It was a bright autumn Sunday,
sixteen years after Silas Marner 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 congregation 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 recognize,
in spite of Time,
who has laid his hand on them all.
The tall blond 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 recognize 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 much enfeebled by the lapse of the sixteen 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;
but 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 some one 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,
with double daisies in,
like Mrs. Winthrop's,"
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,
I shouldn't like you to do it,
'ud be too hard work for you."
I could do it,
if you want a bit o' garden: these long evenings,
I could work at taking in a little bit o' the waste,
just enough for a root or two o' flowers for you;
i' the morning,
I could have a turn wi' the spade before I sat down to the loom.
Why didn't you tell me before as you wanted a bit o' garden?"
"-I- can dig it for you,
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,
are you there?"
"I wasn't aware of you;
for when Eppie's talking o' things,
I see nothing but what she's a-saying.
if you could help me with the digging,
we might get her a bit o' garden all the sooner."
if you think well and good,"
"I'll come to the Stone-pits this afternoon,
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,
"For I shouldn't ha' said anything about it,"
"only Mrs. Winthrop said as Aaron
'ud be so good,
"And you might ha' known it without mother telling you,"
"And Master Marner knows too,
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."
you won't work in it till it's all easy,"
"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,
because they're so sweet-smelling;
but there's no lavender only in the gentlefolks' gardens,
"That's no reason why you shouldn't have some,"
"for I can bring you slips of anything;
I'm forced to cut no end of
'em when I'm gardening,
'em away mostly.
There's a big bed o' lavender at the Red House: the missis is very fond of it."
"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."
there's no imposin',"
"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 find its way to a mouth.
It sets one thinking o' that --gardening does.
But I must go back now,
'ull be in trouble as I aren't there."
"Bring her with you this afternoon,
"I shouldn't like to fix about the garden,
and her not know everything from the first --should -you-,
bring her if you can,
"she's sure to have a word to say as'll help us to set things on their right end."
Aaron turned back up the village,
while Silas and Eppie went on up the lonely sheltered lane.
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,
with the mild passive happiness of love-crowned age in his face;
"but you'll make yourself fine and beholden to Aaron."
laughing and frisking;
"he likes it."
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 trivialities,
but thankful to share in them,
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,
up to the very 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,
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,
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 concerning 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 Sunday 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 occasionally desisting in order to remonstrate with the cat by a cogent worrying growl on the greediness and futility of her conduct;
till Eppie relented,
caressed them both,
and divided the morsel between them.
But at last Eppie,
glancing at the clock,
checked the play,
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 clew his bewildered mind could hold by in cherishing this young life that had been 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 everything produced on her,
he had himself come to appropriate the forms of custom and belief which were the mould of Raveloe life;
with reawakening sensibilities,
memory also reawakened,
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,
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 testimony 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 innocent.
"And yourn's the same Bible,
you're sure o' that,
Master Marner --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?"
"every bit the same;
and there's drawing o' lots in the Bible,
he added in a lower tone.
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,
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."
who had now come to understand Dolly's phraseology,
"that was what fell on me like as if it had been red-hot iron;
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 familiar friend in whom I trusted,
had lifted up his heel again' me,
and worked to ruin me."
but he was a bad un --I can't think as there's another such,"
"But I'm o'ercome,
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't 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,
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.
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,
'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'll never 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 cliver;
for if I didn't know "Our Father",
and little bits o' good words 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,
it come to me summat like this: I can make nothing o' the drawing o' lots and the answer coming wrong;
'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
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 o' things I don't know on,
for it's little as I know --that it is.
while I was thinking o' that,
you come into my mind,
and it all come pouring in: --if -I- 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-'d 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 full-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 feel it i' my own inside as it must be so.
And if you could but ha' gone on trustening,
you wouldn't ha' run away from your fellow-creaturs and been so lone."
'ud ha' been hard,"
in an under-tone;
'ud ha' been hard to trusten then."
"And so it would,"
almost with compunction;
"them things are easier said nor done;
and I'm partly ashamed o' talking."
"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 grown 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 why 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 had long known how her mother had died on the snowy ground,
and how she herself had been found on the hearth by father Silas,
who had taken her golden curls for his lost guineas brought back to him.
The tender and peculiar love with which Silas had reared her in almost inseparable companionship with himself,
aided by the seclusion of their dwelling,
had preserved her from the lowering influences of the village talk and habits,
and had kept her mind in that freshness which is sometimes falsely supposed to be an invariable attribute of rusticity.
Perfect love has a breath of poetry which can exalt the relations of the least-instructed human beings;
and this breath of poetry had surrounded Eppie from the time when she had followed the bright gleam that beckoned her to Silas's hearth;
so that it is not surprising if,
in other things besides her delicate prettiness,
she was not quite a common village maiden,
but had a touch of refinement and fervour which came from no other teaching than that of tenderly-nurtured unvitiated feeling.
