Silas Marner Summary
Silas is a weaver living in a manufacturing city in the north of England. He and his friends are Dissenters, Christians who don't belong to the state-sponsored Anglican Church that was (and is) dominant in England. Things are good. He's got a best friend named William Dane, a best girl named Sarah, and the only minor issue is that he occasionally spaces out—like, really spaces out, to the point that he doesn't know what's going on around him.
And then he's accused of theft. The group kicks him out, and Silas makes his way south to the Midlands, where he sets up his loom and settles down in the village of Raveloe. Business is good, but the villagers think he's a weird loner. For fifteen whole years, he weaves and holds nightly sessions with his growing hoard of money.
Meanwhile, things aren't going well for Raveloe's wealthy family up at the Red House. The head of the family, old Mr. Cass, is a jerk, and he's got a jerky younger son, Dunstan. His older son, Godfrey is secretly married to the opium-addled Molly. This is depressing to Godfrey, because these are pre-regular divorce days, and he's got his eye on another girl, Nancy Lammeter.
When the main action of the story opens, Dunstan convinces Godfrey to sell his horse to pay a debt, and even offers to sell it for him. Big mistake, Godfrey. Before getting the money, Dunstan takes the horse off hunting, but he makes a stupid move and the horse ends up dead. As Dustan is walking home, he spies Silas's cottage and has the bright idea to steal the money everyone suspects Silas has.
Silas, who can't catch a break and knows it, promptly sinks into depression. He's depressed all through Christmas, and then New Year's arrives. Up at the Red House, Mr. Cass is giving his big annual party. Godfrey recklessly flirts with Nancy. Dunstan is nowhere to be found, and hasn't been for a while.
Down near the Stone-Pits by Silas's cottage, Molly trudges along the snow-covered road carrying a child. She takes some opium (dumb), sits down under a bush (dumber), and falls asleep (really, really dumb, but also sad). The child wakes up and toddles off, accidentally—or miraculously?—deciding to cuddle up in front of Silas's hearth.
Silas refuses to let anyone take the child: she's his replacement for the gold. Cue the life-changing montage. Silas takes advice from his neighbors, has her baptized, and stops hoarding for the sake of hoarding. The next sixteen years pass in a haze of neighborly good-feeling and childish hijinks.
When Part Two opens, we meet a grown-up Eppie. She's eighteen, adorable, and everyone loves her, most especially Dolly Winthrop's son Aaron. But all is not well up at the Red House: Godfrey and Nancy are childless. One day, Godfrey comes to give Nancy some news: first, they've found Dunstan. He was lying drowned at the bottom of the quarry, which has been drained as a nearby landowner improves his land. Second, Dunstan had stolen Silas's money, and the money has now been returned to Silas. Third, Eppie is Godfrey's child.
Nancy and Godfrey offer to adopt Eppie, but she refuses. She loves Silas, she loves the villagers, and she's going to marry Aaron. The novel ends with a wedding. As Aaron, Silas, and Eppie—who would be unbearably annoying, if she weren't fictional—enter their little cottage, Eppie sighs with happiness.
- Meet Silas Marner. He's a linen-weaver who lives in the village of Raveloe, and people don't like him. Well, they don't really trust him. Weaving requires a lot of skill, and peasants are suspicious of people who have any particular "cleverness" (1.1.1).
- They figure he's got other powers than weaving—like the kind of powers that can cure sickness and maybe even make people sick.
- Raveloe is a two-horse, one-stoplight, no-good-movie-theater town. It's far away from everything, it's got no nightlife, and its residents have no ambition.
- Silas has been the village outcast there for fifteen years. He doesn't flirt with the girls, he doesn't farm, and he doesn't have friends. He's totally the guy making puppets while all the other dudes are playing football.
- Jem Rodney even saw him in a fit one day, leaning on a fence like a dead guy.
- But he weaves fine cloth, so the villagers tolerate him. For fifteen years he lives with them, unchanged.
- Or so it seems.
- Here's a little backstory:
- Before Silas came to Raveloe, he was way involved with a Dissenting church in a place called Lantern-Yard, a section of a manufacturing city up north.
- Brief digression: In the 19th century, most people were Anglicans, part of the state-sponsored Protestant Church of England. People who didn't belong to the church, mostly Baptists or Methodists, were called Dissenters. Dissenters went to "chapel" while Anglicans went to "Church," and they were often workers and manufacturers.
