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My present situation was one in which all voluntary thought wasswallowed up and lost. I was hurried away by fury; revengealone endowed me with strength and composure; it moulded myfeelings, and allowed me to be calculating and calm, at periodswhen otherwise delirium or death would have been my portion.

My first resolution was to quit Geneva for ever; my country,which, when I was happy and beloved, was dear to me, now, in myadversity, became hateful. I provided myself with a sum ofmoney, together with a few jewels which had belonged to mymother, and departed.

And now my wanderings began, which are to cease but with life. I have traversed a vast portion of the earth, and have enduredall the hardships which travellers, in deserts and barbarouscountries, are wont to meet. How I have lived I hardly know;many times have I stretched my failing limbs upon the sandyplain and prayed for death. But revenge kept me alive; I darednot die and leave my adversary in being.

When I quitted Geneva my first labour was to gain some clue bywhich I might trace the steps of my fiendish enemy. But myplan was unsettled; and I wandered many hours round theconfines of the town, uncertain what path I should pursue. As night approached, I found myself at the entrance of thecemetery where William, Elizabeth, and my father reposed. I entered it and approached the tomb which marked their graves. Everything was silent, except the leaves of the trees, whichwere gently agitated by the wind; the night was nearly dark;and the scene would have been solemn and affecting even to anuninterested observer. The spirits of the departed seemed toflit around and to cast a shadow, which was felt but not seen,around the head of the mourner.

The deep grief which this scene had at first excited quicklygave way to rage and despair. They were dead, and I lived;their murderer also lived, and to destroy him I must drag outmy weary existence. I knelt on the grass and kissed the earth,and with quivering lips exclaimed, "By the sacred earth onwhich I kneel, by the shades that wander near me, by the deepand eternal grief that I feel, I swear; and by thee, O Night,and the spirits that preside over thee, to pursue the daemonwho caused this misery until he or I shall perish in mortalconflict. For this purpose I will preserve my life: to executethis dear revenge will I again behold the sun and tread thegreen herbage of earth, which otherwise should vanish from myeyes for ever. And I call on you, spirits of the dead; and onyou, wandering ministers of vengeance, to aid and conduct me inmy work. Let the cursed and hellish monster drink deep ofagony; let him feel the despair that now torments me."

I had begun my abjuration with solemnity and an awe whichalmost assured me that the shades of my murdered friends heardand approved my devotion; but the furies possessed me as Iconcluded, and rage choked my utterance.

I was answered through the stillness of night by a loud andfiendish laugh. It rung on my ears long and heavily; themountains re-echoed it, and I felt as if all hell surrounded mewith mockery and laughter. Surely in that moment I should havebeen possessed by frenzy, and have destroyed my miserableexistence, but that my vow was heard and that I was reservedfor vengeance. The laughter died away; when a well-known andabhorred voice, apparently close to my ear, addressed me in anaudible whisper--"I am satisfied: miserable wretch! you havedetermined to live, and I am satisfied."

I darted towards the spot from which the sound proceeded; butthe devil eluded my grasp. Suddenly the broad disk of the moonarose and shone full upon his ghastly and distorted shape as hefled with more than mortal speed.

I pursued him; and for many months this has been my task. Guided by a slight clue I followed the windings of the Rhone,but vainly. The blue Mediterranean appeared; and, by a strangechance, I saw the fiend enter by night and hide himself in avessel bound for the Black Sea. I took my passage in the sameship; but he escaped, I know not how.

Amidst the wilds of Tartary and Russia, although he stillevaded me, I have ever followed in his track. Sometimes thepeasants, scared by this horrid apparition, informed me of hispath; sometimes he himself, who feared that if I lost all traceof him I should despair and die, left some mark to guide me. The snows descended on my head, and I saw the print of his hugestep on the white plain. To you first entering on life, towhom care is new and agony unknown, how can you understand whatI have felt and still feel? Cold, want, and fatigue were theleast pains which I was destined to endure; I was cursed bysome devil, and carried about with me my eternal hell; yetstill a spirit of good followed and directed my steps; and,when I most murmured, would suddenly extricate me fromseemingly insurmountable difficulties. Sometimes, when nature,overcome by hunger, sunk under the exhaustion, a repast wasprepared for me in the desert that restored and inspirited me. The fare was, indeed, coarse, such as the peasants of thecountry ate; but I will not doubt that it was set there by thespirits that I had invoked to aid me. Often, when all was dry,the heavens cloudless, and I was parched by thirst, a slightcloud would bedim the sky, shed the few drops that revived me,and vanish.

I followed, when I could, the courses of the rivers; but thedaemon generally avoided these, as it was here that thepopulation of the country chiefly collected. In other placeshuman beings were seldom seen; and I generally subsisted on thewild animals that crossed my path. I had money with me, andgained the friendship of the villagers by distributing it; orI brought with me some food that I had killed, which, aftertaking a small part, I always presented to those who hadprovided me with fire and utensils for cooking.

My life, as it passed thus, was indeed hateful to me, and itwas during sleep alone that I could taste joy. O blessedsleep! often, when most miserable, I sank to repose, and mydreams lulled me even to rapture. The spirits that guarded mehad provided these moments, or rather hours, of happiness, thatI might retain strength to fulfil my pilgrimage. Deprived ofthis respite, I should have sunk under my hardships. Duringthe day I was sustained and inspirited by the hope of night:for in sleep I saw my friends, my wife, and my beloved country;again I saw the benevolent countenance of my father, heard thesilver tones of my Elizabeth's voice, and beheld Clervalenjoying health and youth. Often, when wearied by a toilsomemarch, I persuaded myself that I was dreaming until nightshould come, and that I should then enjoy reality in the armsof my dearest friends. What agonising fondness did I feel forthem! how did I cling to their dear forms, as sometimes theyhaunted even my waking hours, and persuade myself that theystill lived! At such moments vengeance, that burned within me,died in my heart, and I pursued my path towards the destructionof the daemon more as a task enjoined by heaven, as themechanical impulse of some power of which I was unconscious,than as the ardent desire of my soul.

What his feelings were whom I pursued I cannot know. Sometimes, indeed, he left marks in writing on the barks of thetrees, or cut in stone, that guided me and instigated my fury. "My reign is not yet over" (these words were legible in oneof these inscriptions); "you live, and my power is complete. Fellow me; I seek the everlasting ices of the north, where youwill feel the misery of cold and frost to which I am impassive. You will find near this place, if you follow not too tardily,a dead hare; eat and be refreshed. Come on, my enemy; wehave yet to wrestle for our lives; but many hard and miserablehours must you endure until that period shall arrive."

Scoffing devil! Again do I vow vengeance; again do I devotethee, miserable fiend, to torture and death. Never will I giveup my search until he or I perish; and then with what ecstasyshall I join my Elizabeth and my departed friends, who even nowprepare for me the reward of my tedious toil and horrible pilgrimage!

As I still pursued my journey to the northward, the snowsthickened and the cold increased in a degree almost too severeto support. The peasants were shut up in their hovels, andonly a few of the most hardy ventured forth to seize theanimals whom starvation had forced from their hiding places toseek for prey. The rivers were covered with ice and no fishcould be procured; and thus I was cut off from my chief articleof maintenance.

The triumph of my enemy increased with the difficulty of mylabours. One inscription that he left was in thesewords:--"Prepare! your toils only begin: wrap yourself in fursand provide food; for we shall soon enter upon a journey whereyour sufferings will satisfy my everlasting hatred."

My courage and perseverance were invigorated by these scoffingwords; I resolved not to fail in my purpose; and, calling onHeaven to support me, I continued with unabated fervour totraverse immense deserts until the ocean appeared at a distanceand formed the utmost boundary of the horizon. Oh! how unlikeit was to the blue seas of the south! Covered with ice, it wasonly to be distinguished from land by its superior wildnessand ruggedness. The Greeks wept for joy when they beheld theMediterranean from the hills of Asia, and hailed with rapturethe boundary of their toils. I did not weep; but I knelt downand, with a full heart, thanked my guiding spirit forconducting me in safety to the place where I hoped,notwithstanding my adversary's gibe, to meet and grapple with him.

Some weeks before this period I had procured a sledge and dogs,and thus traversed the snows with inconceivable speed. I knownot whether the fiend possessed the same advantages; but Ifound that, as before I had daily lost ground in the pursuit,I now gained on him: so much so that, when I first saw theocean, he was but one day's journey in advance, and I hoped tointercept him before he should reach the beach. With newcourage, therefore, I pressed on, and in two days arrived at awretched hamlet on the sea-shore. I inquired of theinhabitants concerning the fiend, and gained accurateinformation. A gigantic monster, they said, had arrived thenight before, armed with a gun and many pistols, putting toflight the inhabitants of a solitary cottage through fear ofhis terrific appearance. He had carried off their store ofwinter food, and placing it in a sledge, to draw which he hadseized on a numerous drove of trained dogs, he had harnessedthem, and the same night, to the joy of the horror-struckvillagers, had pursued his journey across the sea in adirection that led to no land; and they conjectured that hemust speedily be destroyed by the breaking of the ice or frozenby the eternal frosts.

On hearing this information, I suffered a temporary access ofdespair. He had escaped me; and I must commence a destructiveand almost endless journey across the mountainous ices of theocean--amidst cold that few of the inhabitants could longendure, and which I, the native of a genial and sunny climate,could not hope to survive. Yet at the idea that the fiendshould live and be triumphant, my rage and vengeance returned,and, like a mighty tide, overwhelmed every other feeling. After a slight repose, during which the spirits of the deadhovered round and instigated me to toil and revenge, I preparedfor my journey.

I exchanged my land-sledge for one fashioned for theinequalities of the Frozen Ocean; and purchasing a plentifulstock of provisions, I departed from land.

I cannot guess how many days have passed since then; but I haveendured misery which nothing but the eternal sentiment of ajust retribution burning within my heart could have enabled meto support. Immense and rugged mountains of ice often barredup my passage, and I often heard the thunder of the ground seawhich threatened my destruction. But again the frost came andmade the paths of the sea secure.

By the quantity of provision which I had consumed, I shouldguess that I had passed three weeks in this journey; and thecontinual protraction of hope, returning back upon the heart,often wrung bitter drops of despondency and grief from my eyes. Despair had indeed almost secured her prey, and I should soonhave sunk beneath this misery. Once, after the poor animalsthat conveyed me had with incredible toil gained the summit ofa sloping ice mountain, and one, sinking under his fatigue,died, I viewed the expanse before me with anguish, whensuddenly my eye caught a dark speck upon the dusky plain. I strained my sight to discover what it could be, and uttereda wild cry of ecstasy when I distinguished a sledge and thedistorted proportions of a well known form within. Oh! withwhat a burning gush did hope revisit my heart! warm tearsfilled my eyes, which I hastily wiped away that they might notintercept the view I had of the daemon; but still my sight wasdimmed by the burning drops until, giving way to the emotionsthat oppressed me, I wept aloud.

