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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library-The Turn of the Screw by Henry James


CHAPTER XX

Just as in the churchyard with Miles, the whole thing was upon us. Much as I had made
of the fact that this name had never once, between us, been sounded, the quick, smitten
glare with which the child’s face now received it fairly likened my breach of the silence
to the smash of a pane of glass. It added to the interposing cry, as if to stay the blow,
that Mrs. Grose, at the same instant, uttered over my violence-the shriek of a creature
scared, or rather wounded, which, in turn, within a few seconds, was completed by a
gasp of my own. I seized my colleague’s arm. “She’s there, she’s there!” Miss Jessel
stood before us on the opposite bank exactly as she had stood the other time, and I
remember, strangely, as the first feeling now produced in me, my thrill of joy at having
brought on a proof. She was there, and I was justified; she was there, and I was neither
cruel nor mad. She was there for poor scared Mrs. Grose, but she was there most for
Flora; and no moment of my monstrous time was perhaps so extraordinary as that in
which I consciously threw out to herwith the sense that, pale and ravenous demon as
she was, she would catch and understand it-an inarticulate message of gratitude. She
rose erect on the spot my friend and I had lately quitted, and there was not, in all the
long reach of her desire, an inch of her evil that fell short. This first vividness of vision
and emotion were things of a few seconds, during which Mrs. Grose’s dazed blink
across to where I pointed struck me as a sovereign sign that she too at last saw, just as it
carried my own eyes precipitately to the child. The revelation then of the manner in
which Flora was affected startled me, in truth, far more than it would have done to find
her also merely agitated, for direct dismay was of course not what I had expected.
Prepared and on her guard as our pursuit had actually made her, she would repress
every betrayal; and I was therefore shaken, on the spot, by my first glimpse of the
particular one for which I had not allowed. To see her, without a convulsion of her
small pink face, not even feign to glance in the direction of the prodigy I announced,
but only, instead of that, turn at me an expression of hard, still gravity, an expression
absolutely new and unprecedented and that appeared to read and accuse and judge
me-this was a stroke that somehow converted the little girl herself into the very
presence that could make me quail. I quailed even though my certitude that she
thoroughly saw was never greater than at that instant, and in the immediate need to
defend myself I called it passionately to witness. “She’s there, you little unhappy thing-
there, there, there, and you see her as well as you see me!” I had said shortly before to
Mrs. Grose that she was not at these times a child, but an old, old woman, and that
description of her could not have been more strikingly confirmed than in the way in
which, for all answer to this, she simply showed me, without a concession, an
admission, of her eyes, a countenance of deeper and deeper, of indeed suddenly quite
fixed, reprobation. I was by this time-if I can put the whole thing at all together-more
appalled at what I may properly call her manner than at anything else, though it was
simultaneously with this that I became aware of having Mrs. Grose also, and very
formidably, to reckon with. My elder companion, the next moment, at any rate, blotted
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PinkMonkey.com Digital Library-The Turn of the Screw by Henry James



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