- Anyway, Silas is a Dissenter. He and the church are one big happy family, until he falls into a trance during a prayer-meeting.
- The church members are pretty cool about it, even though Silas refuses to pretend that he's had a spiritual vision.
- Silas also has a good friend in the church, William Dane. The two talk a lot, mostly regular dude stuff like whether or not they've been granted eternal salvation. Even Silas's fiancée, Sarah, can't get between them.
- After Silas's trance, William starts acting funny, almost like he's jealous of the attention Silas gets.
- Now we get to the climax of this backstory: one night, Silas sits by the deathbed of one of the church members. The next day, the church elders accuse him of stealing money. He denies it, of course, but what's this? William found the bag of money in Silas's dresser, and Silas's knife in the man's drawer. Of course he did.
- Silas suddenly remembers something: "the knife wasn't in my pocket" (1.1.11-12), he tells the accusers. William had borrowed the knife. Do you see where this is going?
- No trial by jury here: Silas is subject to special church laws, and so he has to play a game of chance to determine his guilt or innocence. He draws the short straw, which means he's guilty.
- Silas is exiled. Before he leaves, he accuses William of taking the money and rejects God: "there is no just God that governs the earth righteously, but a God of lies" (1.1.15).
- Guess what happens next? Sarah and William marry. Ooh, burn.
- Our somewhat verbose narrator waxes philosophic about how hard it is to move to new places.
- Silas might as well be an alien in the midst of the merry crew of Raveloe peasants. He feels like God has deserted him.
- All work and no play makes Silas a rich man. He only starts weaving for something to do, but the first time he gets his hands on that gold something magical happens. It's more money than he's ever had in his life, and now he's got the bug.
- Around the same time, Silas tries to make friends. He hooks up the cobbler's wife, Sally Oates, with some medicine made of foxglove (a flower that even today doctors use to make the drug digitalis for people with heart disease).
- The medicine works so well that Silas has a new problem on his hands: he's popular for all the wrong reasons. The villagers think he's some kind of witch, but, instead of trying to burn him, they flood him with requests for charms.
- He sends them away, and the villagers respond by blaming him for all their woes.
- Meanwhile, Silas adds to his money collection. He doesn't need the money, but he sure likes piling it up. (Who wouldn't?) At night, Silas hangs out with his hoard, admiring the shape and color of the coins. He keeps it hidden, even though he doesn't really fear robbers.
- Silas gradually starts to wither and shrink, as misers do.
- Beside money, the only thing he loves is an old clay pot. When he breaks it one day, he keeps the pieces as a kind of shrine.
- This goes on for fifteen years: Silas weaves all day and fondles his money all night. Then everything changes.
- But first, let's meet Squire Cass.
- Squire Cass is the most important man in Raveloe. The farmers have low standards, so they assign him the title "squire" even though he doesn't really deserve it. (Squires traditionally owned lots of land, had a coat of arms, and were related to peers.) Like a real landlord, he collects rent from tenants.
- Brief historical digression: this is all taking place about the time of the Napoleonic Wars (beginning of the 19th century), which is good for people who own land. The wars finally ended when England, and the Russian winter, put an end to Napoleon's rather successful march across Europe.
- In Raveloe, what's good for the rich is good for the poor, since the poor get the leftovers of the rich.
- During the Christmas season, all the rich travel from house to house at each other's parties. Parties at Squire Cass's are the best, because his wife is dead—which means that there's no limit to the food.
- Sadly, the villagers think, his sons are a little wild. Dustan (Dunsey to his friends) likes to drink and gamble, and the older Godfrey seems to be following his example. If only Godfrey would marry Nancy Lammeter! She's a nice girl, thrifty without being cheap.
- Anyway, it's fifteen years after Silas moved to Raveloe, and now the action is starting. Godfrey stands in a dark parlor with his back to the fire and his hands in his pockets.
- Dunsey walks in, and Godfrey scowls. (Looks like there's not much brotherly love here.)
- Both guys are a little drunk. They start to fight. It seems that Godfrey gave some rent money to Dunsey rather than handing it over to his father. Why doesn't Godfrey just rat his brother out? Because Dunsey might rat him out. Godfrey's married already—and his wife, Molly Farren, is a drunk. (We sense a theme.)
