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pseudonym of Mary Ann Evans ^ was 
bom near Nuneaton on November 
22nd ^ 18 ig^ and her early years were 
passed in the country. In 18^1 the 
family moved to Coventry^ where she 
studied a good deal^ and when she 
moved to London in i84g she was 
an accomplished scholar. Her evan- 
gelical faith gave place to agnosti- 
cism. In 18^1 she was appointed 
assistant editor of'''' The Westminster 
Review f^^ which led to her meeting 
and association with Henry Lewes. 
Lewes died in i8j8 and in 1880 she 
married John W. Cross. She died 
on December 22nd of that year. 
This book wasfrst published in i860. 

Printed in Great Britain 

" IVe'vc hi'cn used to he happy together: 

S.M. Frotitis. 

Page I'ilC. 







Mary Ann Evans, who wrote under the pen-name of 
George Ehot, was one of the great novelists of the 
nineteenth century. 

She was bom at Arbury Farm, Coltbn, in Warwick- 
shire, in 1819, the daughter of a land agent, Robert 
Evans, and her knowledge and understanding of 
country characters, and her vivid and faithful descrip- 
tions of country life, are doubtless due to her observa- 
tion and study of the people among whom she was 
brought up, and among whom later she lived. 

A few months after she was bom the family moved 
to Griff Farm, and there she lived till she was five 
years old, when she went to school at Attleboro. 
Four years later she went to a boarding-school at 
Nuneaton, where she seems to have been a popular 
student — at least with her teachers— ^f or she formed 
a lasting friendship with the Principal, Miss Lewis. To 
this friendship is possibly due the deep interest Mary 
Ann Evans always took in the Higher Education of 
Women, though, indeed, she was interested in all the 
movements of her time which concerned women. 

In 1836 her mother died, and the seventeen-year-old 
girl came home to manage her father's house. But in 
spite of this she was able to continue her studies. 
Music was her greatest joy, but she also loved lan- 
guages ; masters came from Coventry to teach her 
German and Italian, of both of which she soon had a 
scholarly knowledge. She read enormously, but only 

When, in 1841, her father moved to Foleshill, near 
Coventry, Marian Evans, as she was now signing 
herself, met Charles Bray, the philosophical writer, 


and his brother-in-law Charles Hennel, author of the 
Inquiry Concerning the Origin of Christianity. These 
two writers, who soon became her close friends, 
influenced Marian Evans's religious ideas. She became 
a sceptic, and it was only with the greatest of difficulty 
that her father could persuade her to go to church. 
This must have been a sore trial to a middle- Victorian 
parent with strong views on the proper position and 
duties of women. 

It was during this time that she translated several 
philosophical and religious books from the German 
and Italian under the pen-name of George Eliot : a 
concession, one supposes, to Victorianism. 

Her next literary venture was as Assistant Editor 
of the Westminster Review. This was in 185 1 after her 
father's death (1849), ^^^ ^ period of foreign travel 
with the Brays. Her articles in the Westminster 
Review were signed " Marian Evans," but when she 
turned to fiction in 1856 she resumed the name of 
George Eliot. In this year The Sad Fortunes of the 
Reverend Amos Barton appeared in Blackwood's 
Magazine as the first of a series of stories called Scenes 
from Clerical Life. This sketch, which was delicately 
written and of an appealing pathos, aroused tre- 
mendous interest in literary circles : it is, indeed, for 
skill and artistry of style, the best of her writings. 

She followed it in 1859 with Adam Bede, her first 
novel. This has been the most popular and widely 
read of her books, and had, immediately on publica- 
tion, an unparalleled success. The chief character, 
Adam Bede — as also Caleb Garth, one of the most 
striking characters in Middlemarch, a later book — 
reflects the strength of will and virile qualities of her 
father, from whom doubtless Marian Evans herself 
inherited her intellectual power and forceful personality. 

The next year The Mill on the Floss appeared, a book 
noteworthy for its tragic scenes and skilful character 
drawing. And here again the author has drawn on her 


family for inspiration, for her brother Isaac, thinly- 
veiled, can be found in the book. 

Silas Marner belongs to the year 1861 and is perhaps 
the most beautiful of her books. It closes the early 
period of Marian Evans's literary career. 

The most famous books of her middle period are 
Romola, a story of Italian life, and The Spanish Gipsy, 
her first poetic effort. But though the author was 
pleased with the latter the critics condemn her poetry 
as lacking in fire and spontaneity \ yet even they 
grant it perfection of form. But perfection of form 
does not make for immortality, and it is as novelist, 
not poet, that the name of George Eliot will be 

By 1872 she had returned to studies of English life, 
with Middlemarch, a novel of literary brilliance and 
philosophic tone and profound study of character. Later, 
in 1876, appeared Daniel Deronda, the last of her 
novels, a study of Jewish life, inferior, it is true, to 
Middlemarch, but still a notable book. 

The last of George Eliot's works to be published was 
a volume of essays, including one on Debasing the 
Moral Currency. The volume as a whole, however, is 
laboured and not to be compared with her previous 
work. Her contributions to the Westminster Review 
were collected and published five years after her 
death, which occurred in 1880, soon after her marriage, 
very late in life, to Mr. John Walter Cross. 

Thus the literary works of George Eliot fall into 
three periods, to the earliest of which Silas Marner 
belongs. The qualities of this book are typical of all 
her writings : observation, deep insight into, and 
clever portrayal of, character, humour and a gift for 
pathos all expressed in an easy flowing style perfect 
in the simplicity of its technique and powerfully 
gripping in the tenser scenes. As a writer of prose 
she has been ranked with Scott, Thackeray, and 
Dickens, for character drawing and intellectual force, 


and fiir above the other women of her time. But as a 
story-teller she falls below them. Silas Marner, for 
example, is at llie beginnint? more a series of descriptixe 
sketches of country life and country people, strikingly 
and faithfully drawn, than a story in the modern 
sense. The threads of the story are woven together 
slowly ; one is not swept along as in a modern novel, 
but this in no way lessens the charm of the book, which 
gravely and melodiously leads us through old England 
in such a way that the understanding reader feels 
that it would somehow be an unpardonable discourtesy 
to hurry it or skip a single page. 

The slow thinking, slow speaking folk who gather 
at the Rainbow Inn of nights are truly drawn : the 
writer sees the humour of their behaviour, but of her 
understanding does not mock them. The lonely old 
weaver who loses his golden treasure only to find it 
again in the heart of a child and whose whole life is 
transformed at her coming is a masterpiece of artistic 
character drawing. One by one the other people in 
the story fall into their proper places, the unhappy 
Godfrey and his sweetly obstinate Victorian wile, the 
golden-hearted practical Dolly Winthrop and Aaron 
her son ; then the story flows on with quiet, graved 
beauty to an idyllic conclusion among the lilacs and 

This story of the weaver of Raveloe is in itself a 
skilful piece of weaving, and the finished cloth is 
perfect in its artistry. There is indeed more powerful 
writing in Adam Bede or Middlemarch than in Silas 
Marner, but they lack the charm and pathos of this 
idyll of an old man's love for a child. Those who love 
the minuet will love this book, but those who long for 
jazz had better pass it by. 

Winifred Mulley, M.A. (Cantab). 



[n the days when the spinning-wheels hummed 
Dusily in the farm-houses — and even great ladies, 
:lothed in silk and thread-lace, had their toy 
;pinning-wheels of polished oak — there might 
De seen in districts far away among the lanes, 
)r deep in the bosom of the hills, certain pallid, 
indersized men, who, by the side of the brawny 
:ountry-folk, looked like the remnants of a dis- 
nherited race. The shepherd's dog barked 
iercely when one of these alien-looking men 
ippeared on the upland, dark against the early 
vinter sunset ; for what dog likes a figure bent 
mder a heavy bag? — and these pale men rarely 
itirred abroad without that mysterious burden, 
rhe shepherd himself, though he had good 
eason to believe that the bag held nothing but 
laxen thread, or else the long rolls of strong 
inen spun from that thread, was not quite sure 
hat this trade of weaving, indispensable though 
t was, could be carried on entirely without the 
lelp of the Evil One. 

In that far-off time superstition clung easily 
round every person or thing that was at all 
unwonted, or even intermittent and occasional 
merely, like the visits of the pedlar or the knife- 
grinder. No one knew where wandering men 
had their homes or their origin ; and how was 
a man to be explained unless you at least knew 
somebody who knew his father and mother? 
To the peasants of old times, the world outside 
their own direct experience was a region of 
vagueness and mystery ; to their untravelled 
thought a state of wandering was a conception 
as dim as the winter life of the swallows that 
came back with the spring ; and even a settler, 
if he came from distant parts, hardly ever ceased 
to be viewed with a remnant of distrust, which 
would have prevented any surprise if a long 
course of inoffensive conduct on his part had 
ended in the commission of a crime ; especially 
if he had any reputation for knowiedge, or 
showed any skill in handicraft. All cleverness, 
whether in the rapid use of that difficult instru- 
ment the tongue, or in some other art unfamiliar 
to villagers, was in itself suspicious : honest folk, 
born and bred in a visible manner, were mostly 
not overwise or clever — at least, not beyond such 
a matter as knowing the signs of the weather ; 
and the process by which rapidity and dexterity 
of any kind were acquired was so wholly hidden, 
that they partook of the nature of conjuring 


In this way it came to pass that those scattered 
linen-weavers — emigrants from the town into the 
country — were to the last regarded as aliens by 
their rustic neighbours, and usually contracted 
the eccentric habits which belong to a state of 

In the early years of this century, such a 
linen-weaver, named Silas Marner, worked at 
his vocation in a stone cottage that stood among 
the nutty hedgerows near the village of Raveloe, 
and not far from the edge of a deserted stone- 
pit. The questionable sound of Silas's loom,' 
so unlike the natural cheerful trotting of the 
wttmowihg machine, or the simpler rhythm of 
the flail, had a half-fearful fascination for the 
Raveloe boys, who would often leave off their 
nutting or birds'-nesting to peep in at the window 
of the stone cottage, counterbalancing a certain 
awe at the mysterious action of the loom, by a 
.pleasanF sense of scornful superiority, drawn from 
the mock ery of its alternating ^'noises, along with 
the bent, treadm ill attitu de of the weav er. But 
sometimes it happened that Marner, pausing to 
adjust an irregularity in his thread, became 
aware of the small scoundrels, and, though 
chary of his time, he liked their intrusion so 
ill that he would descend from his loom, and, 
opening the door, would fix on them a gaze 
that was always enough^To jmiake them take to. 
their less in terFoK 

For how was It possible to believe that those 
large brown protuberant eyes in Silas Marner's 
pale face really saw nothing very distinctly that 
was not close to them, and not rather that their 
dreadful stare could dart cramp, or rickets, or a 
wry moutij^at any boy who happened to be in 
-—the rear? J They had, perhaps, heard their fathers 
and mothers hint that Silas Marner could cure 
folk's rheumatism if he had a mind, and add, 
still more darkly, that if you could only speak 
the devil fair enough, he might save you the 
cost of the doctor./ Such strange, lingering 
echoes of the old demon-worship might perhaps 
even now be caught by the diligent listener 
among the gray-haired peasantry ; for the_rude 
mind with difficulty associates the ideas of power 
and benignity. A shadowy conception of power 
that by much persuasion can be induced to 
refrain from inflicting harm, is the shape most 
easily taken by the sense of the Invisible in the 
minds of men who have always been pressed 
close by primitive wants, and to whom a life of 
hard toil has never been illuminated by any 
enthusiastic religious faith. To them pain and 
mishap present a far wider range of possibilities 
than gladness and enjoyment : their imagination 
is almost barren of the images that feed desire 
and hope, but is all overgrown by recollections 
that are a perpetual pasture to fear. *'Is there 
anvthing you can fancy that you would like to 


sat?" I once said to an old labouring man, 
who was in his last illness, and who had refused 
all the food his wife had offered him. ^^No,'* 
he answered ; '* I've never been used to nothing 
but common victual, and I can't eat that." 
Experience had bred no fancies in him that 
could raise the phantasm of appetite. 

And Raveloe was a village where many of the 
old echoes lingered, undrowned by new voices. 
Not that it was one of those barren parishes 
lying on the outskirts of civilisation— inhabited 
by meagre sheep and thinly-scattered shepherds : 
on the contrary, it lay in the' rich, central plain 
of what we are pleased to call Merry England,, 
and held farms which, speaking from a spiritual 
point of view, paid highly-desirable tithes. But 
it was nestled in a snug, well-wooded hollow, 
quTte^an hou~r's~journey bnr~Eorseback from any"' 
turnpike, where it was never reached by the 
vibrations of the coach-horn, or of public opinion^s 
It was an Tm p6rt"an t-fooki ng vi 1 lage, with a fine ^ 
old ch u rch /and~Targe cTiurchyj. rd in the heart of 
it, and two or three large brick-and-stone home- 
steads, with well-walled orchards and ornamental 
weathercocks, standing close upon the road, and 
lifting more imposing fronts than the rectory, 

which peeped from among the trees on the 

other side~of the churchyard — a village which 
showed at once the summits of its social life,__ 
and told the practised ey-e that there was no great 



park and manor-house in the vicinity, but that 
there were several chiefs in Raveloe who could 
farm badiy quite at their ease, drawing enougji 
money from their bad farming, in those war_ 
times, to live i n^a r olhcking fashi^, and keep 
a jolly Christmas, Whitsun, and Eastertide. 

It was fifteen yea rs since Silas Marner had 
first come to Raveloe; he""was then simply a 
pallid young man,\vrth prominent, short-sighted 
brown eyes, whose appearance would have had 
nothing strange for people of average culture and 
experience, but for the villagers near whom he 
had come to settle, it had mysterj^us pecuHarities 
which corresponded with the exceptional nature 
of his occupation, and his advent, frojm__an_ un- 
known region called ** North'ard." So had his 
way of life: he invited no comer to step across 
his door-sill, and he never strolled into the 
village to drink a pint at the Rainbow, or to 
gossip at the w^heelwright's ; he sought no man 
or woman, save for the purposes of his calling, 
or in order to supply himself with necessaries ; 
and it was soon clear to the Raveloe lasses that 
he would never urge one of them to accept him 
against her will — quite as if he had heard them 
declare that they would never marry a dead man 
come to life again. 

This view of Marner's personality was not 
without another ground than his pale face 
and unexampled eyes ; for Jem Rodney, the 



mole-catcher, averred that one evening as he was 
returning homeward he saw Silas Marner leaning 
against a stile with a heavy bag on his back, 
instead of resting the bag on the stile as a 
man in his senses would have done ; and that, 
on coming up to him, he saw that Marner's eyes 
were set like a dead man's, and he spoke to 
him, and shook him, and his limbs were stiff, 
and his hands clutched the bag as if they'd 
been made of iron ; but just as he had made 
up his mind that the weaver was dead, he came 
all right again, like, as you might say, in the 
winking of an eye, and said ** Good-night," and 
walked off. All this Jem swore he had seen, 
more by token that it was the very day he had 
been mole-catching on Squire Cass's land, down 
by the old saw-pit. Some said Marner must 
have been in a^Uit," a word which seemed to 
explain things otherwise incredible ; but the 
argumentative Mr. Macey, clerk of the parish, 
shook his head, and asked if anybody was ever 
known to go off in a fit and not fall down. A 
fit was a stroke, wasn't it? and it was in the 
nature of a stroke to partly take away the use 
of a man's limbs and throw him on the parish, 
if he'd got no children to look to. No, no ; it 
was no stroke that would let a man stand on 
his legs, like a horse between the shafts, and 
then walk off as soon as you can say *' Gee ! " 
But there might be such a thing as a man^s 

soul being loose from his body, and going- out 
and in, like a bird out of ils nest and back ; 
and that was how folks got overwise, for they 
went to school in this shell-less state to those 
who could teach them more than their neighbours 
could learn with their five senses and the parson. 
And where did Master Marner get his knowledge 
of herbs from — and charms too, if he liked to 
give them away? Jem Rodney's story was no 
more than what might have been expected by 
anybody who had seen how Marner had cured 
Sally Oates, and made her sleep like a baby, 
when her heart had been beating enough to 
burst her body, for two months and more, while 
she had been under the doctor's care. He might 
cure more folks if he would ; but he was worth 
speaking fair, if it was only Jo k^ep_iiim from 
doing you a mischief. 

It was partly to this vague fear that Marner 
was indebted for protecting him from the per- 
secution that his singularities might have drawn 
upon him, but still more to the fact that, the 
old linen-weaver in the neighbouring parish of 
Tarley being dead, his handicraft made him a 
highly welcome settler to the richer housewives 
of the district, and even to the more provident 
cottagers, who had their little stock of yarn at 
the year's end. Their sense of his usefulness 
would have counteracted any repugnance or 
suspicion which was not confirmed by a 

deficiency in the quality or the tale of the cloth 
he wove for them. And the years had rolled 
on without producing any change in the im- 
pressions of the neighbours concerning Marner, 
except the change from novelty to habit. At 
the end of fifteen years the Raveloe men said 
just the same things about Silas Marner as at 
the beginning : they did not say them quite 
so often, but they believed them much more 
strongly when they did say them. There was 
only one important addition which the years 
had brought : it was that Master Marner had 
laid by a fine sight of money somewhere, and 
that he could buy up '* bigger men "than himself. 
But while opinion concerning him had re- 
mained nearly stationary, and his daily habits 
had presented scarcely any visible change, 
Marner's inward life had been a history and 
a metamorphosis, as that of every fervid nature 
must be when it has fled, or been condemned 
to solitude. His life, before he came to Raveloe, 
had been filled with the movement, the mental 
activity, and the close fellowship which, in 
that day as in this, marked the life of an 
artisan early incorporated in a narrow religious 
sect, where the poorest layman has the chance 
of distinguishing himself by gifts of speech, 
and has, at the very least, the weight of a 
silent voter in the government of his community. 
Marner was highly thought of in that little 


hidden world, known to itself as the church 
assembling in Lantern Yard ; he was believed 
to be a young man of exemplary life and 
ardent faith ; and a peculiar interest had been 
centred in him ever since he had fallen, at a 
prayer-meeting, into a mysterious rigidity and 
suspension of consciousness which, lasting for 
an hour or more, had been mistaken for death. 
To have sought a medical explanation for this 
phenomenon would have been held by vSilas 
himself, as well as by his minister and fellow- 
members, a wilful self-exclusion from the spiritual 
significance that might lie therein. 
I Silas was evidently a brother selected for a 
peculiar discipline ; and though the effort to 
interpret this discipline was discouraged by 
the absence, on his part, of any spiritual vision 
during his outward trance, yet it was believed^ 
by himself and others that its effect was seen 
in an accession of light and fervour. A less 
truthful man than he might have been tempted 
into the subsequent creation of a vision in the 
form of resurgent memory ; a less sane man 
might have believed in such a creation ; but 
Silas was both sane and honest, though, as 
with many honest and fervent men, culture had 
not defined any channels for his sense of mystery, 
and so it spread itself over the proper pathway 
of inquiry and knowledge. He had inherited 
from his mother some acquaintance with medicinal . 



lerbs and their preparation — a little store of 
visdom which she had imparted to him as a 
lolemn bequest — but of late years he had had 
ioubts about the lawfulness of applying this 
mowledge, believing that herbs could have no 
fficacy without prayer, and that prayer might 
uffice without herbs ; so that his inherited 
lelight to wander through the fields in search 
►f foxglove and dandelion and coltsfoot began 
wear to him the character of a temptation. 

Among the members of his church there was 
me young man, a little older than himself, with 
irhom he had long lived in such close friendship 
hat it was the custom of their Lantern Yard 
)rethren to call them David and Jonathan. The 
eal name of the friend was William Dane, and 
le, too, was regarded as a shining instance of 
outhful piety, though somewhat given to over- 
everity towards weaker brethren, and to be so 
azzled by his own light as to hold himself 
nser than his teachers. But whatever blemishes 
thers might discern in William, to his friend's 
lind he was faultless ; for Marner had one of 
lose impressible, self-doubting natures which, 
t an inexperienced age, admire imperativeness, 
nd lean on contradiction. The expression of 
'usting simplicity in Marner's face, heightened 
y that absence of special observation, that 
efenceless, deer-like gaze which belongs to large, 
rominent eyes, was strongly contrasted by the 


self-complacent suppression of inward triumph 
that lurked in the narrow, slanting eyes and 
compressed lips of William Dane. One of the 
most frequent topics of conversation between 
the two friends was Assurance of salvation : 
Silas confessed that he could never arrive at 
anything higher than hope mingled with fear, 
and listened with longing wonder when William 
declared that he had possessed unshaken assur- 
ance ever since, in the period of his conversion, 
he had dreamed that he saw the words ** calling 
and election sure" standing by themselves on a 
white page in the open Bible. Such colloquies 
have occupied many a pair of pale-faced weavers, 
whose unnurtured souls have been like young 
winged things, fluttering forsaken in the twilight. 
It had seemed to the unsuspecting Silas that 
the friendship had suffered no chill even from 
his formation of another attachment of a closer 
kind. For some months he had been engaged 
to a young servant-woman, waiting only for a 
little increase to their mutual savings in order 
to their marriage ; and it was a great delight 
to him that Sarah did not object to William's 
occasional presence in their Sunday interviews. 
It was at this point in their history that Silas's 
cataleptic fit occurred during the prayer-meeting ; 
and amidst the various queries and expressions 
of interest addressed to him by his fellow- 
members, William's suggestion alone jarred with 


he general sympathy towards a brother thus 

jingled out for special dealings. He observed 

hat, to him, this trance looked more like a 

visitation of Satan than a proof of divine favour, 

md exhorted his friend to see that he hid no 

iccursed thing within his soul. Silas, feeling 

Dound to accept rebuke and admonition as a 

brotherly office, felt no resentment, but only 

3ain, at his friend's doubts concerning him ; 

md to this was soon added some anxiety at 

he perception that Sarah's manner towards him 

Degan to exhibit a strange fluctuation between 

m effort at an increased manifestation of regard 

md involuntary signs of shrinking and dislike. 

^e asked her if she wished to break off their 

mgagement ; but she denied this . their engage- 

nent was known to the church, and had been 

•ecognised in the prayer-meetings ; it could not 

3e broken off without strict investigation, and 

5arah could render no reason that would be 

;anctioned by the feeling of the community. 

At this time the senior deacon was taken 

iangerously ill, and, being a childless widower, 

le was tended night and day by some of the 

/■ounger brethren or sisters. Silas frequently 

;ook his turn in the night-watching with 

William, the one relieving the other at two in 

;he morning. The old man, contrary to expecta- 

ion, seemed to be on the way to recovery, when 

Dne night Silas, sitting up by his bedside, 


observed that his usual audible breathing had 

ceased. The candle was burning low, and he 

had to lift it to see the patient's face distinctly. 

Examination convinced him that the deacon was 

dead — had been dead some time, for the limbs 

were rigid. Silas asked himself if he had been 

asleep, and looked at the clock : it was already 

four in the morning. How was it that William 

had not come? In much anxiety he went to 

seek for help, and soon there were several friends 

assembled in the house, the minister among 

them, while Silas went away to his work, 

wishing he could have met William to know 

the reason of his non-appearance. But at six 

o'clock, as he was thinking of going to seek 

his friend, William came, and with him the 

minister. They came to summon him to Lantern 

Yard, to meet the church members there ; and 

to his inquiry concerning the cause of the 

summons the only reply was, ^'You will hear.'* 

Nothing further was said until Silas was seated 

in the vestry, in front of the minister, with the 

eyes of those who to him represented God's 

people fixed solemnly upon him. Then the 

minister, taking out a pocket-knife, showed it 

to Silas, and asked him if he knew where he 

had left that knife? Silas said he did not know 

that he had left it anywhere out of his own 

pocket — but he was trembling at this strange 

interrogation. j 

l8 I 

He was then exhorted not to hide his sin, 
but to confess and repent. The knife had been 
found in the bureau by the departed deacon's 
bedside — found in the place where the little bag 
of church money had lain, which the minister 
himself had seen the day before. Some hand 
had removed that bag ; and whose hand could 
it be, if not that of the man to whom the knife 
belonged? For some time Silas was mute with 
astonishment: then he said, ^'God will clear 
me : I know nothing about the knife being 
there, or the money being gone. Search me 
and my dwelling ; you will find' nothing but 
three pound five of my own savings, which 
William Dane knows I have had these six 
months." At this William groaned, but the 
minister said, ^*The proof is heavy against you, 
brother Marner. The money was taken in the 
night last past, and no man was with our 
departed brother but you, for William Dane 
declares to us that he was hindered by sudden 
sickness from going to take his place as usual, 
and you yourself said that he had not come ; 
and, moreover, you neglected the dead body.'* 

** I must have slept," said Silas. Then, after 
a pause, he added, '* Or I must have had another 
visitation like that which you have all seen me 
under, so that the thief must have come and 
gone while I was not yet in the body, but out 
of the body. But, I say again, search me 


and my dwelling, for I have been nowhere 

The search was made, and it ended — in 
William Dane's finding the well-known bag, 
empty, tucked behind the chest of drawers in 
Silas's chamber. On this William exhorted his 
friend to confess, and not to hide his sin any 
longer. Silas turned a look of keen reproach 
on him, and said, '* William, for nine years that 
we have gone in and out together, have you 
ever known me tell a lie? But God will clear 

"Brother," said William, "how do I know 
what you may have done in the secret chambers 
of your heart, to give Satan an advantage over 
you ? " 

Silas was still looking at his friend. Suddenly 
a deep flush came over his face, and he was about 
to speak impetuously, when he seemed checked 
again by some inward shock, that sent the flush 
back and made him tremble. But at last he 
spoke feebly, looking at William. 

" I remember now — the knife wasn't in my 

William said, " I know nothing of what you 
mean." The other persons present, however, 
began to inquire where Silas meant to say that 
the knife was, but he would give no further 
explanation : he only said, " I am sore stricken ; 
I can say nothing. God will clear me." 


On their return to the vestry there was further 
deliberation. Any resort to legal measures for 
ascertaining the culprit was contrary to the 
principles of the church in Lantern Yard, 
according to which prosecution was forbidden 
to Christians, even had the case held less 
scandal to the community. But the members 
were bound to take other measures for finding 
out the truth, and they resolved on praying and 
drawing lots. This resolution can be a ground 
of surprise only to those who are unacquainted 
with that obscure religious life which has gone 
on in the alleys of our towns. Silas knelt with 
his brethren, relying on his own innocence being 
certified by immediate divine interference, but 
feeling that there was sorrow and mourning 
behind for him even then — that his trust in 
rnan had been cruelly bruised. The lots declared 
that Silas Marner was guilty. He was solemnly 
suspended from church-membership, and called 
apon to render up the stolen money : only on 
:onfession, as the sign of repentance, could he 
be received once more within the fold of the 
:hurch. Marner listened in silence. At last, 
when every one rose to depart, he went towards 
William Dane and said, in a voice shaken by 
agitation — 

*'The last time I remember using my knife, 
was when I took it out to cut a strap for you. 
I don't remember putting it in my pocket again. 


You stole the money, and you have woven a 
l)lot to lay the sin at my door. But you may 
prosper, for all that : \;there is no just God that 
governs the earth righteously, but a God of lies, 
that bears witness against the innocent.') 

There was a general shudder at this blasphemy. 

William said meekly, " I leave our brethren 
to judge whether this is the voice of Satan 
or not. I can do nothing but pray for you, 

Poor Marner went out with that despair in 
his soul — that shaken trust in God and man, 
which is little short of madness to a loving 
nature. In the bitterness of his wounded spirit, 
he said to himself, " She will cast me off too." 
And he reflected that, if she did not believe the 
testimony against him, her whole faith must be 
upset as his was. To people accustomed to 
reason about the forms in which their religious 
feeling has incorporated itself, it is difficult to 
enter into that simple, untaught state of mind 
in which the form and the feeling have never 
been severed by an act of reflection. We are 
apt to think it inevitable that a man in Marner's 
position should have begun to question the 
validity of an appeal to the divine judgment 
by drawing lots ; but to him this would have 
been an effort of independent thought such as 
he had never known ; and he must have made 
the effort at a moment when all his energies 


vere 'turned into the anguish of disappointed 
aith. If there is an angel who records the 
lorrows of men as well as their sins, he knows 
low many and deep are the sorrows that spring 
rom false ideas for which no man is culpable. 

Marner went home, and for a whole day sat 
ilone, stunned by despair, without any impulse 
o go to Sarah and attempt to win her belief in 
lis innocence. The second day he took refuge 
rom benumbing unbelief, by getting into his 
oom and working away as usual ; and before 
nany hours were past, the minister and one of 
he deacons came to him with the message from 
5arah, that she held her engagement to him at 
m end. Silas received the message mutely, and 
hen turned away from the messengers to work 
it his loom again. In little more than a month 
rom that time, Sarah was married to William 
Dane ; and not long afterwards it was known 
o the brethren in Lantern Yard that Silas 
Vlarner had departed from the town. 



Even people whose lives have been made various 

by learning, sometimes find it hard to keep a fast 

hold on their habitual views of life, on their faith 

in the Invisible, nay, on the sense that their past 

joys and sorrows are a real experience, when they 

are suddenly transported to a new land, where 

the beings around them know nothing of their 

history, and share none of their ideas — where 

their mother earth shows another lap, and human 

life has other forms than those on which their 

souls have been nourished. Minds that have 

been unhinged from their old faith and love 

have perhaps sought this Lethean influence of 

exile in which the past becomes dreamy because 

its symbols have all vanished, and the present 

too is dreamy because it is linked with no 

memories. But even their experience may hardly 

enable them thoroughly to imagine what was 

the effect on a simple weaver like Silas Marner, 

when he left his own country and people and 

came to settle in Raveloe. 

Nothing could be more unlike his native town, 

set within sight of the widespread hillsides, than 

this low, wooded region, where he felt hidden 

even from the heavens by the screening trees 

and hedgerows. There was nothing here, when 


he rose in the deep morning quiet and looked 
out on the dewy brambles and rank tufted grass, 
that seemed to have any relation with that life 
centring in Lantern Yard, which had once been 
to him the altar-place of high dispensations. 
The white-washed walls ; the little pews where 
well-known figures entered with a subdued 
rustling, and where first one w^ell-known voice 
and then another, pitched in a peculiar key of 
petition, uttered phrases at once occult and 
familiar, like the amulet worn on the heart ; the 
pulpit where the minister delivered unquestioned 
doctrine, and swayed to and fro, and handled 
the book in a long-accustomed manner ; the 
very pauses between the couplets of the hymn, 
as it was given out, and the recurrent swell of 
voices in song : these things had been the 
channel of divine influence to Marner — they 
were the fostering home of his religious emotions 
— they were Christianity and God's kingdom 
upon earth. A weaver who finds hard words 
in his hymn-book knows nothing of abstractions ; 
as the little child knows nothing of parental love, 
but only knows one face and one lap towards 
which it stretches its arms for refuge and nurture. 
And what could be more unlike that Lantern 
Yard world than the world in Raveloe? — 
orchards looking lazy with neglected plenty ; 
the large church in the wide churchyard, which 
men gazed at lounging at their own doors in 


service-time; the purple-faced farmers jo<Tf^ing|tc 
along the lanes or turning in at the Rainbow ; -" 
homesteads, where men supped heavily and slept 
in the light of the evening hearth, and where 
women seemed to be laying up a stock of linen 
for the life to come. There were no lips in 
Raveloe from which a word could fall that would 
stir Silas Marner's benumbed faith to a sense of 
pain. In the early ages of the world, we know, 
it was believed that each territory was inhabited 
and ruled by its own divinities, so that a man 
could cross the bordering heights and be out of 
the reach of his native gods, whose presence was 
confined to the streams and the groves and the 
hills among which he had lived from his birth. 
And poor Silas was vaguely conscious of some- 
thing not unlike the feeling of primitive men, 
when they fled thus, in fear or in suUenness, 
from the face of an unpropitious deity. It 
seemed to him that the Power he had vainly 
trusted in among the streets and at the prayer- 
meetings was very far away from this land in 
which he had taken refuge, where men lived 
in careless abundance, knowing and needing 
nothing of that trust, which, for him, had 
been turned to bitterness. The little light he 
possessed spread its beams so narrowly that 
frustrated belief was a curtain broad enough to 
create for him the blackness of night. 

His first movement after the shock had been 


:o work in his loom ; and he went on with this 

inremittingly, never asking himself why, now 

le was come to Raveloe, he worked far on 

nto the night to finish the tale of Mrs. Osgood*s 

able-linen sooner than she expected — without 

;ontemplating beforehand the money she would 

)ut into his hand for the work. He seemed to 

veave, like the spider, from pure impulse, with- 

)ut reflection. Every man's work, pursued 

teadily, tends in this way to become an end 

n itself, and so to bridge over the loveless 

hasms of his life. Silas's hand satisfied itself 

^ith throwing the shuttle, and his eye with 

eeing the little squares in the cloth complete 

hemselves under his effort. Then there were 

he calls of hunger ; and Silas, in his solitude, 

lad to provide his own breakfast, dinner, and 

upper, to fetch his own water from the well, 

nd to put his own kettle on the fire ; and all 

tiese immediate promptings helped, along with 

tie weaving, to reduce his life to the unquestion- 

ig activity of a spinning insect. He hated the J 

tiought of the past ; there was nothing that ' 

ailed out his love and fellowship toward the 

trangers he had come amongst ; and the future 

rsis all dark, for there was no Unseen Love that 

ared for him. Thought was arrested by utter 

lewilderment, now its old narrow pathway was 

losed, and affection seemed to have died under 

tie bruise that had fallen on its keenest nerves. 


But at last Mrs. Osg-ood's tal)le-lin(Mi was 
finished, and vSilas was paid in gold. I lis! 
earnings in his native town, where he worked* 
for a wholesale dealer, had been after a lower 
rate; he had been paid weekly, and of his 
weekly earnings a large proportion had gone 
to objects of piety and charity. Now, for the 
first time in his life, he had five bright guineas 
put into his hand ; no man expected a share of 
them, and he loved no man that he should offer 
him a share. But what were the guineas to liim i 
who saw no vista beyond countless days of 
Tweaving? It was needless for him to ask that, 
I for it was pleasant to him to feel them in his 
*-palm, and look at their bright faces, which were 
all his own : it was another element of life, like 
the weaving and the satisfaction of hunger, 
subsisting quite aloof from the life of belief and 
love from which he had been cut off. The 
weaver's hand had known the touch of hard- 
won money even before the palm had grown 
to its full breadth ; for twenty years, mysterious 
money had stood to him as the symbol of 
earthly good, and the immediate object of toil. 
He had seemed to love it little in the years 
w^hen every penny had its purpose for him ; for 
he loved the purpose then. But now, when all 
purpose was gone, that habit of looking towards 
the money and grasping it with a sense of ful 
filled effort made a loam that was deep enoug) 

»r the seeds of desire ; and as Silas walked 

Dmeward across the fields in the twilight, he 

rew out the money and thought it was brighter 

I the gathering gloom. 

About this time an incident happened which 

jemed to open a possibility of some fellowship 

ith his neighbours. One day, taking a pair 

' shoes to be mended, he saw the cobbler's 

ife seated by the fire, suff"ering from the terrible 

/mptoms of heart-disease and dropsy, which he 

ad witnessed as the precursors of his mother's 

eath. He felt a rush of pity at the mingled 

ght and remembrance, and, recalling the relief 

is mother had found from a simple preparation 

f foxglove, he promised Sally Oates to bring 

er something that would ease her, since the 

octor did her no good. In this office of charity, 

ilas felt, for the first time since he had 

3me to Raveloe, a sense of unity between his 

ast and present life, which might have been 

le beginning of his rescue from the insect-like 

scistence into which his nature had shrunk. But 

ally Oates's disease had raised her into a per- 

)nage of much interest and importance among 

le neighbours, and the fact of her having found 

lief from drinking Silas Marner's *' stuff" 

icame a matter of general discourse. When 

octor Kimble gave physic, it was natural that 

should have an effect ; but when a weaver, 

lo came from nobody knew where, worked 
s.M. 29 B 

wonders with a boltle of brown waters, the occult 
cliaracter of the process was evident. 

Such a sort of thin^^ had not been known 
since the Wise Woman at Tarley died ; and 
she had charms as well as "stuff": everybody 
went to her when their children had fits. Silas 
Marner must be a person of the same sort, for 
how did he know what would bring back Sally 
Gates's breath if he didn't know a fine sight 
more than that? The Wise Woman had words 
that she muttered to herself, so that you couldn't 
hear what they were, and if she tied a bit of 
red thread round the child's toe the while, it 
would keep off the water in the head. There 
were women in Raveloe, at the present time, 
who had worn one of the Wise Woman's little 
bags round their necks, and, in consequence, 
had never had an idiot child, as Ann Coultei 
had. Silas Marner could very likely do a* 
much, and more ; and now it was all clear hoM 
he should have come from unknown parts, anc 
be so "comical-looking." But Sally Gates mus 
mind and not tell the doctor, for he would b< 
sure to set his face against Marner : he wa 
always angry about the Wise Woman, an( 
used to threaten those who went to her tha 
they should have none of his h^lp any more. 

Silas now found himself and his cotta 
suddenly beset by mothers who wanted him 
charm away the whooping-cough, or bring bac 

30 j 

le milk, and by men who wanted stuff against 

le rheumatics or the knots in the hands ; and, 

> secure themselves against a refusal, the ap- 

[icants brought silver in their palms. Silas 

ight have driven a profitable trade in charms 

; well as in his small list of drugs ; but money 

1 this condition was no temptation to him. 

e had never known an impulse towards falsity, 

id he drove, one after another away with grow- 

g irritation, for the news of him as a wise 

an had spread even to Tarley, and it was 

ng before people ceased to take long walks 

r the sake of asking his aid. But the hope 

his wisdom was at length changed into 

■ead, for no one believed him when he said 

J knew no charms and could work no cures, 

id every man and woman who had an accident 

• a new attack after applying to him, set the 

isfortune down to Master Marner's ill-will and 

ritated glances. Thus it came to pass that 

s movement of pity towards Sally Oates, 

hich had given him a transient sense of 

•otherhood, heightened the repulsion between 

m and his neighbours, and made his isolation 

ore complete. 

Gradually the guineas, the crowns, and the 

ilf-crowns grew to a heap, and Marner drew 

ss and less for his own wants, trying to solve 

e problem of keeping himself strong enough 

work sixteen hours a day on as small an 
1 31 

outlay as possible. Have not men, shut up irt 
solitary imprisonment, found an interest in 
markiiiij^ the moments by straight strokes of a 
certain length on the ^vall, until the growth oi 
the sum of straight strokes, arranged in triangles, 
has become a mastering purpose? Do we not 
while away moments of inanity or fatigued wait- 
ing by repeating some trivial movement or 
sound, until the repetition has bred a want, 
which is incipient habit? That will help us 
to understand how the love of accumulating 
money grows an absorbing passion in men 
whose imaginations, even in the very beginning 
of their hoard, showed them no purpose beyond 
it. Marner wanted the heaps of ten to grow 
into a square, and then into a larger square ; 
and every added guinea, while it was itself a 
satisfaction, bred a new desire. In this strange 
world, made a hopeless riddle to him, he mi 
if he had had a less intense nature, have 
weaving, weaving — looking towards the en 
his pattern, or towards the end of his web, till 
he forgot the riddle, and everything else bu| 
his immediate sensations ; but the money ha^ 
come to mark off his weaving into periods, and 
the money not only grew, but it remained with 
him. i 

He began to think it was conscious of him, 
his loom was, and he would on no account ha 

exchanged those coins, which had become hi 


familiars, for other coins with unknown faces. 
He handled them, he counted them, till their 
form and colour were like the satisfaction of a 
thirst to him ; but it was only in the night, 
when his work was done, that he drew them 
out to enjoy their companionship. He had 
taken up some bricks in his floor underneath 
his loom, and here he had made a hole in 
which he set the iron pot that contained his 
guineas and silver coins, covering the bricks 
with sand whenever he replaced them. Not 
that the idea of being robbed presented itself 
often or strongly to his mind ; hoarding was 
common in country districts in those days; 
there were old labourers in the parish of 
Raveloe who were known to have their savings 
by them, probably inside their flock-beds ; but 
their rustic neighbours, though not all of them 
as honest as their ancestors in the days of King 
Alfred, had not imaginations bold enough to 
lay a plan of burglary. How could they have 
spent the money in their own village without 
betraying themselves? They would be obliged 
to '* run away" — a course as dark and dubious 
as a balloon journey. 

So, year after year, Silas Marner had lived in 
this solitude, his guineas rising in the iron pot, 
and his life narrowing and hardening itself more 
and more into a mere pulsation of desire and 
satisfaction that had no relation to any other 


being. His life had reduced itself to the 

functions of weaving and hoarding, witliout 

any contemplation of an end towards which 

the functions tended. The same sort of process 

has perhaps been undergone by wiser men, 

when they have been cut off from faith and 

love — only, instead of a loom and a heap of 

guineas, they have had some erudite research^ 

some ingenious project, or some well-knit 

theory. Strangely, Marner's face and figure 

shrank and bent themselves into a constant 

mechanical relation to the objects of his life, so 

that he produced the same sort of impression 

as a handle or a crooked tube, which has no 

meaning standing apart. The prominent eyes, 

that used to look trusting and dreamy, now 

looked as if they had been made to see only 

one kind of thing that was very small, like tiny 

grain, for which they hunted everywhere : and 

he was so withered and yellow, that, though he 

was not yet forty, the children always called 

him ''Old Master Marner." 

Yet even in this stage of withering a little 

incident happened, which showed that the sap 

of affection was not all gone. It was one of 

his daily tasks to fetch his water from a well 

a couple of fields off, and for this purpose, ever 

since he came to Raveloe, he had had a brown 

earthenware pot. which he held as his most 

precious utensil among the very few conveniences 



he had granted himself. It had been his com- 
panion for twelve years, always standing on 
the same spot, always lending its handle to 
him in the early morning, so that its form had 
an expression for him of willing helpfulness, 
and the impress of its handle on his palm gave 
a satisfaction mingled with that of having the 
fresh clear water. One day, as he was returning 
from the well, he stumbled against the step of 
the stile, and his brown pot, falling with force 
against the stones that over-arched the ditch 
below him, was broken in three pieces. Silas 
picked up the pieces and carried them home 
with grief in his heart. The brown pot could 
never be of use to him any more, but he stuck 
the bits together and propped the ruin in its 
old place for a memorial. 

This is the history of Silas Marner until the 
fifteenth year after he came to Raveloe. The 
livelong day he sat in his loom, his ear filled 
with its monotony, his eyes bent close down on 
the slow growth of sameness in the brownish 
web, his muscles moving with such even repeti- 
tion that their pause seemed almost as much a 
constraint as the holding of his breath. But 
at night came his revelry : at night he closed 
his shutters, and made fast his doors, and drew 
forth his gold. Long ago the heap of coins 
had become too large for the iron pot to hold. 

them, and he had made for them two thick 


leather ba^s, which wasted no room in their 
restintr-place, but lent themselves Hexibly to 
every corner. How the guineas shone as they 
came pouring- out of the dark leatlier mouth ! 
The silver bore no large proportion in amount 
to the gold, because the long pieces of linen 
which formed his chief work were always 
partly paid for in gold, and out of the silver 
he supplied his own bodily wants, choosing 
always the shillings and sixpences to spend in 
this way. 

He loved the guineas best, but he would not 
change the silver — the crowns and half-crowns 
that were his own earnings, begotten by his 
labour ; he loved them all. He spread them 
out in heaps and bathed his hands in them ; 
then he counted them and set them up in 
regular piles, and felt their rounded outline 
between his thumb and fingers, and thought 
fondly of the guineas that were only half 
earned by the work in his loom, as if they had 
been unborn children — thought of the guineas 
that were coming slowly through the coming 
years, through all his life, which spread far 
away before him, the end quite hidden by 
countless days of weaving. No wonder his 
thoughts were still with his loom and his 
money when he made the journeys through 
the fields and the lanes to fetch and carry 
home his work, so that his steps never wandered i 

36 J 

to the hedgre-banks and the lane-side in search 
of the once familiar herbs ; these too belonged 
to the past, from which his life had shrunk 
away, like a rivulet that had sunk far down 
from the grassy fringe of its old breadth into a 
little shivering thread, that cuts a groove for 
itself in the barren sand. 

But about the Christmas of that fifteenth year, 
a second great change came over Marner's life, 
and his history became blent in a singular 
manner with the life of his neighbours. 



The greatest man in Raveloe was Squire Cass, 
who lived in the large red house with the hand- 
some flight of stone steps in front and the high 
stables behind it, nearly opposite the church. He 
was only one among several landed parishioners, 
but he alone was honoured with the title of Squire ; 
for though Mr. Osgood's family was also under- 
stood to be of timeless origin — the Raveloe im- 
agination having never ventured back to that 
fearful blank when there were no Osgoods — still, 
he merely owned the farm he occupied ; whereas 
Squire Cass had a tenant or two, who complained 
of the game to him quite as if he had been a lord. 
It was still that glorious war-time which was 
felt to be a peculiar favour of Providence towards 
the landed interest, and the fall of prices had not 
yet come to carry the race of small squires and 
yeomen down that road to ruin for which extrava- 
gant habits and bad husbandry were plentifully 
anointing their wheels. I am speaking now in 
relation to Raveloe and the parishes that resembled 
it ; for our old-fashioned country life had many 
different aspects, as all life must have when it 
is spread over a various surface, and breathed 
on variously by multitudinous currents, from 
the winds of heaven to the thoughts of men, 


which are for ever moving and crossing each 
other with incalculable results. Raveloe lay 
low among the bushy trees and the rutted 
lanes, aloof from the currents of industrial 
energy and Puritan earnestness : the rich ate 
and drank freely, accepting gout and apoplexy 
as things that ran mysteriously in respectable 
families, and the poor thought that the rich 
were entirely in the right of it to lead a jolly 
life ; besides, their feasting caused a multi- 
plication of orts, which were the heirlooms of 
the poor. 

