Silas Marner: Novel Summary: Chapter 18

This chapter is very short but quite significant to the novel as a whole. While one of the stone pits near Silas’s house is being drained (for the first time in decades), the skeleton of Dunstan Cass is discovered, along with the two sacks of gold he had stolen sixteen years ago. It seems Dunstan didn’t make it more than a few steps away from Silas’s cottage before he slipped into the water pit in the darkness.
This find inspires Godfrey to reveal his secret to Nancy once and for all. “Nancy,” said Godfrey, slowly, “when I married you, I hid something from you— something I ought to have told you. That woman Marner found dead in the snow— Eppie’s mother— that wretched woman— was my wife: Eppie is my child.”
This powerful statement overwhelms Nancy, yet she doesn’t seem at all bitter about it. She only regrets the fact that Godfrey kept this from her so long. Otherwise, she admits, she would have been more than willing to adopt Eppie as their own.
Yet the Cass couple still has hope. This night they plan to visit Silas and tell him the news about Eppie’s father. This, they hope, will convince him to give the eighteen-year-old Eppie to them as their child.