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.
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
”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?”
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
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.”
my promise to my employer that evening. A letter came
from Miles's school. I was not excited now, but
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
”I cannot read,” she said. ”What has he done?” She was
”They don't say. But they think that he's dangerous to the other
”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
”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
”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
”No, she went away for a holiday. Then she died - the master
”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
”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
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
stared at me for a minute, then
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
I preferred to enjoy my days with the children. I was never
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
”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
”Why is she
frightened?” I asked myself.
”What's the matter?” she asked me. ”Your face is white. You
”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?”
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
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
me. ”Is he
handsome? How is he dressed?”
”Oh yes, he's handsome. And he's wearing another person's
”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
”Then where did he go?”
”Go?” she said. ”Oh no, he died.”
I almost screamed.
”Yes,” she said. ”Peter Quint is dead.”