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The governess receives two letters by post: one from the master of the house and the other from the headmaster of Miles’ school. Her employer informs that he was sending her a letter from the headmaster of Miles’ school as he did not have the time to read it. The governess is torn with doubts and thus, postpones reading the letter. Finally, when she musters up the courage to read it, she is puzzled by its contents. The headmaster writes that it is no longer possible for him to keep Miles in his school and therefore he was dismissing him from the institution. This comes as a great shock to the governess and she shares the news with Mrs. Grose. Since the headmaster has given no explanations for his action, she questions Mrs. Grose about the conduct of Miles. The housekeeper assures her that Miles is as well behaved as his sister. During the course of their conversation, the governess learns that the former governess, Miss. Jessel, had died mysteriously after resigning from her job and leaving Bly. She also becomes aware of the existence of a man who was an employee at Bly and who had an eye for attractive ladies.
If the governess gets a surprise when she arrives at Bly, a day later she gets a shock.
The screw starts turning in the novel and gives sudden twists to the story. A mysterious letter from the headmaster of the boy’s school notifies the dismissal of Miles from school. The letter is vague and creates suspense not only in the mind of the governess but also the readers. Why was Miles dismissed suddenly? What could a boy of ten do to invoke the wrath of his headmaster? These are questions that continue to haunt the governess as well as the readers.
The governess experiences a surge of contradictory emotions within a matter of few hours. As she nears her destination, the lady is torn with doubts. However, on reaching the place, she finds the surroundings congenial and the inmates friendly.
She feels relieved and happy. The next day as she sits contentedly, she receives two letters by post. When she reads the contents of the second letter, she gets a shock. The boy that she had thought to be innocent and lovable, now seems to have a blot on his character. The governess is confused and concerned.
The vague reference to a young governess who had disappeared mysteriously and a man who had a fascination for charming ladies, intensifies the suspense in the story. James provokes the readers to imagine the fate of a beautiful lady and a man with a doubtful character. What really happened to the lady? The readers have to wait in order to find an answer to this question.