"Some time elapsed before I learned the history of my friends.
It was one which could not fail to impress itself deeply on my mind,
unfolding as it did a number of circumstances, each interesting and
wonderful to one so utterly inexperienced as I was.
"The name of the old man was De Lacey. He was descended from a good
family in France, where he had lived for many years in affluence,
respected by his superiors and beloved by his equals. His son was
bred in the service of his country, and Agatha had ranked with ladies
of the highest distinction. A few months before my arrival they had
lived in a large and luxurious city called Paris, surrounded by friends
and possessed of every enjoyment which virtue, refinement of intellect,
or taste, accompanied by a moderate fortune, could afford.
"The father of Safie had been the cause of their ruin. He was a
Turkish merchant and had inhabited Paris for many years, when,
for some reason which I could not learn, he became obnoxious to
the government. He was seized and cast into prison the very day
that Safie arrived from Constantinople to join him. He was tried
and condemned to death. The injustice of his sentence was very flagrant;
all Paris was indignant; and it was judged that his religion and wealth
rather than the crime alleged against him had been the cause of his
"Felix had accidentally been present at the trial; his horror and
indignation were uncontrollable when he heard the decision of the court.
He made, at that moment, a solemn vow to deliver him and then looked
around for the means. After many fruitless attempts to gain admittance
to the prison, he found a strongly grated window in an unguarded part of
the building, which lighted the dungeon of the unfortunate Muhammadan, who,
loaded with chains, waited in despair the execution of the barbarous sentence.
Felix visited the grate at night and made known to the prisoner his intentions
in his favour. The Turk, amazed and delighted, endeavoured to kindle the zeal
of his deliverer by promises of reward and wealth. Felix rejected his offers
with contempt, yet when he saw the lovely Safie, who was allowed to visit her
father and who by her gestures expressed her lively gratitude, the youth could
not help owning to his own mind that the captive possessed a treasure which
would fully reward his toil and hazard.
"The Turk quickly perceived the impression that his daughter had
made on the heart of Felix and endeavoured to secure him more
entirely in his interests by the promise of her hand in marriage so
soon as he should be conveyed to a place of safety. Felix was too
delicate to accept this offer, yet he looked forward to the
probability of the event as to the consummation of his happiness.
"During the ensuing days, while the preparations were going forward
for the escape of the merchant, the zeal of Felix was warmed by
several letters that he received from this lovely girl, who found
means to express her thoughts in the language of her lover by the
aid of an old man, a servant of her father who understood French.
She thanked him in the most ardent terms for his intended services
towards her parent, and at the same time she gently deplored her own fate.
"I have copies of these letters, for I found means, during my
residence in the hovel, to procure the implements of writing;
and the letters were often in the hands of Felix or Agatha.
Before I depart I will give them to you; they will prove the truth
of my tale; but at present, as the sun is already far declined,
I shall only have time to repeat the substance of them to you.
"Safie related that her mother was a Christian Arab, seized and
made a slave by the Turks; recommended by her beauty, she had won
the heart of the father of Safie, who married her. The young girl
spoke in high and enthusiastic terms of her mother, who, born
in freedom, spurned the bondage to which she was now reduced.
She instructed her daughter in the tenets of her religion and
taught her to aspire to higher powers of intellect and an
independence of spirit forbidden to the female followers of Muhammad.
This lady died, but her lessons were indelibly impressed on the mind
of Safie, who sickened at the prospect of again returning to Asia and
being immured within the walls of a harem, allowed only to occupy
herself with infantile amusements, ill-suited to the temper of her soul,
now accustomed to grand ideas and a noble emulation for virtue.
The prospect of marrying a Christian and remaining in a country where
women were allowed to take a rank in society was enchanting to her.
"The day for the execution of the Turk was fixed, but on the night
previous to it he quitted his prison and before morning was distant
many leagues from Paris. Felix had procured passports in the name
of his father, sister, and himself. He had previously communicated
his plan to the former, who aided the deceit by quitting his house,
under the pretence of a journey and concealed himself, with his daughter,
in an obscure part of Paris.
"Felix conducted the fugitives through France to Lyons and across
Mont Cenis to Leghorn, where the merchant had decided to wait a
favourable opportunity of passing into some part of the Turkish dominions.
