In the early years of nineteenth century a linen weaver called Silas Marner lived alone in a stone cottage near the village of Raveloe. The cottage was near from an old stone pit. Silas Marner had first come to Raveloe fifteen years before. He was a pale man with large short-sighted brown eyes. The villagers regarded him with suspicion because he was a stranger and because he knew how to weave which they did not.
Fifteen years before he lived in a town and was a respected member of a religious sect at Lantern Yard. He had many friends there and one of them was William Dane. He was also engaged to marry Sarah. Just then an older leader of the sect was taken seriously ill and was looked after night and day by some of younger members. During Silas’ watch, a bag of money disappeared from the leader’s desk. Silas’ knife was found left in it. He knew that William had had his knife and had stolen the money. Silas swore he was innocent but the members of the church did not believe him. Next day the minister of the church brought the message from Sarah that their engagement was ended, and a month later she married William Dane. Soon afterward Silas leaved the town.
Silas settled in Raveloe where he weaved linen and received gold from it. He saved his money in leather bags and hid them in a hole beneath the sanded floor bricks under his loom. He counted the coins every night. For fifteen years Silas lived lonely and unloved, and his only interest was his weaving. His face and body grew smaller and more bent.
The most important man in Raveloe was Squire Cass who lived in a large red house opposite the church. His wife was dead, and his two sons Godfrey and Dunstan lived at home and did not work. Godfrey Cass secretly married to a drunken young woman, Molly Farren. His brother Dunstan blackmailed him to keep their father from knowing. Godfrey had given Dunstan some rent money from Fowler, but the Squire wanted the money, so Godfrey gave Dunstan his horse Wildfire to sell to get the money.
Dunstan Cass set off early next morning to ride to the hunt and sell Wildfire. He passed Silas’ cottage. This gave him an idea to tell Godfrey to borrow money from Silas but decided to do it later. The horse was bought for £120 by Bryce. Excited by this, Dunstan decided to run with the hunt, but riding wildly, he injured the horse in jumping a fence and the horse turned over and died. There was no one witnessed the accident. This pleased Dunstan and he walked away fast to Raveloe passing Silas’ cottage. He decided to stop there; at least he could borrow a lamp since it was dark. He found that cottage was unlocked and empty. He also found place where Silas kept the money and took the money away with him.
Silas returned from Raveloe and found his gold missing. Then he went to a small hotel called ‘The Rainbow’ where Mrs. Osgood’s birthday dance was held to get assistance and when he told about the robbery, there was immediately sympathy for him.
After several weeks, the only clue uncovered was a tinder-box, which belonged to a suspicious pedlar. Dunstan’s disappearance was not suspected because he had disappeared before. Godfrey was not surprised either, for he soon learned that Dunstan had killed his horse. He decided to tell his father about his marriage and the money but at the next day he told only about his horse and the rent money that he had given to Dunstan. This made his father get angry.
After the robbery, the neighbours treated Silas more kindly. One of them was Dolly Winthrop who visited him with her seven year old son Aaron. She persuaded him to attend the church on Sunday and she let Aaron sing a Christmas carol to show what was missing by staying away from church. This had no avail since Silas found a difference between Raveloe church and that of Lantern Yard.
The biggest event in Raveloe was the New Year’s dance at Squire Cass’ home. There, Godfrey danced with Nancy Lammeter, the girl he always intended to marry. Meanwhile, Molly Farren decided to revenge. Carrying her two year old daughter, she planned to surprise Godfrey and everyone else, but on the way she fell down on snow due to opium she consumed. The child fell from her and was attracted by the light of Silas’ fireplace. She walked to Silas’ cottage and slept on a coat which spread to dry. Silas had been looking out to see if his money might return. When his consciousness returned, he saw gold and thought his money had come back, and then he discovered that the gold is the hair of a child. At last he wondered and realized that the child had come in out of the snow, and he discovered Molly’s body outside.
Silas took the child to Squire Cass’ house to get the doctor. This shocked Godfrey Cass and made him volunteer himself as one who went out and checked the woman. He went with Doctor Kimble and found that the woman Silas found was indeed his wife and that she was dead. Godfrey returned to the house with a sense of great relief since he would be able to marry Nancy.
Silas Marner adopted the child and gave her name Hephzibah (Eppie for short) and christened her at Raveloe church. He loved her very much. Eppie made him find kindness and welcome from other villagers. Mrs. Winthrop helped Silas by her care and experience.
Sixteen years passed. Nancy and Godfrey were married, and Eppie had grown into a beautiful young woman. They planned to build a garden. Mr. and Mrs. Cass had done much for them. Dolly’s son, Aaron wished to marry Eppie, and Eppie had agreed — if Silas could live with them.
Godfrey and Nancy were childless. Their one child died in early age. At one time Godfrey wished to adopt Eppie, but Nancy refused because it seemed that it was wrong. Their marriage had been happy but for this one thing. Godfrey was afraid to tell her that Eppie was his own child.
The Stone Pit near Silas’ cottage was drained, and Dunstan’s body had been found there with Silas’ gold. Godfrey was forced to tell Nancy that his brother was a thief. At the same time he admitted that Eppie was his own child. Nancy was not disgusted with him. She felt sorry that she refused to adopt Eppie sooner. The two of them went that night to Silas’ cottage to take Eppie. However, Eppie did not want to be claimed. She did not want to leave Silas. Godfrey went home and disappointed. He felt that he was being punished for his past mistake.
Silas and Eppie went to Lantern Yard. Silas wanted to meet sect members who might find out something that made them know that he was innocent of the robbery, but they find everything changed. The church was gone, a huge factory set in its place. Only the prison was left to remind Silas that this was Lantern Yard. He returned home and decided to trust God again.
Eppie and Aaron were married. Their wedding feast was at ‘The Rainbow’ at Mr. Cass’ expense. There the villagers agreed that Silas had brought blessing by acting as father of motherless child. The young couple come to live with Silas at his cottage which had changed beautifully at the expense of Mr. Cass.