- So Dunsey tells Godfrey to get the money himself, nagging at him to borrow or to sell his horse until Godfrey threatens to just come clean to their father.
- Godfrey's got a big strong body but a weak mind, and he can't decide what to do. He's afraid to lose Nancy Lammeter, but the only solution he can come up with is enlistment in the army. Dunsey comes up with a potentially less lethal option. He offers to sell the horse for him, and Godfrey agrees.
- As miserable as Godfrey is, he'd be more miserable if his secret came out. Nancy would reject him, and (worse!) his father would disinherit him.
- The next morning, Dunstan sets off on his new horse, Wildfire. He passes Silas Marner's cottage and suddenly realizes he should have suggested that Godfrey borrow money from Silas. He almost heads home to do just that and then decides it's much more fun to watch Godfrey squirm.
- Dunstan sells the horse to men named Keating and Bryce and agrees to deliver it after he's done hunting for the day. Big mistake. The horse promptly impales himself on a fence stake and dies.
- Dunstan is less upset about this than you might think. He's mostly grateful that no one's around to see the accident, and he starts walking home because he doesn't want to appear at the stable to hire a horse and let the stableman know that he'd had an accident.
- He's got a whip in his hand, a nice gold one. It happens to be his brother's, but that doesn't bother him—heck, it probably adds to the experience.
- As the night grows darker and wetter, he finds himself near Silas's cottage. Silas's gold starts to seem powerfully interesting. He decides to bypass Godfrey and ask Silas for the money himself.
- But Silas isn't home.
- Not one for social graces, Dunsey lets himself in and sits down by the fire. There's a sausage roasting in the fireplace, and Dunsey wonders where Silas is. Maybe he's dead? He notices some sand on the floor.
- In a second, he's moved the sand, got the bricks up, snatched two heavy leather bags, and left—rather ominously, he steps "forward into the darkness" (1.4.11). Yeah, we're thinking that's metaphorical.
- Here comes Silas. He was, in fact, not dead, but only a hundred yards away from the cottage while Dunstan was making off with his life's savings.
- He was out buying thread and didn't lock the door because the lock-string was currently holding his sausage up to cook. Since nothing has happened to his money for fifteen years, he feels pretty secure about his stash. That nice hot sausage cooking on the fire makes him feel even more complacent than usual. Plus, he figured that no thief was going to be out on such a gloomy night. (Maybe invest in a good deadbolt, next time?)
- Everything looks good when he gets back. As he's waiting for his sausage to cook, he goes to pull out his gold for his nightly love fest—but it's gone.
- Wait, what?
- Shaking, he looks again in the hole and frantically searches the cottage for the gold. He screams in despair.
- And then—why not?—he starts to weave.
- He tries to figure out who could have taken is money: a thief? A "cruel power" that just really loved ruining his life? (1.5.6). It must have been a robber: maybe Jem Rodney, the town deadbeat. Yep, definitely Jem Rodney.
- Silas runs out of the cottage toward the village.
- Usually, the Rainbow's parlor is full of Raveloe's powers that be, while the lesser citizens hang out in the kitchen. Tonight only the kitchen is full—all the fancy folk are at Mrs. Osgood's birthday party.
- When Silas shows up, the Rainbow is picking up after a slow start. The landlord Mr. Snell has a knack for starting conversations, like the following:
- "That was a nice cow you brought in yesterday," he says to the butcher.
- "Sure was."
- Shockingly, no one picks up on this conversational thread.
- The farrier (the guy who takes care of horses) tries to get conversation moving again: was it a nice looking red Durhan with a white star on its forehead? The butcher says it might have been. The farrier says that it must have been one of Mr. Lammeter's cows, and the butcher says that he's not going to contradict that.
- This riveting discussion continues until the landlord takes mercy on us and turns the conversation to how the Lammeters came to Raveloe.
- The other people in the room, including the tailor, deputy parish clerk, and wheelwright, join in. They take a minute to hotly debate whether or not Mr. Tookey should sing in the choir—Ben Winthrop says that his inside "isn't right made for music" (1.6.25), and then get back to the original point.
- The villagers don't know exactly where Mr. Lammeter came from, but they have their priorities straight: they do remember that he brought some fine sheep with him.
