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Wieland or the Transformation

Chapter 15
Before I reached the city it was dusk. It was my purpose to spend the night at Mettingen.
I was not solicitous, as long as I was attended by a faithful servant, to be there at an early
hour. My exhausted strength required me to take some refreshment. With this view, and
in order to pay respect to one whose affection for me was truly maternal, I stopped at
Mrs. Baynton's. She was absent from home; but I had scarcely entered the house when
one of her domestics presented me a letter. I opened and read as follows:
"To Clara Wieland,
"What shall I say to extenuate the misconduct of last night? It is my duty to repair it to
the utmost of my power, but the only way in which it can be repaired, you will not, I fear,
be prevailed on to adopt. It is by granting me an interview, at your own house, at eleven
o'clock this night. I have no means of removing any fears that you may entertain of my
designs, but my simple and solemn declarations. These, after what has passed between
us, you may deem unworthy of confidence. I cannot help it. My folly and rashness has
left me no other resource. I will be at your door by that hour. If you chuse to admit me to
a conference, provided that conference has no witnesses, I will disclose to you
particulars, the knowledge of which is of the utmost importance to your happiness.
What a letter was this! A man known to be an assassin and robber; one capable of
plotting against my life and my fame; detected lurking in my chamber, and avowing
designs the most flagitious and dreadful, now solicits me to grant him a midnight
interview! To admit him alone into my presence! Could he make this request with the
expectation of my compliance? What had he seen in me, that could justify him in
admitting so wild a belief? Yet this request is preferred with the utmost gravity. It is not
accompanied by an appearance of uncommon earnestness. Had the misconduct to which
he alludes been a slight incivility, and the interview requested to take place in the midst
of my friends, there would have been no extravagance in the tenor of this letter; but, as it
was, the writer had surely been bereft of his reason.
I perused this epistle frequently. The request it contained might be called audacious or
stupid, if it had been made by a different person; but from Carwin, who could not be
unaware of the effect which it must naturally produce, and of the manner in which it
would unavoidably be treated, it was perfectly inexplicable. He must have counted on the
success of some plot, in order to extort my assent. None of those motives by which I am
usually governed would ever have persuaded me to meet any one of his sex, at the time
and place which he had prescribed. Much less would I consent to a meeting with a man,
tainted with the most detestable crimes, and by whose arts my own safety had been so