The narrator was a visitor to Starkfield staying there in relation to the building of a power plant in Corbury Flats. He was at the post office one day when Ethan Frome came dragging in barely able to move forward in any manner recognizable as a walk. The narrator inquired as to who the man was and was given a brief description of Ethan Frome. The most poignant thing said was that "Guess he's been in Starkfield too many winters."
The narrator became detained in Starkfield because problems with the power plant project and found out himself what the winters of Starkfield were like. Through an illness among the town horses, the narrator needed a driver to take him to his daily train for the commute to Corbury, Ethan Frome was recommended since he "wouldn't be sorry to earn a dollar." It was during this winter, while stranded in Starkfield and hiring Frome to drive him, that he was taken into Frome's home to wait out a massive snow storm and saw first hand the results of Frome's tragic story.