Her reception by North Farthing House had done nothing to spoil her triumph. Martin’s father and brother had both accepted her—the latter willingly, since he believed that she would be a sane and stabilizing influence in Martin’s life, hitherto over-restless and mood-ridden. He looked upon his brother as a thwarted romantic, whose sophistication had debarred him from finding a natural outlet in religion. He saw in his love for Joanna the chance of a return to nature and romance, since he loved a thing at once simple and adventurous, homely and splendid—which was how religion appeared to Father Lawrence. He had liked Joanna very much on their meeting, and she liked him too, though as she told him frankly she “didn’t hold with Jesoots.”
As for Sir Harry, he too liked Joanna, and was too well-bred and fond of women to show himself ungracious about that which he could not prevent.
“I’ve surrendered, Martin. I can’t help myself. You’ll bring down my grey hairs in sorrow to the grave, but I am all beautiful resignation. Indeed I think I shall offer myself as best man, and flirt dutifully with Ellen Godden, who I suppose will be chief bridesmaid. Your brother shall himself perform the ceremony. What could your family do more?”
“What indeed?” laughed Martin. He felt warmhearted towards all men now—he could forgive both his father for having had too much experience and his brother for having had too little.
The actual date of the wedding was not fixed till two months had run. Though essentially adult and practical in all matters of business and daily life, Joanna was still emotionally adolescent, and her betrothed state satisfied her as it would never have done if her feelings had been as old as her years. Also this deferring of love had helped other things to get a hold on her—Martin was astonished to find her swayed by such considerations as sowing and shearing and marketing—“I can’t fix up anything till I’ve got my spring sowings done”—“that ud be in the middle of the shearing”—“I’d sooner wait till I’m through the autumn markets.”
He discovered that she thought “next fall” the best time for the wedding—“I’ll have got everything clear by then, and I’ll know how the new ploughs have borne.” He fought her and beat her back into June—“after the hay.” He was rather angry with her for thinking about these things, they expressed a side of her which he would have liked to ignore. He did not care for a “managing” woman, and