1 He was a prisoner for life, and now his one ray of light was to be extinguished.
2 He did not know why he was so irrationally happy, for nothing was changed in his life or hers.
3 Not for the world would he have made a sign to her, though it seemed to him that his life hung on her next gesture.
4 All his life was lived in the sight and sound of Mattie Silver, and he could no longer conceive of its being otherwise.
5 He had been afraid that she would hate the hard life, the cold and loneliness; but not a sign of discontent escaped her.
6 But it was not only that the coming to his house of a bit of hopeful young life was like the lighting of a fire on a cold hearth.
7 With the sudden perception of the point to which his madness had carried him, the madness fell and he saw his life before him as it was.
8 But their evening together had given him a vision of what life at her side might be, and he was glad now that he had done nothing to trouble the sweetness of the picture.
9 The hush of midnight lay on the village, and all its waking life was gathered behind the church windows, from which strains of dance-music flowed with the broad bands of yellow light.
10 Zeena's native village was slightly larger and nearer to the railway than Starkfield, and she had let her husband see from the first that life on an isolated farm was not what she had expected when she married.
11 And the sweetness of Mattie's avowal, the wild wonder of knowing at last that all that had happened to him had happened to her too, made the other vision more abhorrent, the other life more intolerable to return to.
12 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.
13 The pure air, and the long summer hours in the open, gave back life and elasticity to Mattie, and Zeena, with more leisure to devote to her complex ailments, grew less watchful of the girl's omissions; so that Ethan, struggling on under the burden of his barren farm and failing saw-mill, could at least imagine that peace reigned in his house.