"Cursed, cursed creator! Why did I live? Why, in that instant,did I not extinguish the spark of existence which you had sowantonly bestowed? I know not; despair had not yet takenpossession of me; my feelings were those of rage and revenge. I could with pleasure have destroyed the cottage and itsinhabitants, and have glutted myself with their shrieks and misery.
"When night came, I quitted my retreat, and wandered in thewood; and now, no longer restrained by the fear of discovery,I gave vent to my anguish in fearful howlings. I was like awild beast that had broken the toils; destroying the objectsthat obstructed me, and ranging through the wood with a staglike swiftness. O! what a miserable night I passed! the coldstars shone in mockery, and the bare trees waved their branchesabove me: now and then the sweet voice of a bird burst forthamidst the universal stillness. All, save I, were at rest orin enjoyment: I, like the arch-fiend, bore a hell within me;and, finding myself unsympathised with, wished to tear up thetrees, spread havoc and destruction around me, and then to havesat down and enjoyed the ruin.
"But this was a luxury of sensation that could not endure; Ibecame fatigued with excess of bodily exertion, and sank on thedamp grass in the sick impotence of despair. There was noneamong the myriads of men that existed who would pity or assistme; and should I feel kindness towards my enemies? No: fromthat moment I declared everlasting war against the species,and, more than all, against him who had formed me, and sent meforth to this insupportable misery.
"The sun rose; I heard the voices of men, and knew that it wasimpossible to return to my retreat during that day. Accordingly I hid myself in some thick underwood, determiningto devote the ensuing hours to reflection on my situation.
"The pleasant sunshine, and the pure air of day, restored me tosome degree of tranquillity; and when I considered what hadpassed at the cottage, I could not help believing that I hadbeen too hasty in my conclusions. I had certainly actedimprudently. It was apparent that my conversation hadinterested the father in my behalf, and I was a fool in havingexposed my person to the horror of his children. I ought tohave familiarised the old De Lacey to me, and by degrees tohave discovered myself to the rest of his family, when theyshould have been prepared for my approach. But I did notbelieve my errors to be irretrievable; and, after muchconsideration, I resolved to return to the cottage, seek theold man, and by my representations win him to my party.
"These thoughts calmed me, and in the afternoon I sank into aprofound sleep; but the fever of my blood did not allow me tobe visited by peaceful dreams. The horrible scene of thepreceding day was for ever acting before my eyes; the femaleswere flying, and the enraged Felix tearing me from his father'sfeet. I awoke exhausted; and, finding that it was alreadynight, I crept forth from my hiding-place, and went in searchof food.
"When my hunger was appeased, I directed my steps towards thewell known path that conducted to the cottage. All there wasat peace. I crept into my hovel, and remained in silentexpectation of the accustomed hour when the family arose. That hour passed, the sun mounted high in the heavens, but thecottagers did not appear. I trembled violently, apprehendingsome dreadful misfortune. The inside of the cottage was dark,and I heard no motion; I cannot describe the agony of this suspense.
"Presently two countrymen passed by; but, pausing near thecottage, they entered into conversation, using violentgesticulations; but I did not understand what they said, asthey spoke the language of the country, which differed fromthat of my protectors. Soon after, however, Felix approachedwith another man: I was surprised, as I knew that he had notquitted the cottage that morning, and waited anxiously todiscover, from his discourse, the meaning of these unusualappearances.
"`Do you consider,' said his companion to him, `that you willbe obliged to pay three months' rent, and to lose the produceof your garden? I do not wish to take any unfair advantage, andI beg therefore that you will take some days to consider ofyour determination.'
"`It is utterly useless,' replied Felix; `we can never againinhabit your cottage. The life of my father is in the greatestdanger, owing to the dreadful circumstance that I have related. My wife and my sister will never recover their horror. I entreatyou not to reason with me any more. Take possession of yourtenement, and let me fly from this place.'
"Felix trembled violently as he said this. He and hiscompanion entered the cottage, in which they remained for a fewminutes, and then departed. I never saw any of the family ofDe Lacey more.
"I continued for the remainder of the day in my hovel in astate of utter and stupid despair. My protectors had departed,and had broken the only link that held me to the world. For the first time the feelings of revenge and hatred filled mybosom, and I did not strive to control them; but, allowingmyself to be borne away by the stream, I bent my mind towardsinjury and death. When I thought of my friends, of the mildvoice of De Lacey, the gentle eyes of Agatha, and the exquisitebeauty of the Arabian, these thoughts vanished, and a gush oftears somewhat soothed me. But again, when I reflected thatthey had spurned and deserted me, anger returned, a rage ofanger; and, unable to injure anything human, I turned myfury towards inanimate objects. As night advanced, I placed avariety of combustibles around the cottage; and, after havingdestroyed every vestige of cultivation in the garden, I waitedwith forced impatience until the moon had sunk to commence myoperations.
