The second installment of day 29. And only a little past the halfway mark.
Victor started his journey a month after his attack on Anton Leclerc. The thought of the impending trip was apparently enough to keep him in bed at night for there were no more reports of his wandering. And during the day he was often about the house writing letters and making his arrangements. His conversations were mostly rational, although he remained agitated and would jump at the slightest noise. And he continued to call Agatha, Belle, though nobody dared correct him. When she asked Elizabeth about it she seemed to think it an understandable mistake as “the resemblance is not far off, if Belle had managed not to age in the last dozen years. I suppose he sees what he wants to see.”
The family saw him off in the morning wishing him a safe journey and making sure he had not forgotten anything. He held Elizabeth tenderly, assured her he would be fine and asked that she find a way to lift her own spirits and to watch for demons. She assured him she would. He then mounted his horse and was away.
The moment he left the city gates behind him he felt a great weight lifted. He was a scholarly fellow it was true, but there were times when he required mountains and nothing and no one else. He picked his way along his beloved alpine roads and admired the scenery. Summer was now at its height and the trees danced about him in their full glory. His gloom, though still present at the edges, could not withstand the majesty that surrounded him. He and his troubles felt insignificant when confronted with the eternity of the mountains.
He went by horseback as far as he could and then switched to a more sure-footed mule as the trail became more treacherous. The scenery was amazingly unchanged since his boyhood. He would turn a corner and it was as if the last years had never happened. He had not unleashed a monster onto the world. William was still living. Justine was never hanged. These moments were brief and then his guilt would swell and he would be forced to stop and collect himself. He looked at long abandoned castles, waterfalls, ancient glaciers and the ever present snowy peaks of the Alps. None of these could be marked by his small troubles. He was as insignificant as a buzzing insect, unnoticed by geological history. He went on.
When at last he reached the village of Chamounix, he was exhausted in both mind and body. He ate heartily and slept well that night.
The next morning he wandered the valley and continued to distract from his troubles. The ramble did wonders for his ruined body. He had not exercised it properly since his first year attending Ingolstadt. The memory of his dreaded college and all that had gone on there brought a momentary pang, but the glory of the surrounding vista quickly banished such thoughts. Once again he went to bed exhausted and slept well.
It was his plan to climb to the summit of Montanvert the next day. When he awoke to rain he considered resting instead and tackling it on the morrow, but he was far too restless to stay and rain is only wet and what was that to aa man as himself. He had his mule brought and started his trek.
The zigzagging route was a tricky one and perhaps unwise to take when wet, but neither he nor his mule slipped and the solemnity of the weather added to the atmosphere. Ruined trees marked the trails of avalanches. Rocks fell. Trees shrank as he went higher and snow appeared in ribbons across his path. It was all of it breath-taking and terrible. He stopped at the magnificent ice field that wrapped the peak and felt joy enter his heart for the first time in many years. He let the mountains absorb his insignificant being and thought die now or go on — there was hope for him still.
And then he saw it. His peace was shattered. A man approached him. He was immense in proportion and going at an inhuman speed. It seemed he was not ever to escape his abomination, for leaping effortlessly along a path that had taken Victor hours to negotiate, was his monstrous creation.