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


way over to the wood-lot one of the greys slipped on a glare of ice
and cut his knee; and when they got him up again Jotham had to
go back to the barn for a strip of rag to bind the cut. Then, when
the loading finally began, a sleety rain was coming down once
more, and the tree trunks were so slippery that it took twice as long
as usual to lift them and get them in place on the sledge. It was
what Jotham called a sour morning for work, and the horses,
shivering and stamping under their wet blankets, seemed to like it
as little as the men. It was long past the dinner-hour when the job
was done, and Ethan had to give up going to the village because he
wanted to lead the injured horse home and wash the cut himself.
He thought that by starting out again with the lumber as soon as he
had finished his dinner he might get back to the farm with the glue
before Jotham and the old sorrel had had time to fetch Zenobia
from the Flats; but he knew the chance was a slight one. It turned
on the state of the roads and on the possible lateness of the
Bettsbridge train. He remembered afterward, with a grim flash of
self-derision, what importance he had attached to the weighing of
these probabilities...

As soon as dinner was over he set out again for the wood-lot, not
daring to linger till Jotham Powell left. The hired man was still
drying his wet feet at the stove, and Ethan could only give Mattie a
quick look as he said beneath his breath: “I’ll be back early.” He
fancied that she nodded her comprehension; and with that scant
solace he had to trudge off through the rain.

He had driven his load half-way to the village when Jotham Powell
overtook him, urging the reluctant sorrel toward the Flats. “I’ll
have to hurry up to do it,” Ethan mused, as the sleigh dropped
down ahead of him over the dip of the schoolhouse hill. He
worked like ten at the unloading, and when it was over hastened
on to Michael Eady’s for the glue. Eady and his assistant were both
“down street,” and young Denis, who seldom deigned to take their
place, was lounging by the stove with a knot of the golden youth of
Starkfield. They hailed Ethan with ironic compliment and offers of
conviviality; but no one knew where to find the glue. Ethan,
consumed with the longing for a last moment alone with Mattie,
hung about impatiently while Denis made an ineffectual search in
the obscurer corners of the store.

“Looks as if we were all sold out. But if you’ll wait around till the
old man comes along maybe he can put his hand on it.” “I’m
obliged to you, but I’ll try if I can get it down at Mrs. Homan’s,”
Ethan answered, burning to be gone.

Denis’s commercial instinct compelled him to aver on oath that
what Eady’s store could not produce would never be found at the
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