You have probably waited impatiently for a letter to fix the date of your return to us; and I was at first tempted to write only a few lines, merely mentionning the day on wich I should expect you. But that would be a cruel kindness, and I dare not do it. WHat would be your surprise, my son, when you expected a happy and glad welcome, to behold, on the contrary, tears and wretchedness ? And how Victor, can I relate our misfortune ? Absence cannot have rendered you callous to our joys ans griefs; and how shall I inflict pain on my long absent son ? I wish to prepare you for the woeful news, but I know it is impossible; even now your eye skims over the page to seek the words which are to convey to you the horrible tidings.
William is dead ! that sweet child, whose smiles delighted and warmed my heart, who was so gentle, yet so gay ! Victor, he is murdered !
I will not attempt to console you; but will simply relate the circumstances of the transaction.
Last Thursday (May 7th), I, my niece, and your two brothers, went to walk in Plainpalais. The evening was warm and serene, and we prolonged our walk farther than usual. It was already dusk before we thought of returning; and then we discovered that William and Ernest, who had gone on before, were not to be found. We accordingly rested on a seat until they should return. Presently Ernest came, and enquired if we had seen his brother, he said, that he had been playing with him, that William had run away to hide himself, and that he vainly sought for him, and afterwards waited for a long time, but that he did not return.
This account rather alarmed us, and we continued to search for him until night fell, when Elizabeth conjectured that he might have returned to the house. He was not there. We returned again, with torches, for I could not rest, when I thought that my sweet boy had lost himself, and was exposed to all the damps and dews of night; Elizabeth also suffered extreme anguish. About five in