Betty Jay scented the boiling of Squire Cass's 
hams, but her longing was arrested by the 
unctuous liquor in which they were boiled ; 
and when the seasons brought round the great 
merry-makings, they were regarded on all hands 
as a fine thing for the poor. For the Raveloe 
feasts were like the rounds of beef and the barrels 
of ale — they were on a large scale, and lasted a 
good while, especially in the winter-time. After 
ladies had packed up their best gowns and top- 
knots in bandboxes, and had incurred the risk 
of fording streams on pillions with the precious 
burden in rainy or snowy weather, Avhen there 
was no knowing how high the water would rise, 
it was not to be supposed that they looked forward 
to a brief pleasure. On this ground it was always 
contrived in the dark seasons, when there was 
little work to be done, and the hours were long, 


that several neighbours should keep open house 
in succession. So soon as Squire Cass's standing 
dishes diminished in plenty and freshness, his 
guests had nothing to do but to walk a little 
higher up the village to Mr. Osgood's, at the 
Orchards, and they found hams and chines 
uncut, pork-pies with the scent of the fire in 
them, spun butter in all its freshness — every- 
thing, in fact, that appetites at leisure could 
desire, in perhaps greater perfection, though not 
in greater abundance, than at Squire Cass's. 

For the Squire's wife had died long ago, and 
the Red House was without that presence ol 
the wife and mother which is the fountain of 
wholesome love and fear in parlour and kitchen ; 
and this helped to account not only for there 
being more profusion than finished excellence 
in the holiday provisions, but also for the 
frequency with which the proud Squire conde- 
scended to preside in the parlour of the 
Rainbow rather than under the shadow of his 
own dark wainscot ; perhaps, also, for the fact 
that his sons had turned out rather ill. Raveloe 
was not a place where moral censure was severe, 
but it was thought a weakness in the Squire that 
he had kept all his sons at home in idleness ; and 
though some licence was to be allowed to young 
men whose fathers could afford it, people shook 
their heads at the courses of the second son, 

Dunstan, commonly called Dunsey Cass, whose 


taste for swopping and betting might turn out 
to be a sowing of something worse than wild 

To be sure, the neighbours said, it was no 
matter what became of Dunsey — a spiteful, 
jeering fellow, who seemed to enjoy his drink 
the more when other people went dry — always 
provided that his doings did not bring trouble 
on a family like Squire Cass's, with a monument 
in the church, and tankards older than King 
George. But it would be a thousand pities 
if Mr. Godfrey, the eldest, a fine open-faced, 
good-natured young man, who was to come into 
the land some day, should take to going along 
the same road with his brother, as he had seemed 
to do of late. If he went on in that way, he 
would lose Miss Nancy Lammeter ; for it was 
well known that she had looked very shyly on 
him ever since last Whitsuntide twelvemonth, 
when there was so much talk about his being 
away from home, days and days together. There 
was something wrong, more than common — 
that was quite clear ; for Mr. Godfrey didn't 
look half so fresh-coloured and open as he used 
to do. 

At one time everybody was saying, What a 
handsome couple he and Miss Nancy Lammeter 
would make I and if she could come to be 
mistress at the Red House, there would be a 
fine change, for the Lam meters had been brought 


Lip in that way, that they never suffered a pinch 
of salt to be wasted, and yet everybody in their 
household had of the best, according to his 
place. Such a dau^rhter-in-law would be a 
saving to the old Squire, if she never brought 
a penny to her fortune ; for it was to be feared 
that, notwithstanding his incomings, there were 
more holes in his pocket than the one where 
he put his own hand in. But if Mr. Godfrey 
didn't turn over a new leaf, he might say 
*' Good-bye" to Miss Nancy Lammeter. 

It was the once hopeful Godfrey who was 
standing, with his hands in his side-pockets 
and his back to the fire, in the dark wainscoted 
parlour, one late November afternoon in that 
fifteenth year of Silas Marner's life at Raveloe. 
The fading gray light fell dimly on the walls 
decorated with guns, whips, and foxes' brushes, 
on coats and hats flung on the chairs, on tank- 
ards sending forth a scent of fiat ale, and on 
a half-choked fire, with pipes propped up in 
the chimney-corners : signs of a domestic life 
destitute of any hallowing charm, with which 
the look of gloomy vexation on Godfrey's blonde 
face was in sad accordance. He seemed to be 
waiting and listening for some one's approach, 
and presently the sound of a heavy step, with 
an accompanying whistle, was heard across the 
large empty entrance-hall. 

The door opened, and a thick-set, heavy-looking 


young man entered, with the flushed face and the 
gratuitously elated bearing which mark the first 
stage of intoxication. It was Dunsey, and at the 
sight of him Godfrey's face parted with some of 
its gloom to take on the more active expression 
of hatred. The handsome brown spaniel that 
lay on the hearth retreated under the chair in the 
ch i m n ey-co rn e r. 

*'Well, Master Godfrey, what do you want 
with me?" said Dunsey, in a mocking tone. 
** You're my elders and betters, you know; I 
was obliged to corne when you sent for me." 

** Why, this is what I want — and just shake 
yourself sober and listen, will you?" said 
Godfrey savagely. He had himself been drink- 
ing more than was good for him, trying to 
turn his gloom into uncalculating anger. *' I 
want to tell you, I must hand over that rent of 
Fowler's to the Squire, or else tell him I gave 
it you ; for he's threatening to distrain for it, 
and it'll all be out soon, whether I tell him or 
not. He said, just now, before he went out, 
he should send word to Cox to distrain, if 
Fowler didn't come and pay up his arrears this 
week. The Squire's short of cash, and in no 
humour to stand any nonsense ; and you know 
what he threatened if ever he found you making 
away with his money again. So, see and get 
the money, and pretty quickly, will you?" 

*'OhI" said Dunsey sneeringly, coming 


nearer to his brother and looking in his face. 
*' Suppose, now, you get the money yourself, 
and save nie the trouble, eh? Since you was 
so kind as to hand it over to me, you'll not 
refuse me the kindness to pay it back for me ; 
it was your brotherly love made you do it, 
you know." 

Godfrey bit his lips and clenched his fist. 
" Don't come near me with that look, else I'll 
knock you down." 

'*Oh no, you won't," said Dunsey, turniniij;^ 
away on his heel, however. " Because I'm such 
a good-natured brother, you know. I might get 
you turned out of house and home, and cut off 
with a shilling any day. I might tell the Squire 
how his handsome son was married to that 
nice young woman, Molly Farren, and was 
very unhappy because he couldn't live with his 
drunken wife, and I should slip into your place 
as comfortable as could be. But you see, I 
don't do it — I'm so easy and good-natured. 
You'll take any trouble for me. You'll get the 
hundred pounds for me — I know you will." 

*'How can I get the money?" said Godfrey, 
quivering. ** I haven't a shilling to bless myself 
with. And it's a lie that you'd slip into my 
place : you'd get yourself turned out too, that's 
all. For if you begin telling tales, I'll follow. 
Bob's my father's favourite — you know that very 
well. He'd only think himself well rid of you." 


** Never mind," said Dunsey, nodding his 
head sideways as he looked out of the window. 
" It 'ud be very pleasant to me to go in your 
::ompany — you're such a handsome brother, 
and we've always been so fond of quarrelling 
with one another, I shouldn't know what to do 
without you. But you'd like better for us both 
to stay at home together ; I know you would. 
So you'll manage to get that little sum o' 
money, and I'll bid you good-bye, though I'm 
sorry to part." 

Dunstan was moving off, but Godfrey rushed 
after him and seized him by the arm, saying, 
with an oath — 

** I tell you, I have no money : I can get no 

*' Borrow of old Kimble." 

** I tell you, he won't lend me any more, and 
I shan't ask him." 

'' Well, then, sell Wildfire." 

**Yes, that's easy talking. I must have the 
money directly." 

*'Well, you've only got to ride him to the 
hunt to-morrow. There'll be Bryce and Keating 
there, for sure. You'll get more bids than one." 

"I daresay, and get back home at eight 
o'clock, splashed up to the chin. I'm going to 
Mrs. Osgood's birthday dance.'* 

**Oho!" said Dunsey, turning his head on 
one side, and trying to soeak in a small, mincing 


treble. *' And there's sweet Miss Nancy coming ; 
and we shall dance with her, and promise never 
to be naughty again, and be taken into favour, 
and " 

" Hold your tongue about Miss Nancy, you 
fool," said Godfrey, turning red, '*else I'll 
throttle you." 

"What for?" said Dunsey, still in an artificial 
tone, but taking a whip from the table and beat- 
ing the butt-end of it on his palm. ** You've a 
very good chance. I'd advise you to creep up 
her sleeve again : it 'ud be saving time, if Molly 
should happen to take a drop too much laudanum 
some day, and makea widower of you. Miss Nancy 
wouldn't mind being a second, if she didn't know 
it. And you've got a good-natured brother, who'll 
keep your secret well, because you'll be so very 
obliging to him.*' 

*' I'll tell you what it is," said Godfrey, quiver- 
ing, and pale again, "my patience is pretty near 
at an end. If you'd a little more sharpness in 
you, you might know that you may urge a man 
a bit too far, and make one leap as easy as 
another. I don't know but what it is so now : 
I may as well tell the Squire everything myself 
— I should get you off my back, if I got nothing 
else. And, after all, he'll know some time. She's 
been threatening to come herself and tell him. 
So, don't flatter yourself that your secrecy's worth 
any price you choose to ask. You drain me of 

money till I have got nothing to pacify her with, 
and she'll do as she threatens some day. It's all 
one. I'll tell my father everything myself, and 
you may go to the devil." 

Dunsey perceived that he had overshot his 
mark, and that there was a point at which 
even the hesitating Godfrey might be driven 
into decision. But he said, with an air of 
unconcern — 

**As you please; but I'll have a draught of 
ale first." And ringing the bell, he threw 
himself across two chairs, and began to rap 
the window-seat with the handle of his whip. 

Godfrey stood, still with his back to the fire, 
uneasily moving his fingers among the contents 
Df his side-pockets, and looking at the floor. 
That big muscular frame of his held plenty of 
mimal courage, but helped him to no decision 
ivhen the dangers to be braved were such as 
:ould neither be knocked down nor throttled. 
His natural irresolution and moral cowardice 
ivere exaggerated by a position in which dreaded 
:onsequences seemed to press equally on all 
sides, and his irritation had no sooner provoked 
lim to defy Dunstan and anticipate all possible 
Detrayals, than the miseries he must bring on 
limself by such a step seemed more unendurable 
:o him than the present evil. The results of con- 
cession were not contingent, they were certain ; 
ivhereas betrayal was not certain. From the 


near vision of that certainty he fell back on 
suspense and vacilhition with a sense of repose. 
The disinherited son of a small squire, equally 
disinclined to dig and to beg, was almost as 
helpless as an uprooted tree, which, by the 
Icivour of earth and sky, has grown to a 
handsome bulk on the spot where it first shot 

Perhaps it would have been possible to think 
of digging with some cheerfulness if Nancy 
Lammeter were to be won on those terms ; 
but, since he must irrevocably lose her as well 
as the inheritance, and must break every tie but 
the one that degraded him and left him w^ithout 
motive for trying to recover his better self, he 
could imagine no future for himself on the 
other side of confession but that of '''listing 
for a soldier" — the most desperate step, short 
of suicide, in the eyes of respectable families. 
No ! he would rathex trust to casualties than 
to his own resolve — rather go on sitting at the 
'feast and sipping the wine he loved, though 
with the sword hanging over him and terror 
in his heart, than rush away into the cold 
darkness where there was no pleasure left. The 
utmost concession to Dunstan about the horse 
began to seem easy, compared with the fulfil- 
ment of his own threat. But his pride would 
not let him recommence the conversation other- 
wise than by continuing the quarrel. Dunstan 



'as waiting for this, and took his ale in shorter 
raughts than usual. 

''It's just like you," Godfrey burst out, in a 
itter tone, *'to talk about my selling Wildfire 
1 that cool way — the last thing I've got to call 
ly own, and the best bit of horse-flesh I ever 
ad in my life. And if you'd got a spark of 
ride in you, you'd be ashamed to see the 
:ables emptied, and everybody sneering about 
But it's my belief you'd sell yourself, if it 
as only for the pleasure of making somebody 
;el he'd got a bad bargain." 

**Ay, ay," said Dunstan very placably, **you 
o me justice, I see I You know I'm a jewel 
)r 'ticing people into bargains. For which 
;ason I advise you to let vie sell Wildfire, 
d ride him to the hunt to-morrow for you, 
'ith pleasure. I shouldn't look so handsome 
5 you in the saddle, but it's the horse they'll 
id for, and not the rider." 

'' Yes, I daresay — trust my horse to you ! " 

*'As you please," said Dunstan, rapping the 
indow-seat again with an air of great un- 
Dncern. '* It's yoii have got to pay Fowler's 
loney ; it's none of my business. You re- 
eived the money from him when you went 
) Bramcote, and you told the Squire it wasn't 
aid. I'd nothing to do with that ; you chose 
D be so obliging as give it me, that was 
11. If you don't want to pay the money, let 


it alone ; it's all one to me. But I was willing 
to accommodate you by undcrtakinfT^ to sell the 
horse, seeing- it's not convenient to you to go 
so far to-morrow.'* 

Godfrey was silent for some moments. He 
would have liked to spring on Dunstan, wrench 
the whip from his hand, and flog him to within 
an inch of his life ; and no bodily fear could 
have deterred him ; but he was mastered by 
another sort of fear, which was fed by feelings 
stronger even than his resentment. When he 
spoke again, it was in a half-conciliatory tone. 

'^Well, you mean no nonsense about the 
horse, eh? You'll sell him all fair, and hand 
over the money? If you don't, you know, 
everything 'ull go to smash, for I've got 
nothing else to trust to. And you'll have 
less pleasure in pulling the house over my 
head, when your own skull's to be broken too." 

*' Ay, ay," said Dunstan, rising, **all right. I 
thought you'd come round. I'm the fellow to 
bring old Bryce up to the scratch. I'll get you 
a hundred and twenty for him, if I get you a 

" But it'll perhaps rain cats and dogs to- 
morrow, as it did yesterday, and then you can't 
go," said Godfrey, hardly knowing whether he 
wished for that obstacle or not* 

**Not it" said Dunstan. ^M'm always lucky 
in my weather. It might rain if you wanted to 

50 , 

^o yourself. You never hold trumps, you know 
— I always do. You've got the beauty, you see, 
md I've got the luck, so you must keep me by 
^ou for your crooked sixpence ; you'll ne-v^r get 
ilong without me." 

** Confound you, hold your tongue!" said 
Godfrey impetuously. "And take care to keep 
sober to-morrow, else you'll get pitched on your 
lead coming home, and Wildfire might be the 
ivorse for it." 

** Make your tender heart easy," said Dunstan, 
Dpening the door. " You never knew me see 
double when I'd ofot a bars^ain to make : it 'ud 
spoil the fun. Besides, whenever I fall, I'm 
warranted to fall on my legs." 

With that, Dunstan slammed the door behind 
iiim, and left Godfrey to that bitter rumination on 
bis personal circumstances which -was now un- 
broken from day to day save by the excitement 
Df sporting, drinking, card-playing, or the rarer 
and less oblivious pleasure of seeing Miss Nancy 
Lammeter. The subtle and varied pains spring- 
ing from the higher sensibility that accompanies 
iiigher culture, are perhaps less pitiable than that 
dreary absence of impersonal enjoyment and con- 
solation which leaves ruder minds to the perpetual 
urgent companionship of their own griefs and 
discontents. The lives of those rural forefathers, 
whom we are apt to think very prosaic figures-^ 
men whose only work was to ride round their 


land, g^etting heavier and heavier in their saddles, 
and who passed tlie rest of their days in the half- 
listless gratification of senses dulled by monotony 
— had a certain pathos in them nevertheless. 
Calamities came to ifiem too, and their early 
errors carried hard consequences : perhaps th(; 
love of some sweet maiden, the image of purity, 
order, and calm, had opened their eyes to the 
vision of a life in which the days would not seem 
too long, even without rioting ; but the maiden 
was lost, and the vision passed away, and then 
what was left to them, especially when they had 
become too heavy for the hunt, or for carrying a 
gun over the furrows, but to drink and get merry, 
or to drink and get angry, so that they might be 
independent of variety, and say over again with 
eager emphasis the things they had said already 
any time that twelvemonth? 

Assuredly, among these flushed and dull-eyed 
men there were some whom — thanks to their 
native human kindness — even riot could never 
drive into brutality ; men who, when their cheeks 
were fresh, had felt the keen point of sorrow or 
remorse, had been pierced by the reeds they 
leaned on, or had lightly put their limbs in fetters 
from which no struggle could loose them ; and 
under these sad circumstances, common to us all, 
their thoughts could find no resting-place outside 
the ever-trodden round of their own petty history. 

That, at least, was the condition of Godfrey 


^ass, in tins six-anu-twentietn year ot ins lire. A 
novement of compunction, helped by those small 
ndefinable influences which every personal i 
-elation exerts on a pliant nature, had urged him j 
into a secret marriage, which was a blight on his 
ife. It was an ugly story of low passion, delusion, 
md waking from delusion, which needs not to 
De dragged from the privacy of Godfrey's bitter 
nemory. He had long known that the delusion 
ivas partly due to a trap laid for him by Dunstan, 
kvho saw in his brother's degrading marriage the 
neans of gratifying at once his jealous hate and 
lis cupidity. And if Godfrey could have felt him- 
self simply a victim, the iron bit that destiny had 
Dut into his mouth would have chafed him less 
ntolerably. If the curses he muttered half aloud 
ivhen he was alone had had no other object than 
Dunstan's diabolical cunning, he might have 
shrunk less from the consequences of avowal. 
But he had something else to curse — his own 
i^icious folly, which now seemed as mad and 
unaccountable to him as almost all our follies 
and vices do when their promptings have long 
passed away. 

For four years he had thought of Nancy 
Lammeter, and wooed her with tacit, patient 
worship, as the woman who made him think 
of the future with joy : she would be his wife, 
and would make home lovely to him, as his 
father's home had never been ; and it would 


be easy, when she was always near, to shake 
off those foolish habits that were no pleasures, 
but only a feverish way of annuling vacancy. 
Godfrey's was an essentially domestic nature, 
bred up in a home where the hearth had no 
smiles, and where the daily habits were not 
chastised by the presence of household order. 
His easy disposition made him fall in unresist- 
ingly with the family courses, but the need of- 
some tender, permanent affection, the longing 
for some influence that would make the good 
ne preferred easy to pursue, caused the neatness, 
purit ', and liberal orderliness of the Lammeter 
hcusehold, sunned by the smile of Nancy, to 
seem like those fresh, bright hours of the 
morning when temptations go to sleep and 
leave the ear open to the voice of the good 
angel, inviting to industry, sobriety, and peace. 

And yet the hope of this paradise had not 
been enough to save him from a course which 
shut him out of it for ever. Instead of keeping 
fast hold of the strong silken rope by which 
Nancy would have drawn him safe to the green 
banks where it was easy to step firmly, he had 
let himself be dragged back into mud and 
slime, in which it was useless to struggle. He 
had made ties for himself which robbed him 
of all wholesome motive, and were a constant 

Still, there was one position worse than the 


present : it was the position he would be in 
when the ugly secret was disclosed ; and the 
desire that continually triumphed over every 
other was that of warding off the evil day, 
when he would have to bear the consequences 
of his father's violent resentment for the wound 
inflicted on his family pride — would have, 
perhaps, to turn his back on that hereditary 
ease and dignity which, after all, was a sort 
of reason for living, and would carry with him 
the certainty that he was banished for ever 
from the sight and esteem of Nancy Lammeter. 
The longer the interval, the more chance there 
was of deliverance from some, at least, of the 
hateful consequences to which he had sold him- 
self; the more opportunities remained for him 
to snatch the strange gratification of seeing 
Nancy, and gathering some faint indications 
of her lingering regard. Towards this gratifi- 
cation he was impelled, fitfully, every now and 
:hen, after having passed weeks in which he 
bad avoided her as the far-off, bright-winged 
prize that only made him spring forward and 
[ind his chain all the more galling. 

One of those fits of yearning was on him now, 
ind it would have been strong enough to have 
persuaded him to trust Wildfire to Dunstan 
rather than disappoint the yearning, even if 
:ie had not had another reason for his disinclina- 
:ion towards the morrow's hunt. That other 


reason was the fact that the morning's moet 
^vas near Hatherley, the market-town where the 
unhappy woman lived whose ima^e became 
more odious to him every day ; and to his 
tliought the whole vicinage was haunted by 
her. The yoke a man creates for himself by 
/ Avrong-doing will breed hate in the kindliest 
nature ; and tlie good-humoured, affectionate- 
liearted Godfrey Cass was fast becoming a bitter 
man, visited by cruel wishes, that seemed to 
enter, and depart, and enter again, like demons 
who had found in him a ready garnished-home. 

What was he to do this evening to pass the 
time? He might as well go to the Rainbow, 
and hear the talk about the cock-lighting: 
everybody was there, and what else was there 
to be done? Though, for his own part, he did 
not care a button for cock-fighting. Snuff, the 
brown spaniel, who had placed herself in front 
of him, and had been watching him for some 
time, now jumped up in impatience for the 
expected caress. But Godfrey thrust her away 
without looking at her, and left the room, 
followed humbly by the unresenting Snuff-^ 
perhaps because she saw no other career open 
to her. 



DuNSTAN Cass, setting off in the raw morning, 
at the judiciously quiet pace of a man who is 
obliged to ride to cover on his hunter, had to 
take his way along the lane, which at its farther 
extremity passed by the piece of uninclosed 
ground called the Stone-pit, where stood the 
cottage, once a stone-cutter's shed, now for 
fifteen years inhabited by Silas Marner. The 
spot looked very dreary at this season, with 
the moist, trodden clay about it, and the red, 
muddy water high up in the deserted quarry. 
That was Dunstan's first thought as he ap- 
proached it ; the second was, that the old fool 
of a weaver, whose loom he heard rattling 
already, had a great deal of money hidden 
somewhere. How was it that he, Dunstan Cass, 
who had often heard talk of Marner's miserliness, 
had never thought of suggesting to Godfrey 
that he should frighten or persuade the old 
fellow into lending the money on the excellent 
security of the young squire's prospects? The 
resource occurred to him now as so easy and 
agreeable, especially as Marner's hoard was 
likely to be large enough to leave Godfrey a 
handsome surplus beyond his immediate needs, 
and enable him to accommodate his faithtul 


brother, that ho had almost turned the horse's 
head towards home again. Godfrey would be 
ready enough to accept the suggestion : he 
would snatch eagerly at a plan that might save 
him from parting with Wildfire. 

But when Dunstan's meditation reached this 
point, the inclination to go on grew strong and 
prevailed. He didn't want to give Godfrey that 
pleasure : he preferred that Master Godfrey 
should be vexed. Moreover, Dunstan enjoyed 
the self-important consciousness of having a 
horse to sell, and the opportunity of driving 
a bargain, swaggering, and possibly taking 
somebody in. He might have all the satisfac- 
tion attendant on selling his brother's horse, 
and not the less have the further satisfaction 
of setting Godfrey to borrow Marner's money. 
So he rode on to cover. 

Bryce and Keating were there, as Dunstan 
was quite sure they would be — he was such 
a lucky fellow. 

"Heyday," said Bryce, who had long had 
his eye on Wildfire, ''you're on your brother's 
horse to-day : how's that ? " 

**Oh, I've swopped with him," said Dunstan, 
whose delight in lying, grandly independent 
of utility, was not to be diminished by the 
likelihood that his hearer would not believe 
him ; " Wildfire's mine now." 

** What ! has he swopped v/ith you for that 


big-boned hack of yours ? " said Bryce, quite 
aware he would get another lie in answer. 

" Oh, there was a little account between us," 
said Dunsey carelessly, " and Wildfire made it 
even. I accommodated him by taking the 
horse, though it was against my will, for I'd 
got an itch for a mare o' Jortin's — as rare a 
bit o* blood as ever you threw your leg across. 
But I shall keep Wildfire, now Fve got him, 
though I'd a bid of a hundred and fifty for 
him the other day, from a man over at Flitton 
— he's buying for Lord Cromleck — a fellow 
with a cast in his eye, and a green waistcoat. 
But I mean to stick to Wildfire : I shan't get 
a better at a fence in a hurry. The mare's 
got more blood, but she's a bit too weak in 
the hind-quarters." 

Bryce, of course, divined that Dunstan wanted 
to sell the horse, and Dunstan knew that he 
divined it (horse-dealing is only one of many 
human transactions carried on in this ingenious 
manner) ; and they both considered that the 
bargain was in its first stage, when Bryce 
replied ironically — 

" I wonder at that now ; I wonder you mean 
to keep him ; for I never heard of a man v/ho 
didn't want to sell his horse getting a bid of 
half as much again as the horse was worth. 
You'll be lucky if you get a hundred." 

Keating rode up now, and the transaction 


1 ecame more complicated. It ended in the 
purchase of the horse by Bryce for a hundred 
and twent3^ to be paid on the delivery ol 
Wildfire, safe and sound, at the Batherley 
stables. It did occur to Dunsey that it might 
be wise for him to give up the day's hunting, 
proceed at once to Batherley, and having waited 
for Bryce's return, hire a horse to carry him 
home with the money in his pocket. But the 
inclination for a run, encouraged by confidence 
in his luck, and by a draught of brandy from 
his pocket-pistol at the conclusion of the bargain, 
was not easy to overcome, especially with a 
horse under him that would take the fences 
to the admiration of the field. Dunstan, how- 
ever, took one fence too many, and got his 
horse pierced with a hedge-stake. His own 
ill-favoured person, which was quite unmarket- 
able, escaped without injury ; but poor Wildfire 
unconscious of his price, turned on his flank, 
and painfully panted his last. 

It happened that Dunstan, a short time 
before, having had to get down to arrange 
his stirrup, had muttered a good many curses 
at this interruption, which had thrown him 
in the rear of the hunt near the moment of 
glory, and under this exasperation had taken 
the fences more blindly. He would soon have 
been up with the hounds again, when the fatal 
accident happened ; and hence he was between 


eag-er riders in advance, not troubling" them- 
selves about what happened behind them, and 
far-off stragglers, who were as likely as not 
to pass quite aloof from the line of road in 
which Wildfire had fallen. Dunstan, whose 
nature it was to care more for immediate 
annoyances than for remote consequences, no 
sooner recovered his legs, and saw that it was 
all over with Wildfire, than he felt a satisfaction 
at the absence of witnesses to a position which 
no swaggering could make enviable. 

Reinforcing himself, after his shake, with a 
little brandy and much swearing, he walked 
as fast as he could to a coppice on his right 
hand, through which it occurred to him that 
he could make his way to Batherley without 
danger of encountering any member of the 
hunt. His first intention was ta hire a horse 
there and ride home forthwith, for to walk 
many miles without a gun in his hand and 
along an ordinary road was as much out of 
the question to him as to other spirited young 
men of his kind. He did not much mind 
about taking the bad news to Godfrey, for 
he had to offer him at the same time the 
resource of Marner's money ; and if Godfrey 
kicked, as he always did, at the notion of 
making a fresh debt from which he himself 
got the smallest share of advantage, why, 

he wouldn't kick long : Dunstan felt sure he 
s.M. 6i c 

could worry Godfrey into anything'. The idea 
of Marner's money kept growing in vividness, 
now the want of it had become immediate ; 
tlie prospect of having to make his appear- 
ance with the muddy boots of a pedestrian 
at Batherley, and to encounter the grinning 
queries of stablemen, stood unpleasantly in the 
way of his impatience to be back at Raveloe 
and carry out his felicitous plan; and a casual 
visitation of his waistcoat-pocket, as he was 
ruminating, awakened his memory to the fact 
that the two or three small coins his forefinger 
encountered there, were of too pale a colour 
to cover that small debt, without payment of 
which the stable-keeper had declared he would 
never do any more business with Dunsey Cass. 

After all, according to the direction in which 
the run had brought him, he was not so very 
much farther from home than he was from 
Batherley ; but Dunsey, not being remarkable 
for clearness of head, was only led to this 
conclusion by the gradual perception that there 
were other reasons for choosing the unpre- 
cedented course of walking" home. It was now 
nearly four o'clock, and a mist was gathering : 
the sooner he got into the road the better. 
He remembered having crossed the road and 
seen the finger-post only a little w^hile before 
Wildfire broke down ; so, buttoning his coat, 
twisting the lash of his hunting-whip compactly 


round the handle, and rapping the tops of his 
boots with a self-possessed air, as if to assure 
himself that he was not at all taken by 
surprise, he set off with the sense that he was 
undertaking a remarkable feat of bodily exertion, 
which somehow and at some time he should be 
able to dress up and magnify to the admiration 
of a select circle at the Rainbow. 

When a young gentleman like Dunsey is re- 
duced to so exceptional a mode of locomotion 
as walking, a whip in his hand is a desirable 
corrective to a too bewildering, dreamy sense 
of unwontedness in his position ; and Dunstan, 
as he went along through the gathering mist, 
was always rapping his whip somewhere. It 
was Godfrey's whip, which he had chosen to take 
without leave because it had a gold handle ; of 
course no one could see, when Dunstan held it, 
that the name Godfrey Cass was cut in deep letters 
on that gold handle — they could only see that it 
was a very handsome whip. Dunsey was not 
without fear that he might meet some acquaint- 
ance in whose eyes he would cut a pitiable figure, 
for mist is no screen when people get close to 
each other ; but when he at last found himself 
in the well-known Raveloe lanes without having 
met a soul, he silently remarked that that was 
part of his usual good-luck. But now the mist, 
helped by the evening darkness, was more of a 
screen than he desired, for it hid the ruts into 


which liis feet were lialjle to slip — liid evcrythinf^, 
so that he had to guide his steps by dragti^inf>- 
his whip along the low bushes in advance of 
the hedgerow. He must soon, he thought, 
be getting near the opening at the Stone- 
pits : he should find it out by the break in the 

He found it out, however, by another circum- 
stance which he had not expected — namely, by 
certain gleams of light, which he presently guessed 
to proceed from Silas Marner's cottage. That 
cottage and the money hidden within it had been 
in his mind continually during his walk, and 
he had been imagining ways of cajoling and 
tempting the weaver to part with the immediate 
possession of his money for the sake of receiving 
interest. Dunstan felt as if there must be a little 
frightening added to the cajolery, for his own 
arithmetical convictions were not clear enough to 
afford him any forcible demonstration as to the 
advantages of interest ; and as for security, he 
regarded it vaguely as a means of cheating a man 
by making him believe that he would be paid. 
Altogether, the operation on the miser's mind 
\vas a task that Godfrey would be sure to hand 
over to his more daring and cunning brother : 
Dunstan had made up his mind to that ; and by 
the time he saw the light gleaming through the 
chinks of Marner's shutters, the idea of a dialogue 

with the weaver had become so familiar to him, 


that It occurred to him as quite a natural thing- to 
make the acquaintance forthwith. 

There might be several conveniences attending 
this course : the weaver had possibly got a lantern, 
and Dunstan was tired of feeling his way. He 
was still nearly three-quarters of a mile from home, 
and the lane was becoming unpleasantly slippery, 
for the mist was passing into rain. He turned 
up the bank, not without some fear lest he might 
miss the right way, since he was not certain 
whether the light were in front or on the side of 
the cottage. But he felt the ground before him 
cautiously with his whip-handle, and at last arrived 
safely at the door. He knocked loudly, rather 
enjoying the idea that the old fellow would 
be frightened at the sudden noise. He heard 
no movement in reply : all was silent in the 
cottage. Was the weaver gone to bed, then ? 
If so, why had he left a light? That was a 
strange forgetfulness in a miser. Dunstan 
knocked still more loudly, and, without paus- 
ing for a reply, pushed his fingers through 
the latch-hole, intending to shake the door 
and pull the latch-string up and down, not 
doubting that the door was fastened. But, to 
his surprise, at this double motion the door opened, 
and he found himself in front of a bright fire 
which lit up every corner of the cottage — the bed, 
the loom, the three chairs, and the table — and 
showed him that Marner was not there. 


Nothing at that moment could be much more 
inviting to Dunsey than the bright fire on the 
l)rick hearth : he walked in and seated himself by 
it at once. There was something in front of the 
lire, too, that would have been inviting to a 
hungry man, if it had been in a different stage of 
cooking. It was a small bit of pork suspended 
from the kettle-hanger by a string passed through 
a large door-key, in a way known to primitive 
housekeepers unpossessed of jacks. But the pork 
had been hung at the farthest extremity of the 
hanger, apparently to prevent the roasting from 
proceeding too rapidly during the owner's absence. 
The old staring simpleton had hot meat for his 
supper, then? thought Dunstan. People had 
always said he had lived on mouldy bread, on 
purpose to check his appetite. But where could 
he be at this time, and on such an evening, leav- 
ing his supper in this stage of preparation, and 
his door unfastened? Dunstan's own recent 
difficulty in making his way suggested to him 
that the weaver had perhaps gone outside his 
cottage to fetch in fuel, or for some such brief 
purpose, and had slipped into the Stone-pit. 

That was an interesting idea to Dunstan, 
carrying consequences of entire novelty. If the 
weaver was dead, who had a right to his money ? 
Who would know where his money was hidden ? 
Who "woidd know that anybody had come to take 
it away ? He went no further into the subtleties 


)f evidence : the pressing question, ** Where is 
:he money?" now took such entire possession 
)f him as to make him quite forget that the 
weaver's death was not a certainty. A dull 
nind, once arriving at an inference that flatters 
I desire, is rarely able to retain the impression 
hat the notion from which the inference started 
vas purely problematic. And Dunstan's mind 
vas as dull . as the mind of a possible felon 
isually is. There were only three hiding-places 
vhere he had ever heard of cottagers' hoards 
)eing found : the thatch, the bed, and a hole 
n the floor. Marner's cottage had no thatch ; 
md Dunstan's first act, after a train of thought 
nade rapid by the stimulus of cupidity, was to 
^o up to the bed ; but while he did so, his eyes 
ravelled eagerly over the floor, where the bricks, 
listinct in the fire-light, were discernible under 
he sprinkling of sand. But not everywhere; 
or there was one spot, and one only, which 
v^as quite covered with sand, and sand showing 
he marks of fingers, which had apparently 
)een careful to spread it over a given space. It 
V2is near the treddles of the loom. 

In an instant Dunstan darted to that spot, 
wept away the sand with his whip, and, in- 
erting the thin end of the hook between the 
)ricks found that they were loose. In haste 
le lifted up two bricks, and saw what he had 
lo doubt was the object of his search ; for what 


could there be but money in those two leathern 
bai^s? And, from their weiglit, they must be 
filled with guineas. Dunstan felt round tlie 
hole, to be certain that it held no more ; then 
hastily replaced the bricks, and spread ilie sand 
over them. Hardly more than five minutes had 
passed since he entered the cottage, but it seemed 
Lo Dunstan like a long while ; and though he 
was without any distinct recognition of the 
possibility that Marner might be alive, and 
might re-enter the cottage at any moment, he 
felt an undefinable dread laying hold on him, 
as he rose to his feet with the bags in his 
hand. He would hasten out into the darkness, 
and then consider what he should do with the 
bags. He closed the door behind him im- 
mediately, that he might shut in the stream of 
light : a few steps would be enough to carry 
him beyond betrayal by the gleams from the 
shutter-chinks and the latch-hole. The rain and 
darkness had got thicker, and he was glad of 
it ; though it was awkward walking with both 
hands filled, so that it was as much as he could 
do to grasp his whip along with one of the 
bags. But when he had gone a yard or two, 
he might take his time. So he stepped forward 
into the darkness. 



IVhen Dunstan Cass turned his back on the 
cottage, Silas Marner was not more than a 
lundred yards away from it, plodding along 
rom the village with a sack thrown round his 
ihoulders as an overcoat, and with a horn lantern 
n his hand. His legs were weary, but his mind 
vas at ease, free from the presentiment of 
:hange. The sense of security more frequently 
iprings from habit than from conviction, and 
or this reason it often subsists after such a 
;hange in the conditions as might have been 
jxpected to suggest alarm. The lapse of time 
luring which a given event has not happened, 
s, in this logic of habit, constantly alleged as 
I reason why the event should never happen, 
;ven when the lapse of time is precisely the 
idded condition which makes the event imminent. 
\ man will tell you that he has worked in a 
nine for forty years unhurt by an accident as 
I reason why he should apprehend no danger, 
hough the roof is beginning to sink ; and it is 
)ften observable, that the older a man gets, the 
nore difficult it is to him to retain a believing 
conception of his own death. 

This influence of habit was necessarily strong 
n a man whose life was so monotonous as 


Marner*s — who saw no new people and lieard of 
no new events to keep alive in him the idea of 
the unexpected and the changeful ; and it ex- 
plains, simply enough, why his mind could be 
at ease, though he had left his house and his 
treasure more defenceless than usual. Silas 
was thinking with double complacency of his 
supper : first, because it would be hot and 
savoury ; and secondly, because it would cost 
him nothing. For the little bit of pork was a 
present from that excellent housewife. Miss 
Priscilla Lammeter, to whom he had this day 
carried home a handsome piece of linen ; and it 
was only on occasion of a present like this that 
Silas indulged himself with roast-meat. Supper 
was his favourite meal, because it came at his 
time of revelry, when his heart warmed over 
his gold ; whenever he- had roast-meat, he 
always chose to have it for supper. 

But this evening, he had no sooner ingeniously 
knotted his string fast round his bit of pork, 
twisted the string according to rule over his 
door-key, passed it through the handle, and 
made it fast on the hanger, than he remembered 
that a piece of very fine twine was indispens- 
able to his "setting up" a new piece of work 
in his loom early in the morning. It had 
slipped his memory, because, in coming from 
Mr. Lammeter's, he had not had to pass through 
the village ; but to lose time by going on errands 

70 . 

in the morning- was out of the question. It was 
a nasty fog to turn out into, but there were things 
Silas loved better than his own comfort; so, 
drawing his pork to the extremity of the hanger, 
and arming himself with his lantern and his old 
sack, he set out on what, in ordinary weather, 
would have been a twenty minutes' errand. He 
could not have locked his door without undoing 
his well-knotted string and retarding his supper ; 
it was not worth his while to make that sacrifice. 
What thief would find his way to the Stone-pits 
on such a night as this? and why should he 
come on this particular night, when he had 
never come through all the fifteen years before? 
These questions were not distinctly present in 
Silas's mind ; they merely serve to represent 
the vaguely-felt foundation of his. freedom from 

He reached his door in much satisfaction that 
his errand was done : he opened it, and to 
his short-sighted eyes everything remained as 
he had left it, except that the fire sent out a 
welcome increase of heat. He trod about the 
floor while putting by his lantern and throwing 
aside his hat and sack, so as to merge the 
marks of Dunstan's feet on the sand in the 
marks of his own nailed boots. Then he moved 
his pork nearer to the fire, and sat down to the 
agreeable business of tending the meat and 
warming himself at the same time. 


Anyone who had looked at him as the rod 
light shone upon his pale face, strange, straining 
eyes, and meagre form, would perhaps have 
understood the mixture of contemptuous pity, 
dread, and suspicion with which he was regarded 
by his neighbours in Raveloe. Yet few men 
could be more harmless than poor IMarncr. In 
his truthful, simple soul, not even the growing 
greed and worship of gold could beget any 
vice directly injurious to others. The light of 
his faith quite put out, and his affections made 
desolate, he had clung with all the force of his 
nature to his work and his money ; and like 
all objects to which a man devotes himself, 
they had fashioned him into correspondence 
with themselves. His loom, as he wrought in 
it without ceasing, had in its turn wrought onf 
him, and confirmed more and more the mono- 
tonous craving for its monotonous response. 
His gold, as he hung over it and saw it grow, 
gathered his power of loving together into a 
hard isolation like its own. 

As soon as he was warm he began to think 

it would be a long while to wait till after supper 

before he drew out his guineas, and it would 

be pleasant to see them on the table before 

him as he ate his unwonted feast. For joy is 

the best of wine, and Silas's guineas were a 

golden wine of that sort. 

He rose and placed his candle unsuspectingly 


on the floor near his loom, swept away the 
sand without noticing any change, and removed 
the bricks. The sight of the empty hole made 
his heart leap violently, but the belief that his 
gold was gone could not come at once — only 
terror, and the eager effort to put an end to 
the terror. He passed his trembling hand all 
about the hole, trying to think it possible that 
his eyes had deceived him ; then he held the 
candle in the hole and examined it curiously, 
trembling more and more. At last he shook 
so violently that he let fall the candle, and 
lifted his hands to his head, trying to steady 
himself, that he might think. Had he put his 
gold somewhere else, by a sudden resolution 
last night, and then forgotten it? A man falling 
into dark waters seeks a momentary footing even 
on sliding stones ; and Silas, by acting as if 
he believed in false hopes, warded off the moment 
of despair. He searched in every corner, he 
turned his bed over, and shook it, and kneaded 
it ; he looked in his brick oven where he laid 
his sticks. When there was no other place to 
be searched, he kneeled down again and felt 
once more all round the hole. There was no 
untried refuge left for a moment's shelter from 
the terrible truth. 

Yes, there was a sort of refuge which always 
comes with the prostration of thought under an 
overpowering passion : it was that expectation 


of impossibilities, that belief in contradictory 
imaores, which is still distinct from madness, 
because it is capable of being dissipated by the 
external fact. Silas ^ot up from his knees 
trembling, and looked round at the table : didn't 
the gold lie there after all? The table was bare. 
Then he turned and looked behind him — looked 
all round his dwelling, seeming to strain his 
brown eyes after some possible appearance of 
the bags where he had already sought them in 
vain. He could see every object in his cottage — 
and his gold was not there. 

Again he put his trembling hands to his head, 
and gave a wild, ringing scream, the cry of 
desolation. For a few moments after he stood 
motionless ; but the cry had relieved him from 
the first maddening pressure of the truth. He 
turned, and tottered towards his loom, and got 
into the seat where he worked, instinctively 
seeking this as the strongest assurance of reality. 

And now that all the false hopes had vanished, 

and the first shock of certainty was past, the 

idea of a thief began to present itself, and he 

entertained it eagerly, because a thief might be 

caught and made to restore the gold. The 

thought brought some new strength with it, 

and he started from his loom to the door. As 

he opened it the rain beat in upon him, for it 

was falling more and more heavily. There were 

no footsteps to be tracked on such a night — 


footsteps? When had the thief come? During 
Silas's absence in the daytime the door had 
been locked, and there had been no marks of 
any inroad on his return by daylight. And in 
the evening, too, he said to himself, everything 
was the same as when he had left it. The sand 
and bricks looked as if they had not been moved. 
Was it a i±Lief-who had taken the bags? or wa s 

it a cruel power that no hands could reach, 

wHIch had delighted in making him a second 
time desolate? He shrank from this vaguer 
dread, and fixed his mind with struggling 
effort on the robber with hands, who could 
be reached by hands. His thoughts glanced 
at all the neighbours who had made any 
remarks, or asked any questions which he 
might now regard as a ground of suspicion. 
There was Jem Rodney, a known poacher, 
and otherwise disreputable : he had often met 
Marner in his journeys across the fields, and 
had said something jestingly about the weaver's 
money ; nay, he had once irritated Marner, 
by lingering at the lire when he called to 
light his pipe, instead of going about his 
business. Jem Rodney was the man — there 
was ease in the thought. 

Jem could be found and made to restore the 
money : Marner did not want to punish him, 
but only to get back his gold which had gone 
from him, and left his soul like a forlorn traveller 

on an unknown desert. The robber must be 
laid hold of. Marner's ideas of legal authority 
were confused, bul he felt tliat he must go and 
proclaim his loss ; and the great people in the 
village — the clergyman, the constable, and 
Squire Cass — would make Jem Rodney, or 
somebody else, deliver up the stolen money, 
lie rushed out in the rain, under the stimulus 
of this hope, forgetting to cover his head, not 
caring to fasten his door; for he felt as if he 
had nothing left to lose, lie ran swiftly, till 
want of breath compelled him to slacken his 
pace as he was entering the village at the 
turning close to the Rainbow. 

The Rainbow, in Marner's view, was a place 
of luxurious resort for rich and stout husbands, 
whose wives had superfluous stores of linen ; 
it was the place where he was likely to find 
the powers and dignities of Raveloe, and 
where he could most speedily make his loss 
public. He lifted the latch, and turned into 
the bright bar or kitchen on the right hand, 
where the less lofty customers of the house 
w^ere in the habit of assembling, the parlour 
on the left being reserved for the more select 
society in which Squir€ Cass frequently enjoyed 
the double pleasure of conviviality and conde- 
scension. But the parlour w^as dark to-night, 
the chief personages who ornamented its circle 
being all at Mrs. Osgood's birthday dance, 



IS Godfrey Cass was. And in consequence 
>f this, the party on the high-screened seats 
n the kitchen was more numerous than usual ; 
everal personages, who would otherwise have 
)een admitted into the parlour and enlarged 
he opportunity of hectoring and condescension 
or their betters, being content this evening to 
'ary their enjoyment by taking their spirits-and- 
i^ater where they could themselves hector and 
ondescend in company that called for beer. 


The conversation, which was at a high pitch 
of animation when Silas approached the door 
of the Rainbow, had, as usual, been slow and 
intermittent when the company first assembled. 
The pipes began to be puffed in a silence which 
had an air of severity ; the more important 
customers, who drank spirits and sat nearest 
the fire, staring at each other as if a bet were 
depending on the first man who winked ; while 
the beer-drinkers, chiefly men in fustian jackets 
and smock-frocks, kept their eyelids down and 
rubbed their hands across their mouths, as if 
their draughts of beer were a funereal duty 
attended with embarrassing sadness. At last, 
Mr. Snell, the landlord, a man of a neutral 
disposition, accustomed to stand aloof from 
human differences as those of beings who were 
all alike in need of liquor, broke silence, by 
saying in a doubtful tone to his cousin the 
butcher — 4 

*' Some folks 'ud say that was a fine beast you 
druv in yesterday. Bob?" 

