Wieland or the Transformation
My right hand, grasping the unseen knife, was still disengaged. It was lifted to strike. All
my strength was exhausted, but what was sufficient to the performance of this deed.
Already was the energy awakened, and the impulse given, that should bear the fatal steel
to his heart, when--Wieland shrunk back: his hand was withdrawn. Breathless with
affright and desperation, I stood, freed from his grasp; unassailed; untouched.
Thus long had the power which controuled the scene forborne to interfere; but now his
might was irresistible, and Wieland in a moment was disarmed of all his purposes. A
voice, louder than human organs could produce, shriller than language can depict, burst
from the ceiling, and commanded him--TO HOLD!
Trouble and dismay succeeded to the stedfastness that had lately been displayed in the
looks of Wieland. His eyes roved from one quarter to another, with an expression of
doubt. He seemed to wait for a further intimation.
Carwin's agency was here easily recognized. I had besought him to interpose in my
defence. He had flown. I had imagined him deaf to my prayer, and resolute to see me
perish: yet he disappeared merely to devise and execute the means of my relief.
Why did he not forbear when this end was accomplished? Why did his misjudging zeal
and accursed precipitation overpass that limit? Or meant he thus to crown the scene, and
conduct his inscrutable plots to this consummation?
Such ideas were the fruit of subsequent contemplation. This moment was pregnant with
fate. I had no power to reason. In the career of my tempestuous thoughts, rent into pieces,
as my mind was, by accumulating horrors, Carwin was unseen and unsuspected. I partook
of Wieland's credulity, shook with his amazement, and panted with his awe.
Silence took place for a moment; so much as allowed the attention to recover its post.
Then new sounds were uttered from above.
"Man of errors! cease to cherish thy delusion: not heaven or hell, but thy senses have
misled thee to commit these acts. Shake off thy phrenzy, and ascend into rational and
human. Be lunatic no longer."
My brother opened his lips to speak. His tone was terrific and faint. He muttered an
appeal to heaven. It was difficult to comprehend the theme of his inquiries. They implied
doubt as to the nature of the impulse that hitherto had guided him, and questioned
whether he had acted in consequence of insane perceptions.