As for him, he was enjoying himself. Driving about the country with a fine woman like Joanna, with privileges continually on the increase, was satisfactory even if no more than an interlude. “Where shall we go to-morrow?” he asked her, as they sat in the parlour after dinner, leaving the garden to Ellen and Tip.
“To-morrow? Why, that’s Sunday.”
“But can’t we go anywhere on Sunday?”
“To church, of course.”
“But won’t you take me out for another lovely drive? I was hoping we could go out all day to-morrow. It’s going to be ever so fine.”
“Maybe, but I was brought up to go to church on Sundays, and on Whit Sunday of all other Sundays.”
“But this Sunday’s going to be different from all other Sundays—and from all other Whit Sundays....”
He looked at her meaningly out of his bold, melting eyes, and she surrendered. She could not deny him in this matter any more than in most others.... She could not disappoint him any more than she could disappoint a child. He should have his drive—she would take him over to New Romney, even though it was written “Neither thou nor thine ox nor thine ass nor the stranger that is within thy gates.”
So the next morning when Brodnyx bells were ringing in the east she drove off through Pedlinge on her way to Broomhill level. She felt rather uneasy and ashamed, especially when she passed the church-going people. It was the first time in her life that she had voluntarily missed going to church—for hundreds of Sundays she had walked along that flat white lick of road, her big Prayer Book in her hand, and had gone under that ancient porch to kneel in her huge cattle-pen pew with its abounding hassocks. Even the removal of the Lion and the Unicorn, and the transformation of her comfortable, Established religion into a disquieting mystery had not made her allegiance falter. She still loved Brodnyx church, even now when hassocks were no longer its chief ecclesiastical ornament. She thought regretfully of her empty place and shamefully of her neighbours’ comments on it.
It was a sunless day, with grey clouds hanging over a dull green marsh, streaked with channels of green water. The air was still and heavy with the scent of may and meadowsweet and ripening hayseed. They drove as far as the edges of Dunge Marsh, then turned eastward along the shingle road which runs across the root of the Ness to Lydd. The little mare’s chocolate flanks were all a-sweat, and Joanna thought it better to bait at Lydd and rest during the heat of the day.
“You’d never think it was Whitsun,” said Albert, looking out of the inn window at the sunny, empty street. “You don’t seem to get much of a crowd down here. Rum old place, ain’t it?”
Already Joanna was beginning to notice a difference between his outlook and Martin’s.
“What d’you do with yourself out here all day?” he continued.