But this was not the time for delay: I disencumbered the dogsof their dead companion, gave them a plentiful portion of food;and, after an hour's rest, which was absolutely necessary, andyet which was bitterly irksome to me, I continued my route. The sledge was still visible; nor did I again lose sight of itexcept at the moments when for a short time some ice-rockconcealed it with its intervening crags. I indeed perceptiblygained on it; and when, after nearly two days' journey, Ibeheld my enemy at no more than a mile distant, my heartbounded within me.

But now, when I appeared almost within grasp of my foe, myhopes were suddenly extinguished, and I lost all trace of himmore utterly than I had ever done before. A ground sea washeard; the thunder of its progress, as the waters rolled andswelled beneath me, became every moment more ominous andterrific. I pressed on, but in vain. The wind arose; the searoared; and, as with the mighty shock of an earthquake, itsplit and cracked with a tremendous and overwhelming sound. The work was soon finished: in a few minutes a tumultuous searolled between me and my enemy, and I was left drifting on ascattered piece of ice, that was continually lessening, andthus preparing for me a hideous death.

In this manner many appalling hours passed; several of my dogsdied; and I myself was about to sink under the accumulation ofdistress when I saw your vessel riding at anchor, and holdingforth to me hopes of succour and life. I had no conceptionthat vessels ever came so far north, and was astounded at thesight. I quickly destroyed part of my sledge to constructoars; and by these means was enabled, with infinite fatigue, tomove my ice-raft in the direction of your ship. I haddetermined, if you were going southward, still to trust myselfto the mercy of the seas rather than abandon my purpose. I hoped to induce you to grant me a boat with which I couldpursue my enemy. But your direction was northward. You tookme on board when my vigour was exhausted, and I should soonhave sunk under my multiplied hardships into a death which Istill dread--for my task is unfulfilled.

Oh! when will my guiding spirit, in conducting me to thedaemon, allow me the rest I so much desire; or must I die andhe yet live? If I do, swear to me, Walton, that he shall notescape; that you will seek him and satisfy my vengeance in hisdeath. And do I dare to ask of you to undertake my pilgrimage,to endure the hardships that I have undergone? No; I am notso selfish. Yet, when I am dead, if he should appear; if theministers of vengeance should conduct him to you, swear that heshall not live--swear that he shall not triumph over myaccumulated woes, and survive to add to the list of his darkcrimes. He is eloquent and persuasive; and once his words hadeven power over my heart: but trust him not. His soul is ashellish as his form, full of treachery and fiendlike malice. Hear him not; call on the names of William, Justine, Clerval,Elizabeth, my father, and of the wretched Victor, and thrustyour sword into his heart. I will hover near and direct thesteel aright.

 

WALTON, _in continuation_ _August 26th, 17--._

You have read this strange and terrific story, Margaret; and doyou not feel your blood congeal with horror like that whicheven now curdles mine? Sometimes, seized with sudden agony, hecould not continue his tale; at others, his voice broken, yetpiercing, uttered with difficulty the words so replete withanguish. His fine and lovely eyes were now lighted up withindignation, now subdued to downcast sorrow, and quenched ininfinite wretchedness. Sometimes he commanded his countenanceand tones, and related the most horrible incidents with atranquil voice, suppressing every mark of agitation; then, likea volcano bursting forth, his face would suddenly change to anexpression of the wildest rage, as he shrieked out imprecationson his persecutor.

His tale is connected, and told with an appearance of thesimplest truth; yet I own to you that the letters of Felix andSafie, which he showed me, and the apparition of the monsterseen from our ship, brought to me a greater conviction of thetruth of his narrative than his asseverations, however earnestand connected. Such a monster has then really existence! Icannot doubt it; yet I am lost in surprise and admiration. Sometimes I endeavoured to gain from Frankenstein theparticulars of his creature's formation: but on this point hewas impenetrable.

"Are you mad, my friend?" said he; "or whither does yoursenseless curiosity lead you? Would you also create foryourself and the world a demoniacal enemy? Peace, peace! learnmy miseries, and do not seek to increase your own."

Frankenstein discovered that I made notes concerning hishistory: he asked to see them, and then himself corrected andaugmented them in many places; but principally in giving thelife and spirit to the conversations he held with his enemy. "Since you have preserved my narration," said he, "I would notthat a mutilated one should go down to posterity."

Thus has a week passed away, while I have listened to thestrangest tale that ever imagination formed. My thoughts, andevery feeling of my soul, have been drunk up by the interestfor my guest, which this tale, and his own elevated and gentlemanners, have created. I wish to soothe him; yet can I counselone so infinitely miserable, so destitute of every hope ofconsolation, to live? Oh, no! the only joy that he can now knowwill be when he composes his shattered spirit to peace anddeath. Yet he enjoys one comfort, the offspring of solitudeand delirium: he believes that, when in dreams he holdsconverse with his friends and derives from that communionconsolation for his miseries or excitements to his vengeance,they are not the creations of his fancy, but the beingsthemselves who visit him from the regions of a remote world. This faith gives a solemnity to his reveries that render themto me almost as imposing and interesting as truth.

Our conversations are not always confined to his own historyand misfortunes. On every point of general literature hedisplays unbounded knowledge and a quick and piercingapprehension. His eloquence is forcible and touching; nor canI hear him, when he relates a pathetic incident, or endeavoursto move the passions of pity or love, without tears. What aglorious creature must he have been in the days of hisprosperity when he is thus noble and godlike in ruin! He seemsto feel his own worth and the greatness of his fall.

"When younger," said he, "I believed myself destined for somegreat enterprise. My feelings are profound; but I possessed acoolness of judgment that fitted me for illustriousachievements. This sentiment of the worth of my naturesupported me when others would have been oppressed; for Ideemed it criminal to throw away in useless grief those talentsthat might be useful to my fellow-creatures. When I reflectedon the work I had completed, no less a one than the creation ofa sensitive and rational animal, I could not rank myself withthe herd of common projectors. But this thought, whichsupported me in the commencement of my career, now serves onlyto plunge me lower in the dust. All my speculations and hopesare as nothing; and, like the archangel who aspired toomnipotence, I am chained in an eternal hell. My imaginationwas vivid, yet my powers of analysis and application wereintense; by the union of these qualities I conceived the ideaand executed the creation of a man. Even now I cannotrecollect without passion my reveries while the work wasincomplete. I trod heaven in my thoughts, now exulting in mypowers, now burning with the idea of their effects. From myinfancy I was imbued with high hopes and a lofty ambition; buthow am I sunk! Oh! my friend, if you had known me as I once wasyou would not recognise me in this state of degradation. Despondency rarely visited my heart; a high destiny seemed tobear me on until I fell, never, never again to rise.

"Must I then lose this admirable being? I have longed for afriend; I have sought one who would sympathise with and love me. Behold, on these desert seas I have found such a one; butI fear I have gained him only to know his value and lose him. I would reconcile him to life, but he repulses the idea.

"I thank you, Walton," he said, "for your kind intentionstowards so miserable a wretch; but when you speak of new tiesand fresh affections, think you that any can replace those whoare gone? Can any man be to me as Clerval was; or any womananother Elizabeth? Even, where the affections are not stronglymoved by any superior excellence, the companions of ourchildhood always possess a certain power over our minds whichhardly any later friend can obtain. They know our infantinedispositions, which, however they may be afterwards modified,are never eradicated; and they can judge of our actions withmore certain conclusions as to the integrity of our motives. A sister or a brother can never, unless indeed such symptomshave been shown early, suspect the other of fraud or falsedealing, when another friend, however strongly he may beattached, may, in spite of himself, be contemplated withsuspicion. But I enjoyed friends, dear not only through habitand association, but from their own merits; and wherever I amthe soothing voice of my Elizabeth and the conversation ofClerval will be ever whispered in my ear. They are dead, andbut one feeing in such a solitude can persuade me to preservemy life. If I were engaged in any high undertaking or design,fraught with extensive utility to my fellow-creatures, thencould I live to fulfil it. But such is not my destiny; Imust pursue and destroy the being to whom I gave existence;then my lot on earth will be fulfilled, and I may die."

 

_September 2nd._

MY BELOVED SISTER,--I write to you encompassed by peril andignorant whether I am ever doomed to see again dear England,and the dearer friends that inhabit it. I am surrounded bymountains of ice which admit of no escape and threaten everymoment to crush my vessel. The brave fellows whom I havepersuaded to be my companions look towards me for aid; but Ihave none to bestow. There is something terribly appalling inour situation, yet my courage and hopes do not desert me. Yet itis terrible to reflect that the lives of all these men areendangered through me. If we are lost, my mad schemes are the cause.

And what, Margaret, will be the state of your mind? You willnot hear of my destruction, and you will anxiously await myreturn. Years will pass, and you will have visitings ofdespair, and yet be tortured by hope. Oh! my beloved sister,the sickening failing of your heart felt expectations is, inprospect, more terrible to me than my own death. But you havea husband and lovely children; you may be happy: Heaven blessyou and make you so!

My unfortunate guest regards me with the tenderest compassion. He endeavours to fill me with hope; and talks as if life werea possession which he valued. He reminds me how often the sameaccidents have happened to other navigators who have attemptedthis sea, and, in spite of myself, he fills me with cheerfulauguries. Even the sailors feel the power of his eloquence:when he speaks they no longer despair; he rouses their energiesand, while they hear his voice, they believe these vastmountains of ice are mole-hills which will vanish before theresolutions of man. These feelings are transitory; each day ofexpectation delayed fills them with fear, and I almost dread amutiny caused by this despair.

 

_September 5th._

A scene has just passed of such uncommon interest that althoughit is highly probable that these papers may never reach you,yet I cannot forbear recording it.

We are still surrounded by mountains of ice, still in imminentdanger of being crushed in their conflict. The cold isexcessive, and many of my unfortunate comrades have alreadyfound a grave amidst this scene of desolation. Frankensteinhas daily declined in health: a feverish fire still glimmers inhis eyes; but he is exhausted, and when suddenly roused to anyexertion he speedily sinks again into apparent lifelessness.

