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Back in the kitchen, Ethan finds Zeena reading a book about kidney problems.
Mattie apparently is moving her trunk.
Appalled that she is moving the heavy thing without manly aid, Ethan jumps up to go help her.
He finds her crying in her room.
She thought that Ethan wasn't going to see her off.
Zeena calls to them that it's time for Mattie to be headed on with her ride.
Ethan whispers in Mattie's ear that he plans to drive her.
Zeena tells him he can't, and he defies her.
They fight but he has his way.
In a fury he readies the horse and hitches it to the sleigh.
Ethan finds Mattie in his study.
Zeena has gone to bed without saying a word to Mattie.
Smiling, Ethan tells Mattie they can enjoy their drive together.
Ethan takes the scenic route, and heads to Shadow Pond, where Ethan and Mattie had once shared a picnic lunch together.
She had asked him to a town picnic; he had refused, but later joined her.
They try to drink in ever moment with each other, and Ethan tries to discuss her future.
Again, her situation is really desperate. She has no one else who loves her in the world.
(In the early 1900s, a single woman with no money was a hard thing to be.)
Ethan breaks down, telling her that he had tried to find a way to run away with her but couldn't.
Mattie shows him that she found the letter he started to write to Zeena.
Begging, Ethan asks Mattie if she would have run away with him if he'd asked her to.
She admits she's fantasized about the very thing, almost since the first time she met him.
Mattie asks Ethan to write to her, but he thinks writing would be a terribly poor substitute for the real thing.
He asks if she will get married.
She tells him he's the only one for her.
Soon they are near the sledding spot.
It's dark, but they decide to take a sled before they go to the train station.
After the successful sled, Mattie begs Ethan for another ride.
This time, she doesn't want them to make it back up to the top of the hill.
Ethan accuses her of insanity.
She says that the real insanity will come if she is separated from Ethan.
Her sobs are intense and Ethan hold her and touches her hair.
The power of her suggestion to sled to the death takes him over.
His horse is crying hungrily in the distance but he beckons Mattie to the sled.
Ethan sits in the back of the sled in the steering position, and Mattie sits in the front seat.
Suddenly, Ethan has an idea and they switch seats.
(Now Ethan can't see to steer the sled.)
Mattie wraps her arms around him…
Then woooooosh again, and then –
And then – they crash into the big elm tree.
Ethan is trying to look at the stars.
He's suddenly very tired.
A small animal is making noise near him.
Overwhelmed by a desire to ease the little animal's pain, he fumbles around in the snow until he feels something hair.
It's hair. Mattie's hair. He realizes that Mattie is the little animal making noise.
She says his name.
He says her name back and tells her he though he had hit the elm, and that he needs to feed the horse…
(Actually, similarly to what we find at the end of the Prologue, Chapter 9 ends with an ellipsis, followed by an apostrophe, followed by forty-three ellipses. If you want to know more about this strange punctuation, visit our discussion of "Writing Style.")