J. Sheridan LeFanu
Upon a paper attached to the Narrative which follows,
Doctor Hesselius has written a rather elaborate note, which
he accompanies with a reference to his Essay on the strange
subject which the MS. illuminates.
This mysterious subject he treats, in that Essay, with his
usual learning and acumen, and with remarkable directness
and condensation. It will form but one volume of the series
of that extraordinary man's collected papers.
As I publish the case, in this volume, simply to interest the
"laity," I shall forestall the intelligent lady, who relates it, in
nothing; and after due consideration, I have determined,
therefore, to abstain from presenting any précis of the learned
Doctor's reasoning, or extract from his statement on a subject
which he describes as "involving, not improbably, some of the
profoundest arcana of our dual existence, and its intermediates."
I was anxious on discovering this paper, to reopen the
correspondence commenced by Doctor Hesselius, so many years
before, with a person so clever and careful as his informant
seems to have been. Much to my regret, however, I found that
she had died in the interval.
She, probably, could have added little to the Narrative
which she communicates in the following pages, with, so far
as I can pronounce, such conscientious particularity.
An Early Fright
In Styria, we, though by no means magnificent people,
inhabit a castle, or schloss. A small income, in that
part of the world, goes a great way. Eight or nine
hundred a year does wonders. Scantily enough ours
would have answered among wealthy people at home.
My father is English, and I bear an English name,
although I never saw England. But here, in this lonely
and primitive place, where everything is so marvelously
cheap, I really don't see how ever so much more money
would at all materially add to our comforts, or even
My father was in the Austrian service, and retired
upon a pension and his patrimony, and purchased this
feudal residence, and the small estate on which it
stands, a bargain.
Nothing can be more picturesque or solitary. It
stands on a slight eminence in a forest. The road, very
old and narrow, passes in front of its drawbridge, never
raised in my time, and its moat, stocked with perch,
and sailed over by many swans, and floating on its
surface white fleets of water lilies.
Over all this the schloss shows its many-windowed
front; its towers, and its Gothic chapel.
The forest opens in an irregular and very picturesque
glade before its gate, and at the right a steep Gothic
bridge carries the road over a stream that winds in deep
shadow through the wood. I have said that this is a
very lonely place. Judge whether I say truth. Looking
from the hall door towards the road, the forest in which
our castle stands extends fifteen miles to the right, and
twelve to the left. The nearest inhabited village is about
seven of your English miles to the left. The nearest
inhabited schloss of any historic associations, is that
of old General Spielsdorf, nearly twenty miles away to
I have said "the nearest inhabited village," because
there is, only three miles westward, that is to say in the
direction of General Spielsdorf's schloss, a ruined village,
with its quaint little church, now roofless, in the
aisle of which are the moldering tombs of the proud
family of Karnstein, now extinct, who once owned the
equally desolate chateau which, in the thick of the
forest, overlooks the silent ruins of the town.
Respecting the cause of the desertion of this striking
and melancholy spot, there is a legend which I shall
relate to you another time.
I must tell you now, how very small is the party who
constitute the inhabitants of our castle. I don't include
servants, or those dependents who occupy rooms in
the buildings attached to the schloss. Listen, and wonder!
My father, who is the kindest man on earth, but
growing old; and I, at the date of my story, only
nineteen. Eight years have passed since then.
I and my father constituted the family at the schloss.
My mother, a Styrian lady, died in my infancy, but I
had a good-natured governess, who had been with me
from, I might almost say, my infancy. I could not
remember the time when her fat, benignant face was
not a familiar picture in my memory.
This was Madame Perrodon, a native of Berne, whose
care and good nature now in part supplied to me the
loss of my mother, whom I do not even remember, so
early I lost her. She made a third at our little dinner
party. There was a fourth, Mademoiselle De Lafontaine,
a lady such as you term, I believe, a "finishing
governess." She spoke French and German, Madame
Perrodon French and broken English, to which my
father and I added English, which, partly to prevent
its becoming a lost language among us, and partly from
patriotic motives, we spoke every day. The consequence
was a Babel, at which strangers used to laugh, and
which I shall make no attempt to reproduce in this
narrative. And there were two or three young lady
friends besides, pretty nearly of my own age, who were
occasional visitors, for longer or shorter terms; and
these visits I sometimes returned.
These were our regular social resources; but of course
there were chance visits from "neighbors" of only five
or six leagues distance. My life was, notwithstanding,
rather a solitary one, I can assure you.
My gouvernantes had just so much control over me
as you might conjecture such sage persons would have
in the case of a rather spoiled girl, whose only parent
allowed her pretty nearly her own way in everything.
The first occurrence in my existence, which produced
a terrible impression upon my mind, which, in
fact, never has been effaced, was one of the very earliest
incidents of my life which I can recollect. Some people
will think it so trifling that it should not be recorded
here. You will see, however, by-and-by, why I mention
it. The nursery, as it was called, though I had it all to
myself, was a large room in the upper story of the castle,
with a steep oak roof. I can't have been more than six
years old, when one night I awoke, and looking round
the room from my bed, failed to see the nursery maid.
Neither was my nurse there; and I thought myself
alone. I was not frightened, for I was one of those
happy children who are studiously kept in ignorance
of ghost stories, of fairy tales, and of all such lore as
makes us cover up our heads when the door cracks
suddenly, or the flicker of an expiring candle makes
the shadow of a bedpost dance upon the wall, nearer
to our faces. I was vexed and insulted at finding myself,
as I conceived, neglected, and I began to whimper,
preparatory to a hearty bout of roaring; when to my
surprise, I saw a solemn, but very pretty face looking
at me from the side of the bed. It was that of a young
lady who was kneeling, with her hands under the
coverlet. I looked at her with a kind of pleased wonder,
and ceased whimpering. She caressed me with her
hands, and lay down beside me on the bed, and drew
me towards her, smiling; I felt immediately delightfully
soothed, and fell asleep again. I was wakened by a
sensation as if two needles ran into my breast very deep
at the same moment, and I cried loudly. The lady
started back, with her eyes fixed on me, and then
slipped down upon the floor, and, as I thought, hid
herself under the bed.
I was now for the first time frightened, and I yelled
with all my might and main. Nurse, nursery maid,
housekeeper, all came running in, and hearing my
story, they made light of it, soothing me all they could
meanwhile. But, child as I was, I could perceive that
their faces were pale with an unwonted look of anxiety,
and I saw them look under the bed, and about the
room, and peep under tables and pluck open cupboards;
and the housekeeper whispered to the nurse:
"Lay your hand along that hollow in the bed; someone
did lie there, so sure as you did not; the place is still
I remember the nursery maid petting me, and all
three examining my chest, where I told them I felt the
puncture, and pronouncing that there was no sign
visible that any such thing had happened to me.
The housekeeper and the two other servants who
were in charge of the nursery, remained sitting up all
night; and from that time a servant always sat up in
the nursery until I was about fourteen.
I was very nervous for a long time after this. A doctor
was called in, he was pallid and elderly. How well I
remember his long saturnine face, slightly pitted with
smallpox, and his chestnut wig. For a good while, every
second day, he came and gave me medicine, which of
course I hated.
The morning after I saw this apparition I was in a
state of terror, and could not bear to be left alone,
daylight though it was, for a moment.
I remember my father coming up and standing at
the bedside, and talking cheerfully, and asking the
nurse a number of questions, and laughing very heartily
at one of the answers; and patting me on the
shoulder, and kissing me, and telling me not to be
frightened, that it was nothing but a dream and could
not hurt me.
But I was not comforted, for I knew the visit of the
strange woman was not a dream; and I was awfully
I was a little consoled by the nursery maid's assuring
me that it was she who had come and looked at me,
and lain down beside me in the bed, and that I must
have been half-dreaming not to have known her face.
But this, though supported by the nurse, did not quite
I remembered, in the course of that day, a venerable
old man, in a black cassock, coming into the room
with the nurse and housekeeper, and talking a little to
them, and very kindly to me; his face was very sweet
and gentle, and he told me they were going to pray,
and joined my hands together, and desired me to say,
softly, while they were praying, "Lord hear all good
prayers for us, for Jesus' sake." I think these were the
very words, for I often repeated them to myself, and
my nurse used for years to make me say them in my
I remembered so well the thoughtful sweet face of
that white-haired old man, in his black cassock, as he
stood in that rude, lofty, brown room, with the clumsy
furniture of a fashion three hundred years old about
him, and the scanty light entering its shadowy atmosphere
through the small lattice. He kneeled, and the
three women with him, and he prayed aloud with an
earnest quavering voice for, what appeared to me, a
long time. I forget all my life preceding that event, and
for some time after it is all obscure also, but the scenes
I have just described stand out vivid as the isolated
pictures of the phantasmagoria surrounded by darkness.
I am now going to tell you something so strange that
it will require all your faith in my veracity to believe
my story. It is not only true, nevertheless, but truth of
which I have been an eyewitness.
It was a sweet summer evening, and my father asked
me, as he sometimes did, to take a little ramble with
him along that beautiful forest vista which I have
mentioned as lying in front of the schloss.
"General Spielsdorf cannot come to us so soon as I
had hoped," said my father, as we pursued our walk.
He was to have paid us a visit of some weeks, and
we had expected his arrival next day. He was to have
brought with him a young lady, his niece and ward,
Mademoiselle Rheinfeldt, whom I had never seen, but
whom I had heard described as a very charming girl,
and in whose society I had promised myself many
happy days. I was more disappointed than a young lady
living in a town, or a bustling neighborhood can
possibly imagine. This visit, and the new acquaintance
it promised, had furnished my day dream for many
"And how soon does he come?" I asked.
"Not till autumn. Not for two months, I dare say,"
he answered. "And I am very glad now, dear, that you
never knew Mademoiselle Rheinfeldt."
"And why?" I asked, both mortified and curious.
"Because the poor young lady is dead," he replied.
"I quite forgot I had not told you, but you were not in
the room when I received the General's letter this
I was very much shocked. General Spielsdorf had
mentioned in his first letter, six or seven weeks before,
that she was not so well as he would wish her, but there
was nothing to suggest the remotest suspicion of danger.
"Here is the General's letter," he said, handing it to
me. "I am afraid he is in great affliction; the letter
appears to me to have been written very nearly in
We sat down on a rude bench, under a group of
magnificent lime trees. The sun was setting with all its
melancholy splendor behind the sylvan horizon, and
the stream that flows beside our home, and passes
under the steep old bridge I have mentioned, wound
through many a group of noble trees, almost at our
feet, reflecting in its current the fading crimson of the
sky. General Spielsdorf's letter was so extraordinary, so
vehement, and in some places so self-contradictory,
that I read it twice over--the second time aloud to my
father--and was still unable to account for it, except
by supposing that grief had unsettled his mind.
It said "I have lost my darling daughter, for as such
I loved her. During the last days of dear Bertha's illness
I was not able to write to you.
Before then I had no idea of her danger. I have lost
her, and now learn all, too late. She died in the peace
of innocence, and in the glorious hope of a blessed
futurity. The fiend who betrayed our infatuated hospitality
has done it all. I thought I was receiving into
my house innocence, gaiety, a charming companion
for my lost Bertha. Heavens! what a fool have I been!
I thank God my child died without a suspicion of
the cause of her sufferings. She is gone without so
much as conjecturing the nature of her illness, and the
accursed passion of the agent of all this misery. I devote
my remaining days to tracking and extinguishing a
monster. I am told I may hope to accomplish my
righteous and merciful purpose. At present there is
scarcely a gleam of light to guide me. I curse my
conceited incredulity, my despicable affectation of superiority,
my blindness, my obstinacy--all--too late.
I cannot write or talk collectedly now. I am distracted.
So soon as I shall have a little recovered, I mean to
devote myself for a time to enquiry, which may possibly
lead me as far as Vienna. Some time in the autumn,
two months hence, or earlier if I live, I will see you--that
is, if you permit me; I will then tell you all that I
scarce dare put upon paper now. Farewell. Pray for me,
In these terms ended this strange letter. Though I
had never seen Bertha Rheinfeldt my eyes filled with
tears at the sudden intelligence; I was startled, as well
as profoundly disappointed.
The sun had now set, and it was twilight by the time
I had returned the General's letter to my father.
It was a soft clear evening, and we loitered, speculating
upon the possible meanings of the violent and
incoherent sentences which I had just been reading. We
had nearly a mile to walk before reaching the road that
passes the schloss in front, and by that time the moon
was shining brilliantly. At the drawbridge we met Madame
Perrodon and Mademoiselle De Lafontaine, who
had come out, without their bonnets, to enjoy the
We heard their voices gabbling in animated dialogue
as we approached. We joined them at the drawbridge,
and turned about to admire with them the beautiful
The glade through which we had just walked lay
before us. At our left the narrow road wound away
under clumps of lordly trees, and was lost to sight amid
the thickening forest. At the right the same road crosses
the steep and picturesque bridge, near which stands a
ruined tower which once guarded that pass; and beyond
the bridge an abrupt eminence rises, covered with
trees, and showing in the shadows some grey ivy-clustered
Over the sward and low grounds a thin film of mist
was stealing like smoke, marking the distances with a
transparent veil; and here and there we could see the
river faintly flashing in the moonlight.
No softer, sweeter scene could be imagined. The
news I had just heard made it melancholy; but nothing
could disturb its character of profound serenity, and
the enchanted glory and vagueness of the prospect.
My father, who enjoyed the picturesque, and I, stood
looking in silence over the expanse beneath us. The
two good governesses, standing a little way behind us,
discoursed upon the scene, and were eloquent upon
Madame Perrodon was fat, middle-aged, and romantic,
and talked and sighed poetically. Mademoiselle De
Lafontaine--in right of her father who was a German,
assumed to be psychological, metaphysical, and something
of a mystic--now declared that when the moon
shone with a light so intense it was well known that it
indicated a special spiritual activity. The effect of the
full moon in such a state of brilliancy was manifold.
It acted on dreams, it acted on lunacy, it acted on
nervous people, it had marvelous physical influences
connected with life. Mademoiselle related that her
cousin, who was mate of a merchant ship, having taken
a nap on deck on such a night, lying on his back, with
his face full in the light on the moon, had wakened,
after a dream of an old woman clawing him by the
cheek, with his features horribly drawn to one side;
and his countenance had never quite recovered its
"The moon, this night," she said, "is full of idyllic
and magnetic influence--and see, when you look
behind you at the front of the schloss how all its
windows flash and twinkle with that silvery splendor,
as if unseen hands had lighted up the rooms to receive
There are indolent styles of the spirits in which,
indisposed to talk ourselves, the talk of others is pleasant
to our listless ears; and I gazed on, pleased with the
tinkle of the ladies' conversation.
