[This section starts at the end of the original’s sixteenth chapter. The monster had demanded Frankenstein meet him in the mountains and is relating his adventures to Frankenstein. The italicized parts are lifted word-for-word from the original section. The regular font parts are the interventions.]
[Intervener’s Plea: For this one, the reader is urged to imagine a more measured and less coercive beginning to this conversation between Victor Frankenstein and his creation. They met in the icy mountaintops, and the monster bounded with superhuman strides up to Victor, but the monster’s entreaties were much more gentle. He begged an audience and that Victor hear his tale to the end. But he did not threaten Victor. Also: William did not die.]
“But my toils now drew near a close, and in two months from this time I reached the environs of Geneva.
“It was evening when I arrived, and I retired to a hiding-place among the fields that surround it to meditate in what manner I should apply to you. I was oppressed by fatigue and hunger and far too unhappy to enjoy the gentle breezes of evening or the prospect of the sun setting behind the stupendous mountains of Jura.
“At this time a slight sleep relieved me from the pain of reflection, which was disturbed by the approach of a beautiful child, who came running into the recess I had chosen, with all the sportiveness of infancy. Suddenly, as I gazed on him, an idea seized me that this little creature was unprejudiced and had lived too short a time to have imbibed a horror of deformity. If, therefore, I could seize him and educate him as my companion and friend, I should not be so desolate in this peopled earth.
“Urged by this impulse, I seized on the boy as he passed and drew him towards me. As soon as he beheld my form, he placed his hands before his eyes and uttered a shrill scream; I drew his hand forcibly from his face and said, ‘Child, what is the meaning of this? I do not intend to hurt you; listen to me.’
“He struggled violently. ‘Let me go,’ he cried; ‘monster! Ugly wretch! You wish to eat me and tear me to pieces. You are an ogre. Let me go, or I will tell my papa.’
“‘Boy, you will never see your father again; you must come with me.’
“‘Hideous monster! Let me go. My papa is a syndic—he is M. Frankenstein — he will punish you. You dare not keep me.’
“‘Frankenstein! It can’t be!’ With thumb and forefinger on either side of his thin shoulder, I raised the struggling waif up until his eyes met mine. “‘Be silent boy, I must think!’
“Yet the child kicked, struggled and abused me with epithets which carried despair to my heart. A rush of venomous and sickly anger tore through my chest. I felt my diverse, confused and disorganizedly careening passions overwhelmed and led — as a tidal wave overtakes and commands any and all rivers, streams, ponds and puddles in its path — by a sudden hateful impulse to shake him silent. However, in tandem with that dreadful urge grew a dreadful calm. I perceived as if illuminated by a lightning flash the full certainty of my power over his life. The awful truth of my strength struck me as David’s stone upon Goliath’s skull. Queasy, weak, and lightheaded, I lowered the writhing boy slowly down to earth, and, bending low upon a knee while holding him now only ever so softly by his still resisting shoulder, I told him what he had taught me.
“‘You are too young to understand the cruelty of your words. Nor can I communicate to you, a small and frightened child, how forlorn and desperate I’ve become, how bereft of human comfort and support I have existed and how completely that trial has shattered my soul, twisted my thought, broken my heart. But now for the first I perceive what human beings find so unforgivable in my aspect.
“‘Ugliness they can forgive. A misshapen back, a crooked skull, crudely cobbled-together flesh — all these deformities instinctively elicit sensations of disgust and repugnance, and only the wisest exemplars of humanity possess a purity capable of entirely ignoring my appearance and, untainted by scornful contempt or a jeering self-congratulatory pity, observe the tender heart and ancient soul — for all souls reflect that ancient light which animates and ennobles all creatural watching — within this crooked hull chest. Yet ugliness alone were not sufficient grounds to effect my banishment from human society; and in time, as people grew acclimated to my hideous shape, the initial shock would fade, I would appear to them less hideous, and should receive some measure of sympathy and human fellowship.’
“The boy grew quiet and still, his scowling eyes having grown wider and softer. Watching me now with interest and heart-participation, I saw that already I’d become more than a soulless ogre to him. ‘What humans cannot forgive me is my terrific size and stupendous strength. Therein lies my monsterdom, therein my curse. Go now, small person. I apologize for detaining and disturbing you. Tell your Victor that his monster is a monster no more. Tell him no matter how inhumanely humans use me, I will not relinquish that within which raises me above the wild beasts.
“‘How close I had come to forfeiting what is noble in myself! And why? Because others had not seen it in me, and — fearing what they can neither control nor understand — had panicked, and from base salamander-like wrigglings and writhings of the soul, twisted their centers away from their own bright watchful soullight. Unmoored by their cowardice from the indwelling insight which would’ve permitted them, if they’d but hold a moment’s peace, to perceive — look into my eyes, boy Frankenstein, and judge for yourself! — that same ethereal light shining in and through me!