"Safie resolved to remain with her father until the moment of his departure,
before which time the Turk renewed his promise that she should be united
to his deliverer; and Felix remained with them in expectation of that event;
and in the meantime he enjoyed the society of the Arabian, who exhibited
towards him the simplest and tenderest affection. They conversed with
one another through the means of an interpreter, and sometimes with the
interpretation of looks; and Safie sang to him the divine airs of
her native country.
"The Turk allowed this intimacy to take place and encouraged the hopes
of the youthful lovers, while in his heart he had formed far other plans.
He loathed the idea that his daughter should be united to a Christian,
but he feared the resentment of Felix if he should appear lukewarm,
for he knew that he was still in the power of his deliverer if he
should choose to betray him to the Italian state which they inhabited.
He revolved a thousand plans by which he should be enabled to prolong
the deceit until it might be no longer necessary, and secretly to take
his daughter with him when he departed. His plans were facilitated
by the news which arrived from Paris.
"The government of France were greatly enraged at the escape of
their victim and spared no pains to detect and punish his deliverer.
The plot of Felix was quickly discovered, and De Lacey and Agatha
were thrown into prison. The news reached Felix and roused him
from his dream of pleasure. His blind and aged father and his
gentle sister lay in a noisome dungeon while he enjoyed the free air
and the society of her whom he loved. This idea was torture to him.
He quickly arranged with the Turk that if the latter should find a
favourable opportunity for escape before Felix could return to Italy,
Safie should remain as a boarder at a convent at Leghorn; and then,
quitting the lovely Arabian, he hastened to Paris and delivered
himself up to the vengeance of the law, hoping to free De Lacey and
Agatha by this proceeding. "He did not succeed. They remained confined
for five months before the trial took place, the result of which deprived
them of their fortune and condemned them to a perpetual exile from their
"They found a miserable asylum in the cottage in Germany, where I
discovered them. Felix soon learned that the treacherous Turk,
for whom he and his family endured such unheard-of oppression,
on discovering that his deliverer was thus reduced to poverty and ruin,
became a traitor to good feeling and honour and had quitted Italy
with his daughter, insultingly sending Felix a pittance of money
to aid him, as he said, in some plan of future maintenance.
"Such were the events that preyed on the heart of Felix and rendered him,
when I first saw him, the most miserable of his family. He could have
endured poverty, and while this distress had been the meed of his virtue,
he gloried in it; but the ingratitude of the Turk and the loss of
his beloved Safie were misfortunes more bitter and irreparable.
The arrival of the Arabian now infused new life into his soul.
"When the news reached Leghorn that Felix was deprived of his
wealth and rank, the merchant commanded his daughter to think no
more of her lover, but to prepare to return to her native country.
The generous nature of Safie was outraged by this command;
she attempted to expostulate with her father, but he left her angrily,
reiterating his tyrannical mandate.
"A few days after, the Turk entered his daughter's apartment and
told her hastily that he had reason to believe that his residence
at Leghorn had been divulged and that he should speedily be delivered
up to the French government; he had consequently hired a vessel to
convey him to Constantinople, for which city he should sail in a few hours.
He intended to leave his daughter under the care of a confidential servant,
to follow at her leisure with the greater part of his property,
which had not yet arrived at Leghorn.
"When alone, Safie resolved in her own mind the plan of conduct
that it would become her to pursue in this emergency. A residence
in Turkey was abhorrent to her; her religion and her feelings were
alike averse to it. By some papers of her father which fell into
her hands she heard of the exile of her lover and learnt the name
of the spot where he then resided. She hesitated some time,
but at length she formed her determination. Taking with her
some jewels that belonged to her and a sum of money, she quitted
Italy with an attendant, a native of Leghorn, but who understood
the common language of Turkey, and departed for Germany.
"She arrived in safety at a town about twenty leagues from the
cottage of De Lacey, when her attendant fell dangerously ill.
Safie nursed her with the most devoted affection, but the poor girl died,
and the Arabian was left alone, unacquainted with the language of
the country and utterly ignorant of the customs of the world.
She fell, however, into good hands. The Italian had mentioned
the name of the spot for which they were bound, and after her
death the woman of the house in which they had lived took care
that Safie should arrive in safety at the cottage of her lover."
Frankenstein, or the Modern Prometheus