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Chapter 16

  • "Cursed, cursed creator! Why did I live? Why, in that instant, did I no_xtinguish the spark of existence which you had so wantonly bestowed? I kno_ot; despair had not yet taken possession of me; my feelings were those o_age and revenge. I could with pleasure have destroyed the cottage and it_nhabitants and have glutted myself with their shrieks and misery.
  • "When night came I quitted my retreat and wandered in the wood; and now, n_onger restrained by the fear of discovery, I gave vent to my anguish i_earful howlings. I was like a wild beast that had broken the toils,
  • destroying the objects that obstructed me and ranging through the wood with _taglike swiftness. Oh! What a miserable night I passed! The cold stars shon_n mockery, and the bare trees waved their branches above me; now and then th_weet voice of a bird burst forth amidst the universal stillness. All, save I,
  • were at rest or in enjoyment; I, like the arch-fiend, bore a hell within me,
  • and finding myself unsympathized with, wished to tear up the trees, sprea_avoc and destruction around me, and then to have sat down and enjoyed th_uin.
  • "But this was a luxury of sensation that could not endure; I became fatigue_ith excess of bodily exertion and sank on the damp grass in the sic_mpotence of despair. There was none among the myriads of men that existed wh_ould pity or assist me; and should I feel kindness towards my enemies? No;
  • from that moment I declared everlasting war against the species, and more tha_ll, against him who had formed me and sent me forth to this insupportabl_isery.
  • "The sun rose; I heard the voices of men and knew that it was impossible t_eturn to my retreat during that day. Accordingly I hid myself in some thic_nderwood, determining to devote the ensuing hours to reflection on m_ituation.
  • "The pleasant sunshine and the pure air of day restored me to some degree o_ranquillity; and when I considered what had passed at the cottage, I coul_ot help believing that I had been too hasty in my conclusions. I ha_ertainly acted imprudently. It was apparent that my conversation ha_nterested the father in my behalf, and I was a fool in having exposed m_erson to the horror of his children. I ought to have familiarized the old D_acey to me, and by degrees to have discovered myself to the rest of hi_amily, when they should have been prepared for my approach. But I did no_elieve my errors to be irretrievable, and after much consideration I resolve_o return to the cottage, seek the old man, and by my representations win hi_o my party.
  • "These thoughts calmed me, and in the afternoon I sank into a profound sleep;
  • but the fever of my blood did not allow me to be visited by peaceful dreams.
  • The horrible scene of the preceding day was forever acting before my eyes; th_emales were flying and the enraged Felix tearing me from his father's feet. _woke exhausted, and finding that it was already night, I crept forth from m_iding-place, and went in search of food.
  • "When my hunger was appeased, I directed my steps towards the well- known pat_hat conducted to the cottage. All there was at peace. I crept into my hove_nd remained in silent expectation of the accustomed hour when the famil_rose. That hour passed, the sun mounted high in the heavens, but th_ottagers did not appear. I trembled violently, apprehending some dreadfu_isfortune. The inside of the cottage was dark, and I heard no motion; _annot describe the agony of this suspense.
  • "Presently two countrymen passed by, but pausing near the cottage, the_ntered into conversation, using violent gesticulations; but I did no_nderstand what they said, as they spoke the language of the country, whic_iffered from that of my protectors. Soon after, however, Felix approache_ith another man; I was surprised, as I knew that he had not quitted th_ottage that morning, and waited anxiously to discover from his discourse th_eaning of these unusual appearances.
  • "`Do you consider,' said his companion to him, `that you will be obliged t_ay three months' rent and to lose the produce of your garden? I do not wis_o take any unfair advantage, and I beg therefore that you will take some day_o consider of your determination.'
  • "`It is utterly useless,' replied Felix; `we can never again inhabit you_ottage. The life of my father is in the greatest danger, owing to th_readful circumstance that I have related. My wife and my sister will neve_ecover from their horror. I entreat you not to reason with me any more. Tak_ossession of your tenement and let me fly from this place.'
  • "Felix trembled violently as he said this. He and his companion entered th_ottage, in which they remained for a few minutes, and then departed. I neve_aw any of the family of De Lacey more.
  • "I continued for the remainder of the day in my hovel in a state of utter an_tupid despair. My protectors had departed and had broken the only link tha_eld me to the world. For the first time the feelings of revenge and hatre_illed my bosom, and I did not strive to control them, but allowing myself t_e borne away by the stream, I bent my mind towards injury and death. When _hought of my friends, of the mild voice of De Lacey, the gentle eyes o_gatha, and the exquisite beauty of the Arabian, these thoughts vanished and _ush of tears somewhat soothed me. But again when I reflected that they ha_purned and deserted me, anger returned, a rage of anger, and unable to injur_nything human, I turned my fury towards inanimate objects. As night advance_ placed a variety of combustibles around the cottage, and after havin_estroyed every vestige of cultivation in the garden, I waited with force_mpatience until the moon had sunk to commence my operations.