- They also remember the Lammeters' peculiar wedding, where Mr. Drumlow, the previous rector, mixed up the words. Instead of saying "Do you take this man to be thy husband," he said "Do you take this man to be thy wife?"
- Mr. Lammeter's land, the Warrens, is tough. The previous owner, Mr. Cliff, used to be a tailor in London ("Lunnon" [1.6.45]), but he and his son both died. Mr. Cliff left the land to a London charity, and the big stables he built are never used. Something funny seems to go on there at night. Ghosts? Maybe.
- Speaking of ghosts, here's Silas. Everyone's surprised to see him, until he spits that he's been robbed.
- The landlord thinks he's crazy, especially once he starts flinging accusations at Jem Rodney. Jem is not super happy about being falsely accused of theft, so the landlord forces Silas to settle down and tell his story.
- As the villagers come round to his side, Silas starts to enjoy himself. There's something to be said for having people feel sorry for you
- The strange circumstances of the robbery—how could anyone have known precisely the moment to rob him? Why didn't they leave any traces—half convinces everyone that the culprit must have been supernatural. It certainly wasn't Jem, since he'd been sitting in the tavern all night.
- When Silas realizes that Jem is innocent, he apologizes sincerely. He remembers how much it sucks to be falsely accused.
- The farrier offers to help Silas examine his cottage, but the deputy parish clerk objects, since a doctor can't be a constable (an investigator) and the farrier is something of a doctor (we'd probably call him a vet).
- The landlord steps in again to sort things out: Mr. Macey goes as constable, and Mr. Dowlas the farrier goes as backup. They head out into the dark, rainy night.
- Meanwhile, Godfrey has been at Mrs. Osgood's party mooning over Nancy Lammeter and definitely not thinking about his brother, who doesn't show all night.
- The next morning, the robbery is on everyone's mind. The whole village checks out Silas's cottage, but rain (plus maybe a village full of visitors?) has washed away any footprints.
- They did find a tinderbox (like a matchbook) nearby, and a lot of them figure that the tinderbox is somehow connected to the robbery.
- While the villagers argue about the tinderbox outside the Rainbow, the more important residents discuss it inside. The rector, Mr. Crackenthorp, as well as Squire Cass, grill the landlord about a peddler who had been hanging around about a month ago. They try to figure out whether or not he was wearing earrings, and, since no one can remember that he wasn't wearing earrings, the villagers pretty soon conclude that he was.
- This is the kind of logic that makes English professors weep.
- Silas likes the idea of the peddler being the robber, since it gives him closure. But others aren't so sure.
- Godfrey, of course, thinks the whole thing is ridiculous. Peasants, amirite? He sets off to a nearby village to find the still-missing Dunstan.
- On his way, he meets up with Bryce, the guy who was going to buy the horse before Dustan killed it. Bryce clues him into the horse's tragic demise, and Godfrey rides off, figuring that he's got to confess his marriage to his father so Dunstan won't.
- On second thought—nah.
- The next morning, he thinks that it'd be better to try to keep things as they are for a few more days. No wonder Nancy doesn't respect him.
- When Squire Cass walks into the breakfast room the next morning, he greets Godfrey with typical Red House courtesy—that is, rudely.
- Godfrey wants to talk. He begins with the news about Wildfire (the horse), and Squire Cass launches into a tirade about kids these days.
- When he finally pauses for breath, Godfrey explains he was actually just trying to say that he'd wanted to sell the horse to make back the money that Dunstan had forced Godfrey to give him, the money that Fowler had paid as rent to Squire Cass.
- Squire Cass turns a lovely shade of purple. He threatens to disinherit both of them and find a new wife to squeeze out some replacement heirs. He can't figure out why Godfrey would give Dunstan the money in the first place, and Godfrey doesn't tell him (quick refresher—secret marriage; disgrace; blackmail).
- But the Squire knows there's some secret, and Godfrey—without going into detail—admits it.
- The Squire, after thoroughly mocking Godfrey's character, nags him to go ahead and marry Nancy Lammeter already.
- Back to the manhunt. The villages turn to Justice Malam, who's widely considered to be a pretty smart dude. Unfortunately, he's actually useless. As the weeks pass, the villagers predictably lose their enthusiasm to see justice done.
- Since they're also not too worked up about Dunstan Cass's disappearance—he runs away all the time—no one, not even Godfrey, puts two and two together.
