Thoughts of Martin crowding upon her, filling her empty heart with memories.... Martin sitting on the tombstone outside Brodnyx church on Christmas day, Martin holding her in his arms on the threshold of Ansdore ... Martin kissing her in New Romney church, bending her back against the pillar stained with the old floods ... that drive through Broomhill—how he had teased her!—“we’ll come here for our honeymoon” ... Dunge Ness, the moaning sea, the wind, her fear, his arms ... the warm kitchen of the Britannia, with the light of the wreckwood fire, the teacups on the table, “we shall want to see our children".... No, no, you mustn’t say that—not now, not now.... Remember instead how we quarrelled, how he tried to get between me and Ansdore, so that I forgot Ansdore, and gave it up for his sake; but it’s all I’ve got now. I gave up Ansdore to Martin, and now I’ve lost Martin and got Ansdore. I’ve got three hundred acres and four hundred sheep and three hundred pounds at interest in Lewes Old Bank. But I’ve lost Martin. I’ve done valiant for Ansdore, better’n ever I hoped—poor father ud be proud of me. But my heart’s broken. I don’t like remembering—it hurts—I must forget.
Colour had come into the dawn. The Marsh was slowly turning from a strange papery grey to green. The sky changed from white to blue, and suddenly became smeared with ruddy clouds. At once the watercourses lit up, streaking across the green in fiery slats—the shaking boughs of the willows became full of fire, and at the turn of the road the windows of Ansdore shone as if it were burning.
There it stood at the road’s bend. Its roofs a fiery yellow with the swarming sea-lichen, its solid walls flushed faintly pink in the sunrise, its windows squares of amber and flame. It was as a house lit up and welcoming. It seemed to shout to Joanna as she came to it clop, clop along the road.
“Come back—come home to me—I’m glad to see you again. You forgot me for five days, but you won’t forget me any more—for I’m all that you’ve got now.”
THE LITTLE SISTER
For many months Ansdore was a piece of wreckage to which a drowning woman clung. Joanna’s ship had foundered—the high-castled, seaworthy ship of her life—and she drifted through the dark seas, clinging only to this which had once been so splendid in the midst of her decks, but was now mere wreckage, the least thing saved. If she let go she would drown. So she trailed after Ansdore, and at last it brought her a kind of anchorage, not in her native land, but at least in no unkind country of adoption. During the last weeks of Martin’s wooing, she had withdrawn herself a little from the business of the farm into a kind of overlordship, from which she was far more free to detach herself than from personal service. Now she went back to work with her hands—she did not want free hours, either for his company or for her own dreams; she rose early, because she waked early and must rise when she waked, and she went round waking the girls, hustling the men, putting her own hand to the milking or the cooking, more sharp-tongued than ever, less tolerant, but more terribly alive, with a kind of burning, consuming life that vexed all those about her.