Ethan Frome Chapter 3
The next morning, Ethan recalls Zeena's coldness and the warmth of Mattie's touch the previous night. He regrets not kissing her the night before. He can still recall the day he first met her, when she had come to Starkfield, how she had been such a "colourless slip of a thing." Chapter 3, pg. 57.
Despite her frail body, Ethan noticed how Mattie had not complained at all during that first cold, harsh winter. He had felt sorry for the girl. Her father had been ostracized by the rest of the family for marrying a woman not from their area; his death left her practically penniless. When Zeena needed someone to help care for her, the family decided that Mattie would be the one to help her.
When Zeena suddenly decides to leave town to see a new doctor, Ethan realizes that she will not be back home until tomorrow night. All he can think about is how this will be the first time he and Mattie will be all alone. When he looks at Zeena, he notices that she looks unusually pale, haggard, and stoic, with her brown traveling dress adding a degree of coldness to her.
Ethan makes an excuse of collecting cash for their lumber to avoid taking Zeena to the train station. Zeena gives Mattie a bottle to use for making pickles.