During the early moments of the night, a cab driver drops off a man named Richard at a suspended footbridge. As Richard pays the driver, the driver explains that the home he is looking for is across the river. After the driver leaves, Richard begins his journey and observes the surrounding nature. He examines the clouds above him and the lights of the home he is heading towards. The footbridge is over a large, green river and the swaying of the bridge frightens Richard. He runs quickly across the bridge and finds it humorous that he found such a bridge scary. As Richard arrives at the home, a woman named Gertrude greets him. She asks Richard if the footbridge frightened him and he explains that it did, but that he was able to outrun it. Gertrude relates the experience of going across the bridge to that of walking across a tightrope — a hobby she had when she was younger. Gretchen introduces Richard to the members of her family—her two younger sisters Anne and Mary and her father. The family joke about Richard's apprehension of the river and the bridge before heading inside. Gretchen's father explains that the river is very warm throughout all of the seasons, but that the family was watching out for Richard in case he made a wrong turn. Gretchen leads Richard upstairs and explains that there is a water pitcher for him to clean up and to meet her outside later. Richard bathes himself and heads outside after to see Gretchen and her father. Richard talks about how this is his first time in the mountains. Gretchen's father explains that he used to live on the coast in Norfolk so he understands the difference in environment. Her father continues to talk about the loss of his wife and cries thinking about it. Gretchen leans into Richard as her father cries and then departs for the night. Gretchen asks Richard why he came and if he has feelings for her. She becomes upset, explaining that she loves Richard and is confused why he does not love her. Richard tells Gretchen that he regrets coming and will be leaving as soon as he can in the morning. Gretchen asks him for a kiss, but he does not kiss her. Richard feels immense guilt as he retreats to his room for the night. Before he falls asleep, Richard goes to Gretchen's room, only to find her praying and sobbing. Richard realizes that he loves Gretchen and returns to his room to sleep. In the morning, Gretchen knocks on Richard's door to wake him up. He tells her that he is not going to be leaving that day and instead wants to stay in the mountains with her longer. Richard then asks Gretchen if he can go touch the river he walked over the previous day.
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