At about four o’clock, Joanna dashed into the circle round the bride, and took Ellen away upstairs, to put on her travelling dress of saxe-blue satin—the last humiliation she would have to endure from Ansdore. The honeymoon was being spent at Canterbury, cautiously chosen by Arthur as a place he’d been to once and so knew the lie of a bit. Ellen had wanted to go to Wales, or to the Lakes, but Joanna had sternly forbidden such outrageous pinings—“Arthur’s got two cows calving next week—what are you thinking of, Ellen Godden?”
The bridal couple drove away amidst much hilarity, inspired by the unaccustomed champagne and expressed in rice and confetti. After they had gone the guests still lingered, feasting at the littered tables or re-inspecting and re-valuing the presents which had been laid out, after the best style, in the dining-room. Sir Harry Trevor had sent Ellen a little pearl pendant, though he had been unable to accept Joanna’s invitation and come to the wedding himself—he wrote from a London address and hinted vaguely that he might never come back to North Farthing House, which had been let furnished. His gift was the chief centre of interest—when Mrs. Vine had done comparing her electro-plated cruet most favourably with the one presented by Mrs. Furnese and the ignoble china object that Mrs. Cobb had had the meanness to send, and Mrs. Bates had recovered from the shock of finding that her tea-cosy was the exact same shape and pattern as the one given by Mrs. Gain. People thought it odd that the Old Squire should send pearls to Ellen Godden—something for the table would have been much more seemly.
Joanna had grown weary—her shoulders drooped under her golden gown, she tossed back her head and yawned against the back of her hand. She was tired of it all, and wanted them to go. What were they staying for? They must know the price of everything pretty well by this time and have eaten enough to save their suppers. She was no polished hostess, concealing her boredom, and the company began soon to melt away. Traps lurched over the shingle of Ansdore’s drive, the Pricketts walked off across the innings to Great Ansdore, guests from Rye packed into two hired wagonettes, and the cousins from the Isle of Wight drove back to the George, where, as there were eight of them and they refused to be separated, Joanna was munificently entertaining them instead of under her own roof.
When the last was gone, she turned back into the house, where Mrs. Tolhurst stood ready with her broom to begin an immediate sweep-up after the waiters, whom she looked upon as the chief source of the disorder. A queer feeling came over Joanna, a feeling of loneliness, of craving, and she fell in all her glory of feathers and silk upon Mrs. Tolhurst’s alpaca bosom. Gone were those arbitrary and often doubtful distinctions between them, and the mistress enjoyed the luxury of a good cry in her servant’s arms.