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<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library-Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton


The girl seemed to waver, and Frome saw her twirl the end of her
scarf irresolutely about her fingers. Not for the world would he
have made a sign to her, though it seemed to him that his life hung
on her next gesture.

“Hold on a minute while I unhitch the colt,” Denis called to her,
springing toward the shed.

She stood perfectly still, looking after him, in an attitude of tranquil
expectancy torturing to the hidden watcher. Frome noticed that she
no longer turned her head from side to side, as though peering
through the night for another figure.

She let Denis Eady lead out the horse, climb into the cutter and
fling back the bearskin to make room for her at his side; then, with
a swift motion of flight, she turned about and darted up the slope
toward the front of the church.

“Good-bye! Hope you’ll have a lovely ride!” she called back to him
over her shoulder.

Denis laughed, and gave the horse a cut that brought him quickly
abreast of her retreating figure.

“Come along! Get in quick! It’s as slippery as thunder on this turn,”
he cried, leaning over to reach out a hand to her.

She laughed back at him: “Good-night! I’m not getting in.” By this
time they had passed beyond Frome’s earshot and he could only
follow the shadowy pantomime of their silhouettes as they
continued to move along the crest of the slope above him. He saw
Eady, after a moment, jump from the cutter and go toward the girl
with the reins over one arm. The other he tried to slip through hers;
but she eluded him nimbly, and Frome’s heart, which had swung
out over a black void, trembled back to safety. A moment later he
heard the jingle of departing sleigh bells and discerned a figure
advancing alone toward the empty expanse of snow before the

In the black shade of the Varnum spruces he caught up with her
and she turned with a quick “Oh!”

“Think I’d forgotten you, Matt?” he asked with sheepish glee.
She answered seriously: “I thought maybe you couldn’t come back
for me.” “Couldn’t? What on earth could stop me?” “I knew Zeena
wasn’t feeling any too good to-day.” “Oh, she’s in bed long ago.”
He paused, a question struggling in him. “Then you meant to walk
home all alone?” “Oh, I ain’t afraid!” she laughed.

They stood together in the gloom of the spruces, an empty world
glimmering about them wide and grey under the stars. He brought
his question out.

“If you thought I hadn’t come, why didn’t you ride back with
Denis Eady?” “Why, where were you? How did you know? I never
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