Prologue: A group of friends gathered around a fire in a country house outside London on Christmas Eve entertain themselves by telling ghost stories.When a man named Griffin tells the story of a little boy who experiences a ghostly visitation, his friend Douglas notes, a few nights later, that the age of the child "gives the effect another turn of the screw" and proposes a ghost story unsurpassed for "dreadfulness" about two children. The manuscript of this true story has been kept in a locked drawer for twenty years, since the death of its writer. The story, which the writer and now Douglas have kept secret for forty years, Douglas's younger sister's governess, with whom he became friends when he was a university student at home on holiday. Douglas prepares to read his story....Chapter I: The governess recalls the doubts she felt after accepting the position from the gentleman in Harley Street. These doubts plagued her during the long coach ride, and she is surprised when she arrives at the house - impressed by its size, its lawns and flowers, so different from her small house. A woman and a little girl meet her at the door.