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


young men made nothing at all of giving a pretty girl a kiss, and he
remembered that the night before, when he had put his arm about
Mattie, she had not resisted. But that had been out-of-doors, under
the open irresponsible night. Now, in the warm lamplit room, with
all its ancient implications of conformity and order, she seemed
infinitely farther away from him and more unapproachable.

To ease his constraint he said: “I suppose they’ll be setting a date
before long.” “Yes. I shouldn’t wonder if they got married some
time along in the summer.” She pronounced the word married as if
her voice caressed it. It seemed a rustling covert leading to
enchanted glades. A pang shot through Ethan, and he said,
twisting away from her in his chair: “It’ll be your turn next, I
wouldn’t wonder.” She laughed a little uncertainly. “Why do you
keep on saying that?” He echoed her laugh. “I guess I do it to get
used to the idea.” He drew up to the table again and she sewed on
in silence, with dropped lashes, while he sat in fascinated
contemplation of the way in which her hands went up and down
above the strip of stuff, just as he had seen a pair of birds make
short perpendicular flights over a nest they were building. At
length, without turning her head or lifting her lids, she said in a
low tone: “It’s not because you think Zeena’s got anything against
me, is it?” His former dread started up full-armed at the
suggestion. “Why, what do you mean?” he stammered.

She raised distressed eyes to his, her work dropping on the table
between them. “I don’t know. I thought last night she seemed to
have.” “I’d like to know what,” he growled.

“Nobody can tell with Zeena.” It was the first time they had ever
spoken so openly of her attitude toward Mattie, and the repetition
of the name seemed to carry it to the farther corners of the room
and send it back to them in long repercussions of sound. Mattie
waited, as if to give the echo time to drop, and then went on: “She
hasn’t said anything to you?” He shook his head. “No, not a

She tossed the hair back from her forehead with a laugh. “I guess
I’m just nervous, then. I’m not going to think about it any more.”
“Oh, no-don’t let’s think about it, Matt!” The sudden heat of his
tone made her colour mount again, not with a rush, but gradually,
delicately, like the reflection of a thought stealing slowly across her
heart. She sat silent, her hands clasped on her work, and it seemed
to him that a warm current flowed toward him along the strip of
stuff that still lay unrolled between them. Cautiously he slid his
hand palm-downward along the table till his finger-tips touched
the end of the stuff. A faint vibration of her lashes seemed to show
that she was aware of his gesture, and that it had sent a counter-
<- Previous | Table of Contents | Next -> Digital Library-Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton

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