1 It was a long time since any one had spoken to him as kindly as Mrs. Hale.
2 Oh, I don't know why I'm telling you all this, Mrs. Hale broke off, crying.
3 Mrs. Hale paused a moment, and I remained silent, plunged in the vision of what her words evoked.
4 "It's a pity, though," Mrs. Hale ended, sighing, "that they're all shut up there'n that one kitchen."
5 Ethan signed to them to stop, and Mrs. Hale leaned forward, her pink wrinkles twinkling with benevolence.
6 But Mrs. Hale had said, "You've had an awful mean time, Ethan Frome," and he felt less alone with his misery.
7 Yes, there she's been," Mrs. Hale continued, "and Zeena's done for her, and done for Ethan, as good as she could.
8 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.
9 Mrs. Hale answered simply: "There was nowhere else for her to go;" and my heart tightened at the thought of the hard compulsions of the poor.
10 Mrs. Hale drew a deep breath, as though her memory were eased of its long burden, and she had no more to say; but suddenly an impulse of complete avowal seized her.
11 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.
12 Mrs. Hale, tender soul, had pictured me as lost in the Flats and buried under a snow-drift; and so lively was her satisfaction on seeing me safely restored to her the next morning that I felt my peril had caused me to advance several degrees in her favour.
13 Mrs. Hale glanced at me tentatively, as though trying to see how much footing my conjectures gave her; and I guessed that if she had kept silence till now it was because she had been waiting, through all the years, for some one who should see what she alone had seen.
14 He was an old friend of Ethan's family, and his house one of the few to which Zeena occasionally went, drawn there by the fact that Mrs. Hale, in her youth, had done more "doctoring" than any other woman in Starkfield, and was still a recognised authority on symptoms and treatment.