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Chapter 16
"Cursed, cursed creator! Why did I live? Why, in that instant, did I not extinguish the
spark of existence which you had so wantonly bestowed? I know not; despair had not yet
taken possession of me; my feelings were those of rage and revenge. I could with
pleasure have destroyed the cottage and its inhabitants and have glutted myself with their
shrieks and misery.
"When night came I quitted my retreat and wandered in the wood; and now, no longer
restrained by the fear of discovery, I gave vent to my anguish in fearful howlings. I was
like a wild beast that had broken the toils, destroying the objects that obstructed me and
ranging through the wood with a staglike swiftness. Oh! What a miserable night I passed!
The cold stars shone in mockery, and the bare trees waved their branches above me; now
and then the sweet voice of a bird burst forth amidst the universal stillness. All, save I,
were at rest or in enjoyment; I, like the arch-fiend, bore a hell within me, and finding
myself unsympathized with, wished to tear up the trees, spread havoc and destruction
around me, and then to have sat down and enjoyed the ruin.
"But this was a luxury of sensation that could not endure; I became fatigued with excess
of bodily exertion and sank on the damp grass in the sick impotence of despair. There
was none among the myriads of men that existed who would pity or assist me; and should
I feel kindness towards my enemies? No; from that moment I declared everlasting war
against the species, and more than all, against him who had formed me and sent me forth
to this insupportable misery.
"The sun rose; I heard the voices of men and knew that it was impossible to return to my
retreat during that day. Accordingly I hid myself in some thick underwood, determining
to devote the ensuing hours to reflection on my situation.
"The pleasant sunshine and the pure air of day restored me to some degree of tranquillity;
and when I considered what had passed at the cottage, I could not help believing that I
had been too hasty in my conclusions. I had certainly acted imprudently. It was apparent
that my conversation had interested the father in my behalf, and I was a fool in having
exposed my person to the horror of his children. I ought to have familiarized the old De
Lacey to me, and by degrees to have discovered myself to the rest of his family, when
they should have been prepared for my approach. But I did not believe my errors to be
irretrievable, and after much consideration I resolved to return to the cottage, seek the old
man, and by my representations win him to my party.
"These thoughts calmed me, and in the afternoon I sank into a profound sleep; but the
fever of my blood did not allow me to be visited by peaceful dreams. The horrible scene
of the preceding day was forever acting before my eyes; the females were flying and the
enraged Felix tearing me from his father's feet. I awoke exhausted, and finding that it was
already night, I crept forth from my hiding-place, and went in search of food.