The butcher, a jolly, smiling, red-haired man, 
was not disposed to answer rashly. He gave a 
few puffs before he spat and replied, '* And they 

wouldn't be fur wrong, John." 


After this feeble, delusive thaw, the silence set 
n as severely as before. 

^'Was it a red Durham?'* said the farrier, 
aking- up the thread of discourse after the lapse 
)f a few minutes. 

The farrier looked at the landlord, and the 
andlord looked at the butcher, as the person 
vho must take the responsibility of answering. 

*'Red it was," said the butcher, in his good- 
lumoured, husky treble, "and a Durham it 
vas." » 

** Then you needn't tell me who you bought it 
)f," said the farrier, looking round with some 
riumph ; ** I know who it is has got the red 
3urhams o' this country-side. And she'd a white 
tar on her brow, I'll bet a penny ?'* The farrier 
eaned forward with his hands on his knees as 
le put this question, and his eyes twinkled 

**Well; yes — she might," said the butcher 
lowly, considering that he was giving a decided 
iffirmative. *' I don't say contrair}^" 

** I knew that very well," said the farrier, 
hrowing himself backward again, and speaking 
lefiantly ; ^*if / don't know Mr. Lammeter's 
;ows, I should like to know who does — that's 
ill ! And as for the cow you've bought, bargain 
)r no bargaio, I've been at the drenching of 
ler — contradick me who will." 

The farrier looked fierce, and the mild 


butcher's conversational spirit was roused a 

** Vm not for contradicking no man," he said ; 
"I'm for peace and quietness. Some are for 
cutting long ribs — I'm for cutting 'em short 
myself; but / don't quarrel with 'em. All I 
say is, it's a lovely carkiss — and anybody as 
was reasonable, it 'ud bring tears into their 
eyes to look at it." 

" Well, it's the cow as I drenched, whatever 
it is," pursued the farrier angrily; ''and it was 
Mr. Lammeter's cow, else you told a lie when 
you said it was a red Durham." 

" I tell no lies," said the butcher, with the 
same mild huskiness as before, **and I con- 
tradick none — not if a man was to swear himself 
black : he's no meat o' mine, nor none o' my 
bargains. Ail I say is, it's a lovely carkiss. 
And what I say I'll stick to ; but I'll quarrel 

wi' no man." 

*' No," said the farrier, with bitter sarcasm, 
looking at the company generally ; " and p'rhaps 
you aren't pig-headed ; and p'rhaps you didn't 
say the cow was a red Durham ; and p'rhaps 
you didn't say she'd got a star on her brow — • 
stick to that, now you're at it." 

"Come, come," said the landlord; "let the 
cow alone. The truth lies atween you : you're 
both right and both wrong, as I allays say. 
And as for the cowl's being Mr. Lammeter's, I 


say nothing to that ; but this I say, as the 
Rainbow's the Rainbow. And for the matter o' 
that, if the talk is to be o' the Lammeters, you 
know the most upo' that head, eh, Mr. Macey? 
You remember when first Mr. Lam meter's father 
:ome into these parts, and took the Warrens?" 

Mr. Macey, tailor and parish-clerk, the latter 
3f which functions rheumatism had of late 
Dbliered him to share with a small-featured 
y^oung man who sat opposite him, held his 
kvhite head on one side, and twirled his thumbs 
mih. an air of complacency, slightly seasoned 
kvith criticism. He smiled pityingly, in answer 
:o the landlord's appeal, and said — 

*'Ay, ay; I know, I know; but I let other 
blks talk. I've laid by now, and gev up to 
;he young uns. Ask them as have been to 
school at Tarley : they've learnt pernouncing ; 
;hat's come up since my day." 

*' If you're pointing at me, Mr. Macey," said 

;he deputy-clerk, with an air of anxious propriety, 

' I'm nowise a man to speak out of my place. 

A.S the psalm says — 

* I know what's right, nor only so, 
But also practise what I know.'" 

**Well, then, I wish you'd keep hold o* the 
:une, when it's set for you ; if you're for 
3rac/2^ing, I wish you'd ^V3.ctise that," said a 
arge, jocose-looking man, an excellent wheel- 
wright in his week-day capacity, but on Sundays 


leador of the clioir. He v. inked, as he spoke, 
at two of the company, who were known oOicially 
as the *' bassoon " and the '* key-bugle," in the 
confidence that he was expressing the sense of 
the musical profession in l^aveloe. 

Mr. Tookey, the deputy-clerk, who shared 
the unpopularity common to deputies, turned 
very red, but replied, with careful moderation : 
"Mr. Winthrop, if you'll bring me any proof 
as I'm in the wrong, I'm not the man to say 
I won't alter. But there's people set up their 
own ears for a standard, and expect the whole 
choir to follow 'em. There may be two opinions, 
I hope." 

''Ay, ay," said Mr. Macey, who felt very 
well satisfied with this attack on youthful pre- 
sumption ; ''you're right there, Tookey: there's 
allays two 'pinions ; there's the 'pinion a man 
has of himsen, and there's the 'pinion other 
folks have on him. There'd be two 'pinions 
about a cracked bell, if the bell could hear 

" Well, Mr. Macey," said poor Tookey, serious 
amidst the general laughter, " I undertook to 
partially fill up the office of parish-clerk by 
Mr. Crackenthorp's desire, whenever your in- 
firmities should make you unfitting ; and it's 
one of the rights thereof to sing in the choir — 
else why have you done the same yourself? " 

"Ah! but the old gentleman and you are 


two folks," said Ben Winthrop. **The old 
gentleman's got a gift. Why, the Squire used 
to invite him to take a glass, only to hear him 
sing the 'Red Rovier'; didn't he, Mr. Macey? 
It's a nat'ral gift. There's my little lad Aaron, 
he's got a gift — he can sing a tune off straight, 
like a throstle. But as for you, Master Tookey, 
you'd better stick to your ' Amens ' : your voice 
is well enough when you keep it up in your 
nose. It's your inside as isn't right made for 
music : it's no better nor a hollow stalk." 

This kind of unflinching frankness was the 
most piquant form of joke to the company at 
the Rainbow, and Ben Winthrop's insult was 
felt by everybody to have capped Mr. Macey 's 

'' I see what it is plain enough," said 
Mr. Tookey, unable to keep cool any longer. 
** There's a consperacy to turn me out o' the 
choir, as I shouldn't share the Christmas money 
— that's where it is. But I shall speak to Mr. 
Crackenthorp ; I'll not be put upon by no man." 

*'Nay, nay, Tookey," said Ben Winthrop. 
*' We'll pay you your share to keep out of it 
—that's what we'll do. There's things folks 
'ud pay to be rid on, besides varmin.'* 

''Come, come," said the landlord, who felt 
that paying people for their absence was a 
principle dangerous to society; "a joke's a 
joke. We're all good friends here, I hope. 


We must give and take. You're both right 
and you're both wrong, as I say. 1 agree wi* 
Mr. Macey here, as there's two opinions ; and 
if mine was asked, I should say they're both 
right. Tookey's right and Winthrop's right, 
and they've only got to split the difference 
and make themselves even." 

The farrier was puffing his pipe rather fiercely, 
in some contempt at this trivial discussion. He 
had no ear for music himself, and never went 
to church, as being of the medical profession, 
and likely to be in requisition for delicate cows. 
But the butcher, having music in his soul, had 
listened with a divided desire for Tookey's defeat, 
and for the preservation of the peace. 

*'To be sure," he said, following up the 
landlord's conciliatory view, ** we're fond of our 
old clerk ; it's nat'ral, and him used to be such 
a singer, and got a brother as is known for the 
first fiddler in this country-side. Eh, it's a pity 
but what Solomon lived in our village, and could 
give us a tune when we liked; eh, Mr. Macey? 
I'd keep him in liver and lights for nothing — 
that I would." 

*'Ay, ay," said Mr. Macey, in the height of 

complacency; "our family's been known for 

musicianers as far back as anybody can tell. 

But them things are dying out, as I tell Solomon 

every time he comes round ; there's no voices 

like what there used to be, and there's nobody 


remembers what we remember, if it isn't the 
old crows." 

*' Ay, you remember when first Mr. Lammeter's 
father come into these parts, don't you, Mr. 
Macey?" said the landlord. 

'* I should think I did," said the old man, 
who had now gone through that complimentary 
process necessary to bring him up to the point 
of narration ; *'and a fine old gentleman he was 
• — as fine, and finer nor the Mr. Lammeter as 
now is. He came from a bit north'ard, so far 
as I could ever make out. But there's nobody 
rightly knows about those parts : only it couldn't 
be far north'ard, nor much different from this 
country, for he brought a fine breed o' sheep 
with him, so there must be pastures there, and 
everything reasonable. We beared tell as he'd 
sold his own land to come and take the Warrens, 
and that seemed odd for a man as had land of 
his own, to come and rent a farm in a strangle 
place. But they said it was along of his wife's 
dying; though there's reasons in things as 
nobody knows on — that's pretty much what I've 
made out ; yet some folks are so wise, they'll 
find you fifty reasons straight off, and all the 
while the real reason's winking at 'em in the 
corner, and they niver see't. Howsomever, it 
was soon seen as we'd got a new parish'ner as 
know'd the rights and customs o' things, and 
kep' a good house, and w^as well looked on by 


everybody. And the young- man — that's the 
Mr. Lammeter as now is, for he'd nivcr a sister 
— soon began to court Miss Osgood, that's the 
sister o' the Mr. Osgood as now is, and a fine 
handsome lass she was — eh, you can't think — 
they pretend this young lass is like her, but 
that's the way wi' people as don't know what 
come before 'em. / should know, for I helped 
the old rector, Mr. Drumlow as was, I helped 
him marry 'em." 

Here Mr. Macey paused ; he always gave 
his narrative in instalments, expecting to be 
questioned according to precedent. 

**Ay, and a partic'lar thing happened, didn't 
it, Mr. Macey, so as you were likely to re- 
member that marriage?" said the landlord, in 
a congratulatory tone. 

"I should think there did — a very partic'lar 
thing," said Mr. Macey, nodding sideways. 
" For Mr. Drumlow — poor old gentleman, I 
was fond on him, though he'd got a bit confused 
in his head, what wi' age and wi' taking a drop 
o' summat warm when the service come of a 
cold morning. And young Mr. Lammeter, he'd 
have no way but he must be married in Janiwary, 
which, to be sure, 's a unreasonable time to be 
married in, for it isn't like a christening or a 
burying, as you can't help ; and so Mr. Drumlow 
• — poor old gentleman, I was fond on him — but 

when he come to put the questions, he put 'em 


by the rule o* contrairy, like, and he says, * Wilt 
thou have this man to thy wedded wife?' says 
he, and then he says, * Wilt thou have this 
woman to thy wedded husband ? ' says he. But 
the partic'larest thing of all is, as nobody took 
any notice on it but me, and they answered 
straight off ' yes,' like as if it had been me saying 
' Amen ' i' the right place, without listening to 
what went before." 

*' But you knew what was going on well 
enough, didn't you, Mr. Macey? You were live 
enough, eh?" said the butcher. 

*'Lor' bless you !" said Mr. Macey, pausing, 

and smiling in pity at the impotence of his 

hearer's imagination, "why, I was all of a 

tremble : it was as if I'd been a coat pulled by 

the two tails, like ; for I couldn't stop the parson, 

I couldn't take upon me to do that ; and yet I 

said to myself, I says, ' Suppose they shouldn't 

be fast married, 'cause the words are contrairy ? ' 

and my head went working like a mill, for I 

ivas allays uncommon for turning things over 

a.nd seeing all round 'em ; and I says to myself, 

' Is't the meanin' or the words as makes folks ' 

^ast i' wedlock?' For the parson meant right, 

ind the bride and bridegroom meant right. But 

hen, when I come to think on it, meanin' goes 

out a little waj i' most things, for you may mean 

:o stick things together and your glue may be 

Dad, and then where are you? And so I says 
I 67 

to mysen, * It isn't the mcanin', it's the glue.' 
And I was worreted as if I'd got three bells to 
pull at once, when we went into the vestry, and 
they begun to sign their names. But where's 
the use o' talking? — you can't think what goes 
on in a 'cute man's inside." 

**But you held in for all that, didn't you, 
Mr. Macey?" said the landlord. 

''Ay, I held in tight till I was by mysen wi' 
Mr. Drumlow, and then I out wi' everything, 
but respectful, as I allays did. And he made 
light on it, and he says, ' Pooh, pooh, Macey, 
make yourself easy,' he says; Mt's neither the 
meaning nor the words — it's the re^^Jter does it 
— that's the glue.' So you see he settled it 
easy ; for parsons and doctors know everything 
by heart, like, so as they aren't worreted wi' 
thinking what's the rights and wrongs o' things, 
as I'n been many and many's the time. And 
sure enough the wedding turned out all right, 
on'y poor Mrs. Lammeter — that's Miss Osgood 
as was — died afore the lasses was growed up ; 
but for prosperity and everything respectable, 
there's no family more looked on.'* 

Every one of Mr. Macey 's audience had heard 
this story many times, but it was listened to as 
if it had been a favourite tune, and at certain 
points the puffing of the pipes was momentarily 
suspended that the listeners might give their 
whole minds to the expected w^ords. But there 


vas more to come ; and Mr. Snell, the landlord, 
luly put the leading question. 

" Why, old Mr. Lammeter had a pretty fortin, 
iidn't they say, when he come into these parts?" 

** Well, yes," said Mr. Macey ; '' but I daresay 
t*s as much as this Mr. Lammeter's done to keep 
t whole. For there was allays a talk as nobody 
ould get rich on the Warrens, though he holds 
t cheap, for it's what they call Charity Land." 

*'Ay, and there's few folks know so well as 
'ou how it come to be Charity Land, eh, Mr. 
dacey?" said the butcher. 

*' How should they?" said the old clerk, with 
ome contempt. *^Why, my grandfather made 
he grooms' livery for that Mr. Cliff as came 
,nd built the big stables at. the Warrens. Why, 
hey're stables four times as big as Squire Cass's, 
Dr he thought o' nothing but bosses and hunt- 
ag, Cliff didn't — a Lunnon tailor, some folks 
aid, as had gone mad wi' cheating. For he 
ouldn't ride ; lor' bless you ! they said he'd 
;ot no more grip o' the boss than if his legs 
ad been cross sticks ; my grandfather beared 
Id Squire Cass say so many and many a time. 
)Ut ride he would, as if Old Harry had been 
-driving him ; and he'd a son, a lad o' sixteen, 
nd nothing would his father have him do, but 
le must ride and ride — though the lad was 
ighted, they said. And it was a common 
lying as the father wanted to ride the tailor 

out o' the lad, and make a gentleman on him 

- — not but what I'm a tailor myself, but in 

respect as God made me such, I'm pn^ud on 

it, for * Macey, tailor,' 's been wrote up over 

our door since afore the Queen's heads went 

out on the shillings. But Cliff, he was ashamed 

o' being called a tailor, and he was sore vexed 

as his riding was laughed at, and nobody o' 

the gentlefolks hereabout could abide him. 

Howsomever, the poor lad got sickly and died, 

and the father didn't live long after him, for 

he got queerer nor ever, and they said he used 

to go out i' the dead o' the night, wi' a lantern 

in his hand, to the stables, and set a lot o' lights 

burning, for he got as he couldn't sleep ; and 

there he'd stand, cracking his whip and looking 

at his bosses ; and they said it was a mercy 

as the stables didn't get burned down wi' the 

poor dumb creaturs in 'em. But at last he 

died raving, and they found as he'd left all his 

property, Warrens and all, to a Lunnon Charity, 

and that's how the Warrens come to be Charity 

Land ; though, as for the stables, Mr. Lammeter 

never uses 'em — they're out o' all charicter — 

lor' bless you ! if you was to set the doors a- 

banging in 'em, it 'ud sound like thunder half 

o'er the parish." 

'* Ay, but there's more going on in the stables 

than what folks see by daylight, eh, Mr. Macey?" 

said the landlord. 



** Ay, ay ; go that way of a dark night, that's 
1," said Mr. Macey, winking mysteriously, 
and then make believe, if you like, as you 
idn't see lights i' the stables, nor hear the 
amping o' the bosses, nor the cracking o* 
le whips, and howling, too, if it's tow'rt 
aybreak. * Cliff's Holiday ' has been the name 
" it ever sin' I were a boy ; that's to say, some 
lid as it was the holiday Old Harry gev him 
om roasting, like. That's what my father told 
le, and he was a reasonable man, though there's 
»lks nowadays know what happened afore they 
ere born better nor they know their own 


*' What do you say to that, eh. Dowlas?" said 
le landlord, turning to the farrier, who was 
veiling with impatience for his cue. *' There's 
nut for you to crack." 

Mr. Dowlas was the negative spirit in the 
)mpany, and was proud of his position. 

*^Say? I say what a man should say as 
3esn't shut his eyes to look at a finger-post. 

say, as I'm ready to wager any man ten 
.:)und, if he'll stand out wi' me any dry night 
I the pasture before the Warren stables, as we 
lall neither see lights nor hear noises, if it isn't 
le blowing of our own noses. That's what I say, 
id I've said it many a time ; but there's nobody 
.11 ventur a ten-pun' note on their ghos'es as 
ley make so sure of." 
i Qi 

*' Wliy, Dowlas, that's easy bettiiiff, that is," 
said Ben VViiuhrop. *' You might as well bet 
a man as he wouldn't catch the rheumatise if he 
iilood up to's neck in the pool of a frosty night. 
It 'ud be fine fun for a man to win his bet as 
he'd catch the rheumatise. Folks as believe in 
Cliff's Holiday aren't a-going to ventur near it 
for a matter o' ten pound." 

** If Master Dowlas wants to know the truth 
on it," said Mr. Macey, with a sarcastic smile, 
tapping his thumbs together, " he's no call to 
lay any bet — let him go and stan* by himself — 
there's nobody 'ull hinder him ; and then he 
can let the parish'ners know if they're wrong." 

** Thank you! I'm obliged to you," said tiie 
farrier, with a snort of scorn. *' If folks are fools, 
it's no business o' mine. / don't want to make 
out the truth about ghos'es ; I know it already. 
But I'm not against a bet — everything fair and 
open. Let any man bet me ten pound as I shall 
see Cliff's Holiday, and I'll go and stand by 
myself. I want no company. I'd as lief do it 
as I'd fill this pipe." 

"Ah, but who's to watch you. Dowlas, and' 
see you do it? That's no fair bet," said the* 

"No fair bet!" re[>lied Mr. Dowlas angrily. 

*' I should like to hear any man stand up and 

say I want to bet unfair. Come now, Master 

Lundy, I should like to hear you say it." 


*'Very like you would," said the butcher. 
*' But it's no business o' mine. You're none 
o' my bargains, and I aren't a-going to try and 
'bate your price. If anybody '11 bid for you at 
your own vallying, let him. I'm for peace and 
quietness, I am." 

'* Yes, that's what every yapping cur is, when 
you hold a stick up at him," said the farrier. 
*'But I'm afraid o' neither man nor ghost, and 
I'm ready to lay a fair bet. / aren't a turntail 


"Ay, but there's this in it, Dowlas," said the 
Landlord, speaking in a tone of much candour 
and tolerance. *' There's folks, i' my opinion, 
they can't see ghos'es, not if they stood as plain 
as a pikestaff before 'em. And there's reason 

that. For there's my wife, now, can't smell, 

not if she'd the strongest o' cheese under her 

nose. I never see'd a ghost myself; but then 

I says to myself, ' Very like I haven't got the 

smell for 'em.' I mean, putting a ghost for a 

smell, or else contrairiways. And so, I'm for 

holding with both sides ; for, as I say, the truth 

lies between 'em. And if Dowlas was to go 

and stand, and say he'd never seen a wink o' 

Cliff's Holiday all the night through, I'd back 

him ; and if anybody said as Cliff's Holiday 

wsLS certain sure for all that, I'd back /ii?n too. 

For the smell's what I go by." 

The landlord's analogical argument was not 
S.M. 93 D 

well received by the farrier — a man intensely 
opposed to compromise. 

"Tut, tut," he said, setting" down his glass 
with refreshed irritation; ** what's the smell got 
to do with it? Did ever a ghost give a man a 
black eye? That's what I should like to know. 
If ghos'es want me to believe in 'em, let 'em 
leave off skulking i' the dark and i' lone places 
— let 'em come where there's company and 

"As if ghos'es 'ud want to be believed in by 
anybody so ignirant?" said Mr. Macey, in deep 
disgust at the farrier's crass incompetence to 
apprehend the conditions of ghostly phenomena. 






Yet the next moment there seemed to be some 
evidence that ghosts had a more condescending 
disposition than Mr. Macey attributed to them ; 
for the pale, thin figure of Silas Marner was 
suddenly seen standing in the warm light, utter- 
ing no word, but looking round at the company 
with his strange, unearthly eyes. The long 
pipes gave a simultaneous movement, like the 
antennae of startled insects, and every man 
present, not excepting even the sceptical farrier, 
had an impression that he saw, not Silas Marner 
in the flesh, but an apparition ; for the door by 
which Silas had entered was hidden by the 
high -screened seats, and no one had noticed 
his approach. Mr. Macey, sitting a long way 
off the ghost, might be supposed to have felt 
an argumentative triumph, which would tend to 
neutralise his share of the general alarm. Had 
he not always said that when Silas Marner was 
in that strange trance of his, his soul went loose 
from his body? Here was the demonstration: 
nevertheless, on the whole, he would have been 
as well contented without it. For a few moments 
there was a dead silence, Marner's want of breath 
and agitation not allowing him to speak. The 
landlord, under the habitual sense that he was 


bound to keep his house open to all company, 
and confident in the protection of his unbroken 
neutrality, at last took upon himself the task of 
adjuring the ghost. 

*' Master Marner," he said, in a conciliatory 
tone, '' what's lacking to you? What's your 
business here?" 

** Robbed I " said Silas gaspingly. ** I've been 
robbed ! I want the constable — and the Justice 
— and Squire Cass — and Mr. Crackenthorp.'* 

**Lay hold on him, Jem Rodney," said the 
landlord, the idea of a ghost subsiding ; *^ he's 
off his head, I doubt. He's wet through." 

Jem Rodney was the outermost man, and sat 
conveniently near Marner's standing-place ; but 
he declined to give his services. 

*'Come and lay hold on him yourself, Mr. 
Snell, if you've a mind," said Jem rather 
sullenly. *' He's been robbed, and murdered 
too, for what I know," he added, in a muttering 

*' Jem Rodney ! " said Silas, turning and fixing 
his strange eyes on the suspected man. 

** Ay, Master Marner, what do ye want wi* 
me?" said Jem, trembling a little, and seizing 
his drinking-can as a defensive weapon. 

** If it was you stole my money," said Silas, 
clasping his hands entreatingly, and raising his 
voice to a cry, '* give it me back — and I won't 
meddle with you. I won't set the constable on 


^ou. Give it me back, and I'll let you — I'll let 
^ou have a guinea." 

*'Me stole your money!" said Jem angrily. 
* I'll pitch this can at your eye if you talk o' 
ny stealing your money." 

"Come, come, Master Marner," said the land- 
ord, now rising resolutely, and seizing Marner 
3y the shoulder, " if you've got any information 
;o lay, speak it out sensible, and show us you're 
n your right mind, if you expect anybody to 
isten to you. You're as wet as a drowned rat. 
Sit down and dry yourself, and speak straight 

"Ah, to be sure, man," said the farrier, who 

)egan to feel that he had not been quite on a par 

vith himself and the occasion. " Let's have no 

Qore staring and screaming, else we'll have you 

trapped for a madman. That was why I didn't 

peak at the first — thinks I, the man's run mad." 

"Ay, ay, make him sit down," said several 

oices at once, well pleased that the reality of 

hosts remained still an open question. 

The landlord forced Marner to take off his coat, 

nd then to sit down on a chair aloof from every 

ne else, in the centre of the circle and in the 

irect rays of the fire. The weaver, too feeble 

) have any distinct purpose beyond that of 

etting help to recover his money, submitted un- 

jsistingly. The transient fears of the company 

ere now forgotten in their strong curiosity, 


and all faces were turned towards Silas, wlier 
the landlord, having seated himself again, 
said — 

*' Now then. Master Marner, wliat's this you've 
got to say — as you've been robbed? Speak out.' 

'' He'd better not say again as it was me 
robbed him," cried Jem Rodney hastily. " Whai 
could I ha' done with his money? 1 could a« 
easy steal the parson's surplice, and wear it." 

*' Hold your tongue, Jem, and let's hear whai 
he's got to say," said the landlord. *' Now then. 
Master Marner.'* 

Silas now told his story, under frequeni 
questioning as the mysterious character of the 
robbery became evident. 

This strangely novel situation of opening hi* 
trouble to his Raveloe neighbours, of sitting ir 
the warmth of a hearth not his own, and feeling 
the presence of faces and voices which were hi: 
nearest promise of help, had doubtless it; 
influence on Marner, in spite of his passional 
preoccupation with his loss. Our consciousnes 
rarely registers the beginning of a growth withii 
us any more than without us : there have bee] 
many circulations of the sap before we detec, 
the smallest sign of the bud. 

The slight suspicion with which his hearer 
at first listened to him, gradually melted awa 
before the convincing simpHcity of his distress 

it was impossible for the neighbours to dout 


hat Marner was telling the truth, not because 

hey were capable of arguing- at once from the 

lature of his statements to the absence of any 

notive for making them falsely, but because, 

LS Mr. Macey observed, " Folks as had the devil 

o back 'em were not likely to be so mushed " as 

)Oor Silas was. Rather, from the strange fact 

hat the robber had left no traces, and had 

lappened to know the nick of time, utterly 

ncalculable by mortal agents, when Silas would 

^■o away from home without locking his door, 

he more probable conclusion seemed to be, 

hat his disreputable intimacy in that quarter, 

f it ever existed, had been broken up, and 

hat, in consequence, this ill turn had been 

[one to Marner by somebody it was quite in 

ain to set the constable after. Why this preter- 

latural felon should be obliged to wait till the 

oor was left unlocked, was a question which 

id not present itself. 

"It isn't Jem Rodney as has done this work, 

laster Marner," said the landlord. ** You 

lustn't be a-casting your eye at poor Jem. 

'here may be a bit of a reckoning against Jem 

)r the matter of a hare or so, if anybody was 

ound to keep their eyes staring open, and never 

) wink ; but Jem's been a-sitting here drinking 

is can, like the decentest man i' the parish, 

ince before you left your house, Master Marner, 

y your own account." 
' 99 

*'Ay, ay," said Mr. Macey ; *Met's have no 
accusing o' the innicent. That isn't the law. 
There must be folks to swear again' a man before 
he can be ta'en up. Let's have no accusing o' 
the innicent, Master Marner." 

Memory was not so utterly torpid in Silas that 
it could not be wakened by these words. With 
a movement of compunction as new and strange 
to him as everything else within the last hour, 
he started from his chair and went close up to 
Jem, looking at him as if he wanted to assure 
himself of the expression in his face. 

** I was wrong," he said, "yes, yes — I ought 
to have thought. There's nothing to witness 
against you, Jem. Only you'd been into my 
house oftener than anybody else, and so you 
came into my head. I don't accuse you — I won't 
accuse anybody — only," he added, lifting up 
his hands to his head, and turning away with 
bewildered misery, " I try — I try to think where 
my guineas can be." 

"Ay, ay, they're gone where it's hot enough 
to melt 'em, I doubt," said Mr. Macey. 

" Tchuh ! " said the farrier. And then he 
asked, with a cross-examining air, " How much 
money might there be in the bags, Master 

" Two hundred and seventy-two pounds, twelve 
and sixpence, last night when I counted it," said 
Silas, seating himself again, with a groan. 



**Pooh! why, they'd be none so heavy to 
:arry. Some tramp's been in, that's all ; and 
IS for the no footmarks, and the bricks and the 
;and being all right — why, your eyes are pretty 
nuch like a insect's. Master Marner ; they're 
)blrged to look so close, you can't see much at 
I time. It's my opinion as, if I'd been you, or 
^ou'd been me — for it c5mes to the same things 
^ou wouldn't have thought you'd found every- 
hing as you left it. But what I vote is, as two 
)f the sensiblest o' the company should go with 
^ou to Master Kench, the constable's — ^he's ill i*" 
)ed, I know that much — and get him to appoint 
)ne of us his deppity ; for that's the law, and I 
lon't think anybody 'ull take upon him to 
ontradick me there. It isn't much of a walk 
o Kench's ; and then, if it's me as is deppity, 
'11 go back with you. Master Marner, and 
xamine your primises ; and if anybody's got 
ny fault to find with that, I'll thank him to 
tand up and say it out like a man." 

By this pregnant speech the farrier had re- 
stablished his self-complacency, and waited 
/ith confidence to hear himself named as one 
f the superlatively sensible men. 

**Let us see how the night is, though," said 
le landlord, who also considered himself person- 
lly concerned in this proposition. '^ Why, it 
iins heavy still," he said, returning from the 


** Well, I'm not tlie man to be afraid o' the 
rain," said the farrier. *' For it'll hxjk bad 
when Justice Malam hears as respectable men 
like us had a information laid before *em and 
took no steps." 

The landlord agreed with this view, and 
after taking the sense of the company, and 
duly rehearsing a small ceremony known in 
high ecclesiastical life as the 710I0 episcopari, 
he consented to take on himself the chill dignity 
of going to Kench's. But to the farrier's strong 
disgust, Mr. Macey now started an objection to 
his proposing himself as a deputy-constable; 
for that oracular old gentleman, claiming to 
know the law, stated, as a fact delivered to 
him by his father, that no doctor could be a 

*' And you're a doctor, I reckon, though 
you're only a cow-doctor — for a fly's a fly, 
though it may be a hoss-fly," concluded Mr. 
Macey, wondering a little at his own " 'cuteness.** 

There was a hot debate upon this, the farriel 

being, of course, indisposed to renounce th^ 

quality of doctor, but contending that a doctof 

could be a constable if he liked — the law meani 

he needn't be one if he didn't like. Mr. Macej 

thought this was nonsense, since the law wai 

not likely to be fonder of doctors than of othei 

folks. Moreover, if it was in the nature ol 

doctors more than of other men not to like 



being- constables, how came Mr. Dowlas to be 
5o eager to act in that capacity? 

"/ don't want to act the constable," said the 
farrier, driven into a corner by this merciless 
reasoning; **and there's no man can say it of 
me, if he'd tell the truth. But if there's to 
be any jealousy and envying about going to 
Kench's in the rain, let them go as like it — 
you won't get me to go, I can tell you." 

By the landlord's intervention, however, the 
dispute was accommodated. Mr. Dowlas con- 
sented to go as a second person disinclined to 
act officially; and so poor Silas, furnished with 
some old coverings, turned out with his two 
[companions into the rain again, thinking of the 
long night-hours before him, not- as those do 
who long to rest, but as those who expect to 
** watch for the morning." 



When Godfrey Cass returned from Mrs. Os^food's 
party at midnicrht, he was not much surprised 
to learn that Dunsey had not come home. 
Perhaps he had not sold Wildfire, and was wait- 
ing for another chance — perhaps, on that foggy 
afternoon, he had preferred housing himself at 
the Red Lion at Batherley for the night, if the 
run had kept him in that neighbourhood ; for 
he was not likely to feel much concern about 
leaving his brother in suspense. Godfrey's 
mind was too full of Nancy Lammeter's looks 
and behaviour, too full of the exasperation 
against himself and his lot, which the sight of 
her always produced in him, for him to give 
much thought to Wildfire, or to the probabilities 
of Dunstan's conduct. 

The next morning the whole village was 
excited by the story of the robbery, and Godfrey, 
like every one else, was occupied in gathering 
and discussing, news about it, and in visiting 
the Stone-pits. The rain had washed away 
all possibility of distinguishing foot-marks, but 
a close investigation of the spot had disclosed, 
in the direction opposite to the village, a tinder- 
box, with a flint and steel, half sunk in the 
mud. It was not Silas's tinder-box, for the 

104 I 

only one he had ever had was still standing" on 
his shelf; and the inference generally accepted 
was, that the tinder-box in the ditch was some- 
how connected with the robbery. A small 
minority shook their heads, and intimated their 
opinion that it was not a robbery to have much 
light thrown on it by tinder-boxes, that Master 
Marner's tale had a queer look with it, and that 
such things had been known as a man's doing 
himself a mischief, and then setting the justice 
to look for the doer. But when questioned 
closely as to their grounds for this opinion, 
and what Master Marner had to gain by such 
false pretences, they only shook their heads as 
before, and observed that there was no knowing 
what some folks counted gain ; moreover, that 
everybody had a right to their own opinions, 
grounds or no grounds, and that the weaver, 
as everybody knew, was partly crazy. Mr. 
Macey, though he joined in the defence of 
Marner against all suspicions of deceit, also 
pooh-poohed the tinder-box ; indeed, repudiated 
it as a rather impious suggestion, tending to 
imply that everything must be done by human 
hands, and that there was no power which could 
make away with the guineas without moving the 
bricks. Nevertheless, he turned round rather 
sharply on Mr. Tookey, when the zealous deputy, 
feeling that this was a view of the case peculiarly 
suited to a parish-clerk, carried it still further, 


and doubted whether it was right to inquire into ' 
a robbery at all when the circumstances were 
so mysterious. , 

"As if," concluded Mr. Tookey, ** as if there I 
was nothing but what could be made out by 
justices and constables." 

**Now, don't you be for overshooting the 
mark, Tookey," said Mr. Macey, nodding his 
head aside admonishingly. *' That's what you're 
allays at ; if I throw a stone and hit, you think | 
there's summat better than hitting, and you try 
to throw a stone beyond. What I said was 
against the tinder-box ; I said nothing against 
justices and constables, for they're o' King i 
George's making, and it 'ud be ill-becoming 
a man in a parish office to fly out again' King ' 

While these discussions were going on 
amongst the group outside the Rainbow, a 
higher consultation was being carried on within, , 
under the presidency of Mr. Crackenthorp, the 
rector, assisted by Squire Cass and other sub- 
stantial parishioners. It had just occurred to 
Mr. Snell, the landlord — he being, as he 
observed, a man accustomed to put two and 
two together — to connect with the tinder-box, 
which, as deputy-constable, he himself had had 
the honourable distinction of finding, certain 
recollections of a pedlar who had called to 

drink at the house about a month before, and 


about with him to light his pipe. Here, surely, 
was a clue to be followed out. And as memory, 
when duly impregnated with ascertained facts, 
is sometimes surprisingly fertile, Mr. Snell 
gradually recovered a vivid impression of the 
effect produced on him by the pedlars coun- 
tenance and conversation. He had a 'Mook 
with his eye" which fell unpleasantly on Mr. 
Snell's sensitive organism. To be sure, he 
didn't say anything particular — no, except that 
about the tinder-box — but it isn't what a man 
says, it's the way he says it. Moreover, he had 
a swarthy foreignness of complexion which 
boded little honesty. 

'^ Did he wear earrings?" Mr. Crackenthorp 
wished to know, having some acquaintance with 
foreign customs. 

"Well — stay — let me see," said Mr. Snell, 

like a docile clairvoyante, who would really 

not make a mistake if she could help it. 

After stretching the corners of his mouth and 

contracting his eyes, as if he were trying to 

see the earrings, he appeared to give up the 

effort, and said, *'Well, he'd got earrings in 

his box to sell, so it's nat'ral to suppose he 

might wear 'em. But he called at every house, 

a'most, in the village : there's somebody else, 

mayhap, saw 'em in his ears, though I can't 

take upon me rightly to say." 


IMF. v^neii was correct in his surmise that ) 
somebody else would remember the pedlar's 
earrini^s ; for on the spread of inquiry among 
the villagers it was stated with gathering 
emphasis that the parson had wanted to know 
whether the pedlar wore earrings in his ears, 
and an impression was created that a great 
deal depended on the eliciting of this fact. Of 
course, every one who heard the question, not 
having any distinct image of the pedlar as 
without earrings, immediately had an image of 
him with earrings, larger or smaller, as the 
case might be ; and the image was presently 
taken for a vivid recollection, so that the 
glacier's wife, a well-intentioned woman, not 
given to lying, and whose house was among 
the cleanest in the village, was ready to 
declare, as sure as ever she meant to take the 
sacrament the very next Christmas that was 
ever coming, that she had seen big earrings, 
in the shape of the young moon, in the pedlar's 
two ears ; while Jinny Oates, the cobbler's 
daughter, being a more imaginative person, 
stated not only that she had seen them too, 
but that they had made her blood creep, as it 
did at that very moment while there she stood. 

Also, by way of throwing further light on 
this clue of the tinder-box, a collection was 
made of all the articles purchased from the 

pedlar at various houses, and carried to the 


rvciiiiuuvv Lu uc cAniuiLcu Liieie. iii lauL, Liiere 
was a general feeling in the village that for 
the clearing-up of this robbery there must be 
a great deal done at the Rainbow, and that no 
man need offer his wife an excuse for going 
there while it was the scene of severe public 

Some disappointment was felt, and perhaps 
a little indignation also, when it became known 
that Silas Marner, on being questioned by the 
Squire and the parson, had retained no other 
recollection of the pedlar than that he had 
called at his door, but had not entered his 
house, having turned away at once when Silas, 
holding the door ajar, had said that he wanted 
aothing. This had been Silas's testimony, 
:hough he clutched strongly at the idea of the 
Dedlar's being the culprit, if only because it 
3^ave him a definite image of a whereabout for 
|iis gold after it had been taken away from its 
liding-place ; he could see it now in the pedlar's 
X)x. But it Avas observed with some irritation 
n the village that anybody but a ** blind creatur "^ 
ike Marner would have seen the man prowling 
ibout, for how came he to leave his tinder-box 
n the ditch close by, if he hadn't been lingering 
here? Doubtless, he had made his observations 
vhen he saw Marner at the door. Anybody 
night know — and only look at him — that the 

v^aver was a half-crazy miser. It was a wonder 


tlie pecllar nadn t murderea mm ; men ot that 
sort, with ring^s in their cars, had been known 
for murderers often and often ; there bad been 
one tried at the 'sizes, not so long ago but 
what there were people living who remembered it. 

Godfrey Cass, indeed, entering the Rainl)(AV 
during one of Mr. Snell's frequently repeated 
recitals of his testimony, had treated it lightly, 
stating that he himself had bought a penknife 
of the pedlar, and thought him a merry, grinning 
fellow enough ; it was all nonsense, he said, 
about the man's evil looks. But this was spoken 
of in the village as the random talk of youth, 
*'as if it was only Mr. Snell who had seen 
something odd about the pedlar ! " On the 
contrary, there were at least half a dozen who 
were ready to go before Justice Malam, and givei 
in much more striking testimony than any the' 
landlord could furnish. It was to be hoped 
Mr. Godfrey would not go to Tarley and throw 
cold water on what Mr. Snell said there, and so 
prevent the justice from drawing up a warrant. 
He was suspected of intending this, when, after 
mid-day, he was seen setting off on horseback 
in the direction of Tarley. 

But by this time Godfrey's interest in the 
robbery had faded before his growing anxiety 
about Dunstan and Wildfire, and he was going, 
not to Tarley, but to Batherley, unable to rest 
in uncertainty about them any longer. The 


possibility that Dunstan had played him the 
ugly trick of riding away with Wildfire, to 
return at the end of a month, when he had 
gambled away or otherwise squandered the 
price of the horse, was a fear that urged itself 
upon him more, even, than the thought of an 
accidental injury ; and now that the dance at 
Mrs. Osgood's was past, he was irritated with 
himself that he had trusted his horse to Dunstan. 
Instead of trying to still his fears he encouraged 
them, with that superstitious impression which 
clings to us all, that if we expect evil very 
strongly it is the less likely to come ; and when 
he heard a horse approaching at a trot, and 
saw a hat rising above a hedge beyond an angle 
of the lane, he felt as if his conjuration had 
succeeded. But no sooner did the horse come 
within sight than his heart sank again. It was 
not Wildfire ; and in a few moments more he 
discerned that the rider was not Dunstan, but 
Bryce, who pulled up to speak, with a face that 
implied something disagreeable. 

*' Well, Mr. Godfrey, that's a lucky brother of 
yours, that Master Dunsey, isn't he?" 

*' What do you mean?" said Godfrey hastily. 

** Why, hasn't he been home yet?" said Bryce. 

**Home? No. What has happened? Be 
quick ! What has he done with my horse ?" 

**Ah, I thought it was yours, though he 

pretended you had parted with it to him." 


** Has he thrown him down and broken his 
knees?" said Godfrey, flushed with exasperation. 

*' Worse than that," said Bryce. "You see, 
I'd made a bargain with him to buy the horse 
for a hundred and twenty — a swinging price, 
but I always liked the horse. And what does 
he do but go and stake him — fly at a hedge 
with stakes in it, atop of a bank with a ditch 
before it. The horse had been dead a pretty 
good while when he was found. So he hasn't 
been home since, has he?" | 

**Home? no," said Godfrey, **and he'd better 
keep away. Confound me for a fool ! I might 
have known this would be the end of it.'* 

*'WeIl, to tell you the truth," said Bryce, 
** after I'd bargained for the horse, it did come 
into my head that he might be riding and selling 
the horse without your knowledge, for I didn't 
believe it was his own. I knew Master Dunsey 
was up to his tricks sometimes. But where can 
he be gone? He's never been seen at Batherley. 
He couldn't have been hurt, for he must have 
walked off." 

" Hurt?" said Godfrey bitterly. '' He'll never 
be hurt — he's made to hurt other people." 

"And so you did give him leave to sell the 
horse, eh?" said Bryce. 

"Yes; I wanted to part with the horse — he 
was always a little too hard in the mouth for 
me," said Godfrey ; his pride making him wince 


under the idea that Bryce guessed the sale to 
be a matter of necessity. *'I was going to 
see after him — I thought some mischief had 
happened. I'll go back now," he added, turn- 
ing the horse's head, and wishing he could get 
rid of Bryce ; for he felt that the long-dreaded 
crisis in his life was close upon him. ** You're 
coming on to Raveloe, aren't you?" 

*'Well, no, not now," said Bryce. **l was 
coming round there, for I had to go to Flitton, 
and I thought I might as well take you in my 
way, and just let you know all I knew myself 
about the horse. I suppose Master Dunsey 
didn't like to show himself till the ill news had 
blown over a bit. He's perhaps gone to pay a 
visit at the Three Crowns, by Whitbridge — I 
know he's fond of the house." 

** Perhaps he is," said Godfrey, rather absently. 
Then rousing himself, he said, with an effort at 
carelessness, *' We shall hear of him soon enough, 
I'll be bound." 

''Well, here's my turning," said Bryce, not 
surprised to perceive that Godfrey was rather 
"down"; ''so I'll bid you good-day, and wish 
I may bring you better news another time." 

Godfrey rode along slowly, representing to 

himself the scene of confession to his father from 

which he felt that there was now no longer any 

escape. The revelation about the money must 

be made the very next morning ; and if he 


withheld the rest, Duiistan would be sure to come 
back shortly, and, iindinnr that he must bear 
the brunt of his father's ang^er, would tell the 
whole story out of spite, even though he had 
nothing to gain by it. There was one step, 
perhaps, by w^hich he might still win Dunstan's 
silence and put off the evil day : he might tell 
his father that he had himself spent the money 
paid to him by Fowler ; and as he had never 
been guilty of such an offence before, the affair 
would blow over after a little storming. But 
Godfrey could not bend himself to . this. He 
felt that in letting Dunstan have the money, he 
had already been guilty of a breach of trust 
hardly less culpable than that of spending the 
money directly for his own behoof ; and yet 
there was a distinction between the two acts 
which made him feel that the one was so 
mucli more blackening than the other as to be 
intolerable to him. 

** I don't pretend to be a good fellow," he said 
to himself; "but I'm not a scoundrel — at least, 
I'll stop short somewhere. I'll bear the conse- 
quences of what I have done sooner than make 
believe I've done what I never would have done. 
I'd never have spent the money for my own 
pleasure — I was tortured into it." 

Through the remainder of this day, Godfrey, 

with only occasional fluctuations, kept his \\\\\ 

bent in the direction of a complete avowal to 


his father, and he withheld the story of Wildfire's 

loss till the next morning, that it might serve 

him as an introduction to heavier matter. The 

old Squire was accustomed to his son's frequent 

absence from home, and thought neither 

Dunstan's nor Wildfire's non-appearance a 

matter calling for remark. Godfrey said to 

himself again and again, that if he let slip this 

one opportunity of confession, he might never 

have another ; the revelation might be made 

even in a more odious way than by Dunstan's 

malignity : she might come as she had threatened 

to do. And then he tried to make the scene 

easier to himself by rehearsal: he made up his 

mind how he would pass from the admission of 

his weakness in letting Dunstan have the money 

to the fact that Dunstan had a hold on him which 

he had been unable to shake off, and how he 

would work up his father to expect something 

very bad before he told him the fact. The old 

Squire was an implacable man : he made 

resolutions in violent anger, and he was not to 

be moved from them after his anger had subsided 

— as fiery volcanic matters cool and harden into 

rock. Like many violent and implacable men, he 

allowed evils to grow under favour of his own 

heedlessness, till they pressed upon him with 

exasperating force, and then he turned round 

with fierce severity and became unrelentingly 



This was his system with his tenants; he 
allowed them to get into arrears, neglect their 
fences, reduce their stock, sell their straw, and 
otherwise go the wrong way — and then, when 
he became short of money in consequence of 
this indulgence, he took the hardest measures 
and would listen to no appeal. Godfrey knew all 
this, and felt it with the greater force because 
he had constantly suffered annoyance from 
witnessing his father's sudden fits of unrelent- 
ingness, for which his own- habitual irresolution 
deprived him of all sympathy. (He was not 
critical on the faulty indulgence which preceded 
these fits ; that seemed to him natural enough.) 
Still, there was just the chance, Godfrey thought, 
that his father's pride might see this marriage 
in a light that would induce him to hush it up, 
rather than turn his son out and make the 
family the talk of the country for ten miles round. 

