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

she says things-!” But at this evocation she broke down; she dropped, with a sudden
sob, upon my sofa and, as I had seen her do before, gave way to all the grief of it.

It was quite in another manner that I, for my part, let myself go. “Oh, thank God!” She
sprang up again at this, drying her eyes with a groan. “’Thank God’?” “It so justifies
me!” “It does that, miss!” I couldn’t have desired more emphasis, but I just hesitated.
“She’s so horrible?” I saw my colleague scarce knew how to put it. “Really shocking.”
“And about me?” “About you, miss-since you must have it. It’s beyond everything, for
a young lady; and I can’t think wherever she must have picked up-” “The appalling
language she applied to me? I can, then!” I broke in with a laugh that was doubtless
significant enough.

It only, in truth, left my friend still more grave. “Well, perhaps I ought to alsosince I’ve
heard some of it before! Yet I can’t bear it,” the poor woman went on while, with the
same movement, she glanced, on my dressing table, at the face of my watch. “But I
must go back.” I kept her, however. “Ah, if you can’t bear it-!” “How can I stop with
her, you mean? Why, just for that: to get her away. Far from this,” she pursued, “far
from them-” “She may be different? She may be free?” I seized her almost with joy.

“Then, in spite of yesterday, you believe-” “In such doings?” Her simple description of
them required, in the light of her expression, to be carried no further, and she gave me
the whole thing as she had never done. “I believe.” Yes, it was a joy, and we were still
shoulder to shoulder: if I might continue sure of that I should care but little what else
happened. My support in the presence of disaster would be the same as it had been in
my early need of confidence, and if my friend would answer for my honesty, I would
answer for all the rest.

On the point of taking leave of her, nonetheless, I was to some extent embarrassed.
“There’s one thing, of course-it occurs to me-to remember. My letter, giving the alarm,
will have reached town before you.”

I now perceived still more how she had been beating about the bush and how weary at
last it had made her. “Your letter won’t have got there. Your letter never went.” “What
then became of it?” “Goodness knows! Master Miles-” “Do you mean he took it?” I

She hung fire, but she overcame her reluctance. “I mean that I saw yesterday, when I
came back with Miss Flora, that it wasn’t where you had put it. Later in the evening I
had the chance to question Luke, and he declared that he had neither noticed nor
touched it.” We could only exchange, on this, one of our deeper mutual soundings, and
it was Mrs. Grose who first brought up the plumb with an almost elated “You see!”
“Yes, I see that if Miles took it instead he probably will have read it and destroyed it.”
“And don’t you see anything else?” I faced her a moment with a sad smile. “It strikes
me that by this time your eyes are open even wider than mine.” They proved to be so
indeed, but she could still blush, almost, to show it. “I make out now what he must
have done at school.” And she gave, in her simple sharpness, an almost droll
disillusioned nod. “He stole!”
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