Chapter 39 Summary

It is January, and Henry’s beard is longer. The air is cold enough that the snowy roads are packed hard and walking on them is easy. The snow reaches almost all the way down the mountain to the village of Montreux. On their walks, Catherine wears hobnailed boots and carries a pike to keep from slipping. They stop at an inn that caters mostly to the woodcutters; they warm up with spiced red wine. On the road home the snow is churned up with mud into an orange color until they get off the wood-hauling track, where it is pure white again. They see foxes along the roadside.

Catherine tells Henry that she is impressed with his beard. She asks him if he noticed the man with tiny gold earrings. Henry tells her that he is a chamois hunter and that the earrings are supposed to improve hearing. Catherine cynically says that he wears them so that people will know he is a chamois hunter. Henry wishes that people had lovely tails like the foxes they saw. Catherine points out that such tails would make dressing difficult. Henry’s reply is that they would have clothes made or else live in a county where clothes wouldn’t make any difference.  Catherine says that they live in such a country now. They never see any other people. She asks Henry if he wants to see other people, but he says he does not. She wants to sit a while because she is tired. They sit together on some logs and look down the road that goes through the forest.

Catherine expresses her hope that the baby will not come between them. Henry promises her that they won’t let her. Catherine asks how they are situated for money. Henry tells her that that are all right, that the bank honored the last sight draft from his family. Catherine asks Henry whether his family will try and get hold of him once they discover that he is no longer in Italy but is in Switzerland. Henry replies that he should write them something. He has not communicated with them at all except by cashing the sight draft. Catherine asks if he cares for his family. Henry tells her that they quarreled so much that he stopped caring. Catherine says she believes that she would like them. Fully rested, they continue walking toward the lodge. Catherine says she will not cut her hair until after the baby is born. Perhaps Henry will fall in love with her all over again. Henry tells her that he loves her enough now.