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|The Turn of the Screw||Henry James|
|Page 2 of 3||
But my companion only looked wan. "I don't understand you."
"Why, it's that the child may keep it up--and that the child assuredly WILL--without my knowing it."
At the image of this possibility Mrs. Grose for a moment collapsed, yet presently to pull herself together again, as if from the positive force of the sense of what, should we yield an inch, there would really be to give way to. "Dear, dear--we must keep our heads! And after all, if she doesn't mind it--!" She even tried a grim joke. "Perhaps she likes it!"
"Likes SUCH things--a scrap of an infant!"
"Isn't it just a proof of her blessed innocence?" my friend bravely inquired.
She brought me, for the instant, almost round. "Oh, we must clutch at THAT--we must cling to it! If it isn't a proof of what you say, it's a proof of--God knows what! For the woman's a horror of horrors."
Mrs. Grose, at this, fixed her eyes a minute on the ground; then at last raising them, "Tell me how you know," she said.
"Then you admit it's what she was?" I cried.
"Tell me how you know," my friend simply repeated.
"Know? By seeing her! By the way she looked."
"At you, do you mean--so wickedly?"
"Dear me, no--I could have borne that. She gave me never a glance. She only fixed the child."
Mrs. Grose tried to see it. "Fixed her?"
"Ah, with such awful eyes!"
She stared at mine as if they might really have resembled them. "Do you mean of dislike?"
"God help us, no. Of something much worse."
"Worse than dislike?--this left her indeed at a loss.
"With a determination--indescribable. With a kind of fury of intention."
I made her turn pale. "Intention?"
"To get hold of her." Mrs. Grose--her eyes just lingering on mine--gave a shudder and walked to the window; and while she stood there looking out I completed my statement. "THAT'S what Flora knows."
After a little she turned round. "The person was in black, you say?"
"In mourning--rather poor, almost shabby. But--yes--with extraordinary beauty." I now recognized to what I had at last, stroke by stroke, brought the victim of my confidence, for she quite visibly weighed this. "Oh, handsome--very, very," I insisted; "wonderfully handsome. But infamous."
She slowly came back to me. "Miss Jessel--WAS infamous." She once more took my hand in both her own, holding it as tight as if to fortify me against the increase of alarm I might draw from this disclosure. "They were both infamous," she finally said.
So, for a little, we faced it once more together; and I found absolutely a degree of help in seeing it now so straight. "I appreciate," I said, "the great decency of your not having hitherto spoken; but the time has certainly come to give me the whole thing." She appeared to assent to this, but still only in silence; seeing which I went on: "I must have it now. Of what did she die? Come, there was something between them."
"There was everything."
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