The date of the wedding was not yet fixed, though September was spoken of rather vaguely, and this time the hesitation came from the bridegroom. As on the occasion of her first engagement Joanna had made difficulties with the shearing and hay-making, so now Albert contrived and shifted in his anxiety to fit in his marriage with other plans.
He had, it appeared, as far back as last Christmas, arranged for a week’s tour in August with the Polytechnic to Lovely Lucerne. In vain Joanna promised him a liberal allowance of “Foreign Parts” for their honeymoon—Bertie’s little soul hankered after the Polytechnic, his pals who were going with him, and the kindred spirits he would meet at the chalets. Going on his honeymoon as Joanna Godden’s husband was a different matter and could not take the place of such an excursion.
Joanna did not press him. She was terribly afraid of scaring him off. It had occurred to her more than once that his bonds held him far more lightly than she was held by hers. And the prospect of marriage was now an absolute necessity if she was to endure her memories. Marriage alone could hallow and remake Joanna Godden. Sometimes, as love became less of a drug and a bewilderment, her thoughts awoke, and she would be overwhelmed by an almost incredulous horror at herself. Could this be Joanna Godden, who had turned away her dairy-girl for loose behaviour, who had been so shocked at the adventures of her sister Ellen? She could never be shocked at anyone again, seeing that she herself was just as bad and worse than anyone she knew.... Oh, life was queer—there was no denying. It took you by surprise in a way you’d never think—it made you do things so different from your proper notions that afterwards you could hardly believe it was you that had done them—it gave you joy that should ought to have been sorrow ... and pain as you’d never think.
As the summer passed and the time for her visit to town drew near, Joanna began to grow nervous and restless. She did not like the idea of going to a place like London, though she dared not confess her fears to the travelled Ellen or the metropolitan Bertie. She felt vaguely that “no good would come of it”—she had lived thirty-eight years without setting foot in London, and it seemed like tempting Providence to go there now....
However she resigned herself to the journey—indeed, when the time came she undertook it more carelessly than she had undertaken the venture of Marlingate. Her one thought was of Albert, and she gave over Ansdore almost nonchalantly to her carter and her looker, and abandoned Ellen to Tip Ernley with scarcely a doubt as to her moral welfare.