When Toby ceased to invite him to the house at Salcott, Ratoff had bought the old stable next the village shop; a mere lean-to against the shop's gable end; and made it into a dwelling for himself. This had proved in a quite unexpected way his salvation, for his point of vantage next the only shop in the place had turned him from a mere reject of Toby's into a general purveyer of gossip to the community, and therefore a person in his own right. The villagers, lured by the childish quality in his make-up, treated him without the reservation that they used to the other aliens, employing to him the same tolerance that they used to their own 'innocents'. He was therefore the only person in the village who was equally free of both communities. No one knew what he lived on, or if he ever ate, as opposed to drinking. At almost any hour of the day he could be found draped in incorrigible grace against the post-office counter of the shop, and in the evenings he drank at the Swan like the rest of the community.
Ok - you've set me straight. Obviously, she is a native English-speaker. I'd have to revise my view and say that some of her language would not be considered standard nowadays.
e.g. next (without "to"); her use of the semi-colon is not standard; "purveyer" is not in the modern dictionary (should be "purveyor"); the use of "employ to" is not modern; "... as opposed to drinking" in the relevant sentence must be an old way of saying, "as opposed to what he drank".
Perhaps "innocents" here refers to children and/or simple people, or it may have a special meaning in the context of this book.
I agree with Michael. 'innocents' refers to the people in the community that exhibit the same innocent, child-like behaviour as Rotoff.
This is from Chapter 4 To Love and Be Wise written by Josephine Tey, please refer to http://gutenberg.net.au/ebooks08/0800551h.html for detailed information. I guess those 'innocents' refer to their children
This text has not been written by a native English-speaker and has a number of grammar and punctuation mistakes, as well as some unusual usages of words. The phrase you mentioned has no clear meaning. There is not enough context to know who "their own innocents" are.