1 Zeena stopped short and looked at him.
2 "Well, I'd like to talk to you about it," said Zeena obstinately.
3 "And the doctor don't want I should be left without anybody," Zeena continued.
4 Zeena herself, from an oppressive reality, had faded into an insubstantial shade.
5 "Guess you forgot about us, Zeena," Ethan joked, stamping the snow from his boots.
6 He and Zeena had not exchanged a word after the door of their room had closed on them.
7 Then the room grew perfectly black, and not a sound was audible but Zeena's asthmatic breathing.
8 The next moment they sank to her flushed cheeks and she began to mount the stairs ahead of Zeena.
9 Zeena always went to bed as soon as she had had her supper, and the shutterless windows of the house were dark.
10 It was Zeena's habit, when they came back late from the village, to leave the key of the kitchen door under the mat.
11 "Maybe she's forgotten it," Mattie said in a tremulous whisper; but both of them knew that it was not like Zeena to forget.
12 Zeena took the view that Mattie was bound to make the best of Starkfield since she hadn't any other place to go to; but this did not strike Ethan as conclusive.
13 The doors of the two bedrooms faced each other across the narrow upper landing, and to-night it was peculiarly repugnant to him that Mattie should see him follow Zeena.
14 "I wouldn't ever have it said that I stood in the way of a poor girl like Mattie marrying a smart fellow like Denis Eady," Zeena answered in a tone of plaintive self-effacement.
15 He even crept down on Saturday nights to scrub the kitchen floor after the women had gone to bed; and Zeena, one day, had surprised him at the churn and had turned away silently, with one of her queer looks.
16 Zeena had always been what Starkfield called "sickly," and Frome had to admit that, if she were as ailing as she believed, she needed the help of a stronger arm than the one which lay so lightly in his during the night walks to the farm.
17 Mattie Silver came from Stamford, and when she entered the Fromes' household to act as her cousin Zeena's aid it was thought best, as she came without pay, not to let her feel too sharp a contrast between the life she had left and the isolation of a Starkfield farm.
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