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Chapter 7

  • On my return, I found the following letter from my father:—
  • "My dear Victor,
  • "You have probably waited impatiently for a letter to fix the date of you_eturn to us; and I was at first tempted to write only a few lines, merel_entioning the day on which I should expect you. But that would be a crue_indness, and I dare not do it. What would be your surprise, my son, when yo_xpected a happy and glad welcome, to behold, on the contrary, tears an_retchedness? And how, Victor, can I relate our misfortune? Absence canno_ave rendered you callous to our joys and griefs; and how shall I inflict pai_n my long absent son? I wish to prepare you for the woeful news, but I kno_t is impossible; even now your eye skims over the page to seek the word_hich are to convey to you the horrible tidings.
  • "William is dead!—that sweet child, whose smiles delighted and warmed m_eart, who was so gentle, yet so gay! Victor, he is murdered!
  • "I will not attempt to console you; but will simply relate the circumstance_f the transaction.
  • "Last Thursday (May 7th), I, my niece, and your two brothers, went to walk i_lainpalais. The evening was warm and serene, and we prolonged our wal_arther than usual. It was already dusk before we thought of returning; an_hen we discovered that William and Ernest, who had gone on before, were no_o be found. We accordingly rested on a seat until they should return.
  • Presently Ernest came, and enquired if we had seen his brother; he said, tha_e had been playing with him, that William had run away to hide himself, an_hat he vainly sought for him, and afterwards waited for a long time, but tha_e did not return.
  • "This account rather alarmed us, and we continued to search for him unti_ight fell, when Elizabeth conjectured that he might have returned to th_ouse. He was not there. We returned again, with torches; for I could no_est, when I thought that my sweet boy had lost himself, and was exposed t_ll the damps and dews of night; Elizabeth also suffered extreme anguish.
  • About five in the morning I discovered my lovely boy, whom the night before _ad seen blooming and active in health, stretched on the grass livid an_otionless; the print of the murder's finger was on his neck.
  • "He was conveyed home, and the anguish that was visible in my countenanc_etrayed the secret to Elizabeth. She was very earnest to see the corpse. A_irst I attempted to prevent her but she persisted, and entering the roo_here it lay, hastily examined the neck of the victim, and clasping her hand_xclaimed, `O God! I have murdered my darling child!'
  • "She fainted, and was restored with extreme difficulty. When she again lived, it was only to weep and sigh. She told me, that that same evening William ha_eased her to let him wear a very valuable miniature that she possessed o_our mother. This picture is gone, and was doubtless the temptation whic_rged the murderer to the deed. We have no trace of him at present, althoug_ur exertions to discover him are unremitted; but they will not restore m_eloved William!
  • "Come, dearest Victor; you alone can console Elizabeth. She weeps continually, and accuses herself unjustly as the cause of his death; her words pierce m_eart. We are all unhappy; but will not that be an additional motive for you, my son, to return and be our comforter? Your dear mother! Alas, Victor! I no_ay, Thank God she did not live to witness the cruel, miserable death of he_oungest darling!
  • "Come, Victor; not brooding thoughts of vengeance against the assassin, bu_ith feelings of peace and gentleness, that will heal, instead of festering, the wounds of our minds. Enter the house of mourning, my friend, but wit_indness and affection for those who love you, and not with hatred for you_nemies.
  • "Your affectionate and afflicted father,
  • "Alphonse Frankenstein.
  • "Geneva, May 12th, 17—."
  • Clerval, who had watched my countenance as I read this letter, was surprise_o observe the despair that succeeded the joy I at first expressed o_eceiving new from my friends. I threw the letter on the table, and covered m_ace with my hands.
  • "My dear Frankenstein," exclaimed Henry, when he perceived me weep wit_itterness, "are you always to be unhappy? My dear friend, what has happened?"
  • I motioned him to take up the letter, while I walked up and down the room i_he extremest agitation. Tears also gushed from the eyes of Clerval, as h_ead the account of my misfortune.
  • "I can offer you no consolation, my friend," said he; "your disaster i_rreparable. What do you intend to do?"
  • "To go instantly to Geneva: come with me, Henry, to order the horses."
  • During our walk, Clerval endeavoured to say a few words of consolation; h_ould only express his heartfelt sympathy. "Poor William!" said he, "dea_ovely child, he now sleeps with his angel mother! Who that had seen hi_right and joyous in his young beauty, but must weep over his untimely loss!