- While the villagers argue about whether the culprit was the peddler or the devil, poor Silas is in mourning. Without his little stash, his life is meaningless.
- There's just one bright spot. Instead of thinking of him as too clever and cunning, the villagers now think he's a little dim. Naturally, they like him better. Mr. Macey, for example, visits expressly to tell Silas that there's one good thing about the theft—Mr. Macey likes him better!
- Silas is not too overwhelmed by this show of friendship, but he does rouse himself to thank Mr. Macey. The visitor continues: if Silas would only get some nice clothes, he could come to church be "a bit neighbourly" (1.10.15).
- Dolly Winthrop, the wheelwright's wife, has the same advice. She visits Silas one Sunday afternoon with some delicious-sounding "lardy-cakes" (1.10.20), carrying along her seven-year-old son, Aaron.
- She invites Silas to eat the lard cakes—like nachos and wings, they're especially popular with men—and she points out that the cakes even have special letters on them: I.H.S.
- Neither Mrs. Winthrop nor Silas knows that they mean (we do—they're the first letters of "Jesus" in Greek), but Silas appreciates that Dolly wants to make him feel better.
- Dolly gently suggests that Silas come to church on Christmas, which is coming up. Silas says that he's never been to church—he used to go to chapel. Dolly's never heard of chapels, but promises that church is awfully nice.
- Silas's only response is to offer Aaron a little piece of lard cake.
- Dolly intervenes because Aaron's had enough cake already, thinking to herself that it's good for Silas to see a pretty child (and then proceeds to post yet another picture of him on Facebook). She gets Aaron to sing a Christmas carol—"God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" (1.10.47).
- Silas, who isn't used to visitors, just offers Aaron more cake. Dolly leaves with two final points: she'd be happy to help clean up for Silas if he ever finds himself sick, and she really wishes he'd stop weaving on Sundays.
- Christmas day finally comes, and Silas celebrates alone. All the villagers feel just a little more religious than usual at church, and, at Squire Cass's house, no one talks about the fact that Dunstan still hasn't reappeared.
- Everyone looks forward to Squire Cass's annual Near Year's Eve dance, especially Godfrey—who can't wait to sit near Nancy.
- The famed Nancy finally shows. She's so pretty that she even looks lovely when she's badly dressed. But she's feeling awkward as she and her father ride up to the Red House, since Godfrey, who has been something of a pest, is waiting to help her off the horse.
- After he helps her down, she hurries into the house. Upstairs, the bedrooms are filled with women fixing themselves up.
- Nancy visits with her aunt, Mrs. Osgood, and some other women. The Miss Gunns, fashionable but not very pretty girls, watch Nancy get ready. Nancy is just the cutest! Everything she has is pure and neat—she even sticks her pins in a precise order (OCD, much?)—except that her hands are a little coarse because she helps out at home with the butter- and cheese-making.
- Well, our narrator assures us, she may be a country girl, but she's still 100% lady.
- Finally, some comic relief: Nancy's sister Priscilla shows up. The two sisters dress alike, because Nancy believes that, aside from matching tattoos, matching gowns are the best way to show they're sisters.
- For her part, Priscilla insists on having silver gowns to suit Nancy's complexion, even though silver makes Priscilla "look as yallow as a daffadil" (1.11.19).
- In the parlor, Godfrey leads Nancy to her seat. She feels a little twinge, not because of Godfrey but because of the grand house she could have been mistress of.
- In the parlor, the men tease Nancy for blushing, Priscilla for being shrewish, and Mrs. Kimble for being a bad cook. Surprisingly, no drinks are thrown in anyone's faces.
- Eventually the fiddler (Solomon Hale) shows up, and everyone hits the dance floor.
- Squire Cass has oh-so-graciously allowed a few villagers to sit in the doorway and watch. Like at-home viewers watching the Oscars, the villagers enjoy their vicarious thrill. Also like at-home viewers, they like to share their opinions on what they're watching. Namely, the Squire's light on his feet for such a fat man; Mr. Lammeter has good posture; Mrs. Osgood is nimble; Godfrey and Nancy are a cute couple.
- The couple leaves the dance floor when Nancy's dress tears. Nancy sits down to wait for Priscilla to come help. She and Godfrey bicker until Priscilla saves the day by tartly ordering Godfrey to leave.