This was the view of the case that Godfrey 

managed to keep before him pretty closely till 

midnight, and he went to sleep thinking that 

he had done with inward debating. But when 

he awoke in the still morning darkness he 

found it impossible to reawaken his evening 

thoughts ; it was as if they had been tired out 

and were not to be roused to further work. 

Instead of arguments for confession, he could 

now feel the presence of nothing but its evil 

consequences ; the old dread of disgrace came 


fjciv^iv uin^ v-»n-t oiii ixirvm i; ii\_fni Lilt; LilWLltlilt KJL 

raising a hopeless barrier between himself and 
Nancy — the old disposition to rely on chances 
which might be favourable to him, and save 
him from betrayal. Why, after all, should he 
cut off the hope of them by his own act? He 
had seen the matter in a wrong light yesterday. 
He had been in a rage with Dunstan, and had 
thought of nothing but a thorough break-up of 
their mutual understanding ; but what it would 
be really wisest for him to do, was to try and 
soften his father's anger against Dunsey, and 
keep things as nearly as possible in their old 
condition. If Dunsey did not come back for a 
few days (and Godfrey did not know but that 
the rascal had enough money in his pocket to 
enable him to keep away still longer), everything 
might blow over. 



Godfrey rose and took his own breakfast 
earlier than usual, but lin^^cred in the wain- 
scoted parlour till his younger brothers had 
finished their meal and gone out, awaiting his 
father, who always took a walk with his manag- 
ing-man before breakfast. Everyone breakfasted 
at a different hour in the Red House, and the 
Squire was always the latest, giving a long 
chance to a rather feeble morning appetite 
before he tried it. The table had been spread 
with substantial eatables nearly two hours before 
he presented himself — a tall, stout man of sixty, 
with a face in which the knit brow and rather 
hard glance seemed contradicted by the slack 
and feeble mouth. His person showed marks 
of habitual neglect, his dress was slovenly ; 
and yet there was something in the presence 
of the old Squire distinguishable from that of 
the ordinary farmers in the parish, who were 
perhaps every whit as refined as he, but, having 
slouched their way through life with a conscious- 
ness of being in the vicinity of their '* betters," 
wanted that self-possession and authoritativeness 
of voice and carriage which belonged to a man 
who thought of superiors as remote existences 
with whom he had personally little more to do 


than with America or the stars. The Squire 
had been used to parish homage all his life, 
used to the presupposition that his family, his 
tankards, and everything that was his, were the 
oldest and best ; and as he never associated 
with any gentry higher than himself, his opinion 
was not disturbed by comparison. 

He glanced at his son as he entered the room, 
and said, **What, sir! haven't you had your 
breakfast yet?" but there was no pleasant 
morning greeting between them ; not because 
of any unfriendliness, but because the sweet 
flower of courtesy is not a growth of such homes 
as the Red House. 

** Yes, sir,'* said Godfrey, ^' I've had my break- 
fast, but I was waiting to speak to you." 

** Ah ! well," said the Squire, throwing himself 
indifferently into his chair, and speaking in a 
ponderous coughing fashion, which was felt in 
Raveloe to be a sort of privilege of his rank, 
while he cut a piece of beef, and held it up before 
the deer-hound that had come in with him. 
** Ring the bell for my ale, will you? You 
youngsters' business is your own pleasure, 
mostly. There's no hurry about it for anybody 
but yourselves." 

The Squire's life was quite as idle as his sons', 
but it was a fiction kept up by himself and his 
contemporaries in Raveloe that youth was ex- 
clusively the period of folly, and that their aged 


wisdom was constantly in a state of endurance 
niitii^atcd by sarcasm. Godfrey waited, before 
he spoke ac;-ain, until the ale had been brou^'^ht 
and the door closed — an interval during which 
Fleet, the deer-hound, had consumed enough 
bits of beef to make a poor man's holiday dinner. 

''There's been a cursed piece of ill-luck with 
Wildfire," he began; "happened the day before 

''What! broke his knees?" said the Squire, 
after taking a draught of ale. "I thought you 
knew how to ride better than that, sir! I never 
threw a horse down in my life. If I had, I might 
ha' whistled for another, for my father wasn't 
quite so ready to unstring as some other fathers 
I know of. But they must turn over a new leaf 
— they must ! What with mortgages and arrears, 
I'm as short o' cash as a roadside pauper. And 
that fool Kimble says the newspaper's talking 
about peace. Why, the country wouldn't have 
a leg to stand on. Prices 'ud run down like a 
jack, and I should never get my arrears, not 
if I sold all the fellows up. And there's that 
damned Fowler, I won't put up with him any 
longer ; I've told Winthrop to go to Cox this 
very day. The lying scoundrel told me he'd be 
sure to pay me a hundred last month. He takes 
advantage because he's on that outlying farm, 
and thinks I shall forget him." 

The Sauire had delivered this speech in a 


coughing' and interrupted manner, but witl 
pause long enough for Godfrey to make iP 
pretext for taking up the word again. He fei. 
that his father meant to ward off any request for 
money on the ground of the misfortune Avith 
Wildfire, and that the emphasis he had thus been 
led to lay on his shortness of cash and his arrears 
was likely to produce an attitude of mind the 
most unfavourable for his own disclosure. But 
he must go on, now he had begun. 

*^ It's worse than breaking the horse's knees — 
he's been staked and killed," he said, as soon as 
his father was silent, and had begun to cut his 
meat. " But I wasn't thinking of asking you to 
buy me another horse ; I was only thinking I'd 
lost the means of paying you with the price of 
Wildfire, as I meant to do. Dunsey took him to 
the hunt to sell him for me the other day, and 
after he'd made a bargain for a hundred and 
twenty with Bryce, he went after the hounds, and 
took some fool's leap or other, that did for the 
horse at once. ^ If it hadn't been for that, I should 
have paid you a hundred pounds this morning." 

The Squire had laid down his knife and 
fork, and was staring at his son in amazement, 
not being sufficiently quick of brain to form a 
probable guess as to what could have caused 
so strange an inversion of the paternal and filial 
relations as this proposition of his son to pay him 
a hundred pounds. 


wisdoflu' truth is, sir — I'm very sorry — I was 
niiti'te to blame," said Godfrey. *' Fowler did 
he.ay that hundred pounds. He paid it to me, 
when I was over there one day last morrth. And 
Dunsey bothered me for the money, and I let 
him have it, because I hoped I should be able 
to pay it you before this." 

The Squire was purple with anger before his 
son had done speaking, and found utterance 
difficult. "You let Dunsey have it, sir? And 
how long have you been so thick with Dunsey 
that you must collogue with him to embezzle my 
money? Are you turning out a scamp? I tell 
you I won't have it. I'll turn the w'hole pack of 
you out of the house together, and marry again. 
I'd have you to remember, sir, my property's got 
no entail on it — since my grandfather's time 
the Casses can do as they like with their land. 
Remember that, sir ! Let Dunsey have the 
money ! Why should you let Dunsey have 
the money? There's some lie at the bottom 
of it." 

"There's no lie, sir," said Godfrey. "I 
wouldn't have spent the money myself, but 
Dunsey bothered me, and I was a fool, and let 
him have it. But I meant to pay it, whether he 
did or not. That's the whole story. I never 
meant to embezzle money, and I'm not the man 
to do it. You never knew me to do a dishonest 
trick, sir.'* 


** Where's Dunsey, then? What do you stand 
talking there for? Go and fetch Dunsey, as I 
tell you, and let him give account of what he 
wanted the money for, and what he's done with 
it. He shall repent it. I'll turn him out. I 
said I would, and I'll do it. He shan't brave 
me. Go and fetch him." 

'' Dunsey isn't come back, sir." 

*' What! did he break his own neck, then?" 
said the Squire, with some disgust at the idea 
that, in that case, he could not fulfil his threat. 

*'No, he wasn't hurt, I believe, for the horse 
was found dead, and Dunsey must have walked 
off. I daresay we shall see him again by and 
by. I don't know where he is." 

** And what must you be letting him have my 
money for? Answer me that," said the Squire, 
attacking Godfrey again, since Dunsey was not 
within reach. 

** Well, sir, I don't know," said Godfrey 
hesitatingly. That was a feeble evasion, but 
Godfrey was not fond of lying, and, not being 
sufficiently aware that no sort of duplicity can 
long flourish without the help of vocal false- 
hoods, he was quite unprepared with invented 

"You don't know? I tell you what it is, 

sir. You've been up to some trick, and you've 

been bribing him not to tell," said the Squire, 

with a sudden acuteness which startled Godfrey, 


who felt his heart beat violently at the nearness 
of his father's guess. The sudden alarm pushed 
him on to take the next step — a very sli^dit 
impulse suffices for that on a downward road. 

*'Why, sir," he said, trying to speak with 
careless ease, *'it was a little affair between me 
and Dunsey ; it's no matter to anybody else. 
It's hardly worth w^hile to pry into young men's 
fooleries : it wouldn't have made any differ- 
ence to you, sir, if I'd not had the bad luck to 
lose Wildfire. I should have paid you the 

"Fooleries! Pshaw! it's time you'd done 
with fooleries. And I'd have you know, sir, 
you 'must ha' done with 'em," said the Squire, 
frowning and casting an angry glance at his 
son. *'Your goings-on are not what I shall 
find money for any longer. There's my grand- 
father had his stables full o' horses, and kept a 
good house, too, and in worse times, by what I 
can make out; and so might I, if I hadn't four 
good-for-nothing fellows to hang on me like 
horse-leeches. I've been too good a father to 
you all — that's what it is. But I shall pull up, 

Godfrey was silent. He was not likely to be 

very penetrating in his judgments, but he had 

always had a sense that his father's indulgence 

had not been kindness, and had had a vague 

longing for some discipline that would have 


checked his own errant weakness and helped 
his better will. The Squire ate his bread and 
meat hastily, took a deep draught of ale, then 
turned his chair from the table, and began to 
speak again. 

*' It'll be all the worse for you, you know 
— you'd need try and help me keep things 

'' Well, sir, I've often offered to take the 
management of things, but you know you've 
taken it ill always, and seemed to think I wanted 
to push you out of your place." , 

" I know nothing o' your offering or o' my 

taking it ill," said the Squire, whose memory 

consisted in certain strong impressions unmodified 

by detail ; *' but I know, one while you seemed to 

be thinking o' marrying, and I didn't offer to 

put any obstacles in your way, as some fathers 

would. I'd as lieve you married Lammeter's 

daughter as anybody. I suppose, if I'd said 

you nay, you'd ha' kept on with it ; but, for 

want o' contradiction, you've changed your 

mind. You're a shilly-shally fellow : you take 

after your poor mother. She never had a will 

of her own ; a woman has no call for one, if 

she's got a proper man for her husband. But ^ 

your wife had need have one, for you hardly 

know your own mind enough to make both 

your legs walk one way. The lass hasn't said 

downright she won't have you, has she? " 
s.M- 125 E 

^* No," said Godfrey, feeling very hot and 
uncomfortable ; ** but I don't think she will." 

** Think! why haven't you the courage to 
ask her? Do you stick to it, you want to have 
her — that's the thing?" 

** There's no other woman I want to marry," 
said Godfrey evasively. 

'* Well, then, let me make the offer for you, 
that's all, if you haven't the pluck to do it 
yourself. Lammeter isn't likely to be loath for 
his daughter to marry into my family, I should 
think. And as for the pretty lass, she wouldn't 
have her cousin — and there's nobody else, as I 
see, could ha' stood in your way." 

**rd rather let it be, please sir, at present," 
said Godfrey, in alarm. " I think she's a little 
offended with me just now, and 1 should like 
to speak for myself. A man must manage these 
things for himself." 

*'Well, speak, then, and manage it, and see 
if you can't turn over a new leaf. That's what 
a man must do when he thinks o' marrying." 

" I don't see how I can think of it at present, 
sir. You wouldn't like to settle me on one of the 
farms, I suppose, and I don't think she'd come 
to live in this house with all my brothers. It's a 
(different sort of life to what she's been used to." 

** Not come to live in this house? Don't tell 
me. ,You ask her, that's all," said the Squire, 
with a short, scornful laugh. 


**rd rather let the thing be. at present, sir," 
said Godfrey. *M hope you won't try to hurry 
it on by saying anything." 

** I shall do what I choose,'* said the Squire, 
**and I shall let you know I'm master; else you 
may turn out, and find an estate to drop into 
somewhere else. Go out and tell Winthrop not 
to go to Cox's, but wait for me. And tell 'em 
to get my horse saddled. And stop : look out 
and get that hack o' Dunsey's sold, and hand 
me the money, will you? He'll keep no more 
hacks at my expense. And if you know where 
he's sneaking — I daresay you do — you may tell 
him to spare himself the journey o' coming back 
home. Let him turn ostler, and keep himself. 
He shan't hang on me any more.'* 

*^ I don't know where he is, sir ; and if I did, 
it isn't my place to tell him to keep away," said 
Godfrey, moving towards the door. 

*^ Confound it, sir, don't stay arguing, but go 
and order my horse,*' said the Squire, taking up 
a pipe. 

Godfrey left the room, hardly knowing whether 
he were more relieved by the sense that the 
interview was ended without having made any 
change in his position, or more uneasy that he 
had entangled himself still further in prevarica- 
tion and deceit. What had passed about his 
proposing to Nancy had raised a new alarm, 

lest by some after-dinner words of his father's 


to Mr. T>am meter he should be thrown into the 
embarrassment of being obhged absolutely to 
decline her when she seemed to be within his 
reach. He fled to his usual refuge, that of 
hoping for some unforeseen turn of fortune, 
some favourable chance which would save him 
from unpleasant consequences — perhaps even 
justify his insincerity by manifesting its 

In this point of trusting to some throw of 
fortune's dice, Godfrey can hardly be called 
old-fashioned. Favourable Chance is the god 
of all men who follow their own devices instead 
of obeying a law they believe in. Let even a 
polished man of these days get into a position 
he is ashamed to avow, and his mind will be 
bent on all the possible issues that may deliver 
him from the calculable results of that position. 
Let him live outside his income, or shirk the 
resolute honest work that brings wages, and he 
Avill presently find himself dreaming of a possible 
benefactor, a possible simpleton who may be 
cajoled into using his interest, a possible state 
of mind in some possible person not yet forth- 
coming. Let him neglect the responsibilities of 
his office, and he will inevitably anchor himself 
on the chance, that the thing left undone may 
turn out not to be of the supposed importance. 
Let him betray his friend's confidence, and he 
will adore that same cunning complexity called 


Chance, which gives him the hope that his 
riend will never know. Let him forsake a 
decent craft that he may pursue the gentilities 
Df a profession to which nature never called 
iiim, and his religion will infallibly be the 
worship of blessed Chance, which he will believe 
in as the mighty creator of success. The evil 
principle deprecated in that religion, is the 
orderly sequence by which the seed brjngs 
forth a crop after its kind. 



Justice Malam was naturally regarded in Tarley 
and Raveloe as a man of capacious mind, seeing 
that he could draw much wider conclusions with- 
out evidence than could be expected of his 
neighbours who were not on the Commission 
of the Peace. Such a man was not likely to 
neglect the clue of the tinder-box, and an 
inquiry was set on foot concerning a pedlar, 
name unknown, with curly black hair and a 
foreign complexion, carrying a box of cutlery 
and jewellery, and wearing large rings in his 
ears. But either because inquiry was too slow- 
footed to overtake him, or because the description 
applied to so many pedlars that inquiry did not 
know how to choose among them, weeks passed 
away, and there was no other result concerning 
the robbery than a gradual cessation of the 
excitement it had caused in Raveloe. Dunstan 
Cass's absence was hardly a subject of remark : 
he had once before had a quarrel with his father, 
and had gone off, nobody knew whither, to return 
at the end of six weeks, take up his old quarters 
unforbidden, and swagger as usual. 

His own family, who equally expected this 
issue, with the sole difference that the Squire 

was determined this time to forbid him the old 


quarters, never mentioned his absence ; and when 
his uncle Kimble or Mr. Osgood noticed it, the 
story of his having killed Wildfire and committed 
some offence against his father was enough to 
prevent surprise. To connect the fact of Dunsey's 
disappearance with that of the robbery occurring 
on the same day, lay quite away from the track 
of every one's thought — even Godfrey's, who had 
better reason than any one else to know what his 
brother was capable of. He remembered no 
mention of the weaver between them since the 
time, twelve years ago, when it was their boyish 
sport to deride him ; and, besides, his imagina- 
tion constantly created an alibi for Dunstan ; he 
saw him continually in some congenial haunt, 
to which he had walked off on leaving Wildfire 
— saw him sponging on chance acquaintances, 
and meditating a return home to the old amuse- 
ment of tormenting his elder brother. Even if 
any brain in Raveloe had put the said two facts 
together, I doubt Avhether a combination so 
injurious to the prescriptive respectability of a 
family with a mural monument and venerable 
tankards would not have been suppressed as 
of unsound tendency. But Christmas puddings, 
brawn, and abundance of spirituous liquors, 
throwing the mental originality into the channel 
of nightmare, are great preservatives against a 
dangerous spontaneity of waking thought. 

When the robbery was talked of at the Rainbow 


and elsewhere, in good company, the balance con- 
tinucd to waver between the rational explanation 
founded on the tinder-box, and the theory of an 
impenetrable mystery that mocked investigation. |^ 
The advocates of the tinder-box-and-pedlar view 
considered the other side a muddle-headed and 
credulous set, who, because they themselves were 
wall-eyed, supposed everybody else to have the 
same blank outlook ; and the adherents of the in- 
explicable more than hinted that their antagonists 
were animals inclined to crow before they had found 
any corn — mere skimming-dishes in point of depth 
— whose clear-sightedness consisted in supposing 
there was nothing behind a barn-door because they 
couldn't see through it; so that, though their 
controversy did not serve to elicit the fact con- 
cerning robbery, it elicited some true opinions 
of collateral importance. 

But while poor Silas's loss served thus to brush 
the slow current of Raveloe conversation, Silas 
himself was feeling the withering desolation of 
that bereavement about which his neighbours 
were arguing at their ease. To any one who 
had observed him before he lost his gold, it 
might have seemed that so withered and shrunken 
a life as his could hardly be susceptible of a 
bruise, could hardly endure any subtraction but 
such as would put an end to it altogether. 
But irt reality it had been an eager life, filled 

with immediate purpose which fenced him in 


Tom the wide, cheerless unknown. It had been 

i clinging life ; and though the object round 

vvhich its fibres had clung was a dead, dis- 

-r.pted thing, it satis fi^d^_the_Qjejed.Jbr-^G^ 

But now the fence was broken down — the support 

ivas snatched away. Marner^s thoughts could 

no longer move in their old round, and were 

Daffled by a blank like that which meets a 

plodding ant when the earth has broken away 

on its homeward path. The loom was there, 

and the weaving, and the growing pattern in 

:he cloth ; but the bright treasure in the hole 

Linder his feet was gone ; the prospect of handling 

and counting it was gone ; the evening had no 

phantasm of delight to still the poor soul's 

:raving. The thought of the money he would 

::^et by his actual work could bring no joy, for 

its meagre image was only a fresh reminder of 

nis loss ; and hope was too heavily crushed by 

^he sudden blow, for his imagination to dwell 

jn the growth of a new hoard from that small 


He filled up the blank with grief. As he sat 

weaving, he every now and then moaned low, 

like one in pain ; it was the sign that his 

thoughts had come round again to the sudden 

chasm — to the empty evening time. And all 

the evening, as he sat in his loneliness by 

his dull fire, he leaned his elbows on his 

knees, and clasped his head with his hands, 


and moaned very low — not as one who seeks to 
be lieard. 

And yet he was not utterly forsaken in his 
trouble. The repulsion Marnc^r had always 
created in his neighbours was partly dissipated 
by the new light in which this misfortune had 
shown him. Instead of a man who had more 
cunning than honest folks could come by, and, 
what was worse, had not the inclination to use 
that cunning in a neighbourly way, it was now 
apparent that Silas had not cunning enough to 
keep his own. He was generally spoken of as 
a "poor mushed creatur' ; " and that avoidance 
of his neighbours, which had before been referred 
to his ill-will and to a probable addiction to worse 
company, was now considered mere craziness. 

This change to a kindlier feeling was shown in 
various ways. The odour of Christmas cooking 
being on the w^ind, it was the season when super- 
fluous pork and black puddings are suggestive 
of charity in well-to-do families ; and Silas's 
misfortune had brought him uppermost in the 
memory of housekeepers like Mrs. Osgood. 
Mr. Crackenthorp, too, while he admonished 
Silas that his money had probably been taken 
from him because he thought too much of it, 
and never came to church, enforced the doctrine 
by a present of pigs' pettitoes, well calculated 
to dissipate unfounded prejudices against the 
clerical character. Neighbours who had nothing 


but verbal consolation to give showed a dis- 
position not only to greet Silas and discuss his 
misfortune at some leng^th when thev encountered 
him in the village, but also to take the trouble 
of calling at his cottage and getting him to 
repeat all the details on the very spot ; and 
then they would try to cheer him by saying, 
'' Well, Master Marner, you're no worse off nor 
other poor folks, after all ; and if you was to be 
crippled, the parish 'ud give you a 'lowance." 

I suppose one reason why we are seldom able 
to comfort our neighbours with our words is 
that our goodwill gets adulterated, in spite of 
ourselves, before it can pass our lips. We can 
send black puddings and pettitoes without giving 
them a flavour of our own egoism ; but language 
is a stream that is almost sure to smack of a 
mingled soil. There was a fair proportion of 
kindness in Raveloe, but it was often of a 
beery and bungling sort, and took the shape 
least allied to the complimentary and hypocritical. 

Mr. Macey, for example, coming one evening 
expressly to let Silas know that recent events 
had given him the advantage of standing more 
favourably in the opinion of a man whose 
judgment was not formed lightly, opened the 
conversation by saying, as soon as he had 
seated himself and adjusted his thumbs^ 

*^Come, Master Marner, why, you've no call 

to sit a-moaning. You're a deal better off to ha' 


lost your money, nor to ha' kcp it by foul means. 
I used to think, when you first come into these 
parts, as you were no better nor you should be ; 
you were younger a deal than what you are now, 
but you were allays a staring-, white-faced creatur', 
partly like a bald-faced calf, as I may say. But 
there's no knowing ; it isn't every queer-looksed 
thing as Old Harry's had the making of — I mean, 
speaking o' toads and such, for they're often 
harmless and useful against varmin. And it's 
pretty much the same wi' you, as fur as I can see. 
Though as to the yarbs and stuff to cure the 
breathing, if you brought that sort o' knowledge 
from distant parts, you might ha' been a bit freer 
of it. And if the knowledge wasn't well come 
by, why, you might ha' made up for it by coming 
to church reg'lar, for, as for the children as the 
Wise Woman charmed, I've been at the christen- 
ing of 'em again and again, and they took the 
water just as well. And that's reasonable ; for if 
Old Harry's a mind to do a bit o' kindness for 
a holiday, like, who's got anything against it? 
That's my thinking ; and I've been clerk o' this 
parish forty year, and I know when the parson 
and me does the cussing of a Ash Wednesday, 
there's no cussing o' folks as have a mind to be 
cured w^ithout a doctor, let Kimble say what he 
will. And so. Master Marner, as I was saying — 
for there's windings i* things as they may carry 

you to the fur end o' the Prayer-book afore you 


get back to 'em — my advice is, as you keep up 
your sperrits, for as for thinking you're a deep 
un, and ha' got more inside you nor 'ull bear 
dayhght, I'm not o' that opinion at all, and so I 
tell the neighbours. For, says I, you talk o' 
Master Marner making out a tale — Avhy, it's 
nonsense, that is : it 'ud take a 'cute man to make 
a tale like that ; and, says I, he looked as scared 
as a rabbit." 

During this discursive address Silas had con- 
tinued motionless in his previous attitude, leaning 
his elbows on his knees, and pressing his hands 
against his head. Mr. Macey, not doubting that 
he had been listened to, paused in the expectation 
of some appreciatory reply, but Marner remained 
silent. He had a sense that the old man meant 
to be good-natured and neighbourly ; but the 
kindness fell on him as sunshine falls on the 
wretched — he had no heart to taste it, and felt 
that it was very far off him. 

*'Come, Master Marner, have you got nothing 
to say to that?" said Mr. Macey at last, with a 
slight accent of impatience. 

*'Oh," said Marner slowly, shaking his head 
between his hands, '^ I thank you — thank you 

** Ay, ay, to be sure ; I thought you would," 
said Mr. Macey; ''and my advice is — have you 
got a Sunday suit?" 

*'No," said Marner. 

" I doubted it was so," said Mr. Macey. 
** Now, let me advise you to get a Sunday suit : 
there's Tookey, he's a poor creatur, but he's got 
my tailoring business, and some o' my money in 
it, and he shall make a suit at a low price, and 
give you trust, and then you can come to church, 
and be a bit neighbourly. Why, you've never 
beared me say ^ Amen ' since you come into these 
parts, and I recommend you to lose no time, for 
it'll be poor work when Tookey has it all to 
himself, for I mayn't be equil to stand i' the desk 
at all, come another winter." Here Mr. Macey 
paused, perhaps expecting some sign of emotion 
in his hearer ; but not observing any, he went 
on. ** And as for the money for the suit o' 
clothes, why, you get a matter of a pound a week 
at your weaving, Master Marner, and you're a 
young man, eh, for all you look so mushed. 
Why, you couldn't ha' been five-and-twenty when 
you come into these parts, eh ? " 

Silas started a little at the change to a question- 
ing tone, and answered mildly, " I don't know ; 
I can't rightly say — it's a long while since." 

After receiving such an answer as this, it is 

not surprising that Mr. Macey observed, later on 

in the evening at the Rainbow, that Marner's 

head was ''all of a muddle," and that it was to 

be doubted if he ever knew when Sunday came 

round, which showed him a worse heathen than 

many a dog. 


Another of Silas's comforters, besides Mr. 
Macey, came to him with a mind highly charged 
on the same topic. This was Mrs. Winthrop, 
the wheelwright's wife. The inhabitants of 
Raveloe were not severely regular in their 
church-going, and perhaps there was hardly 
a person in the parish who would not have 
held that to go to church every Sunday in the 
calendar would have shown a greedy desire to 
stand well with Heaven, and get an undue 
advantage over their neighbours — a wish to be 
better than the '' common run," that would have 
implied a reflection on those who had had god- 
fathers and godmothers as well as themselves, 
and had an equal right to the burying service. 
At the same time it was understood to be requisite 
for all who were not household servants, or young 
men, to take the sacrament at one of the great 
festivals. Squire Cass himself took it on 
Christmas Day ; while those who were held to 
be **good livers" went to church with greater, 
though still with moderate, frequency. 

Mrs. Winthrop was one of these : she was, in 
all respects, a woman of scrupulous conscience, 
so eager for duties, that life seemed to offer them 
too scantily unless she rose at half-past four, 
though this threw a scarcity of work over the 
more advanced hours of the morning, which it 
was a constant problem with her to remove. 
Yet she had not the vixenish temper which is 


sometimes supposed to be a necessary condition 
of such habits ; she was a very mild, patient 
woman, whose nature it was to seek out all the 
sadder and more serious elements of life, and 
pasture her mind upon them. She was the 
person always first thought of in Raveloe when 
there was illness or death in a family, when 
leeches were to be applied, or there was a 
sudden disappointment in a monthly nurse. 
She was a *' comfortable woman " — good-looking, 
fresh-complexioned, having her lips always 
slighdy screwed, as if she felt herself in a sick- 
room, with the doctor or the clergyman present. 
But she was never whimpering ; no one had 
seen her shed tears ; she was simply grave and 
inclined to shake her head and sigh, almost 
imperceptibly, like a funereal mourner who is 
not a relation. It seemed surprising that Ben 
Winthrop, who loved his quart-pot and his joke, 
got along so well with Dolly ; but she took 
her husband's jokes and joviality as patiently 
as everything else, considering that '* men would 
be so," and viewing the stronger sex in the 
light of animals whom it had pleased Heaven 
to make naturally troublesome, like bulls and 

This good, w^holesome woman could hardly 
fail to have her mind drawn strongly towards 
Silas Marner, now that he appeared in the 

light of a sufferer ; and one Sunday afternoon 


she took her little boy Aaron with her, and 
went to call on Silas, carrying in her hand 
some small lard-cakes, flat paste-like articles 
much esteemed in Raveloe. Aaron, an apple- 
cheeked youngster of seven, with a clean 
starched frill which looked like a plate for the 
apples, needed all his adventurous curiosity to 
embolden hirn against the possibility that the 
big-eyed weaver might do him some bodily 
injury ; and his dubiety was much increased 
when, on arriving at the Stone-pits, they heard 
the mysterious sound of the loom. 

^' Ah ! it is as I thought," said Mrs. Winthrop 

They had to knock loudly before Silas heard 
them ; but when he did come to the door he 
showed no impatience, as he would once have 
done at a visit that had been unasked for and 
unexpected. Formerly, his heart had been a 'I 
locked casket with its treasure inside ; but now / 
the casket was empty, and the lock was broken. / 
Left groping in darkness, with his prop utterly/ 
gone, Silas had inevitably a sense, though al 
dull and half-despairing one, that if any help 
came to him it must come from without ; and 
there was a slight stirring of expectation at the 
sight of his fellow-men, a faint consciousness 
of dependence on their goodwill. He opened 
the door wide to admit Dolly, but without 
otherwise returning her greeting than by moving 


the arm-chair a f(*\v inches as a si^n that she 
was to sit down in it. Dolly, as soon as she 
was seated, removed the white cloth that covered 
her lard-cakes, and said in her gravest way — 

** I'd a baking yisterday, Master Marner, and 
the lard-cakes turned out better nor common, 
and I'd ha' asked you to accept some, if you'd 
thought well. I don't eat such things myself, 
for a bit o' bread's what I like from one year's 
end to the other ; but men's stomichs are made 
so comical, they want a change — they do, I 
know, God help 'em." 

Dolly sighed gently as she held out the cakes 
to Silas, who thanked her kindly, and looked 
very close at them, absently, being accustomed 
to look so at everything he took into his hand, 
eyed all the while by the wondering bright 
orbs of the small Aaron, who had made an 
outwork of his mother's chair, and was peeping 
round from behind it. 

''There's letters pricked on *em," said Dolly. 
*' I can't read 'em myself, and there's nobody, 
not Mr. Macey himself rightly knows what 
they mean ; but they've a good meaning, for 
they're the same as is on the pulpit-cloth at 
church. What are they, Aaron, my dear?" 

Aaron retreated completely behind his outwork. 

''Oh go, that's naughty," said his mother 

mildly. "Well, whativer the letters are, they've 

a good meaning ; and it's a stamp as has been 


In our house, Ben says, ever since he was a *' 
little un, and his mother used to put it on the 
cakes, and I've allays put it on too ; for if there's 
any good, we've need of it i' this world." 

*' It's I. H. S.," said Silas, at which proof of 
learning Aaron peeped round the chair again. 

*' Well, to be sure, you can read 'em off," said 
Dolly. '* Ben's read 'em to me many and many 
a time, but they slip out o' my mind again ; 
the more's the pity, for they're good letters, 
else they wouldn't be in the church ; and so 
I prick 'em on all the loaves and all the cakes, 
though sometimes they won't hold, because o' 
the rising — for, as I said, if there's any good 
to be got, we've need of it i' this world — that 
we have ; and I hope they'll bring good to you. 
Master Marner, for it's wi' that will I brought 
you the cakes ; and you see the letters have 
held better nor common." 

Silas was as unable to interpret the letters as 
Dolly, but there was no possibility of misunder- 
standing the desire to give comfort that made 
itself heard in her quiet tones. He said, with 
more feeling than before, ''Thank you — thank 
you kindly." But he laid down the cakes and 
seated himself absently — drearily unconscious 
of any distinct benefit towards which the cakes 
and the letters, or even Dolly's kindness, could 
tend for him. 

** Ah, if there's good anywhere, we've need of 


it,** repeated Dolly, who did not li<^htly forsake 
a serviceable phrase. She looked at Silas pity- 
ingly as she went on. '* But you didn't hear 
the church-bells this morning-. Master Marner? 
1 doubt you didn't know it was Sunday. Living 
so lone here, you lose your count, I daresay ; 
and then, when your loom makes a noise, you 
can't hear the bells, more partic'lar now the 
frost kills the sound." 

**Yes, I did; I heard 'em," said Silas, to 
whom Sunday bells were a mere accident of the 
day, and not part of its sacredness. There had 
been no bells in Lantern Yard, 

*' Dear heart ! " said Dolly, pausing before she 

spoke again. ** But what a pity it is you should 

work of a Sunday, and not clean yourself— if 

you didn't go to church ; for if you'd a roasting 

bit, it might be as you couldn't leave it, being 

a lone man. But there's the bakehus, if you 

could make up your mind to spend a twopence 

on the oven now and then — not every week, in 

course — I shouldn't like to do that myself — you 

might carry your bit o' dinner there, for it's 

nothing but right to have a bit o' summat hot 

of a Sunday, and not to make it as you can't 

know your dinner from Saturday. But now, 

upo' Christmas Day, this blessed Christmas as 

is ever coming, if you was to take your dinner 

to the bakehus, and go to church, and see 

the holly and the yew, and hear the anthim, 


and then take the sacramen^ you'd be a deal 
the better, and you'd know which end you 
stood on, and you could put your trust i' Them 
as knows better nor we do, seein' you ha' done 
what it lies on us all to do." 

Dolly's exhortation, which was an unusually 
long effort of speech for her, was uttered in 
the soothing, persuasive tone with which she 
would have tried to prevail on a sick man to 
take his medicine, or a basin of gruel for which 
he had no appetite. Silas had never before been 
closely urged on the point of his absence from 
church, which had only been thought of as a 
part of his general queerness ; and he was too 
direct and simple to evade Dolly's appeal. 

*'Nay, nay," he said, ''I know nothing o* 
church. I've never been to church." 

*^ No ! " said Dolly, in a low tone of wonder- 
ment. Then bethinking herself of Silas's advent 
from an unknown country, she said, ^* Could it ha' 
been as they'd no church where you was born ? '* 

**Oh yes," said Silas meditatively, sitting in 
his usual posture of leaning on his knees, and 
supporting his head. *' There was churches — 
a many — it was a big town. But I knew nothing 
of 'em — I went to chapel." 

Dolly was much puzzled at this new word, but 
she was rather afraid of inquiring further, lest 
**chapel" might mean some haunt of wickedness. 
After a little thought she said— 


*' Well, Master Manner, it's niver too lat-e to 
turn over a new leaf, and if you've niver had 
no church, there's no telling the good it'll do 
you. For I feel so set up and comfortable as 
niver was, when I've been and heard the prayers, 
and the singing to the praise and glory o' God, 
as Mr. Macey gives out — and Mr. Crackenthorp 
saying good words, and more partic'lar on 
Sacramen' Day ; and if a bit o' trouble comes, 
I feel as I can put up wi' it, for I've looked 
for help i' the right quarter, and gev myself 
up to Them as we must all give ourselves up 
to at the last ; and if we'n done our part, it 
isn't to be believed as Them as are above us 
'ull be worse nor we are, and come short o' 

Poor Dolly's exposition of her simple Raveloe 
theology fell rather unmeaningly on Silas's ears, 
for there was no word in it that could rouse 
a memory of what he had known as religion, 
and his comprehension was quite baffled by 
the plural pronoun, which was no heresy of 
Dolly's, but only her way of avoiding a pre- 
sumptuous familiarity. He remained silent, not 
feeling inclined to assent to the part of Dolly's 
speech which he fully understood — her recom- 
mendation that he should go to church. Indeed, 
Silas was so unaccustomed to talk beyond the 
brief questions and answers necessary for the 

transaction of his simple business, that words 


did not easily come to him without the urgency 
of a distinct purpose. 

But now, little Aaron, having become used 
to the weaver's awful presence, had advanced 
to his mother's side, and Silas, seeming to 
notice him for the first time, tried to return 
Dolly's signs of goodwill by offering the lad 
a bit of lard-cake. Aaron shrank back a little, 
and rubbed his head against his mother's 
shoulder, but still thought the piece of cake 
"worth the risk of putting his hand out for it. 

*^ Oh, for shame, Aaron," said his mother, 
taking him on her lap, however; *^why, you 
don't want cake again yet awhile. He's wonderful 
hearty," she went on, with a little sigh, ^'that 
he is, God knows. He's my youngest, and 
we spoil him sadly, for either me or the father 
must allays hev him in our sight — that we 


She stroked Aaron's brown head, and thought 
it must do Master Marner good to see such a 
*'pictur of a child." But Marner, on the other 
side of the hearth, saw the neat-featured, rosy 
face as a mere dim round, with two dark spots 
in it. 

** And he's got a voice like a bird — you 

wouldn't think," Dolly went on; **he can sing 

a Christmas carril as his father's taught him ; 

and I take it for a token as he'll come to good, 

as he can learn the good tunes so quick. Come, 


Aaron, stan' up and sing" the carril to Master 
IMarner, come." 

Aaron replied by rubbing his forehead against 
his mother's shoulder. 

*'Oh, that's naughty,'* said Dolly gently. 
"Stan' up, when mother tells you, and let me 
hold the cake till you've done." 

Aaron was not indisposed to display his talents, 
even to an ogre, under protecting circumstances ; 
and after a few more signs of coyness, consisting 
chiefly in rubbing the backs of his hands over 
his eyes, and then peeping between them at 
Master Marner, to see if he looked anxious for 
the *' carril," he at length allowed his head to 
be duly adjusted, and standing behind the table, 
which let him appear above it only as far as 
his broad frill, so that he looked like a cherubic 
head untroubled with a body, he began with a 
clear chirp, and in a melody that had the rhythm 
of an industrious hammer — 

*' God rest you, merry gentlemen, 
Let nothing you dismay, 
For Jesus Christ our Saviour 
Was born on Christmas Day." 

Dolly listened with a devout look, glancing at 
Marner in some confidence that this strain would 
help to allure him to church, 

"That's Christmas music,'* she said, when 

Aaron had ended, and had secured his piece 

of cake again. "There's no other music equil 


to the Christmas music — * Hark the erol angils 
sing.' And you may judge what it is at church, 
Master Marner, with the bassoon and the voices, 
as you can't help thinking you've got to a better 
place a'ready — for I wouldn't speak ill o' this 
world, seeing as Them put us in it as knows 
best — but what wi' the drink, and the quarrel- 
ling, and the bad illnesses, and the hard dying, 
as I've seen times and times, one's thankful to 
hear -of a better. The boy sings pretty, don't 
he, Master Marner?" 

** Yes," said Silas absently, **very pretty." 
The Christmas carol, with its hammerlike 
rhythm, had fallen on his ears as strange music, 
quite unlike a hymn, and could have none of 
the effect Dolly contemplated. But he wanted 
to show her that he was grateful, and the only 
mode that occurred to him was to offer Aaron 
a bit more cake. 

**Oh no, thank you. Master Marner," said 
Dolly, holding down Aaron's willing hands. 
**We must be going home now. And so I 
wish you good-bye. Master Marner ; and if you 
ever feel anyways bad in your inside, as you 
can't fend for yourself, I'll come and clean up 
for you, and get you a bit o' victual, and willing. 
But I beg and pray of you to leave off weaving 
of a Sunday, for it's bad for soul and body — 
and the money as comes i' that way 'ull be a 
bad bed to lie down on at the last, if it doesn't 


fly away, nobody knows where, like the whke 
frost. And you'll excuse me bein^ that free 
with you, Master Marner, for I wish you well 
— I do. Make your bow, Aaron." 

Silas said "Good-bye, and thank you kindly," 
as he opened the door for Dolly, but he couldn't 
help feeling relieved when she was gone — re- 
lieved that he might weave again and moan 
at his ease. Her simple view of life and its 
comforts, by which she had tried to cheer, him, 
was only like a report of unknown objects, which 
his imagination could not fashion. The fountains 
of human love and faith in a divine love had not 
yet been unlocked, and his soul was still the 
shrunken rivulet, with only this difference that 
its little groove of sand was blocked up, and 
it wandered confusedly against dark obstruction. 

And so, notwithstanding the honest persuasions 
of Mr. Macey and Dolly Winthrop, Silas spent 
his Christmas Day in loneliness, eating his meat 
in sadness of heart, though the meat had come 
to him as a neighbourly present. In the morning 
he looked out on the black frost that seemed to 
press cruelly on every blade of grass, while the 
half-icy red pool shivered under the bitter wind ; 
but towards evening the snow began to fall, 
and curtained from him even that dreary outlook, 
shutting him close up with his narrow grief. 
And he sat in his robbed home through the 
livelong evening, not caring to close his shutters 


or lock his door, pressing his head between his 
hands and moaning, till the cold grasped him 
and told him that his fire was gray. 

Nobody in this world but himself knew that he 
was the same Silas Marner who had once loved 
his fellow Avith tender love, and trusted in an / 
unseen goodness. Even to himself that past/ 
experience had become dim. 

But in Raveloe village the bells rang merrily, 
and the church was fuller than all through the 
rest of the year, with red faces among the 
abundant dark-green boughs — faces prepared 
for a longer service than usual by an odorous 
breakfast of toast and ale. Those green boughs, 
the hymn and anthem never heard but at 
Christmas — even the Athanasian Creed, which 
was discriminated from the others only as being 
longer and of exceptional virtue, since it was 
only read on rare occasions — brought a vague, 
exulting sense, for which the grown men could 
as little have found words as the children, that 
something great and mysterious had been done 
for them in heaven above and in earth below, 
which they were appropriating by their presence. 
And then the red faces made their way through 
the black, biting frost to their own homes, feeling 
themselves free for the rest of the day to eat, 
drink, and be merry, and using that Christian 
freedom without diffidence. 

At Squire Cass's family party that day nobody 


mentioned Dunstan — nobody was sorry for his 
absence, or feared it would be too long. The 
doctor and his wife, uncle and aunt Kimble, 
were there, and the annual Christmas talk was 
carried through without any omissions, rising 
to the climax of Mr. Kimble's experience when 
he walked the London hospitals thirty years 
back, together with striking professional anec- 
dotes then gathered. Whereupon cards followed, 
with aunt Kimble's annual failure to follow suit, 
and uncle Kimble's irascibility concerning the 
odd trick which was rarely explicable to him, 
when it was not on his side, without a general 
visitation of tricks to see that they were formed 
on sound principles : the whole being ac- 
companied by a strong steaming odour of 

But the party on Christmas Day, being a 
strictly family party, was not the pre-eminently 
brilliant celebration of the season at the Red 
House. It was the great dance on New Year's 
Eve that made the glory of Squire Cass's 
hospitality, as of his forefathers', time out of 
m.ind. This was the occasion when all the society 
of Raveloe and Tarley, whether old acquaint- 
ances separated by long rutty distances, or cooled 
acquaintances separated by misunderstandings 
concerning runaway calves, or acquaintances 
founded on intermittent condescension, counted 
on meeting and on comporting themselves with 


mutual appropriateness. This was the occasion 
on which fair dames who came on pillions sent 
their bandboxes before them, supplied with more 
than their evening- costume ; for the feast was 
not to end with a single evening, like a paltry 
town entertainment, where the whole supply of 
eatables is put on the table at once, and bedding- 
is scanty. The Red House was provisioned as 
if for a siege ; and as for the spare feather-beds 
ready to be laid on floors, they were as plentiful 
as might naturally be expected in a. family that 
had killed its own geese for many generations. 

Godfrey Cass was looking forward to this New 
Year's Eve with a foolish, reckless longing, that 
made him half deaf to his importunate companion, 

*' Dunsey will be coming home soon : there 
will be a great blow-up, and how will you bribe 
his spite to silence?" said Anxiety. 

*' Oh, he won't come home before New Year's 
Eve, perhaps," said Godfrey; ''and I shall sit 
by Nancy then, and dance with her, and get a 
kind look from her in spite of herself." 

'* But money is wanted in another quarter," 
said Anxiety, in a louder voice, '*and how will 
you get it without selling your mother's diamond 
pin ? And if you don't get it ? '* 

** Well, but something may happen to make 
things easier. At anyrate, there's one pleasure 
for me close at hand : Nancy is coming." 


**Yes, and suppose your father should bring 
matters to a pass that will oblige you to decline 
marrying her — and to give your reasons?" 

** Hold your tongue, and don't worry me. 1 
can see Nancy's eyes, just as they will look at 
me, and feel her hand in mine already." 

But Anxiety went on, though in noisy 
Christmas company, refusing to be utterly 
quieted even by much drinking. 



Some women, I grant, would not appear to 
advantage seated on a pillion, and attired in a 
drab Joseph and a drab beaver bonnet, with 
a crown resembling a small stevvpan ; for a 
garment suggesting a coachman's greatcoat, cut 
out under an exiguity of cloth that would 
only allow of miniature capes, is not well 
adapted to conceal deficiencies of contour, nor 
is drab a colour that will throw sallow cheeks 
into lively contrast. It was all the greater 
triumph to Miss Nancy Lammeter's beauty that 
she looked thoroughly bewitching in that costume, 
as, seated on the pillion behind her tall, erect 
father, she held one arm round him, and 
looked down, with open-eyed anxiety, at the 
treacherous snow-covered pools and puddles, 
which sent up formidable splashings of mud 
under the stamp of Dobbin's foot. A painter 
would, perhaps, have preferred her in those 
moments when she was free from self-conscious- 
ness ; but certainly the bloom on her cheeks 
was at its highest point of contrast with the 
surrounding drab when she arrived at the door 
of the Red House, and saw Mr. Godfrey Cass 
ready to lift her from the pillion. 