  • To die so miserably; to feel the murderer's grasp! How much more a murdere_hat could destroy radiant innocence! Poor little fellow! one only consolatio_ave we; his friends mourn and weep, but he is at rest. The pang is over, hi_ufferings are at an end for ever. A sod covers his gentle form, and he know_o pain. He can no longer be a subject for pity; we must reserve that for hi_iserable survivors."
  • Clerval spoke thus as we hurried through the streets; the words impresse_hemselves on my mind and I remembered them afterwards in solitude. But now, as soon as the horses arrived, I hurried into a cabriolet, and bade farewel_o my friend.
  • My journey was very melancholy. At first I wished to hurry on, for I longed t_onsole and sympathise with my loved and sorrowing friends; but when I dre_ear my native town, I slackened my progress. I could hardly sustain th_ultitude of feelings that crowded into my mind. I passed through scene_amiliar to my youth, but which I had not seen for nearly six years. Ho_ltered every thing might be during that time! One sudden and desolatin_hange had taken place; but a thousand little circumstances might have b_egrees worked other alterations, which, although they were done mor_ranquilly, might not be the less decisive. Fear overcame me; I dared n_dvance, dreading a thousand nameless evils that made me tremble, although _as unable to define them. I remained two days at Lausanne, in this painfu_tate of mind. I contemplated the lake: the waters were placid; all around wa_alm; and the snowy mountains, `the palaces of nature,' were not changed. B_egrees the calm and heavenly scene restored me, and I continued my journe_owards Geneva.
  • The road ran by the side of the lake, which became narrower as I approached m_ative town. I discovered more distinctly the black sides of Jura, and th_right summit of Mont Blanc. I wept like a child. "Dear mountains! my ow_eautiful lake! how do you welcome your wanderer? Your summits are clear; th_ky and lake are blue and placid. Is this to prognosticate peace, or to moc_t my unhappiness?"
  • I fear, my friend, that I shall render myself tedious by dwelling on thes_reliminary circumstances; but they were days of comparative happiness, and _hink of them with pleasure. My country, my beloved country! who but a nativ_an tell the delight I took in again beholding thy streams, thy mountains, and, more than all, thy lovely lake!
  • Yet, as I drew nearer home, grief and fear again overcame me. Night als_losed around; and when I could hardly see the dark mountains, I felt stil_ore gloomily. The picture appeared a vast and dim scene of evil, and _oresaw obscurely that I was destined to become the most wretched of huma_eings. Alas! I prophesied truly, and failed only in one single circumstance, that in all the misery I imagined and dreaded, I did not conceive th_undredth part of the anguish I was destined to endure. It was completely dar_hen I arrived in the environs of Geneva; the gates of the town were alread_hut; and I was obliged to pass the night at Secheron, a village at th_istance of half a league from the city. The sky was serene; and, as I wa_nable to rest, I resolved to visit the spot where my poor William had bee_urdered. As I could not pass through the town, I was obliged to cross th_ake in a boat to arrive at Plainpalais. During this short voyage I saw th_ightning playing on the summit of Mont Blanc in the most beautiful figures.
  • The storm appeared to approach rapidly, and, on landing, I ascended a lo_ill, that I might observe its progress. It advanced; the heavens wer_louded, and I soon felt the rain coming slowly in large drops, but it_iolence quickly increased.
  • I quitted my seat, and walked on, although the darkness and storm increase_very minute, and the thunder burst with a terrific crash over my head. It wa_choed from Saleve, the Juras, and the Alps of Savoy; vivid flashes o_ightning dazzled my eyes, illuminating the lake, making it appear like a vas_heet of fire; then for an instant every thing seemed of a pitchy darkness, until the eye recovered itself from the preceding flash. The storm, as i_ften the case in Switzerland, appeared at once in various parts of th_eavens. The most violent storm hung exactly north of the town, over the par_f the lake which lies between the promontory of Belrive and the village o_opet. Another storm enlightened Jura with faint flashes; and another darkene_nd sometimes disclosed the Mole, a peaked mountain to the east of the lake.
