it by somebody else and not by meI wouldnt have you find it out after Im dead. Ill tell you now. Its been I will and I wont with me all my lifeIll make sure of myself now.
Nancys utmost dread had returned. The eyes of the husband and wife met with awe in them, as at a crisis which suspended affection.
Nancy, said Godfrey slowly, when I married you I hid something from yousomething I ought to have told you. That woman Marner found dead in the snowEppies motherthat wretched womanwas my wife: Eppie is my child.
He paused, 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.
Youll never think the same of me again, said Godfrey after a little while, with some tremor in his voice.
She was silent.
I oughtnt to have left the child unowned: I oughtnt to have kept it from you. But I couldnt bear to give you up, Nancy. I was led away into marrying herI suffered for it.
Still Nancy was silent, looking down; and he almost expected that she would presently get up and say she would go to her fathers. How could she have any mercy for faults that must seem so black to her, with her simple, severe notions?
But at last she lifted up her eyes to his again and spoke. There was no indignation in her voiceonly deep regret.
Godfrey, if you had but told me this six years ago, we could have done some of our duty by the child. Do you think Id have refused to take her in if Id 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.
AndO Godfreyif wed had her from the first, if youd taken to her as you ought, shed have loved me for her motherand youd 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 ud be.
The tears fell, and Nancy ceased to speak.
But you wouldnt have married me then, Nancy, if Id told you, said Godfrey, urged 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 wouldnt then. With your pride and your fathers, youd have hated having anything to do with me after the talk thered have been.
I cant say what I should have done about that, Godfrey. I should never have married anybody else. But I wasnt worth doing wrong fornothing is in this world. Nothing is so good as it seems beforehandnot even our marrying wasnt, you see. There was a faint, sad smile on Nancys face as she said the last words.
Im a worse man than you thought I was, Nancy, said Godfrey rather tremulously. Can you forgive me ever?
The wrong to me is but little, Godfrey; youve made it up to meyouve been good to me for fifteen years. Its another you did the wrong to; and I doubt it can never be all made up for.
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