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Contents > Author > Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley > Frankenstein 14 1797- 1851
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Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley
Frankenstein 14
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Chapter 14

"Some time elapsed before I learned the history of my friends. It was
one which could not fail to impress itself deeply on my mind, unfolding
as it did a number of circumstances, each interesting and wonderful to
one so utterly inexperienced as I was.

"The name of the old man was De Lacey. He was descended from a good
family in France, where he had lived for many years in affluence,
respected by his superiors and beloved by his equals. His son was bred
in the service of his country, and Agatha had ranked with ladies of the
highest distinction. A few months before my arrival they had lived in
a large and luxurious city called Paris, surrounded by friends and
possessed of every enjoyment which virtue, refinement of intellect, or
taste, accompanied by a moderate fortune, could afford.

"The father of Safie had been the cause of their ruin. He was a
Turkish merchant and had inhabited Paris for many years, when, for some
reason which I could not learn, he became obnoxious to the government.
He was seized and cast into prison the very day that Safie arrived from
Constantinople to join him. He was tried and condemned to death. The
injustice of his sentence was very flagrant; all Paris was indignant;
and it was judged that his religion and wealth rather than the crime
alleged against him had been the cause of his condemnation.

"Felix had accidentally been present at the trial; his horror and
indignation were uncontrollable when he heard the decision of the
court. He made, at that moment, a solemn vow to deliver him and then
looked around for the means. After many fruitless attempts to gain
admittance to the prison, he found a strongly grated window in an
unguarded part of the building, which lighted the dungeon of the
unfortunate Muhammadan, who, loaded with chains, waited in despair the
execution of the barbarous sentence. Felix visited the grate at night
and made known to the prisoner his intentions in his favour. The Turk,
amazed and delighted, endeavoured to kindle the zeal of his deliverer
by promises of reward and wealth. Felix rejected his offers with
contempt, yet when he saw the lovely Safie, who was allowed to visit
her father and who by her gestures expressed her lively gratitude, the
youth could not help owning to his own mind that the captive possessed
a treasure which would fully reward his toil and hazard.

"The Turk quickly perceived the impression that his daughter had made
on the heart of Felix and endeavoured to secure him more entirely in
his interests by the promise of her hand in marriage so soon as he
should be conveyed to a place of safety. Felix was too delicate to
accept this offer, yet he looked forward to the probability of the
event as to the consummation of his happiness.

"During the ensuing days, while the preparations were going forward for
the escape of the merchant, the zeal of Felix was warmed by several
letters that he received from this lovely girl, who found means to
express her thoughts in the language of her lover by the aid of an old
man, a servant of her father who understood French. She thanked him in
the most ardent terms for his intended services towards her parent, and
at the same time she gently deplored her own fate.

"I have copies of these letters, for I found means, during my residence
in the hovel, to procure the implements of writing; and the letters
were often in the hands of Felix or Agatha. Before I depart I will
give them to you; they will prove the truth of my tale; but at present,
as the sun is already far declined, I shall only have time to repeat
the substance of them to you.

"Safie related that her mother was a Christian Arab, seized and made a
slave by the Turks; recommended by her beauty, she had won the heart of
the father of Safie, who married her. The young girl spoke in high and
enthusiastic terms of her mother, who, born in freedom, spurned the
bondage to which she was now reduced. She instructed her daughter in
the tenets of her religion and taught her to aspire to higher powers of
intellect and an independence of spirit forbidden to the female
followers of Muhammad. This lady died, but her lessons were indelibly
impressed on the mind of Safie, who sickened at the prospect of again
returning to Asia and being immured within the walls of a harem,
allowed only to occupy herself with infantile amusements, ill-suited to
the temper of her soul, now accustomed to grand ideas and a noble
emulation for virtue. The prospect of marrying a Christian and
remaining in a country where women were allowed to take a rank in
society was enchanting to her.

"The day for the execution of the Turk was fixed, but on the night
previous to it he quitted his prison and before morning was distant
many leagues from Paris. Felix had procured passports in the name of
his father, sister, and himself. He had previously communicated his
plan to the former, who aided the deceit by quitting his house, under
the pretence of a journey and concealed himself, with his daughter, in
an obscure part of Paris.

"Felix conducted the fugitives through France to Lyons and across Mont
Cenis to Leghorn, where the merchant had decided to wait a favourable
opportunity of passing into some part of the Turkish dominions.

