Pride and Prometheus by John Kessel

Pride and Prometheus by John Kessel

Author:John Kessel
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Saga Press
Published: 2018-02-12T05:00:00+00:00

I had solved the problem of Mary Bennet, but the problem of Henry Clerval remained.

Following our departure from Matlock, on his insistence Henry and I passed two months in the Lake District. We took a cottage in Grasmere, from which we made excursions upon the fells. In that summer season we climbed the highest peak in Britain, followed freshets of mountain streams, sailed on lakes the color of deep blue metal, circled herds of bleating sheep on hillsides, and picnicked in the picturesque ruins of old cottages shadowed by verdant green woods. Even more here than in Matlock, the landscape resembled that of our native country.

Though we were far from the city bustle that had engaged Henry in London, or from the clubs and colleges of Oxford, Henry was pleased to meet with the various poets and writers who had made this countryside famous: Romantics who wrote verses about Nature and the Soul and the Immaterial World, who took laudanum and theorized about the transcendental and practiced Socratic love. Aging litterateurs who in their youth had spoken of revolution and now hurled the word “Jacobin” as an epithet. Henry ingratiated himself to some of them, and we spent evenings in their homes discussing the poetic arts and the dispensations of nature. Henry was easy prey. He told me, “I could pass my life here, and among these mountains I should scarcely regret Switzerland and the Rhine.”

With Henry I dawdled through the weeks in a kind of feverish distraction. Whenever we left the warm light of some home where we had spent the evening in idle speculation around the fire, the moment we were enveloped by the cool night and the sound of crickets in the field, I imagined the eyes of the Creature on my neck. It never left me for a second that the body of Catherine Bennet awaited me, decaying in a sealed cedar trunk in Edinburgh. Time would not stop. I was not so sure of my method that I could afford at this point to dawdle. Now that I had a body to work from, the Creature’s desire to have his mate must burn like an uncontrollable fire. He would not harm me, but in a rage of impatience he might well kill Henry.

When these thoughts possessed me, I would not quit Henry for a moment, but followed him as his shadow to protect him from the fancied rage of his destroyer. I felt as if I had committed some great crime, the consciousness of which haunted me. I was guiltless, but I had drawn down a horrible curse upon my head.

As youths, in solitary hours one summer in the alpine meadows, we had spoken of love. Once or twice we had exchanged embraces that went beyond brotherly affection, and explored the pleasures of which our young bodies were capable. There was no shame in these idylls, for we truly loved each other. But for me these moments were the expression of a desire that had


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