A few days before Christmas Rachel Harvey again took leave of Beechcroft, with a promise that she would make them another visit when Eleanor came home. Before she went she gave Emily a useful caution, telling her it was not right to trust her keys out of her own possession. It was what Miss Mohun never would have done, she had never once committed them even to Rachel.
‘With due deference to Eleanor,’ said Emily, with her winning smile, ‘we must allow that that was being over cautious.’
Rachel smiled, but her lecture was not averted by the compliment.
’It might have been very well since you have known me, Miss Emily, but I do not know what would have come of it, if I had been too much trusted when I was a giddy young thing like Esther; that girl comes of a bad lot, and if anything is to be made of her, it is by keeping temptation out of her way, and not letting her be with that mother of hers.’
Rachel had rather injured the effect of her advice by behaving too like a mistress during her visit; Emily had more than once wished that all servants were not privileged people, and she was more offended than convinced by the remonstrance.
’Slee, sla, slud,
Stuck in the mud,
O! it is pretty to wade through a flood,
Come, wheel round,
The dirt we have found,
Would he an estate at a farthing a pound.’
Lily’s illness interrupted her teaching at the village school for many weeks, and she was in no great haste to resume it. Alethea Weston seemed to enjoy doing all that was required, and Lily left it in her hands, glad to shut her eyes as much as possible to the disheartening state the parish had been in ever since her former indiscretion.