"I have got into one of my moping moods tonight,"
said my father, after a silence, and quoting Shakespeare,
whom, by way of keeping up our English, he used to
read aloud, he said:
"'In truth I know not why I am so sad.
It wearies me: you say it wearies you;
But how I got it--came by it.'
"I forget the rest. But I feel as if some great misfortune
were hanging over us. I suppose the poor General's
afflicted letter has had something to do with it."
At this moment the unwonted sound of carriage
wheels and many hoofs upon the road, arrested our
They seemed to be approaching from the high
ground overlooking the bridge, and very soon the
equipage emerged from that point. Two horsemen first
crossed the bridge, then came a carriage drawn by four
horses, and two men rode behind.
It seemed to be the traveling carriage of a person of
rank; and we were all immediately absorbed in watching
that very unusual spectacle. It became, in a few
moments, greatly more interesting, for just as the carriage
had passed the summit of the steep bridge, one
of the leaders, taking fright, communicated his panic
to the rest, and after a plunge or two, the whole team
broke into a wild gallop together, and dashing between
the horsemen who rode in front, came thundering
along the road towards us with the speed of a hurricane.
The excitement of the scene was made more painful
by the clear, long-drawn screams of a female voice from
the carriage window.
We all advanced in curiosity and horror; me rather
in silence, the rest with various ejaculations of terror.
Our suspense did not last long. Just before you reach
the castle drawbridge, on the route they were coming,
there stands by the roadside a magnificent lime tree,
on the other stands an ancient stone cross, at sight of
which the horses, now going at a pace that was perfectly
frightful, swerved so as to bring the wheel over the
projecting roots of the tree.
I knew what was coming. I covered my eyes, unable
to see it out, and turned my head away; at the same
moment I heard a cry from my lady friends, who had
gone on a little.
Curiosity opened my eyes, and I saw a scene of utter
confusion. Two of the horses were on the ground, the
carriage lay upon its side with two wheels in the air;
the men were busy removing the traces, and a lady
with a commanding air and figure had got out, and
stood with clasped hands, raising the handkerchief that
was in them every now and then to her eyes.
Through the carriage door was now lifted a young
lady, who appeared to be lifeless. My dear old father
was already beside the elder lady, with his hat in his
hand, evidently tendering his aid and the resources of
his schloss. The lady did not appear to hear him, or to
have eyes for anything but the slender girl who was
being placed against the slope of the bank.
I approached; the young lady was apparently
stunned, but she was certainly not dead. My father,
who piqued himself on being something of a physician,
had just had his fingers on her wrist and assured
the lady, who declared herself her mother, that her
pulse, though faint and irregular, was undoubtedly still
distinguishable. The lady clasped her hands and
looked upward, as if in a momentary transport of
gratitude; but immediately she broke out again in that
theatrical way which is, I believe, natural to some
She was what is called a fine looking woman for her
time of life, and must have been handsome; she was
tall, but not thin, and dressed in black velvet, and
looked rather pale, but with a proud and commanding
countenance, though now agitated strangely.
"Who was ever being so born to calamity?" I heard
her say, with clasped hands, as I came up. "Here am I,
on a journey of life and death, in prosecuting which
to lose an hour is possibly to lose all. My child will
not have recovered sufficiently to resume her route for
who can say how long. I must leave her: I cannot, dare
not, delay. How far on, sir, can you tell, is the nearest
village? I must leave her there; and shall not see my
darling, or even hear of her till my return, three months
I plucked my father by the coat, and whispered
earnestly in his ear: "Oh!
papa, pray ask her to let her stay with us--it would
be so delightful. Do, pray."
"If Madame will entrust her child to the care of my
daughter, and of her good gouvernante, Madame Perrodon,
and permit her to remain as our guest, under
my charge, until her return, it will confer a distinction
and an obligation upon us, and we shall treat her with
all the care and devotion which so sacred a trust deserves."
"I cannot do that, sir, it would be to task your
kindness and chivalry too cruelly," said the lady, distractedly.
"It would, on the contrary, be to confer on us a very
great kindness at the moment when we most need it.
My daughter has just been disappointed by a cruel
misfortune, in a visit from which she had long anticipated
a great deal of happiness. If you confide this
young lady to our care it will be her best consolation.
The nearest village on your route is distant, and affords
no such inn as you could think of placing your daughter
at; you cannot allow her to continue her journey
for any considerable distance without danger. If, as you
say, you cannot suspend your journey, you must part
with her tonight, and nowhere could you do so with
more honest assurances of care and tenderness than
There was something in this lady's air and appearance
so distinguished and even imposing, and in her
manner so engaging, as to impress one, quite apart
from the dignity of her equipage, with a conviction
that she was a person of consequence.
By this time the carriage was replaced in its upright
position, and the horses, quite tractable, in the traces
The lady threw on her daughter a glance which I
fancied was not quite so affectionate as one might have
anticipated from the beginning of the scene; then she
beckoned slightly to my father, and withdrew two or
three steps with him out of hearing; and talked to him
with a fixed and stern countenance, not at all like that
with which she had hitherto spoken.
I was filled with wonder that my father did not seem
to perceive the change, and also unspeakably curious
to learn what it could be that she was speaking, almost
in his ear, with so much earnestness and rapidity.
Two or three minutes at most I think she remained
thus employed, then she turned, and a few steps
brought her to where her daughter lay, supported by
Madame Perrodon. She kneeled beside her for a moment
and whispered, as Madame supposed, a little
benediction in her ear; then hastily kissing her she
stepped into her carriage, the door was closed, the
footmen in stately liveries jumped up behind, the
outriders spurred on, the postilions cracked their
whips, the horses plunged and broke suddenly into a
furious canter that threatened soon again to become a
gallop, and the carriage whirled away, followed at the
same rapid pace by the two horsemen in the rear.
We Compare Notes
We followed the cortege with our eyes until it was
swiftly lost to sight in the misty wood; and the very
sound of the hoofs and the wheels died away in the
silent night air.
Nothing remained to assure us that the adventure
had not been an illusion of a moment but the young
lady, who just at that moment opened her eyes. I could
not see, for her face was turned from me, but she raised
her head, evidently looking about her, and I heard a
very sweet voice ask complainingly, "Where is
Our good Madame Perrodon answered tenderly, and
added some comfortable assurances.
I then heard her ask:
"Where am I? What is this place?" and after that she
said, "I don't see the carriage; and Matska, where is
Madame answered all her questions in so far as she
understood them; and gradually the young lady remembered
how the misadventure came about, and was
glad to hear that no one in, or in attendance on, the
carriage was hurt; and on learning that her mamma
had left her here, till her return in about three months,
I was going to add my consolations to those of
Madame Perrodon when Mademoiselle De Lafontaine
placed her hand upon my arm, saying:
"Don't approach, one at a time is as much as she can
at present converse with; a very little excitement would
possibly overpower her now."
As soon as she is comfortably in bed, I thought, I
will run up to her room and see her.
My father in the meantime had sent a servant on
horseback for the physician, who lived about two
leagues away; and a bedroom was being prepared for
the young lady's reception.
The stranger now rose, and leaning on Madame's
arm, walked slowly over the drawbridge and into the
In the hall, servants waited to receive her, and she
was conducted forthwith to her room. The room we
usually sat in as our drawing room is long, having four
windows, that looked over the moat and drawbridge,
upon the forest scene I have just described.
It is furnished in old carved oak, with large carved
cabinets, and the chairs are cushioned with crimson
Utrecht velvet. The walls are covered with tapestry, and
surrounded with great gold frames, the figures being
as large as life, in ancient and very curious costume,
and the subjects represented are hunting, hawking, and
generally festive. It is not too stately to be extremely
comfortable; and here we had our tea, for with his
usual patriotic leanings he insisted that the national
beverage should make its appearance regularly with
our coffee and chocolate.
We sat here this night, and with candles lighted, were
talking over the adventure of the evening.
Madame Perrodon and Mademoiselle De Lafontaine
were both of our party. The young stranger had
hardly lain down in her bed when she sank into a deep
sleep; and those ladies had left her in the care of a
"How do you like our guest?" I asked, as soon as
Madame entered. "Tell me all about her?"
"I like her extremely," answered Madame, "she is, I
almost think, the prettiest creature I ever saw; about
your age, and so gentle and nice."
"She is absolutely beautiful," threw in Mademoiselle,
who had peeped for a moment into the stranger's
"And such a sweet voice!" added Madame Perrodon.
"Did you remark a woman in the carriage, after it
was set up again, who did not get out," inquired Mademoiselle,
"but only looked from the window?"
"No, we had not seen her."
Then she described a hideous black woman, with a
sort of colored turban on her head, and who was gazing
all the time from the carriage window, nodding and
grinning derisively towards the ladies, with gleaming
eyes and large white eyeballs, and her teeth set as if in
"Did you remark what an ill-looking pack of men
the servants were?" asked Madame.
"Yes," said my father, who had just come in, "ugly,
hang-dog looking fellows as ever I beheld in my life. I
hope they mayn't rob the poor lady in the forest. They
are clever rogues, however; they got everything to rights
in a minute."
"I dare say they are worn out with too long traveling," said
"Besides looking wicked, their faces were so strangely
lean, and dark, and sullen. I am very curious, I own;
but I dare say the young lady will tell you all about it
tomorrow, if she is sufficiently recovered."
"I don't think she will," said my father, with a
mysterious smile, and a little nod of his head, as if he
knew more about it than he cared to tell us.
This made us all the more inquisitive as to what had
passed between him and the lady in the black velvet,
in the brief but earnest interview that had immediately
preceded her departure.
We were scarcely alone, when I entreated him to tell
me. He did not need much pressing.
"There is no particular reason why I should not tell
you. She expressed a reluctance to trouble us with the
care of her daughter, saying she was in delicate health,
and nervous, but not subject to any kind of seizure--she
volunteered that--nor to any illusion; being, in
fact, perfectly sane."
"How very odd to say all that!" I interpolated. "It
was so unnecessary."
"At all events it was said," he laughed, "and as you
wish to know all that passed, which was indeed very
little, I tell you. She then said, 'I am making a long
journey of vital importance--she emphasized the word--rapid
and secret; I shall return for my child in three
months; in the meantime, she will be silent as to who
we are, whence we come, and whither we are traveling.'
That is all she said. She spoke very pure French. When
she said the word 'secret,' she paused for a few seconds,
looking sternly, her eyes fixed on mine. I fancy she
makes a great point of that. You saw how quickly she
was gone. I hope I have not done a very foolish thing,
in taking charge of the young lady."
For my part, I was delighted. I was longing to see
and talk to her; and only waiting till the doctor should
give me leave. You, who live in towns, can have no idea
how great an event the introduction of a new friend is,
in such a solitude as surrounded us.
The doctor did not arrive till nearly one o'clock; but
I could no more have gone to my bed and slept, than
I could have overtaken, on foot, the carriage in which
the princess in black velvet had driven away.
When the physician came down to the drawing
room, it was to report very favorably upon his patient.
She was now sitting up, her pulse quite regular, apparently
perfectly well. She had sustained no injury, and
the little shock to her nerves had passed away quite
harmlessly. There could be no harm certainly in my
seeing her, if we both wished it; and, with this permission
I sent, forthwith, to know whether she would
allow me to visit her for a few minutes in her room.
The servant returned immediately to say that she
desired nothing more.
You may be sure I was not long in availing myself of
Our visitor lay in one of the handsomest rooms in
the schloss. It was, perhaps, a little stately. There was a
somber piece of tapestry opposite the foot of the bed,
representing Cleopatra with the asps to her bosom; and
other solemn classic scenes were displayed, a little
faded, upon the other walls. But there was gold carving,
and rich and varied color enough in the other decorations
of the room, to more than redeem the gloom of
the old tapestry.
There were candles at the bedside. She was sitting up;
her slender pretty figure enveloped in the soft silk
dressing gown, embroidered with flowers, and lined
with thick quilted silk, which her mother had thrown
over her feet as she lay upon the ground.
What was it that, as I reached the bedside and had
just begun my little greeting, struck me dumb in a
moment, and made me recoil a step or two from before
her? I will tell you.
I saw the very face which had visited me in my
childhood at night, which remained so fixed in my
memory, and on which I had for so many years so
often ruminated with horror, when no one suspected
of what I was thinking.
It was pretty, even beautiful; and when I first beheld
it, wore the same melancholy expression.
But this almost instantly lighted into a strange fixed
smile of recognition.
There was a silence of fully a minute, and then at
length she spoke; I could not.
"How wonderful!" she exclaimed. "Twelve years ago,
I saw your face in a dream, and it has haunted me ever
"Wonderful indeed!" I repeated, overcoming with an
effort the horror that had for a time suspended my
utterances. "Twelve years ago, in vision or reality, I
certainly saw you. I could not forget your face. It has
remained before my eyes ever since."
Her smile had softened. Whatever I had fancied
strange in it, was gone, and it and her dimpling cheeks
were now delightfully pretty and intelligent.
I felt reassured, and continued more in the vein
which hospitality indicated, to bid her welcome, and
to tell her how much pleasure her accidental arrival
had given us all, and especially what a happiness it was
I took her hand as I spoke. I was a little shy, as lonely
people are, but the situation made me eloquent, and
even bold. She pressed my hand, she laid hers upon it,
and her eyes glowed, as, looking hastily into mine, she
smiled again, and blushed.
She answered my welcome very prettily. I sat down
beside her, still wondering; and she said:
"I must tell you my vision about you; it is so very
strange that you and I should have had, each of the
other so vivid a dream, that each should have seen, I
you and you me, looking as we do now, when of course
we both were mere children. I was a child, about six
years old, and I awoke from a confused and troubled
dream, and found myself in a room, unlike my nursery,
wainscoted clumsily in some dark wood, and with
cupboards and bedsteads, and chairs, and benches
placed about it. The beds were, I thought, all empty,
and the room itself without anyone but myself in it;
and I, after looking about me for some time, and
admiring especially an iron candlestick with two
branches, which I should certainly know again, crept
under one of the beds to reach the window; but as I
got from under the bed, I heard someone crying; and
looking up, while I was still upon my knees, I saw you--most
assuredly you--as I see you now; a beautiful
young lady, with golden hair and large blue eyes, and
lips--your lips--you as you are here.
