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out everything but her own flushed face and her loud, shocked protest, a burst of high
disapproval. “What a dreadful turn, to be sure, miss! Where on earth do you see
anything?” I could only grasp her more quickly yet, for even while she spoke the
hideous plain presence stood undimmed and undaunted. It had already lasted a
minute, and it lasted while I continued, seizing my colleague, quite thrusting her at it
and presenting her to it, to insist with my pointing hand. “You don’t see her exactly as
we see?- you mean to say you don’t now-now? She’s as big as a blazing fire! Only look,
dearest woman, look-!” She looked, even as I did, and gave me, with her deep groan of
negation, repulsion, compassion-the mixture with her pity of her relief at her
exemption-a sense, touching to me even then, that she would have backed me up if she
could. I might well have needed that, for with this hard blow of the proof that her eyes
were hopelessly sealed I felt my own situation horribly crumble, I felt-I saw-my livid
predecessor press, from her position, on my defeat, and I was conscious, more than all,
of what I should have from this instant to deal with in the astounding little attitude of
Flora. Into this attitude Mrs. Grose immediately and violently entered, breaking, even
while there pierced through my sense of ruin a prodigious private triumph, into
breathless reassurance.

“She isn’t there, little lady, and nobody’s there-and you never see nothing, my sweet!
How can poor Miss Jessel-when poor Miss Jessel’s dead and buried? We know, don’t
we, love?”- and she appealed, blundering in, to the child. “It’s all a mere mistake and a
worry and a joke-and we’ll go home as fast as we can!” Our companion, on this, had
responded with a strange, quick primness of propriety, and they were again, with Mrs.
Grose on her feet, united, as it were, in pained opposition to me. Flora continued to fix
me with her small mask of reprobation, and even at that minute I prayed God to
forgive me for seeming to see that, as she stood there holding tight to our friend’s dress,
her incomparable childish beauty had suddenly failed, had quite vanished. I’ve said it
already-she was literally, she was hideously, hard; she had turned common and almost
ugly. “I don’t know what you mean. I see nobody. I see nothing. I never have. I think
you’re cruel. I don’t like you!” Then, after this deliverance, which might have been that
of a vulgarly pert little girl in the street, she hugged Mrs. Grose more closely and
buried in her skirts the dreadful little face. In this position she produced an almost
furious wail. “Take me away, take me away-oh, take me away from her!” “From me?”
I panted.

“From you-from you!” she cried.

Even Mrs. Grose looked across at me dismayed, while I had nothing to do but
communicate again with the figure that, on the opposite bank, without a movement, as
rigidly still as if catching, beyond the interval, our voices, was as vividly there for my
disaster as it was not there for my service. The wretched child had spoken exactly as if
she had got from some outside source each of her stabbing little words, and I could
therefore, in the full despair of all I had to accept, but sadly shake my head at her. “If I
had ever doubted, all my doubt would at present have gone. I’ve been living with the
miserable truth, and now it has only too much closed round me. Of course I’ve lost you:
I’ve interfered, and you’ve seenunder her dictation”- with which I faced, over the pool
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