I mentioned in my last letter the fears I entertained of amutiny. This morning, as I sat watching the wan countenance ofmy friend--his eyes half closed, and his limbs hanginglistlessly--I was roused by half a dozen of the sailors whodemanded admission into the cabin. They entered, and theirleader addressed me. He told me that he and his companions hadbeen chosen by the other sailors to come in deputation to me,to make me a requisition which, in justice, I could not refuse. We were immured in ice and should probably never escape; butthey feared that if, as was possible, the ice should dissipate,and a free passage be opened, I should be rash enough tocontinue my voyage and lead them into fresh dangers after theymight happily have surmounted this. They insisted, therefore,that I should engage with a solemn promise that if the vesselshould be freed I would instantly direct my course southward.

This speech troubled me. I had not despaired; nor had I yetconceived the idea of returning if set free. Yet could I, injustice, or even in possibility, refuse this demand? Ihesitated before I answered; when Frankenstein, who had atfirst been silent, and, indeed, appeared hardly to have forceenough to attend, now roused himself; his eyes sparkled, andhis cheeks flushed with momentary vigour. Turning towards themen he said--

"What do you mean? What do you demand of your captain? Are you then so easily turned from your design? Did you notcall this a glorious expedition? And wherefore was it glorious? Not because the way was smooth and placid as a southern sea,but because it was full of dangers and terror; because at everynew incident your fortitude was to be called forth and yourcourage exhibited; because danger and death surrounded it, andthese you were to brave and overcome. For this was it a glorious,for this was it an honourable undertaking. You were hereafter tobe hailed as the benefactors of your species; your names adoredas belonging to brave men who encountered death for honour andthe benefit of mankind. And now, behold, with the firstimagination of danger, or, if you will, the first mighty andterrific trial of your courage, you shrink away, and arecontent to be handed down as men who had not strength enough toendure cold and peril; and so, poor souls, they were chilly andreturned to their warm firesides. Why that requires not thispreparation; ye need not have come thus far, and dragged yourcaptain to the shame of a defeat, merely to prove yourselvescowards. Oh! be men, or be more than men. Be steady to yourpurposes and firm as a rock. This ice is not made of suchstuff as your hearts may be; it is mutable and cannot withstandyou if you say that it shall not. Do not return to yourfamilies with the stigma of disgrace marked on your brows. Return as heroes who have fought and conquered, and who knownot what it is to turn their backs on the foe."

He spoke this with a voice so modulated to the differentfeelings expressed in his speech, with an eye so full of loftydesign and heroism, that can you wonder that these men weremoved? They looked at one another and were unable to reply. I spoke; I told them to retire and consider of what had beensaid: that I would not lead them farther north if theystrenuously desired the contrary; but that I hoped that, withreflection, their courage would return.

They retired, and I turned towards my friend; but he was sunkin languor and almost deprived of life.

How all this will terminate I know not; but I had rather diethan return shamefully--my purpose unfulfilled. Yet I fearsuch will be my fate; the men, unsupported by ideas of gloryand honour, can never willingly continue to endure theirpresent hardships.

 

_September 7th._

The die is cast; I have consented to return if we are notdestroyed. Thus are my hopes blasted by cowardice andindecision; I come back ignorant and disappointed. It requiresmore philosophy than I possess to bear this injustice with patience.

 

_Septmber 12th._

It is past; I am returning to England. I have lost my hopes ofutility and glory;--I have lost my friend. But I willendeavour to detail these bitter circumstances to you, my dearsister; and while I am wafted towards England, and towardsyou, I will not despond.

September 9th, the ice began to move, and roarings like thunderwere heard at a distance as the islands split and cracked inevery direction. We were in the most imminent peril; but, aswe could only remain passive, my chief attention was occupiedby my unfortunate guest, whose illness increased in such adegree that he was entirely confined to his bed. The icecracked behind us, and was driven with force towards the north;a breeze sprung from the west, and on the 11th the passagetowards the south became perfectly free. When the sailors sawthis, and that their return to their native country wasapparently assured, a shout of tumultuous joy broke from them,loud and long-continued. Frankenstein, who was dozing, awokeand asked the cause of the tumult. "They shout," I said,"because they will soon return to England."

"Do you then really return?"

"Alas! yes; I cannot withstand their demands. I cannot leadthem unwillingly to danger, and I must return."

"Do so, if you will; but I will not. You may give up yourpurpose, but mine is assigned to me by Heaven, and I dare not. I am weak; but surely the spirits who assist my vengeance willendow me with sufficient strength." Saying this, he endeavouredto spring from the bed, but the exertion was too great for him;he fell back and fainted.

It was long before he was restored; and I often thought thatlife was entirely extinct. At length he opened his eyes; hebreathed with difficulty, and was unable to speak. The surgeongave him a composing draught and ordered us to leave himundisturbed. In the meantime he told me that my friend hadcertainly not many hours to live.

His sentence was pronounced, and I could only grieve and bepatient. I sat by his bed watching him; his eyes were closed,and I thought he slept; but presently he called to me in afeeble voice, and, bidding me come near, said--"Alas! thestrength I relied on is gone; I feel that I shall soon die, andhe, my enemy and persecutor, may still be in being. Think not,Walton, that in the last moments of my existence I feel thatburning hatred and ardent desire of revenge I once expressed;but I feel myself justified in desiring the death of myadversary. During these last days I have been occupied inexamining my past conduct; nor do I find it blamable. In a fitof enthusiastic madness I created a rational creature, and wasbound towards him, to assure, as far as was in my power, hishappiness and well-being. This was my duty; but there wasanother still paramount to that. My duties towards the beingsof my own species had greater claims to my attention, becausethey included a greater proportion of happiness or misery. Urged by this view, I refused, and I did right in refusing, tocreate a companion for the first creature. He showedunparalleled malignity and selfishness, in evil: he destroyedmy friends; he devoted to destruction beings who possessedexquisite sensations, happiness, and wisdom; nor do I knowwhere this thirst for vengeance may end. Miserable himself,that he may render no other wretched he ought to die. The taskof his destruction was mine, but I have failed. When actuatedby selfish and vicious motives I asked you to undertake myunfinished work; and I renew this request now when I am onlyinduced by reason and virtue.

"Yet I cannot ask you to renounce your country and friends tofulfil this task; and now that you are returning to England youwill have little chance of meeting with him. But theconsideration of these points, and the well balancing of whatyou may esteem your duties, I leave to you; my judgment andideas are already disturbed by the near approach of death. I dare not ask you to do what I think right, for I may still bemisled by passion.

"That he should live to be an instrument of mischief disturbsme; in other respects, this hour, when I momentarily expect myrelease, is the only happy one which I have enjoyed for severalyears. The forms of the beloved dead flit before me and Ihasten to their arms. Farewell, Walton! Seek happiness intranquillity and avoid ambition, even if it be only theapparently innocent one of distinguishing yourself in scienceand discoveries. Yet why do I say this? I have myself beenblasted in these hopes, yet another may succeed."

His voice became fainter as he spoke; and at length, exhaustedby his effort, he sunk into silence. About half an hourafterwards he attempted again to speak, but was unable; hepressed my hand feebly, and his eyes closed for ever, while theirradiation of a gentle smile passed away from his lips.

Margaret, what comment can I make on the untimely extinction ofthis glorious spirit? What can I say that will enable you tounderstand the depth of my sorrow? All that I should expresswould be inadequate and feeble. My tears flow; my mind isovershadowed by a cloud of disappointment. But I journeytowards England, and I may there find consolation.

I am interrupted. What do these sounds portend? It ismidnight; the breeze blows fairly, and the watch on deckscarcely stir. Again; there is a sound as of a human voice,but hoarser; it comes from the cabin where the remains ofFrankenstein still lie. I must arise and examine. Good night,my sister.

Great God! what a scene has just taken place! I am yet dizzywith the remembrance of it. I hardly know whether I shall havethe power to detail it; yet the tale which I have recordedwould be incomplete without this final and wonderful catastrophe.

I entered the cabin where lay the remains of my ill-fated andadmirable friend. Over him hung a form which I cannot findwords to describe; gigantic in stature, yet uncouth anddistorted in its proportions. As he hung over the coffin hisface was concealed by long locks of ragged hair; but one vasthand was extended, in colour and apparent texture like that ofa mummy. When he heard the sound of my approach he ceased toutter exclamations of grief and horror and sprung towards thewindow. Never did I behold a vision so horrible as his face,of such loathsome yet appalling hideousness. I shut my eyesinvoluntarily and endeavoured to recollect what were my dutieswith regard to this destroyer. I called on him to stay.

He paused, looking on me with wonder; and, again turningtowards the lifeless form of his creator, he seemed to forgetmy presence, and every feature and gesture seemed instigated bythe wildest rage of some uncontrollable passion.

"That is also my victim!" he exclaimed: "in his murder mycrimes are consummated; the miserable series of my being iswound to its close! Oh, Frankenstein! generous and self-devotedbeing! what does it avail that I now ask thee to pardon me? I, who irretrievably destroyed thee by destroying all thoulovedst. Alas! he is cold, he cannot answer me."

His voice seemed suffocated; and my first impulses, which hadsuggested to me the duty of obeying the dying request of myfriend, in destroying his enemy, were now suspended by amixture of curiosity and compassion. I approached thistremendous being; I dared not again raise my eyes to his face,there was something so scaring and unearthly in his ugliness. I attempted to speak, but the words died away on my lips. The monster continued to utter wild and incoherent self-reproaches. At length I gathered resolution to address him in a pause ofthe tempest of his passion: "Your repentance," I said, "is nowsuperfluous. If you had listened to the voice of conscience,and heeded the stings of remorse, before you had urged yourdiabolical vengeance to this extremity, Frankenstein would yethave lived.

"And do you dream?" said the damon; "do you think that I wasthen dead to agony and remorse?--He," he continued, pointing tothe corpse, "he suffered not in the consummation of thedeed--oh! not the ten-thousandth portion of the anguish thatwas mine during the lingering detail of its execution. A frightful selfishness hurried me on, while my heart waspoisoned with remorse. Think you that the groans of Clervalwere music to my ears? My heart was fashioned to be susceptibleof love and sympathy; and when wrenched by misery to viceand hatred it did not endure the violence of the change withouttone such as you cannot even imagine.

"After the murder of Clerval I returned to Switzerlandheart-broken and overcome. I pitied Frankenstein; my pityamounted to horror: I abhorred myself. But when I discoveredthat he, the author at once of my existence and of itsunspeakable torments, dared to hope for happiness; thatwhile he accumulated wretchedness and despair upon me he soughthis own enjoyment in feelings and passions from the indulgenceof which I was for ever barred, then impotent envy and bitterindignation filled me with an insatiable thirst for vengeance. I recollected my threat and resolved that it should beaccomplished. I knew that I was preparing for myself a deadlytorture; but I was the slave, not the master, of an impulsewhich I detested, yet could not disobey. Yet when shedied!--nay, then I was not miserable. I had cast off allfeeling, subdued all anguish, to riot in the excess of mydespair. Evil thenceforth became my good. Urged thus far, Ihad no choice but to adapt my nature to an element which I hadwillingly chosen. The completion of my demoniacal designbecame an insatiable passion. And now it is ended; there is mylast victim!"

