She was faintly shocked because he had kissed her in church, so he drew her to him, tilting back her chin.
“You mustn’t” ... but she had lost the power of gainsaying him now, and made no effort to release herself. He held her up against the pillar and gave her mouth another idolatrous kiss before he let her go.
“If it happened all that while back, they might at least have got the marks off by this time,” she said, tucking away her loosened hair.
Martin laughed aloud—her little reactions of common sense after their passionate moments never failed to amuse and delight him.
“You’d have had it off with your broom, and that’s all you think about it. But look here, child—what if it happened again?”
“How do you know?”
“It can’t—I know it.”
“But if it happened then it could happen again.”
“There ain’t been a flood on the Marsh in my day, nor in my poor father’s day, neither. Sometimes in February the White Kemp brims a bit, but I’ve never known the roads covered. You’re full of old tales. And now let’s go out, for laughing and love-making ain’t the way to behave in church.”
“The best way to behave in church is to get married.”
She blushed faintly and her eyes filled with tears.
They went out, and had dinner at the New Inn, which held the memory of their first meal together, in that huge, sag-roofed dining-room, then so crowded, now empty except for themselves. Joanna was still given to holding forth on such subjects as harness and spades, and to-day she gave Martin nearly as much practical advice as on that first occasion.
“Now, don’t you waste your money on a driller—we don’t give our sheep turnips on the Marsh. It’s an Inland notion. The grass here is worth a field of roots. You stick to grazing and you’ll keep your money in your pocket and never send coarse mutton to the butcher.”
He did not resent her advice, for he was learning humility. Her superior knowledge and experience of all practical matters was beginning to lose its sting. She was in his eyes so adorable a creature that he could forgive her for being dominant. The differences in their natures were no longer incompatibilities, but gifts which they brought each other—he brought her gifts of knowledge and imagination and emotion, and she brought him gifts of stability and simplicity and a certain saving commonness. And all these gifts were fused in the glow of personality, in a kind bodily warmth, in a romantic familiarity which sometimes found its expression in shyness and teasing.
They loved each other.
Martin had always wanted to go out on the cape at Dunge Ness, that tongue of desolate land which rakes out from Dunge Marsh into the sea, slowly moving every year twenty feet towards France. Joanna had a profound contempt of Dunge Ness—“not enough grazing on it for one sheep”—but Martin’s curiosity mastered her indifference and she promised to drive him out there some day. She had been once before with her father, on some forgotten errand to the Hope and Anchor inn.