Silas Marner HTML version

Chapter 18
Some one opened the door at the other end of the room, and Nancy felt that it
was her husband. She turned from the window with gladness in her eyes, for the
wife's chief dread was stilled.
"Dear, I'm so thankful you're come," she said, going towards him. "I began to get
She paused abruptly, for Godfrey was laying down his hat with trembling hands,
and turned towards her with a pale face and a strange unanswering glance, as if
he saw her indeed, but saw her as part of a scene invisible to herself. She laid
her hand on his arm, not daring to speak again; but he left the touch unnoticed,
and threw himself into his chair.
Jane was already at the door with the hissing urn. "Tell her to keep away, will
you?" said Godfrey; and when the door was closed again he exerted himself to
speak more distinctly.
"Sit down, Nancy--there," he said, pointing to a chair opposite him. "I came back
as soon as I could, to hinder anybody's telling you but me. I've had a great
shock--but I care most about the shock it'll be to you."
"It isn't father and Priscilla?" said Nancy, with quivering lips, clasping her hands
together tightly on her lap.
"No, it's nobody living," said Godfrey, unequal to the considerate skill with which
he would have wished to make his revelation. "It's Dunstan--my brother Dunstan,
that we lost sight of sixteen years ago. We've found him--found his body--his
The deep dread Godfrey's look had created in Nancy made her feel these words
a relief. She sat in comparative calmness to hear what else he had to tell. He
went on:
"The Stone-pit has gone dry suddenly--from the draining, I suppose; and there he
lies--has lain for sixteen years, wedged between two great stones. There's his
watch and seals, and there's my gold-handled hunting-whip, with my name on:
he took it away, without my knowing, the day he went hunting on Wildfire, the last
time he was seen."
Godfrey paused: it was not so easy to say what came next. "Do you think he
drowned himself?" said Nancy, almost wondering that her husband should be so
deeply shaken by what had happened all those years ago to an unloved brother,
of whom worse things had been augured.
"No, he fell in," said Godfrey, in a low but distinct voice, as if he felt some deep
meaning in the fact. Presently he added: "Dunstan was the man that robbed Silas
The blood rushed to Nancy's face and neck at this surprise and shame, for she
had been bred up to regard even a distant kinship with crime as a dishonour.
"O Godfrey!" she said, with compassion in her tone, for she had immediately
reflected that the dishonour must be felt still more keenly by her husband.