I was at first touched by the expressions of his misery; yet,when I called to mind what Frankenstein had said of his powersof eloquence and persuasion, and when I again cast my eyes onthe lifeless form of my friend, indignation was rekindledwithin me. "Wretch!" I said, "it is well that you come here towhine over the desolation that you have made. You throw atorch into a pile of buildings; and when they are consumed yousit among the ruins and lament the fall. Hypocritical fiend!if he whom you mourn still lived, still would he be the object,again would he become the prey, of your accursed vengeance. It is not pity that you feel; you lament only because the victimof your malignity is withdrawn from your power."

"Oh, it is not thus--not thus," interrupted the being; "yetsuch must be the impression conveyed to you by what appears tobe the purport of my actions. Yet I seek not a fellow-feelingin my misery. No sympathy may I ever find. When I firstsought it, it was the love of virtue, the feelings of happinessand affection with which my whole being overflowed, that Iwished to be participated. But now that virtue has become tome a shadow and that happiness and affection are turned intobitter and loathing despair, in what should I seek forsympathy? I am content to suffer alone while my sufferingsshall endure: when I die, I am well satisfied that abhorrenceand opprobrium should load my memory. Once my fancy wassoothed with dreams of virtue, of fame, and of enjoyment. Once I falsely hoped to meet with beings who, pardoning myoutward form, would love me for the excellent qualities whichI was capable of unfolding. I was nourished with high thoughtsof honour and devotion. But now crime has degraded me beneaththe meanest animal. No guilt, no mischief, no malignity, nomisery, can be found comparable to mine. When I run over thefrightful catalogue of my sins, I cannot believe that I am thesame creature whose thoughts were once filled with sublime andtranscendent visions of the beauty and the majesty of goodness. But it is even so; the fallen angel becomes a malignant devil. Yet even that enemy of God and man had friends and associatesin his desolation; I am alone.

"You, who call Frankenstein your friend, seem to have aknowledge of my crimes and his misfortunes. But in the detailwhich he gave you of them he could not sum up the hours andmonths of misery which I endured, wasting in impotent passions. For while I destroyed his hopes, I did not satisfy my owndesires. They were for ever ardent and craving; still Idesired love and fellowship, and I was still spurned. Wasthere no injustice in this? Am I to be thought the onlycriminal when all human kind sinned against me? Why do you nothate Felix who drove his friend from his door with contumely?Why do you not execrate the rustic who sought to destroy thesaviour of his child? Nay, these are virtuous and immaculatebeings! I, the miserable and the abandoned, am an abortion, tobe spurned at, and kicked, and trampled on. Even now my bloodboils at the recollection of this injustice.

"But it is true that I am a wretch. I have murdered the lovelyand the helpless; I have strangled the innocent as theyslept, and grasped to death his throat who never injured me orany other living thing. I have devoted my creator, the selectspecimen of all that is worthy of love and admiration amongmen, to misery; I have pursued him even to that irremediableruin. There he lies, white and cold in death. You hate me;but your abhorrence cannot equal that with which I regardmyself. I look on the hands which executed the deed; I thinkon the heart in which the imagination of it was conceived, andlong for the moment when these hands will meet my eyes, whenthat imagination will haunt my thoughts no more.

"Fear not that I shall be the instrument of future mischief. My work is nearly complete. Neither yours nor any man's deathis needed to consummate the series of my being, and accomplishthat which must be done; but it requires my own. Do not thinkthat I shall be slow to perform this sacrifice. I shall quityour vessel on the iceraft which brought me thither, and shallseek the most northern extremity of the globe; I shall collectmy funeral pile and consume to ashes this miserable frame, thatits remains may afford no light to any curious and unhallowedwretch who would create such another as I have been. I shall die. I shall no longer feel the agonies which now consume me,or be the prey of feelings unsatisfied, yet unquenched. He isdead who called me into being; and when I shall be no more thevery remembrance of us both will speedily vanish. I shall nolonger see the sun or stars, or feel the winds play on my cheeks. Light, feeling, and sense will pass away; and in thiscondition must I find my happiness. Some years ago, when theimages which this world affords first opened upon me, when Ifelt the cheering warmth of summer, and heard the rustling ofthe leaves and the warbling of the birds, and these were all tome, I should have wept to die; now it is my only consolation. Polluted by crimes, and torn by the bitterest remorse, wherecan I find rest but in death?

"Farewell! I leave you, and in you the last of human kind whomthese eyes will ever behold. Farewell, Frankenstein! If thouwert yet alive, and yet cherished a desire of revenge againstme, it would be better satiated in my life than in mydestruction. But it was not so; thou didst seek my extinctionthat I might not cause greater wretchedness; and if yet, insome mode unknown to me, thou hast not ceased to think andfeel, thou wouldst not desire against me a vengeance greaterthan that which I feel. Blasted as thou wert, my agony wasstill superior to thine; for the bitter sting of remorse willnot cease to rankle in my wounds until death shall close themfor ever.

"But soon," he cried, with sad and solemn enthusiasm, "I shalldie, and what I now feel be no longer felt. Soon these burningmiseries will be extinct. I shall ascend my funeral piletriumphantly, and exult in the agony of the torturing flames. The light of that conflagration will fade away; my ashes willbe swept into the sea by the winds. My spirit will sleep inpeace; or if it thinks, it will not surely think thus. Farewell."

He sprung from the cabin-window, as he said this, upon theice-raft which lay close to the vessel. He was soon borne awayby the waves and lost in darkness and distance.

 

THE END

在当时的情况下,我其他一切想法都不存在了,我的心中充斥着愤怒的激情,惟有复仇这个念头才能给我力量,并使我稍稍平静下来。复仇的愿望对我的情感产生了重大的影响,使我变功于心计、在遇到危险时也能够保持镇定自若。否则,我早就不是发疯了,就是一命呜呼了。

我做出的第一个决定就是永远离开日内瓦。当我从前处在幸福的生活中,并且有那么多亲朋好友关爱着我时,祖国对我来说是那么亲切。可是现在,我在灾难深重,祖国已经是我的伤心地。我揣上一笔钱,又拿了几件母亲留下的珠宝,离家出走了。

我此后就开始了四处漂泊的流浪生涯,看来这种生活得陪伴我直到死亡了。我已经穿越了地球上大部分地区,并且经历了探险家们在沙漠中、或者在蛮荒之地所遇到的种种艰难困苦。我也不知道我是怎么活下来的,有好几次,我摊开无力的四肢,倒在贫瘠荒芜的土地上,祈求上苍赐我一死。然而,复仇的念头又让我挺了过来,我不愿就这样死去,而让我的仇敌仍世上作恶。

我离开日内瓦后,所做的第一件事就是搜寻线索,以便追寻那个恶魔的下落。但是我还没有明确的计划,只是绕着城外转了好几个小时,也不知道该往哪条路追下去。到了晚上,我不知不觉来到了安葬着威廉、伊丽莎白和我父亲的墓地的入口处。我走进墓地,朝他们三个人的坟墓走去。四周万籁俱寂,惟有树叶在晚风中萧瑟作响。四下里一片漆黑,眼前的景象就算对旁观者来说也显得那样悲凉肃穆。死者的灵魂似乎就在周围游荡,在凭吊者的身旁投下一道虽然看不见,却能感受到的暗影。

看到此情此景,我的内心先是感到沉痛的悲哀,可是很快,这种悲哀就化为愤怒和绝望。他们都已与世长辞,而我还苟活在这世上。戕害他们的凶手也还活着。为了消灭他,我不得不在这世上悲惨地延续我的生命。我跪倒在草地上,亲吻着泥土,并用颤抖的双唇呼喊道:"我现在跪在神圣的大地上,以我深切感受到的永恒而深刻的哀恸,向在我周围徘徊的逝者的亡灵起誓,我也向长夜,以及遨游在夜色中的精灵们郑重起誓——我一定要找到造成这一切不幸的魔鬼,不是他死就是我亡,否则我决不罢休!为了这个目的,我将维持我的生命,以进行我神圣的复仇计划。我将再次面对阳光,在覆盖青草的大地上行走。如果不报此血海深仇,那就让所有这一切都在我眼前永远消失吧。我请求你们——逝者的亡灵,还有你们——飘荡的复仇天使们,求你们助我一臂之力,让那该死的、邪恶的魔鬼痛饮自己酿下的苦酒,让他也尝尝现在正折磨着我的绝望的滋味!"

我起誓的时候是那样肃穆、敬畏,以至于我几乎觉得那些惨遭杀害的亲人的亡灵也听到了我的誓言,并且对我的决心表示赞许。但是当我说到后面的时候,怒火已经吞没了我的身心,仇恨使我的嗓子哽咽住,再也无法继续说下去。

在这寂静的深夜,我突然听到一声响亮、恐怖的狂笑,仿佛是对我的誓言做出的回应一般。这笑声不断在我耳边回荡,经久不息,群山也不断传递着这笑声的回声。一瞬间,我仿佛觉得身处地狱之中,周围都被恣意狂笑着的魔鬼包围着。在那一刻,要不是我亲耳听到自己的誓言,以及想到我肩负的复仇使命,我真的很有可能被这狂笑逼疯,并且结束自己可怜的生命。

笑声渐渐平息,这时,在我耳边突然传来一阵耳语般低沉的声音,这声音如此熟悉,又是那么令人生厌:"我很满意,你这个可怜虫!你决心活下去,这正中我的下怀呢!"

