See in text (Chapter II)
A “rill” is a small stream. Ethan uses the image of a thawing stream after a cold winter as a simile (a comparison using the words “like” or “as”) to describe the feeling he gets when he and Mattie are together. Note that Ethan links Mattie with warmth and freedom, as the water in the stream is finally able to flow freely after a long period of being frozen.
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