“‘Irony of ironies: to sacrifice wondrous beauty in myself because others had lost sight of the same, of our shared — for the light pervades all things and thus in all thinking things does it giggle exultingly forth in selfless self-knowledge — birthright! To surrender my dearest treasure because my physicality had induced others to pretend I did not already possess it! Does not the very pain I felt at their ignorance of my soul-light prove that I recognize it as the most essential and vital aspect of my being?! Sheer madness, then, to answer their soul-squelching cruelty with my own!
“‘No, young Frankenstein, I’ll not forfeit my birthright, but will guard and nurture it jealously with all my heart, mind, and soul. I had thought nothing mattered so much to me as human confidence and human friendship, but now I see those things are only valuable if humans are valuable, and we human-type creatures — we wide open plains wherethrough the raucous winds of soul-light tumble and roll, laughing and playing in their infinite frolics — are precious because we have the scope to perceive, follow, and ultimately in some sense and to some extent be the aware active love shining through all things. This soul-light, this boundless overflowing love — witness now my testimony, child — is the root of all mind and all matter, and as such, must forever remain the shared core of all conscious creatures.’
“The boy, his shoulder long since free, but caught now on my thoughtful, tender-turned eyes — watery, ill-fitting and poorly matched to their sockets as they may well be — stood for a space in silence, until, confident my speech had ended and it was now wont for his to begin, gave his reply,
“‘I don’t know who or what you are, or how you know of Victor, but I will tell him I have met you and you are not a bad ogre, but a gentle one, and not even an ogre at all, but a human being, however humongous and misbegotten your form. But what, sir, is your name?’
“‘Victor will know me only as his monster, but tell him I’d prefer another appellation. Something classy that rings fine when announced at a formal dinner; but also relaxed and homey. M. Ogre, perhaps?
“‘I will tell him that his friend M. Samuel L’Ogre sends his regards.’
“‘Yes, from the Bible. Hannah prayed for a son and promised God that if He would honor her prayer, her son would live as a Nazirite and serve God all his life long.’
“‘Samuel, then, Samuel Nazirite L’Ogre — from the Bible.’
“For some days I haunted the spot of these scenes, sometimes wishing to see you, sometimes vainly hoping the boy would return and share with me something of your world. At length I wandered towards these mountains, and have ranged through their immense recesses, revolving the ten million thoughts inside my all-searching, all-sounding mind.”
Here he ceased his tale, and a glance in his eyes assured me that I’d fulfilled his request and was free to reply.
“I knew my mistake and your grace the very moment I glanced my father’s mention of William’s incredible fancy — a tale my father was at pains to disavow, explaining that he included the strange anecdote for my brother’s appeasement, and only secondarily in the most likely barren hope that I might hold a clue to this confounding and slightly disturbing riddle.
“I am a young man. Too young, uninformed, and unwise for what I wrought in creating you — a living, breathing, thinking being. My notes will have informed you that not so much my conscious intellect drove my work, but rather a kind of demonic or fiendish lust for knowledge; or, better said: lust for victory, disguised to myself as a quest for knowledge. Is it any wonder, then, that my mind, feverish and self-obsessed as it was, rejected you with shallow, cowardly judgements?
“I ask your forgiveness and forbearance for my conduct, and entreat you to join me in my home. Come meet my family. Let us be the family you have longed for. I am not your father, but merely a poor fool that, driven by a wild inhuman and inhumane fever, stumbled across a means for animating lifeless matter. Some might joke that that’s true of many a biological father as well! Be that as it may, and setting all vulgar humor decidedly aside: I was out of my head and beyond my senses when I created you.
“Indeed, as I’ve previously intimidated, I’m often persuaded that you were built not so much by me as by a demonic urge which prowls always in the shadowy recesses of consciousness to haunt the soul of man and which for some months conquered my truer self — or, in the language of your elegant metaphysics, diverted my inner watching away from the light that loves. As such, and especially considering how cheaply and rudely I behaved towards you from the moment of your birth, I’ve no right to call you a son; but perhaps, in time, through patient devotion and earnest effort, I will win the right to call you my brother.”
“Your words are sincere and are gratefully accepted” was his simple reply, and the beginning of our work together, the most wonderful and fortunate collaboration of my life.
What a miraculous, multi-soul salvation has the invisible yet all-pervading divinity here effected! A soul caught within blind animal rage and lustful raving, trapped within the mere happenstance of the merely wild; a heart abandoned, a mind untutored, a spirit splintered. Here the divine triumphed; this cruelly outraged, mangled soul was seized by divine grace, was coaxed towards aware clear conscious thought and action, towards the Good — which is in no wise random, but rather abides in the eternal and infinite necessity of Loving Kindness and Gentle Wisdom! And this grace, extended to one I’d blithely deserted, travelled then through the offended one back into me, the villain, granting me an undeserved but gratefully accepted salvation. For I’d known I had been wrong but had not recognized in what manner nor to what degree.
Intervention authored by Bartleby Willard, edited by Amble Whistletown, and copyrighted by Andy Watson
[Return to original Frankenstein: End of Chapter 16]