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Wieland or the Transformation

Chapter 16
As soon as I arrived in sight of the front of the house, my attention was excited by a light
from the window of my own chamber. No appearance could be less explicable. A
meeting was expected with Carwin, but that he pre-occupied my chamber, and had
supplied himself with light, was not to be believed. What motive could influence him to
adopt this conduct? Could I proceed until this was explained? Perhaps, if I should
proceed to a distance in front, some one would be visible. A sidelong but feeble beam
from the window, fell upon the piny copse which skirted the bank. As I eyed it, it
suddenly became mutable, and after flitting to and fro, for a short time, it vanished. I
turned my eye again toward the window, and perceived that the light was still there; but
the change which I had noticed was occasioned by a change in the position of the lamp or
candle within. Hence, that some person was there was an unavoidable inference.
I paused to deliberate on the propriety of advancing. Might I not advance cautiously, and,
therefore, without danger? Might I not knock at the door, or call, and be apprized of the
nature of my visitant before I entered? I approached and listened at the door, but could
hear nothing. I knocked at first timidly, but afterwards with loudness. My signals were
unnoticed. I stepped back and looked, but the light was no longer discernible. Was it
suddenly extinguished by a human agent? What purpose but concealment was intended?
Why was the illumination produced, to be thus suddenly brought to an end? And why,
since some one was there, had silence been observed?
These were questions, the solution of which may be readily supposed to be entangled
with danger. Would not this danger, when measured by a woman's fears, expand into
gigantic dimensions? Menaces of death; the stunning exertions of a warning voice; the
known and unknown attributes of Carwin; our recent interview in this chamber; the pre-
appointment of a meeting at this place and hour, all thronged into my memory. What was
to be done?
Courage is no definite or stedfast principle. Let that man who shall purpose to assign
motives to the actions of another, blush at his folly and forbear. Not more presumptuous
would it be to attempt the classification of all nature, and the scanning of supreme
intelligence. I gazed for a minute at the window, and fixed my eyes, for a second minute,
on the ground. I drew forth from my pocket, and opened, a penknife. This, said I, be my
safe-guard and avenger. The assailant shall perish, or myself shall fall.
I had locked up the house in the morning, but had the key of the kitchen door in my
pocket. I, therefore, determined to gain access behind. Thither I hastened, unlocked and
entered. All was lonely, darksome, and waste. Familiar as I was with every part of my
dwelling, I easily found my way to a closet, drew forth a taper, a flint, tinder, and steel,
and, in a moment as it were, gave myself the guidance and protection of light.
What purpose did I meditate? Should I explore my way to my chamber, and confront the
being who had dared to intrude into this recess, and had laboured for concealment? By