Yet the next moment there seemed to be some evidence that ghosts had a more condescending disposition than Mr. Macey attributed to them; for the pale, thin figure of Silas Marner was suddenly seen standing in the warm light, uttering no word, but looking round at the company with his strange unearthly eyes. The long pipes gave a simultaneous movement, like the antennæ of startled insects; and every man present, not excepting even the sceptical farrier, had an impression that he saw, not Silas Marner in the flesh, but an apparition; for the door by which Silas had entered was hidden by the high-screened seats, and no one had noticed his approach. Mr. Macey, sitting a long way off the ghost, might be supposed to have felt an argumentative triumph, which would tend to neutralize his share of the general alarm. Had he not always said that when Silas Marner was in that strange trance of his, his soul went loose from his body? Here was the demonstration; nevertheless, on the whole, he would have been as well contented without it. For a few moments there was a dead silence, Marners want of breath and agitation not allowing him to speak. The landlord, under the habitual sense that he was bound to keep his house open to all company, and confident in the protection of his unbroken neutrality, at last took on himself the task of adjuring the ghost.
Master Marner, he said, in a conciliatory tone, whats lacking to you? Whats your business here?
Robbed! said Silas gaspingly. Ive been robbed! I want the constableand the Justiceand Squire Cassand Mr. Crackenthorp.
Lay hold on him, Jem Rodney, said the landlord, the idea of a ghost subsiding; hes off his head, I doubt. Hes wet through.
Jem Rodney was the outermost man, and sat conveniently near Marners standing-place; but he declined to give his services.
Come and lay hold on him yourself, Mr. Snell, if youve a mind, said Jem rather sullenly. Hes been robbed, and murdered too, for what I know, he added in a muttering tone.
Jem Rodney! said Silas, turning and fixing his strange eyes on the suspected eyes.
Ay, Master Marner, what do ye want wi me? said Jem, trembling a little, and seizing his drinking-can as a defensive weapon.
If it was you stole my money, said Silas, clasping his hands entreatingly, and raising his voice to a cry, give it me back, and I wont meddle with you. I wont set the constable on you. Give it me back, and Ill let youIll let you have a guinea.
Me stole your money! said Jem angrily. Ill pitch this can at your eye if you talk o my stealing your money.
Come, come, Master Marner, said the landlord, now rising resolutely and seizing Marner by the shoulder, if youve got any information to lay, speak it out sensible, and show as youre in your right mind, if you expect anybody to listen to you. Youre as wet as a drownded rat. Sit down and dry yourself, and speak straight forrard.
Ah, to be sure, man, said the farrier, who began to feel that he had not been quite on a par with himself and the occasion. Lets have no more staring and screaming, else well have you strapped for a madman. That was why I didnt speak at first; thinks I, the mans run mad.
Ay, ay, make him sit down, said several voices at once, well pleased that the reality of ghosts remained still an open question.
The landlord forced Marner to take off his coat, and then to sit down on a chair aloof from every one else, in the centre of the circle and in the direct rays of the fire. The weaver, too feeble to have any
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|