She was too childish and simple for her imagination to rove into questions about her unknown father;
for a long while it did not even occur to her that she must have had a father;
and the first time that the idea of her mother having 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 lackered 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.
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'll always get more and more."
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."
I'll tell you,
clasping her hands suddenly,
after a minute's thought.
"There's lots o' loose stones about,
'em not big,
and we might lay
'em atop of one another,
and make a wall.
You and me could carry the smallest,
'ud carry the rest --I know he would."
my precious un,"
"there isn't enough stones to go all round;
and as for you carrying,
wi' your little arms you couldn't carry a stone no bigger than a turnip.
You're dillicate made,
with a tender intonation --"that's what Mrs. Winthrop says."
I'm stronger than you think,
"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 for the rest.
round the big pit,
what a many stones!"
She skipped forward to the pit,
meaning to lift one of the stones and exhibit her strength,
but she started back in surprise.
just come and look here,"
she exclaimed --"come and see how the water's gone down since yesterday.
yesterday the pit was ever so full!"
to be sure,"
coming to her side.
that's the draining they've begun on,
i' Mr. Osgood's fields,
The foreman said to me the other day,
when I passed by
"I shouldn't wonder if we lay your bit o' waste as dry as a bone."
It was Mr. Godfrey Cass,
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!"
and stooping to lift rather a large stone.
I can carry this quite well,"
going along with much energy for a few steps,
but presently letting it fall.
you're fine and strong,
while Eppie shook her aching arms and laughed.
let us go and sit down on the bank against the stile there,
and have no more lifting.
You might hurt yourself,
You'd need have somebody to work for you --and my arm isn't over strong."
Silas uttered the last sentence slowly,
as if it implied more than met the ear;
when they sat down on the bank,
nestled close to his side,
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.
after they had been sitting in silence a little while,
"if 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,
have you been a-thinking on it?"
"Only this last week,
"since Aaron talked to me about it."
"And what did he say?"
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?"
with rather a sad smile.
to be sure,
with dimpling laughter,
kissing her father's cheek;
"as if he'd want to marry anybody else!"
"And you mean to have him,
"I don't know when.
Everybody's married some time,
But I told him that wasn't true: for,
look at father --he's never been married."
"your father was a lone man till you was sent to him."
"But you'll never be lone again,
"That was what Aaron said --"I could never think o' taking you away from Master Marner,
And I said,
'ud be no use if you did,
And he wants us all to live together,
so as you needn't work a bit,
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,
looking at her.
"I shouldn't mind it,
"And I should like things to be so as you needn't work much.
But if it wasn't for 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,
nobody could behave better,"
"He's his mother's lad."
"But I don't want any change,"
"I should like to go on a long,
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."
my blessed child,"
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 -will- 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 on you,
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 upon you;
and when I look for'ard to that,
I like to think as you'd have somebody else besides me --somebody young and strong,
as'll outlast your own life,
and take care on you to the end."
resting his wrists on his knees,
lifted his hands up and down meditatively as he looked on the ground.
would you like me to be married,
with a little trembling in her voice.
"I'll not be the man to say no,
"but we'll ask your godmother.
She'll wish the right thing by you and her son too."
"There they come,
"Let us go and meet
won't you have it lit again,
lifting that medicinal appliance from the ground.
"I've done enough for to-day.
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 wainscoted parlour,
with the Sunday dessert before them,
of fresh filberts,
duly ornamented with leaves by Nancy's own hand before the bells had rung for church.
A great change has come over the dark wainscoted 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 yesterday'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 mantelpiece.
All other signs of sporting and outdoor occupation Nancy has removed to another room;
but she has brought into the Red House the habit of filial reverence,
and preserves sacredly in a place of honour these relics of her husband's departed father.
The tankards are on the side-table still,
but the bossed silver is undimmed 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,
fifteen years ago,
it was entered by a new presiding spirit.
"-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.
you must ask Priscilla,"
in the once firm voice,
now become rather broken.
"She manages me and the farm too."
"And reason good as I should manage you,
"else you'd be giving yourself 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 himself.
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.
'ud save many a man a stroke,
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,
putting her hand on her sister's arm affectionately.
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,
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.
pressing her sister's hand affectionately as they walked side by side,
"you'll never be low when you've got a dairy."
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,"
"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,
'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,
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."
don't say so,
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."
"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
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,
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,
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,
and look at the draining,"
"You'll be in again by tea-time,
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,
they took to outdoor management --were not given to much walking beyond their own house and garden,
finding sufficient exercise in domestic duties.
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,
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,
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,
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 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,
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."
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.
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,
it was a bounden duty to leave off so much as wishing for it.
And so far,
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,
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 indications.
"But why should you think the child would turn out ill?"
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?"
my dear Godfrey,"
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.
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.
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 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 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,
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;
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,
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.
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,"
"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.
a little before the usual time for tea;
but Jane had her reasons.
"Is your master come into the yard,
with a slight emphasis,
her mistress took no notice.
