With a sickliness that has "made her notable, Zeena Frome announces to Ethan that in the morning she will stay at her aunt's and then consult her doctor. Relieved that she would trust him so much, Ethan relaxes slowly as her departure for Bettsbridge eases him of the burden of her worries. His thoughts especially turn to the evening he will have alone with Mattie. The next day, after having gone out to obtain an advance on a payment from Andrew Hale, Ethan returns to his home in the evening, and glance upstairs where a light twinkles.
"She's up in her room," he said to himself, "fixing herself up for supper"; and he remembered Zeena's sarcastic stare when Mattie, on the evening of her arrival, had come down to supper with smoothed hair and a ribbon at her neck.
Now, this time, as he entered the house, Ethan sees the light around the frame of the door.
She stood just as Zeena had stood,....She held the light at the same level, and it drew out twith the same distinctness her slim young throat and the brown wrist no bigger than a child's.
As she descends the stairs, Ethan notes that Mattie wears her customary dark dress, and, while there is no bow at her neck, Mattie has run through her hair
a streak of crimson ribbon. This tribute to the unusual transformed and glorified her.
Entranced and filled with well-being, Ethan's conscious quickly changes to ire as he jealousy asks if she has had any visitors because he wants this evening all to him. But, his jealousy dissipates as Mattie tells him it was Jotham Powell, and they enjoy a comfortable supper until the cat breaks the pickle dish belonging to Zeena. Then, Mattie breaks into tears as she worries what Zeena's reaction will be. However, Ethan does not fret and calms her; Mattie's confidence in him causes Ethan's heart begins to swell with pride and he feels powerful as when he steers a big log down the mountain to his mill.