Nancy and Godfrey walked home under the starlight in silence. When they entered the oaken parlour Godfrey threw himself into his chair, while Nancy laid down her bonnet and shawl and stood on the hearth near her husband, unwilling to leave him even for a few minutes, and yet fearing to utter any word lest it might jar on his feeling. At last Godfrey turned his head towards her, and their eyes met, dwelling in that meeting without any movement on either side. That quiet mutual gaze of a trusting husband and wife is like the first moment of rest or refuge from a great weariness or a great dangernot to be interfered with by speech or action which would distract the sensations from the fresh enjoyment of repose.
But presently he put out his hand, and as Nancy placed hers within it he drew her towards him, and said,
She bent to kiss him, and then said as she stood by his side, Yes, Im afraid we must give up the hope of having her for a daughter. It wouldnt be right to want to force her to come to us against her will. We cant alter her bringing up and whats come of it.
No, said Godfrey, with a keen decisiveness of tone, in contrast with his usually careless and unemphatic speech; theres debts we cant pay like money debts, by paying extra for the years that have slipped by. While Ive been putting off and putting off, the trees have been growing: its too late now. Marner was in the right in what he said about a mans turning away a blessing from his door: it falls to somebody else. I wanted to pass for childless once, Nancy; I shall pass for childless now against my wish.
Nancy did not speak immediately, but after a little while she asked, You wont make it known, then, about Eppies being your daughter?
No; where would be the good to anybody?only harm. I must do what I can for her in the state of life she chooses. I must see who it is shes thinking of marrying.
If it wont do any good to make the thing known, said Nancy, who thought she might now allow herself the relief of entertaining a feeling which she had tried to silence before, I should be very thankful for father and Priscilla never to be troubled with knowing what was done in the past, more than about Dunsey; it cant be helped, their knowing that.
I shall put it in my willI think I shall put it in my will. I shouldnt like to leave anything to be found out like this about Dunsey, said Godfrey meditatively. But I cant see anything but difficulties that ud come from telling it now. I must do what I can to make her happy in her own way. Ive a notion, he added, after a moments pause, its Aaron Winthrop she meant she was engaged to. I remember seeing him with her and Marner going away from church.
Well, hes very sober and industrious, said Nancy, trying to view the matter as cheerfully as possible.
Godfrey fell into thoughtfulness again. Presently he looked up at Nancy sorrowfully, and said,
Shes a very pretty, nice girl, isnt she, Nancy?
Yes, dear; and with just your hair and eyes. I wondered it had never struck me before.
I think she took a dislike to me at the thought of my being her father; I could see a change in her manner after that.
She couldnt bear to think of not looking on Marner as her father, said Nancy, not wishing to confirm her husbands painful impression.
She thinks I did wrong by her mother as well as by her. She thinks me worse than I am. But she must think it; she can never know all. Its part of my punishment, Nancy, for my daughter to dislike me. I should
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