She liked to feel those eyes upon her. All his strength and bigness, all his manhood, huge and unaware, seemed to lie deep in them like a monster coiled up under the sea. When he looked at her he seemed to lose that heavy dumbness, that inarticulate stupidity which occasionally stirred and vexed even her good disposition; his mouth might still be shut, but his eyes were fluent—they told her not only of his manhood but of her womanhood besides.
Socknersh lived alone in the looker’s cottage which had always belonged to Ansdore. It stood away on the Kent Innings, on the very brink of the Ditch, which here gave a great loop, to allow a peninsula of Sussex to claim its rights against the Kentish monks. It was a lonely little cottage, all rusted over with lichen, and sometimes Joanna felt sorry for Socknersh away there by himself beside the Ditch. She sent him over a flock mattress and a woollen blanket, in case the old ague-spectre of the Marsh still haunted that desolate corner of water and reeds.
Towards the end of that autumn, Joanna and Ellen Godden came out of their mourning. As was usual on such occasions, they chose a Sunday for their first appearance in colours. Half mourning was not worn on the Marsh, so there was no interval of grey and violet between Joanna’s hearse-like costume of crape and nodding feathers and the tan-coloured gown in which she astonished the twin parishes of Brodnyx and Pedlinge on the first Sunday in November. Her hat was of sage green and contained a bird unknown to natural history. From her ears swung huge jade earrings, in succession to the jet ones that had dangled against her neck on Sundays for a year—she must have bought them, for everyone knew that her mother, Mary Godden, had left but one pair.
Altogether the sight of Joanna was so breathless, that a great many people never noticed Ellen, or at best only saw her hat as it went past the tops of their pews. Joanna realized this, and being anxious that no one should miss the sight of Ellen’s new magenta pelisse with facings of silver braid, she made her stand on the seat while the psalms were sung.
The morning service was in Brodnyx church—in the evening it would be at Pedlinge. Brodnyx had so far escaped the restorer, and the pews were huge wooden boxes, sometimes fitted with a table in the middle, while Sir Harry Trevor’s, which he never occupied, except when his sons were at home, was further provided with a stove—all the heating there was in the three aisles. There was also a two-decker pulpit at the east end and over the dim little altar hung an escutcheon of Royal George—the lion and the unicorn fighting for the crown amid much scroll-work.