Wieland or the Transformation
Order could not readily be introduced into my thoughts. The voice still rung in my ears.
Every accent that was uttered by Carwin was fresh in my remembrance. His unwelcome
approach, the recognition of his person, his hasty departure, produced a complex
impression on my mind which no words can delineate. I strove to give a slower motion to
my thoughts, and to regulate a confusion which became painful; but my efforts were
nugatory. I covered my eyes with my hand, and sat, I know not how long, without power
to arrange or utter my conceptions.
I had remained for hours, as I believed, in absolute solitude. No thought of personal
danger had molested my tranquillity. I had made no preparation for defence. What was it
that suggested the design of perusing my father's manuscript? If, instead of this, I had
retired to bed, and to sleep, to what fate might I not have been reserved? The ruffian, who
must almost have suppressed his breathing to screen himself from discovery, would have
noticed this signal, and I should have awakened only to perish with affright, and to abhor
myself. Could I have remained unconscious of my danger? Could I have tranquilly slept
in the midst of so deadly a snare?
And who was he that threatened to destroy me? By what means could he hide himself in
this closet? Surely he is gifted with supernatural power. Such is the enemy of whose
attempts I was forewarned. Daily I had seen him and conversed with him. Nothing could
be discerned through the impenetrable veil of his duplicity. When busied in conjectures,
as to the author of the evil that was threatened, my mind did not light, for a moment,
upon his image. Yet has he not avowed himself my enemy? Why should he be here if he
had not meditated evil?
He confesses that this has been his second attempt. What was the scene of his former
conspiracy? Was it not he whose whispers betrayed him? Am I deceived; or was there not
a faint resemblance between the voice of this man and that which talked of grasping my
throat, and extinguishing my life in a moment? Then he had a colleague in his crime; now
he is alone. Then death was the scope of his thoughts; now an injury unspeakably more
dreadful. How thankful should I be to the power that has interposed to save me!
That power is invisible. It is subject to the cognizance of one of my senses. What are the
means that will inform me of what nature it is? He has set himself to counterwork the
machinations of this man, who had menaced destruction to all that is dear to me, and
whose cunning had surmounted every human impediment. There was none to rescue me
from his grasp. My rashness even hastened the completion of his scheme, and precluded
him from the benefits of deliberation. I had robbed him of the power to repent and
forbear. Had I been apprized of the danger, I should have regarded my conduct as the
means of rendering my escape from it impossible. Such, likewise, seem to have been the