- Meanwhile, Godfrey's wife is heading into Raveloe with her mind on revenge: she's going to show up at the Red House with her child and confront Godfrey Jerry Springer-style. She's too bitter and angry to care that the real problem is opium, not Godfrey.
- It's getting late, snow is falling, and Molly finds herself mightily tempted by the opium tucked away in her dress. Another big mistake. After she takes it, she sits down under a hedge and falls asleep.
- The little girl Molly was carrying wakes up and sees a light in the distance. This very self-possessed toddler follows the light into Silas Marner's warm cottage, where she tucks down in front of the fire.
- Oh yeah, and she walks right by Silas on her way in. He's been standing by the door in a trance, and when snaps out of it and turns back to the house, he sees—
- —a little pile of gold on the floor. He reaches out to touch it, but it's not cold and hard—it's warm and soft. It's the little girl's hair. He's understandably stunned.
- Well, he would have figured it out sooner or later, because the little pile of gold starts to cry. Silas hugs her and warms up some porridge and sugar (mmmm, porridge). He pulls off her wet boots and realizes that she must have been walking in the snow—that's one mystery solved.
- He goes to the door and follows her footsteps, until he finds a human body sleeping in the snow. Alas, poor Molly!
- The party's really getting started at Squire Cass's. Godfrey is standing off in a corner staring at Nancy, when he sees a ghost.
- Psych! It's Silas Marner carrying what seems to Godfrey just like a ghost: his own daughter.
- The Squire is ticked that some peasant is crashing his party. Silas quickly explains that he just wants the doctor, because there's a woman, probably dead, in the snow near his house.
- Godfrey's first thought, of course, is—what if she isn't dead? The women try to take the child away from Silas, but he unexpectedly refuses. She's come to him; he wants to keep her.
- Mr. Kimble grudgingly leaves his card game and prepares to check on the woman. The child cries and clings to Silas. Godfrey volunteers to fetch Dolly Winthrop, who's a good nurse, and the two of them rush to Silas's cottage. Dolly praises Godfrey's good heart, but we know that Godfrey doesn't have a good heart at all; he's just worried that Molly is going to rat on him.
- Mr. Kimble confirms it: Molly's dead.
- Godfrey only sneaks a quick peek, but he remembers the sight for sixteen whole years, when he finally tells this story.
- At the hearth, Silas rocks the little girl. She's got big blue eyes, she has no idea that Godfrey is her dad, and Godfrey sure isn't going to stand in Silas's way.
- Godfrey hands him some money and heads home, basically rubbing his hands together with glee. His secret is safe, and he's free to marry Nancy. Why would he confess now?
- After that night, no one thinks much of Molly again. But our narrator warns us cheerfully, trivial events can change the course of destiny.
- The village women can't stop talking about Silas's decision to keep the child. They pity the foolish man who can't possibly know what it's like to tend to a two-year-old child.
- Dolly Winthrop actually tries to help out. She brings over her children's old clothes and helps bathe the little girl. Silas won't let her help too much, because he wants the child to love him.
- Silas has a plan for what to do when the child grows older and more active: he'll tie her to the loom so she can't wander and get into trouble. (Seriously, don't try this at home.) Dolly thinks that's a fine idea, only she insists that Silas take her to church and have her be christened.
- Silas doesn't actually understand what she means. In his chapel, they only did baptism (hint: it's the same thing). But he agrees, and decides to name her after his mother and sister: Hephzibah.
- Dolly's a little hesitant. She's not sure it's a Christian name, and anyway it's hard to say. Silas assures her it comes from a Bible, and they can call her Eppie.
- Everything's set. Eppie is christened, Dolly agrees to do her laundry, and Silas goes to church for the very first time.
- Time for a montage!
- As Eppie grows up, Silas's life improves dramatically. He and Eppie pick flowers, listen to birds, visit the neighbors, and spend all their time together.
- Sometimes, Eppie gets into trouble. One day, she grabs Silas's scissors, cuts the ribbon that binds her to Silas's loom, and runs out the door before he notices. When he finally finds her playing in mud, he is so overjoyed to find her that he doesn't even think to punish her until she's home and cleaned up.
