It is a June afternoon in the early part of the twentieth century as Summer begins, and nineteenyear- old Charity Royall stands on the doorstep of her home, about to set off for her job at the library. As she looks over the small New England town of North Dormer, she notices a stranger, a young man clearly from the city. Something about him captures her imagination, and she feels, not for the first time, that her small-town life is unsatisfying. She is flustered when he enters the library to ask for books about the local architecture, and he appears flustered as well, struck by Charity’s beauty. His questions about the library’s holdings remind Charity how little she knows about books, and she is both disappointed and relieved when he leaves.
To clear her head, Charity heads for a hillside, where she lies among the wild flowers and observes the many signs of summer. She often comes here when she has thinking to do, and the scented breezes on her skin always cheer her. On this day she reflects on her life since she came to live in North Dormer. She is the legal ward, though not the adopted daughter, of Lawyer Royall, whose wife died seven or eight years after they took Charity in. Charity has given little thought to the man who provides for her. Once, when she was seventeen, he approached her bedroom at night and made a feeble attempt to seduce her, but she rebuffed him and has had no fear that he...
(The entire section is 1261 words.)
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