"As the night advanced, a fierce wind arose from the woods, andquickly dispersed the clouds that had loitered in the heavens:the blast tore along like a mighty avalanche, and produced akind of insanity in my spirits that burst all bounds of reasonand reflection. I lighted the dry branch of a tree, and dancedwith fury around the devoted cottage, my eyes still fixed onthe western horizon, the edge of which the moon nearly touched. A part of its orb was at length hid, and I waved my brand; itsunk, and, with a loud scream, I fired the straw, and heath,and bushes, which I had collected. The wind fanned the fire,and the cottage was quickly enveloped by the flames, whichclung to it, and licked it with their forked and destroying tongues.
"As soon as I was convinced that no assistance could save anypart of the habitation, I quitted the scene and sought forrefuge in the woods.
"And now, with the world before me, whither should I bend mysteps? I resolved to fly far from the scene of my misfortunes;but to me, hated and despised, every country must be equallyhorrible. At length the thought of you crossed my mind. I learned from your papers that you were my father, my creator;and to whom could I apply with more fitness than to him who hadgiven me life? Among the lessons that Felix had bestowed uponSafie, geography had not been omitted. I had learned fromthese the relative situations of the different countries ofthe earth. You had mentioned Geneva as the name of your nativetown; and towards this place I resolved to proceed.
"But how was I to direct myself? I knew that I must travel ina south westerly direction to reach my destination; but the sunwas my only guide. I did not know the names of the towns thatI was to pass through, nor could I ask information from asingle human being; but I did not despair. From you only couldI hope for succour, although towards you I felt no sentimentbut that of hatred. Unfeeling, heartless creator! you hadendowed me with perceptions and passions, and then cast meabroad an object for the scorn and horror of mankind. But onyou only had I any claim for pity and redress, and from you Idetermined to seek that justice which I vainly attempted togain from any other being that wore the human form.
"My travels were long, and the sufferings I endured intense. It was late in autumn when I quitted the district where I hadso long resided. I travelled only at night, fearful ofencountering the visage of a human being. Nature decayedaround me, and the sun became heatless; rain and snow pouredaround me; mighty rivers were frozen; the surface of the earthwas hard, and chill, and bare, and I found no shelter. Oh, earth!how often did I imprecate curses on the cause of my being! The mildness of my nature had fled, and all within me wasturned to gall and bitterness. The nearer I approached toyour habitation, the more deeply did I feel the spirit ofrevenge enkindled in my heart. Snow fell, and the waters werehardened; but I rested not. A few incidents now and thendirected me, and I possessed a map of the country; but I oftenwandered wide from my path. The agony of my feelings allowedme no respite: no incident occurred from which my rage andmisery could not extract its food; but a circumstance thathappened when I arrived on the confines of Switzerland, whenthe sun had recovered its warmth, and the earth again began tolook green, confirmed in an especial manner the bitterness andhorror of my feelings.
"I generally rested during the day, and travelled only when Iwas secured by night from the view of man. One morning,however, finding that my path lay through a deep wood, Iventured to continue my journey after the sun had risen; theday, which was one of the first of spring, cheered even me bythe loveliness of its sunshine and the balminess of the air. I felt emotions of gentleness and pleasure, that had longappeared dead, revive within me. Half surprised by the noveltyof these sensations, I allowed myself to be borne away by them;and, forgetting my solitude and deformity, dared to be happy. Soft tears again bedewed my cheeks, and I even raised my humideyes with thankfulness towards the blessed sun which bestowedsuch joy upon me.
"I continued to wind among the paths of the wood, until I cameto its boundary, which was skirted by a deep and rapid river,into which many of the trees bent their branches, now buddingwith the fresh spring. Here I paused, not exactly knowing whatpath to pursue, when I heard the sound of voices that inducedme to conceal myself under the shade of a cypress. I wasscarcely hid, when a young girl came running towards the spotwhere I was concealed, laughing, as if she ran from some onein sport. She continued her course along the precipitous sidesof the river, when suddenly her foot slipt, and she fell into therapid stream. I rushed from my hiding place; and, with extremelabour from the force of the current, saved her, and draggedher to shore. She was senseless; and I endeavoured by everymeans in my power to restore animation, when I was suddenlyinterrupted by the approach of a rustic, who was probably theperson from whom she had playfully fled. On seeing me, hedarted towards me, and tearing the girl from my arms, hastenedtowards the deeper parts of the wood. I followed speedily, Ihardly knew why; but when the man saw me draw near, he aimeda gun, which he carried, at my body, and fired. I sunk to theground, and my injurer, with increased swiftness, escaped intothe wood.
"This was then the reward of my benevolence! I had saved ahuman being from destruction, and, as a recompense, I nowwrithed under the miserable pain of a wound, which shatteredthe flesh and bone. The feelings of kindness and gentlenesswhich I had entertained but a few moments before gave place tohellish rage and gnashing of teeth. Inflamed by pain, I vowedeternal hatred and vengeance to all mankind. But the agony ofmy wound overcame me; my pulses paused, and I fainted.
