Part 4 out of 4
"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 on, 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 your face in a table there's
nothing 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
"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 sarcastically, "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 waiting for me; we must turn now."
The large gig with the steady old grey 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
"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 afternoon 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 reverential 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 scrutinize 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
forbearance, 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 experience in Nancy's married
life, and on it hung certain deeply-felt scenes, which were the
oftenest revived in retrospect. The short dialogue with Priscilla
in the garden had determined the current of retrospect in that
frequent direction this particular Sunday afternoon. The first
wandering of her thought 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
often supports a cheerful 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
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, 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 sympathy, 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 toilette, pretty Nancy Lammeter, by the time she was
three-and-twenty, had her unalterable 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 themselves 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 spite 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 improvement 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 anticipated 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?"
"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 go 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 for _you_--it's easier for me--but it's the will of
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 of 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 opportunity, 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 right to say him nay,
though 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 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 have 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 world'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 joyous 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 dullness of
the grey 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 rise one above another like nursery plants, it sees a
black care hovering behind every one of them, and thinks the
impulses by which men abandon freedom, and seek for ties, are surely
nothing but a brief madness. In Godfrey's case there were further
reasons why his thoughts 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 difficult.
On this Sunday afternoon it was already four years since there had
been any allusion to 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 without Priscilla? And if I die, Godfrey will
be very lonely--not holding together 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 present."
With that last thought Nancy roused herself from her reverie, and
turned her eyes again towards the forsaken page. It had been
forsaken longer than she imagined, for she was presently surprised
by the appearance of the servant with the tea-things. It was, in
fact, a little before the usual time for tea; but Jane had her
"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 would 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 across
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 room, and Nancy
felt that it was her husband. She turned from the window with
gladness in her 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
"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 at this surprise and
shame, for she had been bred up to regard even a distant kinship
with crime as a dishonour.
"O Godfrey!" she said, with compassion in her tone, for she had
immediately reflected that the dishonour must be felt still more
keenly by her husband.
"There was the money in the pit," he continued--"all the
weaver's money. Everything's been gathered up, and they're taking
the skeleton to the Rainbow. But I came back to tell you: there 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 not 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
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 I married you, I hid
something from you--something I ought to have told you. That
woman Marner found dead in the snow--Eppie's mother--that
wretched woman--was my wife: Eppie is my child."
He paused, dreading the effect of his confession. But Nancy sat
quite still, only that her eyes dropped and ceased to meet his. She
was pale and quiet as a meditative statue, clasping her hands on her
"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 anything to do with me after
the talk there'd have been."
"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--
nothing is in this world. Nothing is so good 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 words.
"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 I 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
"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 Stone-pits."
Between eight and nine o'clock that evening, Eppie and Silas were
seated alone in the cottage. After the great excitement the weaver
had undergone 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 impossibility. 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 near them, lit by a candle, lay the
recovered gold--the old long-loved gold, ranged in orderly heaps,
as Silas used to range it in the days when it was his only joy. He
had been telling her how he used to count it every night, and how
his soul was utterly desolate till she was sent to him.
"At first, I'd a sort o' feeling come across me now and then," he
was saying in a subdued tone, "as if you might be changed into the
gold again; for sometimes, turn my head which way I would, I seemed
to see the gold; and I thought I should be glad if I could feel it,
and find it was come back. But that didn't last long. After a bit,
I should have thought it was a curse come again, if it had drove you
from me, for I'd got to feel the need o' your looks and your voice
and the touch o' your little fingers. You didn't know then, Eppie,
when you were such a little un--you didn't know what your old
father Silas felt for you."
"But I know now, father," said Eppie. "If it hadn't been for
you, they'd have taken me to the workhouse, and there'd have been
nobody to love me."
"Eh, my precious child, the blessing was mine. If you hadn't been
sent to save me, I 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 tremulous.
Eppie, after placing chairs for Mr. and Mrs. Cass, went to stand
against Silas, opposite to them.
"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 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
Silas, always ill at ease when he was being spoken to by
"betters", such as Mr. Cass--tall, powerful, florid men, 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
"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_ you?"
"Fifty-five, as near as I can say, sir," said Silas.
"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 it 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
"Only the garden, father," said Eppie, blushing up to the ears the
"You love a garden, do you, my dear?" said Nancy, thinking 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 garden."
"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 hardships: 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.
"Well, my meaning is this, Marner," said Godfrey, determined to
come to the point. "Mrs. Cass and I, you know, have no children--
nobody to benefit by our good home and everything else we have--
more than enough for ourselves. And we should like to have somebody
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 you've 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
do 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 him, 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
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 lips 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 hand 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 predetermined course of action which he had fixed
on as the right, and he was not prepared to enter with lively
appreciation into other people's feelings counteracting his virtuous
resolves. The agitation with 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 is 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! 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
"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, unexpectedly 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
"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 authority.
"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
previsions, 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 thoughts, 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 newly-revealed father.
Silas, on the other hand, was again stricken in conscience, and
alarmed lest Godfrey's accusation 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 no question that a father by blood must have a claim above
that of any foster-father. Besides, Nancy, used all her life to
plenteous circumstances 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 comfortable 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
"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
_I_ 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 something absently. She thought
there was a word which might perhaps come better from her lips than
"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 frustration 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 under-tone.
"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 Godfrey 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--
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
"No," said Godfrey, with a keen decisiveness of tone, in contrast
with his usually careless and unemphatic speech--"there's debts
we can't pay like money debts, by paying 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 daughter?"
"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 of
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
"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, Nancy?"
"Yes, dear; and with just your hair and eyes: I wondered it had
never struck me before."
"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
"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 _you_, Nancy, in spite of all; and yet I've been
grumbling and uneasy because I hadn't something else--as if I
"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
_is_ too late to mend some things, say what they will."
The next morning, when Silas and Eppie were seated at their
breakfast, he said to her--
"Eppie, there's a thing I'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 surprise.
"To my old country--to the town where 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 country-side, 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--it would be rather pleasant to have this little
advantage over him. Mrs. Winthrop, though possessed with a dim fear
of dangers attendant on so long a journey, and requiring many
assurances that it would not take them out of the region of
carriers' carts and slow waggons, was nevertheless well pleased that
Silas should revisit 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. Silas, 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
"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 again, 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."
"O 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 'ull 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 weekday
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 before 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. "Perhaps the people can
tell you all about it."
But neither from the brush-maker, 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 anything 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
"Well, yes, Master Marner," said Dolly, who sat with a placid
listening face, now bordered by grey 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 felt 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 and me."
"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
Happily the sunshine fell more warmly than 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
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
"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 procession.
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 calves."
"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
Dolly Winthrop 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
"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
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 luck."
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 him joy.
As the bridal group approached, a hearty cheer was raised in the
Rainbow yard; and Ben Winthrop, whose jokes had retained their
acceptable flavour, found it agreeable to turn in there and receive
congratulations; not requiring the proposed interval of quiet at the
Stone-pits before joining the company.
Eppie had a larger garden than she had ever expected there now; and
in other ways there had been alterations at the expense of Mr. Cass,
the landlord, to suit Silas's larger family. For he and Eppie had
declared that 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
"O father," said Eppie, "what a pretty home ours is! I think
nobody could be happier than we are."
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