We went straight to the lake, as it was called at Bly, and I daresay rightly called, though I reflect that it may in fact have been a sheet of water less remarkable than it appeared to my untraveled eyes. My acquaintance with sheets of water was small, and the pool of Bly, at all events on the few occasions of my consenting, under the protection of my pupils, to affront its surface in the old flat-bottomed boat moored there for our use, had impressed me both with its extent and its agitation. The usual place of embarkation was half a mile from the house, but I had an intimate conviction that, wherever Flora might be, she was not near home. She had not given me the slip for any small adventure, and, since the day of the very great one that I had shared with her by the pond, I had been aware, in our walks, of the quarter to which she most inclined. This was why I had now given to Mrs. Groses steps so marked a directiona direction that made her, when she perceived it, oppose a resistance that showed me she was freshly mystified. Youre going to the water, Miss?you think shes in?
She may be, though the depth is, I believe, nowhere very great. But what I judge most likely is that shes on the spot from which, the other day, we saw together what I told you.
When she pretended not to see?
With that astounding self-possession? Ive always been sure she wanted to go back alone. And now her brother has managed it for her.
Mrs. Grose still stood where she had stopped. You suppose they really talk of them?
I could meet this with a confidence! They say things that, if we heard them, would simply appall us.
And if she is there
Then Miss Jessel is?
Beyond a doubt. You shall see.
Oh, thank you! my friend cried, planted so firm that, taking it in, I went straight on without her. By the time I reached the pool, however, she was close behind me, and I knew that, whatever, to her apprehension, might befall me, the exposure of my society struck her as her least danger. She exhaled a moan of relief as we at last came in sight of the greater part of the water without a sight of the child. There was no trace of Flora on that nearer side of the bank where my observation of her had been most startling, and none on the opposite edge, where, save for a margin of some twenty yards, a thick copse came down to the water. The pond, oblong in shape, had a width so scant compared to its length that, with its ends out of view, it might have been taken for a scant river. We looked at the empty expanse, and then I felt the suggestion of my friends eyes. I knew what she meant and I replied with a negative headshake.
No, no; wait! She has taken the boat.
My companion stared at the vacant mooring place and then again across the lake. Then where is it?
Our not seeing it is the strongest of proofs. She has used it to go over, and then has managed to hide it.
All alonethat child?
Shes not alone, and at such times shes not a child: shes an old, old woman. I scanned all the visible shore while Mrs. Grose took again, into the queer element I offered her, one of her plunges of submission; then I pointed out that the boat might perfectly be in a small refuge formed by one of the recesses of the pool, an indentation masked, for the hither side, by a projection of the bank and by a clump of trees growing close to the water.
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