She at once set to work, putting her new domain in order. Some of the pasture she grubbed up for spring sowings, the rest she drained by cutting a new channel from the Kent Ditch to the White Kemp Sewer. She re-roofed the barns with slate, and painted and re-tiled the dwelling-house. This last she decided to let to some family of gentlepeople, while herself keeping on the farm and the barns. The dwelling-house of Little Ansdore, though more flat and spreading, was in every way superior to that of Great Ansdore, which was rather new and inclined to gimcrackiness, having been built on the site of the first dwelling, burnt down somewhere in the eighties. Besides, she loved Little Ansdore for its associations—under its roof she had been born and her father had been born, under its roof she had known love and sorrow and denial and victory; she could not bear to think of leaving it. The queer, low house, with its mixture of spaciousness and crookedness, its huge, sag-ceilinged rooms and narrow, twisting passages, was almost a personality to her now, one of the Godden family, the last of kin that had remained kind.
Her activities were merciful in crowding what would otherwise have been a sorrowful period of emptiness and anxiety. It is true that Ellen’s behaviour had done much to spoil her triumph, both in the neighbourhood and in her own eyes, but she had not time to be thinking of it always. Visits to Rye, either to her lawyers or to the decorators and paper-hangers, the engaging of extra hands, both temporary and permanent, for the extra work, the supervising of labourers and workmen whom she never could trust to do their job without her ... all these crowded her cares into a few hours of evening or an occasionally wakeful night.
But every now and then she must suffer. Sometimes she would be overwhelmed, in the midst of all her triumphant business, with a sense of personal failure. She had succeeded where most women are hopeless failures, but where so many women are successful and satisfied she had failed and gone empty. She had no home, beyond what was involved in the walls of this ancient dwelling, the womb and grave of her existence—she had lost the man she loved, had been unable to settle herself comfortably with another, and now she had lost Ellen, the little sister, who had managed to hold at least a part of that over-running love, which since Martin’s death had had only broken cisterns to flow into.
The last catastrophe now loomed the largest. Joanna no longer shed tears for Martin, but she shed many for Ellen, either into her own pillow, or into the flowery quilt of the flowery room which inconsequently she held sacred to the memory of the girl who had despised it. Her grief for Ellen was mixed with anxiety and with shame. What would become of her? Joanna could not, would not, believe that she would never come back. Yet what if she came?... In Joanna’s eyes, and in the eyes of all the