She wished her sister Priscilla had come up 


at the same time behind the servant, for then 
she would have contrived that Mr. Godfrey 
should have lifted off Priscilla first, and, in 
the meantime, she would have persuaded her 
father to go round to the horseblock instead of 
alighting at the doorsteps. It was very pain- 
ful, when you had made it quite clear to a 
young man that you were determined not to 
marry him, however much he might wish it, 
that he would still continue to pay you marked 
attentions ; besides, why didn't he always show 
the same attentions, if he meant them sincerely, 
instead of being so strange as Mr. Godfrey |si 
Cass was, sometimes behaving as if he didn't 
want to speak to her, and taking no notice ^ 
of her for weeks and weeks, and then, all on 
a sudden, almost making love again? More- t^ 
over, it was quite plain he had no real love '^ 
for her, else he would not let people have 
thai to say of him which they did say. Did f^ 
he suppose that Miss Nancy Lammeter was 't 
to be won by any man, squire or no squire, ^'> 
who led a bad life? That was not what she If 
had been used to see in her own father, who ^ 
was the soberest and best man in that country- ^ 
side, only a little hot and hast}^ now and then, t 
if things were not done to the minute. ^i 

All these thoughts rushed through Miss 
Nancy's mind, in their habitual succession, in l^ 
the moments between her first sight of Mr. * 


Godfrey Cass .standing at the door and her own 

arrival there. Happily, the Squire came out 

too, and gave a loud greeting to her father, so 

that, somehow, under cover of this noise she 

seemed to find concealment for her confusion 

and neglect of any suitably formal behaviour, 

while she was being lifted from the pillion by 

strong arms which seemed tn find her ridiculously 

small and light. And there was the best reason 

for hastening into the house at once, since the 

snow was beginning to fall again, threatening 

in unpleasant journey for such guests as were 

still on the road. These were a small minority ; 

or already the afternoon was beginning to 

lecline, and there would not be too much time 

or the ladies who came from a distance to attire 

hemselves in readiness for the early tea which 

vas to inspirit them for the dance. 

There was a buzz of voices through the house, 

s Miss Nancy entered, mingled v^^ith the scrape 

f a fiddle preluding in the kitchen ; but the 

ammeters were guests whose arrival had evi- 

ently been thought of so much that it had 

leen watched for from the windows, for Mrs. 

Nimble, who did the honours at the Red House 

n these great occasions, came forward to meet 

liss Nancy in the hall, and conduct her up- 

tairs. Mrs. Kimble was the Squire's sister, 

s well as the doctor's wife- — a double dignity, 

nth which her diameter was in direct proportion ; 
i s.M. 157 F 


so that, a journey upstairs being rather fatiguing 
to her, she did not oppose Miss Nancy's request 
to be allowed to find her way alone to the 
Blue Room, where the Misses Lammeter's band- 
boxes had been deposited on their arrival in 
the morning. 

There was hardly a bedroom in the house 
where feminine compliments were not passing 
and feminine toilettes going forward, in various 
stages, in space made scanty by extra beds 
spread upon the floor; and Miss Nancy, as she 
entered the Blue Room, had to make her little 
formal curtsy to a group of six. On the one 
hand, there were ladies no less important than 
the two Misses Gunn, the wine merchant's 
daughters from Lytherly, dressed in the height 
of fashion, with the tightest skirts and the 
shortest waists, and gazed at by Miss Ladbrook 
(of the Old Pastures) with a shyness not un- 
sustained by inward criticism. Partly, Miss 
Ladbrook felt that her own skirt must be 
regarded as unduly lax by the Misses Gunn, and 
partly that it w^as a pity the Misses Gunn didk 
not show that judgment which she herseli \nj 
would show if she were in their place, by \a, 
stopping a little on this side of the fashion. Jsj 
On the other hand, Mrs. Ladbrook was standing 
in skull-cap and front, with her turban in he; 
hand, curtsying and smiling blandly, and saying 
"After you, ma'am," to another lady in simila 



circumstances, who had politely offered the 
precedence at the looking-glass. 

But Miss Nancy had no sooner made her 
curtsy than an elderly lady came forward, 
whose full white muslin kerchief and mob-cap 
round her curls of smooth gray hair were in 
daring contrast with the puffed yellow satins 
and top-knotted caps of her neighbours. She 
approached Miss Nancy with much primness, 
and said, with a slow, treble suavity — 

*' Niece, I hope I see you well in health.^* 
Miss Nancy kissed her aunt's cheek dutifully, 
and answered, with the same sort of amiable 
primness, '' Quite well, I thank you, aunt ; and 
I hope I see you the same." 

*' Thank you, niece; I keep my health for 
:he present. And how is my brother-in-law?" 

These dutiful questions and answers were 
•lontinued until it was ascertained in detail that 
isihe Lammeters were all as well as usual, and 
4he Osgoods likewise, also that niece Priscilla 
linust certainly arrive shortly, and that travelling 
i4n pillions in snowy weather was unpleasant, 
hough a Joseph was a great protection. Then 
^ancy was formally introduced to her aunt's 
isitors, the Misses Gunn, as being the daughters 
inlf a mother known to their mother, though now 
he )r the first time induced to make a journey 
ito these parts ; and these ladies were so taken 
y surprise at finding such a lovely face and 



fig'ure in an out-of-the-way country place, tliat 
they beg-an to feel some curiosity about the 
dress she would put on when she took off her 
Joseph. Miss Nancy, whose thoughts were 
always conducted with the propriety and modera- 
tion conspicuous in her manners, remarked to 
herself that the Misses Gunn were rather hard- 
featured than otherwise, and that such very 
low dresses as they wore might have been 
attributed to vanity if their shoulders had been 
pretty, but that, being as they were, it was not 
reasonable to suppose that they showed their i 
necks from a love of display, but rather from 
some obligation not inconsistent with sense and 
modesty. She felt convinced, as she opened 
her box, that this must be her aunt Osgood'st 
opinion, for Miss Nancy's mind resembled her i 
aunt's to a degree that everybody said wasjn 
surprising, considering the kinship was on 


Mr. Osgood's side ; and though you might not 
have supposed it from the formality of thei; 
greeting, there was a devoted attachment anc 
mutual admiration between aunt and niece 
Even Miss Nancy's refusal of her cousin, Gilber it 
Osgood (on the ground solely that he was hek 
cousin), though it had grieved her aunt greatly ac^ 
had not in the least cooled the preference whicl 
had determined her to leave Nancy several o 
her hereditary ornaments, let Gilbert's futur 

wife be whom she might. 



Three of the ladies quickly retired, but the 
Misses Gunn were quite content that Mrs. 
Osgood's inclination to remain with her niece 
gave them also a reason for staying to see the 
rustic beauty's toilette. And it was really a 
pleasure — from the first opening of the band- 
box, where everything smelt of lavender and 
rose-leaves, to the clasping of the small coral 
necklace that fitted closely round her little white 
leck. Everything belonging to Miss Nancy was 
)f delicate purity and nattiness : not a crease 
vas where it had no business to be, not a bit 
)f her linen professed whiteness without fulfilling 
ts profession ; the very pins on her pincushion 
vere stuck in after a pattern from which she 
vas careful to allow no aberration ; and as for 
lier own person, it gave the same idea of perfect 
.slnvarying neatness as the body of a little bird. 
" t is true that her light-brown hair was cropped 
>ehind like a boy's, and was dressed in front in 
number of flat rings that lay quite away from 
er face ; but there was no sort of coiffure that 
ould make Miss Nancy's cheek and neck look 
therwise than pretty ; and when at last she 
tood complete in her silvery twilled silk, her 
ice tucker, her coral necklace and coral ear- 
rops, the Misses Gunn could see nothing to 
liticise except her hands, which bore the traces 
f butter-making, cheese-crushing, and even still 

IDarser work. But Miss Nancy was not ashamed 

of that, for while she was dressing she narrated 
to her aunt how she and Priscilla had packed 
their boxes yesterday, because this morning was 
baking morning, and since they were leaving 
home, it was desirable to make a good supply 
of meat-pies for the kitchen ; and as she con- 
cluded this judicious remark, she turned to 
the Misses Gunn that she might not commit 
the rudeness of not including them in the 

The Misses Gunn smiled stiffly, and thought 
what a pity it was that these rich country people, 
who could afford to buy such good clothes (really 
Miss Nancy's lace and silk were very costly), 
should be brought up in utter ignorance and 
vulgarity. She actually said *' mate " for *' meat," 
*' 'appen " for " perhaps," and " 'oss" for '* horse," 
which, to young ladies living in good Lytherly 
society, who habitually said 'orse, even in 
domestic privacy, and only said 'appen on th3 
right occasions, was necessarily shocking. Miss 
Nancy, indeed, had never been to any school 
higher than Dame Tedman's : her acquaintance 
with profane literature hardly went beyond the 
rhymes she had worked in her large sampler fc[ 
under the lamb and the shepherdess ; and in 
order to balance an account, she was obligee 
to effect her subtraction by removing visible ^a 
metallic shillings and sixpences from a visible 

metallic total. There is hardly a servant-mai 






in these davs who is not better informed than 

Miss Nancy ; yet she had the essential attributes 

of a lady — high veracity, delicate honour in 

her dealings, deference to others, and refined 

personal habits — and lest these should not suffice 

to convince grammatical fair ones that her feel- 

ngs can at all resemble theirs, I will add that 

she was slightly proud and exacting, and as 

constant in her affection towards a baseless 

opinion as tovv'ards an erring lover. 

The anxiety about sister Priscilla, which had 

§;"rown rather active by the time the coral 

lecklace was clasped, was happily ended by 

:he entrance of that cheerful-looking lady her- 

elf, with a face made blowsy by cold and 

lamp. After the first questions and greetings, 

ihe turned to Nancy, and surveyed her from head 

o foot — then wheeled her round, to ascertain 

hat the back view was equally faultless. 

^'What do you think o' these gowns, aunt 

Osgood?'' said Priscilla, while Nancy helped 

ler to unrobe. 

'/ Very handsome indeed, niece," said Mrs. 

)sgood, with a slight increase of formality. 

>he always thought niece Priscilla too rough. 

^'I'm obliged to have the same as Nancy, 

ou know, for all I'm five years older, and it 

lakes me look yallow ; for she never imll have 

nything without I have mine just like it, 

ecause she wants us to look like sisters. And 


I tell her, folks 'nil tliink it's my weakness 
makes me fancy as I siiall look pretty in wbat 
she looks pretty in. For I am n^ly — there's 
no denying that : I feature my father's family. 
But, law! I don't mind, do you?" Priscilla 
here turned to the Misses Gunn, rattling on in 
too much preoccupation with the delight of 
talking, to notice that her candour was not 
appreciated. *' The pretty uns do for fly- 
catchers — they keep the men off us. I've no 
opinion o' the men. Miss Gunn — I don't know 
what you have. And as for fretting and stew- 
ing about what they'll think of you from 
morning till night, and making your life uneasy 
about what they're doing when they're out o' 
your sight — as I tell Nancy, it's a folly no 
woman need be guilty of, if she's got a good 
father and a good home : let her leave it tc 
them as have got no fortin, and can't help them- 
selves. As I say, Mr. Have-your-own-way is th(i 
best husband, and the only one I'd ever promisJ 
to obey. T know it isn't pleasant, when you'vj 
been used to living in a big way, and managin^j 
hogsheads and all that, to go and put your nos( 
in by somebody else's fireside, or to sit dowr 
by yourself to a scrag or a knuckle ; but, thanl 
God ! my father's a sober man and likely tc 
live ; and if you've got a man by the chimney* 
corner, it doesn't matter if he's childish — the 

business needn't be broke up.". \ 




The delicate process of getting her narrow 
gown over her head without injury to her smooth 
curls, obliged Miss Priscilla to pause in this 
rapid survey of life, and Mrs. Osgood seized 
the opportunity of rising and saying — 

*^ Well, niece, you'll follow us. The Misses 

^unn will like to go dovv^n." 

"Sister," said Nancy, when they were alone, 

you've offended the Misses Gunn, I'm sure." 

**What have I done, child?" said Priscilla, 
n some alarm. 

"Why, you asked them it they minded about 
)eing ugly — you're so very blunt." 

"Law, did I? Well, it popped out: it's a 
nercy I said no more, for I'm a bad un to live 
i^ith folks when they don't like the truth. But 
s for being ugly, look at me, child, in this 
ilver-coloured silk — I told you how it 'ud be 
-I look as yallow as a daffadil. Anybody *ud 
ay you wanted to make a mawkin of me." 

" No, Priscy, don't say so. I begged and 
rayed of you not to let us have this silk if 
ou'd like another better. I was willing to have 
our choice, you know I was," said Nancy, in 
nxious self-vindication. 

" Nonsense, child I you know you'd set your 
eart on this ; and reason good, for you're the 
)lour o* cream. It *ud be fine doings for you 
► dress yourself to suit my skin. What I find 
ult with is that notion o' yours as I must 

' 163 

dress myself just like you. But you do as you 
like with me — you always did from when first 
you be£T;"an to walk. If you wanted to go the 
field's length, the field's length you'd go ; and 
there was no whipping you, for you looked as 
prim and innicent as a daisy all the while." 

** Priscy," said Nancy gently, as she fastened 
a coral necklace, exactly like her own, round 
Priscilla's neck, which was very far from being 
like her own, *' I'm sure I'm willing to give 
way as far as is right, but who shouldn't dress 
alike if it isn't sisters? Would you have us 
go about looking as if we were no kin to one 
another — us that have got no mother and not 
another sister in the world? I'd do what was 
right, if I dressed in a gown dyed with cheese- 
colouring ; and I'd rather you'd choose, and 
let me wear what pleases you." 

"There you are again! You'd come round 
to the same thing if one talked to you from 
Saturday night till Saturday morning. It'll 
be fine fun to see how you'll master your 
husband and never raise your voice above the 
singing o' the kettle all the while. I like to 
see the men mastered ! " 

*^ Don't talk so, Priscy," said Nancy, blushing. 
>' You know I don't mean ever to be married." 

*^ Oh, you never mean a fiddlestick's end?' 

said Priscilla, as she arranged her discarded 

dress, and closed her bandbox. *^Who shal 


/ have to work for when father's gone, if you 
are to go and take notions in your head and 
be an old maid, because some folks are no 
better than they should be? I haven't a bit 
o' patience with you — sitting on an addled egg 
for ever, as if there was never a fresh un in the 
world. One. old maid's enough out o' two 
sisters ; and I shall do credit to a single life, 
for God A'mighty meant me for it. Gome, we 
can go down now. I'm as ready as a mawkin 
ca7t be — there's nothing awanting to frighten 
the crows, now IVe got my ear-droppers in." 

As the two Misses Lammeter walked into the 
large parlour together, any one who did not 
know the character of both might certainly have 
supposed that the reason why - the square- 
shouldered, clumsy, high-featured Priscilla wore 
a dress the facsimile of her pretty sister's, was 
either the mistaken vanity of the one, or 
the malicious contrivance of the other in order 
to set off her own rare beauty. But the good- 
natured, self-forgetful cheeriness and common 
sense of Priscilla would soon have dissipated 
the one suspicion ; and the modest calm of 
Nancy's speech and manners told clearly of a 
mind free from all disavowed devices. 

Places of honour had been kept for the Misses 
Lammeter near the head of the principal tea- 
table in the wainscoted parlour, now looking 

fresh and pleasant Avith handsome branches of 


liolly, yew, and laurel, from the abundant 
growths of the old garden ; and Nancy felt an 
inward flutter, that no firmness of purpose 
could prevent, when she saw Mr. Godfrey Cass 
advancing to lead her to a seat between himself 
and Mr. Crackenthorp, while Priscilla was called 
to the opposite side between her father and the 
Squire. It certainly did make some difference 
to Nancy that the lover she had given up was 
the young man of quite the highest consequence 
in the parish — at home in a venerable and unique 
parlour, which was the extremity of grandeur 
in her experience, a parlour where she might 
one day have been mistress, with the conscious- 
ness that she was spoken of as ^' Madam Cass," 
the Squire's wife. 

These circumstances exalted her inward drama 
in her own eyes, and deepened the emphasis 
with which she declared to herself that not the 
most dazzling rank should induce her to marry 
a man whose conduct showed him careless of 
his character, but that, ** love once, love always,'* 
was the motto of a true and pure woman, and 
no man should ever have any right over her 
which would be a call on her to destroy the 
dried flowers that she treasured, and always 
would treasure, for Godfrey Cass's sake. And 
Nancy was capable of keeping her word to 
herself under very trying conditions. Nothing 

but a becoming blush betrayed the moving 


, thoughts that urged themselves upon her as 
she accepted the seat next Mr. Crackenthorp ; 
, tor she was so instinctively neat and adroit 
. in all her actions, and her pretty lips met each 
j other with such quiet firmness, that it would 
have been difficult for her to appear agitated. 

It was not the rector's practice to let a 
charming blush pass without an appropriate 
compliment. He was not in the least lofty 
or aristocratic, but simply a merry-eyed, small- 
featured, gray-haired man, with his chin propped 
by an ample many-creased white neckcloth which 
seemed to predominate over every other point 
in his person, and somehow to impress its 
peculiar character on his remarks ; so that to 
have considered his amenities apart from his 
cravat would have been a severe, and perhaps 
a dangerous, effort of abstraction. 

*'Ha, Miss Nancy," he said, turning his head 
within his cravat and smiling down pleasantly 
upon her, **when anybody pretends this has 
been a severe winter, I shall tell them I saw 
the roses blooming on New Year's Eve — eh, 
Godfrey, what do you say?'* 

Godfrey made no reply, and avoided looking 
at Nancy very markedly ; for though these 
complimentary personalities were held to be in 
excellent taste in old-fashioned Raveloe society, 
reverent love has a politeness of its own which * 

it teaches to men otherwise of small schooling. 


But the Squire was rather impatient at Godfrey's 
showing himself a dull spark in this way. By 
this advanced hour of the day, the Squire was 
always in higher spirits than we have seen 
him in at the breakfast-table, and felt it quite 
pleasant to fulfil the hereditary duty of being 
noisily jovial and patronising : the large silver 
snuff-box was in active service and was offered 
without fail to all neighbours from time to time, 
however often they might have declined the 
favour. At present, the Squire had only given 
an express welcome to the heads of families 
as they appeared ; but always as the evening 
deepened, his hospitality rayed out more widely, 
till he had tapped the youngest guests on the 
back and shown a peculiar fondness for their 
presence, in the full belief that they must feel 
their lives made happy by their belonging to a 
parish where there was such a hearty man as 
Squire Cass to invite them and wish them 
well. Even in this early stage of the jovial 
mood, it was natural that he should wish to 
supply his son's deficiencies by looking and 
speaking for him. 

'* Ay, ay," he began, offering his snuff-box 
to Mr. Lammeter, who for the second time 
bowed his head and waved his hand in stiff 
rejection of the offer, *' us old fellows may wish 
ourselves young to-night, when we see the 

mistletoe-bough in the White Parlour. It's 


true, most things are gone back'ard in these 
last thirty years — the country's going down 
since the old king fell ill. But when I look at 
Miss Nancy here, I begin to think the lasses 
keep up their quality — ding me if I remember 
a sample to match her, not when I was a fine 
young fellow, and thought a deal about my pig- 
tail. No offence to you, madam," he added, 
bending to Mrs. Crackenthorp, who sat by 
him, ^' I didn't know you when you were as 
young as Miss Nancy here." 

Mrs. Crackenthorp — a small, blinking woman, 
who fidgeted incessantly with her lace, ribbons, 
and gold chain, turning her head about and 
making subdued noises, very much like a guinea- 
pig that twitches its nose and soliloquises in all 
company indiscriminately — now blinked and 
fidgeted towards the Squire, and said, *' Oh 
no — no offence," 

This emphatic compliment of the Squire's to 

Nancy was felt by others besides Godfrey to 

have a diplomatic significance ; and her father 

gave a slight additional erectness to his back, 

as he looked across the table at her with 

complacent gravity. That grave and orderly 

senior was not going to bate a jot of his 

dignity by seeming elated at the notion of a 

match between his family and the Squire's : he 

was gratified by any honour paid to his daughter; 

but he must see an alteration in several ways 


before his consent would be vouchsafed. His 
spare but healthy person, and high-featured 
firm face, that looked as if it had never been 
flushed by excess, was in strong- contrast, not 
only with the Squire's, but with the appearance 
of the Raveloe farmers generally — in accordance 
with a favourite saying of his own, that ** breed 
was stronger than pasture." 

" Miss Nancy's wonderful like what her mother 
was, though; isn't she, Kimble?" said the stout 
lady of that name, looking round for her husband. 

But Doctor Kimble (country apothecaries in 
old days enjoyed that title without authority 
of diploma), being a thin and agile man, was 
flitting about the room with his hands in his 
pockets, making himself agreeable to his feminine 
patients, with medical impartiality, and being 
welcomed everywhere as a doctor by hereditary 
right — not one of those miserable apothecaries 
who canvass for practice in strange neighbour- 
hoods, and spend all their income in starving 
their one horse, but a man of substance, able 
to keep an extravagant table like the best of 
his patients. Time out of mind the Raveloe 
doctor had been a Kimble ; Kimble was inher- 
ently a doctor's name ; and it was difficult to 
contemplate firmly the melancholy fact that the 
actual Kimble had no son, so that his practice 
might one day be handed over to a successor 
with the incongruous name of Taylor or Johnson. 


But In that case the wiser people in Raveloe 
would employ Dr. Blick of Flitton — as less 

'* Did you speak to me, my dear?" said the 
luthentic doctor, coming quickly to his wife's 
side ; but, as if foreseeing that she would be 

00 much out of breath to repeat her remark, 
le went on immediately, ''Ha, Miss Priscilla, 
he sight of you revives the taste of that super- 
jxcellent pork-pie. I hope the batch isn't near 
in end." 

"Yes, indeed, it is, doctor," said Priscilla; 
'but I'll answer for it the next shall be as 
>^ood. My pork-pies don't turn oyt well by 
:hance." * " \ 

"Not as your doctoring does, eh, Kimble? — 
because folks forget to take your physic, eh?" 
Iiaid the Squire, who regarded physic and doctors 
LS many loyal Churchmen regard the Church and 
he clergy — tasting a joke against them when he 
vas in health, but impatiently eager for their 
id when anything was the matter with him. 
ie tapped his box, and looked round with a 
riumphant laugh. 

1 "Ah, she has a quick wit, my friend Priscilla 
|ias," said the doctor, choosing to attribute the 
pigram to a lady rather than allow a brother- 
i-law that advantage over him. "She saves 

little pepper to sprinkle over her talk — that's 
le reason why she never puts too much inta 


her pies. There's my wife, now, she never has 
an answer at her tongue*s end ; but if I offend 
her, she's sure to scarify my throat with black 
pepper the next day, or else give me the colic 
with watery greens. That's an awful tit-for-tat." 
Here the vivacious doctor made a pathetic 


''Did you ever hear the like?" said Mrs. 
Kimble, laughing above her double chin with 
much good-humour, aside to Mrs. Crackenthorp, 
who blinked and nodded, and amiably intended 
to smile, but the intention lost itself in small 
twitchings and noises. 

" I suppose that's the sort of tit-for-tat adopted 
in your profession, Kimble, if you've a grudge 
against a patient," said the rector. 

" Never do have a grudge against our 
patients," said Mr. Kimble, ''except when they 
leave us ; and then, you see, we haven't the 
chance of prescribing for 'em. Ha, Miss 
Nancy," he continued, suddenly skipping to 
Nancy's side, "you w^on't forget your promise? 
You're to save a dance for me, you know.'* 

"Come, come, Kimble, don't you be too 
for'ard," said the Squire. " Give the young 
uns fair-play. There's my son Godfrey '11 be 
wanting to have a round with you if you run 
off with Miss Nancy. He's bespoke her for the 
first dance, I'll be bound. Eh, sir ! what do you 
say?" he continued, throwing himself backward, 


and looking at Godfrey. ** Haven't you asked 
Miss Nancy to open the dance with you?" 

Godfrey, sorely uncomfortable under this 
significant insistence about Nancy, and afraid 
to think where it would end by the time his 
"ather had set his usual hospitable example of 
drinking before and after supper, saw no course 
Dpen but to turn to Nancy and say, with as little 
awkwardness as possible — 

'' No ; I've not asked her yet, but I hope she'll 
consent — if somebody else hasn't been before 


*' No, I've not engaged myself," said Nancy 
quietly, though blushingly. (If Mr. Godfrey 
founded any hopes on her consenting to dance 
ivith him, he would soon be undeceived ; but 
ihere was no need for her to be uncivil.) 

"Then I hope you've no objections to dancing 

with me," said Godfrey, beginning to lose the 

ense that there was anything uncomfortable in 
:his arrangement. 

"No, no objections," said Nancy, in a cold 

"Ah, well, you're a lucky fellow, Godfrey," 
jaid uncle Kimble ; " but you're my godson, 
JO I won't stand in your way. Else I'm not so 
/ery old, eh, my dear?" he went on, skipping 
o his wife's side again. "You won't mind my 
laving a second after you were gone — not if I 
:ried a good deal first ? " 


**Come, come, take a cup o* tea and stop your 
tong-ue, do," said good-humoured Mrs. Kimble, 
feeling some pride in a husband who must be 
regarded as so clever and amusing by the 
company generally. If he had only not been 
irritable at cards ! 

While safe, well-tested personalities were 
enlivening the tea in this way, the sound of the 
fiddle approaching within a distance at which it 
could be heard distinctly, made the young people 
look at each other with sympathetic impatience 
for the end of the meal. 

*' Why, there's Solomon in the hall," said the 
Squire, '*and playing my fav'rite tune, / 
believe — * The flaxen-headed ploughboy ' — he's 
for giving us a hint as we aren't enough in a 
hurry to hear him play. Bob," he called out 
to his third long-legged son, who was at the 
other end of the room, **open the door, and tell 
Solomon to come in. He shall give us a tune 

Bob obeyed, and Solomon walked in, fiddling 
as he walked, for he would on no account break 
off in the middle of a tune. 

" Here, Solomon," said the Squire, with loud 
patronage. " Round here, my man. Ah, I 
knew , it was * The flaxen-headed ploughboy ' ; 
there's no finer tune." 

Solomon Macey, a small, hale old man with 

an abundant crop of long white hair reaching 


nearly to his shoulders, advanced to the indicated 
spot, bowing reverently while he fiddled, as 
much as to say that he respected the company 
though he respected the key-note more. As 
soon as he had repeated the tune and lowered 
his fiddle, he bowed again to the Squire and 
the rector, and said, " I hope I see your honour 
and your reverence well, and wishing you health 
and long life and a happy New Year. And 
wishing the same to you, Mr. Lammeter, sir ; 
and to the other gentlemen, and the madams, 
and the young lasses." 

As Solomon uttered the last words, he bowed 
in all directions solicitously, lest he should be 
wanting in due respect. But thereupon he 
immediately began to prelude, and fell into the 
tune which he knew would be taken as a special 
compliment by Mr. Lammeter. 

*^ Thank ye, Solomon, thank ye," said Mr. 
Lammeter when the fiddle paused again. 
** That's 'Over the hills and far away,' that 
is. My father used to say to me, whenever 
we heard that tune, ' Ah, lad, / come from 
over the hills and far away.' There's a many 
tunes I don't make head or tail of; but that 
speaks to me like the blackbird's whistle. I 
suppose it's the name ; there's a deal in the 
name of a tune." 

But Solomon was already impatient to prelude 

again, and presently broke with much spirit 


into '*Sir Roger de Coverley," at which there 
was a sound of chairs pushed back, and laughing 

**Ay, ay, Solomon, we know what that 
means," said the Squire, rising. *' It's time to 
begin the dance, eh? Lead the way, then, and 
we'll all follow you." 

So Solomon, holding his white head on one 
side and playing vigorously, marched forward 
at tlie head of the gay procession into the 
White Parlour, where the mistletoe-bough was 
hung, and multitudinous tallow candles made 
rather a brilliant effect, gleaming from among 
the berried holly-boughs, and reflected in the 
old-fashioned oval mirrors fastened in the panels 
of the white wainscot. A quaint procession ! 
Old Solomon, in his seedy clothes and long 
white locks, seemed to be luring that decent 
company by the magic scream of his fiddle — 
luring discreet matrons in turban-shaped caps, 
nay, Mrs. Crackenthorp herself, the summit of 
whose perpendicular feather was on a level with 
the Squire's shoulder — luring fair lasses com- 
placently conscious of very short waists and 
skirts blameless of front-folds — luring burly 
4"athers in large variegated waistcoats, and 
ruddy sons, for the most part shy and sheepish, 
in short nether garments and very long coat-tails. 

Already Mr. Macey and a few other privileged 
villagers, who were allow^ed to be spectators on 

these great occasions, were seated on benches 
placed for them near the door ; and great was 
the admiration and satisfaction in that quarter 
when the couples had formed themselves for 
the dance, and the Squire led off with Mrs. 
Crackenthorp, joining hands with the rector and 
Mrs. Osgood. That was as it should be — that 
was what everybody had been used to- — and the 
character of Raveloe seemed to be renewed by 
the ceremony. It was not thought of as an 
unbecoming levity for the old and middle-aged 
people to dance a little before sitting down to 
cards, but rather as part of their social duties. 
For what were these if not to be merry at ap- 
propriate times, interchanging visits and poultry 
with due frequency, paying each other old- 
established compliments in sound traditional 
phrases, passing well-tried personal jokes, urging 
your guests to eat and drink too much out of 
hospitality, and eating and drinking too much 
in your neighbour's house to show that you 
liked your cheer? And the parson naturally set 
an example in these social duties. For it would 
not have been possible for the Raveloe mind, 
without a peculiar revelation, to know that a 
clergyman should be a pale-faced memento of 
solemnities, instead of a reasonably faulty man 
whose exclusive authority to read prayers and 
preach, to christen, marry, and bury you, 

necessarily co-existed with the right to sell you 


the ground to be buiied in and to take tithe in 
kind ; on which last point, of course, there was 
a little grumbling, but not to the extent of 
irreligion — not of deeper significance than the 
grumbling at the rain, which was by no means 
accompanied with a spirit of impious defiance, 
but with a desire that the prayer for line weather 
might be read forthwith. 

There was no reason, then, why the rector's 
dancing should not be received as part of the 
fitness of things quite as much as the Squire's, 
or why, on the other hand, Mr. Macey's official 
respect should restrain him from subjecting 
the parson's performance to that criticism with 
which minds of extraordinary acuteness must 
necessarily contemplate the doings of their fallible 

** The Squire's pretty springe, considering his 

weight," said Mr. Macey, '*and he stamps 

uncommon well. But Mr. Lammeter beats 'em 

all for shapes : you see he holds his head like 

a sodger, and he isn't so cushiony as most o' 

the oldish gentlefolks — they run fat in general ; 

and he's got a fine leg. The parson's nimble 

enough, but he hasn't got much of a leg ; it's 

a bit too thick down'ard, and his knees might 

be a bit nearer wi'out damage ; but he might 

do worse, he might do worse. Though he 

hasn't that grand way o' waving his hand as 

the Squire has." 


**Talk o' nimbleness, look at Mrs. Osgood," 
said Ben Winthrop, who was holding his son 
Aaron between his knees. ''She trips along 
with her little steps, so as nobody can see how 
she goes — it's like as if she had little w^heels 
to her feet. She doesn't look a day older nor 
last year ; she's the finest-made woman as is, 
let the next be where she will." 

" I don't heed how the women are made,'* 
said Mr. Macey, with some contempt. "They 
wear naythar coat nor breeches ; you can't make 
much out o' their shapes." 

" Fayder," said Aaron, whose feet were busy 
beating out the tune, " how does that big cock's- 
feather stick in Mrs. Crackenthorp's yead? Is 
there a litde hole for it, like in my shuttlecock?" 

*' Hush, lad, hush ; that's the way the ladies 

dress theirselves, that is," said the father, adding, 

however, in an undertone to Mr. Macey, *'it 

does make her look funny, though — partly like 

a short-necked bottle wi' a long quill in it. Hey, 

by jingo, there's the young Squire leading off 

now, wi' Miss Nancy for partners ! There's a 

lass for you ! — like a pink-and-white posy — 

there's nobody 'ud think as anybody could be 

so pritty. I shouldn't wonder if she's Madam 

Cass some day, arter all — and nobody more 

rightfuller, for they'd make a fine match. You 

can find nothing against Master Godfrey's 

shapes, Macey, TU bet a penny.'* 


Mr. Macey screwed up his mouth, leaned bis 
liead further on one side, and twirled his thumbs 
with a presto movement as his eyes followed 
Godfrey up the dance. At last he summed up 
his opinion. 

*' Pretty well down'ard, but a bit too round i' 
the shoulder-blades. And as for them coats as 
he gets from the Flitton tailor, they're a poor cut 
to pay double money for." 

*^Ah, Mr. Macey, you and me are two folks,'* 
said Ben, slightly indignant at this carping. 
"When I've got a pot o' good ale, I like to 
swaller it, and do my inside good, i'stead o' 
smelling and staling at it to see if I can't find 
faut wi' the brewing. I should like you to pick 
me out a finer-limbed young fellow nor Master 
Godfrey — one as 'ud knock you down easier, or 's 
more pleasanter looksed when he's piert and 

" Tchuh ! '* said Mr. Macey, provoked to 

increased severity, "he isn't come to his right 

colour yet : he's partly like a slack-baked pie. 

And I doubt he's got a soft place in his head, 

else w^hy should he be turned round the linger 

by that offal Dunsey as nobody's seen o' late, 

and let him kill that fine hunting boss as was the 

talk o' the country? And one while he was allays 

after Miss Nancy, and then it all went off again, 

like a smell o' hot porridge, as I may say. That 

wasn't my way when /went a-coorting." 


** Ah, but mayhap Miss Nancy hung off, like, 
and your lass didn't," said Ben. 

**I should say she didn't," said Mr. Macey 
significantly. *' Before I said 'sniff,' I took care to 
know as she'd say 'snaff,' and pretty quick too. 
I wasn't a-going to open my mouth, like a dog 
at a fly, and snap it to again, wi' nothing to 

''Well, I think Miss Nancy's a-coming round 
again," said Ben, "for Master Godfrey doesn't 
look so down-hearted to-night. And I see he's 
for taking her away to sit down, now they're at 
the end o' the dance ; that looks like sweethearting, 
that does." 

The reason why Godfrey and Nancy had left 
the dance was not so tender as Ben imagined. 
In the close press of couples a slight accident 
had happened to Nancy's dress, which, while it 
Avas short enough to show her neat ankle in front, 
was long enough behind to be caught under the 
stately stamp of the Squire's foot, so as to rend 
certain stitches at the waist, and cause much 
sisterly agitation in Priscilla's mind, as well as 
serious concern in Nancy's. One's thoughts may 
be much occupied with love-struggles, but hardly 
so as to be insensible to a disorder in the general 
framework of things. Nancy had no sooner 
completed her duty in the figure they were 
dancing than she said to Godfrey, with a deep 
blush, that she must go and sit down till Priscilla 


could come to her; for the sisters had already! 
exchanged a short whisper and an open-eyed 
glance full of meaning. No reason less urgent | 
than this could have prevailed on Nancy to give j 
Godfrey this opportunity of sitting apart with her. 
As for Godfrey, he was feeling so happy and 
oblivious under the long charm of the country- 
dance with Nancy, that he got rather bold on the 
strength of her confusion, and was capable of 
leading her straight away, without leave asked, 
into the adjoining small parlour, where the 
card-tables were set. 

^' Oh no, thank you,'* said Nancy coldly, as 
soon as she perceived where he was going, " not 
in there. I'll wait here till Priscilla's ready to 
come to me. I'm sorry to bring you out of the 
dance and make myself troublesome." 

*' Why, you'll be more comfortable here by 
yourself," said the artful Godfrey. " I'll leave 
you here till your sister can come." He spoke 
in an indifferent tone. 

That was an agreeable proposition, and just 
what Nancy desired ; why, then, was she a little 
hurt that Mr. Godfrey should make it? They 
entered, and she seated herself on a chair against 
one of the card-tables, as the stiffest and most 
unapproachable position she could choose. 

" Thank you, sir," she said immediately. ** I 
needn't give you any more trouble. I'm sorry 
you've had such an unlucky partner.". 


*' That's very ill-natured of you,** said Godfrey, 
standing by her without any sign of intended 
departure, '' to be sorry you've danced with me." 

*'Oh no, sir, I don't mean to say what's ill- 
natured at all," said Nancy, looking distractedly 
prim and pretty. " When gentlemen have so 
many pleasures, one dance can matter but very 

'' You know that isn't true. You know one 
dance with you matters more to me than all the 
other pleasures in the world.'* 

It was a long, long while since Godfrey had 
said anything so direct as that, and Nancy was 
startled. But her instinctive dignity and re- 
pugnance to any show of emotion made her sit 
perfectly still, and only throw a little.more decision 
into her voice as she said — 

" No, indeed, Mr. Godfrey, that's not known 
to me, and I have very good reasons for think- 
ing different. But if it's true, I don't wish to 
hear it." 

** Would you never forgive me, then, Nancy 
—never think well of me, let what would happen 
— would you never think the present made amends 
for the past? Not if I turned a good fellow, and 
gave up everything you didn't like?" 

Godfrey was half conscious that this sudden 

opportunity of speaking to Nancy alone had 

driven him beside himself; but blind feeling 

had got the mastery of his tongue. Nancy 


really felt much agitated by the possibility 
Godfrey's words suggested, but this very 
pressure of emotion that she was in danger ol 
finding too strong for her, roused all her power 
of self-command. 

*' I should be glad to see a good change in 
anybody, Mr. Godfrey," she answered, with 
the slightest discernible difference of tone, ''but 
it 'ud be better if no change was wanted." 

"You're very hard-hearted, Nancy," said 
Godfrey pettishly. "You might encourage me 
to be a better fellow. I'm very miserable — but 
you've no feeling." 

"I think those have the least feeling that act 
wrong to begin with," said Nancy, sending out 
a flash in spite of herself. Godfrey was delighted 
with that little flash, and would have liked to go 
on and make her quarrel with him ; Nancy was 
so exasperatingly quiet and firm. But she was 
not indifl"erent to him yet. 

The entrance of Priscilla, bursting forward 
and saying, "Dear heart alive, child, let us 
look at this gown," cut off Godfrey's hopes of 
a quarrel. 

" I suppose I must go now," he said to 

" It's no matter to me whether you go or 
stay," said that frank lady, searching for some- 
thing in her pocket, with a preoccupied brow. 

"Do you want me to go?" said Godfrey,! 

looking- at Nancy, who was now standing up 
by Priscilla's order. 

*' As you like," said Nancy, trying to recover 
ill her former coldness, and looking down 
arefully at the hem of her gown. 

''Then I like to stay," said Godfrey, with a 
reckless determination to get as much of this 
joy as he could to-night, and think nothing of 
the morrow. 



While Godfrey Cass was taking draiif^^'hts of 
forgetfulncss from the sweet presence of Nancy, 
willinrrlv losino- all sense of that hidden bond 
which at other moments galled and fretted him 
so as to mingle irritation with the very sunshine, 
Godfrey's wife was walking with slow, uncertain 
steps through the snow-covered Raveloe lanes, 
carrying her child in her arms. 

The journey on New Year's Eve was a pre- 
meditated act of vengeance which she had kept 
in her heart ever since Godfrey, in a fit of 
passion, had told her he would sooner die than 
acknowledge her as his wife. There would be 
a great party at the Red House on New Year's 
Eve, she knew : her husband would be smiling 
and smiled upon, hiding her existence in the 
darkest corner of his heart. But she would 
mar his pleasure : she would go in her dingy 
rags, with her faded face, once as handsome as 
the best, with her little child that had its father's 
hair and eyes, and disclose herself to the Squire 
as his eldest son's wife. It is seldom that the 
miserable can help regarding their misery as a 
wrong inflicted by those who are less miserable, 
Molly knew that the cause of her dingy rags^ 

was not her husband's neglect, but the demon 



Opium to whom she was enslaved, body and soul, 
except in the lingering mother's tenderness that 
refused to give him her hungry child. She knew 
this well ; and yet, in the moments of wretched 
unbenumbed consciousness, the sense of her want 
and degradation transformed itself continually into 
bitterness towards Godfrey. Hew3.s well off; and 
if she had her rights she would be well off too. 
The belief that he repented his marriage, and suf- 
fered from it, only aggravated her vindictiveness. 
Just and self-reproving thoughts do not come to 
us too thickly, even in the purest air and with the 
best lessons of heaven and earth; how should 
those white-winged delicate messengers make 
their way to Molly's poisoned chamber, inhabited 
by no higher memories than those of a barmaid's 
paradise of pink ribbons and gentlemen's jokes ? 

She had set out at an early hour, but had 
lingered on the road, inclined by her indolence 
to believe that if she waited under a warm shed 
the snow would cease to fall. She had waited 
longer than she knew, and now that she found 
herself belated in the snow-hidden ruggedness 
of the long lanes, even the animation of a 
vindictive purpose could not keep her spirit 
from failing. It was seven o'clock, and by 
this time she was not very far from Raveloe, 
but she was not familiar enough with those mono- 
tonous, lanes to know how near she was to her 

journey's end. She needed comfort, and she 
s.M. 189 G 

knew but one comforter — the familiar demon 
in her bosom ; but she hesitated a moment, 
after drawing out the black remnant, before 
she raised it to her lips. In that moment the 
mother's love pleaded for painful consciousness 
rather than oblivion — pleaded to be left in aching; 
weariness rather than to have the encircling arms 
benumbed so that they could not feel the dear 
burden. In another momentMolly had flungsome- 
thing away, but it was not the black remnant — it 
was an empty phial. And she walked on again 
under the breaking cloud, from which there came 
now and then the light of a quickly-veiled star, for 
a freezing wind had sprung up since the snowing 
had ceased. But she walked always more and 
more drowsily, and clutched more and more 
automatically the sleeping child at her bosom. 

Slowly the demon was working his will, and 
cold and weariness were his helpers. Soon she 
felt nothing but a supreme immediate longing 
that curtained off all futurity — the longing to 
lie down and sleep. She had arrived at a spot 
where her footsteps were no longer checked by 
a hedgerow, and she had wandered vaguely, 
unable to distinguish any objects, notwithstand- 
ing the wide whiteness around her and the 
growing starlight. She sank down against a 
straggling furze bush, an easy pillow enough ; 
and the bed of snow, too, was soft. She did 

not feel that the bed was cold, and did not 


heed whether the child would wake and cry for her. 
But her arms had not yet relaxed their instinctive 
clutch ; and the little one slumbered on as gently 
as if it had been rocked in a lace-trimmed cradle. 

But the complete torpor came at last : the 
fingers lost their tension, the arms unbent ; 
then the little head fell away from the bosom, 
and the blue eyes opened wide on the cold 
starlight. At first there was a little peevish 
cry of ** mammy," and an effort to regain the 
pillowing arm and bosom ; but mammy's ear 
was deaf, and the pillow seemed to be slipping 
away backward. Suddenly, as the child rolled 
downward on its mother's knees, all wet with 
snow, its eyes were caught by a bright glanc- 
ing light on the white ground, and, with the 
ready transition of infancy, it was immediately 
absorbed in watching the bright living thing 
running towards it, yet never arriving. That 
bright living thing must be caught ; and in 
an instant the child had slipped on all fours, 
nd held out one little hand to catch the gleam. 
But the gleam would not be caught in that 
wray, and now the head was held up to see 
where the cunning gleam came from. It came 
from a very bright place, and the little one, 
rising on its legs, toddled through the snow, 
he old grimy shawl in which it was wrapped 
Tailing behind it, and the queer little bonnet 

iane^lingf at its back — toddled on to the open 

191 ^ 

door of Silas Marner's cottage, and right up to 
the warm hearth, wher« there was a bright fire 
of logs and sticks, which had thoroughly warmed 
the old sack (Silas's greatcoat) spread out on 
the bricks to dry. The little one, accustomed 
to be left to itself for long hours without notice 
from its mother, squatted down on the sack, 
and spread its tiny hands towards the blaze, 
in perfect contentment, gurgling and making 
many inarticulate communications to the cheerful 
fire, like a new-hatched gosling beginning to find 
itself comfortable. But presently the warmth had 
a lulling effect, and the little golden head sank 
down on the old sack, and the blue eyes were 
veiled by their delicate half-transparent lids. 

But where was Silas Marner while this strange 
visitor had come to his hearth ? He was in the 
cottage, but he did not see the child. During 
the last few weeks, since he had lost his money, 
he had contracted the habit of opening his 
door and looking out from time to time, as if 
he thought that his money might be somehow 
coming back to him, or that some trace, some 
news of it might be mysteriously on the road, and 
be caught by the listening ear or the straining eye. 
It was chiefly at night, when he was not occupied 
in his loom, that he fell into this repetition of an 
act for which he could have assigned no delinite 
purpose, and which can hardly be understood ex- 
cept by those who have undergone a bewildering t, 



separation from a supremely-loved object. In the 
evening twilight, and later whenever the night 
was not dark, Silas looked out on that narrow pros- 
pect round the Stone-pits, listening and gazing, not 
with hope, but with mere yearning and unrest. 

This morning he had been told by some of 
his neighbours that it was New Year's Eve, 
and that he must sit up and hear the old year y 
rung out and the new rung in, because that 
was good luck, and might bring his money 
back again. This was only a friendly Raveloe 
kvay of jesting with the half-crazy oddities of a 
Tiiser, but it had perhaps helped to throw Silas 
nto a more than usually excited state. , Since 
;he oncoming of twilight he had opened his 
ioor again and again, though only to shut it 
mmediately at seeing all distance veiled by the 
ailing snow. But the last time he opened it 
he snow had ceased, and the clouds were part- 
rig here and there. He stood and listened, an-d 
azed for a long while — there was really something 
n the road coming towards him then, but he 

* "1 

aught no sign of it; and the stillness and the 
nde trackless snow seemed to narrow his solitude, 
nd touched his yearning with the chill of despair.,- 
le went in again, and put his right hand on the 
tch of the door to close it — but he did not close 
t : he was arrested, as he had been already since 
is loss, by the invisible wand of catalepsy, and 
cod like a graven image, with wide but sightless 


eyes, holding" open his door, powerless to resist 
either the good or evil that might enter there. 

