1 Frome's heart was beating fast.
2 The floor was thronged with girls and young men.
3 The girl was more than the bright serviceable creature he had thought her.
4 The night was perfectly still, and the air so dry and pure that it gave little sensation of cold.
5 It was during their night walks back to the farm that he felt most intensely the sweetness of this communion.
6 It was his wife who had suggested, when the girl came to live with them, that such opportunities should be put in her way.
7 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.
8 His son seemed likely to follow in his steps, and was meanwhile applying the same arts to the conquest of the Starkfield maidenhood.
9 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.
10 Frome was in the habit of walking into Starkfield to fetch home his wife's cousin, Mattie Silver, on the rare evenings when some chance of amusement drew her to the village.
11 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.
12 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.
13 The effect produced on Frome was rather of a complete absence of atmosphere, as though nothing less tenuous than ether intervened between the white earth under his feet and the metallic dome overhead.
14 Denis Eady was the son of Michael Eady, the ambitious Irish grocer, whose suppleness and effrontery had given Starkfield its first notion of "smart" business methods, and whose new brick store testified to the success of the attempt.
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 The moon had set, but the night was so transparent that the white house-fronts between the elms looked gray against the snow, clumps of bushes made black stains on it, and the basement windows of the church sent shafts of yellow light far across the endless undulations.
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