"Your looks won me; I climbed on the bed and put
my arms about you, and I think we both fell asleep. I
was aroused by a scream; you were sitting up screaming.
I was frightened, and slipped down upon the ground,
and, it seemed to me, lost consciousness for a moment;
and when I came to myself, I was again in my nursery
at home. Your face I have never forgotten since. I could
not be misled by mere resemblance. You are the lady
whom I saw then."
It was now my turn to relate my corresponding
vision, which I did, to the undisguised wonder of my
"I don't know which should be most afraid of the
other," she said, again smiling--"If you were less pretty
I think I should be very much afraid of you, but being
as you are, and you and I both so young, I feel only
that I have made your acquaintance twelve years ago,
and have already a right to your intimacy; at all events
it does seem as if we were destined, from our earliest
childhood, to be friends. I wonder whether you feel as
strangely drawn towards me as I do to you; I have never
had a friend--shall I find one now?" She sighed, and
her fine dark eyes gazed passionately on me.
Now the truth is, I felt rather unaccountably towards
the beautiful stranger. I did feel, as she said, "drawn
towards her," but there was also something of repulsion.
In this ambiguous feeling, however, the sense of
attraction immensely prevailed. She interested and
won me; she was so beautiful and so indescribably
I perceived now something of languor and exhaustion
stealing over her, and hastened to bid her good
"The doctor thinks," I added, "that you ought to
have a maid to sit up with you tonight; one of ours is
waiting, and you will find her a very useful and quiet
"How kind of you, but I could not sleep, I never
could with an attendant in the room. I shan't require
any assistance--and, shall I confess my weakness, I am
haunted with a terror of robbers. Our house was
robbed once, and two servants murdered, so I always
lock my door. It has become a habit--and you look
so kind I know you will forgive me. I see there is a key
in the lock."
She held me close in her pretty arms for a moment
and whispered in my ear, "Good night, darling, it is
very hard to part with you, but good night; tomorrow,
but not early, I shall see you again."
She sank back on the pillow with a sigh, and her fine
eyes followed me with a fond and melancholy gaze,
and she murmured again "Good night, dear friend."
Young people like, and even love, on impulse. I was
flattered by the evident, though as yet undeserved,
fondness she showed me. I liked the confidence with
which she at once received me. She was determined
that we should be very near friends.
Next day came and we met again. I was delighted
with my companion; that is to say, in many respects.
Her looks lost nothing in daylight--she was certainly
the most beautiful creature I had ever seen, and
the unpleasant remembrance of the face presented in
my early dream, had lost the effect of the first unexpected
She confessed that she had experienced a similar
shock on seeing me, and precisely the same faint antipathy
that had mingled with my admiration of her.
We now laughed together over our momentary horrors.
Her Habits--A Saunter
I told you that I was charmed with her in most
There were some that did not please me so well.
She was above the middle height of women. I shall
begin by describing her.
She was slender, and wonderfully graceful. Except
that her movements were languid--very languid--indeed,
there was nothing in her appearance to indicate
an invalid. Her complexion was rich and brilliant; her
features were small and beautifully formed; her eyes
large, dark, and lustrous; her hair was quite wonderful,
I never saw hair so magnificently thick and long when
it was down about her shoulders; I have often placed
my hands under it, and laughed with wonder at its
weight. It was exquisitely fine and soft, and in color a
rich very dark brown, with something of gold. I loved
to let it down, tumbling with its own weight, as, in her
room, she lay back in her chair talking in her sweet
low voice, I used to fold and braid it, and spread it out
and play with it. Heavens! If I had but known all!
I said there were particulars which did not please me.
I have told you that her confidence won me the first
night I saw her; but I found that she exercised with
respect to herself, her mother, her history, everything
in fact connected with her life, plans, and people, an
ever wakeful reserve. I dare say I was unreasonable,
perhaps I was wrong; I dare say I ought to have respected
the solemn injunction laid upon my father by
the stately lady in black velvet. But curiosity is a restless
and unscrupulous passion, and no one girl can endure,
with patience, that hers should be baffled by another.
What harm could it do anyone to tell me what I so
ardently desired to know? Had she no trust in my good
sense or honor? Why would she not believe me when
I assured her, so solemnly, that I would not divulge
one syllable of what she told me to any mortal breathing.
There was a coldness, it seemed to me, beyond her
years, in her smiling melancholy persistent refusal to
afford me the least ray of light.
I cannot say we quarreled upon this point, for she
would not quarrel upon any. It was, of course, very
unfair of me to press her, very ill-bred, but I really could
not help it; and I might just as well have let it alone.
What she did tell me amounted, in my unconscionable
It was all summed up in three very vague disclosures:
First--Her name was Carmilla.
Second--Her family was very ancient and noble.
Third--Her home lay in the direction of the west.
She would not tell me the name of her family, nor
their armorial bearings, nor the name of their estate,
nor even that of the country they lived in.
You are not to suppose that I worried her incessantly
on these subjects. I watched opportunity, and rather
insinuated than urged my inquiries. Once or twice,
indeed, I did attack her more directly. But no matter
what my tactics, utter failure was invariably the result.
Reproaches and caresses were all lost upon her. But I
must add this, that her evasion was conducted with so
pretty a melancholy and deprecation, with so many,
and even passionate declarations of her liking for me,
and trust in my honor, and with so many promises
that I should at last know all, that I could not find it
in my heart long to be offended with her.
She used to place her pretty arms about my neck,
draw me to her, and laying her cheek to mine, murmur
with her lips near my ear, "Dearest, your little heart is
wounded; think me not cruel because I obey the irresistible
law of my strength and weakness; if your dear
heart is wounded, my wild heart bleeds with yours. In
the rapture of my enormous humiliation I live in your
warm life, and you shall die--die, sweetly die--into
mine. I cannot help it; as I draw near to you, you, in
your turn, will draw near to others, and learn the
rapture of that cruelty, which yet is love; so, for a while,
seek to know no more of me and mine, but trust me
with all your loving spirit."
And when she had spoken such a rhapsody, she
would press me more closely in her trembling embrace,
and her lips in soft kisses gently glow upon my cheek.
Her agitations and her language were unintelligible
From these foolish embraces, which were not of very
frequent occurrence, I must allow, I used to wish to
extricate myself; but my energies seemed to fail me.
Her murmured words sounded like a lullaby in my ear,
and soothed my resistance into a trance, from which I
only seemed to recover myself when she withdrew her
In these mysterious moods I did not like her. I
experienced a strange tumultuous excitement that was
pleasurable, ever and anon, mingled with a vague sense
of fear and disgust. I had no distinct thoughts about
her while such scenes lasted, but I was conscious of a
love growing into adoration, and also of abhorrence.
This I know is paradox, but I can make no other
attempt to explain the feeling.
I now write, after an interval of more than ten years,
with a trembling hand, with a confused and horrible
recollection of certain occurrences and situations, in
the ordeal through which I was unconsciously passing;
though with a vivid and very sharp remembrance of
the main current of my story.
But, I suspect, in all lives there are certain emotional
scenes, those in which our passions have been most
wildly and terribly roused, that are of all others the
most vaguely and dimly remembered.
Sometimes after an hour of apathy, my strange and
beautiful companion would take my hand and hold it
with a fond pressure, renewed again and again; blushing
softly, gazing in my face with languid and burning
eyes, and breathing so fast that her dress rose and fell
with the tumultuous respiration. It was like the ardor
of a lover; it embarrassed me; it was hateful and yet
over-powering; and with gloating eyes she drew me to
her, and her hot lips traveled along my cheek in kisses;
and she would whisper, almost in sobs, "You are mine,
you shall be mine, you and I are one for ever." Then
she had thrown herself back in her chair, with her small
hands over her eyes, leaving me trembling.
"Are we related," I used to ask; "what can you mean
by all this? I remind you perhaps of someone whom
you love; but you must not, I hate it; I don't know you--I
don't know myself when you look so and talk so."
She used to sigh at my vehemence, then turn away
and drop my hand.
Respecting these very extraordinary manifestations
I strove in vain to form any satisfactory theory--I
could not refer them to affectation or trick. It was
unmistakably the momentary breaking out of suppressed
instinct and emotion. Was she, notwithstanding
her mother's volunteered denial, subject to brief
visitations of insanity; or was there here a disguise and
a romance? I had read in old storybooks of such things.
What if a boyish lover had found his way into the
house, and sought to prosecute his suit in masquerade,
with the assistance of a clever old adventuress. But
there were many things against this hypothesis, highly
interesting as it was to my vanity.
I could boast of no little attentions such as masculine
gallantry delights to offer. Between these passionate
moments there were long intervals of commonplace,
of gaiety, of brooding melancholy, during
which, except that I detected her eyes so full of melancholy
fire, following me, at times I might have been as
nothing to her. Except in these brief periods of mysterious
excitement her ways were girlish; and there was
always a languor about her, quite incompatible with a
masculine system in a state of health.
In some respects her habits were odd. Perhaps not
so singular in the opinion of a town lady like you, as
they appeared to us rustic people. She used to come
down very late, generally not till one o'clock, she would
then take a cup of chocolate, but eat nothing; we then
went out for a walk, which was a mere saunter, and she
seemed, almost immediately, exhausted, and either
returned to the schloss or sat on one of the benches
that were placed, here and there, among the trees. This
was a bodily languor in which her mind did not
sympathize. She was always an animated talker, and
She sometimes alluded for a moment to her own
home, or mentioned an adventure or situation, or an
early recollection, which indicated a people of strange
manners, and described customs of which we knew
nothing. I gathered from these chance hints that her
native country was much more remote than I had at
As we sat thus one afternoon under the trees a
funeral passed us by. It was that of a pretty young girl,
whom I had often seen, the daughter of one of the
rangers of the forest. The poor man was walking behind
the coffin of his darling; she was his only child,
and he looked quite heartbroken.
Peasants walking two-and-two came behind, they
were singing a funeral hymn.
I rose to mark my respect as they passed, and joined
in the hymn they were very sweetly singing.
My companion shook me a little roughly, and I
She said brusquely, "Don't you perceive how discordant
"I think it very sweet, on the contrary," I answered,
vexed at the interruption, and very uncomfortable, lest
the people who composed the little procession should
observe and resent what was passing.
I resumed, therefore, instantly, and was again interrupted.
"You pierce my ears," said Carmilla, almost
angrily, and stopping her ears with her tiny fingers.
"Besides, how can you tell that your religion and mine
are the same; your forms wound me, and I hate funerals.
What a fuss! Why you must die--everyone must
die; and all are happier when they do. Come home."
"My father has gone on with the clergyman to the
churchyard. I thought you knew she was to be buried
"She? I don't trouble my head about peasants. I don't
know who she is," answered Carmilla, with a flash from
her fine eyes.
"She is the poor girl who fancied she saw a ghost a
fortnight ago, and has been dying ever since, till yesterday,
when she expired."
"Tell me nothing about ghosts. I shan't sleep tonight
if you do."
"I hope there is no plague or fever coming; all this
looks very like it," I continued. "The swineherd's
young wife died only a week ago, and she thought
something seized her by the throat as she lay in her
bed, and nearly strangled her. Papa says such horrible
fancies do accompany some forms of fever. She was
quite well the day before. She sank afterwards, and died
before a week."
"Well, her funeral is over, I hope, and her hymn sung;
and our ears shan't be tortured with that discord and
jargon. It has made me nervous. Sit down here, beside
me; sit close; hold my hand; press it hard-hard-harder."
We had moved a little back, and had come to another
She sat down. Her face underwent a change that
alarmed and even terrified me for a moment. It darkened,
and became horribly livid; her teeth and hands
were clenched, and she frowned and compressed her
lips, while she stared down upon the ground at her
feet, and trembled all over with a continued shudder
as irrepressible as ague. All her energies seemed strained
to suppress a fit, with which she was then breathlessly
tugging; and at length a low convulsive cry of suffering
broke from her, and gradually the hysteria subsided.
"There! That comes of strangling people with hymns!"
she said at last. "Hold me, hold me still. It is passing
And so gradually it did; and perhaps to dissipate the
somber impression which the spectacle had left upon
me, she became unusually animated and chatty; and
so we got home.
This was the first time I had seen her exhibit any
definable symptoms of that delicacy of health which
her mother had spoken of. It was the first time, also,
I had seen her exhibit anything like temper.
Both passed away like a summer cloud; and never
but once afterwards did I witness on her part a momentary
sign of anger. I will tell you how it happened.
She and I were looking out of one of the long
drawing room windows, when there entered the courtyard,
over the drawbridge, a figure of a wanderer whom
I knew very well. He used to visit the schloss generally
twice a year.
It was the figure of a hunchback, with the sharp lean
features that generally accompany deformity. He wore
a pointed black beard, and he was smiling from ear to
ear, showing his white fangs. He was dressed in buff,
black, and scarlet, and crossed with more straps and
belts than I could count, from which hung all manner
of things. Behind, he carried a magic lantern, and two
boxes, which I well knew, in one of which was a
salamander, and in the other a mandrake. These monsters
used to make my father laugh. They were compounded
of parts of monkeys, parrots, squirrels, fish,
and hedgehogs, dried and stitched together with great
neatness and startling effect. He had a fiddle, a box of
conjuring apparatus, a pair of foils and masks attached
to his belt, several other mysterious cases dangling
about him, and a black staff with copper ferrules in
his hand. His companion was a rough spare dog, that
followed at his heels, but stopped short, suspiciously
at the drawbridge, and in a little while began to howl
In the meantime, the mountebank, standing in the
midst of the courtyard, raised his grotesque hat, and
made us a very ceremonious bow, paying his compliments
very volubly in execrable French, and German
not much better.
Then, disengaging his fiddle, he began to scrape a
lively air to which he sang with a merry discord, dancing
with ludicrous airs and activity, that made me
laugh, in spite of the dog's howling.
Then he advanced to the window with many smiles
and salutations, and his hat in his left hand, his fiddle
under his arm, and with a fluency that never took
breath, he gabbled a long advertisement of all his
accomplishments, and the resources of the various arts
which he placed at our service, and the curiosities and
entertainments which it was in his power, at our bidding,
"Will your ladyships be pleased to buy an amulet
against the oupire, which is going like the wolf, I hear,
through these woods," he said dropping his hat on the
pavement. "They are dying of it right and left and here
is a charm that never fails; only pinned to the pillow,
and you may laugh in his face."