When Marner's sensibility returned, he con- 
tinued the action which had been arrested, and 
closed his door, unaware of the chasm in his con- 
sciousness, unaware of any intermediate change, 
except that the light had grown dim, and that 
he was chilled and faint. He thought he had 
been too long standing at the door and looking 
out. Turning towards the hearth, where the 
two logs had fallen apart, and sent forth only 
a red, uncertain glimmer, he seated himself on 
his fireside chair, and was stooping to push 
his logs together, when, to his blurred vision, 
it seemed as if there were gold on the floor in |a 
front of the hearth. Gold ! — his own gold — 
brought back to him as mysteriously as it had 
been taken away ! He felt his heart begin to 
beat violently, and for a few moments he was 
unable to stretch out his hand and grasp the 
restored treasure. The heap of gold seemed to 
glow and get larger beneath his agitated gaze. 
He leaned forward at last, and stretched forth 
his hand ; but instead of the hard coin with 
the familiar resisting outline, his fingers en- 
countered soft, warm curls. 

In utter amazement, Silas fell on his knees and 

bent his head low to examine the marvel : it wast 

a sleeping child — a round, fair thing, with soft of 

yellow rings all over its head. Could this be his ^ 



ittle sister come back to him in a dream — his 

ittle sister whom he had carried about in his 

irms for a year before she died, when he was a 

mall boy without shoes or stockings? That 

-vas the first thought that darted across Silas's 

^lank wonderment. Was it a dream ? He 

ose to his feet again, pushed his logs together, 

md, throwing on some dried leaves and sticks, 

aised a flame; but the flame did not disperse 

:he vision — it only lit up more distinctly the 

ittle round form of the child, and its shabby 

:lothing. It Avas very much like his little sister. 

Mlas sank into his chair powerless, under the 

iouble presence of an inexplicable surprise and 

L hurrying influx of memories. How and when 

lad the child come in without his knowledge? 

^e had never been beyond the door. 

But along with that question, and almost 

hrusting it away, there was a vision of the 

)ld home and the old streets leading to Lantern 

i^ard — and v/ithin that vision another, of the 

houghts which had been present with him in 

hose far-off scenes. The thoughts were strange 

o him now, like old friendships impossible to 

evive ; and yet he had a dreamy feeling that 

his child was somehow a message come to him 

rom that far-off life : it stirred fibres that had j 

lever been moved in Raveloe — old quiverings'^ 

)f tenderness — old impressions of awe at the 

)resentiment of some Power presiding over his 


life ; for his imagination had not yet extricated 
itself from the sense of mystery in the child's 
sudden presence, and had formed no conjectures 
of ordinary natural means by which the event 
could have been brouglit about. 

But there was a cry on the hearth : the child 
had awaked, and Marner stooped to lift it on 
liis knee. It clung round his neck, and burst 
louder and louder into that mingling of inar- 
ticulate cries with " mammy " by which little 
children express the bewilderment of waking. 
Silas pressed it to him, and almost unconsciously 
uttered sounds of hushing tenderness, while he 
bethought himself that some of his porridge, 
which had got cool by the dying fire, would do |^ 
to feed the child with if it were only warmed 
up a little. 

He had plenty to do through the next hour. 

The porridge, sweetened with some dry brown 

sugar from an old store which he had refrained 

from using for himself, stopped the cries ol 

the little one, and made her lift her blue eyes 

with a wide quiet gaze at Silas, as he put the 

spoon into her mouth. Presently she slipped 

from his knee and began to toddle about, but 

with a pretty stagger that made Silas jump 

up and follow her lest she should fall against 

anything that would hurt her. But she only 

fell in a sitting posture on the ground, and 

began to pull at her boots, looking up at 



him with a crying face as if the boots hurt 
her. He took her on his knee again, but it 
was some time before it occurred to Silas's 
dull bachelor mind that the wet boots were 
the grievance, pressing on her warm ankles. 
He got them off with difficulty, and baby was 
It once happily occupied with the primary 
Tiystery of her own toes, inviting Silas with 
nuch chuckling, to consider the mystery too. 

But the wet boots had at last suggested to 
5ilas that the child had been walking on the 
mow, and this roused him from his entire 
)blivion of any ordinary means by which it 
ould have entered or been brought into his 
LOuse. Under the prompting of this new idea, 
,nd without waiting to form conjectures, he 
aised the child in his arms, and went to the 
Gor. As soon as he had opened it, there 
/■as the cry of ** mammy" again, which Silas 
ad not heard since the child's first hungry 
aking. Bending forward, he could just discern 
16 marks made by the little feet on the virgin 
low, and he followed their track to the furze 
ushes. *^ Mammy!" the little one cried again 

d again, stretching itself forward so as almost 

) escape from Silas's arms, before he himself 

as aware that there was something more than 

le bush before him — that there was a human 

ody, with the head sunk low in the furze, 

id half-covered with the shaken snow. 




It was after the early supper-time at the Red 
House, and the entertainment was in that stage 
when bash fulness itself had passed into easy 
jollity, when gentlemen, conscious of unusual 
accomplishments, could at length be prevailed 
on to dance a hornpipe, and when the Squire 
preferred talking loudly, scattering snuff, and 
patting his visitors' backs, to sitting longer at 
the whist-table — a choice exasperating to uncle 
Kimble, who, being always volatile in sober 
business hours, became intense and bitter over 
cards and brandy, shuffled before his adversary's 
deal with a glare of suspicion, and turned up 
a mean trump-card with an air of inexpressible 
disgust, as if in a world where such things 
could happen one might as well enter on a 
course of reckless profligacy. When the evening 
had advanced to this pitch of freedom and 
enjoyment, it was usual for the servants, the 
heavy duties of supper being well over, to get 
their share of amusement by coming to look on at 
the dancing ; so that the back regions of the 
house were left in solitude. 

There were two doors by which the White 
Parlour was entered from the hall, and they 
were both standing open for the sake of air| 

iqS m 

but the lower one was crowded with the servants 
and villagers, and only the upper doorway was 
left free. Bob Cass was figuring in a hornpipe, 
and his father, very proud of this lithe son, whom 
he repeatedly declared to be just like himself in 
his young days in a tone that implied this to 
be the very, highest stamp of juvenile merit, 
was the centre of a group who had placed 
themselves opposite the performer, not far from 
the upper door. Godfrey was standing a little 
way off, not to admire his brother's dancing, 
but to keep sight of Nancy, who was seated 
in the group near her father. He stood aloof, 
because he wished to avoid suggesting himself 
as a subject for the Squire's fatherly jokes in 
connection with matrimony and - Miss Nancy 
Lammeter's beauty, which were likely to become 
more and more explicit. But he had the prospect 
of dancing with her again when the hornpipe 
was concluded, and in the meanwhile it was 
very pleasant to get long glances at her quite 

But when Godfrey was lifting his eyes from 
3ne of those long glances, they encountered an 
Dbject as startling to him at that moment as if 
it had been an apparition from the dead. It 
was an apparition from that hidden life which 
ies, like a dark by-street, behind the goodly 
ornamented fa9ade that meets the sunlight and 
:he gaze of respectable admirers. It was his 

own child carried in Silas Marner's arms. 
That was his instantaneous impression, unac- 
companied by doubt, though he had not seen 
the child for months past ; and when the hope 
was rising that he might possibly be mistaken, 
Mr. Crackenthorp and Mr. Lammeter had already 
advanced to Silas, in astonishment of this strange 
advent. Godfrey joined them immediately, un- 
able to rest without hearing every word — trying 
to control himself, but conscious that if any one 
noticed him, they must see that he was white- 
lipped and trembling. 

But now all eyes at that end of the room 
were bent on Silas Marner ; the Squire himself 
had risen, and asked angrily: ^' How's this? — 
what's this? — what do you do coming in here 
in this way?" 

*' I'm come for the doctor — I want the 
doctor," Silas had said, in the first moment, 
to Mr. Crackenthorp. 

*' Why, what's the matter, Marner?" said the 
rector. "The doctor's here; but say quietly 
what you want him for." 

"It's a woman," said Silas, speaking low 
and half-breathlessly, just as Godfrey came up. 
"She's dead, I think — dead in the snow at the 
Stone-pits — not far from my door." 

Godfrey felt a great throb : there was one 
terror in his mind at that moment : it was, that 
the woman might not be dead. That was an 


evil terror — an ugly inmate to have found a 
nestling-place in Godfrey's kindly disposition ; 
but no disposition is a security from evil wishes 
to a man whose happiness hangs on duplicity. 

'' Hush, hush ! " said Mr. Crackenthorp. " Go 
out into the hall there. I'll fetch the doctor to 
you. Found a woman in the snow — and thinks 
she's dead," he added, speaking low, to the 
Squire. '' Better say as little about it as possible; 
it will shock the ladies. Just tell them a poor 
woman is ill from cold and hunger. I'll go 
and fetch Kimble." 

By this time, however, the ladies had pressed 
forward, curious to know what could have brought 
the solitary linen-weaver there under such strange 
circumstances, and interested in the pretty child, 
who, half alarmed and half attracted by the bright- 
ness and the numerous company, now frowned 
and hid her face, now lifted up her head again 
and looked round placably, until a touch or a 
coaxing word brought back the frown, and made 
her bury her face with new determination. 

^^ What child is it?" said several ladies at 
once, and, among the rest, Nancy Lammeter, 
addressing Godfrey. 

** I don't know — some poor woman's who has 

been found in the snow, I believe," was the 

inswer Godfrey wrung from himself with a terrible 

ffort. (*' After all, am I certain?" he hastened 

:o add, in anticipation of his own conscience.) 


** Why, you'd better leave the child here, 
then, Master Marner," said <^ood-natured iMrs. 
Kimble, hesitating, however, to take those dingy 
clothes into contact with her own ornamental 
satin bodice. ^'I'll tell one o' the girls to 
fetch it." 

'' No — no — I can't part with it, I can't let it 
go," said Silas abruptly. ^* It's come to me — 
I've a right to keep it." 

The proposition to take the child from him 
had come to Silas quite unexpectedly, and his 
speech, uttered under a. strong sudden impulse, 
was almost like a revelation to himself: a minute 
before, he had no distinct intention about the 

'^Did you ever hear the like?" said Mrs. 
Kimble, in mild surprise, to her neighbour. 

** Now, ladies, I must trouble you to stand 
aside," said Mr. Kimble, coming from the card- 
room in some bitterness at the interruption, but 
drilled by the long habit of his profession into 
obedience to unpleasant calls, even when he was 
hardly sober. 

" It's a nasty business turning out now, eh, 
Kimble?" said the Squire. *'He might ha' 
gone for your young fellow — the 'prentice, there 
— what's his name ? " 

''Might? ay — what's the use of talking about 
might?" growled uncle Kimble, hastening out 
with Marner, and followed by Mr. Crackenthorp 


and Godfrey. "Get me a pair of thick boots, 
Godfrey, will you? And stay, let somebody run 
to Winthrop's and fetch Dolly — she's the best 
woman to get. Ben was here himself before 
supper; is he gone?" 

*'Yes, sir; I met him," said Marner ; **but 
I couldn't stop to tell him anything, only I 
said I was going for the doctor, and he said the 
doctor was at the Squire's. And I made haste 
and ran, and there was nobody to be seen at the 
back o' the house, and so I went in to where the 
company was." 

The child, no longer distracted by the bright 
light and the smiling women's faces, began to 
cry and call for '^ mammy," though always 
clinging to Marner, who had apparently won 
her thorough confidence. Godfrey had come 
back with the boots, and felt the cry as if some 
fibre were drawn tight within him. 

"I'll go," he said hastily, eager for some 
movement; "I'll go and fetch the woman — 
Mrs. Winthrop." 

"Oh, pooh — send somebody else," said uncle 
Kimble, hurrying away with Marner. 

"You'll let me know if I can be of any use, 
Kimble," said Mr. Crackenthorp. But the doctor 
was out of hearing. 

Godfrey, too, had disappeared : he was gone 

to snatch his hat and coat, having just reflection 

enough to remember that he must not look like 


a madman ; but lie ruslicd out of the house into 
the snow without heeding his thin shoes. 

In a few minutes he was on his rapid way to 
the Stone-pits by the side of I3olly, who, 
though feeUng that she was entirely in her 
place in encountering cold and snow on an 
errand of mercy, was much concerned at a 
young gentleman's getting his feet wet under 
a like impulse. 

** You'd a deal better go back, sir," said Dolly, 
with respectful compassion. "You've no call to 
catch cold ; and I'd ask you if you'd be so good 
as tell my husband to come, on your way back 
— he's at the Rainbow, I doubt — if you found 
him anyway sober enough to be o' use. Or 
else, there's Mrs. Snell 'ud happen send the 
boy up to fetch and carry, for there may be 
things wanted from the doctor's." 

" No, I'll stay, now I'm once out — I'll stay 
outside here," said Godfrey, when they came 
opposite Marner's cottage. "You can come 
and tell me if I can do anything." 

" Well, sir, you're very good : you've a tender 
heart," said Dolly, going to the door. 

Godfrey was too painfully preoccupied to feel 
a twinge of self-reproach at this undeserved 
praise. He walked up and down, unconscious 
that he was plunging ankle-deep in snow, un- 
conscious of everything but trembling suspense 

about what was going on in the cottage, and the 


effect of each alternative on his future lot. No, 
not quite unconscious of everything else. Deeper 
down, and half-smothered by passionate desire and 
dread, there was the sense that he ought not to 
be waiting on these alternatives ; that he ought 
to accept the consequences of his deeds, own the 
miserable wife, and fulfil the claims of the help- 
less child. But he had not moral courage enough 
to contemplate that active renunciation of Nancy 
as possible for him : he had only conscience and 
heart enough to make him for ever uneasy under 
the weakness that forbade the renunciation. And 
at this moment his mind leaped away from all 
restraint towards the sudden prospect of deliver- 
ance from his long bondage. 

'* Is she dead?" said the voice that pre- 
dominated over every other within him. *' If 
she is, I may marry Nancy ; and then I shall 
be a good fellow in future, and have no secrets, 
and the child — shall be taken care of somehow." 
But across that vision came the other possibility 
— *' She may live, and then it's all up with me." 

Godfrey never knew how long it was before 
the door of the cottage opened and Mr. Kimble 
came out. He went forward to meet his uncle, 
prepared to suppress the agitation he must feel, 
whatever news he was to hear. 

**I waited for you, as I'd come so far," he 

said, speaking first. 

**Pooh, it was nonsense for you to come out: 


why didn't you send one of the men? There's 
nothing to be done. She's dead — has been dead 
for hours, I should say." 

'* What sort of woman is she?" said Godfrey, 
feeling- the blood rush to his face. 

''A young woman, but emaciated, with long 
black hair. Some vagrant — quite in rags. She's 
got a wedding-ring on, however. They must 
fetch her away to the workhouse to-morrow. 
Come, come along." 

*' I want to look at her," said Godfrey. " I 
think I saw such a woman yesterday. I'll 
overtake you in a minute or two." 

Mr. Kimble went on, and Godfrey turned back 
to the cottage. He cast only one glance at the 
dead face on the pillow, which Dolly had 
smoothed with decent care ; but he remembered 
that last look at his unhappy, hated wife so 
well, that at the end of sixteen years every line 
in the worn face was present to him when he 
told the full story of this night. 

He turned immediately towards the hearth, 
where Silas Marner sat lulling the child. She 
was perfectly quiet now, but not asleep — only 
soothed by sweet porridge and warmth into that 
wide-gazing calm which makes us older human 
beings, with our inward turmoil, feel a certain 
awe in the presence of a little child, such as 
we feel before some quiet majesty or beauty in 

the earth or sky — before a steady glowing planet, 


or a fuII-flowered eglantine, or the bending trees 
over a silent pathway. The wide-open blue eyes 
looked up at Godfrey's without any uneasiness 
or sign of recognition : the child could make no 
visible, audible claim on its father ; and the father 
felt a strange mixture of feelings, a conflict of 
regret and joy, that the pulse of that little heart 
had no response for the half-jealous yearning in 
his own, when the blue eyes turned away from 
him slowly, and fixed themselves on the weaver's 
queer face, which was bent low down to look at 
them, while the small hand began to pull Marner's 
withered cheek with loving disfiguration. 

*' You'll take the child to the parish to- 
morrow?" asked Godfrey, speaking as in- 
differently as he could. 

* * Who says so ? " said Marner sharply. ^ * Will 
they make me take her?" 

** Why, you wouldn't like to keep her, should 
you — an old bachelor like you ? " 

*'Till anybody shows they've a right to take 
her away from me," said Marner. ''The 
mother's dead, and I reckon it's got no father : 
it's a lone thing — and I'm a lone thing. My ' ^ 
money's gone, I don't know where — and this 
is come from I don't know where. I know 
nothing — I'm partly mazed." 

''Poor little thing!" said Godfrey. *'Let me 

give something towards finding it clothes." 

He had put his hand in his pocket and found 



half-a-^uinea, and, thrusting it into Silas's hand, 
he hurried out of the cottage to overtake Mr. 

*'Ah, I see it's not the same woman I saw," 
he said, as he came up. " It's a pretty little 
child : the old fellow seems to want to keep it ; 
that's strange for a miser like him. But I 
gave him a trifle to help him out : the parish 
isn't likely to quarrel with him for the right to 
keep the child." 

'*No; but I've seen the time when I might 
have quarrelled with him for it myself. It's too 
late now, though. If the child ran into the fire, 
your aunt's too fat to overtake it : she could only 
sit and grunt like an alarmed sow. But what 
a fool you are, Godfrey, to come out in your 
dancing shoes and stockings in this way — and 
you one of the beaux of the evening, and at 
your own house ! What do you mean by such 
freaks, young fellow? Has Miss Nancy been 
cruel, and do you want to spite her by spoiling 
your pumps? " 

'^Oh, everything has been disagreeable to- 
night. I was tired to death of jigging and 
gallanting, and that bother about the hornpipes. 
And I'd got to dance with the other Miss Gunn,'* 
said Godfrey, glad of the subterfuge his uncl« 
had suggested to him. 

The prevarication and white lies, which a mind 

that keeps itself ambitiously pure is as uneasy 


under as a great artist under the false touches 
that no eye detects but his own, are worn as 
lightly as mere trimmings when once the actions 
have become a lie. 

Godfrey reappeared in the White Parlour with 
dry feet, and, since the truth must be told, 
with a sense of relief and gladness that was too 
strong for painful thoughts to struggle with. 
For could he not venture now, whenever oppor- 
tunity offered, to say the tenderest things to 
Nancy Lammeter — to promise her and himself 
that he would always be just what she would 
desire to see him? There was no danger that 
his dead wife would be recognised : those were 
not days of active inquiry and wide report ; and 
as for the registry of their marriage, that was a 
long way off, buried in unturned pages, away 
from every one's interest but his own. Dunsey 
might betray him if he came back ; but Dunsey 
might be won to silence. 

And when events turn out so much better for 
a man than he has had reason to dread, is it 
not a proof that his conduct has been less foolish 
and blameworthy than it might otherwise have 
appeared? When we are treated well, we 
naturally begin to think that we are not alto- 
gether unmeritorious, and that it is only just we 
should treat ourselves well, and not mar our 
own good fortune. Where, after all, would be 

the use of his confessing the past to Nancy 


Lammeter, and throwing away his happiness? 
— nav, hers? for he felt some confidence that 
she loved him. As for the child, he would see 
that it was cared for ; he would never forsake 
it ; he would do everything but own it. Perhaps 
it would be just as happy in life without being- 
owned by its father, seeing that nobody could 
tell how things would turn out, and that — is 
there any other reason wanted? — well, then, 
that the father would be much happier without 
owning his child. 




There was a pauper's burial that week in 
Raveloe, and up Kench Yard at Batherley it 
was known that the dark-haired woman with the 
fair child, who had lately come to lodge there, 
was gone away again. That was all the express 
note taken that Molly had disappeared from 
the eyes of men. But the unwept death which, 
to the general lot, seemed as trivial as the 
summer-shed leaf, was charged with the force 
of destiny to certain human lives that we know 
of, shaping their joys and sorrows even to the 

Silas Marner's determination to keep the 
** tramp's child" was matter of hardly less 
surprise and iterated talk in the village than 
the robbery of his money. That softening of 
feeling towards him which dated from his mis- 
fortune, that merging of suspicion and dislike 
in a rather contemptuous pity for him as lone 
and crazy, was now accompanied with a more 
active sympathy, especially amongst the women. 
Notable mothers, who knew what it was to keep 
children " whole and sweet ; " lazy mothers, who 
knew what it was to be interrupted in folding 
their arms and scratching their elbows by the 
mischievous propensities of children just firm 


on their Icq-s, were equally interested in con- 
jecturing how a lone man would manage with 
a two-year-old child on his hands, and were 
equally ready with their suggestions : the notable 
chiefly telling him what he had better do, and 
the lazy ones being emphatic in telling him what 
he would never be able to do. 

Among the notable mothers, Dolly Winthrop 
was the one whose neighbourly offices were the 
most acceptable to Marner, for they were rendered 
without any show of bustling instruction. Silas 
had shown her the half-guinea given to him 
by Godfrey, and had asked her what he should 
do about getting some clothes for the child. 

** Eh, Master Marner," said Dolly, ''there's 
no call to buy, no more nor a pair o' shoes ; 
for I've got the little petticoats as Aaron wore 
five years ago, and it's ill spending the money 
on them baby-clothes, for the child 'ull grow 
like grass i' May, bless it ! — that it will." 

And the same day Dolly brought her bundle, 
and displayed to Marner, one by one, the tiny 
garments in their due order of succession, most 
of them patched and darned, but clean and 
neat as fresh-sprung herbs. This was the intro- 
duction to a great ceremony with soap and 
water, from which Baby came out in new 
beauty, and sat on Dolly's knee, handling her 
toes, and chuckling and patting her palms 
together with an air of having made several 


discoveries about herself, which she communi- 
cated by alternate sounds of ** gng-gug-g^ug '* 
and *^ mammy." The ** mammy" was not a 
cry of need or uneasiness : Baby had been 
used to utter it without expecting either tender 
sound or touch to follow. 

*' Anybody 'ud think the angils in heaven 
couldn't be prettier," said Dolly, rubbing the 
golden curls and kissing them. **And to think 
of it's being covered wi' them dirty rags — and 
the poor mother — froze to death ; but there's 
Them as took care of it, and brought it to 
your door. Master Marner. The door was open, 
and it walked in over the snow, like as if it 
had been a little starved robin. Didn't you 
say the door was open ? '* 

**Yes," said Silas meditatively. ** Yes — the 
door was open. The money's gone I don't 
know where, and this is come from I don't 
know where." 

He had not mentioned to any one his uncon- 
sciousness of the child's entrance, shrinking 
from questions which might lead to the fact he 
himself suspected — namely, that he had been in 
one of his trances. 

**Ah," said Dolly, with soothing gravity, 

** it's like the night and the morning, and the 

sleeping and the waking, and the rain and the 

harvest — one goes and the other comes, and we 

know nothing how nor where. We may strive 


and scrat and fend, but it's little we can do 
arter all — the big" things come and go wi' no 
striving- o' our'n — they do, that they do ; and 
I think you're in the right on it to keep the 
little un, Master Marner, seeing as it's been 
sent to you, though there's lolks as thinks 
different. You'll happen to be a bit moithered 
with it while it's so little ; but I'll come, and 
welcome, and see to it for you ; I've a bit o' 
time to spare most days, for when one gets up 
betimes i' the morning, the clock seems to stan' 
still tow'rt ten, afore it's time to go about the 
victual. So, as I say, I'll come and see to the 
child for you, and welcome." 

** Thank you . . . kindly,*' said Silas, hesi- 
tating a little. ''I'll be glad if you'll tell me 
things. But," he added uneasily, leaning forward 
to look at Baby with some jealousy, as she was 
resting her head backward against Dolly's arm, 
and eyeing him contentedly from a distance — 
"but I want to do things for it myself, else 
it may get fond o* somebody else, and not fond 
o' me. I've been used to fending for myself in 
the house — I can learn, I can learn." 

*' Eh, to be sure," said Dolly gently. ** I've 

seen men as are wonderful handy wi' children. 

The men are awk'ard and contrairy mostly, God 

help 'em — but when the drink's out of 'em, they 

aren't unsensible, though they're bad for leeching 

and bandaging — so fiery and unpatient. You see 


this goes first, next the skin," proceeded Dolly, 
taking up the little shirt, and putting it on. 

**Yes,'* said Marner docilely, bringing his 
eyes very close, that they might be initiated in 
the mysteries ; whereupon Baby seized his head 
with both her small arms, and put her lips 
against his face with purring noises. 

**See there," said Dolly, with a woman's tender 
tact, ** she's fondest o' you. She wants to go 
o* your lap, I'll be bound. Go then : take her. 
Master Marner; you can put the things on, 
and then you can say as you've done for her 
from the first of her coming to you." 

Marner took her on his lap, trembling with 
an emotion mysterious to himself, at something 
unknown dawning on his life. Thought and 
feeling were so confused within him, that if he 
had tried to give them utterance, he could only 
have said that the child was come instead of 
the gold — that the gold had turned into the 
child. He took the garments from Dolly, and 
put them on under her teaching ; interrupted, 
of course, by Baby's gymnastics. 

*' There, then ! why, j'-ou take to it quite easy, 
Master Marner," said Dolly; **but what shall 
>rou do when you're forced to sit in your loom? 
For she'll get busier and mischievouser every 
day — she will, bless her. It's lucky as you've 
^ot that high hearth i'stead of a grate, for that 

I seeps the fire more out of her reach : but if 

youVe g-ot anything as can be split or broke, 
or as is fit to cut her finders off, she'll be at it 
— and it is but right you should know." 

Silas meditated a little while in some per- 
plexity. *' I'll tie her to the leg o' the loom," 
he said at last, **tie her with a good long strip 
o' something." 

** Well, mayhap that'll do, as it's a litde gell, 
for they're easier persuaded to sit i' one place 
nor the lads. I know what the lads are ; for 
I've had four — four I've had, God knows — and 
if you was to take and tie 'em up, they'd make 
a fighting and a crying as if you was ringing 
the pigs. But I'll bring you my little chair, 
and some bits o' red rag and things for her to 
play wi' ; an' she'll sit and chatter to 'em as if 
they was alive. Eh, if it wasn't a sin to the 
lads to wish 'em made different, bless 'em, I jri 
should ha' been glad for one of 'em to be a - 
little gell ; and to think as I could ha* taught 
her to scour, and mend, and the knitting, and I 
everything. But I can teach 'em this little 'un. 
Master Marner, when she gets old enough.'* 

^'But she'll be my little un,** said Marner 
rather hastily. ** She'll be nobody else's.** \ 

** No, to be sure ; you'll have a right to her, 
if you're a father to her, and bring her up In 
according. But," added Dolly, coming to a ie 
point which she had determined beforehand to \ 
touch upon, ^^you must bring her up like in 



christened folks*s children, and take her to 
church, and let her learn her catechise, as my 
little Aaron can say off — the ^ I believe,' and 
everything, and * hurt nobody by word or deed ' 
— as well as if he was the clerk. That's what 
y^ou must do, Master Marner, if you'd do the 
right thing by the orphin child." 

Marner's pale face flushed suddenly under a 
aew anxiety. His mind was too busy trying 
:o give some definite bearing to Dolly's words 
*or him to think of answering her. 

**And it's my belief," she went on, **as the 
DOor little creature has never been christened, 
md it's nothing but right as the parson should 
>e spoke to ; and if you was noways unwilling, 
■'d talk to Mr. Macey about it this very day. 
i^or if the child ever went anyways wrong, and 
^ou hadn't done your part by it. Master Marner 
— 'noculation, and everything to save it from 
larm — it 'ud be a thorn i' your bed for ever o* 
his side the grave ; and I can't think as it 'ud 
)e easy lying down for anybody when they'd 
;^ot to another world, if they hadn't done their 
>art by the helpless children as come wi'out 
heir own asking." 

Dolly herself was disposed to be silent for 

ome time now, for she had spoken from the 

epths of her own simple belief, and was much 

oncerned to know whether her words would pro- 

uce the desired effect on Silas. He was puzzled 


and anxious, for Dolly's word ** christened " con- 
veyed no distinct meanin<^ to him. He had JE 
only heard of baptism, and had only seen the 
baptism of grown-up men and women. 

** What is it as you mean by * christened?' ** 
he said at last timidly. " Won't folks be good I 
to her without it?" 

*'Dear, dear! Master Marner," said Dolly, f 
with gentle distress and compassion. ** Hadi 
you never no father nor mother as taught you Q 
to say your prayers, and as there's good words f 
and good things to keep us from harm I " 

** Yes," said Silas, in a low voice; ** I know 
a deal about that — used to, used to. But your 
ways are different; my country was a good wayfc 
off.'* He paused a few moments, and then w 
added, more decidedly, *^ But I want to do d 
everything as can be done for the child. And o 
whatever's right for it i' this country, and you 
think 'ull do it good, I'll act according, if you'll |j: 
tell me." 

<* Well, then, Master Marner," said Dolly, 
inwardly rejoiced, *' I'll ask Mr. Macey to speakji 
to the parson about it ; and you must fix on a u 
name for it, because it must have a name giv' 
it when it's christened." 

** My mother's name was Hephzibah," saidj« 
Silas, **and my little sister was named after her." 

*^Eh, that's a hard name," said Dolly. ''I 
partly think it isn't a christened, name." 


**It's a Bible name," said Silas, old ideas 

*'Then Pve no call to speak again* it," said 
Dolly, rather startled by Silas's knowledge on 
his head; **but you see I'm no scholard, and 
'm slow at catching the words. My husband 
ays I'm allays like as if I was putting the haft 
or the handle — that's what he says — for he's 
ery sharp, God help him. But it was awk'ard 
ailing your little sister by such a hard name, 
V hen you'd got nothing big to say, like — wasn't 
t, Master Marner?" 

*' We called her Eppie," said Silas. 

** Well, if it was noways wrong to shorten the 
lame, it 'ud be a deal handier. And so I'll go 
low, Master Marner, and I'll speak about the 
hristening afore dark; and I wish you the best 
•' luck, and it's my belief as it'll come to you, 
f you do what's right by the orphin child ; — 
nd there's the 'noculation to be seen to ; and 
s to washing its bits o' things, you need look 
nobody but me, for I can do 'em wi' one hand 
irhen I've got my suds about. Eh, the blessed 
ngil I You'll let me bring my Aaron one o' 
hese days, and he'll show her his little cart as 
lis father's made for him, and the black-and- 
/hite pup as he's got a-rearing." 

Baby was christened, the rector deciding that 

double baptism was the lesser risk to incur ; 
nd on this occasion Silas, making himself as 


L/1 V^ V iV^ Hi 

1 by th| 
'ate witj 
.rison a 

clean and tidy as he could, appeared for tlie 
first time within the church, and shared in tlu 
observances held sacred by his neighb(^urs. He 
was quite unable, by means of anything he hearc 
or saw, to identify the Raveloe religion with hij 
old faith ; if he could at any time in his previouj 
life have done so, it must have been by t 
aid of a strong feeling ready to vibrate 
sympathy, rather than by a com pa 
phrases and ideas ; and now for long year 
that feeling had been dormant. He had n< 
distinct idea about the baptism and the church 
going, except that Dolly had said it was fo 
the good of the child ; and in this way, as th« 
weeks grew to months, the child created fresl 
and fresh links between his life and the live; 
from which he had hitherto shrunk continually 
into narrower isolation. Unlike the gold whicl 
needed nothing, and must be worshipped in close 
locked solitude — which was hidden away from thi 
daylight, was deaf to the song of birds, and startec 
to no human tones — Eppie was a creature o 
endless claims and ever-growing desires, seeking 
and loving sunshine, and living sounds, am 
living movements ; making trial of everything 
with trust in new joy, and stirring the humai 
kindness in all eyes that looked on her. 

The gold had kept his thoughts in an ever 
repeated circle, leading to nothing beyond itself 
but Eppie was an object compacted of change 


^ nd hopes that forced his thoughts onward, and 
.' :arried them far away from their old eager pacing 
towards the same blank limit — carried them away 
to the new things that would come with the 
coming years, when Eppie would have learned 
to understand how her father Silas cared for her ; 
and made him look for images of that time in 
the ties and charities that bound together the 
families of his neighbours. The gold had asked 
that he should sit weaving longer and longer, 
deafened and blinded more and more to all 
things except the monotony of his loom and the 
repetition of his web ; but Eppie called him 
away from his weaving, and made him think 
all its pauses a holiday, re-awakening his senses 
with her fresh life, even to the old winter-flies 
that came crawling forth in the early spring 
sunshine, and warming him into joy because 
she had joy. 

And when the sunshine grew strong and 
lasting, so that the buttercups were thick in 
the meadows, Silas might be seen in the sunny 
midday, or in the late afternoon when the 
shadows were lengthening under the hedge- 
rows, strolling out with uncovered head to 
carry Eppie beyond the Stone-pits to where 
the flowers grew, till they reached some favourite 
bank where he could sit down, while Eppie 
toddled to pluck the flowers, and make remarks 
to the winged things that murmured happily 

S.M. 221 H 


above the bright petals, calling ** Dad-dad's '* 
attention continually by bringing him tla 
flowers. Then she would turn her ear to somd 
sudden bird-note, and Silas learned to please 
her by making signs of hushed stillness, that 
they might listen for the note to come again : 
so that when it came, she set up her small back 
and laughed with gurgling triumph. Sitting 
on the banks in this way, Silas began to look 
--for the once familiar herbs again ; and as the 
leaves, with their unchanged outline and 
markings, lay on his palm, there was a 
sense of crowding remembrances from which' 
he turned away timidly, taking refuge in, 
Eppie's little world, that lay lightly on his 
enfeebled spirit. 

/ As the child's mind was growing into know- 
ledge, his mind was growing into memory : as 
j her life unfolded, his soul, long stupefied in a 
TX)ld, narrow prison, was unfolding too, and 
trembling gradually into full consciousness. 

It was an influence which must gather force |o 
with every new year : the tones that stirred 
Silas's heart grew articulate, and called for 
more distinct answers ; shapes and sounds |o 
grew clearer for Eppie's eyes and ears, and 
there was more that ''Dad-dad" was impera- 
tively required to notice and account for. Also, 
by the time Eppie was three years old, she Ice 
developed a fine capacity for mischief, and for th 



devising ingenious ways of being troublesome, 
which found much exercise, not only for Silas's 
patience, but for his watchfulness and penetration. 
Sorely was poor Silas puzzled on such occasions 
by the incompatible demands of love. Dolly 
Winthrop told him that punishment was good 
for Eppie, and that, as for rearing a child 
ivithout making it tingle a little in soft and 
safe places now and then, it was not to be done. 

**To be sure, there's another thing you might 
io, Master Marner," added Dolly meditatively: 
''you might shut her up once i' the coal-hole. 
That was what I did wi' Aaron ; for I was that 
silly wi' the youngest lad, as I could never bear 
:o smack him. Not as I could find i' my heart to 
et him stay i' the coal-hole more than a minute, 
3ut it was enough to colly him all over, so as he 
nust be new washed and dressed, and it was as 
>"ood as a rod to him — that was. But I put it 
ipo' your conscience, Master Marner, as there's 
)ne of 'em you must choose — ayther smacking 
)r the coal-hole — else she'll get so masterful, 
here'll be no holding her." 

Silas was impressed with the melancholy truth 

)f this last remark ; but his force of mind failed 

Defore the only two penal methods open to him, 

lot only because it was painful to him to hurt 

ippie, but because he trembled at a moment's 

•ontention with her, lest she should love him 

he less for it. Let even an affectionate Goliath 


get himself tied to a small tender thing, dreading 
to hurt it by pulling, and dreading still more to 
snap the cord, and which of the two, pray, will 
be master? It was clear that Eppie, with her 
short toddling steps, must lead father Silas a 
pretty dance on any fine morning when 
circumstances favoured mischief. 

For example. He had wisely chosen a broad 
strip of linen as a means of fastening her to 
his loom when he was busy : it made a broad 
belt round her waist, and was long enough to 
allow of her reaching the truckle-bed and sitting 
down on it, but not long enough for her to 
attempt any dangerous climbing. One bright 
summer's morning Silas had been more en- 
grossed than usual in ^* setting up" a new piece 
of work, an occasion on which his scissors 
were in requisition. These scissors, owing to 
an especial warning of Dolly's, had been kept 
carefully out of Eppie's reach ; but the click 
of them had had a peculiar attraction for her 
ear, and, watching the results of that click, she 
had derived the philosophic lesson that the 
same cause would produce the same effect. 

Silas had seated himself in his loom, and 

the noise of weaving had begun ; but he had 

left his scissors on a ledge which Eppie's arm 

was long enough to reach ; and now, like a 

small mouse, watching her opportunity, she stole 

quietly from her corner, secured the scissors, 



and toddled to the bed again, setting up her 

back as a mode of concealing the fact. She 

had a distinct intention as to the use of the 

scissors ; and having cut the linen strip in a 

agged but effectual manner, in two moments 

she had run out at the open door where the 

sunshine was inviting her, while poor Silas 

Delieved her to be a better child than usual. 

t was not until he happened to need his 

icissors that the terrible fact burst upon him : 

ippie had run out by herself — had perhaps 

alien into the Stone-pit. Silas, shaken by the 

vorst fear that could have befallen him, rushed 

ut, calling ''Eppie!" and ran eagerly about 

le uninclosed space, exploring the dry cavities 

nto which she might have falleji, and then 

;^azing with questioning dread at the smooth 

ed surface of the water. 

The cold drops stood on his brow. How long 
ad she been out? There was one hope — that 
he had crept through the stile and got into 
le fields, where he habitually took her to stroll. 
Jut the grass was high in the meadow, and 
lere was no descrying her, if she were there, 
xcept by a close search that would be a trespass 
n Mr. Osgood's crop. Still, that misdemeanour 
lust be committed ; and poor Silas, after 
eering all round the hedgerows, traversed the 
rass, beginning with perturbed vision to see 

ppie behind every group of red sorrel, and 

to see her moving always farther off as hv 
approached. The meadow was searched in vain ; 
and he got over the stile into the next field, 
looking with dying hope towards a small pond 
which was now reduced to its summer shallow- 
ness, so as to leave a wide margin of good 
adhesive mud. Here, however, sat Eppie, 
discoursing cheerfully to her own small boot, 
which she was using as a bucket to convey 
the water into a deep hoof-mark, while her 
little naked foot was planted comfortably on a 
cushion of olive-green mud. A red-headed calf 
was observing her with alarmed doubt through 
the opposite hedge. 

Here was clearly a case of aberration in a 
christened child which demanded severe treat- 
ment ; but Silas, overcome with convulsive joy 
at finding his treasure again, could do nothing 
but snatch her up, and cover her with half- 
sobbing kisses. It was not until he had carried 
her home, and had begun to think of the 
necessary washing, that he recollected the need f 
that he should punish Eppie, and "make her 
remember." The idea that she might run away 
again and come to harm gave him unusual 
resolution, and for the first time he determined 
to try the coal-hole — a small closet near the 

''Naughty, naughty Eppie!" he suddenlyf' 
began, holding her on his knee, and pointing 



to her muddy feet and clothes, ** naughty to 
cut with the scissors and run away. Eppie 
must go into the coal-hole for being naughty. 
Daddy must put her in the coal-hole." 

He half expected that this would be shock 
enough, and that Eppie would begin to cry. 
But instead of that, she began to shake herself 
on his knee, as if the proposition opened a 
pleasing novelty. Seeing that he must proceed 
to extremities, he put her into the coal-hole, 
ind held the door closed, with a trembling 
sense that he was using a strong measure. For 
I moment there w^as silence, but then came a 
ittle cry, ''Opy, opy ! " and Silas let her out 
igain, saying, *' Now Eppie 'uU never be 
laughty again, else she must go in the coal-hole 
—a black, naughty place." 

The weaving must stand still a long while 
his morning, for now Eppie must be washed, 
nd have clean clothes on ; but it was to be 
loped that this punishment would have a 
isting effect, and save time in future — though, 

Ierhaps, it would have been better if Eppie 
ad cried more. 
In half an hour she was clean again, and 
ilas, having turned his back to see what he 
Quid do with the linen band, threw it down 
gain, with the reflection that Eppie would be 
ood without fastening for the rest of the 

lorning. He turned round again, and was 


going to place her in her little chair near the 
loom, when she peeped out at him with black 
face and hands again, and said, '* Kppie in de 
toal-hole ! " 

This total failure of the coal-hole discipline 
shook Silas's belief in the efficacy of punishment. 
*' She'd take it all for fun," he observed to Dolly, 
*' if I didn't hurt her, and that I can't do, Mrs. 
Winthrop. If she makes me a bit o' trouble, 
I can bear it. And she's got no tricks but what 
she'll grow out of." 

**Well, that's partly true, Master Marner,'* 
said Dolly sympathetically; *'and if you can't 
bring your mind to frighten her off touching 
things, you must do what you can to keep 'em 
out of her way. That's what I do wi' the pups 
as the lads are allays a-rearing. They will worry 
and gnaw — worry and gnaw they will, if it was 
one's Sunday cap as hung anywhere so as they 
could drag it. They know no difference, God 
help 'em ; it's the pushing o' the teeth as sets 
'em on, that's what it is." 

So Eppie was reared without punishment, the 
burden of her misdeeds being borne vicariously 
by father Silas. The stone hut was made a soft 
nest for her, lined with downy patience : and 
also in the world that lay beyond the stone hut 
she knew nothing of frowns and denials. 

Notwithstanding the difficulty of carrying her 

and his yarn or linen at the same time, Silas 


took her with him in most of his journeys to 
the farm-houses, unwilling to leave her behind 
at Dolly Winthrop's, who was always ready 
to take care of her ; and little curly-headed 
Eppie, the weaver's child, became an object of 
interest at several outlying homesteads, as well 
as in the village. Hitherto he had been treated 
very much as if he had been a useful gnome or 
brownie — a queer and unaccountable creature, 
who must necessarily be looked at with wonder- 
ing curiosity and repulsion, and with whom 
one would be glad to make all greetings and 
bargains as brief as possible, but who must be 
dealt with in a propitiatory way, and occasion- 
Uy have a present of pork or garden-stuff to 
carry home with him, seeing that without him 
there was no getting the yarn woven. But now 
Silas met with open smiling faces and cheerful 
questioning, as a person whose satisfactions and 
iifficulties could be understood. Everywhere 
16 must sit a little and talk about the child, and 
,vords of interest were always ready for him : 
*Ah, Master Marner, you'll be lucky if she 
akes the measles soon and easy I" — or, **Why, 
here isn't many lone men 'ud ha' been wishing 
take up with a little un like that : but I reckon 
he weaving makes you handier than men as do 
utdoor work — you're partly as handy as a 
/Oman, for weaving comes next to spinning." 

Elderly masters and mistresses, seated 



observantly in larg^e kitchen arm-chairs, shook 
their heads over the difficuhies attendant on 
rearing cliildren, felt Eppie's round arms and 
legs, and pronounced them remarkably i'lrm, 
and told Silas that, if she turned out well 
(which, however, there was no telling), it would 
be a fine thing for him to have a steady lass to 
do for him when he got helpless. Servant 
maidens were fond of carrying her out to look 
at the hens and chickens, or to see if any 
cherries could be shaken down in the orchard ; 
and the small boys and girls approached her 
slowly, with cautious movement and steady 
gaze, like little dogs face to face with one of 
their own kind, till attraction had reached the 
point at which the soft lips were put out for 
a kiss. No child was afraid of approaching 
Silas when Eppie was near him : there was no 
repulsion around him now, either for young or 
old ; for the little child had come to link him 
once more with the whole world. There was love 
between him and the child that blent them into one, 
and there was love between the child and the world 
— from men and women with parental looks and 
tones, to the red lady-birds and the round pebbles. 
Silas began now to think of Raveloe life 
entirely in relation to Eppie : she must have 
everything that was a good in Raveloe ; and he 
listened docilely, that he might come to under- 
stand better what this life was, from which, fof 


fifteen years, he had stood aloof as from a 
strange thing, wherewith he could have no 
communion : as some man who has a precious 
plant to which he would give a nurturing home 
in a new soil, thinks of the rain, and the sun- 
shine, and all influences, in relation to his 
nursling, and asks industriously for all know- 
ledge that will help him to satisfy the wants 
of the searching roots, or to guard leaf and 
bud from invading harm. The disposition to 
hoard had been utterly crushed at the very 
first by the loss of his long-stored gold : the 
coins he earned afterwards seemed as irrelevant 
as stones brought to complete a house suddenly 
buried by an earthquake ; the sense of bereave- 
ment was too heavy upon him for the old thrill 
of satisfaction to arise again at the touch of the 
newly-earned coin. And now something had 
come to replace his hoard which gave a growing 
purpose to the earnings, drawing his hope and 
joy continually onward beyond the money. 

In old days there were angels who came and 
took men by the hand and led them away from 
the city of destruction. We see no white-winged 
angels now. But yet men are led away from 
threatening destruction : a hand is put into 
theirs, which leads them forth gently towards 
a calm and bright land, so that they look no 
pore backward ; and the hand may be a little 




There was one person, as you will believe, 

who watched with keener though more hidden 

interest than any other, the prosperous growth 

of Eppie under the weaver's care. He dared 

not do anything that would imply a stronger 

interest in a poor man's adopted child than 

could be expected from the kindliness of the 

young Squire, when a chance meeting suggested 

a little present to a simple old fellow whom j 

others noticed with good-will ; but he told him- j 

self that the time would come when he might j 

do something towards farthering the welfare of j 

his daughter without incurring suspicion. Was 

he very uneasy in the meantime at his inability i 

to give his daughter her birthright? I cannot j 

say that he was. The child was being taken care J 

of, and would very likely be happy, as people in [ 

humble stations often were — happier, perhaps, < 

than those who are brought up in luxury. 

That famous ring that pricked its owner when 

he forgot duty and followed desire — I wonder 

if it pricked very hard when he set out on the i 

chase, or whether it pricked but lightly then, 

and only pierced to the quick when the chase 

had long been ended, and hope, folding her 

wings, looked backward and became regret? 