我朝着声音传来的方向猛冲过去,但是那魔鬼身形一闪,便溜走了。银盘似的圆月,突然在夜空中升起,月光照射出他丑陋、畸形的身体,只见他正飞也似的向远处逃走。

我朝他猛追,几个月以来,追踪他就是我唯一的任务。凭着一丝线索,我顺着罗讷河蜿蜒而下,可是一无所获。这时,蓝色的地中海蓦地展现在我的眼前。但是一个非常奇怪的巧合,使我看到他趁着夜色溜到一艘去黑海的船上躲了起来。我上了同一艘船,但不知怎地,又被他溜掉了。

在鞑靼和俄罗斯的荒原上,尽管他一次次躲过我的追捕,但是我却始终跟随着他的足迹。有时,一些被这个外形恐怖的魔鬼吓得魂飞魄散的农民会告诉我他的去向;有时,这怪物自己也会故意留下点蛛丝马迹,他惟恐我一旦完全失去他的踪迹,会绝望而死。当天空飘落起雪花的时候,我会看到他硕大的脚印印在白茫茫的雪原上。

你才刚刚涉足人生,一切对你来说都是那么新鲜,你根本不知道何为痛苦忧患,你又怎能理解我当时和此刻的感受?寒冷、饥饿和疲劳,在我注定要忍受的各种痛苦中,仅是最微不足道的。我被魔鬼诅咒,我被永远笼罩在地狱之中。但是,善良的天使也跟随在我左右,给我指点迷津;当我怨声载道时,她会突然出现,把我从似乎无法逾越的困境中解救出来。

有时,我倍受饥饿的折磨,体力已经完全支撑不住了,但是在荒漠中,我却会突然发现食物在等着我,供我恢复精力,重新鼓起勇气。这些食物仅管难以下咽,就像当地农民吃的那种食物,但是我毫不怀疑,一定是我曾向之求助的那些神灵把它们放在那儿的。

而且经常会发生这样的事情:天空万里无云,四下一片干涸,我正口干舌燥的时候,会突然有一丝云彩飘过,洒下几滴甘露,使我一解燃眉之急,然后云彩又会消失得无影无踪。

如果有可能,我都是沿河道而行,但是那恶魔却通常避开河道而行,因为村民主要聚居在沿河附近。在别的地方,则人烟稀少,我只得靠捕猎途中的野物为生。我把身上带的钱分给了村民们,换来他们的友好款待。有时我只吃一点途中打到的野物,而把剩下的送给那些曾经向我提供火种和炊具的村民。

对于这样的生活,我自然充满厌恶。而只有在梦乡中,我才能体会到片刻的欢乐。噢,神灵赐福的睡眠啊!我常常是在境遇最糟糕的时候酣然入梦,然后梦境甚至会把我带入欢天喜地的情景中。是保佑我的精灵给我提供了这些快乐的瞬间——说得更确切些,是给了我好几个小时的欢乐时光,好让我蓄足力量,完成我的朝圣似的苦难之旅。

正因为有了这些喘息的时刻,所以我才没有让艰难困苦所压垮。在白天,支撑我、激励我前行的,就是对夜晚的期待,因为在梦境中,我能见到我的亲人朋友、我的妻子,还有我亲爱的祖国。在梦中,我又能见到父亲慈祥的面容,听到伊丽莎白银铃般的嗓音,见到年轻、焕发朝气的克莱瓦尔。

经常在我颠沛流离,疲惫不堪时,我这样安慰自己:我现在是在做梦,而等到夜幕降临,我就能享受到在挚爱亲朋的怀抱中体会快乐的现实生活。我对他们的爱里,搀杂多少痛苦啊!我多么眷恋他们熟悉的身影,有时,当我还在走路时,他们就会出现在我的眼前。我说服自己,他们还好端端地活着呢。

在这种时刻,我内心燃烧着的复仇的怒火便悄然熄灭了。所以我把追寻那个魔鬼并将之消灭这件事情,与其当成是我的灵魂的强烈渴望,倒不如当成上天安排给我的使命,是某种力量在我体内产生的一种机械性的冲动,但是我却不知道是何种力量。

至于我一直追踪的那个家伙的心情如何,我就无从得知了。有时候,他居然会在树皮上留下几句话,或在石头上刻上一些印迹,指示我该往哪儿走,也故意想藉此激怒我。

有一次他在留言时明目张胆地写道:"我对你的控制还没结束呢,你活着,我的权力才算完整。跟着我吧,我将去北方冰雪常年不化的世界,在那里,你将饱受冰天雪地的严寒折磨,而我对这些却可以眉头都不皱一皱。如果你走路不是太拖拖拉拉的话,那你还可以在附近找到一只死兔子。你可以吃了它,提提精神。快点吧,我的死对头,我们还有一场生死恶仗要打呢。不过,在此之前,你还有好长一段痛苦的日子要挨呢。"

这个魔鬼,竟敢戏弄我!我再次发誓,不报此仇誓不为人。我发誓要让这个魔鬼,受尽折磨而死。如果不拼个你死我活,我决不会放弃对他的追踪。然后,我将满怀喜悦,去陪伴我的伊丽莎白,和那些已故的亲朋。他们此刻为了奖赏我这次历尽苦难和艰辛的朝圣之旅,正在忙着做准备呢。

当我继续朝北方进发的时候,积雪越来越厚,天气冷到几乎让人无法承受了。农民们全都闭门不出,只有少数最吃苦耐劳的农民才外出狩猎,捕杀那些因饥饿而不得不从藏身之所出来觅食的野兽。河面都结了冰,根本没法捕鱼。这么一来,我主要的食物来源也给切断了。

随着我的旅程越来越艰难,我的仇敌的气势也越来越高涨。有一回他在树上写道:"准备好吧,你的苦难才刚刚开始。裹上皮大衣,准备好食物,我们马上就要开始一段旅程。你从中所遭受的苦难,将可以发泄我长期以来积累的怨恨。"

这些嘲讽之词反倒激励了我的勇气和意志。我下定决心绝对不能放弃。我一边祈求上天支持我,一边继续穿越茫茫无际的荒原。最后,我终于看到远处的大洋和地平面的交接处。哦!这儿的大洋和南方蔚蓝色的大海是多么不同啊!这里的洋面上覆盖着冰雪,这里和陆地惟一区别就是这里更加荒凉冷清,更加坎坷不平。当希腊人登上亚洲的山脉远眺地中海的时候,流下了欣喜的眼泪,他们为完成了苦难的历程而欢呼雀跃。而我的双眼却干涸无泪。我跪倒在地,发自内心地感激我的守护神,感谢他把我平安地指引到我希望抵达的目的地——虽然我的夙敌一路上讥讽于我,可是我终于到了能与他决一死战的地方了。

几周前,我弄到了一架雪橇和几条狗,这样我就可以在雪地上飞快的行驶了。我不知道我的敌人是否也搞到了同样的交通工具。可是我发现,以前每天我都会被他甩下一段距离;而现在我却追上了很多,离他越来越近了。所以在我第一次望见大海时,他只领先我一天的路程了。我希望能在他抵达海滩之前将他截住。

于是,我的内心增添了新的勇气,继续拼命追赶。两天后,我来到了海边一座破破烂烂的小村落,我向村民们打听这恶魔的下落,并得到了准确的消息。他们说就在前一天晚上,有个身材硕大的怪物在这里出现,他身上背着一杆长枪,还配有许多手枪。他凶神恶煞的样子把一栋孤零零的农舍里的居民都吓跑了。他把他们过冬的食物统统搬到一架雪橇上。另外还抓来好几只训练有素的狼犬,给它们套上挽具。让村民们庆幸的是,当天夜里,他就驾着雪橇跨海而去,他走的那个方向到不了任何陆地。据村民们估计,他用不了多久就会因冰层断裂而丧命,要么就会被活活冻死在一望无际的冰原上。

听到这个消息,我一下子感到有些绝望。他又一次逃脱了。这样一来,我非得开始一次危机四伏,而且是漫无止境的艰难之旅。这里寒冰刺骨,就连当地的居民也没有多少人能够忍受,而我这个历来都是生活在阳光明媚的温暖环境中的人就更加没有希望在严寒中生存下去了。

但是,一想到这个恶魔还得意洋洋的活在世上,我的愤怒和复仇的情绪就像汹涌的潮水一般涌上心头,压倒了其他所有的情感。我稍稍休息片刻,着手做出发前的准备。我准备的时候,仿佛能感受到死者的亡灵在我的身边徘徊,激励我开始新的艰苦旅程,实现自己复仇的计划。

我把原来适合在陆地上使用的雪橇换成可以在崎岖不平的、冰冻的洋面上行驶的雪橇,并且购置了大量的干粮。然后我就离开了大陆。

我已经想不起来从那时到现在,究竟过去多少天了。我只知道我历经磨难,饱尝苦难,要不是因为胸中燃烧着那么一股经久不灭的复仇之火,我是绝对撑不下去的。巨大、崎岖的冰山常常挡住我的去路,我还一直听到海水在冰层下发出雷鸣般的巨响,我时刻都有生命危险。但是严寒再次来临,使得我在洋面上行驶比较安全了。

根据我所消耗的食物的数量,我估计我已经这样走了有三个星期。一想到何日才能实现心头的愿望,眼里不禁滚落下失望和痛苦的泪水。绝望真的差一点儿就把我给毁了,我很快就会被苦难摧垮了。

有一次,拉着雪橇的那些可怜的小狗,克服了令人难以置信的阻力,终于沿着冰山的斜坡把我拖上了山顶。其中一条小狗筋疲力尽,倒地而死。我悲哀地眺望着面前无边无际的冰雪世界,蓦的,我发现在远处灰暗的冰原上有一个小黑点。我瞪大双眼,拼命想看清那究竟是什么东西。最后我辨认出来那是架雪橇,上面坐着的正是我熟悉的背影时,我禁不住大喜过望地狂叫了一声。

噢!希望就像灼热的喷泉一般,再次温暖了我的肺腑。热泪夺眶而出。我赶紧擦去眼泪,免得泪水会挡住我的视线,失去那魔鬼的影踪。但是喷涌而出的热泪还是模糊了我的视线,最后,我不再压抑自己内心的感情,嚎啕大哭起来。

然而,这可不是耽误时间的时候。我解开死狗的缰绳,让剩下的狗饱餐一顿,并让它们休息了一小时。虽然我心急如焚,但这段休息时间却是绝对不可免的。此后,我又继续赶路了。

我仍然能够看见那架雪橇,除了偶尔有冰山上嶙峋的怪石遮挡住了雪橇的踪影外,他始终都没有逃脱过我的视线。我明显地缩短了和他之间的距离,在差不多两天之后,那个恶魔已经距离我不到一英里远了。我的心激动得怦怦直跳。

但是后来,眼看我的死敌就要落入我的掌心了,可是我的希望突然又破灭了。我比以前任何时候都更彻底地失去了他的踪迹。我听到冰川底下大海的怒吼——海浪在下面翻滚、涌动,那声音如雷鸣般振聋发聩,每时每刻都变得越来越暴躁、狂野。

我加紧向前赶路,但已无济于事。狂风大作、海浪咆哮,就像发生猛烈的地震一般,整个冰层在一声震耳欲聋的轰然巨响中碎裂了。顷刻间,前功尽弃。几分钟后,我和我的仇敌之间,便隔着一片波涛汹涌的大海。我在一块浮冰之上,随着海浪漂流。这块浮冰眼看越来越小,我只能等待一场灭顶之灾了。

就这样,好几个小时令人胆战心惊地过去了。又有几条狗毙命了。就在我自己也快要被积聚在心头的重负压垮的时候,我看到了你们停泊在海面上的帆船,我又重新燃起了生机。我从没想到在如此遥远的北方,竟然会看到船只,所以我当时着实吃了一惊。

我赶快拆下一块雪橇的木板当桨用。就这样,我使足力气,拼命划动木桨,让我所在的那块冰块朝你们的船只靠拢。我当时打定主意,如果你们的船是往南的,那我宁可在海上听天由命,也决不放弃我原定的目标。我还盼望能说服你们给我条小船,我好去继续追赶我的敌人。不过你们正好也是往北行驶的。你们把我拖上船的时候,我已经筋疲力尽了。要是再晚一会,我就会在历尽了这种种艰险困苦之后死于非命。我还不想死啊,因为我的使命尚未完成。

噢,什么时候,我的守护神才能将我指引到那个恶魔跟前,让我了却心头最迫切的愿望?难道必须死的人是我,而他却还在这世上逍遥?

