With which threat he departed to groom himself.
“He’ll be all right,” said Martin, “he likes Joanna Godden really.”
“So do I. She sounds a good sort. Will you take me to see her before I go?”
“Certainly. I want you to meet her. When you do you’ll see that I’m not doing anything rash, even from the worldly point of view. She comes of fine old yeoman stock, and she’s of far more consequence on the Marsh than any of us.”
“I can’t see that the social question is of much importance. As long as your tastes and your ideas aren’t too different ...”
“I’m afraid they are, rather. But somehow we seem to complement each other. She’s so solid and so sane—there’s something barbaric about her too ... it’s queer.”
“I’ve seen her. She’s a fine-looking girl—a bit older than you, isn’t she?”
“Five years. Against it, of course—but then I’m so much older than she is in most ways. She’s a practical woman of business—knows more about farming than I shall ever know in my life—but in matters of life and love, she’s a child ...”
“I should almost have thought it better the other way round—that you should know about the business and she about the love. But then in such matters I too am a child.”
He smiled disarmingly, but Martin felt ruffled—partly because his brother’s voluntary abstention from experience always annoyed him, and partly because he knew that in this case the child was right and the man wrong.
In the engagement of Joanna Godden to Martin Trevor Walland Marsh had its biggest sensation for years. Indeed it could be said that nothing so startling had happened since the Rother changed its mouth. The feelings of those far-back marsh-dwellers who had awakened one morning to find the Kentish river swirling past their doors at Broomhill might aptly be compared with those of the farms round the Woolpack, who woke to find that Joanna Godden was not going just to jog on her final choice between Arthur Alce and old maidenhood, but had swept aside to make an excellent, fine marriage.
“She’s been working for this all along,” said Prickett disdainfully.
“I don’t see that she’s had the chance to work much,” said Vine, “she hasn’t seen the young chap more than three or four times.”
“Bates’s looker saw them at Romney once,” said Southland, “having their dinner together; but that time at the Farmers’ Club he’d barely speak to her.”
“Well she’s got herself talked about over two men that she hasn’t took, and now she’s took a man that she hasn’t got herself talked about over.”
“Anyways, I’m glad of it,” said Furnese, “she’s a mare that’s never been praeaperly broken in, and now at last she’s got a man to do it.”
“Poor feller, Alce. I wonder how he’ll take it.”
Alce took it very well. For a week he did not come to Ansdore, then he appeared with Joanna’s first wedding present in the shape of a silver tea-service which had belonged to his mother.