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The novel ends on an uncertain note. It is not clear whether Lyddie will return to the farm or not. As she walks with Luke Stevens in the final scene, Lyddie realizes that there are things she must do for herself before she can settle down. She recognizes that "the bear" she has always feared and that she had believed "was outside herself", is in reality "in her own narrow spirit", a part of her character. Lyddie must learn to know and accept herself before she can give herself to another, and she resolves to do just that. The details of how she will accomplish this come to her mind, and she tells Luke,
"I'm off to Ohio...there is a college there that will take a woman just like a man...First I must go tomorrow to say good-bye to Charlie and little Rachel, and then I'll take the coach to Concord, and from there...the train. I'll go all the rest of the way by train".
Lyddie knows "it'll be years before (she) come(s) back to these mountains again". She must come back on her own terms, with something to give, not "weak and beaten down and because (she has) nowhere else to go". She "will not be a slave, even to (her)self". Although there is uncertainty, there is also a definite sense of hope as well at the end of the story. Lyddie looks at Luke Stevens and sees
"in his bent shoulders the shade of an old man in a funny broad Quaker hat - the gentle old man that he would someday become and that she would love".
Lyddie does not say the words out loud, but she thinks that "if he was to wait", there may well be hope that she will return to the farm to share a life with him (Chapter 23).
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