Godfrey Cass's cheek and eye were brighter 
than ever now. He was so undivided in his 
aims, that he seemed like a man of firmness. 
No Dunsey had come back : people had made 
up their minds that he was gone for a soldier, 
or gone '^out of the country," and no one cared 
to be specific in their inquiries on a subject 
delicate to a respectable family. Godfrey had 
ceased to see the shadow of Dunsey across 
his path ; and the path now lay straight forward 
to the accomplishment of his best, longest- 
cherished wishes. Everybody said Mr. Godfrey 
had taken the right turn; and it was pretty 
clear what would be the end of things, for 
there were not many days in the week that he 
was not seen riding to the Warrens. Godfrey 
himself, when he was asked jocosely if the 
day had been fixed, smiled with the pleasant 
consciousness of a lover who could say *^ Yes,'* 
if he liked. He felt a reformed man, delivered 
from temptation ; and the vision of his future 
life seemed to him as a promised land for which 
he had no cause to fight. He saw himself with 
all his happiness centred on his own hearth, 
while Nancy would smile on him as he played 
with the children. 

And that other child, not on the hearth — 
he would not forget it ; he would see that it 
was well provided for. That was a father's 




It was a brii^ht autumn Sunday, sixteen years 
after Silas Manner had found his new treasure 
on the hearth. The bells of the old Raveloe 
church were ringing- the cheerful peal which told 
that the morning service was ended ; and out 
of the arched doorway in the tower came slowly, 
retarded by friendly greetings and questions, 
the richer parishioners who had chosen this 
bright Sunday morning as eligible for church- 
going. It was the rural fashion of that time 
for the more important members of the congre- 
gation to depart first, while their humbler 
neighbours waited and looked on, stroking 
their bent heads or dropping their curtsies to 
any large ratepayer who turned to notice them. 

Foremost among these advancing groups of 
well-clad people, there are some whom we shall 
recognise, in spite of Time, who has laid his 
hand on them all. The tall blonde man of 
forty is not much changed in feature from the 
Godfrey Cass of six-and-twenty : he is only 
fuller in flesh, and has only lost the indefinable 
look of youth — a loss which is marked even 

when the eye is undulled and the wrinkles 


are not yet come. Perhaps the pretty woman, 
not much younger than he, who is leaning 
on his arm, is more changed than her husband : 
the lovely bloom that used to be always on her 
cheek now comes but fitfully, with the fresh 
morning air or with some strong surprise ; 
yet to all who love human faces best for what 
they tell of human experience, Nancy's beauty 
has a heightened interest. Often the soul is 
ripened into fuller goodness while age has spread 
an ugly film, so that mere glances can never 
divine the preciousness of the fruit. But the 
years have not been so cruel to Nancy. The 
firm yet placid mouth, the clear veracious glance 
of the brown eyes^ speak now of a nature that 
has been tested and has kept its highest qualities ; 
and even the costume, with its dainty neatness and 
purity, has more significance now the coquetries 
of youth can have nothing to do with it. 

Mr. and Mrs. Godfrey Cass (any higher title 
has died away from Raveloe lips since the old 
Squire was gathered to his fathers and his 
inheritance was divided) have turned round to 
look for the tall aged man and the plainly 
dressed woman who are a little behind — Nancy 
having observed that they must wait for *' father 
and Priscilla" — and now they all turn into a 
narrower path leading across the churchyard 
to a small gate opposite the Red House. We 
will not follow them now ; for may there not 


be some others in this departing congregation 
whom we should like to see again — some of 
those who are not likely to be handsomely clad, 
and whom we may not recognise so easily as 
the master and mistress of the Red House? 

But it is impossible to mistake Silas Marner. 
His large brown eyes seem to have gathered 
a longer vision, as is the way with eyes that 
have been short-sighted in early life, and they 
have a less vague, a more answering gaze ; but 
in everything else one sees signs of a frame i 
much enfeebled by the lapse of the sixteen 1 
years. The weaver's bent shoulders and white 
hair give him almost the look of advanced age, \ 
though he is not more than five-and-fifty ; butj 
there is the freshest blossom of youth close by 
his side — a blonde dimpled girl of eighteen, 
who has vainly tried to chastise her curly 
auburn hair into smoothness under her brown 
bonnet: the hair ripples as obstinately as a 
brooklet under the March breeze, and the little 
ringlets burst away from the restraining comb 
behind and show themselves below the bonnet- 
crown. Eppie cannot help being rather vexed 
about her hair, for there is no other girl in 
Raveloe who has hair at all like it, and she 
thinks hair ought to be smooth. She does 
not like to be blameworthy even in small 
things : you see how neatly her Prayer-book 

is folded in her spotted handkerchief. 



That good-looking young fellow, In a new 
fustian suit, who walks behind her, is not 
quite sure upon the question of hair in the 
abstract, when Eppie puts it to him, and 
thinks that perhaps straight hair is the best 
in general, but he doesn't want Eppie's hair 
to be different. She surely divines that there is 
someone behind her who is thinking about her 
very particularly, and mustering courage to come 
to her side as soon as they are out in the lane, 
else why should she look rather shy, and take 
care not to turn away her head from her father 
Silas, to whom she keeps murmuring little 
sentences as to who was at church, and who 
was not at church, and how pretty the red 
mountain-ash is over the Rectory wall ? 

** I wish we had a little garden-, father, with 
double daisies in, like Mrs. Winthrop's," said 
Eppie, when they were out in the lane; '^only 
they say it 'ud take a deal of digging and 
bringing fresh soil — and you couldn't do that, 
could you, father? Anyhow, I shouldn't like 
you do it, for it 'ud be too hard work for you." 

** Yes, I could do it, child, if you want a bit 
0* garden : these long evenings, I could work 
at taking in a little bit o' the waste, just enough 
for a root or two of flowers for you ; and again, 
i' the morning, I could have a turn with the spade 
before I sat down to the loom. Why didn't you 
tell me before as you wanted a bit o' garden?" 


*' / can dii^ it for you, Master Marner," said 
the young man in fustian, who was now by 
Eppie's side, entering into the conversation 
without the trouble of formalities. '* It'll be 
play to me after I've done my day's work, or 
any odd bits o' time when the work's slack. 
And I'll bring you some soil from Mr. Cass's 
garden — he'll let me, and willing." 

"Eh, Aaron, my lad, are you there?" said 
Silas ; ** I wasn't aware of you ; for when 
Eppie's talking o' things, I see nothing but 
what she's a-saying. Well, if you could help 
me with the digging, we might get her a bit 
■ o' garden all the sooner." 

''Then, if you think well and good," said 
Aaron, '' I'll come to the Stone-pits this after- 
noon, and we'll settle what land's to be taken 
in, and I'll get up an hour earlier i' the morning, 
and begin on it." 

'* But not if you don't promise me not to 
work at the hard digging, father," said Eppie. 
''For I shouldn't ha' said anything about it," 
she added half-bashfuUy, half-roguishly, "only 
Mrs. Winthrop said as Aaron 'ud be so good, 
and " 

"And you might ha' known it without mother 

telling you," said Aaron. "And Master Marner 

knows, too, I hope, as I'm able and willing to do 

a turn o' work for him, and he won't do me the 

unkindness to anyways take it out o' my hands." 


"There, now, father, you won't work in it 
till it's all easy," said Eppie, "and you and 
me can mark out the beds, and make holes 
and plant the roots. It'll be a deal livelier at 
the Stone-pits when we've got some flowers, 
for I always think the flowers can see us and 
know what we're talking about. And I'll have 
a bit o' rosemary, and bergamot, and thyme, 
because they're so sweet-smelling ; but there's 
no lavender only in the gentlefolks' gardens, 
I think.'* 

"Tliat's no reason why you shouldn't have 
some," said Aaron, "for I can bring you slips 
of anything ; I'm forced to cut no end of 'em 
when I'm gardening, and throw 'em away 
mostly. There's a big bed o' lavender at the 
Red House : the missis is very fond of it." 

"Well," said Silas gravely, "so as you don't 
make free for us, or ask for anything as is 
worth much at'the Red House: for Mr. Cass's 
been so good to us, and built us up the new 
end o' the cottage, and given us beds and things, 
as I couldn't abide to be imposin' for garden-stuff 
or anything else." 

" No, no, there's no imposin'," said Aaron ; 
** there's never a garden in all the parish but 
what there's endless waste in it for want o' 
somebody as could use everything up. It's 
what I think to myself sometimes, as there 
need nobody run short o' victuals if the land 


was made the most on, and there was never a 
morsel but what could fmd its way to a mouth. 
It sets one thinkin,£T o' that — gardening does. 
But I must go back now, else mother 'ull be 
in trouble as 1 aren't there." 

** Bring her with you this afternoon, Aaron," 
said Eppie ; '* I shouldn't like to fix about the 
garden, and her not know everything from the 
first — should yoti, father?" 

** Ay, bring her if you can, Aaron," said Silas ; 
** she's sure to have a word to say as'U help us 
to set things on their right end." 

Aaron turned back up the village, while vSilas 
and Eppie went on up the lonely sheltered lane. 

** Oh, daddy ! " she began, when they were in 
privacy, clasping and squeezing Silas's arm, and 
skipping round to give him an energetic kiss. 
*'My little old daddy! I'm so glad. I don't 
think I shall want anything else when we've got 
a little garden ; and I knew Aaron would dig it 
for us," she went on with roguish triumph, *' I 
knew that very well." 

** You're a deep little puss, you are," said 
Silas, with the mild passive happiness of love- 
crowned age in his face; *^but you'll make 
yourself fine and beholden to Aaron." 

**Oh no, I shan't," said Eppie, laughing and 
frisking; '* he likes it." 

** Come, come, let me carry your Prayer-book, 

else you'll be dropping it, jumping i' that way." 


Eppie was now aware that her behaviour 
was under observation, but it was only the 
observation of a friendly donkey, browsing 
with a log fastened to his foot — a meek 
donkey, not scornfully critical of human trivi- 
alities, but thankful to share in them, if possible, 
by getting his nose scratched ; and Eppie did 
not fail to gratify him with her usual notice, 
though it was attended with the inconvenience 
of his following them, painfully, up to the ver}^ 
door of their home. 

But the sound of a sharp bark inside, as Eppie 
put the key in the door, modified the donkey's 
views, and he limped away again without 
bidding. The sharp bark was the sign of an 
excited welcome that was awaiting them from a 
knowing brown terrier, who, after dancing at 
their legs in a hysterical manner, rushed with a 
worrying noise at a tortoise-shell kitten under 
the loom, and then rushed back with a sharp 
bark again, as much as to say, *'I have done 
my duty by this feeble creature, you perceive ; '* 
while the lady-mother of the kitten sat sunning 
her white bosom in the window, and looked 
round with a sleepy air of expecting caresses, 
though she was not going to take any trouble 
for them. 

The presence of this happy animal life was not 

the only change which had come over the interior 

of the stone cottage. There was no bed now in 


the living-room, and the small space was well 
filled with decent furniture, all bright and clean 
enough to satisfy Dolly Winthrop's eye. The 
oaken table and three-cornered oaken chair were 
hardly what was likely to be seen in so poor a 
cottage : they had come, with the beds and other 
things, from the Red House ; for Mr. Godfrey 
Cass, as every one said in the village, did very 
kindly by the weaver ; and it was nothing but 
right a man should be looked on and helped 
by those who could afford it, when he had 
brought up an orphan child, and been father 
and mother to her — and had lost his money too, 
so as he had nothing but what he worked for 
week by week, and when the weaving was going 
down too — for there was less and less flax spun — 
and Master Marner was none so young. Nobody 
was jealous of the weaver, for he was regarded 
as an exceptional person, whose claims on 
neighbourly help were not to be matched in 
Raveloe. Any superstition that remained con- 
cerning him had taken an entirely new colour; 
and Mr. Macey, now a very feeble old man of 
fourscore and six, never seen except in his 
chimney-corner or sitting in the sunshine at his 
door-sill, was of opinion that when a man had 
done what Silas had done by an orphan child, 
it was a sign that his money would come to ■] 
light again, or leastwise that the robber would ■{ 
be made to answer for it — for, as Mr, Macey 


observed of himself, his faculties were as strong 
as ever. 

Silas sat down now and watched Eppie with 
a satisfied gaze as she spread the clean cloth, 
and set on it the potato-pie, warmed up slowly 
in a safe vSunday fashion, by being put into a 
dry pot over a slowly-dying fire, as the best 
substitute for an oven. For Silas would not 
consent to have a grate and oven added to his 
conveniences : he loved the old brick hearth as 
he had loved his brown pot — and was it not 
there when he had found Eppie? The gods of 
the hearth exist for us still ; and let all new 
faith be tolerant of that fetishism, lest it bruise 
its own roots. 

Silas ate his dinner more silently than usual, 
soon laying down his knife and fork, and 
watching half-abstractedly Eppie's play with 
Snap and the cat, by which her own dining was 
made rather a lengthy business. Yet it was a 
sight that might well arrest wandering thoughts : 
Eppie, with the rippling radiance of her hair and 
the whiteness of her rounded chin and throat 
set off by the dark blue cotton gown, laughing 
merrily as the kitten held on with her four claws 
to one shoulder, like a design for a jug-handle, 
while Snap on the right hand and Puss on the 
other put up their paws towards a morsel which 
she held out of the reach of both — Snap occasion- 
ally desisting in order to remonstrate with the 


cat by a cogent worrying growl on the greediness 
and futility of her conduct; till Fppie relented, 
caressed them both, and divided the morsel 
between them. 

But at last Eppie, glancing at the clock, 
checked the play, and said, *'Oh daddy, you're 
wanting to go into the sunshine to smoke your 
pipe. But I must clear away first, so as the 
house may be tidy when godmother comes. I'll 
make haste — I won't be long." 

Silas had taken to smoking a pipe daily during 
the last two years, having been strongly urged 
to it by the sages of Raveloe, as a practice ** good 
for the fits ; " and this advice was sanctioned by 
Dr. Kimble, on the ground that it was as well 
to try what could do no harm — a principle which 
was made to answer for a great deal of work in 
that gentleman's medical practice. Silas did not 
highly enjoy smoking, and often wondered how 
his neighbours could be so fond of it ; but a 
humble sort of acquiescence in what was held to 
be good had become a strong habit of that new 
self which had been developed in him since he 
had found Eppie on his hearth ; it had been the 
only clue his bewildered mind could hold by in 
cherishing this young life that had oeen sent to 
him out of the darkness into which his gold 
had departed. By seeking what was needful 
for Eppie, by sharing the effect that every- 
thing produced on her, he had himself come to 


appropriate the .forms of custom and belief which 
were the mould of Raveloe life; and as, with re- 
awakening sensibilities, memory also re-awakened, 
he had begun to ponder over the elements of his 
old faith, and blend them with his new impressions, 
till he recovered a consciousness of unity between 
his past and present. The sense of presiding 
goodness and the human trust which come with 
all pure peace and joy, had given him a dim 
impression that there had been some error, some 
mistake, which had thrown that dark shadow 
over the days of his best years ; and as it grew 
more and more easy to him to open his mind 
to Dolly Winthrop, he gradually communicated 
to her all he could describe of his early life. 

The communication was necessarily a slow 
and difficult process, for Silas's meagre power 
of explanation was not aided by any readiness 
of interpretation in Dolly, whose narrow outward 
experience gave her no key to strange customs, 
and made every novelty a source of wonder that 
arrested them at every step of the narrative. It 
was only by fragments, and at intervals which 
left Dolly time to revolve what she had heard 
till it acquired some familiarity for her, that 
Silas at last arrived at the climax of the sad 
story — the drawing of lots, and its false testi- 
mony concerning him ; and this had to be 
repeated in several interviews, under new 
questions on her part as to the nature of this 


plan for detecting the guilty and clearing the 

'* And yourn's the same Bible, you're sure of 
that, Master Manner — the Bible as you brought 
wi' you from that country — it's the same as what 
they've got at church, and what Eppie's a-learning 
to read in ? " 

"Yes," said Silas, ''every bit the same; and 
there's drawing o' lots in the Bible, mind you," 
he added in a lower tone. 

'* Oh dear, dear," said Dolly in a grieved voice, 
as if she were hearing an unfavourable report 
of a sick man's case. She was silent for some 
minutes ; at last she said — 

"There's wise folks, happen, as know how 
it all is ; the parson knows, I'll be bound, but 
it takes big words to tell them things, and such 
as poor folks can't make much out on. I can 
never rightly know the meaning o' what I hear 
at church, only a bit here and there, but I know 
it's good words — I do. But what lies upo' your 
mind — it's this. Master Marner : as, if Them 
above had done the right thing by you. They'd 
never ha' let you be turned out for a wicked thief 
when you was innicent." 

"Ah!" said Silas, who had now come to 
understand Dolly's phraseology, "that was w^hat 
lell on me like as if it had been red-hot iron ; 
because, you see, there was nobody as cared 
for me or clave to me above nor below. And 


him as I'd gone out and in wi' for ten year and 
more, since when we was lads and went halves 
— mine own famil'ar friend, in whom I trusted, 
had lifted up his heel again' me, and worked to 

ruin me." 

'*Eh, but he was a bad un — I can't think as 
there's another such," said Dolly. ^* But I'm 
overcome, Master Marner ; I'm like as if I'd 
waked and didn't know whether it was night 
or morning. I feel somehow as sure as I do 
when I've laid something up though I can justly 
put my hand on it, as there was a rights in what 
happened to you, if one could but make it out ; 
and you'd no call to lose heart as you did. But 
we'll talk on it again ; for sometimes things come 
into my head when I'm leeching or poulticing, 
or such, as I could never think on when I was 
sitting still." 

Dolly was too useful a woman not to have 
many opportunities of illumination of the kind 
she alluded to, and she was not long before she 
recurred to the subject. 

** Master Marner," she said, one day that she 

came to bring home Eppie's washing, *' I've 

been sore puzzled for a good bit wi' that trouble 

o' yourn and the drawing o' lots ; and it got 

twisted back'ards and for'ards, as I didn't know 

which end to lay hold on. But it come to me 

all clear like, that night when I was sitting up 

wi' poor Bessy Fawkes, as is dead and left her 


children behind, God help 'em — it come to me 
as clear as daylight; but whether I've got hold 
on it now, or can anyways bring it to my 
tongue's end, that I don't know. For I've often 
a deal inside me as '11 niver come out ; and for 
what you talk o' your folks in your old country 
niver saying prayers by heart nor saying 'em 
out of a book, they must be wonderful diver; 
for if I didn't know ' Our Father,' and little bits 
o' good w^ords as I can carry out o' church wi' 
me, I might down o' my knees every night, but 
nothing could I say." 

" But you can mostly say something as I can 
make sense on, Mrs. Winthrop," said Silas. 

'^Well, then, Master Marner, it come to me 
snmmat like this : I can make nothing o' the 
drawing o' lots and the answer coming wrong ; 
it 'ud mayhap take the parson to tell that, and 
he could only tell us i' big words. But what 
come to me as clear as the daylight, it was when 
I was troubling over poor Bessy Fawkes, and 
it allays comes into my head when I'm sorry 
for folks, and feel as I can't do a power to help 
'em, not if I was to get up i' the middle o' the 
night — it comes into my head as Them above 
has got a deal tenderer heart nor what I've got 
— for I can't be anyways better nor Them as 
made me ; and if anything looks hard to me, 
it's because there's things I don't know on ; and 
for the matter o' that, there may be plenty of 



things I don't know on, for it's little as I know 

— that it is. And so, while I was thinking o' 

that, you come into my mind. Master Marner, 

and it all come pouring in — if / felt i' my 

inside what was the right and just thing by 

you, and them as prayed and drawed the lots, 

all but that wicked un, if they'6. ha' done the 

right thing by you if they could, isn't there 

Them as was at the making on us, and knows 

better and has a better will ? And that's all 

as ever I can be sure on, and everything else 

is a big puzzle to me when I think on it. For 

there was the fever come and took off them as 

were fuU-growed, and left the helpless children ; 

and there's the breaking o' limbs ; and them 

as 'ud do right and be sober have to suffer by 

them as are contrairy — eh, there's trouble i' 

this world, and there's things as we can niver 

make out the rights on. And all as we've got 

to do is to trusten. Master Marner — to do the 

right thing as fur as we know, and to trusten. 

For if us as knows so little can see a bit o' good 

and rights, we may be sure as there's a good 

and a rights bigger nor what we can know — I 

leel it i' my own inside as it must be so. And 

if you could but ha' gone on trustening. Master 

Marner, you wouldn't ha' run away from your 

fellow-creaturs and been so lone." 

**Ah,but that'ud ha'been hard, "said Silas, in an 

undertone; "it 'ud ha' been hard to trusten then." 


** And so it would," said Dolly, almost with 
compunction; **them things are easier said nor 
done ; and I'm partly ashamed o' talking." 

**Nay, nay," said Silas, ** you're i' the right, 
Mrs. Winthrop — you're i' the right. There's 
good i' this world — I've a feeling o' that now; 
and it makes a man feel as there's a good more 
nor he can see, i' spite o' the trouble and the 
wickedness. That drawing o' the lots is dark ; 
but the child was sent to me ; there's dealings 
with us — there's dealings." 

This dialogue took place in Eppie*s earlier 

years, when Silas had to part with her for two 

hours every day, that she might learn to read 

at the dame school, after he had vainly tried 

himself to guide her in that first step to learning. 

Now that she was grow^n up, Silas had often 

been led, in those moments of quiet outpouring 

which come to people who live together in perfect 

love, to talk with her too of the past, and how 

and w^hy he had lived a lonely man until she 

had been sent to him. For it would have been 

impossible for him to hide from Eppie that she 

was not his own child : even if the most delicate 

reticence on the point could have been expected 

from Raveloe gossips in her presence, her own 

questions about her mother could not have been 

parried, as she grew up, without that complete 

shrouding of the past which would have made a 

painful barrier between their minds. So Eppie. 



lad long known how her mother had died on the 
jnowy ground, and how she herself had been 
bund on the hearth by father Silas, who had 
aken her golden curls for his lost guineas 
Drought back to him. The tender and peculiar 
ove with which Silas had reared her in almost 
nseparable companionship with himself, aided 
3y the seclusion of their dwelling, had preserved 
ler from the lowering influences of the village 
alk and habits, and had kept her mind in that 
reshness which is sometimes falsely supposed to 
De an invariable attribute of rusticity. 

Perfect love has a breath of poetry which can 

xalt the relations of the least-instructed human 

Deings ; and this breath of poetry had surrounded 

ppie from the time when she had followed the 

Dright gleam that beckoned her to Silas's hearth ; 

JO that it is not surprising if, in other things 

Desides her delicate prettiness, she was not quite 

I common village maiden, but had a touch of 

efinement and fervour which came from no other 

caching than that of tenderly-nurtured, unvitiated 

"eeling. She was too childish and simple for her 

magination to rove into questions about her 

unknown father ; for a long while it did not even 

Dccur to her that she must have had a father ; 

ind the first time that the idea of her mother 

laving had a husband presented itself to her, 

was when Silas showed her the wedding-ring 

which had been taken from the wasted finger, 


and had been carefully preserved by him in a 
little lacquered box shaped like a shoe. 

He delivered this box into Eppie's charge 
when she had grown up, and she often opened 
it to look at the ring : but still she thought 
hardly at all about the father of whom it was 
the symbol. Had she not a father very close 
to her, who loved her better than any real fathers 
in the village seemed to love their daughters? 
On the contrary, who her mother was, and 
how she came to die in that forlornness, were 
questions that often pressed on Eppie's mind. 
Her knowledge of Mrs. Winthrop, who was 
her nearest friend next to Silas, made her feel 
that a mother must be very precious ; and she 
had again and again asked Silas to tell her how 
her mother looked, whom she was like, and 
how he had found her against the furze bush, 
led towards it by the little footsteps and the 
outstretched arms. The furze bush was there 
still ; and this afternoon, when Eppie came out 
with Silas into the sunshine, it was the first 
object that arrested her eyes and thoughts. 

*' Father," she said, in a tone of gentle 

gravity, which sometimes came like a sadder, 

slower cadence across her playfulness, ''we 

shall take the furze bush into the garden ; it'll 

come into the corner, and just against it I'll put 

snowdrops and crocuses, 'cause Aaron says they 

won't die out, but '11 always get more and more.** 


*^Ah, child," said Silas, always ready to 
talk when he had his pipe in his hand, 
apparently enjoying the pauses more than 
the puffs, **it wouldn't do to leave out the 
furze bush ; and there's nothing prettier to 
my thinking, when it's yallow with flowers. 
But it's just come into my head what we're 
to do for a fence — mayhap Aaron can help us 
to a thought ; but a fence we must have, else 
the donkeys and things ull come and trample 
everything down. And fencing's hard to be 
got at, by what I can make out." 

**Oh, I'll tell you, daddy," said Eppie, 
clasping her hands suddenly, after a minute's 
thought. *' There's lots o' loose stones about, 
some of 'em not big, and we might lay 'em 
atop of one another, and make a wall. You 
and me could carry the smallest, and Aaron 
'ud carry the rest — I know he would." 

"Eh, my precious un," said Silas, "there 
isn't enough stones to go all round ; and as 
for you carrying, why, wi' your little arms you 
couldn't carry a stone no bigger than a turnip. 
You're dillicate-made, my dear," he added, with 
a tender intonation, "that's what Mrs. Winthrop 

"Oh, I'm stronger than you think, daddy," 

said Eppie; "and if there wasn't stones enough 

to go all round, why, they'll go part o' the way, 

and then it'll be easier to get sticks and things 
S.M. 253 I 

for the rest. vSec here, round ihe big pit, what 
a many stones ! " 

She skipped forward to the pit, meaning to 
lift one of the stones and exhibit her strengili, 
but she started back in surprise. 

"Oh, father, just come and look here," siic 
exclaimed, " come and see how the water's 
gone down since yesterday. Why, yesterday 
the pit was ever so full ! " 

" Well, to be sure," said Silas, coming to 
her side. " Why, that's the draining they've 
begun on, since harvest, i' Mr. Osgood's 
fields, I reckon. The foreman said to me the 
other day, when I passed by 'em, * Master 
Marner,' he said, ' I shouldn't wonder if we 
lay your bit o' waste as dry as a bone.* 
It was Mr. Godfrey Cass, he said, had gone 
into the draining : he'd been taking these 
fields o' Mr. Osgood." 

" How odd it'll seem to have the old pit 
dried up ! " said Eppie, turning away, and 
stooping to lift rather a large stone. "See, 
daddy, I can carry this quite well," she said, 
going along with much energy for a few steps, 
but presently letting it fall. 

"Ah, you're fine and strong, aren't you?" 
said Silas, while Eppie shook her aching arms 
and laughed. " Come, come, let us go and 
sit down on the bank against the stile there, 
and have no more lifting. You might hurt 


yourself, child. You'd need have somebody 
to work for you — and my arm isn't over 


Silas uttered the last sentence slowly, as if 
it implied more than met the ear ; and Eppie, 
when they sat down on the bank, nestled 
close to his side, and, taking hold caressingly 
of the arm that was not over strong, held 
it on her lap, while Silas puffed again dutifully 
at the pipe which occupied his other arm. 
An ash in the hedgerow behind made a fretted 
screen from the sun, and threw happy playful 
shadows all about them. 

"Father," said Eppie very gently, after they 
had been sitting in silence a little while, 'Mf 
I was to be married, ought I to be married 
with my mother's ring?" 

Silas gave an almost imperceptible start, 
though the question fell in with the under- 
current of thought in his own mind, and then 
said, in a subdued tone, *'Why, Eppie, have 
you been a-thinking on it?'* 

"Only this last week, father," said Eppie 
ingenuously, "since Aaron talked to me about 


And what did he say?" said Silas, still 
in the same subdued way, as if he were anxious 
lest he should fall into the slightest tone that 
was not for Eppie's good. 

" He said he should like to be married, 


because he was a-going in four-and-twenty, 
and had got a deal of gardening work, now 
Mr. Mott's given up ; and he goes twice a 
week regular to Mr. Cass's, and once to Mr. 
Osgood's, and they're going to take him on 
at the Rectory." 

*' And who is it as he's wanting to marry?'* 
said Silas, with rather a sad smile. 

" Why, me, to be sure, daddy," said Eppie, 
with dimpling laughter, kissing her father's cheek ; 
*' as if he'd want to marry anybody else ! " 

*'And you mean to have him, do you?'* 
said Silas. 

**Yes, some time," said Eppie, '*I don't know 
when. Everybody's married some time, Aaron 
says. But I told him that wasn't true : for, I 
said, look at father — he's never been married.'* 

*' No, child," said Silas, '*your father was a 
lone man till you w^as sent to him." 

**But you'll never be lone again, father," said 
Eppie tenderly. *'That was what Aaron said — 
' I could never think o' taking you away from 
Master Marner, Eppie.' And I said, ' It 'ud be 
no use if you did, Aaron.' And he wants us all 
to live together, so as you needn't work a bit, 
father, only what's for your own pleasure ; and 
he'd be as good as a son to you — that was what 
he said." 

** And should you like that, Eppie?" said Silas, 

looking- at her. 


** I shouldn't mind it, father," said Eppie quite 
simply. ''And I should like things to be so as 
you needn't work much. But if it wasn't foi 
that, I'd sooner things didn't change. I'm very 
happy : I like Aaron to be fond of me, and come 
and see us often, and behave pretty to you — he 
always does behave pretty to you, doesn't he, 

''Yes, child, nobody could behave better," said 
Silas emphatically. " He's his mother's lad." 

"But I don't want any change," said Eppie. 
*' I should like to go on a long, long while, just 
as we are. Only Aaron does want a change ; 
and he made me cry a bit — only a bit — because 
he said I didn't care for him, for if I cared for him 
I should want us to be married, as -he did." 

" Eh, my blessed child," said Silas, laying 
down his pipe as if it were useless to pretend 
to smoke any longer, "you're o'er young to be 
married. We'll ask Mrs. Winthrop — we'll ask 
Aaron's mother what she thinks : if there's a 
right thing to do, she'll come at it. But there's 
this to be thought on, Eppie : things -mill change, 
whether we like it or no ; things won't go on for 
a long while just as they are and no difference. 
I shall get older and helplesser, and be a burden 

IDn you, belike, if I don't go away from you 
altogether. Not as I mean you'd think me a 
burden — I know you wouldn't — but it 'ud be hard 
apon you ; and when I look for'ard to that, I like 

to til ink as you'd have somebody else besides 
nie — somebody younf^ and strong, as'll outlast 
vour own life, and take care on you to the end.'* 
Silas paused, and, resting- his wrists on his knees, 
lifted his hands up and down meditatively as he 
looked on the ground. 

*'Then, would you like me to be married, 
father?" said Eppie, with a little trembling in her 

" I'll not be the man to say no, Eppie," said 
Silas emphatically; ''but we'll ask your god- 
mother. She'll wish the right thing by you and 
her son too." 

"There they come, then," said Eppie. ** Let 
us go and meet 'em. Oh, the pipe ! won't you 
have it lit again, father?" said Eppie, lifting that 
medicinal appliance from the ground. 

"Nay, child," said Silas, "I've done enough 
for to-day. I think, mayhap, a little of it does 
me more good than so much at once." 



While Silas and Eppie were seated on the bank 
discoursing in the fleckered shade of the ash-tree, 
Miss Priscilla Lammeter was resisting her sister's 
arguments, that it would be better to take tea at 
the Red House, and let her father have a long 
nap, than drive home to the Warrens so soon 
after dinner. The family party (of four only) 
were seated round the table in the dark wains- 
coted parlour, with the Sunday dessert before 
them, of fresh filberts, apples, and pears, duly 
ornamented with leaves by Nancy's own hand 
before the bells had rung for church. 

A great change has come over the dark wains- 
coted parlour since we saw it in Godfrey's bachelor 
days, and under the wifeless reign of the old 
Squire. Now all is polish, on which no yester- 
day's dust is ever allowed to rest, from the yard's 
width of oaken boards round the carpet, to the 
old Squire's gun and whips and walking-sticks, 
ranged on the stag's antlers above the mantel- 
piece. All other signs of sporting and outdoor 
[occupation Nancy has removed to another room ; 
mt she has brought into the Red House the 
[babit of filial reverence, and preserves sacredly in 

place of honour these relics of her husband's 

leoarted father. The tankards are on the 


side-table still, but the bossed silver is undimmcd 
by handling', and there are no dregs to send 
forth unpleasant suggestions : the only prevailing 
scent is of the lavender and rose-leaves that fill 
the vases of Derbyshire spar. All is purity 
and order in this once dreary room, for, fifteen 
years ago, it was entered by a new presiding" 

'' Now, father," said Nancy, "is there any call 
for you to go home to tea? Mayn't you just as 
well stay with us? — such a beautiful evening as 
it's likely to be." 

The old gentleman had been talking with 
Godfrey about the increasing poor-rate and the 
ruinous times, and had not heard the dialogue 
between his daughters. 

'* My dear, you must ask Priscilla," he said, in 
the once firm voice, now become rather broken. 
*' She manages me and the farm too." 

^*And reason good as I should manage you, 
father," said Priscilla, *' else you'd be giving your- 
self your death with rheumatism. And as for the 
farm, if anything turns out wrong, as it can't but 
do in these times, there's nothing kills a man so 
soon as having nobody to find fault with but him- 
self. It's a deal the best way o' being master, to 
let somebody else do the ordering, and keep the 
blaming in your own hands. It 'ud save many a 
man a stroke, / believe." 

*'Well, well, my dear," said her father, with 


a quiet laugh, ** I didn't say you don't manage 
for everybody's good." 

**Then manage so as you may stay tea, 
Priscilla," said Nancy, putting her hand on 
her sister's arm affectionately. ^'Come now; 
and we'll go round the garden while father 
has his nap." 

^^ My dear child, he'll have a beautiful nap in 
the gig, for I shall drive. And as for staying 
tea, I can't hear of it ; for there's this dairymaid, 
now she knows she's to be married, turned 
Michaelmas, she'd as lief pour the new milk 
into the pig-trough as into the pans. That's 
the way with 'em all : it's as if they thought 
the world 'ud be new-made because they're to 
be married. So come and let me put my bonnet 
-cm, and there'll be time for us to walk round 
the garden while the horse is being put in." 

When the sisters were treading the neatly- 
swept garden -walks, between the bright turf 
that contrasted pleasantly with the dark cones 
and arches and wall-like hedges of yew, Priscilla 
said — 

** I'm as glad as anything at your husband's 

making that exchange o' land with cousin 

Osgood, and beginning the dairying. It's a 

thousand pities you didn't do it before ; for 

it'll give you something to fill your mind. 

There's nothing like a dairy if folks want a 

bit o' worrit to make the days pass. For as 


for rubbing furniture, when you can once see 
vour face in a table there's notliing else to 
look for ; but there's always something fresh 
with the dairy ; for even in the depths o' winter 
there's some pleasure in conquering the butter, 
and making it come whether or no. My dear," 
added Priscilla, pressing her sister's hand 
affectionately as they walked side by side, 
''you'll never be low when you've got a dairy." 

"Ah, Priscilla," said Nancy, returning the 
pressure with a grateful glance of her clear 
eyes, ''but it won't make up to Godfrey: a 
dairy's not so much to a man. And it's only 
what he cares for that ever makes me low. 
I'm contented with the blessings we have, if 
he could be contented." 

*'It drives me past patience,'* said Priscilla 

impetuously, "that way o' the men — always 

wanting and wanting, and never easy with 

what they've got : they can't sit comfortable in 

their chairs when they've neither ache nor pain, 

but ; either they must stick a pipe in their 

mouths, to make 'em better than well, or else 

they must be swallowing something strong, 

though they're forced to make haste before the 

next meal comes in. But joyful be it spoken, 

our father was never that sort o' man. And 

if it had pleased God to make you ugly, like 

me, so as the men wouldn't ha' run after you, 

we might have kept to our own family, and 


had nothing to do with folks as have got uneasy 
blood in their veins." 

** Oh, don't say so, Priscilla," said Nancy, 
repenting that she had called forth this outburst ; 
*' nobody has any occasion to find fault with 
Godfrey. It's natural he should be disappointed 
at not having any children : every man likes 
to have somebody to work for and lay by for, 
and he always counted so on making a fuss 
with 'em when they were little. There's many 
another man 'ud hanker more than he does. 
He's the best of husbands." 

" Oh, I know," said Priscilla, smiling sarcasti- 
cally, *' I know the way o' wives ; they set one 
on to abuse their husbands, and then they turn 
round on one and praise 'em as if they wanted 
to sell 'em. But father'll be \yaiting for me ; 
we must turn now." 

The large gig with the steady old gray was 
at the front door, and Mr. Lammeter was already 
on the stone steps, passing the time in recalling 
to Godfrey what very fine points Speckle had 
when his master used to ride him. 

"I always would have a good horse, you 
know," said the old gentleman, not liking that 
spirited time to be quite effaced from the memory 
of his juniors. 

*' Mind you bring Nancy to the Warrens 

before the week's out, Mr. Cass," was Priscilla's 

parting Injunction, as she took the reins, and 


shook them gently, by way of friendly incitement 
to Speckle. 

" I shall just take a turn to the fields against 
the Stone-pits, Nancy, and look at the draining," 
said Godfrey. 

*' You'll be in again by tea-time, dear?" 
" Oh, yes, I shall be back in an hour." 
It was Godfrey's custom on a Sunday after- 
noon to do a little contemplative farming in 
a leisurely walk. Nancy seldom accompanied 
him ; for the women of her generation — unless, 
like Priscilla, they took to outdoor management 
— were not given to much walking beyond their 
own house and garden, finding sufficient exercise 
in domestic duties. So, when Priscilla was not 
with her, she usually sat with Mant's Bible 
before her, and after following the text with 
her eyes for a little while, she would gradually 
permit them to wander as her thoughts had 
already insisted on wandering. 

But Nancy's Sunday thoughts were rarely 
quite out of keeping with the devout and rever- 
ential intention implied by the book spread open 
before her. She was not theologically instructed 
enough to discern very clearly the relation 
between the sacred documents of the past which 
she opened without method, and her own obscure, 
simple life ; but the spirit of rectitude, and 
the sense of responsibility for the effect of her 

conduct on others, which were strong elements 


in Nancy's character, had made it a habit with 
her to scrutinise her past feelings and actions 
with self-questioning solicitude. Her mind not 
being courted by a great variety of subjects, she 
filled the vacant moments by living inwardly, 
again and again, through all her remembered 
experience, especially through the fifteen years 
of her married time, in which her life and its 
significance had been doubled. She recalled 
the small details, the words, tones, and looks, 
in the critical scenes which had opened a new 
epoch for her by giving her a deeper insight into 
the relations and trials of life, or which had 
called on her for some little effort of forbear- 
ance, or of painful adherence to an imagined 
or real duty — asking herself continually whether 
she had been in any respect blamable. 

This excessive rumination and self-questioning 
is perhaps a morbid habit inevitable to a mind 
of much moral sensibility when shut out from 
its due share of outward activity and of practical 
claims on its affections — inevitable to a noble- 
hearted, childless woman, when her lot is narrow. 
** I can do so little — have I done it all well?" is 
the perpetually recurring thought ; and there are 
no voices calling her away from that soliloquy, 
no peremptory demands to divert energy from 
vain regret or superfluous scruple. 

There was one main thread of painful experi- 
ence in Nancy's married life, and on it hung 


certain deeply-felt scenes, which were the oftenest 
revived in retrospect. The short dialof^ue with 
Priscilla in the garden had determined the 
current of retrospect in that frequent direction 
this particular Sunday afternoon. The first 
wandering of her thouglit from the text, which 
she still attempted dutifully to follow with her 
eyes and silent lips, was into an imaginary 
enlargement of the defence she had set up for 
her husband against Priscilla's implied blame. 
The vindication of the loved object is the best 
balm affection can find for its wounds: "A 
man must have so much on his mind," is the 
belief by which a wife oftens supports a cheer- 
ful face under rough answers and unfeeling 
words. And Nancy's deepest wounds had all 
come from the perception that the absence of 
children from their hearth was dwelt on in her 
husband's mind as a privation to which he could 
not reconcile himself. 

Yet sweet Nancy might have been expected to 
feel still more keenly the denial of a blessing to 
which she had looked forward with all the 
varied expectations and preparations, solemn 
and prettily trivial, which fill the mind of a 
loving woman when she expects to become a 

mother. Was there not a drawer filled with 


the neat work of her hands, all unworn and 
untouched, just as she had arranged it there 
fourteen years ago — just, but for one little dress,, 

.66 i 

which had been made the burial-dress? But 
under this immediate personal trial Nancy was 
so firmly unmurmuring, that years ago she had 
suddenly renounced the habit of visiting this 
drawer, lest she should in this way be cherishing 
a longing for what was not given. 

Perhaps it was this very severity towards any 
indulgence of what she held to be sinful regret 
in herself, that made her shrink from applying 
her own standard to her husband. *' It is very 
different — it is much worse for a man to be 
disappointed in that way : a woman can always 
be satisfied with devoting herself to her husband, 
but a man wants something that will make him 
look forward more — and sitting by the fire is so 
much duller to him than to a woman." And 
always, when Nancy reached this point in her 
meditations — trying, with predetermined sym- 
pathy, to see everything as Godfrey saw it — 
there came a renewal of self-questioning. Had 
she done everything in her power to lighten 
Godfrey's privation? Had she really been right 
in the resistance which had cost her so much 
pain six years ago, and again four years ago — 
the resistance to her husband's wish that they 
should adopt a child ? 

Adoption was more remote from the ideas and 
habits of that time than of our own ; still Nancy 
had her opinion on it. It was as necessary to 
her mind to have an opinion on all topics, not 


exclusively masculine, that had come under her 
notice, as for her to have a precisely marked 
place for every article of her personal property : 
and her opinions were always principles to be 
unwaveringly acted on. They were firm, not 
because of their basis, but because she held 
them with a tenacity inseparable from her mental 
action. On all the duties and proprieties of life, 
from filial behaviour to the arrangements of the 
evening toilet, pretty Nancy Lammeter, by the 
time she was three-and-twenty, had her unalter- 
able little code, and had formed every one of her 
habits in strict accordance with that code. She 
carried these decided judgments within her in 
the most unobtrusive way : they rooted them- 
selves in her mind, and grew there as quietly 
as grass. Years ago, we know, she insisted on 
dressing like Priscilla, because " it was right for 
sisters to dress alike," and because *'she would 
do what was right if she wore a gown dyed 
with cheese-colouring." That was a trivial but 
typical instance of the mode in which Nancy's 
life was regulated. 

It was one of those rigid principles, and no 
petty egoistic feeling, which had been the ground 
of Nancy's difficult resistance to her husband's 
wish. To adopt a child, because children of 
your own had been denied you, was to try and 
choose your lot in spit« of Providence : the 
adopted child, she was convinced, would never 


turn out well, and would be a curse to those 
who had wilfully and rebelliously sought what 
it was clear that, for some high reason, they 
were better without. When you saw a thing 
was not meant to be, said Nancy, it was a 
bounden duty to leave off so much as wishing 
for it. And so far, perhaps, the wisest of men 
could scarcely make more than a verbal im- 
provement in her principle. But the conditions 
under which she held it apparent that a thing 
was not meant to be, depended on a more 
peculiar mode of thinking. She would have 
given up making a purchase at a particular 
place if, on three successive times, rain, or 
some other cause of Heaven's sending, had 
formed an obstacle; and she would have antici- 
pated a broken limb or other heavy misfortune 
to any one who persisted in spite of such 

. *^ But why should you think the child would 
turn out ill ? " said Godfrey, in his remonstrances. 
^' She has thriven as well as child can do with 
the weaver; and he adopted her. There isn't 
such a pretty little girl anywhere else in the 
parish, or one fitter for the station we could 
give her. Where can be the likelihood of her 
being a curse to anybody ? " 

J *;*.yes, my dear Godfrey," said Nancy, who 
was sitting with her hands tightly clasped 

together, and with yearning, regretful affection 


in her eyes. **The child may not turn out ill 
with the weaver. But, then, he didn't ^^o to 
seek her, as we should be doing. It will be 
wrong : I feel sure it will. Don't you remember 
what that lady we met at the Royston Baths 
told us about the child her sister adopted? 
That was the only adopting I ever heard of: 
and the child was transported when it was 
twenty-three. Dear Godfrey, don't ask me to 
do what I know is wrong : I should never be 
happy again. I know it's very hard (or yoii — it's 
easier for me — but it's the will of Providence." 

It might seem singular that Nancy — with her 
religious theory pieced together out of narrow 
social traditions, fragments of church doctrine 
imperfectly understood, and girlish reasonings 
on her small experience — should have arrived 
by herself at a way or thinking so nearly akin 
to that of many devout people whose beliefs 
are held in the shape of a system quite remote 
from her knowledge : singular, if we did not 
know that human beliefs, like all other natural 
growths, elude the barriers of system. 

Godfrey had from the first specified Eppie, 

then about twelve years old, as a child suitable 

for them to adopt. It had never occurred to 

him that Silas would rather part with his life 

than with Eppie. Surely the weaver would wish 

the best to the child he had taken so much 

trouble with, and would be glad that such 


good fortune should happen to her : she would 
always be very grateful to him, and he would 
be well provided for to the end of his life — 
provided for as the excellent part he had done 
by the child deserved. Was it not an appropriate 
thing for people in a higher station to take a 
charge off the hands of a man in a lower? It 
seemed an . eminently appropriate thing to 
Godfrey, for reasons that were known only to 
himself; and by a common fallacy, he imagined 
the measure would be easy because he had 
private motives for desiring it. This was rather 
a coarse mode of estimating Silas's relation to 
Eppie ; but we must remember that many of 
the impressions which Godfrey was likely to 
gather concerning the labouring people around 
him would favour the idea that deep affections 
can hardly go along with callous palms and 
scant means ; and he had not had the oppor- 
tunity, even if he had had the power, of entering 
intimately into all that was exceptional in the 
weaver's experience. It was only the want of 
adequate knowledge that could have made it 
possible for Godfrey deliberately to entertain 
an unfeeling project : his natural kindness had 
outlived that blighting time of cruel wishes, 
and Nancy's praise of him as a husband was 
not founded entirely on a wilful illusion. 