沃尔登,你得向我发誓,如果我真的死去了,你决不能让他逃脱,你会去找到那个恶魔,杀死他,为我报仇。哎,我怎能要求你去继续我所经历的那条饱含艰辛的朝圣之路,去忍受我所承受的千难万险呢?不,我还没有这样自私呢。

但是,等到我死了以后,如果他出现了,如果复仇之神把他带到你面前,你一定要发誓,不能让他活着离开,不能让他因我的惨死而得意洋洋,然后留在世上继续作恶。

他强词夺理,能言善辩,我甚至都被他的花言巧语打动过。千万别相信他。他的灵魂就像他的身体一样丑陋不堪,奸险狡诈,像魔鬼一样邪恶。别听信他,你一定要喊着威廉、贾丝汀、克莱瓦尔、伊丽莎白、我父亲,还有那可怜的维克多的名字,把你的宝剑直刺他的心窝。那时,我的灵魂一定会在你的身边徘徊,助你一臂之力的。

沃尔登致萨维尔夫人的信(续)

玛格丽特,你已经读完了这篇离奇而恐怖的故事。你难道不觉得毛骨悚然吗?到现在,我浑身的血液都害怕得凝固了似的?

有时候,他的心头会突然涌上一股揪心的痛苦,所以不得不中止叙述。而更多的时候,他用哽咽嘶哑的嗓音,艰难地吐出那些饱含着辛酸的话语。他那双清澈、可爱的双眼时而燃烧起愤怒的火花;时而目光惨淡,黯然无神,流露出无尽的悲哀。有时候,他表情从容、声调平静,能够不动声色地讲述最恐怖的事件,没有流露出丝毫痛苦的痕迹。但有时,他的表情突然大变,就像火山爆发似的,满脸都是最狂野的愤怒,同时厉声斥责那个迫害他的怪物。

他的故事脉络清楚,就像在讲述一个最简单的事实一样。虽然他自称故事是完全真实的,而且他那么诚挚,但是更让我相信他的故事的真实性的,却是他给我看了他保存的费利克斯和莎菲的亲笔信;另外,我们也的确在船上看到了那个冰上怪客。这么说来,确实有这么个怪物存在!我毫不怀疑这一点,并对此又惊讶又敬仰。有时,我竭力想从弗兰肯斯坦嘴里打听出制造这个怪物的具体细节,但是他关于这点始终守口如瓶。

"你疯了吗?我的朋友。"他说,"要么就是你那无知的好奇心误导了你的心智?你也想为自己、和这个世界造出个一个恶魔般的仇敌来吗?算了吧。从我的苦难中吸取教训吧。别再自寻烦恼,无端给自己增加痛苦了。"

弗兰肯斯坦后来发现我在记录他所叙述的经历,便要求我给他看这些笔记。在很多地方,他做了更正和补充。但更正的地方主要是他和那个仇人之间的多次谈话,使之更加真实、感人。"既然你记录了我的叙述,"他说,"我就不愿意留给后人一份残缺的记载。"

就这样一个星期过去了,我听完了这部可以把人类的想象力运用到极至的最曲折离奇的故事。我的这位客人以他的传奇经历和他本人温文尔雅的举止,赢得了我对他的浓厚的兴趣,我的整个身心都为之所吸引了。

我很想安慰安慰他,可是面对这个承受了无尽的苦难,心中所有的希望之火都被掐灭的人,我又如何劝他坚强地活下去呢?唉,眼下他所能享受的惟一欢乐,就是平静地长眠于九泉,这样他才能弥合起破碎的心灵,得到永远的安宁。

不过,他还能获得的一丝安慰,那就是一个人独处,沉浸在孤独和梦幻之中。他相信在梦幻中,他还能同亲朋好友亲切交谈,在这种交流中,他可以缓解他内心的苦闷,并激起他复仇的愿望。他还认为这些并不是他的幻觉,而是他的亲人真的从另外一个遥远的世界来看望他了。这种信念使他的梦幻凭添了一层神圣的光环,因此使得他的这些幻觉对我来说,就像现实一样庄严肃穆而又生动有趣。

我们谈到的内容也不总是局限于他自身的经历和不幸,在科学文化的各个方面,他都显示出渊博的学识和敏捷透彻的领悟力。他非常雄辩,而且富有感染力。每当他讲述某个悲惨的事件,或者他试图激起听众的同情或怜爱之情时,我总是忍不住热泪盈眶。

现在他身陷绝境时,尚且如此高贵、圣洁,那他在春风得意的时候,一定是个了不起的人物。他似乎能够意识到自身的价值,以及他惨痛的教训。

"年轻的时候,"他对我说,"我相信自己注定要成就一番伟业。我的情感虽然强烈深刻,但是我同时具有那种能够成就事业的冷静的判断力。正因为我意识到自己的这种天性,所以我才能在一般人早已感到抑郁不堪的环境中挺过来。我觉得,把自己的才能白白浪费在毫无意义的哀叹上,等于是在犯罪,因为我的才能本来可以造福于我的同胞。每当我想到自己所完成的那件作品,想到自己能够造出一个有感性和理性的生命来,我就觉得自己决不属于平庸之辈。但是这种想法,在我的事业刚开始时还算是我的精神支柱,可是现在,只能让我自惭形秽、无地自容。我所有对未来的远大理想和抱负都化为泡影。我就像那个天使长,一心渴望获得万能的权威,到头来却被永远禁锢在地狱之中。

"我有生动鲜活的想象力,更有敏锐的分析能力和很强的实践能力。正因为结合了这些特质,我才会萌生出制造一个人的念头,并将之付诸实现。直至现在,当我回想起我在完成工作之前的那些异想天开,仍不免激动万分。那时,我在想象的世界里尽情遨游,时而为自己过人的才干而自鸣得意,时而又为自己的能力所能产生的影响而兴奋不已。

"从幼时起,我就有远大的理想,对自己寄予了崇高的期望,可是现在,我却如此潦倒落泊。唉,我的朋友,如果你在我以前志得意满的时候就认识我,那你一定认不出我现在这个失意困顿的样子。那时候,我从未感受过沮丧失望,我似乎命中注定是要飞黄腾达的,可是最后我一下子栽了下来,而且就再也爬不起来了。"

难道我真的得失去这个令我如此仰慕的人吗?我很久以来一直在寻觅朋友,寻找一个能够与我分享同情和友爱的挚友。就在这浩淼苍茫的大海上,我终于找到了这样的人。可是我恐怕我在发现他,并了解了他的价值之后,又得失去他。我劝他听天由命,服从上天安排,可他却非常排斥这个想法。

"谢谢你,沃尔登,"他说,"感谢你对我这个不幸的人的善意,你提到建立新的关系,培养新的感情。但是你想一想,还有谁能代替那些已经逝去的亲人和朋友?对我来说,还有什么男人能像克莱瓦尔那样呢?还有哪些女人能像伊丽莎白那样呢?即使我们之间的感情没有更进一步的发展,但是童年时代的伙伴,对人们的内心总有一种特定的影响力,这是后来交到的朋友所无法拥有的。童年时的伙伴知道我们幼年时的习性,尽管我们长大后可能会有所改变,但不可能完全消除。所以,他们对我们的行为可以有更深刻的判断,因为他们清楚我们真实的动机。兄弟、姐妹决不会怀疑自己的手足同胞居心叵测、用心险恶,除非是早就有这种迹象暴露出来。而对于其他的朋友,不管你对他多么热爱,都可能有被怀疑到的可能。

"但是我还是非常珍视朋友,并不仅仅是因为习惯、或是由于经常往来,而是在于他们自身的品性。无论我身处何地,伊丽莎白那如涓涓细流的声音和克莱瓦尔生动有趣的谈话总会在我耳边响起。虽然他们都已辞别人世,但是在难耐的孤寂中,惟有一种情感才能说服我维持自己的生命。如果我所从事的是某项崇高的事业,能够造福于我的同胞,那么,我还能活着将这个事业完成。但这并不是我的命运,我必须追上那个我亲手制造的怪物,并把它消灭掉。到那时,我在人间的使命也就完成了。我也就死而无憾了。"

沃尔登一七××年八月二十六日

我亲爱的姐姐,

我给你写信的时候,正身处险境。我不知道我这辈子还能不能再见到亲爱的英格兰,以及住在那里的挚爱亲朋。

我们被困在冰山中。我们无法逃脱,船只随时都有可能被冰山挤碎。那些被我劝说出来陪我出海的勇士们,此刻都用求助的目光看着我,可我自己也一筹莫展。虽然我们的情况十分危急,但是我还没有完全丧失希望和勇气。但是,一想到船上这些人全是因为我,才有此性命之虞,就非常难受。倘若我们命丧于此,那我的疯狂的计划就是罪魁祸首。

玛格丽特,要是果真如此,你那时有会是什么心情呢?你不会听到我遇难的消息,而你又会焦急地盼着我归来。年复一年,你不仅要忍受绝望的侵扰,同时还要被希望所折磨。

噢,我亲爱的姐姐,一想到你心急如焚地盼我归来,可是却永远等不到我,这简直比我自己死去更让我心痛。不过,你有丈夫,还有可爱的孩子。你会幸福的。愿上苍保佑你,赐你幸福!

