Ethan Frome (Dover Thrift Editions)
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Burdened by poverty and spiritually dulled by a loveless marriage to an older woman. Frome is emotionally stirred by the arrival of a youthful cousin who is employed as household help. Mattie's presence not only brightens a gloomy house but stirs long-dormant feelings in Ethan. Their growing love for one another, discovered by an embittered wife, presages an ending to this grim tale that is both shocking and savagely ironic.
certain wan refinement not out of keeping with her pale old-fashioned house. In the “best parlour,” with its black horse-hair and mahogany weakly illuminated by a gurgling Carcel lamp, I listened every evening to another and more delicately shaded version of the Starkfield chronicle. It was not that Mrs. Ned Hale felt, or affected, any social superiority to the people about her; it was only that the accident of a finer sensibility and a little more education had put just enough distance between
possess him as they climbed the hill to the house. He was never so happy with her as when he abandoned himself to these dreams. Half-way up the slope Mattie stumbled against some unseen obstruction and clutched his sleeve to steady herself. The wave of warmth that went through him was like the prolongation of his vision. For the first time he stole his arms about her, and she did not resist. They walked on as if they were floating on a summer stream. Zeena always went to bed as soon as she had
her “trouble” the sound of her voice was seldom heard, though she had not lost the power of speech. Sometimes, in the long winter evenings, when in desperation her son asked her why she didn’t “say something,” she would lift a finger and answer: “Because I’m listening” and on stormy nights, when the loud wind was about the house, she would complain, if he spoke to her: “They’re talking so out there that I can’t hear you.” It was only when she drew toward her last illness, and his cousin Zenobia
Again Ethan felt a sudden twinge of jealousy. Could it be his coming that gave her such a kindled face? “Well, Matt, any visitors?” he threw off, stooping down carelessly to examine the fastening of the stove. She nodded and laughed “Yes, one,” and he felt a blackness settling on his brows. “Who was that?” he questioned, raising himself up to slant a glance at her beneath his scowl. Her eyes danced with malice. “Why, Jotham Powell. He came in after he got back, and asked for a drop of coffee
away like a speck in space…Then the big elm shot up ahead, lying in wait for them at the bend of the road, and he said between his teeth: “We can fetch it; I know we can fetch it——” As they flew toward the tree Mattie pressed her arms tighter, and her blood seemed to be in his veins. Once or twice the sled swerved a little under them. He slanted his body to keep it headed for the elm, repeating to himself again and again: “I know we can fetch it” and little phrases she had spoken ran through his