20. CHAPTER XX
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
danger--not 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, I'm afraid we must give up the hope of having her for a
daughter. It wouldn't be right to want to force her to come to us
against her will. We can't alter her bringing up and what's come of
"No," said Godfrey, with a keen decisiveness of tone, in contrast
with his usually careless and unemphatic speech--"there's debts
we can't pay like money debts, by paying extra for the years that
have slipped by. While I've been putting off and putting off, the
trees have been growing--it's too late now. Marner was in the
right in what he said about a man's 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 won't make it known, then, about Eppie's 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 she's thinking of marrying."