我的那位不幸的客人给予了我最体贴的同情。他极力让我的内心充满希望,说起话来的样子好像他自己也十分珍爱生命似的。他提醒我,那些往日的航海家们在试图穿越这一带海域时,也常常会遇到类似的意外。不由自主地,他的话令我充满希望,甚至连水手们也被他雄辩的口才鼓舞起了士气。只要他一开口说话,他们就不再感到绝望。他唤起了他们的能量,当水手们聆听他的话语时,会觉得眼前巨大的冰山只不过像鼹鼠丘一样,终究会在人类坚强的意志面前崩塌。

但是这些想法只是昙花一现。每天都不见情况好转,恐惧逐渐占据了他们的心灵。我几乎害怕这种绝望的情绪有可能导致一场哗变。

九月二日

就在刚才,船上发生了极为有趣的一幕。虽然这些信非常有可能永远到不了你的手里,但我还是忍不住要把这件事记录下来。

我们还是被困在冰山之间,仍旧处在千钧一发的危急状态,随时都有可能被冰山碾成粉末。天气寒冷彻骨,我的不少不幸的同伴已经命丧于这片荒凉寂寥的冰川之上了。弗兰肯斯坦的健康每况愈下,但他眼中仍燃烧着灼热的光芒。但是他已经筋疲力尽了,有时候会出现回光返照的现象,但是很快又再次陷入萎靡不振,毫无生气的状态。

我在上封信里提到过我担心会发生什么变故。今天早晨,我正坐在那儿看着我朋友苍白的面容——他眼睛半闭着,他的胳膊无力地垂下来——这时,我被五六名水手惊动了。他们嚷嚷着要闯进船舱来。

他们进来后,为首的对我说,水手们一致委派他们几个作代表来向我提出一项请求。公平的来讲,我无法拒绝他们的这项请求。我们被困冰山,也许永远无法脱身。不过他们担心的是,万一到时候冰山消融,空出一条航道——这倒是有可能的——我还会鲁莽地继续航行。这样一来,他们可能好不容易侥幸地逃脱了一场厄运,却又要面临新的危险中去。所以,他们坚决要求我做出一项庄重承诺,如果我们一旦侥幸脱险,船只就得立刻掉头南行。

这番话让我感到很棘手。我还没有完全绝望,也还没有想过一脱险就掉头回航。但是,从公平的角度来讲,我无法拒绝他们,也不可能拒绝他们的要求。我犹豫着不知该如何作答。

弗兰肯斯坦起初在一旁一直沉默不语,而且他看起来也的确连说话的气力也没有了。可这时,他突然振奋起精神,双眼炯炯有神,脸颊在一瞬间泛起红晕。他转过脸来朝那些水手说道:"你们这是什么意思?你们要求你们的队长干什么?你们怎么这么轻易地就退缩了?你们不是曾经称之为光荣的探险吗?那么请问它的光荣又体现在哪里呢?当然不是因为这里的海洋会像南方一样风平浪静,而是因为这次探险充满了危险和困难;是因为每当遇到新的艰难险阻,都要求你们拿出百折不挠的勇气和气魄;是因为在航行途中处处潜伏着危机和死亡的威胁,而你们必须勇敢地克服这些困难。正因为如此,这次航行才配称得上是光荣的探险,才能算得上是值得人们敬佩的事业。此后,你们才会受到人们热情的欢呼,他们将称赞你们为人类造福,你们的名字将被后代颂扬,你们将被尊为为了人类的荣誉和利益而视死如归的勇士。

"可是现在,瞧啊,想象中的危险才第一次来临,或者说——如果你们愿意的话——对你们勇气的第一次严酷考验才刚刚开始,你们就吓得缩回去了,而甘愿被人看成是一群受不了严寒,经不住磨难的孬种。就是这样,你们可怜的灵魂啊,他们已经吓得抖抖嗦嗦,要回到温暖的火炉边去了。要是这样,你们当初就根本不该做航行的准备,你们根本没必要千里迢迢跑到这儿来,让你们的队长蒙受失败的耻辱,你们这次航行唯一的成果就是证明了你们自己是群懦夫。

"噢,你们也该像个男人的样子吧,而且更应该做个顶天立地的好男儿。你们一定要矢志不渝,坚如磐石。冰层是水做的,而你们的一颗丹心是热血铸就的。冰是可以改变的,只要你们意志坚定,冰川也无法让你们屈服。别让你们的眉宇间刻着耻辱的印迹返回家园。你们要像勇于征战、击退敌人,在困难面前永不退缩的英雄凯旋!"

他说这番话的时候慷慨激昂,语调抑扬顿挫,眼里闪烁着崇高的理想和英雄主义。你想想,那些水手听了怎能不受感动呢?他们面面相觑,哑口无言。

于是我开口了,我请他们回去休息,再考虑一下他们刚才说的话。我还告诉他们,如果他们执意想掉头回航,那我也不会逼他们北上。但是我仍然希望他们再考虑一下,希望他们能够重新鼓起勇气来。

水手们退出去了。我回头再看我的朋友,只见他瘫倒在座椅上,几乎奄奄一息了。

所有的这一切最终将如何了结,我也没底。但是我宁可死掉,也不愿半途而废,耻辱地返航。但是我实在担心这恐怕就是我的命运了。水手们并没有名誉和荣耀之类的念头在心中激励他们,所以他们肯定不愿意继续忍受眼下的种种危险。

九月五日

木已成舟。我已经同意,如果我们能够侥幸脱险,就立即返航。我的希望,就这样断送在怯懦和优柔寡断的手里了。我将最终一事无成,抱憾终生地回来。我现在根本无法心平气和地接受这个不公正的事实。

九月七日

大势已去。我正在返回英格兰的途中。关于荣耀和造福人类,我已不抱任何希望,我也失去了那位朋友。但是我还是要努力把这段痛苦的经历详细地告诉你。我亲爱的姐姐,既然我们的船正朝英格兰,朝着你的方向进发,那我也没什么好沮丧的。

九月九日,冰块开始移动。离开很远的距离就可以听见一阵阵雷鸣般的轰响,随着巨响,冰山崩塌了,并向四面八方扩散开来。我们的处境十分危急,但是我们只能静观其变。我倒是更担心我那位可怜的朋友,他的病情急剧加重,以至于后来已经完全卧床不起了。冰山在我们身后崩裂开来,并朝着北方涌动。西面有股微风吹来。

到十一日,往南的航道已经畅通无阻。当水手们看到返回故乡已经没有问题,立即爆发出欣喜若狂的欢呼声,声音响彻云霄,经久不息。正在打盹的弗兰肯斯坦给吵醒了,问我外面为何这么喧哗。

我说:"他们看到很快就能返回英国了,所以都在欢呼。"

"那么说,你们真的要回去了?"

"唉!是啊。我没法拒绝他们的要求,我不能硬逼着他们去冒险,我只能返航了。"

"如果你想这么做就返航吧,但是我决不回去。你可以放弃自己的目标,可是我的任务是上天注定的,我不能违抗。我现在还很虚弱,但是那些助我复仇的神灵们一定会赐予我力量的。"说完这些,他努力挣扎着想下床来。但是他用力过猛,结果倒在床上晕过去了。

过了好久,他才渐渐苏醒。好几次,我都以为他完全不行了。最后,他终于睁开了眼睛。他的呼吸非常困难,根本无法开口说话。医生给他服了一些镇静剂,并叮嘱我们别去打扰他。同时,医生悄悄告诉我,我的朋友显然没几个小时可活了。

医生等于已经宣判了他的死期。我只能悲伤、耐心地等待。我坐在他的床边望着他,他双眼紧闭,我以为他睡着了。可是后来,他用非常微弱的声音在呼唤我,要求我凑近些。

他说:"唉,我所依赖的力量已全都耗尽了,我想我的大限到了。但是他,那个迫害我的敌人,可能还活着。沃尔登,你别以为在我临死的时候,我的心中还像过去那样,燃烧着复仇的怒火,迫不及待地想去报仇。但是我觉得自己渴望杀死仇敌的想法是正义的。在最近这几天,我一直在检讨我过去的行为,我觉得我要复仇是无可厚非的。

"在疯狂的冲动之下,我造出了这个有理性的生命,那么我对他也就负有义务,我应该在自己的能力范围内保证他能够幸福的生活。这的确是我的义务,但是除此之外,我还有更重要的义务。我更应该关注我对自己同类所负有的责任,因为这关系到更多人的幸福或痛苦。正因为如此,我拒绝为我造出来的第一个生命再造一个同伴,我拒绝他是做对了。

"那个魔鬼表现出无与伦比的邪恶和和自私。他杀害了我的家人和朋友,他所戕害的生命都那么感性、智慧,本来拥有无比美好的幸福生活。我真不知他的复仇的狂热到哪里才算了结。他虽然也很悲惨,但是他也不应该给别人带来痛苦,所以他只能死。毁灭他本来是我的任务,可是我失败了。出于自私和邪恶的动机,我曾要求你继续我未完成的任务。但是我现在还要再次向你提出这个请求,但这回却完全是出于理智和善意。

"我不能要求你放弃祖国和亲友,去替我完成这个任务。现在既然你们要返回英国去了,你也就不太有可能遇到那个魔鬼了。但是关于这些问题,如何看待你自己的职责,如何权衡利弊,我就留给你自己去思考了。因为死亡的迫近可能会影响我的判断力和主见。所以我不敢要求你去做我现在认为是对的事,因为我还是有可能被激情误导的。

"但是让我不安的是,他还活在世上,是个继续给别人带来灾难的刽子手。除此之外,此时此刻——当我等待着随时会降临的解脱的时候——是我这么多年来唯一享受到的幸福时光。势去亲友的身影在我眼前飘飞,我急于投入他们的怀抱。永别了,沃尔登!你要在平静的生活中寻求幸福,尽量避免野心的诱惑。即使那些看起来无害的,想在科学和发明创造中一展才华的雄心壮志也得避免。可是我为什么要说这些呢?我自己就是毁在这些远大的抱负手里的,但是不断会有人步我的后尘啊。"

他说着说着,声音变得越来越微弱。最后,他用完了所有的力气,再也发不出声音来了。大约半小时后,他还想再说些什么,可是已经不行了。他无力地握住我的手,嘴角闪过一丝温柔的笑意,然后永远地闭上了眼睛。

玛格丽特,对于这个值得尊敬的生命就此陨落,我还能说些什么呢?我该怎么说,才能让你明白我心中深深的悲哀呢?无论我怎样表达,都会显得那么贫乏、无力。我的眼泪尽情流淌,失望的阴云笼罩在我的心头。好在我此刻正驶向英格兰,我将在那里得到安慰。

我刚才写到这里的时候,思路被打断了。怎么会有奇怪的响动?现在已是午夜,凉风习习,连甲板上负责守望的水手也懒得动一下身子。又有声音传来,好像是人说话的声音,不过嗓音更嘶哑些。这声音是从安放弗兰肯斯坦遗体的船舱中传来的。我得起身去检查一下。晚安,我的姐姐。

……

我的上帝啊!刚才发生了怎样的一幕啊?我现在回想起来,还觉得头晕目眩。我实在不知道是否我有能力把刚才的事情详细地记下来。但是,如果不记下这最后的、悲怆的结局,我所记录的故事就不完整了。

