Silas Marner HTML version

Chapter 8
When Godfrey Cass returned from Mrs. Osgood's party at midnight, he was not
much surprised to learn that Dunsey had not come home. Perhaps he had not
sold Wildfire, and was waiting for another chance-- perhaps, on that foggy
afternoon, he had preferred housing himself at the Red Lion at Batherley for the
night, if the run had kept him in that neighbourhood; for he was not likely to feel
much concern about leaving his brother in suspense. Godfrey's mind was too full
of Nancy Lammeter's looks and behaviour, too full of the exasperation against
himself and his lot, which the sight of her always produced in him, for him to give
much thought to Wildfire, or to the probabilities of Dunstan's conduct.
The next morning the whole village was excited by the story of the robbery, and
Godfrey, like every one else, was occupied in gathering and discussing news
about it, and in visiting the Stone-pits. The rain had washed away all possibility of
distinguishing foot-marks, but a close investigation of the spot had disclosed, in
the direction opposite to the village, a tinder-box, with a flint and steel, half sunk
in the mud. It was not Silas's tinder-box, for the only one he had ever had was
still standing on his shelf; and the inference generally accepted was, that the
tinder-box in the ditch was somehow connected with the robbery. A small
minority shook their heads, and intimated their opinion that it was not a robbery
to have much light thrown on it by tinder-boxes, that Master Marner's tale had a
queer look with it, and that such things had been known as a man's doing himself
a mischief, and then setting the justice to look for the doer. But when questioned
closely as to their grounds for this opinion, and what Master Marner had to gain
by such false pretences, they only shook their heads as before, and observed
that there was no knowing what some folks counted gain; moreover, that
everybody had a right to their own opinions, grounds or no grounds, and that the
weaver, as everybody knew, was partly crazy. Mr. Macey, though he joined in the
defence of Marner against all suspicions of deceit, also pooh-poohed the tinder-
box; indeed, repudiated it as a rather impious suggestion, tending to imply that
everything must be done by human hands, and that there was no power which
could make away with the guineas without moving the bricks. Nevertheless, he
turned round rather sharply on Mr. Tookey, when the zealous deputy, feeling that
this was a view of the case peculiarly suited to a parish-clerk, carried it still
farther, and doubted whether it was right to inquire into a robbery at all when the
circumstances were so mysterious.
"As if," concluded Mr. Tookey--"as if there was nothing but what could be made
out by justices and constables."
"Now, don't you be for overshooting the mark, Tookey," said Mr. Macey, nodding
his head aside admonishingly. "That's what you're allays at; if I throw a stone and
hit, you think there's summat better than hitting, and you try to throw a stone
beyond. What I said was against the tinder-box: I said nothing against justices
and constables, for they're o' King George's making, and it 'ud be ill-becoming a
man in a parish office to fly out again' King George."