friend’s eyes. I knew what she meant and
I replied with a negative headshake.

“No, no; wait! She has taken the boat.”

My companion stared at the vacant mooring place and then again across the lake.
“Then where is it?” “Our not seeing it is the strongest of proofs. She has used it to go
over, and then has managed to hide it.” “All alone-that child?” “She’s not alone, and at
such times she’s not a child: she’s an old, old woman.” I scanned all the visible shore
while Mrs. Grose took again, into the queer element I offered her, one of her plunges of
submission; then I pointed out that the boat might perfectly be in a small refuge formed
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