14. CHAPTER XIV
There was a pauper's burial that week in Raveloe, and up Kench Yard
at Batherley it was known that the dark-haired woman with the fair
child, who had lately come to lodge there, was gone away again.
That was all the express note taken that Molly had disappeared from
the eyes of men. But the unwept death which, to the general lot,
seemed as trivial as the summer-shed leaf, was charged with the
force of destiny to certain human lives that we know of, shaping
their joys and sorrows even to the end.
Silas Marner's determination to keep the "tramp's child" was
matter of hardly less surprise and iterated talk in the village than
the robbery of his money. That softening of feeling towards him
which dated from his misfortune, that merging of suspicion and
dislike in a rather contemptuous pity for him as lone and crazy, was
now accompanied with a more active sympathy, especially amongst the
women. Notable mothers, who knew what it was to keep children
"whole and sweet"; lazy mothers, who knew what it was to be
interrupted in folding their arms and scratching their elbows by the
mischievous propensities of children just firm on their legs, were
equally interested in conjecturing how a lone man would manage with
a two-year-old child on his hands, and were equally ready with their
suggestions: the notable chiefly telling him what he had better do,
and the lazy ones being emphatic in telling him what he would never
be able to do.
Among the notable mothers, Dolly Winthrop was the one whose
neighbourly offices were the most acceptable to Marner, for they
were rendered without any show of bustling instruction. Silas had
shown her the half-guinea given to him by Godfrey, and had asked her
what he should do about getting some clothes for the child.
"Eh, Master Marner," said Dolly, "there's no call to buy, no more
nor a pair o' shoes; for I've got the little petticoats as Aaron
wore five years ago, and it's ill spending the money on them
baby-clothes, for the child 'ull grow like grass i' May, bless it--
that it will."