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Henry James

I was very worried
during the journey.
Was I making a mistake?

I was going alone to a strange house, to teach two children that I did not know. But it was a beautiful day, and when I arrived, the house was a pleasant surprise.

It was large, but light, with open windows and bright flowers in the gardens. And Flora was the most beautiful child that I have ever seen. Her hair was gold in colour, and her dress was blue. She and Mrs Grose, the housekeeper, were there to meet me.
Mrs Grose seemed to be a kind, good woman, and at supper that evening, I asked her about Miles the boy.

”If you like this little girl, you will like the boy, too,” she said. She smiled at Flora, and Flora smiled at us both. ”He's so clever.”
”When will I see him? Tomorrow?”
”No, the day after.”

I was very excited that night, and did not sleep much. I heard some small sounds in the house; perhaps someone was awake. My room was large and comfortable. There was a little bed in it for Flora, but on my first night she slept with Mrs Grose. I woke with the birds, and
looked forward to my first full day with her.
Flora showed me everything in the house and garden. She showed me secret places, the old stairs, the empty rooms. After half an hour we were good friends.

”Perhaps,” I thought, ”I'm in some wonderful story. But no, it's real, and it will be an adventure for me.”
I remembered my promise to my employer that evening. A letter came from Miles's school. I was not excited now, but worried. The head at the school wrote that Miles could not go back there again.

They won't take him back!” I told Mrs Grose.
”Never?” she asked surprised.
”Never. Here you can read the letter.”
I gave it to her but she shook her head sadly.
I cannot read,” she said. ”What has he done?” She was almost crying.
”They don't say. But they think that he's dangerous to the other children.”
”Dangerous?” Mrs Grose was angry now.
”Is he a bad child?”
”He's only ten years old! How can he be bad? Is she bad?” She pointed at Flora, who was sitting quietly at the table. The little girl was writing, practising her letter 'O's.
Naughty, then?” I asked her.
”Oh yes, of course, he is sometimes naughty! But -”
”Every boy must be naughty sometimes.”
”Yes! A boy who is not naughty is not a boy for me!”
Later, before Miles arrived, I asked her about the last governess.
”What kind of a lady was she?”
”She was young and pretty like you.”
”Was she careful with the boy?
”With some things - yes. But perhaps not with everything. But she's dead now, so I mustn't speak badly of her.”
”Yes, of course,” I said quickly. ”Was she ill? Did she die here?”
”No, she went away for a holiday. Then she died - the master told me.”
”How did she die?”
”He didn't say.” And she would not tell me any more.

Miles was as beautiful as his sister. I loved him too, as soon as I saw him. He had a sweet innocence, and I could not understand the school's letter.

”He can't be bad! It's not possible!” I said to Mrs Grose later. ”Look at him!”
”Yes, I look at him all the time,” she smiled. ”What will you do?”
”I won't answer the letter. I can't write to his uncle. And I won't speak to Miles about it.”
”Good!” Mrs Grose said. ”Then together we'll be friends to the two children.” She kissed me like a sister.

I did not give the children many lessons during those first weeks. Perhaps they were teaching me now - they were teaching me to laugh, to play, to be free. I was more innocent than the children. I know that now.
In the evenings when they were in bed, I liked to walk among the summer flowers in the gardens, and under the old trees in the park. Sometimes I could see the face of my employer in front of my eyes. ”He's smiling at me,” I thought. ”He's pleased with me –I'm looking after the children well for him.”
One evening in June, I walked about three miles through the park. When I came back to the house, I looked up and saw a face. Was it my employer's face which I thought about so much? No, it was not - I realised that very quickly. A man stood on the roof of the tower. There were two towers, one at each end of the roof. Each tower had a room inside, and you could climb out onto the roof from them; Flora took me there on my first day. I did not know this man. I saw him very clearly, and he was watching me. He stood still and stared at me for a minute, then turned away.
I was frightened. Was there a secret in this old house? I wanted to ask Mrs Grose, but when I came back into the house, everything seemed quite ordinary again. I did not say anything to her, but for many days I thought about it.
Finally I decided, ”It was a stranger, who found a way into the house. But he's gone now, so I can forget about him. I won't worry about it.”
I preferred to enjoy my days with the children. I was never bored with them. They were happy, and they made me happy too. I did not think about my family at home now; Flora and Miles were my family, and this was my home.
One Sunday, in the early evening, Mrs Grose and I decided to go to church together. My bag was in the dining-room, and I went in there to get it.
Suddenly, I looked up and saw a face at the window. It was staring at me through the glass. It was the man who I saw on the roof. I stared at him; he stared at me. I did not know him, but I felt, strangely, that I knew him very well. Then he looked around the room.
”He's looking for someone, but not for me!” I realised.
Then I felt brave. I ran outside and looked for him. But he was not there. The garden was empty. I went back to the window, put my face against the glass and stared in. Mrs Grose walked into the dining-room, and saw me. She turned white, and came outside to meet me.

”Why is she frightened?” I asked myself.
”What's the matter?” she asked me. ”Your face is white. You look terrible.”
”My face?” I said. ”I was frightened. You saw my face at the window, but when I was in the dining-room, I saw a man's face in the same place.”
”Who is he? Where has he gone?”
”I have no idea.”
”Have you seen him before?”
”Yes - once. He was standing on the roof of the tower.”
”And you didn't tell me? What was he doing there?”
”He looked at me - that's all. He was a stranger, a dreadful man.”

Mrs Grose looked out over the gardens once more, then said, ”Well it's time for church now.”
”No, I can't go to church. Not now. I can't leave the children. It's not safe.”
”It isn't safe?” she asked.
”He's dangerous!” I replied.
She realised something then. I could see it in her face.
”What did he look like?” she asked.
”He is like nobody!”
”What do you mean?”
”He has no hat!” She looked worried, so I continued quickly, ”He has red hair, and a long face, with strange eyes.”
Mrs Gorse's mouth was open, and she stared at me. ”Is he handsome? How is he dressed?”
”Oh yes, he's handsome. And he's wearing another person's clothes.”
”The master's!” she said.
”You know this man?”
She did not reply for a second, then she answered. ”Quint. Peter Quint. He was the master's servant. He took some of his clothes - but never his hat. When the master left, Quint looked after everything in the house. He was only a servant, but he gave the orders.”
”Then where did he go?”
”Go?” she said. ”Oh no, he died.”
”Died?” I almost screamed.
”Yes,” she said. ”Peter Quint is dead.”

Source: New English Digest (retold by Cherry Gilchrist)  


housekeeper: a servant who is employed to perform domestic task in a household (ama de llaves, casera)
the day after: the following day (el día siguiente)
naughty: behaving disobediently (desobediente)
governess: an instructor or teacher, a woman entrusted with the care and supervision of a child, especially in a private home (institutriz)

stared at me: looked at me with fixed eyes (me miró fijamente)
brave: courageous (valiente, decidida)
dreadful: very unpleasant (muy desagradable)
it's not safe: it's dangerous (no es seguro)
handsome: good-looking (guapo, bien parecido)
screamed: shouted (grité)



1.  She was introduced to Mrs Grose and Flora first. She met Miles soon


2.    the first day, she was full of joy.

3.  She received a letter from the school about Miles, which  really worried her.

  she had been excited about her new job.  

4.    to her arrival at the house, there had been a governess

who had died.

5.  She saw a man on the the roof of the tower  she returned

home from a walk.

6.    she was in the dining room, she saw the face of Peter


7.   she ran outside to find the man, he was gone.

8.   Mrs Grose had seen her at the window, she turned white

and ran outside to meet her.