In Chapter 4 of Silas Marner, why is Dunstan glad to have Godfrey's gold-handled whip?

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It is in Chapter 4 that Dunstan is returning to Raveloe, after his plan to sell Wildfire, Godfrey's horse, had come to naught because of the horse's death. We are given two reasons why he is glad that he took Godfrey's whip. First, we are given the reason of vanity:

Dunsey was not without fear that he might meet some acquaintance in whose eyes he would cut a pitiable figure, for mist is no screen when people get close to each other...

To therefore be holding a "handsome whip" with a gold handle makes Dunstan feel that he would not "cut a pitiable figure."

However, we are also told that the whip has another, much more practical use for Dunstan, as the fog becomes thicker:

But now, the mist, helped by the evening darkness, was more of a screen than he desired, for it hid the ruts into which his feet were liable to slip--hid everything, so that he had to guide his steps by dragging his whip along the low bushes in advance of the hedgerow.

Thus the whip serves a much more practical use than being a mere accessory to make Dunstan look good and feel good about himself. As he walks back into Raveloe among the unpopulated country lanes in thick mist, the whip allows him to make sure that he does not fall or trip and hurt himself in the deep ruts along the country lanes.