These charms consisted of oblong slips of vellum,
with cabalistic ciphers and diagrams upon them.
Carmilla instantly purchased one, and so did I.
He was looking up, and we were smiling down upon
him, amused; at least, I can answer for myself. His
piercing black eye, as he looked up in our faces, seemed
to detect something that fixed for a moment his curiosity,
In an instant he unrolled a leather case, full of all
manner of odd little steel instruments.
"See here, my lady," he said, displaying it, and addressing
me, "I profess, among other things less useful,
the art of dentistry. Plague take the dog!" he interpolated.
"Silence, beast! He howls so that your ladyships
can scarcely hear a word. Your noble friend, the young
lady at your right, has the sharpest tooth,--long, thin,
pointed, like an awl, like a needle; ha, ha! With my
sharp and long sight, as I look up, I have seen it
distinctly; now if it happens to hurt the young lady,
and I think it must, here am I, here are my file, my
punch, my nippers; I will make it round and blunt, if
her ladyship pleases; no longer the tooth of a fish, but
of a beautiful young lady as she is. Hey? Is the young
lady displeased? Have I been too bold? Have I offended
The young lady, indeed, looked very angry as she
drew back from the window.
"How dares that mountebank insult us so? Where is
your father? I shall demand redress from him. My
father would have had the wretch tied up to the pump,
and flogged with a cart whip, and burnt to the bones
with the cattle brand!"
She retired from the window a step or two, and sat
down, and had hardly lost sight of the offender, when
her wrath subsided as suddenly as it had risen, and she
gradually recovered her usual tone, and seemed to
forget the little hunchback and his follies.
My father was out of spirits that evening. On coming
in he told us that there had been another case very
similar to the two fatal ones which had lately occurred.
The sister of a young peasant on his estate, only a mile
away, was very ill, had been, as she described it, attacked
very nearly in the same way, and was now slowly but
"All this," said my father, "is strictly referable to
natural causes. These poor people infect one another
with their superstitions, and so repeat in imagination
the images of terror that have infested their neighbors."
"But that very circumstance frightens one horribly,"
"How so?" inquired my father.
"I am so afraid of fancying I see such things; I think
it would be as bad as reality."
"We are in God's hands: nothing can happen without
his permission, and all will end well for those who
love him. He is our faithful creator; He has made us
all, and will take care of us."
"Creator! Nature!" said the young lady in answer to
my gentle father. "And this disease that invades the
country is natural. Nature. All things proceed from
Nature--don't they? All things in the heaven, in the
earth, and under the earth, act and live as Nature
ordains? I think so."
"The doctor said he would come here today," said
my father, after a silence. "I want to know what he
thinks about it, and what he thinks we had better do."
"Doctors never did me any good," said Carmilla.
"Then you have been ill?" I asked.
"More ill than ever you were," she answered.
"Yes, a long time. I suffered from this very illness;
but I forget all but my pain and weakness, and they
were not so bad as are suffered in other diseases."
"You were very young then?"
"I dare say, let us talk no more of it. You would not
wound a friend?"
She looked languidly in my eyes, and passed her arm
round my waist lovingly, and led me out of the room.
My father was busy over some papers near the window.
"Why does your papa like to frighten us?" said the
pretty girl with a sigh and a little shudder.
"He doesn't, dear Carmilla, it is the very furthest
thing from his mind."
"Are you afraid, dearest?"
"I should be very much if I fancied there was any
real danger of my being attacked as those poor people
"You are afraid to die?"
"Yes, every one is."
"But to die as lovers may--to die together, so that
they may live together.
Girls are caterpillars while they live in the world, to
be finally butterflies when the summer comes; but in
the meantime there are grubs and larvae, don't you see--each
with their peculiar propensities, necessities and
structure. So says Monsieur Buffon, in his big book,
in the next room."
Later in the day the doctor came, and was closeted
with papa for some time.
He was a skilful man, of sixty and upwards, he wore
powder, and shaved his pale face as smooth as a pumpkin.
He and papa emerged from the room together,
and I heard papa laugh, and say as they came out:
"Well, I do wonder at a wise man like you. What do
you say to hippogriffs and dragons?"
The doctor was smiling, and made answer, shaking
"Nevertheless life and death are mysterious states,
and we know little of the resources of either."
And so they walked on, and I heard no more. I did
not then know what the doctor had been broaching,
but I think I guess it now.
A Wonderful Likeness
This evening there arrived from Gratz the grave,
dark-faced son of the picture cleaner, with a horse and
cart laden with two large packing cases, having many
pictures in each. It was a journey of ten leagues, and
whenever a messenger arrived at the schloss from our
little capital of Gratz, we used to crowd about him in
the hall, to hear the news.
This arrival created in our secluded quarters quite a
sensation. The cases remained in the hall, and the
messenger was taken charge of by the servants till he
had eaten his supper. Then with assistants, and armed
with hammer, ripping chisel, and turnscrew, he met us
in the hall, where we had assembled to witness the
unpacking of the cases.
Carmilla sat looking listlessly on, while one after the
other the old pictures, nearly all portraits, which had
undergone the process of renovation, were brought to
light. My mother was of an old Hungarian family, and
most of these pictures, which were about to be restored
to their places, had come to us through her.
My father had a list in his hand, from which he read,
as the artist rummaged out the corresponding numbers.
I don't know that the pictures were very good,
but they were, undoubtedly, very old, and some of
them very curious also. They had, for the most part,
the merit of being now seen by me, I may say, for the
first time; for the smoke and dust of time had all but
"There is a picture that I have not seen yet," said my
father. "In one corner, at the top of it, is the name, as
well as I could read, 'Marcia Karnstein,' and the date
'1698'; and I am curious to see how it has turned out."
I remembered it; it was a small picture, about a foot
and a half high, and nearly square, without a frame;
but it was so blackened by age that I could not make
The artist now produced it, with evident pride. It was
quite beautiful; it was startling; it seemed to live. It was
the effigy of Carmilla!
"Carmilla, dear, here is an absolute miracle. Here
you are, living, smiling, ready to speak, in this picture.
Isn't it beautiful, Papa? And see, even the little mole
on her throat."
My father laughed, and said "Certainly it is a wonderful
likeness," but he looked away, and to my surprise
seemed but little struck by it, and went on talking
to the picture cleaner, who was also something of an
artist, and discoursed with intelligence about the portraits
or other works, which his art had just brought
into light and color, while I was more and more lost
in wonder the more I looked at the picture.
"Will you let me hang this picture in my room,
papa?" I asked.
"Certainly, dear," said he, smiling, "I'm very glad
you think it so like.
It must be prettier even than I thought it, if it is."
The young lady did not acknowledge this pretty
speech, did not seem to hear it. She was leaning back
in her seat, her fine eyes under their long lashes gazing
on me in contemplation, and she smiled in a kind of
"And now you can read quite plainly the name that
is written in the corner.
It is not Marcia; it looks as if it was done in gold.
The name is Mircalla, Countess Karnstein, and this is
a little coronet over and underneath A.D.
1698. I am descended from the Karnsteins; that is,
"Ah!" said the lady, languidly, "so am I, I think, a
very long descent, very ancient. Are there any Karnsteins
"None who bear the name, I believe. The family were
ruined, I believe, in some civil wars, long ago, but the
ruins of the castle are only about three miles away."
"How interesting!" she said, languidly. "But see what
beautiful moonlight!" She glanced through the hall
door, which stood a little open. "Suppose you take a
little ramble round the court, and look down at the
road and river."
"It is so like the night you came to us," I said.
She sighed; smiling.
She rose, and each with her arm about the other's
waist, we walked out upon the pavement.
In silence, slowly we walked down to the drawbridge,
where the beautiful landscape opened before us.
"And so you were thinking of the night I came here?"
she almost whispered.
"Are you glad I came?"
"Delighted, dear Carmilla," I answered.
"And you asked for the picture you think like me,
to hang in your room," she murmured with a sigh, as
she drew her arm closer about my waist, and let her
pretty head sink upon my shoulder. "How romantic
you are, Carmilla," I said. "Whenever you tell me your
story, it will be made up chiefly of some one great
She kissed me silently.
"I am sure, Carmilla, you have been in love; that
there is, at this moment, an affair of the heart going
"I have been in love with no one, and never shall,"
she whispered, "unless it should be with you."
How beautiful she looked in the moonlight!
Shy and strange was the look with which she quickly
hid her face in my neck and hair, with tumultuous
sighs, that seemed almost to sob, and pressed in mine
a hand that trembled.
Her soft cheek was glowing against mine. "Darling,
darling," she murmured, "I live in you; and you would
die for me, I love you so."
I started from her.
She was gazing on me with eyes from which all fire,
all meaning had flown, and a face colorless and apathetic.
"Is there a chill in the air, dear?" she said drowsily.
"I almost shiver; have I been dreaming? Let us come
in. Come; come; come in."
"You look ill, Carmilla; a little faint. You certainly
must take some wine," I said.
"Yes. I will. I'm better now. I shall be quite well in a
few minutes. Yes, do give me a little wine," answered
Carmilla, as we approached the door.
"Let us look again for a moment; it is the last time,
perhaps, I shall see the moonlight with you."
"How do you feel now, dear Carmilla? Are you really
better?" I asked.
I was beginning to take alarm, lest she should have
been stricken with the strange epidemic that they said
had invaded the country about us.
"Papa would be grieved beyond measure," I added,
"if he thought you were ever so little ill, without
immediately letting us know. We have a very skilful
doctor near us, the physician who was with papa
"I'm sure he is. I know how kind you all are; but,
dear child, I am quite well again. There is nothing ever
wrong with me, but a little weakness.
People say I am languid; I am incapable of exertion;
I can scarcely walk as far as a child of three years old:
and every now and then the little strength I have falters,
and I become as you have just seen me. But after all I
am very easily set up again; in a moment I am perfectly
myself. See how I have recovered."
So, indeed, she had; and she and I talked a great deal,
and very animated she was; and the remainder of that
evening passed without any recurrence of what I called
her infatuations. I mean her crazy talk and looks,
which embarrassed, and even frightened me.
But there occurred that night an event which gave
my thoughts quite a new turn, and seemed to startle
even Carmilla's languid nature into momentary energy.
A Very Strange Agony
When we got into the drawing room, and had sat
down to our coffee and chocolate, although Carmilla
did not take any, she seemed quite herself again, and
Madame, and Mademoiselle De Lafontaine, joined us,
and made a little card party, in the course of which
papa came in for what he called his "dish of tea."
When the game was over he sat down beside Carmilla
on the sofa, and asked her, a little anxiously,
whether she had heard from her mother since her
She answered "No."
He then asked whether she knew where a letter would
reach her at present.
"I cannot tell," she answered ambiguously, "but I
have been thinking of leaving you; you have been
already too hospitable and too kind to me. I have given
you an infinity of trouble, and I should wish to take a
carriage tomorrow, and post in pursuit of her; I know
where I shall ultimately find her, although I dare not
yet tell you."
"But you must not dream of any such thing," exclaimed
my father, to my great relief. "We can't afford
to lose you so, and I won't consent to your leaving us,
except under the care of your mother, who was so good
as to consent to your remaining with us till she should
herself return. I should be quite happy if I knew that
you heard from her: but this evening the accounts of
the progress of the mysterious disease that has invaded
our neighborhood, grow even more alarming; and my
beautiful guest, I do feel the responsibility, unaided by
advice from your mother, very much. But I shall do
my best; and one thing is certain, that you must not
think of leaving us without her distinct direction to
that effect. We should suffer too much in parting from
you to consent to it easily."
"Thank you, sir, a thousand times for your hospitality,"
she answered, smiling bashfully. "You have all
been too kind to me; I have seldom been so happy in
all my life before, as in your beautiful chateau, under
your care, and in the society of your dear daughter."
So he gallantly, in his old-fashioned way, kissed her
hand, smiling and pleased at her little speech.
I accompanied Carmilla as usual to her room, and
sat and chatted with her while she was preparing for
"Do you think," I said at length, "that you will ever
confide fully in me?"
She turned round smiling, but made no answer, only
continued to smile on me.
"You won't answer that?" I said. "You can't answer
pleasantly; I ought not to have asked you."
"You were quite right to ask me that, or anything.
You do not know how dear you are to me, or you could
not think any confidence too great to look for.
But I am under vows, no nun half so awfully, and I
dare not tell my story yet, even to you. The time is very
near when you shall know everything. You will think
me cruel, very selfish, but love is always selfish; the
more ardent the more selfish. How jealous I am you
cannot know. You must come with me, loving me, to
death; or else hate me and still come with me. and
hating me through death and after. There is no such
word as indifference in my apathetic nature."
"Now, Carmilla, you are going to talk your wild
nonsense again," I said hastily.
"Not I, silly little fool as I am, and full of whims
and fancies; for your sake I'll talk like a sage. Were you
ever at a ball?"
"No; how you do run on. What is it like? How
charming it must be."
"I almost forget, it is years ago."
"You are not so old. Your first ball can hardly be
"I remember everything about it--with an effort. I see it
all, as divers see what is going on above them, through
a medium, dense, rippling, but transparent. There occurred
that night what has confused the picture, and
made its colours faint. I was all but assassinated in my
bed, wounded here," she touched her breast, "and never
was the same since."
"Were you near dying?"
"Yes, very--a cruel love--strange love, that would
have taken my life. Love will have its sacrifices. No
sacrifice without blood. Let us go to sleep now; I feel
so lazy. How can I get up just now and lock my door?"
She was lying with her tiny hands buried in her rich
wavy hair, under her cheek, her little head upon the
pillow, and her glittering eyes followed me wherever I
moved, with a kind of shy smile that I could not
I bid her good night, and crept from the room with
an uncomfortable sensation.
I often wondered whether our pretty guest ever said
her prayers. I certainly had never seen her upon her
knees. In the morning she never came down until long
after our family prayers were over, and at night she
never left the drawing room to attend our brief evening
prayers in the hall.