- Taking Dolly's advice, he tells Eppie that, because she's been naughty, she has to go into the basement. Eppie is stoked rather than terrified, and the punishment totally fails. After he brings her out and cleans her up, he turns around to find that she's gleefully crawled back in all by herself: "Eppie in de toal-hole!" (1.14.44).
- Since that punishment failed spectacularly, Silas resolves never to punish her again.
- So Eppie grows up, with all the neighbors as her friends. Servant girls take her to look at the chickens; little boys and girls kiss her pretty lips. Because everyone loves Eppie, they start to love Silas.
- And since he loves her, he starts to love—well, at least like—everybody.
- Meanwhile, one person is particularly interested in watching Eppie grow up. It's Godfrey. He doesn't want anyone to suspect that he's especially interested in her so he stays pretty hands-off, but he thinks about her a lot.
- Dunstan is still missing, which is great for Godfrey: he's turned his life around and has even managed to marry Nancy.
- Even as he imagines a hearth full of Nancy's children, he promises himself that he won't forget his other child.
- Sixteen years pass, and Part 2 begins. Bells are ringing, and everyone is walking out of church. Let's check in with our old friends.
- Godfrey is older (and a little fatter), but still handsome. The woman walking with him—hint, it's Nancy—also looks older, but her face is experienced and interesting, as though life has tested her and she's passed.
- And here's Silas. Sixteen years have not been as kind to him. He's much older and weaker, but he's got the loveliest girl next to him—all blond and dimpled, with curly hair that she hates, because it's not smooth like the other girls' hair and flat irons haven't been invented yet.
- There's a young man walking behind her who thinks Eppie's hair is just perfect. She pretends to ignore him and asks her father if he could dig her a little garden, like Dolly Winthrop's.
- Aaron (the boy walking behind her, Dolly's son) butts in, and volunteers to dig the garden—since Silas is old enough now that the digging might be hard for him. Score! That was totally Eppie's plan all along.
- Silas can't believe what a flirt he's got for a daughter.
- Eppie pats a little donkey and then they walk in their little cottage, which is now also home to a little brown dog and a little tortoise-shell kitten, as well as clean and expensive furniture given to them by Godfrey Cass.
- Ah, weirdly incestuous domestic bliss.
- Eppie fixes lunch, and they eat quietly—or, Silas eats quietly while Eppie plays with the dog and cat.
- When he's finished, she cleans up and makes Silas sit in the sun and smoke his pipe—good for "fits," the neighbors assure him. He doesn't much like it, but these days he does whatever the neighbors tell him to do. Peer pressure, alive and well in the 19th century.
- As Silas has gradually become part of village life, he been telling Dolly about his past. It's difficult, since Silas isn't very good at explaining and Dolly, let's be honest, isn't very good at understanding.
- She especially has trouble understanding why Silas let a game of chance decide his fate. She thinks it must be hard for Silas to feel that God betrayed him, but she's sure that something good must come of his trials.
- A few days later, she's figured it out: God works in mysterious ways, and we have to do the right thing, trust in God, and trust in our neighbors. Silas, understandably, can't argue with this bit of folk wisdom.
- Eppie also knows the whole story, and she loves Silas so much that she never bothers to wonder about her real father. She's managed to stay a little more refined than the other village girls, thanks to Silas's care—and, because this is the 19th century, probably also because her dad is from a higher class.
- Back in the present: Eppie says that she'd like to plant the bush that her mother died under in the garden that Aaron has just promised to dig her. Silas agrees.
- Eppie proposes a stone fence, but Silas thinks she wouldn't be able to carry the stones from the quarry. Never one to take no for an answer, Eppie rushes out to prove him wrong.
- She quickly hurries back to report that the water level is low. Oh, Silas says—they're draining Mr. Osgood's field.
- He tells her not to try to lift the stones; she needs someone to help her. Someone like Aaron, perhaps?
- Now is the time for Eppie to reveal that Aaron's proposed to her. They would all live together—Aaron, Silas, and Eppie. She'd like that, but Silas thinks she's a little young.
- They resolve to ask the oh-so-neutral party of Aaron's mother, Dolly.
- Meanwhile, up at the Red House, Priscilla and Nancy are talking. Like Silas's cottage, the Red House looks different: Nancy has made everything clean and pretty. But all is not well. Priscilla urges Nancy to get some cows and chickens, which will take her mind off things.
