[This section starts at the beginning of the original’s twenty-third chapter. The monster murdered William, and by placing William’s locket in the dress of the sleeping Justine, framed that young woman — dependent and friend of the family Frankenstein. He demanded an interview with Frankenstein high in the icy mountains, where he outlined his sufferings and his crimes to and made his demands of (he wanted a female monster) his creator. Frankenstein promised to make the monster a fellow creature, but he later thought better of it and did not keep his word. Frankenstein expects the monster to make an attempt on his lift tonight, on his wedding night. The italicized parts are lifted word-for-word from the original section. The regular font parts are the interventions.]
It was eight o’clock when we landed; we walked for a short time on the shore, enjoying the transitory light, and then retired to the inn and contemplated the lovely scene of waters, woods, and mountains, obscured in darkness, yet still displaying their black outlines.
. . . . . .
Elizabeth observed my agitation for some time in timid and fearful silence, but there was something in my glance which communicated terror to her, and trembling, she asked, “What is it that agitates you, my dear Victor? What is it you fear?”
“Oh! Peace, peace, my love,” replied I; “this night, and all will be safe; but this night is dreadful, very dreadful.”
I passed an hour in this state of mind, when suddenly I reflected how fearful the combat which I momentarily expected would be to my wife, and I earnestly entreated her to retire, resolving not to join her until I had obtained some knowledge as to the situation of my enemy.
She left me, and I continued some time walking up and down the passages of the house and inspecting every corner that might afford a retreat to my adversary. But I discovered no trace of him and was beginning to conjecture that some fortunate chance had intervened to prevent the execution of his menaces when suddenly I heard a shrill and dreadful scream. It came from the room into which Elizabeth had retired. As I heard it, the whole truth rushed into my mind, my arms dropped, the motion of every muscle and fibre was suspended; I could feel the blood trickling in my veins and tingling in the extremities of my limbs. This state lasted but for an instant; the scream was repeated, and I rushed into the room.
Great God! What a fool I’d been! To leave my treasure, my best hope, my remaining tie to human happiness, my truest friend and dearest blessing alone and unprotected from the fiend’s vengeance! The curtains fluttered as his hulking presence slipped beyond the moonlight.
“Victor,” I thought I heard her sweet soft ethereal voice. As I whirled from the door towards the bed, my mind played out the dreadful scene: She lying there, lifeless and inanimate, thrown across the bed, her head hanging down and her pale and distorted features half covered by her hair. Her heavenly spirit lingering yet over the room, whispering me a kind comfort for which I had no power of reception, the winds of eternity inexorably sweeping her blameless ghost up to her eternal reward, separating her forever from my wretched and damned soul. The blow was more than I could bear and already before I glimpsed her, my head grew light and nauseous, tilting back as my knees buckled. Falling forward onto the bed where our long-awaited bliss was to be realized, methought I dreamed my beloved, safe and sound, looking up at me with tears of love shimmering in her perfect doe eyes.
When I came to, I saw her beautiful face, pale and red-eyed with grief and worry, bent over mine. “Oh Victor!” And she threw herself upon me, hugging me with all her might, carrying me into the cocoon of her warmth, gobbling up all the hurt, loneliness, and shame I’d absorbed and become, leaving me pure and safe and known.
The monster had indeed suddenly loomed above her bed, frightening her with his instantaneous appearance and hideous aspect. But in the short time he’d remained, she’d studied his countenance, and found the eyes soft and downcast, the lips drawn and sad, the cheeks hollow with melancholy considerations, the whole soft and distant. The cruelty she’d initially feared could not be found in his face. His sole act was to toss a note at her feet.
Tonight is your wedding night and by rights, your bride’s death night. Every human friendship your sloppy art has withheld from me; nor would you condescend to match me with a companion to lend me that same mortal succor which you tonight enjoy, carelessly resting your selfish head upon the bosom of one shaped to answer your needs. By rights, you should share my isolation and misery. But by rights, I should be executed for twofold murder. By rights, my neck should snap beneath the deaths of William and Justine. Yet I live. I bound across the open spaces easy and free. Know this Frankenstein: we separate now for the remainder of our earthly days; if the true creator of both your spark and mine own can in His infinite wisdom forgive us our sins, so be it; if not, we shall surely meet again in hell.
[Return to original Frankenstein: Beginning of Chapter 23]