Silas Marner: Novel Summary: Chapter 12

Chapter twelve ends the slow, uneventful narrative of the preceding chapter with a sudden surprise for the reader. It seems Godfrey will be dealt a crushing blow at his father’s party, when his forgotten wife, Molly, decides to make a surprise visit to confront him and the rest of the Cass household. Eliot narrates, “This journey on New Year’s Eve was a premeditated act of vengeance which she had kept in her heart ever since Godfrey, in a fit of passion, had told her he would sooner die than acknowledge her as his wife.”
Molly decides to make the long trip in the bitter cold by foot. Suddenly she becomes very tired and decides to take a rest in a snow bank; she never wakes. Her two-year-old daughter silently crawls out of her dying arms and ventures into the home of Silas Marner where the door is open and a warm fire is crackling. Eliot describes Silas’s shock, saying, “He leaned forward at last, and stretched forth his hand; but instead of the hard coin with the familiar resisting outline, his fingers encountered soft warm curls…he had a dreamy feeling that this child was somehow a message come to him from the far-off life.”
Quickly Silas comforts the girl by offering her warm porridge. Soon he looks outside to try to find the place from which she came. It’s at this time he sees her mother’s dead body frozen in the snow.