  • While I watched the tempest, so beautiful yet terrific, I wandered on with _asty step. This noble war in the sky elevated my spirits; I clasped my hands, and exclaimed aloud, "William, dear angel! this is thy funeral, this th_irge!" As I said these words, I perceived in the gloom a figure which stol_rom behind a clump of trees near me; I stood fixed, gazing intently: I coul_ot be mistaken. A flash of lightning illuminated the object, and discovere_ts shape plainly to me; its gigantic stature, and the deformity of its aspec_ore hideous than belongs to humanity, instantly informed me that it was th_retch, the filthy daemon, to whom I had given life. What did he there? Coul_e be (I shuddered at the conception) the murderer of my brother? No soone_id that idea cross my imagination, than I became convinced of its truth; m_eeth chattered, and I was forced to lean against a tree for support. Th_igure passed me quickly, and I lost it in the gloom.
  • Nothing in human shape could have destroyed the fair child. HE was th_urderer! I could not doubt it. The mere presence of the idea was a_rresistible proof of the fact. I thought of pursuing the devil; but it woul_ave been in vain, for another flash discovered him to me hanging among th_ocks of the nearly perpendicular ascent of Mont Saleve, a hill that bound_lainpalais on the south. He soon reached the summit, and disappeared.
  • I remained motionless. The thunder ceased; but the rain still continued, an_he scene was enveloped in an impenetrable darkness. I revolved in my mind th_vents which I had until now sought to forget: the whole train of my progres_oward the creation; the appearance of the works of my own hands at m_edside; its departure. Two years had now nearly elapsed since the night o_hich he first received life; and was this his first crime? Alas! I had turne_oose into the world a depraved wretch, whose delight was in carnage an_isery; had he not murdered my brother?
  • No one can conceive the anguish I suffered during the remainder of the night, which I spent, cold and wet, in the open air. But I did not feel th_nconvenience of the weather; my imagination was busy in scenes of evil an_espair. I considered the being whom I had cast among mankind, and endowe_ith the will and power to effect purposes of horror, such as the deed whic_e had now done, nearly in the light of my own vampire, my own spirit le_oose from the grave, and forced to destroy all that was dear to me.
  • Day dawned; and I directed my steps towards the town. The gates were open, an_ hastened to my father's house. My first thought was to discover what I kne_f the murderer, and cause instant pursuit to be made. But I paused when _eflected on the story that I had to tell. A being whom I myself had formed, and endued with life, had met me at midnight among the precipices of a_naccessible mountain. I remembered also the nervous fever with which I ha_een seized just at the time that I dated my creation, and which would give a_ir of delirium to a tale otherwise so utterly improbable. I well knew that i_ny other had communicated such a relation to me, I should have looked upon i_s the ravings of insanity. Besides, the strange nature of the animal woul_lude all pursuit, even if I were so far credited as to persuade my relative_o commence it. And then of what use would be pursuit? Who could arrest _reature capable of scaling the overhanging sides of Mont Saleve? Thes_eflections determined me, and I resolved to remain silent.
  • It was about five in the morning when I entered my father's house. I told th_ervants not to disturb the family, and went into the library to attend thei_sual hour of rising.
  • Six years had elapsed, passed in a dream but for one indelible trace, and _tood in the same place where I had last embraced my father before m_eparture for Ingolstadt. Beloved and venerable parent! He still remained t_e. I gazed on the picture of my mother, which stood over the mantel-piece. I_as an historical subject, painted at my father's desire, and represente_aroline Beaufort in an agony of despair, kneeling by the coffin of her dea_ather. Her garb was rustic, and her cheek pale; but there was an air o_ignity and beauty, that hardly permitted the sentiment of pity. Below thi_icture was a miniature of William; and my tears flowed when I looked upon it.
  • While I was thus engaged, Ernest entered: he had heard me arrive, and hastene_o welcome me: "Welcome, my dearest Victor," said he. "Ah! I wish you had com_hree months ago, and then you would have found us all joyous and delighted.
  • You come to us now to share a misery which nothing can alleviate; yet yo_resence will, I hope, revive our father, who seems sinking under hi_isfortune; and your persuasions will induce poor Elizabeth to cease her vai_nd tormenting self- accusations.—Poor William! he was our darling and ou_ride!"
  • Tears, unrestrained, fell from my brother's eyes; a sense of mortal agon_rept over my frame. Before, I had only imagined the wretchedness of m_esolated home; the reality came on me as a new, and a not less terrible, disaster. I tried to calm Ernest; I enquired more minutely concerning m_ather, and her I named my cousin.
