It was years since she had really let herself think of him, but now strange barriers of thought had broken down, and she seemed to go to and fro quite easily into the past. Whether it was her love for Bertie whom in her blindness she had thought like him, or her meeting with Lawrence, or the new hope within her, she did not trouble to ask—but that strange, long forbidding was gone. She was free to remember all their going out and coming in together, his sweet fiery kisses, the ways of the Marsh that he had made wonderful. Throughout her being there was a strange sense of release—broken, utterly done and finished as she was from the worldly point of view, there was in her heart a springing hope, a sweet softness—she could indeed go softly at last.
The tears were in her eyes as she climbed out of bed and knelt down beside it. It was weeks since she had said her prayers—not since that night when Bertie had come into her room. But now that her heart was quite melted she wanted to ask God to help her and forgive her.
“Oh, please God, forgive me. I know I been wicked, but I’m unaccountable sorry. And I’m going through with it. Please help my child—don’t let it get hurt for my fault. Help me to do my best and not grumble, seeing as it’s all my own wickedness; and I’m sorry I broke the Ten Commandments. ’Lord have mercy upon us and write all these thy laws in our hearts, we beseech thee.’”
This liturgical outburst seemed wondrously to heal Joanna—it seemed to link her up again with the centre of her religion—Brodnyx church, with the big pews, and the hassocks, and the Lion and the Unicorn over the north door—she felt readmitted into the congregation of the faithful, and her heart was full of thankfulness and loyalty. She rose from her knees, climbed into bed, and curled up on her side. Ten minutes later she was sound asleep.
The next morning after breakfast, Joanna faced Ellen in the dining-room.
“Ellen,” she said—“I’m going to sell Ansdore.”
“I’m going to put up this place for auction in September.”
Ellen stared at her in amazement, alarm, and some sympathy.
“I’m driving in to tell Edward Huxtable about it this morning. Not that I trust him, after the mess he made of my case; howsumever, I can look after him in this business, and the auctioneer, too.”
“But, my dear, I thought you said you’d plenty of money to meet your losses.”
“So I have. That’s not why I’m selling.”
“Then why on earth ...”
The colour mounted to Joanna’s face. She looked at her sister’s delicate, thoughtful face, with its air of quiet happiness. The room was full of sunshine, and Ellen was all in white.
“Ellen, I’m going to tell you something ... because you’re my sister. And I trust you not to let another living soul know what I’ve told you. As I kept your secret four years ago, so now you can keep mine.”