“She spicks short wud me,” said old Stuppeny, “and I’ve toeald her as she mun look around fur a new head man. This time I’m going.”
“She’s a scold,” said Broadhurst, “and reckon the young chap saeaved himself a tedious life by dying.”
“Reckon her heart’s broke,” said Mrs. Tolhurst.
“Her temper’s broke,” said Milly Pump.
They were unsympathetic, because she expressed her grief in terms of fierce activity instead of in the lackadaisical ways of tradition. If Joanna had taken to her bed on her return from North Farthing House that early time, and had sent for the doctor, and shown all the credited symptoms of a broken heart, they would have pitied her and served her and borne with her. But, instead, she had come back hustling and scolding, and they could not see that she did so because not merely her heart but her whole self was broken, and that she was just flying and rattling about like a broken thing. So instead of pitying her, they grumbled and threatened to leave her service—in fact, Milly Pump actually did so, and was succeeded by Mene Tekel Fagge, the daughter of Bibliolatious parents at Northlade.
Ansdore throve on its mistress’s frenzy. That autumn Joanna had four hundred pounds in Lewes Old Bank, the result of her splendid markets and of her new ploughs, which had borne eight bushels to the acre. She had triumphed gloriously over everyone who had foretold her ruin through breaking up pasture; strong-minded farmers could scarcely bear to drive along that lap of the Brodnyx road which ran through Joanna’s wheat, springing slim and strong and heavy-eared as from Lothian soil—if there had been another way from Brodnyx to Rye market they would have taken it; indeed it was rumoured that on one occasion Vine had gone by train from Appledore because he couldn’t abear the sight of Joanna Godden’s ploughs.
This rumour, when it reached her, brought her a faint thrill. It was the beginning of a slow process of reidentification of herself with her own activities, which till then had been as some furious raging outside the house. She began to picture new acts of discomfiting adventure, new roads which should be shut to Vine through envy. Ansdore was all she had, so she must make it much. When she had given it and herself to Martin she had had all the Marsh and all the world to plant with her love; but since he was gone and had left her gifts behind him, she had just a few acres to plant with wheat—and her harvest should be bread alone.
Her black months had changed her—not outwardly very much, but leaving wounds in her heart. Martin had woken in her too many needs for her to be able to go back quietly into the old life of unfulfilled content. He had shown her a vision of herself as complete woman, mother and wife, of a Joanna Godden bigger than Ansdore. She could no longer be the Joanna Godden whose highest ambition was to be admitted