Support the Monkey! Tell All your Friends and Teachers

Help / FAQ

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


chose to look down on Starkfield, but she could not have lived in a
place which looked down on her. Even Bettsbridge or Shadd’s Falls
would not have been sufficiently aware of her, and in the greater
cities which attracted Ethan she would have suffered a complete
loss of identity. And within a year of their marriage she developed
the “sickliness” which had since made her notable even in a
community rich in pathological instances. When she came to take
care of his mother she had seemed to Ethan like the very genius of
health, but he soon saw that her skill as a nurse had been acquired
by the absorbed observation of her own symptoms.

Then she too fell silent. Perhaps it was the inevitable effect of life
on the farm, or perhaps, as she sometimes said, it was because
Ethan “never listened.” The charge was not wholly unfounded.
When she spoke it was only to complain, and to complain of things
not in his power to remedy; and to check a tendency to impatient
retort he had first formed the habit of not answering her, and
finally of thinking of other things while she talked. Of late,
however, since he had reasons for observing her more closely, her
silence had begun to trouble him. He recalled his mother’s growing
taciturnity, and wondered if Zeena were also turning “queer.”
Women did, he knew. Zeena, who had at her fingers’ ends the
pathological chart of the whole region, had cited many cases of the
kind while she was nursing his mother; and he himself knew of
certain lonely farm-houses in the neighbourhood where stricken
creatures pined, and of others where sudden tragedy had come of
their presence. At times, looking at Zeena’s shut face, he felt the
chill of such forebodings. At other times her silence seemed
deliberately assumed to conceal far-reaching intentions, mysterious
conclusions drawn from suspicions and resentments impossible to
guess. That supposition was even more disturbing than the other;
and it was the one which had come to him the night before, when
he had seen her standing in the kitchen door.

Now her departure for Bettsbridge had once more eased his mind,
and all his thoughts were on the prospect of his evening with
Mattie. Only one thing weighed on him, and that was his having
told Zeena that he was to receive cash for the lumber. He foresaw
so clearly the consequences of this imprudence that with
considerable reluctance he decided to ask Andrew Hale for a small
advance on his load.

When Ethan drove into Hale’s yard the builder was just getting out
of his sleigh.

“Hello, Ethe!” he said. “This comes handy.”
Andrew Hale was a ruddy man with a big gray moustache and a
stubbly double-chin unconstrained by a collar; but his
<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library-Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

All Contents Copyright © All rights reserved.
Further Distribution Is Strictly Prohibited.

About Us | Advertising | Contact Us | Privacy Policy | Home Page

In Association with