7. CHAPTER VII
Rachel gave him some trouble at the outset, about the choice
of a place in which she could be prevailed upon to reside.
The house in Montagu Square was associated with the calamity
of her mother's death. The house in Yorkshire was associated with
the scandalous affair of the lost Moonstone. Her guardian's own
residence at Frizinghall was open to neither of these objections.
But Rachel's presence in it, after her recent bereavement,
operated as a check on the gaieties of her cousins,
the Miss Ablewhites--and she herself requested that her
visit might be deferred to a more favourable opportunity.
It ended in a proposal, emanating from old Mr. Ablewhite, to try
a furnished house at Brighton. His wife, an invalid daughter,
and Rachel were to inhabit it together, and were to expect him
to join them later in the season. They would see no society
but a few old friends, and they would have his son Godfrey,
travelling backwards and forwards by the London train, always at
I describe this aimless flitting about from one place of residence
to another--this insatiate restlessness of body and appalling
stagnation of soul--merely with the view to arriving at results.
The event which (under Providence) proved to be the means of bringing
Rachel Verinder and myself together again, was no other than the hiring
of the house at Brighton.
My Aunt Ablewhite is a large, silent, fair-complexioned woman,
with one noteworthy point in her character. From the hour of
her birth she has never been known to do anything for herself.
She has gone through life, accepting everybody's help, and adopting
everybody's opinions. A more hopeless person, in a spiritual
point of view, I have never met with--there is absolutely, in this
perplexing case, no obstructive material to work upon. Aunt Ablewhite
would listen to the Grand Lama of Thibet exactly as she listens to Me,
and would reflect his views quite as readily as she reflects mine.
She found the furnished house at Brighton by stopping at an hotel
in London, composing herself on a sofa, and sending for her son.
She discovered the necessary servants by breakfasting in bed one morning
(still at the hotel), and giving her maid a holiday on condition
that the girl "would begin enjoying herself by fetching Miss Clack."
I found her placidly fanning herself in her dressing-gown at eleven
o'clock. "Drusilla, dear, I want some servants. You are so clever--
please get them for me." I looked round the untidy room.
The church-bells were going for a week-day service; they suggested
a word of affectionate remonstrance on my part. "Oh, aunt!"
I said sadly. "Is THIS worthy of a Christian Englishwoman?
Is the passage from time to eternity to be made in THIS manner?"
My aunt answered, "I'll put on my gown, Drusilla, if you will
be kind enough to help me." What was to be said after that?
I have done wonders with murderesses--I have never advanced an inch
with Aunt Ablewhite. "Where is the list," I asked, "of the servants
whom you require?" My aunt shook her head; she hadn't even energy
enough to keep the list. "Rachel has got it, dear," she said,
"in the next room." I went into the next room, and so saw
Rachel again for the first time since we had parted in Montagu