She hesitated whether she should share with him her new inspiration. It would be good to hear him say “Surelye, missus” in that admiring, husky voice. He was the only one of her farm-hands who, she felt, had any deference towards her—any real loyalty, though he was the last come.
“Socknersh, d’you think your master up at Garlinge would let me hire one or two rams to cross with my ewes?—I might go up and have a look at them. I don’t know as I’ve ever seen a Spanish sheep.... Garlinge is up by Court-at-Street, ain’t it?”
“Yes, missus. ’Tis an unaccountable way from here.”
“I’d write first. What d’you think of the notion, Socknersh? Don’t you think that a cross between a Spanish sheep and a Kent sheep ud be an uncommon fine animal?”
That night Joanna dreamed that giant sheep as big as bullocks were being herded on the Marsh by a giant shepherd.
Spring brought a blooming to Ansdore as well as to the Marsh. Joanna had postponed, after all, her house-painting till the winter months of rotting sea mists were over. But in April the ladders striped her house-front, and soon her windows and doors began to start luridly out of their surroundings of mellowed tiles and brick. After much deliberation she had chosen yellow for her colour, tastefully picked out with green. She had always been partial to yellow—it was a colour that “showed up” well, and she was also influenced by the fact that there was no other yellow-piped dwelling on the Marsh.
Her neighbours disapproved of her choice for the same reasons that had induced her to make it. They were shocked by the fact that you could see her front door from half a mile off on the Brodnyx Road; it was just like Joanna Godden to choose a colour that shrieked across the landscape instead of merging itself unobtrusively into it. But there was a still worse shock in store for public opinion, and that was when she decided to repaint her waggons as well as her house.
Hitherto there had been only one shape and colour of waggon on the Marsh—a plain low-sided trough of deep sea-blue. The name was always painted in white on a small black wooden square attached to the side. Thomas Godden’s waggons had been no departure from this rule. It was left to his daughter to flout tradition, and by some obscure process of local reasoning, bring discredit to her dead father by painting her waggons yellow instead of blue. The evil went deeper than mere colour. Joanna was a travelled woman, having once been to the Isle of Wight, and it suddenly struck her that, since she was repainting, she might give her three waggons the high gondola-shaped fronts that she had admired in the neighbourhood of Shanklin and Ventnor. These she further beautified with a rich, scrolled design, and her name in large, ornate lettering—“Joanna Godden. Little Ansdore. Walland Marsh”—so that her waggons went forth upon the roads very much as the old men o’ war of King Edward’s fleet had sailed over that same country when it was fathoms deep under the seas of Rye Bay.... With their towering, decorated poops they were more like mad galleys of a bygone age than sober waggons of a nineteenth century farm.