Silas Marner
George Eliot
Contributed by Harvey Landy
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Chapter 12
Summary

While Godfrey and Nancy are flirting, we’re told, Godfrey’s wife -- Molly, an opium addict -- is walking towards Raveloe, holding her child in hr arms. This is the first explicit reference we have to Godfrey’s wife, although intimations have been made to a secret he’s keeping. Godfrey, we’re told, has refused to acknowledge his relationship with Molly, and she’s determined to show up at the New Year’s party and spoil his efforts. 

Molly has tried to wait out the snow, but to no avail, and is now trudging through the cold and precipitation with her spirits dragging. As she walks, she takes a hit of opium and soon after begins to feel the urge to simply lie down in the snow. When she falls asleep, her arms loosen and she drops her baby. The baby toddles off into the snow, right to the door of Silas’ cottage. She enters and goes to sit by the fire, falling asleep on Silas’ coat. 

Silas is in the cottage the whole time this takes place, but doesn’t notice the child. The narrator tells us that since he’s lost his money, Silas periodically opens his door and looks out, as if the money might simply come back to him. Because it’s New Year’s Eve, he’s been told to stay awake until midnight, for that’s good luck, his neighbors say. They tell him perhaps his money will return if he waits up. Silas goes to the door one last time that evening, looks out, and of course, no money returns to him. When he turns back around, however, he sees a bundle sitting on his coat in front of the fire. He imagines it might be his money and gets very excited. He reaches out to touch it, but finds, instead of gold coin, the golden curls of the child’s hair. He wonders if this is his little sister who died when he was a young boy. He wonders if he’s dreaming. Silas is stupefied by the arrival of the child, and sits and marvels at her, confused. 

The child wakes and Silas picks her up. She clings to him, calling for Molly, her mother. Silas hushes her kindly and feeds her some porridge. He takes off her wet boots and realizes that if they’re wet she must have been walking in the snow. He returns to the door and looks out for the child’s mother, and sees someone lying in a heap in the snow.

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