فصل 01

مجموعه: کتاب های ساده / کتاب: سیلاس مارنر / فصل 1

کتاب های ساده

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فصل 01

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  • زمان مطالعه 5 دقیقه
  • سطح ساده

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PART 1

Chapter One

In the days when the spinning wheels hummed busily in the farmhouses, one often saw certain small pale men in the countryside. Among the big strong farm workers, these men looked like the remains of a disinherited race. The shepherd’s dog barked fiercely when one of them walked by. I bent under the weight of a heavy pack and the shepherd himself looked at the pack suspiciously, even though he knew that it only contained linen cloth. ‘I don’t trust weavers!’ thought the shepherd. ‘Who knows? Perhaps the Devil helps them with their work!’

In that far off time, the country people were very superstitious. They did not like anything strange or new and strange men who passed through the village were always viewed with suspicion.

The villagers knew nothing of these men’s origins. Where were their homes? Who were their fathers and mothers? And how can you trust someone if you do not know who his father and mother were?

To the peasants of old times, the world outside their own direct experience was a region of mystery. Even if someone from distant parts settled in the village and lived there for many years, he was still viewed with distrust. The villagers would not have been surprised if after years of living peacefully among them, he had committed some terrible crime. The linen-weavers, who were emigrants from the town to the country, were distrusted even more than ordinary strangers because of their skill. Any kind of cleverness seemed to the villagers to be like witchcraft. They believed that honest people were not very clever. Whenever a linen-weaver settled in a village, the local people regarded him as an alien not to be trusted and so he lived in a state of loneliness.

In the early years of this century, a linen-weaver named Silas Marner lived and worked in a stone cottage close to an abandoned quarry near the village of Raveloe. The village boys were fascinated by the sound of Silas’s loom. They would often look through the windows of his cottage and watch him working. They were a little afraid of him and so - to cover up their fear - they laughed at him, imitating the strange sound of the loom and the bent shape of his body as he worked. When he heard them laughing, Silas came to the door and the boys ran away. They thought perhaps he could harm them by magic, just by looking at them with his large brown short-sighted eyes. They had heard their parents say that Silas could cure illnesses with herbs and they thought that, if he could heal by magic, he could probably do harm by magic too.

Silas had lived in Raveloe for fifteen years. The villagers all thought that he was very strange: he never came to the Rainbow for a pint of beer; he never stopped to gossip in the village square; his only contact with men and women was that necessary for his work. At first the village girls thought he would want to find a wife and they declared that they would never marry a dead man come back to life again. They said this because Jem Rodney the mole-catcher had told them a strange tale. One evening, as he was walking home from Squire Cass’s woods, where he had been shooting birds, he saw Silas Marner standing still in a field, staring before him with the eyes of a dead man. Jem spoke to him and shook his arm, but the weaver did not reply or move: he stood there rigid, as if he had died standing up. Then suddenly he was normal again; he looked at Jem, said ‘Good-night,’ and walked off.

When the villagers heard Jem’s story, some of them said that Silas must have had a fit. But old Mr Macey shook his head and said that no one could have a fit without falling down. He believed that Silas’s soul had left his body that evening and, if a man’s soul leaves his body, it might meet with other spirits or demons and learn things from them. Mr Macey was convinced that this explained Silas’s knowledge of herbs. How had he been able to cure Sally Oates when she was ill? None of the doctors had been able to cure her, but Silas’s herbs had worked like magic.

As the years went by, the villagers’ opinion of Silas changed little, except that they began to wonder about his money. He worked all the time and was well paid for his cloth, yet he lived very simply and never spent much money. Where was all that money going? The thought that Master Marner had a pile of gold somewhere made him seem even more mysterious to the villagers, even more different from themselves.

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