Yet it was when she had got off—and I missed her on the spot—that the grea_inch really came. If I had counted on what it would give me to find mysel_lone with Miles, I speedily perceived, at least, that it would give me _easure. No hour of my stay in fact was so assailed with apprehensions as tha_f my coming down to learn that the carriage containing Mrs. Grose and m_ounger pupil had already rolled out of the gates. Now I was, I said t_yself, face to face with the elements, and for much of the rest of the day,
while I fought my weakness, I could consider that I had been supremely rash.
It was a tighter place still than I had yet turned round in; all the mor_hat, for the first time, I could see in the aspect of others a confuse_eflection of the crisis. What had happened naturally caused them all t_tare; there was too little of the explained, throw out whatever we might, i_he suddenness of my colleague's act. The maids and the men looked blank; th_ffect of which on my nerves was an aggravation until I saw the necessity o_aking it a positive aid. It was precisely, in short, by just clutching th_elm that I avoided total wreck; and I dare say that, to bear up at all, _ecame, that morning, very grand and very dry. I welcomed the consciousnes_hat I was charged with much to do, and I caused it to be known as well that,
left thus to myself, I was quite remarkably firm. I wandered with that manner,
for the next hour or two, all over the place and looked, I have no doubt, a_f I were ready for any onset. So, for the benefit of whom it might concern, _araded with a sick heart.
The person it appeared least to concern proved to be, till dinner, littl_iles himself. My perambulations had given me, meanwhile, no glimpse of him,
but they had tended to make more public the change taking place in ou_elation as a consequence of his having at the piano, the day before, kept me,
in Flora's interest, so beguiled and befooled. The stamp of publicity had o_ourse been fully given by her confinement and departure, and the chang_tself was now ushered in by our nonobservance of the regular custom of th_choolroom. He had already disappeared when, on my way down, I pushed open hi_oor, and I learned below that he had breakfasted—in the presence of a coupl_f the maids—with Mrs. Grose and his sister. He had then gone out, as he said,
for a stroll; than which nothing, I reflected, could better have expressed hi_rank view of the abrupt transformation of my office. What he would not permi_his office to consist of was yet to be settled: there was a queer relief, a_ll events—I mean for myself in especial—in the renouncement of on_retension. If so much had sprung to the surface, I scarce put it too strongl_n saying that what had perhaps sprung highest was the absurdity of ou_rolonging the fiction that I had anything more to teach him. It sufficientl_tuck out that, by tacit little tricks in which even more than myself h_arried out the care for my dignity, I had had to appeal to him to let me of_training to meet him on the ground of his true capacity. He had at any rat_is freedom now; I was never to touch it again; as I had amply shown,
moreover, when, on his joining me in the schoolroom the previous night, I ha_ttered, on the subject of the interval just concluded, neither challenge no_int. I had too much, from this moment, my other ideas. Yet when he at las_rrived, the difficulty of applying them, the accumulations of my problem,
were brought straight home to me by the beautiful little presence on whic_hat had occurred had as yet, for the eye, dropped neither stain nor shadow.
To mark, for the house, the high state I cultivated I decreed that my meal_ith the boy should be served, as we called it, downstairs; so that I had bee_waiting him in the ponderous pomp of the room outside of the window of whic_ had had from Mrs. Grose, that first scared Sunday, my flash of something i_ould scarce have done to call light. Here at present I felt afresh—for I ha_elt it again and again—how my equilibrium depended on the success of my rigi_ill, the will to shut my eyes as tight as possible to the truth that what _ad to deal with was, revoltingly, against nature. I could only get on at al_y taking "nature" into my confidence and my account, by treating my monstrou_rdeal as a push in a direction unusual, of course, and unpleasant, bu_emanding, after all, for a fair front, only another turn of the screw o_rdinary human virtue. No attempt, nonetheless, could well require more tac_han just this attempt to supply, one's self, all the nature. How could I pu_ven a little of that article into a suppression of reference to what ha_ccurred? How, on the other hand, could I make reference without a new plung_nto the hideous obscure? Well, a sort of answer, after a time, had come t_e, and it was so far confirmed as that I was met, incontestably, by th_uickened vision of what was rare in my little companion. It was indeed as i_e had found even now—as he had so often found at lessons—still some othe_elicate way to ease me off. Wasn't there light in the fact which, as w_hared our solitude, broke out with a specious glitter it had never yet quit_orn?—the fact that (opportunity aiding, precious opportunity which had no_ome) it would be preposterous, with a child so endowed, to forego the hel_ne might wrest from absolute intelligence? What had his intelligence bee_iven him for but to save him? Mightn't one, to reach his mind, risk th_tretch of an angular arm over his character? It was as if, when we were fac_o face in the dining room, he had literally shown me the way. The roas_utton was on the table, and I had dispensed with attendance. Miles, before h_at down, stood a moment with his hands in his pockets and looked at th_oint, on which he seemed on the point of passing some humorous judgment. Bu_hat he presently produced was: "I say, my dear, is she really very awfull_ll?"
"Little Flora? Not so bad but that she'll presently be better. London will se_er up. Bly had ceased to agree with her. Come here and take your mutton."
He alertly obeyed me, carried the plate carefully to his seat, and, when h_as established, went on. "Did Bly disagree with her so terribly suddenly?"
"Not so suddenly as you might think. One had seen it coming on."
"Then why didn't you get her off before?"
"Before she became too ill to travel."
I found myself prompt. "She's not too ill to travel: she only might hav_ecome so if she had stayed. This was just the moment to seize. The journe_ill dissipate the influence"—oh, I was grand!—"and carry it off."
"I see, I see"—Miles, for that matter, was grand, too. He settled to hi_epast with the charming little "table manner" that, from the day of hi_rrival, had relieved me of all grossness of admonition. Whatever he had bee_riven from school for, it was not for ugly feeding. He was irreproachable, a_lways, today; but he was unmistakably more conscious. He was discernibl_rying to take for granted more things than he found, without assistance,
quite easy; and he dropped into peaceful silence while he felt his situation.
Our meal was of the briefest—mine a vain pretense, and I had the thing_mmediately removed. While this was done Miles stood again with his hands i_is little pockets and his back to me—stood and looked out of the wide windo_hrough which, that other day, I had seen what pulled me up. We continue_ilent while the maid was with us—as silent, it whimsically occurred to me, a_ome young couple who, on their wedding journey, at the inn, feel shy in th_resence of the waiter. He turned round only when the waiter had left us.