- You see, after all these years, Godfrey and Nancy have no children. After Priscilla leaves, Nancy is pretty bummed out. She's not just sad for herself—she's sad for Godfrey. Women can always wrap themselves up in caring for their husbands, but men need to have children to work for.
- Godfrey had talked before about adopting, but Nancy thought that adoption would go against God's will and probably end up ruining any child they took in.
- When Godfrey says that Eppie is turning out just fine, Nancy counters that Silas didn't go looking for her; she just showed up at the door.
- It turns out that (big surprise) Eppie is the child Godfrey had in mind to adopt. He figures it would be good for Eppie, since they can provide money and education that Silas can't. (Silas's feelings, of course, aren't an issue.)
- But Nancy refuses. Godfrey is dissatisfied—he doesn't understand, our narrator says, that life is always just a little dissatisfying. In other words, he's still immature.
- It's been four years since Godfrey last brought up the question of adoption, and Nancy is wondering whether she did the right thing when her servant, Jane, comes in with the tea-things and announces that the villagers are all excited about something outside.
- When Godfrey walks in, Nancy knows right away that something's wrong.
- Godfrey tells her: it's Dunstan. They've found his skeleton at the bottom of the Stone-pits. And there's more: Dunstan is the one who robbed Silas.
- Oh, yeah, and there's even more: Eppie is his child. Godfrey figures that he might as well confess, even though he thinks Nancy can't possibly forgive him.
- But she does. She's only sorry that he didn't tell her earlier. If she had known that Eppie was his she would have thought it her duty to take the child, and she would have loved her like a daughter.
- Godfrey insists that she would never have married him if he'd told her right away. Nancy counters that she can't say what she would or wouldn't have done, but she knows that she wasn't worth doing wrong for.
- Anyway, that's all in the past. Tonight, they tell Eppie the truth. Dun dun dun.
- That night, Eppie and Silas are recovering from a very stressful day of finding out that they're actually rich—we should all have such problems. The gold is lying on the table, when a knock comes on the door. In walk Nancy and Godfrey.
- Godfrey apologizes for Dunstan. He points out that Silas is getting older and will probably want to stop working soon. Gradually he comes round to his point: they want to adopt Eppie.
- Poor Silas is trembling, but all he'll say is that he won't stop Eppie—who says thanks but no thanks. She insists that she can't leave the people she grew up with and doesn't want to be a lady.
- Godfrey is surprised and irritated that the object of his charity is getting in the way of his good intentions. He plays his trump card: Eppie is his daughter.
- Silas can't take any more. Why didn't Godfrey come forward earlier, instead of coming now when it's just like ripping his heart out, he asks?
- But Eppie insists that nothing is going to change the fact that Silas is her father.
- Godfrey can't believe this. Dude, he says, I can make Eppie rich.
- Silas admits that's true, but Eppie speaks up and insists that she can't leave Silas. What's more, she wasn't brought up to be a lady. She's a common villager, and she doesn't want anything better.
- Nancy, pure class as always, wishes Eppie the best.
- At home, Godfrey admits that Silas was right: he turned away the blessing, and now he's got to suffer for it. They agree to keep the secret until Godfrey dies, since it won't do anyone any good to know about it.
- They figure that Eppie's engaged to Aaron Winthrop, who's a good fellow. They resolve to be better people, and Nancy admirably restrains herself.
- The next morning, Silas has a surprising announcement. He wants to return to Lantern-Yard, to see if anything has come up to show that he's innocent.
- Eppie and Silas make their way to Silas's hometown, which is now a big manufacturing city.
- Silas can hardly believe it's the same place. They wander the streets until they finally find Lantern-Yard—or what used to be Lantern-Yard. It's now a factory, and no one knows anything about Lantern-Yard or Silas's old friends.
- That decides it: Raveloe is now officially Silas's home—and it only took thirty-one years.
- Spring in Raveloe is the best time for weddings, so naturally Eppie chooses to be married in the spring. Nancy buys her a white cotton dress with tiny pink flowers.
- Godfrey leaves town so he doesn't have to go (way to be mature about it), but everyone else thinks the wedding is beautiful.
- Eppie is happy too: in fact, as she enters her garden, enlarged by Mr. Cass, she says to Silas that no one could possibly be happier.
- Aww. But, let's be honest, also a little barf.