He liked her now—he told himself that she was good common stuff. She was like some sterling homespun piece, strong and sweet-smelling—she was like a plot of the marsh earth, soft and rich and alive. He had forgotten her barbaric tendency, the eccentricity of looks and conduct which had at first repelled him—that aspect had melted in the unsuspected warmth and softness he had found in her. He had been mistaken as to her sexlessness—she was alive all through. She was still far removed from his type, but her fundamental simplicity had brought her nearer to it, and in time his good will would bring her the rest of the way. Anyhow, he would look forward to meeting her again—perhaps he would call at Ansdore, as she had proposed.
Joanna was not blind to her triumph, and it carried her beyond her actual attainment into the fulfilment of her hopes. She saw Martin Trevor already as her suitor—respectful, interested, receptive of her wisdom in the matter of spades. She rejoiced in her courage in having taken the first step—she would not have much further to go now. Now that she had overcome his initial dislike, the advantages of the alliance must be obvious to him. She looked into the future, and between the present moment and the consummated union of North Farthing and Ansdore, she saw thrilling, half-dim, personal adventures for Martin and Joanna ... the touch of his hands would be quite different from the touch of Arthur Alce’s ... and his lips—she had never wanted a man’s lips before, except perhaps Socknersh’s for one wild, misbegotten minute ... she held in her heart the picture of Martin’s well-cut, sensitive mouth, so unlike the usual mouths of Brodnyx and Pedlinge, which were either coarse-lipped or no-lipped.... Martin’s mouth was wonderful—it would be like fire on hers....
Thus Joanna rummaged in her small stock of experience, and of the fragments built a dream. Her plans were not now all concrete—they glowed a little, though dimly, for her memory held no great store, and her imagination was the imagination of Walland Marsh, as a barndoor fowl to the birds that fly. She might have dreamed more if her mind had not been occupied with the practical matter of welcoming Ellen home for her Christmas holidays.
Ellen, who arrived on Thomas-day, already seemed in some strange way to have grown apart from the life of Ansdore. As Joanna eagerly kissed her on the platform at Rye, there seemed something alien in her soft cool cheek, in the smoothness of her hair under the dark boater hat with its deviced hat-band.
“Hullo, Joanna,” she said.
“Hullo, dearie. I’ve just about been pining to get you back. How are you?—how’s your dancing?”—This as she bundled her up beside her in the trap, while the porter helped old Stuppeny with her trunk.
“I can dance the waltz and the polka.”
“That’s fine—I’ve promised the folks around here that you shall show ’em what you can do.”