Wieland or the Transformation
I will not enumerate the various inquiries and conjectures which these incidents
occasioned. After all our efforts, we came no nearer to dispelling the mist in which they
were involved; and time, instead of facilitating a solution, only accumulated our doubts.
In the midst of thoughts excited by these events, I was not unmindful of my interview
with the stranger. I related the particulars, and shewed the portrait to my friends. Pleyel
recollected to have met with a figure resembling my description in the city; but neither
his face or garb made the same impression upon him that it made upon me. It was a hint
to rally me upon my prepossessions, and to amuse us with a thousand ludicrous anecdotes
which he had collected in his travels. He made no scruple to charge me with being in
love; and threatened to inform the swain, when he met him, of his good fortune.
Pleyel's temper made him susceptible of no durable impressions. His conversation was
occasionally visited by gleams of his ancient vivacity; but, though his impetuosity was
sometimes inconvenient, there was nothing to dread from his malice. I had no fear that
my character or dignity would suffer in his hands, and was not heartily displeased when
he declared his intention of profiting by his first meeting with the stranger to introduce
him to our acquaintance.
Some weeks after this I had spent a toilsome day, and, as the sun declined, found myself
disposed to seek relief in a walk. The river bank is, at this part of it, and for some
considerable space upward, so rugged and steep as not to be easily descended. In a recess
of this declivity, near the southern verge of my little demesne, was placed a slight
building, with seats and lattices. From a crevice of the rock, to which this edifice was
attached, there burst forth a stream of the purest water, which, leaping from ledge to
ledge, for the space of sixty feet, produced a freshness in the air, and a murmur, the most
delicious and soothing imaginable. These, added to the odours of the cedars which
embowered it, and of the honey-suckle which clustered among the lattices, rendered this
my favorite retreat in summer.
On this occasion I repaired hither. My spirits drooped through the fatigue of long
attention, and I threw myself upon a bench, in a state, both mentally and personally, of
the utmost supineness. The lulling sounds of the waterfall, the fragrance and the dusk
combined to becalm my spirits, and, in a short time, to sink me into sleep. Either the
uneasiness of my posture, or some slight indisposition molested my repose with dreams
of no cheerful hue. After various incoherences had taken their turn to occupy my fancy, I
at length imagined myself walking, in the evening twilight, to my brother's habitation. A
pit, methought, had been dug in the path I had taken, of which I was not aware. As I
carelessly pursued my walk, I thought I saw my brother, standing at some distance before
me, beckoning and calling me to make haste. He stood on the opposite edge of the gulph.
I mended my pace, and one step more would have plunged me into this abyss, had not