**I was right," she said to herself, when she 

had recalled all their scenes of discussion, *'I 


feel I was ripfht to say him nay, thouf^h it 

hurt me more than anything ; but how good 

Godfrey has been about it ! Many men would 

have been very angry with me for standing 

out against their wishes ; and they might have 

thrown out that they'd had ill-luck in marrying 

me ; but Godfrey has never been the man to 

say to me an unkind word. It's only what he 

can't hide : everything seems so blank to him, 

I know ; and the land — what a difference it 'ud 

make to him, when he goes to see after things, 

if he'd children growing up that he was doing 

it all for! But I won't murmur; and perhaps 

if he'd married a woman who'd had children, 

she'd have vexed him in other ways." 

This possibility was Nancy's chief comfort ; 

and to give it greater strength, she laboured to 

make it impossible that any other wife should 

have had more perfect tenderness. She had 

been forced to vex him by that one denial. 

Godfrey was not insensible to her loving effort, 

and did Nancy no injustice as to the motives of 

her obstinacy. It was impossible to have lived 

with her fifteen years and not be aware that 

an unselfish clinging to the right, and a sincerity 

clear as the flower-born dew, were her main 

characteristics ; indeed, Godfrey felt this so 

strongly, that his own more wavering nature, 

too averse to facing difficulty to be unvaryingly 

simple and truthful, was kept in a certain awe 



of this gentle wife who watched his looks with 

a yearning to obey them. It seemed to him 

impossible that he should ever confess to her 

the truth about Eppie : she would never recover 

from the repulsion the story of his earlier 

marriage would create, told to her now, after 

that long concealment. And the child, too, he 

thought, must become an object of repulsion : 

the very sight of her would be painful. The 

shock to Nancy's mingled pride and ignorance 

of the wDrld's evil might even be too much for 

her delicate frame. Since he had married her 

with that secret on his heart, he must keep it 

there to the last. Whatever else he did, he 

could not make an irreparable breach between 

himself and this long-loved wife. 

Meanwhile, why could he not make up his 

mind to the absence of children from a hearth 

brightened by such a wife? Why did his 

mind fly uneasily to that void, as if it were 

the sole reason why life was not thoroughly 

oyous to him ? I suppose it is the way with 

all men and women who reach middle age 

without the clear perception that life never can 

be thoroughly joyous : under the vague dulness 

of the gray hours, dissatisfaction seeks a definite 

object, and finds it in the privation of an untried 

good. Dissatisfaction, seated musingly on a 

childless hearth, thinks with envy of the father 

whose return is greeted by young voices — 


seated at the meal where the little heads ris- 
one above another like nursery plants, it sec 
a black care hoverin^^ behind every one (> 
them, and thinks the impulses by which nui 
abandon freedom, and seek for ties, are surelv 
nothing but a brief madness. In Godfrey's cast 
there were further reasons why his thou*^dit« 
should be continually solicited by this one point 
in his lot : his conscience, never thoroughly easy 
about Eppie, now gave his childless home the 
aspect of a retribution ; and as the time passed 
on, under Nancy's refusal to adopt her, any 
retrieval of his error became more and more 

On this Sunday afternoon it was already 
four years since there had been any allusion tc 
the subject between them, and Nancy supposed 
that it was for ever buried. 

" I wonder if he'll mind it less or more as 
he gets older," she thought ; '' I'm afraid more. 
Aged people feel the miss of children : what 
would father do w^ithout Priscilla? And if I 
die, Godfrey will be very lonely — not holding 
tooether with his brothers much. But I won't 
be over-anxious, and trying to make things 
out beforehand ; I must do my best for the 

With that last thought Nancy roused herself 

from her reverie, and turned her eyes again 

towards the forsaken page. It had been forsaken 


onger than she imagined, for she was pre- 
sently surprised by the appearance of the 
servant with the tea-things. It was, in fact, 

little before the usual time for tea ; but Tane 
lad her reasons. 

*' Is your master come into the yard, Jane?" 

*' No 'm, he isn't," said Jane, with a slight 
emphasis, of. which, however, her mistress took 
no notice. 

** I don't know whether you've seen 'em, 'm," 
continued Jane, after a pause, *'but there's 
folks making haste all one way, afore the 
front window. I doubt something's happened. 
There's niver a man to be seen i' the yard, 
else I'd send and see. I've been up into the 
top attic, but there's no seeing anything for 
trees. I hope nobody's hurt, that's all." 

*' Oh no, I daresay there's nothing much 
the matter," said Nancy. ** It's perhaps Mr. 
Snell's bull got out again, as he did before." 

" I wish he mayn't gore anybody, then, that's 
all," said Jane, not altogether despising a 
hypothesis which covered a few imaginary 

**That girl is always terrifying me," thought 
Nancy ; "I wish Godfrey would come in." 

She went to the front window and looked 

'as far as she could see along the road, with 

an uneasiness which she felt to be childish, 

for there were now no such signs of excitement 


as Jane had spoken of, and Godfrey woulc 
not be likely to return by the village road 
but by the fields. She continued to stand, 
however, looking- at the placid churchyard with 
the long shadows of the gravestones acrosj 
the bright green hillocks, and at the glowing 
autumn colours of the Rectory trees beyond. 
Before such calm external beauty the presence 
of a vague fear is more distinctly felt — like 
a raven flapping its slow wing across the 
sunny air. Nancy wished more and more 
that Godfrey would come in. 



Some one opened the door at the other end of the 
•oom, and Nancy felt that it was her husband. 
She turned from the window with gladness in 
ner eyes, for the wife's chief dread was stilled. 

*' Dear, I'm so thankful you're come," she said, 
going towards him. ^* I began to get — — " 

She paused abruptly, for Godfrey was laying 
down his hat with trembling hands, and turned 
towards her with a pale face and a strange, 
unanswering glance, as if he saw her indeed, 
but saw her as part of a scene invisible to 
herself. She laid her hand on his arm, not 
daring to speak again ; but he left the touch 
unnoticed, and threw himself into his chair. 

Jane was already at the door with the hissing urn. 

**Tell her to keep away, will you?" said 
Godfrey ; and when the door was closed again 
he exerted himself to speak more distinctly. 

** Sit down — Nancy — there," he said, pointing 
to a chair opposite him. " I came back as soon 
as I could, to hinder anybody's telling you but 
me. I've had a great shock — but I care most 
about the shock it'll be to you." 

**It isn't father and Priscilla?" said Nancy, 
with quivering lips, clasping her hands together 
tightly on her lap. 

** No, it's nobody living," said Godfrey, 
unequal to the considerate skill with which 
he would have wished to make his revelation. 
" It's Dunstan — my brother Dunstan, that we 
lost sight of sixteen years ago. We've found 
him — found his body — his skeleton." 

The deep dread Godfrey's look had created 
in Nancy made her feel these words a relief. 
She sat in comparative calmness to hear what 
else he had to tell. He went on — 

" The Stone-pit has gone dry suddenly^ 
from the draining, I suppose ; and there he 
lies — has lain for sixteen years, wedged between 
two great stones. There's his watch and seals, 
and there's my gold-handled hunting-whip, with 
my name on : he took it away, without my 
knowing, the day he went hunting on Wildfire, 
the last time he was seen." 

Godfrey paused ; it was not so easy to say 
what came next. 

^'Do you think he drowned himself?" said 
Nancy, almost wondering that her husband 
should be so deeply shaken by what had 
happened all those years ago to an unloved 
brother, of whom worse things had been augured. 

'' No, he fell in," said Godfrey, in a low but 
distinct voice, as if he felt some deep meaning 
in the fact. Presently he added: "Dunstan 
was the man that robbed Silas Marner." 

The blood rushed to Nancy's face and neck 


t this surprise and shame, for she had been 

)red up to regard even a distant kinship with 

rime as a dishonour. 
*' Oh, Godfrey ! " she said, with compassion in 

ler tone, for she had immediately reflected that 

he dishonour must be felt still more keenly by 

ler husband. 
*^ There was the money in the pit," he con- 

inued, ^*all the weaver's money. Everything's 
oeen gathered up, and they're taking the skeleton 

o the Rainbow. But I came back to tell you : 

:here was no hindering it ; you must know." 

He was silent, looking on the ground for 

two long minutes. Nancy would have said 

some words of comfort under this disgrace, 

but she refrained, from, an instinctive sense 

that there was something behind— that Godfrey 

had something else to tell her. Presently he 

lifted his eyes to her face, and kept them fixed 

on her, as he said — 

*' Everything comes to light, Nancy, sooner 

or later. When God Almighty wills it, our 

secrets are found out. I've lived with a secret 

on my mind, but I'll keep it from you no longer. 

I wouldn't have you know it by somebody else, 

and no^ by me — I wouldn't have you find it 

out after I'm dead. I'll tell you now. It's 

been ' I will, and ' I won't ' with me all my life 

— I'll make sure of myself now." 

Nancy's utmost dread had returned. The eyes 


of the husband and wife met with awe in them 
as at a crisis which suspended affection. 

*' Nancy," said Godfrey slowly, **when 
married you, I hid something from you — some 
thing I ought to have told you. That womar 
Marner found dead in the snow — Eppie's mothe: 
— that wretched woman — was my wife : Eppit 
is my child." 

He paused, dreading the effect of his confes- 
sion. But Nancy sat quite still, only that hei 
eyes dropped and ceased to meet his. She wa« 
pale and quiet as a meditative statue, clasping 
her hands on her lap. 

''You'll never think the same of me again,*' 
said Godfrey, after a little while, with some 
tremor in his voice. 

She was silent. 

*' I oughtn't to have left the child unowned : 
I oughtn't to have kept it from you. But I 
couldn't bear to give you up, Nancy. I was 
led away into marrying her — I suffered for it." 

Still Nancy was silent, looking down ; and 
he almost expected that she would presently 
get up and say she would go to her father's. 
How could she have any mercy for faults that 
must seem so black to her, with her simple, 
severe notions ? 

But at last she lifted up her eyes to his again 

and spoke. There was no indignation in her 

voice — only deep regret. 



*' Godfrey, if you had but told me this six 
years ago, we could have done some of our 
duty by the child. Do you think I'd have 
refused to take her in, if I'd known she was 
yours ? " 

At that moment Godfrey felt all the bitterness 
of an error that was not simply futile, but had 
defeated its own end. He had not measured 
this wife with whom he had lived so long. But 
she spoke again, with more agitation. 

''And — oh, Godfrey — if we'd had her from 
the first, if you'd taken to her as you ought, 
she'd have loved me for her mother — and you'd 
have been happier with me : I could better have 
bore my little baby dying, and our life might 
have been more like what we used to think it 
'ud be." 

The tears fell, and Nancy ceased to speak. 

''But you wouldn't have married me then, 
Nancy, if I'd told you,'^ said Godfrey, urged, 
in the bitterness of his self-reproach, to prove 
to himself that his conduct had not been utter 
folly. "You may think you would now, but 
you wouldn't then. With your pride and 
your father's, you'd have hated having any- 
thing to do with me after the talk there'd have 

"I can't say what I should have done about 

that, Godfrey. I should never have married 

anybody else. But I wasn't worth doing wrong 


for — nothinf^" is in this world. Nothing is so 
£:^ood as it seems beforehand — not even our 
marrying" wasn't, you see." There was a faint, 
sad smile on Nancy's face as she said the last 

" I'm a worse man than you thought I was, 
Nancy," said Godfrey rather tremulously. *'Can 
you forgive me ever?" 

*'The wrong to me is but little, Godfrey: 
you've made it up to me — you've been good 
to me for fifteen years. It's another you did 
the wrong to ; and 1 doubt it can never be all 
made up for." 

*' But we can take Eppie now," said Godfrey. 
" I won't mind the world knowing at last. I'll 
be plain and open for the rest o' my life." 

"It'll be different coming to us, now she's 
grown up," said Nancy, shaking her head sadly. 
*' But it's your duty to acknowledge her and 
provide for her ; and I'll do my part by her, 
and pray to God Almighty to make her love me." 

'*Then we'll go together to Silas Marner's this 
very night, as soon as everything's quiet at the 



Between eight and nine o'clock that evening, 
Eppie and Silas were seated alone in the cottage. 
After the great excitement the weaver had under- 
gone from the events of the afternoon, he had 
felt a longing- for this quietude, and had even 
begged Mrs. Winthrop and Aaron, who had 
naturally lingered behind every one else, to leave 
him alone with his child. The excitement had 
not passed away : it had only reached that 
stage when the keenness of the susceptibility 
makes external stimulus intolerable — when there 
is no sense of weariness, but rather an intensity 
of inward life, under which sleep. is an impossi- 
bility. Any one who has watched such moments 
in other men remembers the brightness of the 
eyes and the strange definiteness that comes over 
coarse features from that transient influence. It 
is as if a new fineness of ear for all spiritual 
voices had sent wonder-working vibrations 
through the heavy mortal frame — as if "beauty 
born of murmuring sound " had passed into the 
face of the listener. 

Silas's face showed that sort of transfiguration, 
as he sat in his arm-chair and looked at Eppie. 
She had drawn her own chair towards his knees, 

and leaned forward, holding both his hands, 


while she looked up at him. On the table nea 
them, lit by a candle, lay the recovered ^n)id— 
the old long-loved gold, ranged in orderly heaps 
as Silas used to range it in the days when i 
was his only joy. He had been telling her hov 
he used to count it every night, and how hi 
soul was utterly desolate till she was sent to him. 

**At first, I'd a sort o' feeling come across m^ 
now and then," he was saying in a subduet 
tone, **as if you might be changed into th- 
gold again ; for sometimes, turn my head whicl 
way I would, I seemed to see the gold ; and 
thought I should be glad if I could feel it, an( 
find it was come back. But that didn't las 
long. After a bit, I should have thought i 
was a curse come again, if it had drove yoi 
from me, for I'd got to feel the need o' you 
looks and your voice, and the touch o' you 
little fingers. You didn't know then, Eppie 
when you were such a little un — you didn' 
know what your old father Silas felt for you." 

^* But I know now, father," said Eppie. '^ I 
it hadn't been for you, they'd have taken me tc 
the workhouse, and there'd have been nobody tc 
love me." 

" Eh, my precious child, the blessing waj 
mine. If you hadn't been sent to save me, 1 
should ha' gone to the grave in my misery. 
The money was taken away from me in time 

and you see it's been kept — kept till it was 


wanted for you. It's wonderful — our life is 

Silas sat in silence a few minutes, looking- at 
the money. ^^It takes no hold of me now," 
he said ponderingly — "the money doesn't. I 
wonder if it ever could again — I doubt it might, 
if I lost you, Eppie. I might come to think I 
was forsaken again, and lose the feeling that 
God was good to me." 

At that moment there was a knocking at the 
door ; and Eppie was obliged to rise without 
answering Silas. Beautiful she looked, with the 
tenderness of gathering tears in her eyes and a 
slight flush on her cheeks, as she stepped to 
open the door. The flush deepened when she 
saw Mr. and Mrs. Godfrey Cass. She made 
her little rustic curtsy, and held the door wide 
for them to enter. 

''We're disturbing- you very late, my dear," 
said Mrs. Cass, taking Eppie's hand, and looking 
in her face with an expression of anxious interest 
and admiration. Nancy herself was pale and 

Eppie, after placing chairs for Mr. and Mrs. 
Cass, went to stand against Silas, opposite to 

*' Well, Marner," said Godfrey, trying to speak 

with perfect firmness, *'it's a great comfort to 

me to see you with your money again, that 

you've been deprived of so many years. It was 
s.M. ' 285 K 

one of my family did you the wrong — the more 
grief to me — and I feel bound to make up to 
you for it in every way. Whatever I can do 
for you will be nothing but paying a debt, 
even if I looked no further than the robbery. 
But there are other things I'm beholden — shall 
be beholden to you for, Marner.'* 

Godfrey checked himself. It had been agreed 
between him and his wife that the subject of his 
fatherhood should be approached very carefully, 
and that, if possible, the disclosure should be 
reserved for the future, so that it might be made 
to Eppie gradually. Nancy had urged this, 
because she felt strongly the painful light in 
which Eppie must inevitably see the relation 
between her father and mother. 

Silas, always ill at ease when he was being 
spoken to by "betters," such as Mr. Cass — 
tall, powerful, florid man, seen chiefly on 
horseback — answered with some constraint — 

"Sir, I've a deal to thank you for a'ready. 
As for the robbery, I count it no loss to me. 
And if I did, you couldn't help it : you aren't 
answerable for it." 

"You may look at it in that way, Marner, 

but I never can ; and I hope you'll let me act 

according to my own feeling of what's just. 

I know you're easily contented ; you've been 

a hard-working man all your life." 

" Yes, sir, yes," said Marner meditatively. 


" I should ha' been bad off without my work : 
it was what I held by when everything else 
was gone from me." 

**Ah," said Godfrey, applying Marner's 
words simply to his bodily wants, ** it was a 
good trade for you in this country, because 
there's been a great deal of linen-weaving to 
be done. But you're getting rather past such 
close work, Marner ; it's time you laid by and 
had some rest. You look a good deal pulled 
down, though you're not an old man, are 

*' Fifty-five, as near as I can say, sir," said 

** Oh, why, you may live thirty years longer 
— look at old Macey ! And that money on 
the table, after all, is but little ; it won't go 
far either way — whether it's put out to interest, 
or you were to live on k as long as it would 
last : it wouldn't go far if you'd nobody to 
keep but yourself, and you've had two to keep 
for a good many years now." 

** Eh, sir," said Silas, unaffected by anything 
Godfrey was saying, ^^I'm in no fear o' want. 
We shall do very well — Eppie and me 'ull do 
well enough. There's few working folks have 
got so much laid by as that. I don't know 
what it is to gentlefolks, but I look upon it as 
a deal — almost too much. And as for us, it's 

little we want." 


** Only the garden, father," said Eppie, 
blushing up to tiie ears the moment after. 

** You love a garden, do you, my dear?" 
said Nancy, thijjking that this turn in the point 
of view might help her husband. *' We should 
agree in that ; I give a deal of time to the 

*' Ah, there's plenty of gardening at the Red 
House," said Godfrey, surprised at the difficulty 
he found in approaching a proposition which had 
seemed so easy to him in the distance. ** You've 
done a good part by Eppie, Marner, for sixteen 
years. It 'ud be a great comfort to you to see 
her well provided for, wouldn't it? She looks 
blooming and healthy, but not fit for any hard- 
ships : she doesn't look like a strapping girl come 
of working parents. You'd like to see her taken 
care of by those who can leave her well off, and 
make a lady of her ; she's more fit for it than 
for a rough life, such as she might come to 
have in a few years' time.'* 

A slight flush came over Marner's face, and 
disappeared, like a passing gleam. Eppie was 
simply wondering Mr. Cass should talk so about 
things that seemed to have nothing to do with 
reality ; but Silas was hurt and uneasy. 

*' I don't take your meaning, sir," he answered, 
not having words at command to express the 
mingled feelings with which he had heard Mr. 
Cass's words. 


**WeII, my meaning is this, Marner," said 
Godfrey, determined to come to the point. 
'' Mrs. Cass and I, you know, have no children 
— nobody to be the better for our good home 
and everything else we have — more than enough 
for ourselves. And we should like to have some- 
body in the place of a daughter to us — we should 
like to have Eppie, and treat her in every way as 
our own child. It 'ud be a great comfort to you 
in your old age, I hope, to see her fortune made 
in that way, after youVe been at the trouble of 
bringing her up so well. And it's right you 
should have every reward for that. And Eppie, 
I'm sure, will always love you and be grateful to 
you : she'd come and see you very often, and we 
should all be on the look-out to da everything we 
could towards making you comfortable." 

A plain man like Godfrey Cass, speaking under 
some embarrassment, necessarily blunders on 
words that are coarser than his intentions, and 
that are likely to fall gratingly on susceptible 
feelings. While he had been speaking, Eppie 
had quietly passed her arm behind Silas's head, 
and let her hand rest against it caressingly : she 
felt him trembling violently. He was silent 
for some moments when Mr. Cass had ended — 
powerless under the conflict of emotions, all 
alike painful. Eppie's heart was swelling at 
the sense that her father was in distress ; and 
she was just going to lean down and speak to 


liim, when one struggling dread at last gained 
the mastery over every other in Silas, and he 
said faintly — 

**Eppie, my child, speak. I won't stand 
in your way. Thank Mr. and Mrs. Cass." 

Eppie took her hand from her father's head, 
and came forward a step. Her cheeks were 
flushed, but not with shyness this time ; the 
sense that her father was in doubt and suffering 
banished that sort of self-consciousness. She 
dropped a low curtsy, first to Mrs. Cass and 
then to Mr. Cass, and said — 

^* Thank you, ma'am — thank you, sir. But I 
can't leave my father, nor own anybody nearer 
than him. And I don't want to be a lady — 
thank you all the same " (here Eppie dropped 
another curtsy). ^' I couldn't give up the folks 
I've been used to." 

Eppie's lip began to tremble a little at the 
last words. She retreated to her father's chair 
again, and held him round the neck : while 
Silas, with a subdued sob, put up his hknd to 
grasp hers. 

The tears were in Nancy's eyes, but her 
sympathy with Eppie was naturally divided 
with distress on her husband's account. She 
dared not speak, wondering what was going on 
in her husband's mind. 

Godfrey felt an irritation inevitable to almost 

all of us when we encounter an unexpected 


obstacle. He had been full of his own penitence 
and resolution to retrieve his error as far as the 
time was left to him ; he was possessed with 
all-important feelings, that were to lead to a _p re- 
deter mined course of action which he had fixed 
on as the rigEt7~and he was not prepared to enter 
with lively appreciation into other people's feelings 
counteracting his virtuous resolves. The agitation 
w^ith which he spoke again was not quite unmixed 
with anger. 

** But I've a claim on you, Eppie — the strongest 
of all claims. It's my duty, Marner, to own 
Eppie as my child, and provide for her. She's 
my own child : her mother was my wife. I've 
a natural claim on her that must stand before 
every other." 

Eppie had given a violent start, and turned 

quite pale. Silas, on the contrary, who had been 

relieved by Eppie's answer from the dread lest 

his mind should be in opposition to hers, felt 

the spirit of resistance in him set free, not without 

a touch of parental fierceness. ** Then, sir," 

he answered, with an accent of bitterness that 

had been silent in him since the memorable day 

when his youthful hope had perished, ** then, 

sir, why didn't you say so sixteen year ago, 

and claim her before I'd come to love her, i'stead 

o' coming to take her from me now, when you 

might as well take the heart out o' my body? 

God gave her to me because you turned your 


back upon her, and He looks upon her as mine ; 
you've no right to her I When a man turns a 
blessing from his door, it falls to them as take 
it in." 

*'I know that, Marner. I was wrong. I've 
repented of my conduct in that matter,'* said 
Godfrey, who could not help feeling the edge 
of Silas's words. 

*' I'm glad to hear it, sir," said Marner, with 
gathering excitement; **but repentance doesn't 
alter what's been going on for sixteen year. 
Your coming now and saying 'I'm her father' 
doesn't alter the feelings inside us. It's me 
she's been calling her father ever since she 
could say the word." 

" But I think you might look at the thing 
more reasonably, Marner," said Godfrey, un- 
expectedly awed by the weaver's direct truth- 
speaking. *' It isn't as if she was to be taken 
quite away from you, so that you'd never see 
her again. She'll be very near you, and come 
to see you very often. She'll feel just the same 
towards you." 

*'Just the same?" said Marner, more bitterly 

than ever. ** How'll she feel just the same for 

me as she does now, when we eat o' the same 

bit, and drink o' the same cup, and think o' the 

same things from one day's end to another? 

Just the same ! that's idle talk. You'd cut us 

i' two." 


Godfrey, unqualified by experience to discern 
the pregnancy of Marner's simple words, felt 
rather angry again. It seemed to him that the 
weaver was very selfish (a judgment readily 
passed by those who have never tested their 
own power of sacrifice) to oppose what was 
undoubtedly for Eppie's welfare ; and he felt 
himself called upon, for her sake, to assert his 

** I should have thought, Marner," he said 
severely, ** I should have thought your affection 
for Eppie would make you rejoice in what was 
for her good, even if it did call upon you to 
give up something. You ought to remember 
your own life's uncertain, and she's at an age 
now when her lot may soon be fixed in a way 
very different from what it would be in her 
father's home: she may marry some low working- 
man, and then, whatever I might do for her, 
I couldn't make her well off. You're putting 
yourself in the way of her welfare ; and though 
I'm sorry to hurt you after what you've done, 
and what I've left undone, I feel now it's my 
duty to insist on taking care of my own daughter. 
I want to do my duty." 

It would be difficult to say whether it were 
Silas or Eppie that was more deeply stirred by 
this last speech of Godfrey's. Thought had been 
very busy in Eppie as she listened to the contest 
between her old long-loved father and this new 


unfamiliar father who had suddenly come to 
fill the place of that black, featureless shadow 
which had held the ring and placed it on her 
mother's finger. Her imagination had darted 
backward in conjectures, and forward in pre- 
visions, of what this revealed fatherhood implied ; 
and there were words in Godfrey's last speech 
which helped to make the previsions especially 
definite. Not that these thoufj;^hts, either of past 
or future, determined her resolution — that was 
determined by the feelings which vibrated to 
every word Silas had uttered ; but they raised, 
even apart from these feelings, a repulsion towards 
the offered lot and the new^ly-revealed father. 

Silas, on the other hand, was again stricken 
in conscience, and alarmed lest Godfrey's accusa- 
tion should be true — lest he should be raising 
his own will as an obstacle to Eppie's good. 
For many moments he was mute, struggling 
for the self-conquest necessary to the uttering of 
the difficult words. They came out tremulously. 

" I'll say no more. Let it be as you will. 
Speak to the child. I'll hinder nothing." 

Even Nancy, with all the acute sensibility 

of her own affections, shared her husband's 

view, that Marner was not justifiable in his wish 

to retain Eppie, after her real father had avowed 

himself. She felt that it was a very hard trial 

for the poor weaver, but her code allowed nd 

question that a father by blood must have a 


claim above that of any foster-father. Besides, 
Nancy, used all her life to plenteous circum- 
stances and the privileges of '* respectability," 
could not enter into the pleasures which early 
nurture and habit connect with all the little 
aims and efforts of the poor who are born poor : 
to her mind, Eppie, in being restored to her 
birthright, was entering on a too long withheld 
but unquestionable good. Hence she heard 
Silas's last words with relief, and thought, as 
Godfrey did, that their wish was achieved. 

** Eppie, my dear," said Godfrey, looking at 
his daughter, not without some embarrassment, 
under the sense that she was old enough to 
judge him, ** it'll always be our wish that you 
should show your love and gratitude to one 
who's been a father to you so many years, and 
we shall want to help you to make him com- 
fortable in every way. But we hope you'll come 
to love us as well ; and though I haven't been 
what a father should ha' been to you all these 
years, I wish to do the utmost in my power 
for you for the rest of my life, and provide for 
you as my only child. And you'll have the 
best of mothers in my wife — that'll be a blessing 
you haven't known since you were old enough 
to know it." 

** My dear, you'll be a treasure to me," said 

Nancy, in her gentle voice. '*We shall want 

for nothing when we have our daughter." 


Eppie did not come forward and curtsy, 
as she had done before. She held Silas's hand 
in hers, and grasped it firmly — it was a weaver's 
hand, with a palm and finger-tips that were 
sensitive to such pressure — while she spoke 
with colder decision than before. 

** Thank you, ma'am — thank you, sir, for 
your offers — they're very great, and far above 
my wish. For I should have no delight i' 
life any more if I was forced to go away from 
my father, and knew he was sitting at home, 
a-thinking of me and feeling lone. We've been 
used to be happy together every day, and I 
can't think o' no happiness without him. And 
he says he'd nobody i' the world till I was sent 
to him, and he'd have nothing when I was gone. 
And he's took care of me and loved me from 
the first, and I'll cleave to him as long as he 
lives, and nobody shall ever come between him 
and me." 

*' But you must make sure, Eppie," said Silas, 
in a low voice, **you must make sure as you 
won't ever be sorry, because you've made your 
choice to stay among poor folks, and with poor 
clothes and things, when you might ha' had 
everything o' the best." 

His sensitiveness on this point had increased 
as he listened to Eppie's words of faithful affection. 

*'I can never be sorry, father," said Eppie. 

** I shouldn't know what to think on or to wish 


for with fine things about me, as I haven't been 
used to. And it 'ud be poor work for me to 
put on things, and ride in a gig, and sit in 
a place at church, as 'ud make them as I'm 
fond of, think me unfitting company for 'em. 
What could / care for then ? " 

Nancy looked at Godfrey with a pained, 
questioning glance. But his eyes were fixed 
on the floor, where he was moving the end 
of his stick, as if he were pondering on some- 
thing absently. She thought there was a word 
which might, perhaps, come better from her 
lips than from his. 

*^ What you say is natural, my dear child — 
it's natural you should cling to those who've 
brought you up," she said mildly ; *^ but there's 
a duty you owe to your lawful father. There's 
perhaps something to be given up on more 
sides than one. When your father opens his 
home to you, I think it's right you shouldn't 
turn your back on it." 

*' I can't feel as I've got any father but one," 
said Eppie impetuously, while the tears gathered, 
** I've always thought of a little home where 
he'd sit i' the corner, and I should fend and 
do everything for him ; I can't think o' no other 
home. I wasn't brought up to be a lady, and 
I can't turn my mind to it. I like the working- 
folks, and their victuals, and their ways. And," 

she ended passionately, while the tears fell, 


*' I'm promised to marry a working"-man, as'll 
live with father, and help me to take care of 

Godfrey looked up at Nancy with a flushed 
face and smarting, dilated eyes. This frustra- 
tion of a purpose towards which he had set out 
under the exalted consciousness that he was 
about to compensate in some degree for the 
greatest demerit of his life, made him feel the 
air of the room stifling. 

*' Let us go," he said, in an undertone. 

*' We won't talk of this any longer now," 
said Nancy, rising. *' We're your well-wishers, 
my dear — and yours too, Marner. We shall 
come and see you again. It's getting late now.'* 

In this way she covered her husband's abrupt 
departure, for Godfrey had gone straight to the 
door, unable to say more. 



Nancy and Godfrey walked home under the 
starlight in silence. When they entered the 
oaken parlour, Godfrey threw himself into his 
chair, while Nancy laid down her bonnet 
and shawl, and stood on the hearth near her 
husband, unwilling to leave him even for a 
few minutes, and yet fearing to utter any word 
lest it might jar on his feeling. At last God- 
frey turned his head towards her, and their 
eyes met, dwelling in that meeting without any 
movement on either side. That quiet mutual 
gaze of a trusting husband and wife is like the 
first moment of rest or refuge from a great 
weariness or a great danger — not to be interfered 
with by speech or action which would distract the 
sensations from the fresh enjoyment of repose. 

But presently he put out his hand, and as 
Nancy placed hers within it, he drew her towards 
him and said — 

*' That's ended!" 

She bent to kiss him, and then said, as she 

stood by his side, ^*Yes, I'm afraid we must 

give up the hope of having her for a daughter. 

It wouldn't be right to want to force her to 

come to us against her will. We can't alter 

her bringing up, and what's come of it." 


** No," said Godfrey, with a keen decisive- 
ness of tone, in contrast with his usually care- 
less and unemphatic speech, '* there's debts we 
can't pay like money debts, by payin^^ extra 
for the years that have slipped by. While I've 
been putting off and putting off, the trees have 
been growing — it's too late now. Marner was 
in the right in what he said about a man's 
turning away a blessing from his door : it 
falls to somebody else. I wanted to pass for 
childless once, Nancy — I shall pass for childless 
now against my wish." 

Nancy did not speak immediately, but after 
a little while she asked, "You won't make 
it known, then, about Eppie's being your 

*'No; where would be the good to anybody? 
— only harm. I must do what I can for her 
in the state of life she chooses. I must see 
who it is she's thinking of marrying." 

"If it won't do any good to make the thing 
known," said Nancy, who thought she might 
now allow herself the relief of entertaining a 
feeling which she had tried to silence before, 
" I should be very thankful for father and 
Priscilla never to be troubled with knowing 
what was done in the past, more than about 
Dunsey : it can't be helped, their knowing that." 

" I shall put it in my will — I think I shall 

put it in my will. I shouldn't like to leave 


anything to be found out, like this about 
Dunsey," said Godfrey meditatively. *' But I 
can't see anything but difficulties that 'ud come 
from telling it now. I must do what I can to 
make her happy in her own way. I've a 
notion," he added, after a moment's pause, 
** it's Aaron Winthrop she meant she was 
engaged to. I remember seeing him with her 
and Marner going away from church." 

"Well, he's very sober and industrious," said 
Nancy, trying to view the matter as cheerfully 
as possible. 

Godfrey fell into thoughtfulness again. 
Presently he looked up at Nancy sorrowfully, 
and said — 

** She's a very pretty, nice girl, isn't she, 

*^Yes, dear; and with just your hair and 
eyes : I wondered it had never struck me 

" I think she took a dislike to me at the 
thought of my being her father : I could see 
a change in her manner after that." 

**She couldn't bear to think of not looking on 
Marner as her father," said Nancy, not wishing 
to confirm her husband's painful impression. 

"She thinks I did wrong by her mother as 
well as by her. She thinks me worse than I 
am. But she must think it ; she can never 
know all. It's part of my punishment, Nancy, 

for my daughter to dislike me. I should never 
have got into that trouble if I'd been true to 
you — if I hadn't been a fool. I'd no right to 
expect anything but evil could come of that 
marriage — and when I shirked doing a father's 
part too." 

Nancy was silent : her spirit of rectitude would 
not let her try to soften the edge of what she 
felt to be a just compunction. 

He spoke again after a little while, but the 
tone was rather changed : there was tenderness 
mingled with the previous self-reproach. 

"And I got yoti, Nancy, in spite of all; and 
yet I've been grumbling and uneasy because 
I hadn't something else — as if I deserved it." 

** You've never been wanting to me, Godfrey,'* 
said Nancy, with quiet sincerity. *' My only 
trouble would be gone if you resigned yourself 
to the lot that's been given us." 

*' Well, perhaps it isn't too late to mend a 
bit there. Though it zs too late to mend some 
things, say what they will.'* 




The next morning, when vSilas and Eppie were 
seated at their breakfast, he said to her — 

*^ Eppie, there's a thing .'ve had on my mind 
to do this two year, and now the money's been 
brought back to us, we can do it. I've been 
turning it over and over in the night, and I 
think we'll set out to-morrow, while the fine 
days last. We'll leave the house and everything 
for your godmother to take care on, and we'll 
make a little bundle o' things and set out." 

*' Where to go, daddy?" said Eppie, in much 

*^ To my old country — to the town were I was 
born — up Lantern Yard. I want to see Mr. 
Paston, the minister : something may ha' come 
out to make 'em know I was innicent o' the 
robbery. And Mr. Paston was a man with a 
deal o' light — I want to speak to him about the 
drawing o' the lots. And I should like to talk 
to him about the religion o' this countryside, 
for I partly think he doesn't know on it." 

Eppie was very joyful, for there was the 
prospect not only of wonder and delight at 
seeing a strange country, but also of coming 
back to tell Aaron all about it. Aaron was so 
much wiser than she was about most things — 


for fould be rather pleasant to have this little 

have^iitage over him. Mrs. Winthrop, though 

yo3ssessed of a dim fear of dangers attendant^ 

♦bn so long a journey, and requiring many 

assurances that it would not take them out of 

the region of carriers' carts and slow wagons, 

was nevertheless well pleased that Silas should 

re-visit his own country, and find out if he had 

been cleared from that false accusation. 

** You'd be easier in your mind for the rest 
o' your life, Master Marner," said Dolly, "that 
you would. And if there's any light to be got 
up the Yard, as you talk on, we've need of it i* 
this world, and I'd be glad on it myself, if you 
could bring it back." 

So, on the fourth day from that time, Silas 
and Eppie, in their Sunday clothes, with a small 
bundle tied in a blue linen handkerchief, were 
making their way through the streets of a great 
manufacturing town. wSilas, bewildered by the 
changes thirty years had brought over his native 
place, had stopped several persons in succession 
to ask them the name of this town, that he 
might be sure he was not under a mistake 
about it. 

"Ask for Lantern Yard, father — ask this 
gentleman with the tassels on his shoulders a- 
standing at the shop door ; he isn't in a hurry 
like the rest," said Eppie, in some distress at 
her father's bewilderment, and ill at ease, 





besides, amidst the noise, the movement, and 
the multitude of strange, indifferent faces. 

'^ Eh, my child, he won't know anything about 
it,*' said Silas; ** gentlefolks didn't ever go up 
the Yard. But happen somebody can tell me 
which is the way to Prison Street, where the 
jail is. I know the way out o' that as if I'd 
seen it yesterday." 

With some difficulty, after many turnings and 
new inquiries, they reached Prison Street ; and 
the grim walls of the jail, the first object that 
answered to any image in Silas's memory, 
cheered him with the certitude, which no 
assurance of the town's name had hitherto 
given him, that he was in his native place. 

** Ah," he said, drawing a long breath, ** there's 
the jail, Eppie ; that's just the same : I aren't 
afraid now. It's the third turning on the left 
hand from the jail doors — that's the way we 
must go." 

*'Oh, what a dark, ugly place!" said Eppie. 
**How it hides the sky! It's worse than the 
Workhouse. I'm glad you don't live in this town 
now, father. Is Lantern Yard like this street?" 

** My precious child," said Silas, smiling, *'it 
isn't a big street like this. I never was easy i' 
this street myself, but I was fond o' Lantern 
Yard. The shops here are all altered, I think 
—I can't make 'em out ; but I shall know the 
turning, because it's the third." 


** Here it is,'* he said, in a tone of satisfaction, 
as they came to a narrow alley. ** And then 
we must go to the left ag-ain, and then straight 
for'ard for a bit, up Shoe Lane : and then we 
shall be at the entry next to the o'erhanging 
window, where there's the nick in the road for 
the water to run. Eh, I can see it all." 

^*Oh, father, I'm like as if I was stifled," said 
Eppie. ^*I couldn't ha' thought as any folks 
lived i' this way, so close together. How pretty 
the Stone-pits 'uU look when we get back ! " 

*^ It looks comical to me, child, now — and smells 
bad. I can't think as it usened to smell so." 

Here and there a sallow, begrimed face looked 
out from a gloomy doorway at the strangers, 
and increased Eppie's uneasiness, so that it was 
a longed-for relief when they issued from the 
alleys into Shoe Lane, where there was a broader 
strip of sky. 

*' Dear heart!" said Silas, **why, there's 
people coming out o' the Yard as if they'd 
been to chapel at this time o' day — a week-day 
noon ! " 

Suddenly he started and stood still with a look 
of distressed amazement that alarmed Eppie. 
They were before an opening in front of a large 
factory, from which men and women were 
streaming for their midday meal. 

*' Father," said Eppie, clasping his arm, 

*' what's the matter?" 


But she had to speak again and again berore 
Silas could answer her. 

*^ It's gone, child," he said at last, in strong 
agitation, ** Lantern Yard's gone. It must ha' 
been here, because here's the house with the 
o'erhanging window — I know that — it's just the 
same ; but they've made this new opening ; 
and see that big factory ! It's all gone — chapel 
and all." 

*'Come into that little brush-shop and sit 
down, father — they'll let you sit down," said 
Eppie, always on the watch lest One of her 
father's strange attacks should come on. ** Per- 
haps the people can tell you all about it." 

But neither from the brushmaker, who had 
come to Shoe Lane only ten years ago, when 
the factory was already built, nor from any other 
source within his reach, could Silas learn any- 
thing of the old Lantern Yard friends, or of 
Mr. Paston, the minister. 

** The old place is all swep' away," Silas said 
to Dolly Winthrop on the night of his return ; 
*'the little graveyard and everything. The old 
home's gone ; I've no home but this now. I 
shall never know whether they got at the truth 
o' the robbery, nor whether Mr. Paston could 
ha' given me any light about the drawing o' 
the lots. It's dark to me, Mrs. Winthrop, that 
is ; I doubt it'll be dark to the last." 

*' Well, yes, Master Marner," said Dolly, who 


sat witli a placid, listening face, now bordered 
by gray hairs; *' I doubt it may. It's the will 
o' Them above as a many things should be dark 
to us ; but there's some things as I've never fell 
i' the dark about, and they're mostly what comes 
i' the day's work. You were hard done by that 
once, Master Marner, and it seems as you'll never 
know the rights of it ; but that doesn't hinder 
there being a rights, Master Marner, for all it's 
dark to you ahH^e." 

*'No," said Silas, **no; that doesn't hinder. 
Since the time the child was sent to me and I've 
come to love her as myself, I've had light enough 
to trusten by; and now she says she'll never leave 
me, I think I shall trusten till I die." 


There was one time of the year which was held 

in Raveloe to be especially suitable for a wedding. 

It was when the great lilacs and laburnums in 

the old-fashioned gardens showed their golden 

and purple wealth above the lichen-tinted walls, 

and when there were calves still young enough 

to want bucketfuls of fragrant milk. People were 

not so busy then as they must become when the 

full cheese-making and the mowing had set in ; 

and besides, it was a time when a light bridal 

dress could be worn with comfort and seen to 



nappuy me sunsriine leii more warmiy man 
usual on the lilac tufts the morning" that Eppie 
was married, for her dress was a very light one. 
She had often thought, though with a feeling of 
renunciation, that the perfection of a wedding- 
dress would be a white cotton, with the tiniest 
pink sprig at wide intervals ; so that when 
Mrs. Godfrey Cass begged to provide one, 
and asked Eppie to choose what it should be,, 
previous meditation had enabled her to give a 
decided answer at once. 

Seen at a little distance as she walked across 
the churchyard and down the village, she seemed 
to be attired in pure white, and her hair looked 
like the dash of gold on a lily. One hand was 
on her husband's arm, and with the other she 
clasped the hand of her father Silas. 

*' You won't be giving me away, father," she 
had said before they went to church ; ^' you'll 
only be taking Aaron to be a son to .you." 

Dolly Winthrop walked behind with her 
husband ; and there ended the little bridal 

There were many eyes to look at it, and Miss 

Priscilla Lammeter was glad that she and her 

father had happened to drive up to the door of 

the Red House just in time to see this pretty 

sight. They had come to keep Nancy company 

to-day, because Mr. Cass had had to go away to 

Lytherley, for special reasons. That seemed to be 


a pity, for otherwise he might have gone, as Mr. 
Crackenthorp and Mr. Osgood certainly would, 
to look on at the wedding-feast which he had 
ordered at the Rainbow, naturally feeling a 
great interest in the weaver who had been 
wronged by one of his own family. 

** I could ha' wished Nancy had had the luck 
to find a child like that and bring her up," 
said Priscilla to her father, as they sat in 
the gig; *' I should ha' had something young 
to think of then, besides the lambs and the 

"Yes, my dear, yes," said Mr. Lammeter ; 
"one feels that as one gets older. Things look 
dim to old folks ; they'd need have some young 
eyes about 'em, to let 'em know the world's the 
same as it used to be." 

Nancy came out now to welcome her father 
and sister ; and the wedding group had passed 
on beyond the Red House to the humbler part 
of the village. 

Dolly Winthorp was the first to divine that old 
Mr. Macey, who had been set in his arm-chair 
outside his own door, would expect some special 
notice as they passed, since he was too old to 
be at the wedding-feast. 

"Mr. Macey's looking for a word from us," 

said Dolly; ** he'll be hurt if we pass him and 

say nothing — and him so racked with rheumatiz." 

So they turned aside to shake hands with the 









old man. He had looked forward to the occasion, 
and had his premeditated speech. 

^'Well, Master Marner," he said, in a voice 
that quavered a good deal, ** I've lived to see 
my words come true, I was the first to say- 
there was no harm in you, though your looks 
might be again' you ; and I was the first to 
say you'd get your money back. And it's 
nothing but rightful as you should. And I'd 
ha' said the ^Amens,' and willing, at the holy 
matrimony ; but Tookey's done it a good while 
now, and I hope you'll have none the worse 

In the open yard before the Rainbow the party 
of guests were already assembled, though it was 
still nearly an hour before the appointed feast- 
time. But by this means they could not only 
enjoy the slow advent of their pleasure ; they 
had also ample leisure to talk of Silas Marner's 
strange history, and arrive by due degrees at 
the conclusion that he had brought a blessing 
on himself by acting like a father to a lone, 
motherless child. Even the farrier did not 
negative this sentiment : on the contrary, he 
took it up as peculiarly his own, and invited 
any hardy person present to contradict him. 
But he met with no contradiction ; and all 
differences among the company were merged in 
a general agreement with Mr. Snell's sentiment, 

that when a man had deserved his good luck, 


it was the part of his neighbours to wish hin 
joy. f 

As the bridal group approached, a heart) 
cheer was raised in the Rainbow yard ; anc 
Ben Winthorp, whose jokes had retained thei 
acceptable flavour, found it agreeable to turn ir 
there and receive congratulations ; not requiring 
the proposed interval of quiet at the Stone-pit* 
before joining the company. 

Eppie had a larger garden* than she hac 
ever expected there now ; and in other way* 
there had been alterations at the expense o 
Mr. Cass, the landlord, to suit Silas's largei 
family. For he and Eppie had declared thai 
they would rather stay at the Stone-pits than 
go to any new home. The garden was fenced 
with stones on two sides, but in front there 
was an open fence, through which the flowers 
shone with answering gladness, as the four 
united people came within sight of them. 

" Oh, father," said Eppie, ** what a pretty home 
ours is ! I think nobody could be happier than 

we are.** 












PI CAr»- 

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...4 ... 

■.■r-\ T- 

PR Eliot, Georg 
^670 Silas Marner 

Sig. 5am.