Before a new day, in my room, had fully broken, my eyes opened to Mrs. Grose, who had come to my bedside with worse news. Flora was so markedly feverish that an illness was perhaps at hand; she had passed a night of extreme unrest, a night agitated above all by fears that had for their subject not in the least her former, but wholly her present, governess. It was not against the possible re-entrance of Miss Jessel on the scene that she protestedit was conspicuously and passionately against mine. I was promptly on my feet of course, and with an immense deal to ask; the more that my friend had discernibly now girded her loins to meet me once more. This I felt as soon as I had put to her the question of her sense of the childs sincerity as against my own. She persists in denying to you that she saw, or has ever seen, anything?
My visitors trouble, truly, was great. Ah, miss, it isnt a matter on which I can push her! Yet it isnt either, I must say, as if I much needed to. It has made her, every inch of her, quite old.
Oh, I see her perfectly from here. She resents, for all the world like some high little personage, the imputation on her truthfulness and, as it were, her respectability. Miss Jessel indeedshe! Ah, shes respectable, the chit! The impression she gave me there yesterday was, I assure you, the very strangest of all; it was quite beyond any of the others. I did put my foot in it! Shell never speak to me again.
Hideous and obscure as it all was, it held Mrs. Grose briefly silent; then she granted my point with a frankness which, I made sure, had more behind it. I think indeed, miss, she never will. She do have a grand manner about it!
And that mannerI summed it upis practically whats the matter with her now!
Oh, that manner, I could see in my visitors face, and not a little else besides! She asks me every three minutes if I think youre coming in.
I seeI see. I, too, on my side, had so much more than worked it out. Has she said to you since yesterdayexcept to repudiate her familiarity with anything so dreadfula single other word about Miss Jessel?
Not one, miss. And of course you know, my friend added, I took it from her, by the lake, that, just then and there at least, there was nobody.
Rather! and, naturally, you take it from her still.
I dont contradict her. What else can I do?
Nothing in the world! Youve the cleverest little person to deal with. Theyve made themtheir two friends, I meanstill cleverer even than nature did; for it was wondrous material to play on! Flora has now her grievance, and shell work it to the end.
Yes, miss; but to what end?
Why, that of dealing with me to her uncle. Shell make me out to him the lowest creature!
I winced at the fair show of the scene in Mrs. Groses face; she looked for a minute as if she sharply saw them together. And him who thinks so well of you!
He has an odd wayit comes over me now, I laughed,of proving it! But that doesnt matter. What Flora wants, of course, is to get rid of me.
My companion bravely concurred. Never again to so much as look at you.
So that what youve come to me now for, I asked, is to speed me on my way? Before she had time to reply, however, I had her in check. Ive a better ideathe result of my reflections. My going would
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