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INT. KITCHENS. MORNING.
Mrs. Grose stands at a kitchen counter with a few members of the kitchen staff and turns to see the new governess as she enters.
MRS. GROSE: Good morning, miss. I trust you slept well. Breakfast should be ready in less than ten minutes. Shall I wake your pupil?
LADY: My pupil? Oh, little Flora is not yet awake?
MRS. GROSE: Of course, not, miss. I usually wait to wake her until breakfast can be served. I hate to see that face want for anything, even if it’s only a few moments of hunger before breakfast.
LADY: Yes. I agree, I think. Shall I wake her myself?
MRS. GROSE: Sure, miss. We had her sleeping in the play room, last night, as it adjoins my own. You should find her dreaming away in there.
LADY: Thank you.
The governess leaves the kitchen and walks down the HALLWAY to the PLAY ROOM.
She knocks lightly on the door. She starts to open the door, without waiting for an answer, but hears Flora.
FLORA: Come in.
The governess opens the door wide to find Flora, dressed.
LADY: Dressed already, I see.
FLORA: I woke early today. I was so excited for our lessons to begin and I wanted to be ready for you.
LADY: That’s very sweet. I could hardly sleep in myself, for excitement. Come, though, Mrs. Grose say breakfast will be waiting for us soon.
FLORA: Yes, miss.
EXT. GARDENS. DAY.
Flora and her governess sit outside, in the shade on a blanket, by the pond. A small pile of books and a map are laid out between them
LADY: And where are we, dear one?
FLORA: We’re in England!
LADY: Correct! And where is England?
The child points confidently at the map in front of them. Her finger points directly at the small spot marking the island of Great Britain.
From behind, the form of Mrs. Grose appears, walking swiftly to them, a letter held firmly in her hands.
MRS. GROSE: Ma’am. A letter just arrived for the master of the house and it appears it is from the young Mr. Miles’ school. I thought, perhaps, you should open as soon as possible, in case it were urgent.
LADY: Yes, thank you Mrs. Grose. That was most prudent of you.
She takes the letter from the outstretched hand of Mrs. Grose, and opens it to read. Her eyes scan the letter several times, top to bottom, before looking back up at Mrs. Grose.
LADY: Have you any idea what this letter says?
MRS. GROSE: No, ma’am, I only saw the letter from the master forwarding the missive to your care.
LADY: Flora, would you go and gather a few more flowers for my bedroom for me, while I talk with Mrs. Grose?
FLORA: Yes, miss.
Flora walks slowly away, gazing back at her two caretakers from over her shoulder.
LADY: And what did his letter say? Did he have anything to say to me, especially?
MRS. GROSE: Only that his own letter contained this one, from the headmaster of Mr. Miles’ school, who he thinks of as an “awful bore”. His own words, Miss. And asking for you to handle it, and reminding that he would rather not receive a report from you about it.
LADY: Oh. Well, I suppose I could confide in you the contents of the awful bore’s letter. It appears that Miles has been dismissed from school.
MRS. GROSE: You mean for holiday?
LADY: Well, the timing of it would suggest, but no, he is not to return.
MRS. GROSE: They won’t take him back?
LADY: He writes that they absolutely decline to have him.
MRS. GROSE: What has he done?
LADY: You may read for yourself.
She holds out the letter to Mrs. Grose.
MRS. GROSE: Such things are not for me, Miss. I could get nothing from it.
LADY: But what do you mean?
Mrs. Grose shakes her head and looks down to the grass at her feet.
LADY (cont’d): Oh, I see.
The governess puts the letter in a side pocket of her dress before folding her hands neatly in front of her.
MRS. GROSE: Do they say anything, about Mr. Miles?
LADY: Is he really bad?
MRS. GROSE: Is that what the gentlemen say of him?
LADY: They refuse to mention any particulars, but only state that though they regret the necessity, allowing his return would be impossible.
Mrs. Grose refuses to make eye contact, and stares out over the pond.
LADY)cont’d): They can only have one reason, Mrs. Grose.
MRS. GROSE: What?
LADY: He’s harmful to the other children.
Mrs. Grose turns abruptly to look at the governess.
MRS. GROSE: Mr. Miles! Harmful, that darling boy! He couldn’t be !
LADY: Perhaps the fault may lie in other poor little innocent schoolmates.
MRS. GROSE: But it’s too dreadful! To say such cruel things. He’s scarcely ten years old.
LADY: It is incredible. Yet, I wonder, Mrs. Grose, did the last governess, did she see anything in the boy? Anything at all…
MRS. GROSE: You mean, anything, not right?
LADY: Yes. Was she careful, with him? Or particular?
MRS. GROSE: About some things, I suppose.
LADY: But, not about all?
MRS. GROSE: Well, she’s gone, miss. I’m not one to tell tales.
LADY: I understand. Did she die here?
MRS. GROSE: No. She went off elsewhere.
LADY: Went off …to die?
MRS. GROSE: (gazing over the lake once more) She was not taken ill, as far as I could see. But she did leave, to go homes, she said, for a short holiday. After the length of time she had put in here, it was not unexpected or undeserved, so we let her go on. Around the time I was expecting her back, however, I heard from the master that she was dead.
LADY: But of what, if she never seemed ill?
MRS. GROSE: He never told me!
MRS.GROSE (cont’d): It’s getting on, Miss. You’d best be getting ready if the two of you wish to meet the young gentleman at the station on time.
LADY: Yes. You’re right about that, Mrs. Grose.