“The worst of it is, we’ll have to sit for an hour in the dog-cart after we get to Jury’s Gap. You’ll catch your death of cold, Joanna.”
“Not I! I often say I’m like our Romney sheep—I can stand all winds and waters. But you’re not used to it like I am—you should ought to have brought your overcoat.”
“How was I to know it would turn out like this?”
“I told you it would rain.”
“But not till after we’d started.”
Joanna said nothing. She accepted Martin’s rather unreasonable displeasure without protest, for she felt guilty about other things. Was he right, after all, when he said that she was putting Ansdore between them?... She did not feel that she was, any more than she was putting Ansdore between herself and Ellen. But she hated him to have the thought. Should she give in and tell him he could call on Mr. Pratt on their way home?... No, there was plenty of time to make up her mind about that. To-day was only Tuesday, and any day up till Saturday would do for putting in notice of banns ... she must think things over before committing herself ... it wasn’t only the shearers—there was the hay....
Thus they came, walking apart in their own thoughts, to Jury’s Gap. In a few moments the horse was put to, and they were lurching in the ruts of the road to Broomhill. The air was full of the sound of hissing rain, as it fell on the shingle and in the sea and on the great brackish pools of the old flood. Round the pools were thick beds of reeds, shivering and moaning, while along the dykes the willows tossed their branches and the thorn-trees rattled.
“It’ll freshen up the grass,” said Joanna, trying to cheer Martin.
“I was a fool not to bring my overcoat,” he grumbled.
Then suddenly her heart went out to him more than ever, because he was fractious and fretting about himself. She took one hand off the reins and pressed his as it lay warm between her arm and her side.
“Reckon you’re my own silly child,” she said in a low voice.
“I’m sorry, Jo,” he replied humbly, “I know I’m being a beast and worrying you. But I’m worried about you too—you’re as wet as I am.”
“No, I’m not. I’ve got my coat. I’m not at all worried about myself—nor about you, neither.” She could not conceive of a man taking cold through a wetting.
She had planned for him to come back to supper with her at Ansdore, but with that fussiness which seemed so strange and pathetic, he insisted on going straight back to North Farthing to change his clothes.
“You get into a hot bath with some mustard,” he said to her, meaning what he would do himself.
“Ha! ha!” laughed Joanna, at such an idea.
She did not see Martin for the next two days. He had promised to go up to London for the first night of a friend’s play, and was staying till Friday morning. She missed him very much—he used to come to Ansdore every day, sometimes more than once, and they always had at least one meal together. She brooded about him too, for she could not rid herself of the thought that she had failed him in her refusal to be married before the shearing. He was disappointed—he could not understand....