Book Review

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At Christmas time, a group of people in an old country home swapped ghost stories. One story at particularly chilled the group involved the visitation of a ghost to a young boy. When it was finished, a man in the group, Douglas, asked: “If the child gives the effect, another turn of the screw, what do you say to two children?”

The tale’s author was a woman who had been his sister’s governess, and Douglas was the only person to whom she had revealed her dreadful tale before her death.

On a pleasant June afternoon, a young lady of twenty, “the youngest of several daughters of a poor country parson,” arrived in London to answer an advertisement for the position of governess. The advertiser was a bachelor who had been left guardian to his young nephew and niece. The uncle, a wealthy and charming gentleman, “beguiled” the young woman instantly the terms of her employment were quite simple: she was to take charge of the two children on his country estate of Bly in Essex, and to “never trouble him . . . neither appear nor complain nor write about anything.” She would be replacing the former governess, a young lady who had died under curious circumstances. While the mystery surrounding the prior governess’ death did cause the woman to Pause and consider, she nonetheless accepted the position and took the coach to Bly.

Miles, the little boy, was due home in a few days for his school holiday, and according to Mrs. Grose, the governess would be equally “taken” with Miles. Both children seemed incapable of giving any trouble.

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