As Chapter 11 of Silas Marner begins, Nancy Lammeter is confused about Godfrey Cass’s behavior. It pains her that his attention varies widely. She believes that she made it clear to him that she would not marry him. In spite of her clear communication, he sometimes pays her “marked attention,” but also ignores her for weeks at a time. She worries also about his bad habits, reasoning that if he really loved her, he would not give others reason to gossip about his reputation. The chapter takes place at Squire Cass’s Red House, before and during a dance party he is hosting.
Despite her reservations, when they sit down to tea, she reflects that Godfrey is “of quite the highest consequence in the parish” and that she could have become mistress of his grand home had she married him. Nancy attempts to remain resolute in her conviction that rank was irrelevant to her estimation of his conduct, which “showed him careless of his character.”
Although Nancy tries to resist Godfrey’s charms without seeming rude in front of their fathers and the assembled guests, they are paired for the first dance. When her dresses’ hem tears and she has to sit out the dance, Godfrey remains attentive. Acknowledging how much she means to him, Godfrey asks if she cannot forgive him. He suggests he will make amends and give up the habits she dislikes.
Nancy really felt agitated by the possibility Godfrey’s words suggested, but this very pressure of emotion that she was in danger of finding too strong for her roused all her power of self-command.
“I should be glad to see a good change in anybody, Mr. Godfrey,” she answered, with the slightest discernible difference of tone, “but it ’ud be better if no change was wanted.”
When her sister Priscilla arrives with the necessary items to fix her hem, rather than send Godfrey away, Nancy deigns to let him stay while trying to seem uncaring and cold.