For the next few days Joanna avoided Mr. Pratt; she could not tell why her munificence should make her dislike him, but it did. One day as she was walking through Pedlinge she saw him standing in the middle of the road, talking to a young man whom on approach she recognized as Martin Trevor, the Squire’s second son. She could not get out of his way, as the Pedlinge dyke was on one side of the road and on the other were some cottages. To turn back would be undignified, so she decided to pass them with a distant and lordly bow.
Unfortunately for this, she could not resist the temptation to glance at Martin Trevor—she had not seen him for some time, and it was surprising to meet him in the middle of the week, as he generally came home only for week-ends. That glance was her undoing—a certain cordiality must have crept into it, inspired by his broad shoulders and handsome, swarthy face, for Mr. Pratt was immediately encouraged, and pounced. He broke away from Trevor to Joanna’s side.
“Oh, Miss Godden ... so glad to meet you. I—I never thanked you properly last week for your generosity—your munificence. Thought of writing, but somehow felt that—felt that inadequate.... Mr. Trevor, I’ve told you about Miss Godden ... our harmonium ...”
He had actually seized Joanna’s hand. She pulled it away. What a wretched undersized little chap he was. She could have borne his gratitude if only he had been a real man, tall and dark and straight like the young fellow who was coming up to her.
“Please don’t, Mr. Pratt. I wish you wouldn’t make all this tedious fuss.”
She turned towards Martin Trevor with a greeting in her eyes. But to her surprise she saw that he had fallen back. The Rector had fallen back too, and the two men stood together, as when she had first come up to them.
Joanna realized that she had missed the chance of an introduction. Well, it didn’t matter. She really couldn’t endure Mr. Pratt and his ghastly gratitude. She put her stiffest bow into practice and walked on.
For the rest of the day she tried to account for young Trevor’s mid-week appearance. Her curiosity was soon satisfied, though she was at a disadvantage in having no male to bring her news from the Woolpack. However, she made good use of other people’s males, and by the same evening was possessed of the whole story. Martin Trevor had been ill in London with pleurisy, and the doctor said his lungs were in danger and that he must give up office work and lead an open-air life. He was going to live with his father for a time, and help him farm North Farthing House—they were taking in a bit more land there, and buying sheep.
That October the Farmers’ Club Dinner was held as usual at the Woolpack. There had been some controversy about asking Joanna—there was controversy every year, but this year the difference lay in the issue, for the ayes had it.