1 A bright flush flew to Mattie's cheeks.
2 Mattie's tender gaze was on him and she marked the gesture.
3 Then he caught Mattie's hand and drew her after him toward the sled.
4 The door of Mattie's room was shut, and he wavered a moment on the landing.
5 Ethan dragged the sled with one hand and passed the other through Mattie's arm.
6 When he entered the kitchen it was empty, but Mattie's bag and shawl lay ready by the door.
7 He saw the rise of the colour in Mattie's averted cheek, and the quick lifting of Zeena's head.
8 Mattie's hand was underneath, and Ethan kept his clasped on it a moment longer than was necessary.
9 As he did so his glance crossed Mattie's and he fancied that a fugitive warning gleamed through her lashes.
10 The fact that admiration for his learning mingled with Mattie's wonder at what he taught was not the least part of his pleasure.
11 Zeena continued in the same even tone: "I wanted you should stay and fix up that stove in Mattie's room afore the girl gets here."
12 That which had seemed incredible in the sober light of day had really come to pass, and he was to assist as a helpless spectator at Mattie's banishment.
13 Ethan put the candlestick in Mattie's hand and she went out of the kitchen ahead of him, the light that she carried before her making her dark hair look like a drift of mist on the moon.
14 Every yard of the road was alive with Mattie's presence, and there was hardly a branch against the sky or a tangle of brambles on the bank in which some bright shred of memory was not caught.
15 Ethan felt confusedly that there were many things he ought to think about, but through his tingling veins and tired brain only one sensation throbbed: the warmth of Mattie's shoulder against his.
16 From the beginning of the discussion he had instinctively avoided the mention of Mattie's name, fearing he hardly knew what: criticism, complaints, or vague allusions to the imminent probability of her marrying.
17 It was formed of Zeena's obstinate silence, of Mattie's sudden look of warning, of the memory of just such fleeting imperceptible signs as those which told him, on certain stainless mornings, that before night there would be rain.
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