Silas Marner
George Eliot
Contributed by Harvey Landy
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Chapter 14

Silas’ decision to keep the child further warms the hearts of the villagers towards him. The women, especially, fly to his aid, giving him advice and bringing him hand-me-down clothes. Dolly comes by with a package for him, and together they bathe the child. Silas doesn’t mention how the child got in, since he suspects that he may have been in one of his trances -- not unlike the time he fell into a fit at church in Lantern Yard -- when she came in, unnoticed.

Dolly suggests at this point that Silas get the girl christened; she believes that, without it, the child won’t be as easily accepted by the villagers. Silas evinces some ignorance about the process of christening, and Dolly tells him that, first of all, he has to give the child a name in order to be christened. He says that both his mother and sister were named Hephzibah. Dolly asks if there was a nickname that they gave to his sister, and he says she was called Eppie. So that’s what this girl will be called.

Eppie is indeed christened, and so Silas goes for the first time to the church in Raveloe. 

As the weeks and months pass, he notices that whereas when he was obsessed with his gold his thoughts operated in a kind of repetitive loop, thinking only about his hoard, now that he has Eppie his thoughts are much more variegated. Eppie is always changing and growing. She has hopes and desires -- things that push Silas, we’re told, to think less repetitively, and more towards a future. Eppie distracts Silas from his work, and he allows this, even enjoying the distraction. He takes to taking long walks when the weather’s good, carrying Eppie to his favorite spots so that they can enjoy the scenery together. 

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