"I don't know whether you've seen
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,
I daresay there's nothing much the matter,"
"It's perhaps Mr. Snell's bull got out again,
as he did before."
"I wish he mayn't gore anybody then,
not altogether despising a hypothesis which covered a few imaginary calamities.
"That girl is always terrifying me,"
"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,
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.
I'm so thankful you're come,"
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,
and when the door was closed again he exerted himself to speak more distinctly.
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?"
with quivering lips,
clasping her hands together tightly on her lap.
it's nobody living,"
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,
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?"
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.
he fell in,"
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.
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,
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 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.
"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."
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 lap.
"You'll never think the same of me again,"
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,
I was led away into marrying her --I suffered for it."
Still Nancy was silent,
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,
But at last she lifted up her eyes to his again and spoke.
There was no indignation in her voice --only deep regret.
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.
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
The tears fell,
and Nancy ceased to speak.
"But you wouldn't have married me then,
if I'd told you,"
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,
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,
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,
"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,"
"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,"
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.
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;
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,
when you were such a little un --you didn't know what your old father Silas felt for you."
"But I know now,
"If it hadn't been for you,
they'd have taken me to the workhouse,
and there'd have been nobody to love me."
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 wonderful."
Silas sat in silence a few minutes,
looking at the money.
"It takes no hold of me now,"
ponderingly --"the money doesn't.
I wonder if it ever could again --I doubt it might,
if I lost you,
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,
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.
after placing chairs for Mr. and Mrs. Cass,
went to stand against Silas,
opposite to them.
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,
Godfrey checked himself.
It had been agreed between him and his wife that the subject of his fatherhood should be approached very carefully,
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.
always ill at ease when he was being spoken to by "betters",
such as Mr. Cass --tall,
seen chiefly on horseback --answered with some constraint --
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,
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."
"I should ha' been bad off without my work: it was what I held by when everything else was gone from me."
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,
as near as I can say,
you may live thirty years longer --look at old Macey!
And that money on the table,
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."
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,
blushing up to the ears the moment after.
"You love a garden,
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."
there's plenty of gardening at the Red House,"
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,
for sixteen years.
'ud be a great comfort to you to see her well provided for,
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,
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,
not having words at command to express the mingled feelings with which he had heard Mr. Cass's words.
my meaning is this,
determined to come to the point.
"Mrs. Cass and I,
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.
'ud be a great comfort to you in your old age,
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.
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,
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 --
ma'am --thank you,
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,
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,
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.
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.
with an accent of bitterness that had been silent in him since the memorable day when his youthful hope had perished --"then,
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,
I was wrong.
I've repented of my conduct in that matter,"
who could not help feeling the edge of Silas's words.
"I'm glad to hear it,
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,
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 towards you."
"Just the same?"
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."
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,
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,
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.
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."
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.
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,
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,
as Godfrey did,
that their wish was achieved.
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."
you'll be a treasure to me,"
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.
ma'am --thank you,
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,
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,
"I shouldn't know what to think on or to wish for with fine things about me,
as I haven't been used to.
'ud be poor work for me to put on things,
and ride in a gig,
and sit in a place at church,
'ud make them as I'm fond of think me unfitting company for
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 from his.
"What you say is natural,
my dear child --it's natural you should cling to those who've brought you up,"
"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,"
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.
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 him."
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,"
in an under-tone.
"We won't talk of this any longer now,"
"We're your well-wishers,
my dear --and yours too,
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,
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."
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,
about Eppie's being your daughter?"
"No: where would be the good to anybody?
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,"
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,"
"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,"
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."
he's very sober and industrious,"
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,
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,"
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,
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-,
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,
with quiet sincerity.
"My only trouble would be gone if you resigned yourself to the lot that's been given us."
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 --
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,
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.
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,
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.
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,"
in some distress at her father's bewilderment,
and ill at ease,
amidst the noise,
and the multitude of strange indifferent faces.
he won't know anything about it,"
"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.
drawing a long breath,
"there's the jail,
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."
what a dark ugly place!"
"How it hides the sky!
It's worse than the Workhouse.
I'm glad you don't live in this town now,
Is Lantern Yard like this street?"
"My precious child,"
"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
but I shall know the turning,
because it's the third."
"Here it is,"
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.
I can see it all."
I'm like as if I was stifled,"
"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-,
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.
there's people coming out o' the Yard as if they'd been to chapel at this time o' day --a weekday 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.
clasping his arm,
"what's the matter?"
But she had to speak again and again before Silas could answer her.
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,"
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,
I doubt it'll be dark to the last."
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,
and it seems as you'll never know the rights of it;
but that doesn't hinder there -being- a rights,
for all it's dark to you and me."
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;
it was a time when a light bridal dress could be worn with comfort and seen to advantage.
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 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,
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."
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 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 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 wedding-feast.
"Mr. Macey's looking for a word from us,"
"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.
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",
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,
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 of them.
"what a pretty home ours is!
I think nobody could be happier than we are."