Summary (Masterplots, Definitive Revised Edition)
Henry and Nellie Chesser had been on the road a long time. People sometimes called the Chessers and their friends gypsies, and they did tell fortunes and swap horses and mules, but Henry liked the earth, and he worked as a tenant for different farmers from time to time. Only his restless spirit kept him from settling somewhere permanently.
One day Henry’s wagon broke down. The others could not wait for the Chessers, and Henry haunted the smithy, hoping to speed repairs; but when Hep Bodine offered him twenty dollars a month, a tenant house, and a garden spot, he accepted. The house had only one room and a loft, but it was better than sleeping outside.
Henry’s daughter, Ellen, was greatly disappointed. She hated to leave Tessie, her great friend, the fortune-teller. Ellen knew no one on the Bodine farm, nor did she make friends easily. Mrs. Bodine even ordered her out of the berry patch. Only Joe Trent, home from college, noticed her.
Joe was elegant, always wearing shoes and clothes of different kinds of cloth. He would joke with Ellen as she brought in the firewood. She was growing up, and Joe awakened some spark of longing in her thin body. Then one day, Joe drove past her with Emphira Bodine. He pretended not to see Ellen in her skimpy skirt above her bare feet and legs. After that, Joe would stand behind a big bush where the men from the house could not see him and call to Ellen. Ellen was ashamed. She was glad when her...
(The entire section is 1205 words.)
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