Student or Learner
The obvious explanation is that I could not admit I had seen the essay title without admitting that I had been prowling round his desk. But there must have been more to it than that. I must have wanted the prize badly.
What is the meaning of the first two sentences?
Here is my explanation:
I could not admit that I had seen the essay title, because then I would also be admitting that I had been prowling around (snooping)in his desk.