1 He hung back, and she came out alone and paused within a few yards of him.
2 They walked around to the back of the house, between the rigid gooseberry bushes.
3 Here and there a farmhouse stood far back among the fields, mute and cold as a grave-stone.
4 Ethan, glaring at his face in the glass, threw his head back to draw the razor from ear to chin.
5 It was during their night walks back to the farm that he felt most intensely the sweetness of this communion.
6 As he stood in the darkness outside the church these memories came back with the poignancy of vanished things.
7 "You'd have found me right off if you hadn't gone back to have that last reel with Denis," he brought out awkwardly.
8 "I told you I ain't the kind to be afraid" she tossed back, almost indifferently; and suddenly she began to walk on with a rapid step.
9 A wave of shyness pulled him back into the dark angle of the wall, and he stood there in silence instead of making his presence known to her.
10 At length they sighted the group of larches at Ethan's gate, and as they drew near it the sense that the walk was over brought back his words.
11 The other he tried to slip through hers; but she eluded him nimbly, and Frome's heart, which had swung out over a black void, trembled back to safety.
12 Thence, still hugging the shadow, he edged his way cautiously forward to the nearest window, holding back his straight spare body and craning his neck till he got a glimpse of the room.
13 She let Denis Eady lead out the horse, climb into the cutter and fling back the bearskin to make room for her at his side; then, with a swift motion of flight, she turned about and darted up the slope toward the front of the church.
14 As the dancers poured out of the hall Frome, drawing back behind the projecting storm-door, watched the segregation of the grotesquely muffled groups, in which a moving lantern ray now and then lit up a face flushed with food and dancing.
15 He even noticed two or three gestures which, in his fatuity, he had thought she kept for him: a way of throwing her head back when she was amused, as if to taste her laugh before she let it out, and a trick of sinking her lids slowly when anything charmed or moved her.
16 When his wife first proposed that they should give Mattie an occasional evening out he had inwardly demurred at having to do the extra two miles to the village and back after his hard day on the farm; but not long afterward he had reached the point of wishing that Starkfield might give all its nights to revelry.
17 Mattie Silver had lived under his roof for a year, and from early morning till they met at supper he had frequent chances of seeing her; but no moments in her company were comparable to those when, her arm in his, and her light step flying to keep time with his long stride, they walked back through the night to the farm.
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