The house was quite still; everyone had gone to bed, and the moon filled the middle of the window, splashing the bed, and Joanna in it, and the walls, and the sagging beams of the ceiling. She thought of getting up to pull down the blind, but had no more energy to do that than to bind her hair. She wanted desperately to go to sleep. She lay on her side, her head burrowed down into the pillow, her hands clenched under her chin. Her bed was next the door, and beyond the door, against the wall at right angles to it, was her chest of drawers, with Martin’s photograph in its black frame, and the photograph of his tombstone in a frame with a lily worked on it. Her eyes strained towards them in the darkness ... oh, Martin—Martin, why did I ever forget you?... But I never forgot you ... Martin, I’ve never had my man.... I’ve got money, two farms, lovely clothes—I’m just as good as a lady ... but I’ve never had my man.... Seemingly I’ll go down into the grave without him ... but, oh, I do want ... the thing I was born for....
Sobs shook her broad shoulders as she lay there in the moonlight. But they did not relieve her—her sobs ploughed deep into her soul ... they turned strange furrows.... Oh, she was a bad woman, who deserved no happiness. She’d always known it.
She lifted her head, straining her eyes through the darkness and tears to gaze at Martin’s photograph as if it were the Serpent in the Wilderness. Perhaps all this had come upon her because she had been untrue to his memory—and yet what had so appealed to her about Bertie was that he was like Martin, though Ellen said he wasn’t—well, perhaps he wasn’t.... But what was happening now? Something had come between her and the photograph on the chest of drawers. With a sudden chill at her heart, she realized that it was the door opening.
“Who’s there?” she cried in a hoarse angry whisper.
“Don’t be frightened, dear—don’t be frightened, my sweet Jo—” said Bertie Hill.
She could not think—she could only feel. It was morning—that white light was morning, though it was like the moon. Under it the Marsh lay like a land under the sea—it must have looked like this when the keels of the French boats swam over it, high above Ansdore, and Brodnyx, and Pedlinge, lying like red apples far beneath, at the bottom of the sea. That was nonsense ... but she could not think this morning, she could only feel.
He had not been gone an hour, but she must find him. She must be with him—just feel him near her. She must see his head against the window, hear the heavy, slow sounds of his moving. She slipped on her clothes and twisted up her hair, and went down into the empty, stir-less house. No one was about—even her own people were in bed. The sun was not yet up, but the white dawn was pouring into the house, through the windows, through the chinks. Joanna stood in the midst of it.