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|The Turn of the Screw||Henry James|
|Page 3 of 3||
"An actor!" It was impossible to resemble one less, at least, than Mrs. Grose at that moment.
"I've never seen one, but so I suppose them. He's tall, active, erect," I continued, "but never--no, never!--a gentleman."
My companion's face had blanched as I went on; her round eyes started and her mild mouth gaped. "A gentleman?" she gasped, confounded, stupefied: "a gentleman HE?"
"You know him then?"
She visibly tried to hold herself. "But he IS handsome?"
I saw the way to help her. "Remarkably!"
"In somebody's clothes. "They're smart, but they're not his own."
She broke into a breathless affirmative groan: "They're the master's!"
I caught it up. "You DO know him?"
She faltered but a second. "Quint!" she cried.
"Peter Quint--his own man, his valet, when he was here!"
"When the master was?"
Gaping still, but meeting me, she pieced it all together. "He never wore his hat, but he did wear--well, there were waistcoats missed. They were both here--last year. Then the master went, and Quint was alone."
I followed, but halting a little. "Alone?"
"Alone with US." Then, as from a deeper depth, "In charge," she added.
"And what became of him?"
She hung fire so long that I was still more mystified. "He went, too," she brought out at last.
Her expression, at this, became extraordinary. "God knows where! He died."
"Died?" I almost shrieked.
She seemed fairly to square herself, plant herself more firmly to utter the wonder of it. "Yes. Mr. Quint is dead."
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