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Ethan Frome by Edith Wharton
page 2 of 134 (01%)
lameness checking each step like the jerk of a chain. There was
something bleak and unapproachable in his face, and he was so
stiffened and grizzled that I took him for an old man and was
surprised to hear that he was not more than fifty-two. I had this
from Harmon Gow, who had driven the stage from Bettsbridge to
Starkfield in pre-trolley days and knew the chronicle of all the
families on his line.

"He's looked that way ever since he had his smash-up; and that's
twenty-four years ago come next February," Harmon threw out between
reminiscent pauses.

The "smash-up" it was-I gathered from the same informant-which,
besides drawing the red gash across Ethan Frome's forehead, had so
shortened and warped his right side that it cost him a visible
effort to take the few steps from his buggy to the post-office
window. He used to drive in from his farm every day at about noon,
and as that was my own hour for fetching my mail I often passed him
in the porch or stood beside him while we waited on the motions of
the distributing hand behind the grating. I noticed that, though he
came so punctually, he seldom received anything but a copy of the
Bettsbridge Eagle, which he put without a glance into his sagging
pocket. At intervals, however, the post-master would hand him an
envelope addressed to Mrs. Zenobia-or Mrs. Zeena-Frome, and usually
bearing conspicuously in the upper left-hand corner the address of
some manufacturer of patent medicine and the name of his specific.
These documents my neighbour would also pocket without a glance, as
if too much used to them to wonder at their number and variety, and
would then turn away with a silent nod to the post-master.

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