  • "As the night advanced, a fierce wind arose from the woods and quickl_ispersed the clouds that had loitered in the heavens; the blast tore alon_ike a mighty avalanche and produced a kind of insanity in my spirits tha_urst all bounds of reason and reflection. I lighted the dry branch of a tre_nd danced with fury around the devoted cottage, my eyes still fixed on th_estern horizon, the edge of which the moon nearly touched. A part of its or_as at length hid, and I waved my brand; it sank, and with a loud scream _ired the straw, and heath, and bushes, which I had collected. The wind fanne_he fire, and the cottage was quickly enveloped by the flames, which clung t_t and licked it with their forked and destroying tongues.
  • "As soon as I was convinced that no assistance could save any part of th_abitation, I quitted the scene and sought for refuge in the woods.
  • "And now, with the world before me, whither should I bend my steps? I resolve_o fly far from the scene of my misfortunes; but to me, hated and despised,
  • every country must be equally horrible. At length the thought of you crosse_y mind. I learned from your papers that you were my father, my creator; an_o whom could I apply with more fitness than to him who had given me life?
  • Among the lessons that Felix had bestowed upon Safie, geography had not bee_mitted; I had learned from these the relative situations of the differen_ountries of the earth. You had mentioned Geneva as the name of your nativ_own, and towards this place I resolved to proceed.
  • "But how was I to direct myself? I knew that I must travel in a southwesterl_irection to reach my destination, but the sun was my only guide. I did no_now the names of the towns that I was to pass through, nor could I as_nformation from a single human being; but I did not despair. From you onl_ould I hope for succour, although towards you I felt no sentiment but that o_atred. Unfeeling, heartless creator! You had endowed me with perceptions an_assions and then cast me abroad an object for the scorn and horror o_ankind. But on you only had I any claim for pity and redress, and from you _etermined to seek that justice which I vainly attempted to gain from an_ther being that wore the human form.
  • "My travels were long and the sufferings I endured intense. It was late i_utumn when I quitted the district where I had so long resided. I travelle_nly at night, fearful of encountering the visage of a human being. Natur_ecayed around me, and the sun became heatless; rain and snow poured aroun_e; mighty rivers were frozen; the surface of the earth was hard and chill,
  • and bare, and I found no shelter. Oh, earth! How often did I imprecate curse_n the cause of my being! The mildness of my nature had fled, and all withi_e was turned to gall and bitterness. The nearer I approached to you_abitation, the more deeply did I feel the spirit of revenge enkindled in m_eart. Snow fell, and the waters were hardened, but I rested not. A fe_ncidents now and then directed me, and I possessed a map of the country; bu_ often wandered wide from my path. The agony of my feelings allowed me n_espite; no incident occurred from which my rage and misery could not extrac_ts food; but a circumstance that happened when I arrived on the confines o_witzerland, when the sun had recovered its warmth and the earth again bega_o look green, confirmed in an especial manner the bitterness and horror of m_eelings.
  • "I generally rested during the day and travelled only when I was secured b_ight from the view of man. One morning, however, finding that my path la_hrough a deep wood, I ventured to continue my journey after the sun ha_isen; the day, which was one of the first of spring, cheered even me by th_oveliness of its sunshine and the balminess of the air. I felt emotions o_entleness and pleasure, that had long appeared dead, revive within me. Hal_urprised by the novelty of these sensations, I allowed myself to be born_way by them, and forgetting my solitude and deformity, dared to be happy.
  • Soft tears again bedewed my cheeks, and I even raised my humid eyes wit_hankfulness towards the blessed sun, which bestowed such joy upon me.
  • "I continued to wind among the paths of the wood, until I came to it_oundary, which was skirted by a deep and rapid river, into which many of th_rees bent their branches, now budding with the fresh spring. Here I paused,
  • not exactly knowing what path to pursue, when I heard the sound of voices,
  • that induced me to conceal myself under the shade of a cypress. I was scarcel_id when a young girl came running towards the spot where I was concealed,
  • laughing, as if she ran from someone in sport. She continued her course alon_he precipitous sides of the river, when suddenly her foot slipped, and sh_ell into the rapid stream. I rushed from my hiding-place and with extrem_abour, from the force of the current, saved her and dragged her to shore. Sh_as senseless, and I endeavoured by every means in my power to restor_nimation, when I was suddenly interrupted by the approach of a rustic, wh_as probably the person from whom she had playfully fled. On seeing me, h_arted towards me, and tearing the girl from my arms, hastened towards th_eeper parts of the wood. I followed speedily, I hardly knew why; but when th_an saw me draw near, he aimed a gun, which he carried, at my body and fired.
  • I sank to the ground, and my injurer, with increased swiftness, escaped int_he wood.
  • "This was then the reward of my benevolence! I had saved a human being fro_estruction, and as a recompense I now writhed under the miserable pain of _ound which shattered the flesh and bone. The feelings of kindness an_entleness which I had entertained but a few moments before gave place t_ellish rage and gnashing of teeth. Inflamed by pain, I vowed eternal hatre_nd vengeance to all mankind. But the agony of my wound overcame me; my pulse_aused, and I fainted.
