Then to crown all, he took away the Lion and the Unicorn from their eternal dance above the Altar of God, and in their place he put tall candles, casting queer red gleams into daylight.... Joanna could bear no more; she swallowed the pride which for the first few months of innovation had made her treat the new rector merely with distant rudeness, and descended upon him in the three rooms of Brodnyx Rectory which he inhabited with cheerful contempt for the rest of its howling vastness.
She emerged from the encounter strangely subdued. Mr. Palmer had been polite, even sympathetic, but he had plainly shown her the indifference (to use no cruder term) that he felt for her as an ecclesiastical authority. He was not going to put the Lion and the Unicorn back in their old place, they belonged to a bygone age which was now forgotten, to a bad old language which had lost its meaning. The utmost he would do was to consent to hang them up over the door, so that they could bless Joanna’s going out and coming in. With this she had to be content.
Poor Joanna! The episode was more than a passing outrage and humiliation—it was ominous, it gave her a queer sense of downfall. With her beloved symbol something which was part of herself seemed also to have been dispossessed. She became conscious that she was losing authority. She realized that for long she had been weakening in regard to Ellen, and now she was unable to stand up to this heavy, sleek young man whom her patronage had appointed.... The Lion and the Unicorn had from childhood been her sign of power—they were her theology in oleograph, they stood for the Church of England as by law established, large rectory houses, respectable and respectful clergymen, “dearly beloved brethren” on Sunday mornings, and a nice nap after dinner. And now they were gone, and in their place was a queer Jesuitry of kyries and candles, and a gospel which kicked and goaded and would not allow one to sleep....
It began to be noticed at the Woolpack that Joanna was losing heart. “She’s lost her spring,” they said in the bar—“she’s got all she wanted, and now she’s feeling dull”—“she’s never had what she wanted and now she’s feeling tired”—“her sister’s beat her and parson’s beat her—she can’t be properly herself.” There was some talk about making her an honorary member of the Farmers’ Club, but it never got beyond talk—the traditions of that exclusive body were too strong to admit her even now.
To Joanna it seemed as if life had newly and powerfully armed itself against her. Her love for Ellen was making her soft, she was letting her sister rule. And not only at home but abroad she was losing her power. Both Church and State had taken to themselves new arrogances. The Church had lost its comfortable atmosphere of Sunday beef—and now the State, which hitherto had existed only for that most excellent purpose of making people behave themselves, had lifted itself up against Joanna Godden.