If it had not been that it had casually come out in
one of our careless talks that she had been baptised, I
should have doubted her being a Christian. Religion
was a subject on which I had never heard her speak a
word. If I had known the world better, this particular
neglect or antipathy would not have so much surprised
The precautions of nervous people are infectious,
and persons of a like temperament are pretty sure, after
a time, to imitate them. I had adopted Carmilla's habit
of locking her bedroom door, having taken into my
head all her whimsical alarms about midnight invaders
and prowling assassins. I had also adopted her precaution
of making a brief search through her room, to
satisfy herself that no lurking assassin or robber was
These wise measures taken, I got into my bed and
fell asleep. A light was burning in my room. This was
an old habit, of very early date, and which nothing
could have tempted me to dispense with.
Thus fortifed I might take my rest in peace. But
dreams come through stone walls, light up dark rooms,
or darken light ones, and their persons make their exits
and their entrances as they please, and laugh at locksmiths.
I had a dream that night that was the beginning of
a very strange agony.
I cannot call it a nightmare, for I was quite conscious
of being asleep.
But I was equally conscious of being in my room,
and lying in bed, precisely as I actually was. I saw, or
fancied I saw, the room and its furniture just as I had
seen it last, except that it was very dark, and I saw
something moving round the foot of the bed, which
at first I could not accurately distinguish. But I soon
saw that it was a sooty-black animal that resembled a
monstrous cat. It appeared to me about four or five
feet long for it measured fully the length of the
hearthrug as it passed over it; and it continued to-ing
and fro-ing with the lithe, sinister restlessness of a beast
in a cage. I could not cry out, although as you may
suppose, I was terrified. Its pace was growing faster, and
the room rapidly darker and darker, and at length so
dark that I could no longer see anything of it but its
eyes. I felt it spring lightly on the bed. The two broad
eyes approached my face, and suddenly I felt a stinging
pain as if two large needles darted, an inch or two apart,
deep into my breast. I waked with a scream. The room
was lighted by the candle that burnt there all through
the night, and I saw a female figure standing at the foot
of the bed, a little at the right side. It was in a dark
loose dress, and its hair was down and covered its
shoulders. A block of stone could not have been more
still. There was not the slightest stir of respiration. As
I stared at it, the figure appeared to have changed its
place, and was now nearer the door; then, close to it,
the door opened, and it passed out.
I was now relieved, and able to breathe and move.
My first thought was that Carmilla had been playing
me a trick, and that I had forgotten to secure my door.
I hastened to it, and found it locked as usual on the
inside. I was afraid to open it--I was horrified. I sprang
into my bed and covered my head up in the bedclothes,
and lay there more dead than alive till morning.
It would be vain my attempting to tell you the horror
with which, even now, I recall the occurrence of that
night. It was no such transitory terror as a dream leaves
behind it. It seemed to deepen by time, and communicated
itself to the room and the very furniture that
had encompassed the apparition.
I could not bear next day to be alone for a moment.
I should have told papa, but for two opposite reasons.
At one time I thought he would laugh at my story, and
I could not bear its being treated as a jest; and at
another I thought he might fancy that I had been
attacked by the mysterious complaint which had invaded
our neighborhood. I had myself no misgiving
of the kind, and as he had been rather an invalid for
some time, I was afraid of alarming him.
I was comfortable enough with my good-natured
companions, Madame Perrodon, and the vivacious
Mademoiselle Lafontaine. They both perceived that I
was out of spirits and nervous, and at length I told
them what lay so heavy at my heart.
Mademoiselle laughed, but I fancied that Madame
Perrodon looked anxious.
"By-the-by," said Mademoiselle, laughing, "the long
lime tree walk, behind Carmilla's bedroom window, is
"Nonsense!" exclaimed Madame, who probably
thought the theme rather inopportune, "and who tells
that story, my dear?"
"Martin says that he came up twice, when the old
yard gate was being repaired, before sunrise, and twice
saw the same female figure walking down the lime tree
"So he well might, as long as there are cows to milk
in the river fields," said Madame.
"I daresay; but Martin chooses to be frightened, and
never did I see fool more frightened."
"You must not say a word about it to Carmilla,
because she can see down that walk from her room
window," I interposed, "and she is, if possible, a greater
coward than I."
Carmilla came down rather later than usual that day.
"I was so frightened last night," she said, so soon as
were together, "and I am sure I should have seen
something dreadful if it had not been for that charm
I bought from the poor little hunchback whom I called
such hard names. I had a dream of something black
coming round my bed, and I awoke in a perfect horror,
and I really thought, for some seconds, I saw a dark
figure near the chimneypiece, but I felt under my
pillow for my charm, and the moment my fingers
touched it, the figure disappeared, and I felt quite
certain, only that I had it by me, that something
frightful would have made its appearance, and, perhaps,
throttled me, as it did those poor people we heard
"Well, listen to me," I began, and recounted my
adventure, at the recital of which she appeared horrified.
"And had you the charm near you?" she asked,
"No, I had dropped it into a china vase in the
drawing room, but I shall certainly take it with me
tonight, as you have so much faith in it."
At this distance of time I cannot tell you, or even
understand, how I overcame my horror so effectually
as to lie alone in my room that night. I remember
distinctly that I pinned the charm to my pillow. I fell
asleep almost immediately, and slept even more
soundly than usual all night.
Next night I passed as well. My sleep was delightfully
deep and dreamless.
But I wakened with a sense of lassitude and melancholy,
which, however, did not exceed a degree that was
"Well, I told you so," said Carmilla, when I described
my quiet sleep, "I had such delightful sleep myself last
night; I pinned the charm to the breast of my nightdress.
It was too far away the night before. I am quite
sure it was all fancy, except the dreams. I used to think
that evil spirits made dreams, but our doctor told me
it is no such thing. Only a fever passing by, or some
other malady, as they often do, he said, knocks at the
door, and not being able to get in, passes on, with that
"And what do you think the charm is?" said I.
"It has been fumigated or immersed in some drug,
and is an antidote against the malaria," she answered.
"Then it acts only on the body?"
"Certainly; you don't suppose that evil spirits are
frightened by bits of ribbon, or the perfumes of a
druggist's shop? No, these complaints, wandering in
the air, begin by trying the nerves, and so infect the
brain, but before they can seize upon you, the antidote
repels them. That I am sure is what the charm has done
for us. It is nothing magical, it is simply natural.
I should have been happier if I could have quite
agreed with Carmilla, but I did my best, and the impression
was a little losing its force.
For some nights I slept profoundly; but still every
morning I felt the same lassitude, and a languor
weighed upon me all day. I felt myself a changed girl.
A strange melancholy was stealing over me, a melancholy
that I would not have interrupted. Dim thoughts
of death began to open, and an idea that I was slowly
sinking took gentle, and, somehow, not unwelcome,
possession of me. If it was sad, the tone of mind which
this induced was also sweet.
Whatever it might be, my soul acquiesced in it.
I would not admit that I was ill, I would not consent
to tell my papa, or to have the doctor sent for.
Carmilla became more devoted to me than ever, and
her strange paroxysms of languid adoration more frequent.
She used to gloat on me with increasing ardor
the more my strength and spirits waned. This always
shocked me like a momentary glare of insanity.
Without knowing it, I was now in a pretty advanced
stage of the strangest illness under which mortal ever
suffered. There was an unaccountable fascination in its
earlier symptoms that more than reconciled me to the
incapacitating effect of that stage of the malady. This
fascination increased for a time, until it reached a
certain point, when gradually a sense of the horrible
mingled itself with it, deepening, as you shall hear,
until it discolored and perverted the whole state of my
The first change I experienced was rather agreeable.
It was very near the turning point from which began
the descent of Avernus.
Certain vague and strange sensations visited me in
my sleep. The prevailing one was of that pleasant,
peculiar cold thrill which we feel in bathing, when we
move against the current of a river. This was soon
accompanied by dreams that seemed interminable, and
were so vague that I could never recollect their scenery
and persons, or any one connected portion of their
action. But they left an awful impression, and a sense
of exhaustion, as if I had passed through a long period
of great mental exertion and danger.
After all these dreams there remained on waking a
remembrance of having been in a place very nearly
dark, and of having spoken to people whom I could
not see; and especially of one clear voice, of a female's,
very deep, that spoke as if at a distance, slowly, and
producing always the same sensation of indescribable
solemnity and fear. Sometimes there came a sensation
as if a hand was drawn softly along my cheek and neck.
Sometimes it was as if warm lips kissed me, and longer
and longer and more lovingly as they reached my
throat, but there the caress fixed itself. My heart beat
faster, my breathing rose and fell rapidly and full
drawn; a sobbing, that rose into a sense of strangulation,
supervened, and turned into a dreadful convulsion,
in which my senses left me and I became unconscious.
It was now three weeks since the commencement of
this unaccountable state.
My sufferings had, during the last week, told upon
my appearance. I had grown pale, my eyes were dilated
and darkened underneath, and the languor which I had
long felt began to display itself in my countenance.
My father asked me often whether I was ill; but, with
an obstinacy which now seems to me unaccountable,
I persisted in assuring him that I was quite well.
In a sense this was true. I had no pain, I could
complain of no bodily derangement. My complaint
seemed to be one of the imagination, or the nerves,
and, horrible as my sufferings were, I kept them, with
a morbid reserve, very nearly to myself.
It could not be that terrible complaint which the
peasants called the oupire, for I had now been suffering
for three weeks, and they were seldom ill for much
more than three days, when death put an end to their
Carmilla complained of dreams and feverish sensations,
but by no means of so alarming a kind as mine.
I say that mine were extremely alarming. Had I been
capable of comprehending my condition, I would have
invoked aid and advice on my knees. The narcotic of
an unsuspected influence was acting upon me, and my
perceptions were benumbed.
I am going to tell you now of a dream that led
immediately to an odd discovery.
One night, instead of the voice I was accustomed to
hear in the dark, I heard one, sweet and tender, and at
the same time terrible, which said,
"Your mother warns you to beware of the assassin."
At the same time a light unexpectedly sprang up, and
I saw Carmilla, standing, near the foot of my bed, in
her white nightdress, bathed, from her chin to her feet,
in one great stain of blood.
I wakened with a shriek, possessed with the one idea
that Carmilla was being murdered. I remember springing
from my bed, and my next recollection is that of
standing on the lobby, crying for help.
Madame and Mademoiselle came scurrying out of
their rooms in alarm; a lamp burned always on the
lobby, and seeing me, they soon learned the cause of
I insisted on our knocking at Carmilla's door. Our
knocking was unanswered.
It soon became a pounding and an uproar. We
shrieked her name, but all was vain.
We all grew frightened, for the door was locked. We
hurried back, in panic, to my room. There we rang the
bell long and furiously. If my father's room had been
at that side of the house, we would have called him up
at once to our aid. But, alas! he was quite out of
hearing, and to reach him involved an excursion for
which we none of us had courage.
Servants, however, soon came running up the stairs;
I had got on my dressing gown and slippers meanwhile,
and my companions were already similarly furnished.
Recognizing the voices of the servants on the lobby,
we sallied out together; and having renewed, as fruitlessly,
our summons at Carmilla's door, I ordered the
men to force the lock. They did so, and we stood,
holding our lights aloft, in the doorway, and so stared
into the room.
We called her by name; but there was still no reply.
We looked round the room. Everything was undisturbed.
It was exactly in the state in which I had left it
on bidding her good night. But Carmilla was gone.
At sight of the room, perfectly undisturbed except
for our violent entrance, we began to cool a little, and
soon recovered our senses sufficiently to dismiss the
men. It had struck Mademoiselle that possibly Carmilla
had been wakened by the uproar at her door, and
in her first panic had jumped from her bed, and hid
herself in a press, or behind a curtain, from which she
could not, of course, emerge until the majordomo and
his myrmidons had withdrawn. We now recommenced
our search, and began to call her name again.
It was all to no purpose. Our perplexity and agitation
increased. We examined the windows, but they
were secured. I implored of Carmilla, if she had concealed
herself, to play this cruel trick no longer--to
come out and to end our anxieties. It was all useless. I
was by this time convinced that she was not in the
room, nor in the dressing room, the door of which was
still locked on this side. She could not have passed it.
I was utterly puzzled. Had Carmilla discovered one of
those secret passages which the old housekeeper said
were known to exist in the schloss, although the tradition
of their exact situation had been lost? A little time
would, no doubt, explain all--utterly perplexed as, for
the present, we were.
It was past four o'clock, and I preferred passing the
remaining hours of darkness in Madame's room. Daylight
brought no solution of the difficulty.
The whole household, with my father at its head, was
in a state of agitation next morning. Every part of the
chateau was searched. The grounds were explored. No
trace of the missing lady could be discovered. The
stream was about to be dragged; my father was in
distraction; what a tale to have to tell the poor girl's
mother on her return. I, too, was almost beside myself,
though my grief was quite of a different kind.
The morning was passed in alarm and excitement.
It was now one o'clock, and still no tidings. I ran up
to Carmilla's room, and found her standing at her
dressing table. I was astounded. I could not believe my
eyes. She beckoned me to her with her pretty finger, in
silence. Her face expressed extreme fear.
I ran to her in an ecstasy of joy; I kissed and embraced
her again and again. I ran to the bell and rang
it vehemently, to bring others to the spot who might
at once relieve my father's anxiety.
"Dear Carmilla, what has become of you all this
time? We have been in agonies of anxiety about you,"
I exclaimed. "Where have you been? How did you come
"Last night has been a night of wonders," she said.
"For mercy's sake, explain all you can."
"It was past two last night," she said, "when I went
to sleep as usual in my bed, with my doors locked, that
of the dressing room, and that opening upon the
gallery. My sleep was uninterrupted, and, so far as I
know, dreamless; but I woke just now on the sofa in
the dressing room there, and I found the door between
the rooms open, and the other door forced. How could
all this have happened without my being wakened? It
must have been accompanied with a great deal of noise,
and I am particularly easily wakened; and how could
I have been carried out of my bed without my sleep
having been interrupted, I whom the slightest stir
By this time, Madame, Mademoiselle, my father, and
a number of the servants were in the room. Carmilla
was, of course, overwhelmed with inquiries, congratulations,
and welcomes. She had but one story to tell,
and seemed the least able of all the party to suggest any
way of accounting for what had happened.
My father took a turn up and down the room,
thinking. I saw Carmilla's eye follow him for a moment
with a sly, dark glance.
When my father had sent the servants away, Mademoiselle
having gone in search of a little bottle of
valerian and salvolatile, and there being no one now
in the room with Carmilla, except my father, Madame,
and myself, he came to her thoughtfully, took her hand
very kindly, led her to the sofa, and sat down beside
"Will you forgive me, my dear, if I risk a conjecture,
and ask a question?"