"Safie resolved to remain with her father until the moment of his
departure, before which time the Turk renewed his promise that she
should be united to his deliverer; and Felix remained with them in
expectation of that event; and in the meantime he enjoyed the society
of the Arabian, who exhibited towards him the simplest and tenderest
affection. They conversed with one another through the means of an
interpreter, and sometimes with the interpretation of looks; and Safie
sang to him the divine airs of her native country.

"The Turk allowed this intimacy to take place and encouraged the hopes
of the youthful lovers, while in his heart he had formed far other
plans. He loathed the idea that his daughter should be united to a
Christian, but he feared the resentment of Felix if he should appear
lukewarm, for he knew that he was still in the power of his deliverer
if he should choose to betray him to the Italian state which they
inhabited. He revolved a thousand plans by which he should be enabled
to prolong the deceit until it might be no longer necessary, and
secretly to take his daughter with him when he departed. His plans
were facilitated by the news which arrived from Paris.

"The government of France were greatly enraged at the escape of their
victim and spared no pains to detect and punish his deliverer. The
plot of Felix was quickly discovered, and De Lacey and Agatha were
thrown into prison. The news reached Felix and roused him from his
dream of pleasure. His blind and aged father and his gentle sister lay
in a noisome dungeon while he enjoyed the free air and the society of
her whom he loved. This idea was torture to him. He quickly arranged
with the Turk that if the latter should find a favourable opportunity
for escape before Felix could return to Italy, Safie should remain as a
boarder at a convent at Leghorn; and then, quitting the lovely Arabian,
he hastened to Paris and delivered himself up to the vengeance of the
law, hoping to free De Lacey and Agatha by this proceeding.

"He did not succeed. They remained confined for five months before the
trial took place, the result of which deprived them of their fortune and
condemned them to a perpetual exile from their native country.

"They found a miserable asylum in the cottage in Germany, where I
discovered them. Felix soon learned that the treacherous Turk, for
whom he and his family endured such unheard-of oppression, on
discovering that his deliverer was thus reduced to poverty and ruin,
became a traitor to good feeling and honour and had quitted Italy with
his daughter, insultingly sending Felix a pittance of money to aid him,
as he said, in some plan of future maintenance.

"Such were the events that preyed on the heart of Felix and rendered
him, when I first saw him, the most miserable of his family. He could
have endured poverty, and while this distress had been the meed of his
virtue, he gloried in it; but the ingratitude of the Turk and the loss
of his beloved Safie were misfortunes more bitter and irreparable. The
arrival of the Arabian now infused new life into his soul.

"When the news reached Leghorn that Felix was deprived of his wealth
and rank, the merchant commanded his daughter to think no more of her
lover, but to prepare to return to her native country. The generous
nature of Safie was outraged by this command; she attempted to
expostulate with her father, but he left her angrily, reiterating his
tyrannical mandate.

"A few days after, the Turk entered his daughter's apartment and told
her hastily that he had reason to believe that his residence at Leghorn
had been divulged and that he should speedily be delivered up to the
French government; he had consequently hired a vessel to convey him to
Constantinople, for which city he should sail in a few hours. He
intended to leave his daughter under the care of a confidential
servant, to follow at her leisure with the greater part of his
property, which had not yet arrived at Leghorn.

"When alone, Safie resolved in her own mind the plan of conduct that it
would become her to pursue in this emergency. A residence in Turkey
was abhorrent to her; her religion and her feelings were alike averse
to it. By some papers of her father which fell into her hands she
heard of the exile of her lover and learnt the name of the spot where
he then resided. She hesitated some time, but at length she formed her
determination. Taking with her some jewels that belonged to her and a
sum of money, she quitted Italy with an attendant, a native of Leghorn,
but who understood the common language of Turkey, and departed for

"She arrived in safety at a town about twenty leagues from the cottage
of De Lacey, when her attendant fell dangerously ill. Safie nursed her
with the most devoted affection, but the poor girl died, and the
Arabian was left alone, unacquainted with the language of the country
and utterly ignorant of the customs of the world. She fell, however,
into good hands. The Italian had mentioned the name of the spot for
which they were bound, and after her death the woman of the house in
which they had lived took care that Safie should arrive in safety at
the cottage of her lover."


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