She had moments, too, of an even bitterer shame—strange, terrible, and mercifully rare times when her attitude towards Ellen was not of judgment or of care or of longing, but of envy. Sometimes she would be overwhelmed with a sense of Ellen’s happiness in being loved, even if the love was unlawful. She had never felt this during the years that her sister had lived with Alce; the thought of his affection had brought her nothing but happiness and content. Now, on sinister occasions, she would find herself thinking of Ellen cherished and spoiled, protected and caressed, living the life of love—and a desperate longing would come to her to enjoy what her sister enjoyed, to be kissed and stroked and made much of and taken care of, to see some man laying schemes and taking risks for her ... sometimes she felt that she would like to see all the fullness of her life at Ansdore, all her honour on the Three Marshes, blown to the winds if only in their stead she could have just ordinary human love, with or without the law.
Poor Joanna was overwhelmed with horror at herself—sometimes she thought she must be possessed by a devil. She must be very wicked—in her heart just as wicked as Ellen. What could she do to cast out this dumb, tearing spirit?—should she marry one of her admirers on the Marsh, and trust to his humdrum devotion to satisfy her devouring need? Even in her despair and panic she knew that she could not do this. It was love that she must have—the same sort of love that she had given Martin; that alone could bring her the joys she now envied in her sister. And love—how shall it be found?—Who shall go out to seek it?
Towards the spring, Ellen wrote again, breaking the silence of several weeks. She wrote in a different tone—some change had passed over her. She no longer asked Arthur to divorce her—on the contrary she hinted her thanks for his magnanimity in not having done so. Evidently she no longer counted on marrying Sir Harry Trevor, perhaps, even, she did not wish to. But in one point she had not changed—she was not coming back to her husband.