It was not that I didn't wait, on this occasion, for more, for I was rooted a_eeply as I was shaken. Was there a "secret" at Bly—a mystery of Udolpho or a_nsane, an unmentionable relative kept in unsuspected confinement? I can't sa_ow long I turned it over, or how long, in a confusion of curiosity and dread,
I remained where I had had my collision; I only recall that when I re-entere_he house darkness had quite closed in. Agitation, in the interval, certainl_ad held me and driven me, for I must, in circling about the place, hav_alked three miles; but I was to be, later on, so much more overwhelmed tha_his mere dawn of alarm was a comparatively human chill. The most singula_art of it, in fact—singular as the rest had been—was the part I became, i_he hall, aware of in meeting Mrs. Grose. This picture comes back to me in th_eneral train—the impression, as I received it on my return, of the wide whit_anelled space, bright in the lamplight and with its portraits and red carpet,
and of the good surprised look of my friend, which immediately told me she ha_issed me. It came to me straightway, under her contact, that, with plai_eartiness, mere relieved anxiety at my appearance, she knew nothing whateve_hat could bear upon the incident I had there ready for her. I had no_uspected in advance that her comfortable face would pull me up, and I someho_easured the importance of what I had seen by my thus finding myself hesitat_o mention it. Scarce anything in the whole history seems to me so odd as thi_act that my real beginning of fear was one, as I may say, with the instinc_f sparing my companion. On the spot, accordingly, in the pleasant hall an_ith her eyes on me, I, for a reason that I couldn't then have phrased,
achieved an inward resolution—offered a vague pretext for my lateness and,
with the plea of the beauty of the night and of the heavy dew and wet feet,
went as soon as possible to my room.
Here it was another affair; here, for many days after, it was a queer affai_nough. There were hours, from day to day—or at least there were moments,
snatched even from clear duties—when I had to shut myself up to think. It wa_ot so much yet that I was more nervous than I could bear to be as that I wa_emarkably afraid of becoming so; for the truth I had now to turn over was,
simply and clearly, the truth that I could arrive at no account whatever o_he visitor with whom I had been so inexplicably and yet, as it seemed to me,
so intimately concerned. It took little time to see that I could sound withou_orms of inquiry and without exciting remark any domestic complications. Th_hock I had suffered must have sharpened all my senses; I felt sure, at th_nd of three days and as the result of mere closer attention, that I had no_een practiced upon by the servants nor made the object of any "game." O_hatever it was that I knew, nothing was known around me. There was but on_ane inference: someone had taken a liberty rather gross. That was what,
repeatedly, I dipped into my room and locked the door to say to myself. We ha_een, collectively, subject to an intrusion; some unscrupulous traveler,
curious in old houses, had made his way in unobserved, enjoyed the prospec_rom the best point of view, and then stolen out as he came. If he had give_e such a bold hard stare, that was but a part of his indiscretion. The goo_hing, after all, was that we should surely see no more of him.
This was not so good a thing, I admit, as not to leave me to judge that what,
essentially, made nothing else much signify was simply my charming work. M_harming work was just my life with Miles and Flora, and through nothing coul_ so like it as through feeling that I could throw myself into it in trouble.
The attraction of my small charges was a constant joy, leading me to wonde_fresh at the vanity of my original fears, the distaste I had begun b_ntertaining for the probable gray prose of my office. There was to be no gra_rose, it appeared, and no long grind; so how could work not be charming tha_resented itself as daily beauty? It was all the romance of the nursery an_he poetry of the schoolroom. I don't mean by this, of course, that we studie_nly fiction and verse; I mean I can express no otherwise the sort of interes_y companions inspired. How can I describe that except by saying that instea_f growing used to them—and it's a marvel for a governess: I call th_isterhood to witness!—I made constant fresh discoveries. There was on_irection, assuredly, in which these discoveries stopped: deep obscurit_ontinued to cover the region of the boy's conduct at school. It had bee_romptly given me, I have noted, to face that mystery without a pang. Perhap_ven it would be nearer the truth to say that—without a word—he himself ha_leared it up. He had made the whole charge absurd. My conclusion bloome_here with the real rose flush of his innocence: he was only too fine and fai_or the little horrid, unclean school world, and he had paid a price for it. _eflected acutely that the sense of such differences, such superiorities o_uality, always, on the part of the majority—which could include even stupid,
sordid headmasters—turn infallibly to the vindictive.
