Wieland or the Transformation HTML version

Chapter 17
I had no inclination nor power to move from this spot. For more than an hour, my
faculties and limbs seemed to be deprived of all activity. The door below creaked on its
hinges, and steps ascended the stairs. My wandering and confused thoughts were
instantly recalled by these sounds, and dropping the curtain of the bed, I moved to a part
of the room where any one who entered should be visible; such are the vibrations of
sentiment, that notwithstanding the seeming fulfilment of my fears, and increase of my
danger, I was conscious, on this occasion, to no turbulence but that of curiosity.
At length he entered the apartment, and I recognized my brother. It was the same
Wieland whom I had ever seen. Yet his features were pervaded by a new expression. I
supposed him unacquainted with the fate of his wife, and his appearance confirmed this
persuasion. A brow expanding into exultation I had hitherto never seen in him, yet such a
brow did he now wear. Not only was he unapprized of the disaster that had happened, but
some joyous occurrence had betided. What a reverse was preparing to annihilate his
transitory bliss! No husband ever doated more fondly, for no wife ever claimed so
boundless a devotion. I was not uncertain as to the effects to flow from the discovery of
her fate. I confided not at all in the efforts of his reason or his piety. There were few evils
which his modes of thinking would not disarm of their sting; but here, all opiates to grief,
and all compellers of patience were vain. This spectacle would be unavoidably followed
by the outrages of desperation, and a rushing to death.
For the present, I neglected to ask myself what motive brought him hither. I was only
fearful of the effects to flow from the sight of the dead. Yet could it be long concealed
from him? Some time and speedily he would obtain this knowledge. No stratagems could
considerably or usefully prolong his ignorance. All that could be sought was to take away
the abruptness of the change, and shut out the confusion of despair, and the inroads of
madness: but I knew my brother, and knew that all exertions to console him would be
What could I say? I was mute, and poured forth those tears on his account, which my
own unhappiness had been unable to extort. In the midst of my tears, I was not
unobservant of his motions. These were of a nature to rouse some other sentiment than
grief or, at least, to mix with it a portion of astonishment.
His countenance suddenly became troubled. His hands were clasped with a force that left
the print of his nails in his flesh. His eyes were fixed on my feet. His brain seemed to
swell beyond its continent. He did not cease to breathe, but his breath was stifled into
groans. I had never witnessed the hurricane of human passions. My element had, till
lately, been all sunshine and calm. I was unconversant with the altitudes and energies of
sentiment, and was transfixed with inexplicable horror by the symptoms which I now