An anonymous narrator recalls a Christmas Eve gathering at an old house, where guests listen to one another’s ghost stories. A guest named Douglas introduces a story that involves two children—Flora and Miles—and his sister’s governess, with whom he was in love. After procuring the governess’s written record of events from his home, he provides a few introductory details. A handsome bachelor persuaded the governess to take a position as governess for his niece and nephew in an isolated country home after the previous governess died. Douglas begins to read from the written record, and the story shifts to the governess’s point of view as she narrates her strange experience.