"For some weeks I led a miserable life in the woods,endeavouring to cure the wound which I had received. The ballhad entered my shoulder, and I knew not whether it had remainedthere or passed through; at any rate I had no means ofextracting it. My sufferings were augmented also by theoppressive sense of the injustice and ingratitude of theirinfliction. My daily vows rose for revenge--a deep and deadlyrevenge, such as would alone compensate for the outrages andanguish I had endured.
"After some weeks my wound healed, and I continued my journey. The labours I endured were no longer to be alleviated by thebright sun or gentle breezes of spring; all joy was but amockery, which insulted my desolate state, and made me feelmore painfully that I was not made for the enjoyment of pleasure.
"But my toils now drew near a close; and in two months fromthis time I reached the environs of Geneva.
"It was evening when I arrived, and I retired to a hiding-placeamong the fields that surround it, to meditate in what mannerI should apply to you. I was oppressed by fatigue and hunger,and far too unhappy to enjoy the gentle breezes of evening, orthe prospect of the sun setting behind the stupendous mountainsof Jura.
"At this time a slight sleep relieved me from the pain ofreflection, which was disturbed by the approach of a beautifulchild, who came running into the recess I had chosen, with allthe sportiveness of infancy. Suddenly, as I gazed on him, anidea seized me, that this little creature was unprejudiced, andhad lived too short a time to have imbibed a horror of deformity. If, therefore, I could seize him, and educate him as my companionand friend, I should not be so desolate in this peopled earth.
"Urged by this impulse, I seized on the boy as he passed anddrew him towards me. As soon as he beheld my form, he placedhis hands before his eyes and uttered a shrill scream: I drewhis hand forcibly from his face, and said, `Child, what is themeaning of this? I do not intend to hurt you; listen to me.'
"He struggled violently. `Let me go,' he cried; `monster! uglywretch! you wish to eat me, and tear me to pieces--You are anogre--Let me go, or I will tell 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--he will punish you. You dare not keep me.'
"`Frankenstein! you belong then to my enemy--to him towardswhom I have sworn eternal revenge; you shall be my first victim.'
"The child still struggled, and loaded me with epithets whichcarried despair to my heart; I grasped his throat to silencehim, and in a moment he lay dead at my feet.
"I gazed on my victim, and my heart swelled with exultation andhellish triumph: clapping my hands, I exclaimed, `I, too, cancreate desolation; my enemy is not invulnerable; this deathwill carry despair to him, and a thousand other miseries shalltorment and destroy him.'
"As I fixed my eyes on the child, I saw something glittering onhis breast. I took it; it was a portrait of a most lovely woman. In spite of my malignity, it softened and attracted me. For afew moments I gazed with delight on her dark eyes, fringedby deep lashes, and her lovely lips; but presently my ragereturned: I remembered that I was for ever deprived of thedelights that such beautiful creatures could bestow; and thatshe whose resemblance I contemplated would, in regarding me,have changed that air of divine benignity to one expressive ofdisgust and affright.
"Can you wonder that such thoughts transported me with rage? I only wonder that at that moment, instead of venting mysensations in exclamations and agony, I did not rush amongmankind and perish in the attempt to destroy them.
"While I was overcome by these feelings, I left the spotwhere I had committed the murder, and seeking a more secludedhiding-place, I entered a barn which had appeared to me tobe empty. A woman was sleeping on some straw; she was young:not indeed so beautiful as her whose portrait I held; but of anagreeable aspect, and blooming in the loveliness of youth andhealth. Here, I thought, is one of those whose joy-impartingsmiles are bestowed on all but me. And then I bent over her,and whispered, `Awake, fairest, thy lover is near--he whowould give his life but to obtain one look of affection fromthine eyes: my beloved, awake!'
"The sleeper stirred; a thrill of terror ran through me. Should she indeed awake, and see me, and curse me, and denouncethe murderer? Thus would she assuredly act, if her darkenedeyes opened and she beheld me. The thought was madness; itstirred the fiend within me--not I, but she shall suffer: themurder I have committed because I am for ever robbed of allthat she could give me, she shall atone. The crime had itssource in her: be hers the punishment! Thanks to the lessons ofFelix and the sanguinary laws of man, I had learned now to workmischief. I bent over her, and placed the portrait securely inone of the folds of her dress. She moved again, and I fled.
"For some days I haunted the spot where these scenes had takenplace; sometimes wishing to see you, sometimes resolved to quitthe world and its miseries for ever. At length I wanderedtowards these mountains, and have ranged through their immenserecesses, consumed by a burning passion which you alone cangratify. We may not part until you have promised to complywith my requisition. I am alone, and miserable; man will notassociate with me; but one as deformed and horrible as myselfwould not deny herself to me. My companion must be of the samespecies, and have the same defects. This being you must create."