Both the children had a gentleness (it was their only fault, and it never mad_iles a muff) that kept them—how shall I express it?—almost impersonal an_ertainly quite unpunishable. They were like the cherubs of the anecdote, wh_ad—morally, at any rate—nothing to whack! I remember feeling with Miles i_special as if he had had, as it were, no history. We expect of a small chil_ scant one, but there was in this beautiful little boy somethin_xtraordinarily sensitive, yet extraordinarily happy, that, more than in an_reature of his age I have seen, struck me as beginning anew each day. He ha_ever for a second suffered. I took this as a direct disproof of his havin_eally been chastised. If he had been wicked he would have "caught" it, and _hould have caught it by the rebound—I should have found the trace. I foun_othing at all, and he was therefore an angel. He never spoke of his school,
never mentioned a comrade or a master; and I, for my part, was quite too muc_isgusted to allude to them. Of course I was under the spell, and th_onderful part is that, even at the time, I perfectly knew I was. But I gav_yself up to it; it was an antidote to any pain, and I had more pains tha_ne. I was in receipt in these days of disturbing letters from home, wher_hings were not going well. But with my children, what things in the worl_attered? That was the question I used to put to my scrappy retirements. I wa_azzled by their loveliness.
There was a Sunday—to get on—when it rained with such force and for so man_ours that there could be no procession to church; in consequence of which, a_he day declined, I had arranged with Mrs. Grose that, should the evening sho_mprovement, we would attend together the late service. The rain happil_topped, and I prepared for our walk, which, through the park and by the goo_oad to the village, would be a matter of twenty minutes. Coming downstairs t_eet my colleague in the hall, I remembered a pair of gloves that had require_hree stitches and that had received them—with a publicity perhaps no_difying—while I sat with the children at their tea, served on Sundays, b_xception, in that cold, clean temple of mahogany and brass, the "grown-up"
dining room. The gloves had been dropped there, and I turned in to recove_hem. The day was gray enough, but the afternoon light still lingered, and i_nabled me, on crossing the threshold, not only to recognize, on a chair nea_he wide window, then closed, the articles I wanted, but to become aware of _erson on the other side of the window and looking straight in. One step int_he room had sufficed; my vision was instantaneous; it was all there. Th_erson looking straight in was the person who had already appeared to me. H_ppeared thus again with I won't say greater distinctness, for that wa_mpossible, but with a nearness that represented a forward stride in ou_ntercourse and made me, as I met him, catch my breath and turn cold. He wa_he same—he was the same, and seen, this time, as he had been seen before,
from the waist up, the window, though the dining room was on the ground floor,
not going down to the terrace on which he stood. His face was close to th_lass, yet the effect of this better view was, strangely, only to show me ho_ntense the former had been. He remained but a few seconds—long enough t_onvince me he also saw and recognized; but it was as if I had been looking a_im for years and had known him always. Something, however, happened this tim_hat had not happened before; his stare into my face, through the glass an_cross the room, was as deep and hard as then, but it quitted me for a momen_uring which I could still watch it, see it fix successively several othe_hings. On the spot there came to me the added shock of a certitude that i_as not for me he had come there. He had come for someone else.
The flash of this knowledge—for it was knowledge in the midst o_read—produced in me the most extraordinary effect, started as I stood there,
a sudden vibration of duty and courage. I say courage because I was beyond al_oubt already far gone. I bounded straight out of the door again, reached tha_f the house, got, in an instant, upon the drive, and, passing along th_errace as fast as I could rush, turned a corner and came full in sight. Bu_t was in sight of nothing now—my visitor had vanished. I stopped, I almos_ropped, with the real relief of this; but I took in the whole scene—I gav_im time to reappear. I call it time, but how long was it? I can't speak t_he purpose today of the duration of these things. That kind of measure mus_ave left me: they couldn't have lasted as they actually appeared to me t_ast. The terrace and the whole place, the lawn and the garden beyond it, al_ could see of the park, were empty with a great emptiness. There wer_hrubberies and big trees, but I remember the clear assurance I felt that non_f them concealed him. He was there or was not there: not there if I didn'_ee him. I got hold of this; then, instinctively, instead of returning as _ad come, went to the window. It was confusedly present to me that I ought t_lace myself where he had stood. I did so; I applied my face to the pane an_ooked, as he had looked, into the room. As if, at this moment, to show m_xactly what his range had been, Mrs. Grose, as I had done for himself jus_efore, came in from the hall. With this I had the full image of a repetitio_f what had already occurred. She saw me as I had seen my own visitant; sh_ulled up short as I had done; I gave her something of the shock that I ha_eceived. She turned white, and this made me ask myself if I had blanched a_uch. She stared, in short, and retreated on just my lines, and I knew she ha_hen passed out and come round to me and that I should presently meet her. _emained where I was, and while I waited I thought of more things than one.
But there's only one I take space to mention. I wondered why she should b_cared.