"with the place all swept and garnished"

This is a reference to Matthew 12.44, in which Jesus likens the soul of a man from whom evil has been expelled to a house "empty, swept and garnished". This seems deeply inapposite given that evil continues to loom large at Bly.

The passage marks one of several places in which James covertly hints that Mrs Grose may be complicit with these malign spirits. It is she who presents "the large clean image of the 'put away' – of drawers closed and locked", a fact which suggests that the exterior of simple-minded goodness which the governess invariably reports may conceal a scheming consciousness, given to secrecy and underhand machinations.