Joanna moistened her finger and held it up—
“So it has. But the glass is high. Reckon it’ll hold off till you’re in the shires, and then our weather won’t trouble you.”
She watched him ride off, standing in the doorway till the loops of the Brodnyx road carried him into the rusty fog that was coming from the sea.
Time passed on, healing the wounds of the Marsh. At Donkey Street, the neighbours were beginning to get used to young Honisett and his bride, at Rye and Lydd and Romney the farmers had given up expecting Arthur Alce to come round the corner on his grey horse, with samples of wheat or prices of tegs. At Ansdore, too, the breach was healed. Joanna and Ellen lived quietly together, sharing their common life without explosions. Joanna had given up all idea of “having things out” with Ellen. There was always a bit of pathos about Joanna’s surrenders, and in this case Ellen had certainly beaten her. It was rather difficult to say exactly to what the younger sister owed her victory, but undoubtedly she had won it, and their life was in a measure based upon it. Joanna accepted her sister—past and all; she accepted her little calm assumptions of respectability together with those more expected tendencies towards the “French.” When Ellen had first come back, she had been surprised and resentful to see how much she took for granted in the way of acceptance, not only from Joanna but from the neighbours. According to her ideas, Ellen should have kept in shamed seclusion till public opinion called her out of it, and she had been alarmed at her assumptions, fearing rebuff, just as she had almost feared heaven’s lightning stroke for that demure little figure in her pew on Sunday, murmuring “Lord have mercy” without tremor or blush.
But heaven had not smitten and the neighbours had not snubbed. In some mysterious way Ellen had won acceptance from the latter, whatever her secret relations with the former may have been. The stories about her grew ever more and more charitable. The Woolpack pronounced that Arthur Alce would not have gone away “if it had been all on her side,” and it was now certainly known that Mrs. Williams had been at San Remo.... Ellen’s manner was found pleasing—“quiet but affable.” Indeed, in this respect she had much improved. The Southlands took her up, forgiving her treatment of their boy, now comfortably married to the daughter of a big Folkestone shopkeeper. They found her neither brazen nor shamefaced—and she’d been as shocked as any honest woman at Lady Mountain’s trial in the Sunday papers ... if folk only knew her real story, they’d probably find....
In fact, Ellen was determined to get her character back.