我走进安放着我那位命运坎坷、却令人钦佩的朋友的遗体的船舱,只见在他的遗体旁边,有一个身影伏在其上。他的模样我实在无法用语言来描述——他的身材硕大、粗笨,身体的各部分不成比例。他趴在灵柩上,脸被乱蓬蓬的长发遮挡住,伸出一只宽阔的手掌,皮肤的颜色和肤质就像木乃伊一样。

当他听到我走近的声音后,立刻止住那恐怖的大声哀嚎,朝窗口奔去。我从没有见过像他那么恐怖的嘴脸,如此丑陋、狰狞,令人厌恶。我不由得闭上眼睛,竭力思考我该如何履行我的义务,去对付这个毁灭者。我叫住了他。

他停下脚步,吃惊地看看我,然后又转过脸去望着他的创造者毫无生气的躯体。他似乎完全忘记了我的存在。他脸上的表情和行为举止似乎都流露出一种无法控制的狂野和激动。

"这也是死在我手里的牺牲品!"他大声说,"我害死了他,而我的罪恶就此达到了极至。我的悲惨一生也该结束了!噢,弗兰肯斯坦!慷慨而舍身成仁的好人!我现在再请求你的宽恕又有何用呢?正是因为我害死了你最亲爱的人,才把你也毁了啊,这一切都不可挽回了!天啊,他已经浑身冰凉,再也没法回答我了。"

他的声音哽咽成一片。我刚才见到他的第一个冲动就是要完成我朋友临终前的嘱托,结果掉他敌人的性命。可是现在,我强烈的好奇心混杂着怜悯之心使得我暂时把这个念头搁置了起来。

我朝这个身材硕大魁梧的家伙走去,却不敢再抬眼看他的脸。他那张脸有种说不出的丑陋,让人无比厌恶和恐惧。我想说点什么,但话到嘴边又没说出来。那个怪物还在语无伦次地疯狂自责。

最后,当他最狂暴的情绪稍稍缓和下来后,我下定决心,凝聚起勇气对他说:"你此刻再忏悔也是多余的了。如果当初在你实施灭绝人性的报复行动之前,肯听听良心的呼唤,想想后悔莫及时的揪心痛楚,那么弗兰肯斯坦到现在肯定还活着。"

"你难道在做梦吗?"那魔鬼说,"你难道认为我当初就毫无痛苦,没有感到过悔恨吗?他——"他指着尸体接着说,"他在临终之时并没有受到什么折磨。哦!他所承受的痛苦和我在报复他时所忍受的痛苦相比,根本不及千分之一。我被一种极端恐怖的自私控制着,而同时内心又不断受到悔恨之心的谴责。你难道认为克莱瓦尔的呻吟声在我听来会像音乐般美妙吗?我的天性原本充满爱心的慈悲,但是苦难和不幸磨硬我的心肠,让我充满仇恨。但是我的良心却承受不了这种变化的折磨。这种痛苦是你根本无法想象的。

"害死克莱瓦尔之后,我回到了瑞士。当时我心如刀绞,痛苦万分。我非常同情弗兰肯斯坦,我的同情接着又演变成厌恶,我简直痛恨自己。可是,当我发现他——这个既塑造了我生命,同时又给我带来无尽痛苦的人——居然还指望获得幸福。他不断的在我身上堆积绝望和痛苦,而自己竟然想去寻求情感和激情的幸福。这种幸福恰恰是我永远都享受不到的。想到这里,我整个身心都充满了嫉妒和痛苦的失望,我的内心再次燃烧起复仇的渴望。

"我再次想起自己的恫吓之词,并决心将之付诸行动。我明知这样做会给自己带来致命的折磨,但是我已经无法控制自己,不得不被复仇的冲动驱使着。可是就在她死去的时候——不,那时候我并不痛苦,我已摒弃了所有的情感,抑制住了一切苦恼,在绝望中沉沦下去。我把邪恶认为是善良,我已经无法自拔了。我无从选择,只能顺从自己的本能和冲动。完成我邪恶的计划成了我贪得无厌的欲念。现在这一切都结束了,躺在那里的是我最后一个牺牲品。"

开始,我被他那番痛苦的表白打动了。但是我想起来弗兰肯斯坦曾经说过,他能言善辩、善于花言巧语,而且当我再次看到朋友冰冷的遗体时,不由得怒火中烧。

"恶棍!"我说,"这倒不错,他家破人亡明明是你一手造成的,你反倒跑到这儿猫哭耗子来了。你自己点着了整片房子,等房子烧光了,你却坐到废墟上,哀叹房子的倒塌。你这个虚伪的魔鬼!如果你正悲叹的这个人还活着,他仍然是你报复的对象,还会惨遭你该死的迫害。你现在所感受的并不是悲悯之心,你悲叹只不过因为被你百般折磨的受害者已经摆脱了你的魔掌。"

"哦,不是这样的,不是这样的。"怪物打断我的话,"因为我过去的所作所为,才会给你留下我用心险恶的印象。不过,我并不想求得别人的了解,我也从来没获得过别人的同情。当初我曾经追求过这些,因为我热爱美德,对幸福和感情充满了向往,我渴望别人能够对我产生这种美好的情感。但是现在,这种美德对我来说已成了泡影,幸福和感情已经化为痛苦和可憎的绝望。我又凭什么来获得别人的同情呢?

"当痛苦来临时,我很满足于一个人默默承受。我死的时候,我也会很高兴我的记忆中装满了仇恨和轻蔑。我曾经幻想过美德、名誉和欢乐,这种憧憬曾一度给我带来慰藉;我也曾错误地希望会遇到一些不介意我外表的人,他们会因为我良好的品性而爱我。我的心中还一度充满过崇高的荣誉感和奉献精神。但是现在,我作恶多端,我已经沦为连最低贱的畜生还不如的东西。我所犯下之滔天罪行、我心肠之狠毒,我所遭受的苦难,在这世上都无人能比。当我回顾那一连串骇人听闻的罪孽时,我简直没法相信,我和那个曾经对美德有过崇高追求,对善良有过美好的向往的人竟是同一个人。但事实就是这样,堕落的天使成了邪恶的魔鬼。然而,就连上帝和人类的敌人,也有朋友在他孤苦悲凉时相伴左右。而我却始终孑然一身。

"你,既然称弗兰肯斯坦为朋友,那么,你对我犯下的罪行和他的不幸也应该都很清楚。但是,在他告诉你的那些细节中,一定不会提到我在难熬的激情中所虚度的悲惨的日日夜夜。因为我虽然毁灭了他的希望,可我自己的期望却并没有得到满足。我的欲望永远都是那么强烈和饥渴,我仍旧渴望获得爱情和友谊,但是我始终遭到摈弃。难道这里面就没有不公正存在吗?所有的人都对我恶行相向,为什么只有我一个人被认为是罪犯?当费利克斯拳脚相加地把一个朋友赶出他的家门时,你们为什么不痛恨他呢?当那个乡巴佬差点害死了他孩子的救命恩人时,你们为什么不诅咒他呢?你们不会,因为他们全是高尚纯洁的君子。而我,这个可怜的、四处碰壁的家伙才是该被人遗弃的,该任人歧视、打骂和践踏。直至现在,当我一想到这种不公正的待遇,我全身的血液仍然沸腾不已。

"不错,我是个恶棍。我杀害的都是可爱的人和无辜的弱者。他们从没有伤害过我,也没有伤害过任何其他人,但是在他们熟睡的时候,我卡住他们的脖子,把他们活活掐死。而我的创造者,他是人类中少有的精英,值得世人敬仰和爱慕,但是我却不断在他身边制造惨剧,最终把他逼入无边的苦海。他现在躺在那儿,苍白、冰凉,毫无生气。你虽然恨我,但是你对我的厌恶却根本比不上我对自己的憎恨之情。我看着这双作恶多断的手,想着这那颗总是冒出邪念的心。我盼望有朝一日,我的双眼再也看不到这双沾满血污的手,我的心中再也不会冒出邪恶的念头。

"你不用担心我今后还会再作恶害人。我的使命差不多完成了。只要我自己死掉,我就算是走完我的一生,完成了我所有的使命了,我并不需要你或别人的性命。你别以为我会犹豫不决,不敢自我毁灭。我将离开你的船,乘坐我的冰筏,到地球上最北面的地方。我将给自己架起自焚的柴堆,把我这具丑恶的躯体付之一炬,以免我的遗体会给任何好奇、污秽的坏蛋提供线索,然后又制造出一个像我一样的生命。

"我应该死去。这样我就不会再感受到此刻正吞噬着我的痛苦,我将再也不会为那些永远得不到满足,也永远不会熄灭的情感所困扰。创造了我的生命的人已经与世长辞,等到我也化为灰烬之后,有关我们俩的记忆将很快被世人遗忘。我再也见不到日月星辰,再也感觉不到微风吹拂我的面颊。视觉、触觉,所有的意识都将消失。这样,我就能找到我的幸福了。

"几年前,当这个世界的形象初次展现在我眼前时,我感受到了夏日令人愉快的暖意,听到了树叶沙沙作响,鸟儿雀跃欢唱。那时,这些就是我全部的世界。当时要我死,我一定会痛哭流涕的。可现在,死是我唯一的寄托和安慰了。我身染重罪,最痛苦的悔恨折磨着我的灵魂。除了一死,我哪里还能再找到安宁?

"永别了,我将离开你了!你是我所见到的最后一个人。永别了!弗兰肯斯坦!如果你还活着,你仍旧会希望将我置于死地而后快的。其实,让我活着,比结果我的性命,更能满足你复仇的快感。但事与愿违,你一直想消灭我,以免我再制造更大的悲剧。但是,如果你在我所不知道的那个世界里仍能够思考和感觉的话,你一定不想再向我复仇了,因为我所承受的悲哀比死亡更加痛苦。尽管你的生命已经结束,可我的痛苦仍然比你深刻,悔恨将永远刺痛我的伤口,而只有死亡才能永远将之弥合。

"不过很快,"他响亮的声音满含悲怆,又带着庄重的激情,"我就要死了。我再也不会感受到我现在所承受的痛苦了。很快这些炙烤着我的苦难将不复存在。我将以胜利的姿态登上自焚的柴堆,沉醉在烈焰所带来的痛楚中。这熊熊烈火将会慢慢熄灭,我的灰烬将被狂风刮入大海,我的灵魂将永远得到安息。即便到那时它还会思考,但肯定也不会思考现在这些事了。永别了!"

说完,他纵身跃出窗外,跳上紧挨着船边的冰筏。转眼间,海浪就将他带走,消失在茫茫无边的黑夜之中。

九月十二日