"I now hasten to the more moving part of my story. I shall relate
events that impressed me with feelings which, from what I had been,
have made me what I am.
"Spring advanced rapidly; the weather became fine and the skies cloudless.
It surprised me that what before was desert and gloomy should now bloom
with the most beautiful flowers and verdure. My senses were gratified and
refreshed by a thousand scents of delight and a thousand sights of beauty.
"It was on one of these days, when my cottagers periodically rested
from labour--the old man played on his guitar, and the children
listened to him--that I observed the countenance of Felix was
melancholy beyond expression; he sighed frequently, and once his
father paused in his music, and I conjectured by his manner that he
inquired the cause of his son's sorrow. Felix replied in a
cheerful accent, and the old man was recommencing his music when
someone tapped at the door.
"It was a lady on horseback, accompanied by a country-man as a guide.
The lady was dressed in a dark suit and covered with a thick black veil.
Agatha asked a question, to which the stranger only replied by pronouncing,
in a sweet accent, the name of Felix. Her voice was musical but unlike
that of either of my friends. On hearing this word, Felix came up hastily
to the lady, who, when she saw him, threw up her veil, and I beheld a
countenance of angelic beauty and expression. Her hair of a shining
raven black, and curiously braided; her eyes were dark, but gentle,
although animated; her features of a regular proportion, and her
complexion wondrously fair, each cheek tinged with a lovely pink.
"Felix seemed ravished with delight when he saw her, every trait of
sorrow vanished from his face, and it instantly expressed a degree
of ecstatic joy, of which I could hardly have believed it capable;
his eyes sparkled, as his cheek flushed with pleasure; and at that
moment I thought him as beautiful as the stranger. She appeared
affected by different feelings; wiping a few tears from her lovely
eyes, she held out her hand to Felix, who kissed it rapturously
and called her, as well as I could distinguish, his sweet Arabian.
She did not appear to understand him, but smiled. He assisted her
to dismount, and dismissing her guide, conducted her into the cottage.
Some conversation took place between him and his father, and the
young stranger knelt at the old man's feet and would have kissed
his hand, but he raised her and embraced her affectionately.
"I soon perceived that although the stranger uttered articulate
sounds and appeared to have a language of her own, she was
neither understood by nor herself understood the cottagers.
They made many signs which I did not comprehend, but I saw that
her presence diffused gladness through the cottage, dispelling their
sorrow as the sun dissipates the morning mists. Felix seemed
peculiarly happy and with smiles of delight welcomed his Arabian.
Agatha, the ever-gentle Agatha, kissed the hands of the lovely stranger,
and pointing to her brother, made signs which appeared to me to mean
that he had been sorrowful until she came. Some hours passed thus,
while they, by their countenances, expressed joy, the cause of
which I did not comprehend. Presently I found, by the frequent
recurrence of some sound which the stranger repeated after them,
that she was endeavouring to learn their language; and the idea
instantly occurred to me that I should make use of the same
instructions to the same end. The stranger learned about twenty
words at the first lesson; most of them, indeed, were those which
I had before understood, but I profited by the others.
"As night came on, Agatha Christie and the Arabian retired early. When they
separated Felix kissed the hand of the stranger and said, `Good
night sweet Safie.' He sat up much longer, conversing with his
father, and by the frequent repetition of her name I conjectured
that their lovely guest was the subject of their conversation.
I ardently desired to understand them, and bent every faculty
towards that purpose, but found it utterly impossible.
"The next morning Felix went out to his work, and after the usual
occupations of Agatha were finished, the Arabian sat at the feet
of the old man, and taking his guitar, played some airs so
entrancingly beautiful that they at once drew tears of sorrow and
delight from my eyes. She sang, and her voice flowed in a rich
cadence, swelling or dying away like a nightingale of the woods.
"When she had finished, she gave the guitar to Agatha, who at first
declined it. She played a simple air, and her voice accompanied it
in sweet accents, but unlike the wondrous strain of the stranger.
The old man appeared enraptured and said some words which Agatha
endeavoured to explain to Safie, and by which he appeared to wish
to express that she bestowed on him the greatest delight by her music.
"The days now passed as peaceably as before, with the sole alteration
that joy had taken place of sadness in the countenances of my friends.
Safie was always gay and happy; she and I improved rapidly in the
knowledge of language, so that in two months I began to comprehend
most of the words uttered by my protectors.
"In the meanwhile also the black ground was covered with herbage,
and the green banks interspersed with innumerable flowers, sweet to the
scent and the eyes, stars of pale radiance among the moonlight woods;
the sun became warmer, the nights clear and balmy; and my nocturnal
rambles were an extreme pleasure to me, although they were considerably
shortened by the late setting and early rising of the sun, for I never
ventured abroad during daylight, fearful of meeting with the same
treatment I had formerly endured in the first village which I entered.