"Who can have a better right?" she said. "Ask what
you please, and I will tell you everything. But my story
is simply one of bewilderment and darkness. I know
absolutely nothing. Put any question you please, but
you know, of course, the limitations mamma has
placed me under."
"Perfectly, my dear child. I need not approach the
topics on which she desires our silence. Now, the
marvel of last night consists in your having been
removed from your bed and your room, without being
wakened, and this removal having occurred apparently
while the windows were still secured, and the two doors
locked upon the inside. I will tell you my theory and
ask you a question."
Carmilla was leaning on her hand dejectedly; Madame
and I were listening breathlessly.
"Now, my question is this. Have you ever been
suspected of walking in your sleep?"
"Never, since I was very young indeed."
"But you did walk in your sleep when you were
"Yes; I know I did. I have been told so often by my
My father smiled and nodded.
"Well, what has happened is this. You got up in your
sleep, unlocked the door, not leaving the key, as usual,
in the lock, but taking it out and locking it on the
outside; you again took the key out, and carried it away
with you to some one of the five-and-twenty rooms on
this floor, or perhaps upstairs or downstairs. There are
so many rooms and closets, so much heavy furniture,
and such accumulations of lumber, that it would require
a week to search this old house thoroughly. Do
you see, now, what I mean?"
"I do, but not all," she answered.
"And how, papa, do you account for her finding
herself on the sofa in the dressing room, which we had
searched so carefully?"
"She came there after you had searched it, still in her
sleep, and at last awoke spontaneously, and was as
much surprised to find herself where she was as any
one else. I wish all mysteries were as easily and innocently
explained as yours, Carmilla," he said, laughing.
"And so we may congratulate ourselves on the certainty
that the most natural explanation of the occurrence is
one that involves no drugging, no tampering with
locks, no burglars, or poisoners, or witches--nothing
that need alarm Carmilla, or anyone else, for our
Carmilla was looking charmingly. Nothing could be
more beautiful than her tints. Her beauty was, I think,
enhanced by that graceful languor that was peculiar to
her. I think my father was silently contrasting her looks
with mine, for he said:
"I wish my poor Laura was looking more like herself";
and he sighed.
So our alarms were happily ended, and Carmilla
restored to her friends.
As Carmilla would not hear of an attendant sleeping
in her room, my father arranged that a servant
should sleep outside her door, so that she would not
attempt to make another such excursion without being
arrested at her own door.
That night passed quietly; and next morning early,
the doctor, whom my father had sent for without
telling me a word about it, arrived to see me.
Madame accompanied me to the library; and there
the grave little doctor, with white hair and spectacles,
whom I mentioned before, was waiting to receive me.
I told him my story, and as I proceeded he grew
graver and graver.
We were standing, he and I, in the recess of one of
the windows, facing one another. When my statement
was over, he leaned with his shoulders against the wall,
and with his eyes fixed on me earnestly, with an interest
in which was a dash of horror.
After a minute's reflection, he asked Madame if he
could see my father.
He was sent for accordingly, and as he entered,
smiling, he said:
"I dare say, doctor, you are going to tell me that I
am an old fool for having brought you here; I hope I
But his smile faded into shadow as the doctor, with
a very grave face, beckoned him to him.
He and the doctor talked for some time in the same
recess where I had just conferred with the physician. It
seemed an earnest and argumentative conversation.
The room is very large, and I and Madame stood
together, burning with curiosity, at the farther end.
Not a word could we hear, however, for they spoke in
a very low tone, and the deep recess of the window
quite concealed the doctor from view, and very nearly
my father, whose foot, arm, and shoulder only could
we see; and the voices were, I suppose, all the less
audible for the sort of closet which the thick wall and
After a time my father's face looked into the room;
it was pale, thoughtful, and, I fancied, agitated.
"Laura, dear, come here for a moment. Madame, we
shan't trouble you, the doctor says, at present."
Accordingly I approached, for the first time a little
alarmed; for, although I felt very weak, I did not feel
ill; and strength, one always fancies, is a thing that may
be picked up when we please.
My father held out his hand to me, as I drew near,
but he was looking at the doctor, and he said:
"It certainly is very odd; I don't understand it quite.
Laura, come here, dear; now attend to Doctor
Spielsberg, and recollect yourself."
"You mentioned a sensation like that of two needles
piercing the skin, somewhere about your neck, on the
night when you experienced your first horrible dream.
Is there still any soreness?"
"None at all," I answered.
"Can you indicate with your finger about the point
at which you think this occurred?"
"Very little below my throat--here," I answered.
I wore a morning dress, which covered the place I
"Now you can satisfy yourself," said the doctor. "You
won't mind your papa's lowering your dress a very
little. It is necessary, to detect a symptom of the complaint
under which you have been suffering."
I acquiesced. It was only an inch or two below the
edge of my collar.
"God bless me!--so it is," exclaimed my father,
"You see it now with your own eyes," said the doctor,
with a gloomy triumph.
"What is it?" I exclaimed, beginning to be frightened.
"Nothing, my dear young lady, but a small blue spot,
about the size of the tip of your little finger; and now,"
he continued, turning to papa, "the question is what
is best to be done?"
Is there any danger?"I urged, in great trepidation.
"I trust not, my dear," answered the doctor. "I don't
see why you should not recover. I don't see why you
should not begin immediately to get better. That is the
point at which the sense of strangulation begins?"
"Yes," I answered.
"And--recollect as well as you can--the same point
was a kind of center of that thrill which you described
just now, like the current of a cold stream running
"It may have been; I think it was."
"Ay, you see?" he added, turning to my father. "Shall
I say a word to Madame?"
"Certainly," said my father.
He called Madame to him, and said:
"I find my young friend here far from well. It won't
be of any great consequence, I hope; but it will be
necessary that some steps be taken, which I will explain
by-and-by; but in the meantime, Madame, you will be
so good as not to let Miss Laura be alone for one
moment. That is the only direction I need give for the
present. It is indispensable."
"We may rely upon your kindness, Madame, I
know," added my father.
Madame satisfied him eagerly.
"And you, dear Laura, I know you will observe the
"I shall have to ask your opinion upon another
patient, whose symptoms slightly resemble those of my
daughter, that have just been detailed to you--very
much milder in degree, but I believe quite of the same
sort. She is a young lady--our guest; but as you say
you will be passing this way again this evening, you
can't do better than take your supper here, and you
can then see her. She does not come down till the
"I thank you," said the doctor. "I shall be with you,
then, at about seven this evening."
And then they repeated their directions to me and
to Madame, and with this parting charge my father left
us, and walked out with the doctor; and I saw them
pacing together up and down between the road and
the moat, on the grassy platform in front of the castle,
evidently absorbed in earnest conversation.
The doctor did not return. I saw him mount his
horse there, take his leave, and ride away eastward
through the forest.
Nearly at the same time I saw the man arrive from
Dranfield with the letters, and dismount and hand the
bag to my father.
In the meantime, Madame and I were both busy, lost
in conjecture as to the reasons of the singular and
earnest direction which the doctor and my father had
concurred in imposing. Madame, as she afterwards
told me, was afraid the doctor apprehended a sudden
seizure, and that, without prompt assistance, I might
either lose my life in a fit, or at least be seriously hurt.
The interpretation did not strike me; and I fancied,
perhaps luckily for my nerves, that the arrangement
was prescribed simply to secure a companion, who
would prevent my taking too much exercise, or eating
unripe fruit, or doing any of the fifty foolish things
to which young people are supposed to be prone.
About half an hour after my father came in--he
had a letter in his hand--and said:
"This letter had been delayed; it is from General
Spielsdorf. He might have been here yesterday, he may
not come till tomorrow or he may be here today."
He put the open letter into my hand; but he did not
look pleased, as he used when a guest, especially one
so much loved as the General, was coming.
On the contrary, he looked as if he wished him at
the bottom of the Red Sea. There was plainly something
on his mind which he did not choose to divulge.
"Papa, darling, will you tell me this?" said I, suddenly
laying my hand on his arm, and looking, I am sure,
imploringly in his face.
"Perhaps," he answered, smoothing my hair caressingly
over my eyes.
"Does the doctor think me very ill?"
"No, dear; he thinks, if right steps are taken, you will
be quite well again, at least, on the high road to a
complete recovery, in a day or two," he answered, a
little dryly. "I wish our good friend, the General, had
chosen any other time; that is, I wish you had been
perfectly well to receive him."
"But do tell me, papa," I insisted, "what does he
think is the matter with me?"
"Nothing; you must not plague me with questions,"
he answered, with more irritation than I ever remember
him to have displayed before; and seeing that I looked
wounded, I suppose, he kissed me, and added, "You
shall know all about it in a day or two; that is, all that
I know. In the meantime you are not to trouble your
head about it."
He turned and left the room, but came back before
I had done wondering and puzzling over the oddity
of all this; it was merely to say that he was going to
Karnstein, and had ordered the carriage to be ready at
twelve, and that I and Madame should accompany
him; he was going to see the priest who lived near those
picturesque grounds, upon business, and as Carmilla
had never seen them, she could follow, when she came
down, with Mademoiselle, who would bring materials
for what you call a picnic, which might be laid for us
in the ruined castle.
At twelve o'clock, accordingly, I was ready, and not
long after, my father, Madame and I set out upon our
Passing the drawbridge we turn to the right, and
follow the road over the steep Gothic bridge, westward,
to reach the deserted village and ruined castle of Karnstein.
No sylvan drive can be fancied prettier. The ground
breaks into gentle hills and hollows, all clothed with
beautiful wood, totally destitute of the comparative
formality which artificial planting and early culture
and pruning impart.
The irregularities of the ground often lead the road
out of its course, and cause it to wind beautifully round
the sides of broken hollows and the steeper sides of the
hills, among varieties of ground almost inexhaustible.
Turning one of these points, we suddenly encountered
our old friend, the General, riding towards us,
attended by a mounted servant. His portmanteaus were
following in a hired wagon, such as we term a cart.
The General dismounted as we pulled up, and, after
the usual greetings, was easily persuaded to accept the
vacant seat in the carriage and send his horse on with
his servant to the schloss.
It was about ten months since we had last seen him:
but that time had sufficed to make an alteration of
years in his appearance. He had grown thinner; something
of gloom and anxiety had taken the place of that
cordial serenity which used to characterize his features.
His dark blue eyes, always penetrating, now gleamed
with a sterner light from under his shaggy grey eyebrows.
It was not such a change as grief alone usually
induces, and angrier passions seemed to have had their
share in bringing it about.
We had not long resumed our drive, when the General
began to talk, with his usual soldierly directness,
of the bereavement, as he termed it, which he had
sustained in the death of his beloved niece and ward;
and he then broke out in a tone of intense bitterness
and fury, inveighing against the "hellish arts" to which
she had fallen a victim, and expressing, with more
exasperation than piety, his wonder that Heaven
should tolerate so monstrous an indulgence of the lusts
and malignity of hell.
My father, who saw at once that something very
extraordinary had befallen, asked him, if not too painful
to him, to detail the circumstances which he
thought justified the strong terms in which he expressed
"I should tell you all with pleasure," said the General,
"but you would not believe me."
"Why should I not?" he asked.
"Because," he answered testily, "you believe in nothing
but what consists with your own prejudices and
illusions. I remember when I was like you, but I have
"Try me," said my father; "I am not such a dogmatist
as you suppose.
Besides which, I very well know that you generally
require proof for what you believe, and am, therefore,
very strongly predisposed to respect your conclusions."
"You are right in supposing that I have not been led
lightly into a belief in the marvelous--for what I have
experienced is marvelous--and I have been forced by
extraordinary evidence to credit that which ran
counter, diametrically, to all my theories. I have been
made the dupe of a preternatural conspiracy."
Notwithstanding his professions of confidence in
the General's penetration, I saw my father, at this
point, glance at the General, with, as I thought, a
marked suspicion of his sanity.
The General did not see it, luckily. He was looking
gloomily and curiously into the glades and vistas of
the woods that were opening before us.
"You are going to the Ruins of Karnstein?" he said.
"Yes, it is a lucky coincidence; do you know I was going
to ask you to bring me there to inspect them. I have a
special object in exploring. There is a ruined chapel,
ain't there, with a great many tombs of that extinct
"So there are--highly interesting," said my father.
"I hope you are thinking of claiming the title and
My father said this gaily, but the General did not
recollect the laugh, or even the smile, which courtesy
exacts for a friend's joke; on the contrary, he looked
grave and even fierce, ruminating on a matter that
stirred his anger and horror.
"Something very different," he said, gruffly. "I mean
to unearth some of those fine people. I hope, by God's
blessing, to accomplish a pious sacrilege here, which
will relieve our earth of certain monsters, and enable
honest people to sleep in their beds without being
assailed by murderers. I have strange things to tell you,
my dear friend, such as I myself would have scouted
as incredible a few months since."
My father looked at him again, but this time not
with a glance of suspicion--with an eye, rather, of keen
intelligence and alarm.
"The house of Karnstein," he said, "has been long
extinct: a hundred years at least. My dear wife was
maternally descended from the Karnsteins. But the
name and title have long ceased to exist. The castle is
a ruin; the very village is deserted; it is fifty years since
the smoke of a chimney was seen there; not a roof left."
"Quite true. I have heard a great deal about that since
I last saw you; a great deal that will astonish you. But
I had better relate everything in the order in which it
occurred," said the General. "You saw my dear ward--my
child, I may call her. No creature could have been
more beautiful, and only three months ago none more
"Yes, poor thing! when I saw her last she certainly
was quite lovely," said my father. "I was grieved and
shocked more than I can tell you, my dear friend; I
knew what a blow it was to you."
He took the General's hand, and they exchanged a
kind pressure. Tears gathered in the old soldier's eyes.
He did not seek to conceal them. He said:
"We have been very old friends; I knew you would
feel for me, childless as I am. She had become an object
of very near interest to me, and repaid my care by an
affection that cheered my home and made my life
happy. That is all gone. The years that remain to me
on earth may not be very long; but by God's mercy I
hope to accomplish a service to mankind before I die,
and to subserve the vengeance of Heaven upon the
fiends who have murdered my poor child in the spring
of her hopes and beauty!"
"You said, just now, that you intended relating everything
as it occurred," said my father. "Pray do; I assure
you that it is not mere curiosity that prompts me."
