7. CHAPTER VII
Yet the next moment there seemed to be some evidence that ghosts had
a more condescending disposition than Mr. Macey attributed to them;
for the pale thin figure of Silas Marner was suddenly seen standing
in the warm light, uttering no word, but looking round at the
company with his strange unearthly eyes. The long pipes gave a
simultaneous movement, like the antennae of startled insects, and
every man present, not excepting even the sceptical farrier, had an
impression that he saw, not Silas Marner in the flesh, but an
apparition; for the door by which Silas had entered was hidden by
the high-screened seats, and no one had noticed his approach.
Mr. Macey, sitting a long way off the ghost, might be supposed to
have felt an argumentative triumph, which would tend to neutralize
his share of the general alarm. Had he not always said that when
Silas Marner was in that strange trance of his, his soul went loose
from his body? Here was the demonstration: nevertheless, on the
whole, he would have been as well contented without it. For a few
moments there was a dead silence, Marner's want of breath and
agitation not allowing him to speak. The landlord, under the
habitual sense that he was bound to keep his house open to all
company, and confident in the protection of his unbroken neutrality,
at last took on himself the task of adjuring the ghost.
"Master Marner," he said, in a conciliatory tone, "what's lacking
to you? What's your business here?"
"Robbed!" said Silas, gaspingly. "I've been robbed! I want the
constable--and the Justice--and Squire Cass--and
"Lay hold on him, Jem Rodney," said the landlord, the idea of a
ghost subsiding; "he's off his head, I doubt. He's wet through."
Jem Rodney was the outermost man, and sat conveniently near Marner's
standing-place; but he declined to give his services.
"Come and lay hold on him yourself, Mr. Snell, if you've a mind,"
said Jem, rather sullenly. "He's been robbed, and murdered too,
for what I know," he added, in a muttering tone.
"Jem Rodney!" said Silas, turning and fixing his strange eyes on
the suspected man.