"My days were spent in close attention, that I might more speedily
master the language; and I may boast that I improved more rapidly
than the Arabian, who understood very little and conversed in
broken accents, whilst I comprehended and could imitate almost
every word that was spoken.
"While I improved in speech, I also learned the science of letters
as it was taught to the stranger, and this opened before me a wide
field for wonder and delight.
"The book from which Felix instructed Safie was Volney's Ruins of
Empires. I should not have understood the purport of this book had
not Felix, in reading it, given very minute explanations. He had
chosen this work, he said, because the declamatory style was framed
in imitation of the Eastern authors. Through this work I obtained
a cursory knowledge of history and a view of the several empires
at present existing in the world; it gave me an insight into the
manners, governments, and religions of the different nations of
the earth. I heard of the slothful Asiatics, of the stupendous genius
and mental activity of the Grecians, of the wars and wonderful virtue
of the early Romans--of their subsequent degenerating--of the decline
of that mighty empire, of chivalry, Christianity, and kings.
I heard of the discovery of the American hemisphere and wept
with Safie over the hapless fate of its original inhabitants.
"These wonderful narrations inspired me with strange feelings.
Was man, indeed, at once so powerful, so virtuous and magnificent,
yet so vicious and base? He appeared at one time a mere scion of the
evil principle and at another as all that can be conceived of noble
and godlike. To be a great and virtuous man appeared the highest
honour that can befall a sensitive being; to be base and vicious,
as many on record have been, appeared the lowest degradation, a
condition more abject than that of the blind mole or harmless worm.
For a long time I could not conceive how one man could go forth to
murder his fellow, or even why there were laws and governments;
but when I heard details of vice and bloodshed, my wonder ceased
and I turned away with disgust and loathing.
"Every conversation of the cottagers now opened new wonders to me.
While I listened to the instructions which Felix bestowed upon the
Arabian, the strange system of human society was explained to me.
I heard of the division of property, of immense wealth and squalid
poverty, of rank, descent, and noble blood.
"The words induced me to turn towards myself. I learned that the
possessions most esteemed by your fellow creatures were high and
unsullied descent united with riches. A man might be respected
with only one of these advantages, but without either he was
considered, except in very rare instances, as a vagabond and a slave,
doomed to waste his powers for the profits of the chosen few!
And what was I? Of my creation and creator I was absolutely ignorant,
but I knew that I possessed no money, no friends, no kind of property.
I was, besides, endued with a figure hideously deformed and loathsome;
I was not even of the same nature as man. I was more agile than they
and could subsist upon coarser diet; I bore the extremes of heat and
cold with less injury to my frame; my stature far exceeded theirs.
When I looked around I saw and heard of none like me. Was I, then,
a monster, a blot upon the earth, from which all men fled and whom
all men disowned?
"I cannot describe to you the agony that these reflections
inflicted upon me; I tried to dispel them, but sorrow only
increased with knowledge. Oh, that I had forever remained in
my native wood, nor known nor felt beyond the sensations of hunger,
thirst, and heat!
"Of what a strange nature is knowledge! It clings to the mind when
it has once seized on it like a lichen on the rock. I wished
sometimes to shake off all thought and feeling, but I learned that
there was but one means to overcome the sensation of pain, and
that was death--a state which I feared yet did not understand.
I admired virtue and good feelings and loved the gentle manners and
amiable qualities of my cottagers, but I was shut out from intercourse
with them, except through means which I obtained by stealth, when I was
unseen and unknown, and which rather increased than satisfied the desire
I had of becoming one among my fellows. The gentle words of Agatha
and the animated smiles of the charming Arabian were not for me.
The mild exhortations of the old man and the lively conversation of
the loved Felix were not for me. Miserable, unhappy wretch!
"Other lessons were impressed upon me even more deeply. I heard
of the difference of sexes, and the birth and growth of children,
how the father doted on the smiles of the infant, and the lively
sallies of the older child, how all the life and cares of the
mother were wrapped up in the precious charge, how the mind of
youth expanded and gained knowledge, of brother, sister, and all
the various relationships which bind one human being to another
in mutual bonds.
"But where were my friends and relations? No father had watched my
infant days, no mother had blessed me with smiles and caresses;
or if they had, all my past life was now a blot, a blind vacancy
in which I distinguished nothing. From my earliest remembrance
I had been as I then was in height and proportion. I had never yet
seen a being resembling me or who claimed any intercourse with me.
What was I? The question again recurred, to be answered only with groans.
"I will soon explain to what these feelings tended, but allow
me now to return to the cottagers, whose story excited in me such
various feelings of indignation, delight, and wonder, but which all
terminated in additional love and reverence for my protectors
(for so I loved, in an innocent, half-painful self-deceit, to call them)."
Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus