lous engagement attract him more than his charming and lovely wife? Does he know how to prize his happiness? Can he value her as she deserves? He possesses her, it is true, I know that, as I know much more, and I have become accus- tomed to the thought that he will drive me mad, or, perhaps, murder me. Is his friendship toward me unimpaired? Does he not view my attachment to Charlotte as an infringement upon his rights, and consider my attention to her as a silent rebuke to himself? I know, and indeed feel, that he dislikes me, that he wishes for my absence, that my presence is hateful to him.”
He would often pause when on his way to visit Charlotte, stand still, as though in doubt, and seem desirous of returning, but would nevertheless proceed; and, engaged in such thoughts and soliloquies as we have described, he finally reached the hunt- ing-lodge, with a sort of involuntary consent.
Upon one occasion he entered the house; and, inquiring for Charlotte, he observed that the inmates were in a state of unusual confusion.The eldest boy informed him that a dread- ful misfortune had occurred at Walheim, —that a peasant had been murdered! But this made little impression upon him. Entering the apartment, he found Charlotte engaged
reasoning with her father, who, in spite of his infirmity, in- sisted on going to the scene of the crime, in order to institute an inquiry. The criminal was unknown; the victim had been found dead at his own door that morning. Suspicions were excited: the murdered man had been in the service of a widow, and the person who had previously filled the situation had been dismissed from her employment.
As soon as Werther heard this, he exclaimed with great ex- citement, “Is it possible! I must go to the spot —I cannot delay a moment!” He hastened to Walheim. Every incident returned vividly to his remembrance; and he entertained not the slight- est doubt that that man was the murderer to whom he had so often spoken, and for whom he entertained so much regard. His way took him past the well-known lime trees, to the house where the body had been carried; and his feelings were greatly excited at the sight of the fondly recollected spot.That thresh- old where the neighbours’ children had so often played together was stained with blood; love and attachment, the noblest feel- ings of human nature, had been converted into violence and murder. The huge trees stood there leafless and covered with hoarfrost; the beautiful hedgerows which surrounded the old