The governess picks up Miles and when she sees him she is impressed by what she calls his “incredible beauty.” When she returns to Bly she immediately discusses with Mrs. Grose how impressed she is by him, and says that she cannot now believe that he was expelled.
The governess’s early infatuation with Miles is another example of her predilection to be easily overtaken by appearances, especially appearances of beauty and youthful innocence. Here she sees his beauty and seeming innocence as something that makes the prospect of him doing something bad enough to get expelled seem impossible.
The governess reminisces on her first few weeks at Bly. She says they were the first time in her life when she had known “space and air and freedom”: she taught the children their lessons, and lived care-free and happily. But she then concludes this reminiscence by saying that the happiness and calm was, in retrospect, something more like a quiet before a storm—or, in her words, “that hush in which something gathers or crouches.”
The governess’s reminiscence provides an important, early insight into the tension between the appearances of calm and innocence and the realities of darkness and ugliness that lurk beneath those appearances. She makes it clear in such passages that she now—while writing the story—knows something that she did not know then, but she does not explicitly say what.
The chapter concludes with the governess’s description of an unexpected encounter with a man—a stranger—at Bly. She says that while out for an evening stroll, she looked up at one of the house’s two towers, and saw a man looking down at her. They make eye-contact, and it is clear to her that he has seen her and that he knows she can see him, but they are too far apart to call out to each other and be heard. Because this man isn’t wearing a hat, he has about him an air of casual familiarity, and so the governess believes there is someone living in the house whom she does not know.
The governess did not know it yet, but this is her first glimpse of the ghost of Peter Quint. The feeling she has seeing him—a combination of disbelief and fear—and her inability to communicate with this man sets the stage for later encounters with the ghosts. In each encounter she will feel the force of the presence of these strangers, but who they are and what they want will remain out of her reach.