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advance a small sum on the lumber if he were told that Zeena’s ill-
health made it necessary to hire a servant.

Hale, after all, knew enough of Ethan’s situation to make it
possible for the latter to renew his appeal without too much loss of
pride; and, moreover, how much did pride count in the ebullition
of passions in his breast? The more he considered his plan the more
hopeful it seemed. If he could get Mrs. Hale’s ear he felt certain of
success, and with fifty dollars in his pocket nothing could keep him
from Mattie...

His first object was to reach Starkfield before Hale had started for
his work; he knew the carpenter had a job down the Corbury road
and was likely to leave his house early. Ethan’s long strides grew
more rapid with the accelerated beat of his thoughts, and as he
reached the foot of School House Hill he caught sight of Hale’s
sleigh in the distance. He hurried forward to meet it, but as it drew
nearer he saw that it was driven by the carpenter’s youngest boy
and that the figure at his side, looking like a large upright cocoon
in spectacles, was that of Mrs. Hale.

Ethan signed to them to stop, and Mrs. Hale leaned forward, her
pink wrinkles twinkling with benevolence.

“Mr. Hale? Why, yes, you’ll find him down home now. He ain’t
going to his work this forenoon. He woke up with a touch o’
lumbago, and I just made him put on one of old Dr. Kidder’s
plasters and set right up into the fire.” Beaming maternally on
Ethan, she bent over to add: “I on’y just heard from Mr. Hale ‘bout
Zeena’s going over to Bettsbridge to see that new doctor. I’m real
sorry she’s feeling so bad again! I hope he thinks he can do
something for her. I don’t know anybody round here’s had more
sickness than Zeena. I always tell Mr. Hale I don’t know what
she’d ‘a’ done if she hadn’t ‘a’ had you to look after her; and I used
to say the same thing ‘bout your mother. You’ve had an awful
mean time, Ethan Frome.” She gave him a last nod of sympathy
while her son chirped to the horse; and Ethan, as she drove off,
stood in the middle of the road and stared after the retreating

It was a long time since any one had spoken to him as kindly as
Mrs. Hale.

Most people were either indifferent to his troubles, or disposed to
think it natural that a young fellow of his age should have carried
without repining the burden of three crippled lives. But Mrs. Hale
had said, “You’ve had an awful mean time, Ethan Frome,” and he
felt less alone with his misery. If the Hales were sorry for him they
would surely respond to his appeal...
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