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statement as to why he decided to attempt the work in question,
and why he selected one form rather than another for its
embodiment. These primary aims, the only ones that can be
explicitly stated, must, by the artist, be almost instinctively felt and
acted upon before there can pass into his creation that
imponderable something more which causes life to circulate in it,
and preserves it for a little from decay.

EDITH WHARTON I HAD THE STORY, bit by bit, from various
people, and, as generally happens in such cases, each time it was a
different story.

If you know Starkfield, Massachusetts, you know the post-office. If
you know the post-office you must have seen Ethan Frome drive
up to it, drop the reins on his hollow-backed bay and drag himself
across the brick pavement to the white colonnade: and you must
have asked who he was.

It was there that, several years ago, I saw him for the first time; and
the sight pulled me up sharp. Even then he was the most striking
figure in Starkfield, though he was but the ruin of a man. It was not
so much his great height that marked him, for the “natives” were
easily singled out by their lank longitude from the stockier foreign
breed: it was the careless powerful look he had, in spite of a
lameness checking each step like the jerk of a chain. There was
something bleak and unapproachable in his face, and he was so
stiffened and grizzled that I took him for an old man and was
surprised to hear that he was not more than fiftytwo. I had this
from Harmon Gow, who had driven the stage from Bettsbridge to
Starkfield in pre-trolley days and knew the chronicle of all the
families on his line.

“He’s looked that way ever since he had his smash-up; and that’s
twenty-four years ago come next February,” Harmon threw out
between reminiscent pauses.

The “smash-up” it was-I gathered from the same informant-
which, besides drawing the red gash across Ethan Frome’s
forehead, had so shortened and warped his right side that it cost
him a visible effort to take the few steps from his buggy to the post-
office window. He used to drive in from his farm every day at
about noon, and as that was my own hour for fetching my mail I
often passed him in the porch or stood beside him while we waited
on the motions of the distributing hand behind the grating. I
noticed that, though he came so punctually, he seldom received
anything but a copy of the Bettsbridge Eagle, which he put without
a glance into his sagging pocket. At intervals, however, the post-
master would hand him an envelope addressed to Mrs. Zenobia-or
Mrs. Zeena-Frome, and usually bearing conspicuously in the
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