But though she loved him, this constant expression of his worst points could not fail to give her a feeling of chill. Was this the way he would behave in their home when they were married? Would he speak to her as he spoke to his mother? Would he speak to their children so?... She could not bear to think it, and yet she could not believe that marriage would change him all through. What if their marriage made them both miserable?—made them like some couples she had known on the Marsh, nagging and hating each other. Was she a fool to think of marrying him?—all that difference in their age ... only perfect love could make up for it ... and he did not like the idea of living in the country—he was set on his business—his “career,” as he called it.... She did not think he wanted to marry her as much as she wanted to marry him.... Was it right to take him away from his work, which he was doing so well at, and bring him to live down at Ansdore? My, but he would probably scare her folk with some of his ways. However, it was now too late to draw back. She must go on with what she had begun. At all costs she must marry—not merely because she loved him, but because only marriage could hallow and silence the past. With all the traditions of her race and type upon her, Joanna could not face the wild harvest of love. Her wild oats must be decently gathered into the barn, even if they gave her bitter bread to eat.
The case of “Godden versus Inland Revenue Commissioners” was heard at the High Court when Joanna had been at Lewisham about ten days. Albert tried to dissuade her from being present.
“I can’t go with you, and I don’t see how you can go alone.”
“I shall be right enough.”
“Yet you won’t even go down the High Street by yourself—I never met anyone so inconsistent.”
“It’s my Appeal,” said Joanna.
“But there’s no need for you to attend. Can’t you trust anyone to do anything without you?”
“Not Edward Huxtable,” said Joanna decidedly.
“Then why did you choose him for your lawyer?”
“He’s the best I know.”
Bertie opened his mouth to carry the argument further, but laughed instead.
“You are a funny ole girl—so silly and so sensible, so hard and so soft, such hot stuff and so respectable ...” He kissed her at each item of the catalogue—“I can’t half make you out.”
However, he agreed to take her up to town when he went himself, and deposited her at the entrance of the Law Courts—a solid, impressive figure in her close-fitting tan coat and skirt and high, feathered toque, with the ceremonial veil pulled down over her face.
Beneath her imposing exterior she felt more than a little scared and lost. Godden seemed a poor thing compared to all this might of Inland Revenue Commissioners, spreading about her in passage and hall and tower.... The law had suddenly become formidable, as it had never been in Edward Huxtable’s office.... However, she was fortunate in finding him, with the help of one or two policemen, and the sight of him comforted her with its suggestion of home and Watchbell Street, and her trap waiting in the sunshine outside the ancient door of the Huxtable dwelling.