1 He could not pronounce the name without a stiffening of the muscles of his throat.
2 His hand was steady, but the attitude was an excuse for not making an immediate reply.
3 Now he thought she understood him, and feared; now he was sure she did not, and despaired.
4 She was quick to learn, but forgetful and dreamy, and not disposed to take the matter seriously.
5 He stood there a moment, breathing quickly, and looking up and down the street, in which not another figure moved.
6 At first she was so awkward that he could not help laughing at her; but she laughed with him and that made them better friends.
7 The fact that admiration for his learning mingled with Mattie's wonder at what he taught was not the least part of his pleasure.
8 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.
9 She was almost the last to leave the hall, and she stood looking uncertainly about her as if wondering why he did not show himself.
10 He did not even know whether any one else in the world felt as he did, or whether he was the sole victim of this mournful privilege.
11 It was strange that the girl did not seem aware of it: that she could lift her rapt face to her dancer's, and drop her hands into his, without appearing to feel the offence of his look and touch.
12 Ethan had an idea that if she were to marry a man she was fond of the dormant instinct would wake, and her pies and biscuits become the pride of the county; but domesticity in the abstract did not interest her.
13 It was a fact that since Mattie Silver's coming he had taken to shaving every day; but his wife always seemed to be asleep when he left her side in the winter darkness, and he had stupidly assumed that she would not notice any change in his appearance.
14 His father's death, and the misfortunes following it, had put a premature end to Ethan's studies; but though they had not gone far enough to be of much practical use they had fed his fancy and made him aware of huge cloudy meanings behind the daily face of things.
15 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.
16 The pitch of the Corbury road, below lawyer Varnum's spruces, was the favourite coasting-ground of Starkfield, and on clear evenings the church corner rang till late with the shouts of the coasters; but to-night not a sled darkened the whiteness of the long declivity.
17 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.
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