That evening, Silas Marner and Eppie are sitting alone in the cottage. Marner is exhausted by the events of the afternoon, and has been craving the quiet of being alone with only Eppie. Near them on the table is the gold, arranged as Marner used to arrange it. He has been telling Eppie of how he counted the gold every night. At first, he admits, he worried that Eppie might again be changed into the gold after she had appeared on his hearth. The gold holds no power over Marner now, but he worries aloud that if Eppie were lost he might again feel God had forsaken him.
The presence of the gold and Eppie in the same place is ominous, especially when Marner is speaking of how he once worried Eppie would be changed back into the gold. The exchange between the gold and Eppie has established in Marner’s mind that, by fate or divine will, he cannot possess both at once, raising the dramatic tension as the reader knows that Godfrey and Nancy are about to appear and offer to adopt Eppie. Might Eppie agree and leave Marner?
There is a knock at the door and Eppie blushes when she opens the door to admit Mr. and Mrs. Cass. Godfrey first apologizes to Marner for the loss of his money, hoping that he can make it up to him, as one of his own family members was the thief. Godfrey tells Marner’s it's time that he had some rest, as he’s worked so hard at his weaving to survive before and after the robbery. Godfrey says to Marner that he has done his part by Eppie and he’s sure it would be a comfort to the weaver to see her taken care of by folks who could make her into a lady.
Godfrey presents his offer to adopt Eppie in terms of an attempt to apologizes for his brother’s crime and to help the weaver rest and not be occupied supporting a daughter. From the first, Godfrey stresses his social position and the fact that he could make Eppie into a lady by adopting her. What’s missing from his offer is any hint of love toward his biological daughter.
Godfrey points out that he and Mrs. Cass have no children and, therefore, they would like to adopt Eppie as their own. As Godfrey speaks, Eppie puts her arm around Marner and feels him trembling. Marner is clearly distressed, but says only that he will not stand in Eppie’s way if this is what she wishes. Eppie steps forward and she thanks Mr. and Mrs. Cass, but she refuses their offer, unwilling to leave her father, and to give up the folks she’s familiar with by becoming a lady. With a sob, Marner takes her hand.
Marner’s response is a true act of selflessness, as numerous details have established that Marner’s entire life and happiness revolves around Eppie’s presence. However, he feels he cannot stand in her way because he wants only what’s best for her. Despite his words, Marner is overwhelmed by Eppie’s declaration of commitment to her adoptive father.
Godfrey, irritated, exclaims that he has a claim on Eppie because she is his child and her mother was his wife. Eppie is startled. Marner speaks with new fierceness, asking Godfrey why he didn’t claim his daughter sixteen years earlier. Godfrey turned a blessing away, Marner points out, and so God gave the child to him. Godfrey no longer has any right to the child. Godfrey claims he has repented for this past choice, but Marner insists, “repentance doesn’t alter what’s been going on for sixteen year.”
Godfrey attempts to claim Eppie on the basis of her parentage and Marner raises the point that Godfrey has not been in her life for the past sixteen years. Through this exchange, the novel asks: who has claim over a child? Who is a true parent? Christian children at the time firmly believed they had a duty to honor and obey their parents.
Godfrey urges rationality. Such a change wouldn’t tear Marner and Eppie apart forever, he argues. He says that he feels it’s his duty to care for his own daughter, and that Marner ought to be happy to see her elevated to better circumstances rather than marrying a lowly man. Eppie's initial decision to refuse the offer of adoption was determined by her love for Marner, but Godfrey’s insistence and his treatment of Marner cause repulsion toward her biological father to grown in her heart. Marner, on the other hand, is struck by a fear of raising his own desires in the way of what’s best for Eppie and he again defers to her decision.
Godfrey mentions his duty to his daughter, but ultimately the decision falls to Eppie. She loves Marner, but she is also unimpressed with Godfrey. She sees that he sees himself as being superior to Marner and treats Marner with frustration and contempt when he doesn’t get his way, and she wonders also about Godfrey’s connection with her deceased mother whom he never publically recognized as his wife.
Eppie insists that she would never again be happy if she were forced to leave her father, Silas Marner. He had no one to love or care for him before she appeared in his life, and she’d again be leaving him alone. He cared for her and loved her first, and she is certain that no one will ever come between them. Nancy reminds Eppie that what she says is a natural way to feel, but that she also owes a duty to her true father. Eppie says she can only think of Marner as her father, that she wasn’t raised to be a lady, and that she’s engaged to marry a workingman.
Eppie chooses to see Marner as her true father, whom she loves and obeys, rather than Godfrey who is her father only by birth. For her, the behavior and attitude of a father, rather than blood, is what determines parentage. Eppie’s choice demonstrates that one can choose one’s family and one’s community. She chooses to stay with those she loves, having faith in those around her.
Godfrey is frustrated that his attempt to atone for his past wrongs has been thwarted. He leaves abruptly, unable to say anything else to Marner and Eppie, and Nancy follows more gracefully.
Godfrey’s abrupt departure shows his frustration that he cannot adopt Eppie. His haughty mannerisms are contrasted to Marner’s quiet love for Eppie.