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"The next morning Felix went out to his work, and after the usual↩
occupations of Agatha were finished, the Arabian sat at the feet of the↩
old man, and taking his guitar, played some airs so entrancingly↩
beautiful that they at once drew tears of sorrow and delight from my↩
eyes. She sang, and her voice flowed in a rich cadence, swelling or↩
dying away like a nightingale of the woods.↩
"When she had finished, she gave the guitar to Agatha, who at first↩
declined it. She played a simple air, and her voice accompanied it in↩
sweet accents, but unlike the wondrous strain of the stranger. The old↩
man appeared enraptured and said some words which Agatha endeavoured to↩
explain to Safie, and by which he appeared to wish to express that she↩
bestowed on him the greatest delight by her music.↩
"The days now passed as peaceably as before, with the sole alteration↩
that joy had taken place of sadness in the countenances of my friends.↩
Safie was always gay and happy; she and I improved rapidly in the↩
knowledge of language, so that in two months I began to comprehend most↩
of the words uttered by my protectors.↩
"In the meanwhile also the black ground was covered with herbage, and↩
the green banks interspersed with innumerable flowers, sweet to the↩
scent and the eyes, stars of pale radiance among the moonlight woods;↩
the sun became warmer, the nights clear and balmy; and my nocturnal↩
rambles were an extreme pleasure to me, although they were considerably↩
shortened by the late setting and early rising of the sun, for I never↩
ventured abroad during daylight, fearful of meeting with the same↩
treatment I had formerly endured in the first village which I entered.↩
"My days were spent in close attention, that I might more speedily↩
master the language; and I may boast that I improved more rapidly than↩
the Arabian, who understood very little and conversed in broken↩
accents, whilst I comprehended and could imitate almost every word that↩
was spoken.↩
"While I improved in speech, I also learned the science of letters as↩
it was taught to the stranger, and this opened before me a wide field↩
for wonder and delight.↩
"The book from which Felix instructed Safie was Volney's Ruins of↩
Empires. I should not have understood the purport of this book had not↩
Felix, in reading it, given very minute explanations. He had chosen↩
this work, he said, because the declamatory style was framed in↩
imitation of the Eastern authors. Through this work I obtained a↩
cursory knowledge of history and a view of the several empires at↩
present existing in the world; it gave me an insight into the manners,↩
governments, and religions of the different nations of the earth. I↩
heard of the slothful Asiatics, of the stupendous genius and mental↩
activity of the Grecians, of the wars and wonderful virtue of the early↩
Romans--of their subsequent degenerating--of the decline of that mighty↩
empire, of chivalry, Christianity, and kings. I heard of the discovery↩
of the American hemisphere and wept with Safie over the hapless fate of↩
its original inhabitants.↩
"These wonderful narrations inspired me with strange feelings. Was↩
man, indeed, at once so powerful, so virtuous and magnificent, yet so↩
vicious and base? He appeared at one time a mere scion of the evil↩
principle and at another as all that can be conceived of noble and↩
godlike. To be a great and virtuous man appeared the highest honour↩
that can befall a sensitive being; to be base and vicious, as many on↩
record have been, appeared the lowest degradation, a condition more↩
abject than that of the blind mole or harmless worm. For a long time I↩
could not conceive how one man could go forth to murder his fellow, or↩
even why there were laws and governments; but when I heard details of↩
vice and bloodshed, my wonder ceased and I turned away with disgust and↩
loathing.↩
"Every conversation of the cottagers now opened new wonders to me.↩
While I listened to the instructions which Felix bestowed upon the↩
Arabian, the strange system of human society was explained to me. I↩
heard of the division of property, of immense wealth and squalid↩
poverty, of rank, descent, and noble blood.↩
"The words induced me to turn towards myself. I learned that the↩
possessions most esteemed by your fellow creatures were high and↩
unsullied descent united with riches. A man might be respected with↩
only one of these advantages, but without either he was considered,↩
except in very rare instances, as a vagabond and a slave, doomed to↩
waste his powers for the profits of the chosen few! And what was I? Of↩
my creation and creator I was absolutely ignorant, but I knew that I↩
possessed no money, no friends, no kind of property. I was, besides,↩
endued with a figure hideously deformed and loathsome; I was not even↩
of the same nature as man. I was more agile than they and could↩
subsist upon coarser diet; I bore the extremes of heat and cold with↩
less injury to my frame; my stature far exceeded theirs. When I looked↩
around I saw and heard of none like me. Was I, then, a monster, a blot↩
upon the earth, from which all men fled and whom all men disowned?↩
"I cannot describe to you the agony that these reflections inflicted↩
upon me; I tried to dispel them, but sorrow only increased with↩
knowledge. Oh, that I had forever remained in my native wood, nor↩
known nor felt beyond the sensations of hunger, thirst, and heat!↩
"Of what a strange nature is knowledge! It clings to the mind when it↩
has once seized on it like a lichen on the rock. I wished sometimes to↩
shake off all thought and feeling, but I learned that there was but one↩
means to overcome the sensation of pain, and that was death--a state↩
which I feared yet did not understand. I admired virtue and good↩
feelings and loved the gentle manners and amiable qualities of my↩
cottagers, but I was shut out from intercourse with them, except↩
through means which I obtained by stealth, when I was unseen and↩
unknown, and which rather increased than satisfied the desire I had of↩
becoming one among my fellows. The gentle words of Agatha and the↩
animated smiles of the charming Arabian were not for me. The mild↩
exhortations of the old man and the lively conversation of the loved↩
Felix were not for me. Miserable, unhappy wretch!↩
"Other lessons were impressed upon me even more deeply. I heard of the↩
difference of sexes, and the birth and growth of children, how the↩
father doted on the smiles of the infant, and the lively sallies of the↩
older child, how all the life and cares of the mother were wrapped up↩
in the precious charge, how the mind of youth expanded and gained↩
knowledge, of brother, sister, and all the various relationships which↩
bind one human being to another in mutual bonds.↩
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