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

by one of the recesses of the pool, an indentation masked, for the hither side, by a
projection of the bank and by a clump of trees growing close to the water.

“But if the boat’s there, where on earth’s she?” my colleague anxiously asked.

“That’s exactly what we must learn.” And I started to walk further.

“By going all the way round?” “Certainly, far as it is. It will take us but ten minutes,
but it’s far enough to have made the child prefer not to walk. She went straight over.”
“Laws!” cried my friend again; the chain of my logic was ever too much for her. It
dragged her at my heels even now, and when we had got halfway round-a devious,
tiresome process, on ground much broken and by a path choked with overgrowth-I
paused to give her breath. I sustained her with a grateful arm, assuring her that she
might hugely help me; and this started us afresh, so that in the course of but few
minutes more we reached a point from which we found the boat to be where I had
supposed it. It had been intentionally left as much as possible out of sight and was tied
to one of the stakes of a fence that came, just there, down to the brink and that had been
an assistance to disembarking. I recognized, as I looked at the pair of short, thick oars,
quite safely drawn up, the prodigious character of the feat for a little girl; but I had
lived, by this time, too long among wonders and had panted to too many livelier
measures. There was a gate in the fence, through which we passed, and that brought
us, after a trifling interval, more into the open. Then, “There she is!” we both exclaimed
at once.

Flora, a short way off, stood before us on the grass and smiled as if her performance
was now complete. The next thing she did, however, was to stoop straight down and
pluck-quite as if it were all she was there for-a big, ugly spray of withered fern. I
instantly became sure she had just come out of the copse. She waited for us, not herself
taking a step, and I was conscious of the rare solemnity with which we presently
approached her. She smiled and smiled, and we met; but it was all done in a silence by
this time flagrantly ominous. Mrs. Grose was the first to break the spell: she threw
herself on her knees and, drawing the child to her breast, clasped in a long embrace the
little tender, yielding body. While this dumb convulsion lasted I could only watch it-
which I did the more intently when I saw Flora’s face peep at me over our companion’s

It was serious now-the flicker had left it; but it strengthened the pang with which I at
that moment envied Mrs. Grose the simplicity of her relation. Still, all this while,
nothing more passed between us save that Flora had let her foolish fern again drop to
the ground. What she and I had virtually said to each other was that pretexts were
useless now. When Mrs. Grose finally got up she kept the child’s hand, so that the two
were still before me; and the singular reticence of our communion was even more
marked in the frank look she launched me. “I’ll be hanged,” it said, “if I’ll speak!” It
was Flora who, gazing all over me in candid wonder, was the first. She was struck with
our bareheaded aspect. “Why, where are your things?” “Where yours are, my dear!” I
promptly returned.
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