  • "For some weeks I led a miserable life in the woods, endeavouring to cure th_ound which I had received. The ball had entered my shoulder, and I knew no_hether it had remained there or passed through; at any rate I had no means o_xtracting it. My sufferings were augmented also by the oppressive sense o_he injustice and ingratitude of their infliction. My daily vows rose fo_evenge—a deep and deadly revenge, such as would alone compensate for th_utrages and anguish I had endured.
  • "After some weeks my wound healed, and I continued my journey. The labours _ndured were no longer to be alleviated by the bright sun or gentle breezes o_pring; all joy was but a mockery which insulted my desolate state and made m_eel more painfully that I was not made for the enjoyment of pleasure.
  • "But my toils now drew near a close, and in two months from this time _eached the environs of Geneva.
  • "It was evening when I arrived, and I retired to a hiding-place among th_ields that surround it to meditate in what manner I should apply to you. _as oppressed by fatigue and hunger and far too unhappy to enjoy the gentl_reezes of evening or the prospect of the sun setting behind the stupendou_ountains of Jura.
  • "At this time a slight sleep relieved me from the pain of reflection, whic_as disturbed by the approach of a beautiful child, who came running into th_ecess I had chosen, with all the sportiveness of infancy. Suddenly, as _azed on him, an idea seized me that this little creature was unprejudiced an_ad lived too short a time to have imbibed a horror of deformity. If,
  • therefore, I could seize him and educate him as my companion and friend, _hould not be so desolate in this peopled earth.
  • "Urged by this impulse, I seized on the boy as he passed and drew him toward_e. As soon as he beheld my form, he placed his hands before his eyes an_ttered a shrill scream; I drew his hand forcibly from his face and said,
  • `Child, what is the meaning of this? I do not intend to hurt you; listen t_e.'
  • "He struggled violently. `Let me go,' he cried; `monster! Ugly wretch! Yo_ish to eat me and tear me to pieces. You are an ogre. Let me go, or I wil_ell my papa.'
  • "`Boy, you will never see your father again; you must come with me.'
  • "`Hideous monster! Let me go. My papa is a syndic—he is M. Frankenstein—h_ill punish you. You dare not keep me.'
  • "`Frankenstein! you belong then to my enemy—to him towards whom I have swor_ternal revenge; you shall be my first victim.'
  • "The child still struggled and loaded me with epithets which carried despai_o my heart; I grasped his throat to silence him, and in a moment he lay dea_t my feet.
  • "I gazed on my victim, and my heart swelled with exultation and hellis_riumph; clapping my hands, I exclaimed, `I too can create desolation; m_nemy is not invulnerable; this death will carry despair to him, and _housand other miseries shall torment and destroy him.'
  • "As I fixed my eyes on the child, I saw something glittering on his breast. _ook it; it was a portrait of a most lovely woman. In spite of my malignity,
  • it softened and attracted me. For a few moments I gazed with delight on he_ark eyes, fringed by deep lashes, and her lovely lips; but presently my rag_eturned; I remembered that I was forever deprived of the delights that suc_eautiful creatures could bestow and that she whose resemblance I contemplate_ould, in regarding me, have changed that air of divine benignity to on_xpressive of disgust and affright.
  • "Can you wonder that such thoughts transported me with rage? I only wonde_hat at that moment, instead of venting my sensations in exclamations an_gony, I did not rush among mankind and perish in the attempt to destroy them.
  • "While I was overcome by these feelings, I left the spot where I had committe_he murder, and seeking a more secluded hiding-place, I entered a barn whic_ad appeared to me to be empty. A woman was sleeping on some straw; she wa_oung, not indeed so beautiful as her whose portrait I held, but of a_greeable aspect and blooming in the loveliness of youth and health. Here, _hought, is one of those whose joy-imparting smiles are bestowed on all bu_e. And then I bent over her and whispered, `Awake, fairest, thy lover i_ear—he who would give his life but to obtain one look of affection from thin_yes; my beloved, awake!'
  • "The sleeper stirred; a thrill of terror ran through me. Should she indee_wake, and see me, and curse me, and denounce the murderer? Thus would sh_ssuredly act if her darkened eyes opened and she beheld me. The thought wa_adness; it stirred the fiend within me—not I, but she, shall suffer; th_urder I have committed because I am forever robbed of all that she could giv_e, she shall atone. The crime had its source in her; be hers the punishment!
  • Thanks to the lessons of Felix and the sanguinary laws of man, I had learne_ow to work mischief. I bent over her and placed the portrait securely in on_f the folds of her dress. She moved again, and I fled.
  • "For some days I haunted the spot where these scenes had taken place,
  • sometimes wishing to see you, sometimes resolved to quit the world and it_iseries forever. At length I wandered towards these mountains, and hav_anged through their immense recesses, consumed by a burning passion which yo_lone can gratify. We may not part until you have promised to comply with m_equisition. I am alone and miserable; man will not associate with me; but on_s deformed and horrible as myself would not deny herself to me. My companio_ust be of the same species and have the same defects. This being you mus_reate."