By this time we had reached the point at which the
Drunstall road, by which the General had come, diverges
from the road which we were traveling to Karnstein.
"How far is it to the ruins?" inquired the General,
looking anxiously forward.
"About half a league," answered my father. "Pray let
us hear the story you were so good as to promise."
With all my heart," said the General, with an
effort; and after a short pause in which to arrange his
subject, he commenced one of the strangest narratives
I ever heard.
"My dear child was looking forward with great pleasure
to the visit you had been so good as to arrange for
her to your charming daughter." Here he made me a
gallant but melancholy bow. "In the meantime we had
an invitation to my old friend the Count Carlsfeld,
whose schloss is about six leagues to the other side of
Karnstein. It was to attend the series of fetes which,
you remember, were given by him in honor of his
illustrious visitor, the Grand Duke Charles."
"Yes; and very splendid, I believe, they were," said
"Princely! But then his hospitalities are quite regal.
He has Aladdin's lamp. The night from which my
sorrow dates was devoted to a magnificent masquerade.
The grounds were thrown open, the trees hung with
colored lamps. There was such a display of fireworks
as Paris itself had never witnessed. And such music--music,
you know, is my weakness--such ravishing
music! The finest instrumental band, perhaps, in the
world, and the finest singers who could be collected
from all the great operas in Europe. As you wandered
through these fantastically illuminated grounds, the
moon-lighted chateau throwing a rosy light from its
long rows of windows, you would suddenly hear these
ravishing voices stealing from the silence of some
grove, or rising from boats upon the lake. I felt myself,
as I looked and listened, carried back into the romance
and poetry of my early youth.
"When the fireworks were ended, and the ball beginning,
we returned to the noble suite of rooms that were
thrown open to the dancers. A masked ball, you know,
is a beautiful sight; but so brilliant a spectacle of the
kind I never saw before.
"It was a very aristocratic assembly. I was myself
almost the only 'nobody' present.
"My dear child was looking quite beautiful. She wore
no mask. Her excitement and delight added an unspeakable
charm to her features, always lovely. I remarked
a young lady, dressed magnificently, but wearing
a mask, who appeared to me to be observing my
ward with extraordinary interest. I had seen her, earlier
in the evening, in the great hall, and again, for a few
minutes, walking near us, on the terrace under the
castle windows, similarly employed. A lady, also
masked, richly and gravely dressed, and with a stately
air, like a person of rank, accompanied her as a chaperon.
Had the young lady not worn a mask, I could, of
course, have been much more certain upon the question
whether she was really watching my poor darling.
I am now well assured that she was.
"We were now in one of the salons. My poor dear
child had been dancing, and was resting a little in one
of the chairs near the door; I was standing near. The
two ladies I have mentioned had approached and the
younger took the chair next my ward; while her companion
stood beside me, and for a little time addressed
herself, in a low tone, to her charge.
"Availing herself of the privilege of her mask, she
turned to me, and in the tone of an old friend, and
calling me by my name, opened a conversation with
me, which piqued my curiosity a good deal. She referred
to many scenes where she had met me--at
Court, and at distinguished houses. She alluded to
little incidents which I had long ceased to think of,
but which, I found, had only lain in abeyance in my
memory, for they instantly started into life at her
"I became more and more curious to ascertain who
she was, every moment. She parried my attempts to
discover very adroitly and pleasantly. The knowledge
she showed of many passages in my life seemed to me
all but unaccountable; and she appeared to take a not
unnatural pleasure in foiling my curiosity, and in
seeing me flounder in my eager perplexity, from one
conjecture to another.
"In the meantime the young lady, whom her mother
called by the odd name of Millarca, when she once or
twice addressed her, had, with the same ease and grace,
got into conversation with my ward.
"She introduced herself by saying that her mother
was a very old acquaintance of mine. She spoke of the
agreeable audacity which a mask rendered practicable;
she talked like a friend; she admired her dress, and
insinuated very prettily her admiration of her beauty.
She amused her with laughing criticisms upon the
people who crowded the ballroom, and laughed at my
poor child's fun. She was very witty and lively when
she pleased, and after a time they had grown very good
friends, and the young stranger lowered her mask,
displaying a remarkably beautiful face. I had never seen
it before, neither had my dear child. But though it was
new to us, the features were so engaging, as well as
lovely, that it was impossible not to feel the attraction
powerfully. My poor girl did so. I never saw anyone
more taken with another at first sight, unless, indeed,
it was the stranger herself, who seemed quite to have
lost her heart to her.
"In the meantime, availing myself of the license of
a masquerade, I put not a few questions to the elder
"'You have puzzled me utterly,' I said, laughing. 'Is
that not enough?
Won't you, now, consent to stand on equal terms,
and do me the kindness to remove your mask?'
"'Can any request be more unreasonable?' she replied.
'Ask a lady to yield an advantage! Beside, how
do you know you should recognize me? Years make
"'As you see,' I said, with a bow, and, I suppose, a
rather melancholy little laugh.
"'As philosophers tell us,' she said; 'and how do you
know that a sight of my face would help you?'
"'I should take chance for that,' I answered. 'It is vain
trying to make yourself out an old woman; your figure
"'Years, nevertheless, have passed since I saw you,
rather since you saw me, for that is what I am considering.
Millarca, there, is my daughter; I cannot then be
young, even in the opinion of people whom time has
taught to be indulgent, and I may not like to be
compared with what you remember me.
You have no mask to remove. You can offer me
nothing in exchange.'
"'My petition is to your pity, to remove it.'
"'And mine to yours, to let it stay where it is,' she
"'Well, then, at least you will tell me whether you are
French or German; you speak both languages so perfectly.'
"'I don't think I shall tell you that, General; you
intend a surprise, and are meditating the particular
point of attack.'
"'At all events, you won't deny this,' I said, 'that
being honored by your permission to converse, I ought
to know how to address you. Shall I say Madame la
"She laughed, and she would, no doubt, have met
me with another evasion--if, indeed, I can treat any
occurrence in an interview every circumstance of
which was prearranged, as I now believe, with the
profoundest cunning, as liable to be modified by accident.
"'As to that,' she began; but she was interrupted,
almost as she opened her lips, by a gentleman, dressed
in black, who looked particularly elegant and distinguished,
with this drawback, that his face was the most
deadly pale I ever saw, except in death. He was in no
masquerade--in the plain evening dress of a gentleman;
and he said, without a smile, but with a courtly
and unusually low bow:--
"'Will Madame la Comtesse permit me to say a very
few words which may interest her?'
"The lady turned quickly to him, and touched her
lip in token of silence; she then said to me, 'Keep my
place for me, General; I shall return when I have said
a few words.'
"And with this injunction, playfully given, she
walked a little aside with the gentleman in black, and
talked for some minutes, apparently very earnestly.
They then walked away slowly together in the crowd,
and I lost them for some minutes.
"I spent the interval in cudgeling my brains for a
conjecture as to the identity of the lady who seemed
to remember me so kindly, and I was thinking of
turning about and joining in the conversation between
my pretty ward and the Countess's daughter, and trying
whether, by the time she returned, I might not have
a surprise in store for her, by having her name, title,
chateau, and estates at my fingers' ends. But at this
moment she returned, accompanied by the pale man
in black, who said:
"'I shall return and inform Madame la Comtesse
when her carriage is at the door.'
"He withdrew with a bow."
"'Then we are to lose Madame la Comtesse, but I
hope only for a few hours,' I said, with a low bow.
"'It may be that only, or it may be a few weeks. It
was very unlucky his speaking to me just now as he
did. Do you now know me?'
"I assured her I did not.
"'You shall know me,' she said, 'but not at present.
We are older and better friends than, perhaps, you
suspect. I cannot yet declare myself. I shall in three
weeks pass your beautiful schloss, about which I have
been making enquiries. I shall then look in upon you
for an hour or two, and renew a friendship which I
never think of without a thousand pleasant recollections.
This moment a piece of news has reached me
like a thunderbolt. I must set out now, and travel by a
devious route, nearly a hundred miles, with all the
dispatch I can possibly make. My perplexities multiply.
I am only deterred by the compulsory reserve I practice
as to my name from making a very singular request of
you. My poor child has not quite recovered her
strength. Her horse fell with her, at a hunt which she
had ridden out to witness, her nerves have not yet
recovered the shock, and our physician says that she
must on no account exert herself for some time to
come. We came here, in consequence, by very easy
stages--hardly six leagues a day. I must now travel day
and night, on a mission of life and death--a mission
the critical and momentous nature of which I shall be
able to explain to you when we meet, as I hope we shall,
in a few weeks, without the necessity of any concealment.'
"She went on to make her petition, and it was in the
tone of a person from whom such a request amounted
to conferring, rather than seeking a favor.
This was only in manner, and, as it seemed, quite
unconsciously. Than the terms in which it was expressed,
nothing could be more deprecatory. It was
simply that I would consent to take charge of her
daughter during her absence.
"This was, all things considered, a strange, not to say,
an audacious request. She in some sort disarmed me,
by stating and admitting everything that could be
urged against it, and throwing herself entirely upon my
chivalry. At the same moment, by a fatality that seems
to have predetermined all that happened, my poor
child came to my side, and, in an undertone, besought
me to invite her new friend, Millarca, to pay us a visit.
She had just been sounding her, and thought, if her
mamma would allow her, she would like it extremely.
"At another time I should have told her to wait a
little, until, at least, we knew who they were. But I had
not a moment to think in. The two ladies assailed me
together, and I must confess the refined and beautiful
face of the young lady, about which there was something
extremely engaging, as well as the elegance and
fire of high birth, determined me; and, quite overpowered,
I submitted, and undertook, too easily, the care
of the young lady, whom her mother called Millarca.
"The Countess beckoned to her daughter, who listened
with grave attention while she told her, in general
terms, how suddenly and peremptorily she had been
summoned, and also of the arrangement she had made
for her under my care, adding that I was one of her
earliest and most valued friends.
"I made, of course, such speeches as the case seemed
to call for, and found myself, on reflection, in a position
which I did not half like.
"The gentleman in black returned, and very ceremoniously
conducted the lady from the room.
"The demeanor of this gentleman was such as to
impress me with the conviction that the Countess was
a lady of very much more importance than her modest
title alone might have led me to assume.
"Her last charge to me was that no attempt was to
be made to learn more about her than I might have
already guessed, until her return. Our distinguished
host, whose guest she was, knew her reasons.
"'But here,' she said, 'neither I nor my daughter
could safely remain for more than a day. I removed
my mask imprudently for a moment, about an hour
ago, and, too late, I fancied you saw me. So I resolved
to seek an opportunity of talking a little to you. Had
I found that you had seen me, I would have thrown
myself on your high sense of honor to keep my secret
some weeks. As it is, I am satisfied that you did not see
me; but if you now suspect, or, on reflection, should
suspect, who I am, I commit myself, in like manner,
entirely to your honor. My daughter will observe the
same secrecy, and I well know that you will, from time
to time, remind her, lest she should thoughtlessly
"She whispered a few words to her daughter, kissed
her hurriedly twice, and went away, accompanied by
the pale gentleman in black, and disappeared in the
"'In the next room,' said Millarca, 'there is a window
that looks upon the hall door. I should like to see the
last of mamma, and to kiss my hand to her.'
"We assented, of course, and accompanied her to the
window. We looked out, and saw a handsome old-fashioned
carriage, with a troop of couriers and footmen.
We saw the slim figure of the pale gentleman in black,
as he held a thick velvet cloak, and placed it about her
shoulders and threw the hood over her head. She
nodded to him, and just touched his hand with hers.
He bowed low repeatedly as the door closed, and the
carriage began to move.
"'She is gone,' said Millarca, with a sigh.
"'She is gone,' I repeated to myself, for the first time--in
the hurried moments that had elapsed since my
consent--reflecting upon the folly of my act.
"'She did not look up,' said the young lady, plaintively.
"'The Countess had taken off her mask, perhaps, and
did not care to show her face,' I said; 'and she could
not know that you were in the window.'
"She sighed, and looked in my face. She was so
beautiful that I relented. I was sorry I had for a moment
repented of my hospitality, and I determined to make
her amends for the unavowed churlishness of my reception.
"The young lady, replacing her mask, joined my
ward in persuading me to return to the grounds, where
the concert was soon to be renewed. We did so, and
walked up and down the terrace that lies under the
Millarca became very intimate with us, and amused
us with lively descriptions and stories of most of the
great people whom we saw upon the terrace. I liked her
more and more every minute. Her gossip without
being ill-natured, was extremely diverting to me, who
had been so long out of the great world. I thought what
life she would give to our sometimes lonely evenings
"This ball was not over until the morning sun had
almost reached the horizon. It pleased the Grand Duke
to dance till then, so loyal people could not go away,
or think of bed.
"We had just got through a crowded saloon, when
my ward asked me what had become of Millarca. I
thought she had been by her side, and she fancied she
was by mine. The fact was, we had lost her.
"All my efforts to find her were vain. I feared that
she had mistaken, in the confusion of a momentary
separation from us, other people for her new friends,
and had, possibly, pursued and lost them in the extensive
grounds which were thrown open to us.
"Now, in its full force, I recognized a new folly in
my having undertaken the charge of a young lady
without so much as knowing her name; and fettered
as I was by promises, of the reasons for imposing which
I knew nothing, I could not even point my inquiries
by saying that the missing young lady was the daughter
of the Countess who had taken her departure a few
"Morning broke. It was clear daylight before I gave
up my search. It was not till near two o'clock next day
that we heard anything of my missing charge.
"At about that time a servant knocked at my niece's
door, to say that he had been earnestly requested by a
young lady, who appeared to be in great distress, to
make out where she could find the General Baron
Spielsdorf and the young lady his daughter, in whose
charge she had been left by her mother.
"There could be no doubt, notwithstanding the
slight inaccuracy, that our young friend had turned
up; and so she had. Would to heaven we had lost her!
"She told my poor child a story to account for her
having failed to recover us for so long. Very late, she
said, she had got to the housekeeper's bedroom in
despair of finding us, and had then fallen into a deep
sleep which, long as it was, had hardly sufficed to
recruit her strength after the fatigues of the ball.
"That day Millarca came home with us. I was only
too happy, after all, to have secured so charming a
companion for my dear girl."
