Certainly her triumph was a great one. Brodnyx and Pedlinge had never expected such a thing. Their attitude had hitherto been that of the man at the fair, who would rather distrust appearances than believe Arthur Alce could change from Joanna Godden to her sister Ellen. It would have been as easy to think of the sunset changing from Rye to Court-at-Street.
There was a general opinion that Joanna had been injured—though no one really doubted her sincerity when she said that she would never have taken Arthur. Her evident pleasure in the wedding was considered magnanimous—it was also a little disappointing to Ellen. Not that she wanted Joanna to be miserable, but she would have liked her to be rather more sensible of her sister’s triumph, to regret rather more the honour that had been taken from her. The bear’s hug with which her sister had greeted her announcement, the eager way in which she had urged and hustled preparations for the wedding, all seemed a little incongruous and humiliating.... Joanna should at least have had some moments of realizing her fallen state.
However, what she missed at home Ellen received abroad. Some neighbours were evidently offended, especially those who had sons to mate. Mrs. Vine had been very stiff when Ellen called with Alce.
“Well, Arthur”—ignoring the bride-to-be—“I always felt certain you would marry Ansdore, but it was the head I thought you’d take and not the tail.”
“Oh, the tail’s good enough for me,” said Arthur, which Ellen thought clumsy of him.
Having taken the step, Arthur was curiously satisfied. His obedience in renouncing Joanna seemed to have brought him closer to her than all his long wooing. Besides, he was growing very fond of little Ellen—her soft, clinging ways and little sleek airs appealed to him as those of a small following animal would, and he was proud of her cleverness, and of her prettiness, which now he had come to see, though for a long time he had not appreciated it, because it was so different from Joanna’s healthy red and brown.