Summary of Section XXIII
It is November, and Miles looks out restlessly at the dreary landscape. Suddenly, the narrator feels that Miles is giving in. She tells him she has stayed at Bly just for him. There is nothing she would not do for him. He knows she wants him to tell her something. She is aware that he is afraid of her. He says he will tell her anything, but not now. He says he has to go out to see a friend. She says all right, if he will satisfy one point—did he steal her letter to his uncle?
Commentary on Section XXIII
One suddenly feels sorry for Miles, as it seems the governess is a tyrant keeping him a prisoner. Yet, though most of the time the two seem to speak in code or challenge one another indirectly, they are becoming more direct in their speech and actions. The governess thinks it is because Miles wants to confess, to have an adult on his side. On the other hand, Miles is very restless, not knowing what kind of power the governess may have over him. The governess brought the drama with Flora to a head by finally being direct and saying there was a ghost and giving it a name. She starts to close in on Miles in the same way, asking if he stole her letter. She makes this look like a compromise—they will not speak of the big thing, only a smaller one.