“But don’t you feel it humiliating to see your carter and your cowman and your shepherd boy all go up to Rye to vote on polling-day, while you, who own this farm, and have such a stake in the country, aren’t allowed to do so?”
“It only means as I’ve got eight votes instead of one,” said Joanna, “and don’t have the trouble of going to the poll, neither. Not one of my men would dare vote but as I told him, so reckon I do better than most at the elections.”
Mrs. Williams told Joanna that it was such opinions which were keeping back the country from some goal unspecified.
“Besides, you have to think of other women, Miss Godden—other women who aren’t so fortunate and independent as yourself.”
She gave a long glance at Ellen, whose downcast eyelids flickered.
“I don’t care about other women,” said Joanna, “if they won’t stand up for themselves, I can’t help them. It’s easy enough to stand up to a man. I don’t think much of men, neither. I like ’em, but I can’t think any shakes of their doings. That’s why I’d sooner they did their own voting and mine too. Now, Mene Tekel, can’t you see the Squire’s ate all his cabbage?—You hand him the dish again—not under his chin—he don’t want to eat out of it—but low down, so as he can get hold of the spoon....”
Joanna looked upon her luncheon party as a great success, and her pleasure was increased by the fact that soon after it Sir Harry Trevor and his sister paid a ceremonial call on Ellen at Donkey Street.
“Now she’ll be pleased,” thought Joanna, “it’s always what she’s been hankering after—having gentlefolk call on her and leave their cards. It ain’t my fault it hasn’t happened earlier.... I’m unaccountable glad she met them at my house. It’ll learn her to think prouder of me.”
That spring and summer Sir Harry Trevor was a good deal at North Farthing, and it was rumoured on the Marsh that he had run through the money so magnanimously left him and had been driven home to economize. Joanna did not see as much of him as in the old days—he had given up his attempts at farming, and had let off all the North Farthing land except the actual garden and paddock. He came to see her once or twice, and she went about as rarely to see him. It struck her that he had changed in many ways, and she wondered a little where he had been and what he had done during the last four years. He did not look any older. Some queer, rather unpleasant lines had traced themselves at the corners of his mouth and eyes, but strangely enough, though they added to his characteristic air of humorous sophistication, they also added to his youth, for they were lines of desire, of feeling ... perhaps in his four years of absence from the Marsh he had learned how to feel at last, and had found youth instead of age in the commotions which feeling brings. Though he must be fifty-five, he looked scarcely more than forty—and he had a queer, weak, loose, emotional air about him that she found it hard to account for.