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Chapters 19, 20, and 21


They go straight to the lake. The governess thinks she will have tried to cross the water to where Miss Jessel stood on the other side. Mrs. Grose is terrified but sticks to the company of the governess. At the lake, they see that the boat is missing, and decide to walk around the lake and catch up with Flora. On the other side they see the boat, hidden, and the oars drawn up inside, a difficult feat of strength for such a small girl. Then they see Flora, who smiles and plucks a rather withered fern, as if that is what she came there for. Everyone smiles but keeps an ominous silence. Mrs. Grose breaks it by throwing herself on her knees and hugging Flora. Flora first asks where the governess' hat and wrap is, then where Miles is. The governess says she will answer if Flora tells her where Miss Jessel is.


Flora's face is like a broken pane of glass when the governess says this, and even Mrs. Grose gasps. At that moment, the governess sees Miss Jessel on the opposite bank, but she is the only one who admits to seeing her. Flora looks scared and repelled, and Mrs. Grose immediately reproaches the governess and assures Flora that nobody is there and it's all a mistake and bad joke. Flora says that she sees nobody and never has, that the governess is cruel, and that she wants to be taken away from her right away. The governess is miserable and knows she's lost everything by interfering. She tells Flora goodbye-she's tried her best to save her but knows she's lost her. Then she entreats Mrs. Grose to flee the scene with Flora.

The governess comes to her senses fifteen minutes later and realizes that she must have thrown herself on the ground in grief. She lies there, sobbing, until it begins to grow dark; sees the boat is gone; and returns to Bly. She sees neither Mrs. Grose nor Flora on her return, but all of Flora's things have been removed from her bedroom. That evening she sits alone by the fire after her tea. Miles comes in around eight and sits with her, in a nearby armchair, in silence.


Mrs. Grose comes to see the governess at dawn and informs her that Flora is feverish and agitatedly afraid that the governess might come in her room to see her. The governess asks if Flora still denies having seen Miss Jessel, and Mrs. Grose answers with some spirit that she does. The governess decides it is a stratagem, and realizes that Flora will never speak to her again. Mrs. Grose confirms this. The governess asks Mrs. Grose to take Flora away from the house, to her uncle, and to leave Miles with her. They decide to keep the children apart. The governess still hopes to save Miles with time.

Mrs. Grose says that taking Flora away from the place is the right idea, and that she can't stay either. It's not anything she's seen, but rather what she's heard-Flora uses horrifying language about the governess. The governess is thankful, since this justifies her belief that the children were corrupted. Mrs. Grose agrees, and finally says outright that she believes the governess' suspicions, despite the events of yesterday. She also tells the governess that her letter was never mailed-after talking with the manservants, she has discovered that Miles must have taken it. Mrs. Grose says Miles must have stolen letters at school. The governess agrees, and says she hopes to save him by making him confess. The women kiss and Mrs. Grose hurries off to take Flora to London.

Browse all book notes

Historical Context
Main Characters
Points to Ponder
Did You Know
Plot Summary
Framing Scene
Chapters 1, 2, and 3
Chapters 4, 5, and 6
Chapters 7, 8, and 9
Chapters 10, 11, and 12
Chapters 13, 14, and 15
Chapters 16, 17, and 18
Chapters 19, 20, and 21
Chapters 22, 23, and 24


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