  • "She most of all," said Ernest, "requires consolation; she accused herself o_aving caused the death of my brother, and that made her very wretched. Bu_ince the murderer has been discovered—"
  • "The murderer discovered! Good God! how can that be? who could attempt t_ursue him? It is impossible; one might as well try to overtake the winds, o_onfine a mountain-stream with a straw. I saw him too; he was free las_ight!"
  • "I do not know what you mean," replied my brother, in accents of wonder, "bu_o us the discovery we have made completes our misery. No one would believe i_t first; and even now Elizabeth will not be convinced, notwithstanding al_he evidence. Indeed, who would credit that Justine Moritz, who was s_miable, and fond of all the family, could suddenly become so capable of s_rightful, so appalling a crime?"
  • "Justine Moritz! Poor, poor girl, is she the accused? But it is wrongfully; every one knows that; no one believes it, surely, Ernest?"
  • "No one did at first; but several circumstances came out, that have almos_orced conviction upon us; and her own behaviour has been so confused, as t_dd to the evidence of facts a weight that, I fear, leaves no hope for doubt.
  • But she will be tried today, and you will then hear all."
  • He then related that, the morning on which the murder of poor William had bee_iscovered, Justine had been taken ill, and confined to her bed for severa_ays. During this interval, one of the servants, happening to examine th_pparel she had worn on the night of the murder, had discovered in her pocke_he picture of my mother, which had been judged to be the temptation of th_urderer. The servant instantly showed it to one of the others, who, withou_aying a word to any of the family, went to a magistrate; and, upon thei_eposition, Justine was apprehended. On being charged with the fact, the poo_irl confirmed the suspicion in a great measure by her extreme confusion o_anner.
  • This was a strange tale, but it did not shake my faith; and I replie_arnestly, "You are all mistaken; I know the murderer. Justine, poor, goo_ustine, is innocent."
  • At that instant my father entered. I saw unhappiness deeply impressed on hi_ountenance, but he endeavoured to welcome me cheerfully; and, after we ha_xchanged our mournful greeting, would have introduced some other topic tha_hat of our disaster, had not Ernest exclaimed, "Good God, papa! Victor say_hat he knows who was the murderer of poor William."
  • "We do also, unfortunately," replied my father, "for indeed I had rather hav_een for ever ignorant than have discovered so much depravity and ungratitud_n one I valued so highly."
  • "My dear father, you are mistaken; Justine is innocent."
  • "If she is, God forbid that she should suffer as guilty. She is to be trie_oday, and I hope, I sincerely hope, that she will be acquitted."
  • This speech calmed me. I was firmly convinced in my own mind that Justine, an_ndeed every human being, was guiltless of this murder. I had no fear, therefore, that any circumstantial evidence could be brought forward stron_nough to convict her. My tale was not one to announce publicly; it_stounding horror would be looked upon as madness by the vulgar. Did any on_ndeed exist, except I, the creator, who would believe, unless his sense_onvinced him, in the existence of the living monument of presumption and ras_gnorance which I had let loose upon the world?
  • We were soon joined by Elizabeth. Time had altered her since I last behel_er; it had endowed her with loveliness surpassing the beauty of her childis_ears. There was the same candour, the same vivacity, but it was allied to a_xpression more full of sensibility and intellect. She welcomed me with th_reatest affection. "Your arrival, my dear cousin," said she, "fills me wit_ope. You perhaps will find some means to justify my poor guiltless Justine.
  • Alas! who is safe, if she be convicted of crime? I rely on her innocence a_ertainly as I do upon my own. Our misfortune is doubly hard to us; we hav_ot only lost that lovely darling boy, but this poor girl, whom I sincerel_ove, is to be torn away by even a worse fate. If she is condemned, I neve_hall know joy more. But she will not, I am sure she will not; and then _hall be happy again, even after the sad death of my little William."
  • "She is innocent, my Elizabeth," said I, "and that shall be proved; fea_othing, but let your spirits be cheered by the assurance of her acquittal."
  • "How kind and generous you are! every one else believes in her guilt, and tha_ade me wretched, for I knew that it was impossible: and to see every one els_rejudiced in so deadly a manner rendered me hopeless and despairing." Sh_ept.
  • "Dearest niece," said my father, "dry your tears. If she is, as you believe, innocent, rely on the justice of our laws, and the activity with which I shal_revent the slightest shadow of partiality."