At School House Hill, Mattie reminds Ethan that he had promised to take her sledding down the slope again. The first time they went down was "once last winter;" since then, they had not gone down again.
Mattie reminds Ethan of his promise during their last moments together before he is supposed to take her to the train. Ethan's wife Zeena has demanded that Mattie be sent away, and Ethan can think of no way of avoiding the inevitable. On the way to the train station, Ethan and Mattie revisit the places they had enjoyed together during Mattie's time with the Fromes. Finally, the two end up on School House Hill, where they had seen an engaged couple from the village kissing, and where they had themselves taken an exhiliarating ride down the steep slope that one time so long ago.
Ethan and Mattie take a "splendid" ride down the hill on a borrowed sled, and then trudge back up to the top. As they stand in an embrace at the crest of the hill, Ethan realizes that he can't let Mattie go, but he does not know what he can do about it. Mattie, however, provides a solution, one which is drastic and irrevocable. She persuades Ethan to crash into a dangerously placed elm on one last ride down the hill, so that in death, they need never be parted (Chapter 9).
As the time approaches for Mattie Sliver to leave, she and Ethan begin speaking like two people courting each other. They had not been so informal with one another before. In the past Ethan and Mattie had taken a sled ride down the hill. One the way to the hill Mattie reminds Ethan about the picnic that she had been at and had invited him to attend. He had come later and she ahd rushed to him with the first cup of coffee.
The two profess feelings for one another and Ethan's lack of power at being able to help Mattie. Mattie reminds him that he had promised to take her sledding.