Silas Marner Chapter 14
Molly is buried that week, but all the villagers can talk about is Silas Marner and his new child. The townspeople of Raveloe, especially the mothers, are more sympathetic to Silas, now that he is caring for the little girl.
Silas feels an emotion so different from any other emotion he has ever felt when he holds the little girl; "thought and feeling were so confused within him, that if he had tried to give them utterance, he could have only said that the child was come instead of the gold - that the gold had turned into the child." Chapter 14, pg. 150.
Dolly Winthrop is a trusted advisor and helpful aide to Silas in showing him how to care for the child. She gives Silas her son Aaron's old baby clothes, frayed but clean and neat, and shows him how to bathe and dress the girl. The two of them talk about the girl's entrance into Silas's cottage; Dolly admits that the child must have been sent to him. She advises him to be careful when watching her, and she tells him that small children tend to crawl into places where they shouldn't be. Dolly then declares that if Silas wants to do the right thing, he must get the child "christened." as Dolly refers to it. Dolly reproaches him gently when an embarrassed Silas has to ask her what that means. Silas finally confesses that he does know a great deal about the church, but not the way the people of Raveloe practice, and declares that he will do whatever good the Raveloe church does for the child.
A joyful Dolly is surprised by Silas's knowledge of the Bible when he comes up with a name for the girl: Hephzibah, which was his mother's and sister's name. They call her Eppie for short, as Silas and his family had called his sister.
Eppie is christened and Silas goes to the Raveloe church for the first time. He has no idea what the baptism is for, but he takes Dolly's word that it is for Eppie's good. Sure enough, Silas sees more happiness and joy with Eppie in his life than he ever had. Unlike the gold, which he admired and worshipped by himself, Eppie is full of love and warmth, and has such a warming affect on Silas that he becomes friendlier and kinder. Silas is able to express his affection for his adopted daughter and have his love returned to him, unlike the gold.
"The gold had kept his thoughts in an ever-repeated circle, leading to nothing beyond itself; but Eppie was an object compacted of changes and hopes that forced his thoughts onward, and carried them far away from their old eager pacing towards the same blank limit - carried them away to the new things that would come with the coming years." Chapter 14, pg. 153.
Silas discovers that Eppie is prone to mischief and impishness. Dolly advises him to either spank her or put her alone in the coal-hole if she is naughty; Silas is reluctant to punish Eppie; he might hurt her by accident. One time, Eppie cuts off the string, which binds her to Silas's loom so that she will not run away and get into mischief and be under Silas's eye, and runs outside. Silas sees that she has left, fearful that she might have fallen into the Stone-pits, and finds her playing in the fields. He knows that he should punish her for running away, but he is so happy to have found her that he ignores Dolly's heeding for a short time. He finally puts her in the coal-hole with an unexpected result: Eppie finds the coal-hole as much fun as the fields. Silas decides to raise her without resorting to punishment.
Silas takes Eppie with him wherever he goes. The villagers witness a change in Silas when he is with Eppie, and they, too, change their attitude about him. Smiles and cheerful inquiries now greet Silas. The elderly people of Raveloe admire Silas for rearing Eppie by himself as an older man. Even the children who had been so scared of Silas before, now approach him happily; he is not the mean, scolding man he once was when he is with Eppie. "There was love between him and the child that blent them into one, and there was love between the child and the world" Chapter 14, pg. 159.
The gold that Silas once loved so much does not compare to the deep love, affection, and tenderness for the little girl who changes Silas's life. Eppie gives Silas something more to live on beyond money: hope and joy.