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|The Turn of the Screw||Henry James|
|Page 3 of 4||
My friend appeared on this ground more reluctant than I could quite understand. "What do you mean by more time?"
"Well, a day or two--really to bring it out. He'll then be on MY side--of which you see the importance. If nothing comes, I shall only fail, and you will, at the worst, have helped me by doing, on your arrival in town, whatever you may have found possible." So I put it before her, but she continued for a little so inscrutably embarrassed that I came again to her aid. "Unless, indeed," I wound up, "you really want NOT to go."
I could see it, in her face, at last clear itself; she put out her hand to me as a pledge. "I'll go--I'll go. I'll go this morning."
I wanted to be very just. "If you SHOULD wish still to wait, I would engage she shouldn't see me."
"No, no: it's the place itself. She must leave it." She held me a moment with heavy eyes, then brought out the rest. "Your idea's the right one. I myself, miss--"
"I can't stay."
The look she gave me with it made me jump at possibilities. "You mean that, since yesterday, you HAVE seen--?"
She shook her head with dignity. "I've HEARD--!"
"From that child--horrors! There!" she sighed with tragic relief. "On my honor, miss, 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 also--since 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-"
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