"There soon, however, appeared some drawbacks. In
the first place, Millarca complained of extreme languor--the
weakness that remained after her late illness--and
she never emerged from her room till the afternoon
was pretty far advanced. In the next place, it was
accidentally discovered, although she always locked her
door on the inside, and never disturbed the key from
its place till she admitted the maid to assist at her toilet,
that she was undoubtedly sometimes absent from her
room in the very early morning, and at various times
later in the day, before she wished it to be understood
that she was stirring. She was repeatedly seen from the
windows of the schloss, in the first faint grey of the
morning, walking through the trees, in an easterly
direction, and looking like a person in a trance. This
convinced me that she walked in her sleep. But this
hypothesis did not solve the puzzle. How did she pass
out from her room, leaving the door locked on the
inside? How did she escape from the house without
unbarring door or window?
"In the midst of my perplexities, an anxiety of a far
more urgent kind presented itself.
"My dear child began to lose her looks and health,
and that in a manner so mysterious, and even horrible,
that I became thoroughly frightened.
"She was at first visited by appalling dreams; then,
as she fancied, by a specter, sometimes resembling
Millarca, sometimes in the shape of a beast, indistinctly
seen, walking round the foot of her bed, from
side to side.
Lastly came sensations. One, not unpleasant, but
very peculiar, she said, resembled the flow of an icy
stream against her breast. At a later time, she felt
something like a pair of large needles pierce her, a little
below the throat, with a very sharp pain. A few nights
after, followed a gradual and convulsive sense of strangulation;
then came unconsciousness."
I could hear distinctly every word the kind old
General was saying, because by this time we were driving
upon the short grass that spreads on either side of
the road as you approach the roofless village which had
not shown the smoke of a chimney for more than half
You may guess how strangely I felt as I heard my own
symptoms so exactly described in those which had
been experienced by the poor girl who, but for the
catastrophe which followed, would have been at that
moment a visitor at my father's chateau. You may
suppose, also, how I felt as I heard him detail habits
and mysterious peculiarities which were, in fact, those
of our beautiful guest, Carmilla!
A vista opened in the forest; we were on a sudden
under the chimneys and gables of the ruined village,
and the towers and battlements of the dismantled
castle, round which gigantic trees are grouped, overhung
us from a slight eminence.
In a frightened dream I got down from the carriage,
and in silence, for we had each abundant matter for
thinking; we soon mounted the ascent, and were
among the spacious chambers, winding stairs, and dark
corridors of the castle.
"And this was once the palatial residence of the
Karnsteins!" said the old General at length, as from a
great window he looked out across the village, and saw
the wide, undulating expanse of forest. "It was a bad
family, and here its bloodstained annals were written,"
he continued. "It is hard that they should, after death,
continue to plague the human race with their atrocious
lusts. That is the chapel of the Karnsteins, down there."
He pointed down to the grey walls of the Gothic
building partly visible through the foliage, a little way
down the steep. "And I hear the axe of a woodman,"
he added, "busy among the trees that surround it; he
possibly may give us the information of which I am
in search, and point out the grave of Mircalla, Countess
of Karnstein. These rustics preserve the local traditions
of great families, whose stories die out among the
rich and titled so soon as the families themselves
"We have a portrait, at home, of Mircalla, the Countess
Karnstein; should you like to see it?" asked my
"Time enough, dear friend," replied the General. "I
believe that I have seen the original; and one motive
which has led me to you earlier than I at first intended,
was to explore the chapel which we are now approaching."
"What! see the Countess Mircalla," exclaimed my
father; "why, she has been dead more than a century!"
"Not so dead as you fancy, I am told," answered the
"I confess, General, you puzzle me utterly," replied
my father, looking at him, I fancied, for a moment
with a return of the suspicion I detected before. But
although there was anger and detestation, at times, in
the old General's manner, there was nothing flighty.
"There remains to me," he said, as we passed under
the heavy arch of the Gothic church--for its dimensions
would have justified its being so styled--"but
one object which can interest me during the few years
that remain to me on earth, and that is to wreak on
her the vengeance which, I thank God, may still be
accomplished by a mortal arm."
"What vengeance can you mean?" asked my father,
in increasing amazement.
"I mean, to decapitate the monster," he answered,
with a fierce flush, and a stamp that echoed mournfully
through the hollow ruin, and his clenched hand was
at the same moment raised, as if it grasped the handle
of an axe, while he shook it ferociously in the air.
"What?" exclaimed my father, more than ever bewildered.
"To strike her head off."
"Cut her head off!"
"Aye, with a hatchet, with a spade, or with anything
that can cleave through her murderous throat. You
shall hear," he answered, trembling with rage. And
hurrying forward he said:
"That beam will answer for a seat; your dear child is
fatigued; let her be seated, and I will, in a few sentences,
close my dreadful story."
The squared block of wood, which lay on the grass-grown
pavement of the chapel, formed a bench on
which I was very glad to seat myself, and in the meantime
the General called to the woodman, who had been
removing some boughs which leaned upon the old
walls; and, axe in hand, the hardy old fellow stood
He could not tell us anything of these monuments;
but there was an old man, he said, a ranger of this
forest, at present sojourning in the house of the priest,
about two miles away, who could point out every
monument of the old Karnstein family; and, for a
trifle, he undertook to bring him back with him, if we
would lend him one of our horses, in little more than
half an hour.
"Have you been long employed about this forest?"
asked my father of the old man.
"I have been a woodman here," he answered in his
patois, "under the forester, all my days; so has my
father before me, and so on, as many generations as I
can count up. I could show you the very house in the
village here, in which my ancestors lived."
"How came the village to be deserted?" asked the
"It was troubled by revenants, sir; several were
tracked to their graves, there detected by the usual tests,
and extinguished in the usual way, by decapitation, by
the stake, and by burning; but not until many of the
villagers were killed.
"But after all these proceedings according to law,"
he continued--"so many graves opened, and so many
vampires deprived of their horrible animation--the
village was not relieved. But a Moravian nobleman,
who happened to be traveling this way, heard how
matters were, and being skilled--as many people are
in his country--in such affairs, he offered to deliver
the village from its tormentor. He did so thus: There
being a bright moon that night, he ascended, shortly
after sunset, the towers of the chapel here, from whence
he could distinctly see the churchyard beneath him;
you can see it from that window. From this point he
watched until he saw the vampire come out of his
grave, and place near it the linen clothes in which he
had been folded, and then glide away towards the
village to plague its inhabitants.
"The stranger, having seen all this, came down from
the steeple, took the linen wrappings of the vampire,
and carried them up to the top of the tower, which he
again mounted. When the vampire returned from his
prowlings and missed his clothes, he cried furiously to
the Moravian, whom he saw at the summit of the
tower, and who, in reply, beckoned him to ascend and
take them. Whereupon the vampire, accepting his invitation,
began to climb the steeple, and so soon as he
had reached the battlements, the Moravian, with a
stroke of his sword, clove his skull in twain, hurling
him down to the churchyard, whither, descending by
the winding stairs, the stranger followed and cut his
head off, and next day delivered it and the body to the
villagers, who duly impaled and burnt them.
"This Moravian nobleman had authority from the
then head of the family to remove the tomb of Mircalla,
Countess Karnstein, which he did effectually, so
that in a little while its site was quite forgotten."
"Can you point out where it stood?" asked the General,
The forester shook his head, and smiled.
"Not a soul living could tell you that now," he said;
"besides, they say her body was removed; but no one
is sure of that either."
Having thus spoken, as time pressed, he dropped his
axe and departed, leaving us to hear the remainder of
the General's strange story.
"My beloved child," he resumed, "was now growing
rapidly worse. The physician who attended her had
failed to produce the slightest impression on her disease,
for such I then supposed it to be. He saw my
alarm, and suggested a consultation. I called in an abler
physician, from Gratz.
Several days elapsed before he arrived. He was a good
and pious, as well as a learned man. Having seen my
poor ward together, they withdrew to my library to
confer and discuss. I, from the adjoining room, where
I awaited their summons, heard these two gentlemen's
voices raised in something sharper than a strictly philosophical
discussion. I knocked at the door and entered.
I found the old physician from Gratz maintaining his
theory. His rival was combating it with undisguised
ridicule, accompanied with bursts of laughter. This
unseemly manifestation subsided and the altercation
ended on my entrance.
"'Sir,' said my first physician,'my learned brother
seems to think that you want a conjuror, and not a
"'Pardon me,' said the old physician from Gratz,
looking displeased, 'I shall state my own view of the
case in my own way another time. I grieve, Monsieur
le General, that by my skill and science I can be of no
Before I go I shall do myself the honor to suggest
something to you.'
"He seemed thoughtful, and sat down at a table and
began to write.
Profoundly disappointed, I made my bow, and as I
turned to go, the other doctor pointed over his shoulder
to his companion who was writing, and then, with
a shrug, significantly touched his forehead.
"This consultation, then, left me precisely where I
was. I walked out into the grounds, all but distracted.
The doctor from Gratz, in ten or fifteen minutes,
overtook me. He apologized for having followed me,
but said that he could not conscientiously take his
leave without a few words more. He told me that he
could not be mistaken; no natural disease exhibited
the same symptoms; and that death was already very
near. There remained, however, a day, or possibly two,
of life. If the fatal seizure were at once arrested, with
great care and skill her strength might possibly return.
But all hung now upon the confines of the irrevocable.
One more assault might extinguish the last spark of
vitality which is, every moment, ready to die.
"'And what is the nature of the seizure you speak
of?' I entreated.
"'I have stated all fully in this note, which I place in
your hands upon the distinct condition that you send
for the nearest clergyman, and open my letter in his
presence, and on no account read it till he is with you;
you would despise it else, and it is a matter of life and
death. Should the priest fail you, then, indeed, you may
"He asked me, before taking his leave finally,
whether I would wish to see a man curiously learned
upon the very subject, which, after I had read his letter,
would probably interest me above all others, and he
urged me earnestly to invite him to visit him there; and
so took his leave.
"The ecclesiastic was absent, and I read the letter by
myself. At another time, or in another case, it might
have excited my ridicule. But into what quackeries will
not people rush for a last chance, where all accustomed
means have failed, and the life of a beloved object is
"Nothing, you will say, could be more absurd than
the learned man's letter.
It was monstrous enough to have consigned him to
a madhouse. He said that the patient was suffering
from the visits of a vampire! The punctures which she
described as having occurred near the throat, were, he
insisted, the insertion of those two long, thin, and
sharp teeth which, it is well known, are peculiar to
vampires; and there could be no doubt, he added, as
to the well-defined presence of the small livid mark
which all concurred in describing as that induced by
the demon's lips, and every symptom described by the
sufferer was in exact conformity with those recorded
in every case of a similar visitation.
"Being myself wholly skeptical as to the existence of
any such portent as the vampire, the supernatural
theory of the good doctor furnished, in my opinion,
but another instance of learning and intelligence oddly
associated with some one hallucination. I was so miserable,
however, that, rather than try nothing, I acted
upon the instructions of the letter.
"I concealed myself in the dark dressing room, that
opened upon the poor patient's room, in which a
candle was burning, and watched there till she was fast
asleep. I stood at the door, peeping through the small
crevice, my sword laid on the table beside me, as my
directions prescribed, until, a little after one, I saw a
large black object, very ill-defined, crawl, as it seemed
to me, over the foot of the bed, and swiftly spread itself
up to the poor girl's throat, where it swelled, in a
moment, into a great, palpitating mass.
"For a few moments I had stood petrified. I now
sprang forward, with my sword in my hand. The black
creature suddenly contracted towards the foot of the
bed, glided over it, and, standing on the floor about a
yard below the foot of the bed, with a glare of skulking
ferocity and horror fixed on me, I saw Millarca. Speculating
I know not what, I struck at her instantly with
my sword; but I saw her standing near the door, unscathed.
Horrified, I pursued, and struck again. She
was gone; and my sword flew to shivers against the
"I can't describe to you all that passed on that
horrible night. The whole house was up and stirring.
The specter Millarca was gone. But her victim was
sinking fast, and before the morning dawned, she
The old General was agitated. We did not speak to
him. My father walked to some little distance, and
began reading the inscriptions on the tombstones; and
thus occupied, he strolled into the door of a side chapel
to prosecute his researches. The General leaned against
the wall, dried his eyes, and sighed heavily. I was
relieved on hearing the voices of Carmilla and Madame,
who were at that moment approaching. The
voices died away.
In this solitude, having just listened to so strange a
story, connected, as it was, with the great and titled
dead, whose monuments were moldering among the
dust and ivy round us, and every incident of which
bore so awfully upon my own mysterious case--in this
haunted spot, darkened by the towering foliage that
rose on every side, dense and high above its noiseless
walls--a horror began to steal over me, and my heart
sank as I thought that my friends were, after all, not
about to enter and disturb this triste and ominous
The old General's eyes were fixed on the ground, as
he leaned with his hand upon the basement of a
Under a narrow, arched doorway, surmounted by
one of those demoniacal grotesques in which the cynical
and ghastly fancy of old Gothic carving delights, I
saw very gladly the beautiful face and figure of Carmilla
enter the shadowy chapel.
I was just about to rise and speak, and nodded
smiling, in answer to her peculiarly engaging smile;
when with a cry, the old man by my side caught up
the woodman's hatchet, and started forward. On seeing
him a brutalized change came over her features. It was
an instantaneous and horrible transformation, as she
made a crouching step backwards. Before I could utter
a scream, he struck at her with all his force, but she
dived under his blow, and unscathed, caught him in
her tiny grasp by the wrist. He struggled for a moment
to release his arm, but his hand opened, the axe fell to
the ground, and the girl was gone.
He staggered against the wall. His grey hair stood
upon his head, and a moisture shone over his face, as
if he were at the point of death.
The frightful scene had passed in a moment. The
first thing I recollect after, is Madame standing before
me, and impatiently repeating again and again, the
question, "Where is Mademoiselle Carmilla?"
I answered at length, "I don't know--I can't tell--she
went there," and I pointed to the door through
which Madame had just entered; "only a minute or
"But I have been standing there, in the passage, ever
since Mademoiselle Carmilla entered; and she did not
She then began to call "Carmilla," through every
door and passage and from the windows, but no answer
"She called herself Carmilla?" asked the General, still
"Carmilla, yes," I answered.
"Aye," he said; "that is Millarca. That is the same
person who long ago was called Mircalla, Countess
Karnstein. Depart from this accursed ground, my poor
child, as quickly as you can. Drive to the clergyman's
house, and stay there till we come. Begone! May you
never behold Carmilla more; you will not find her
Ordeal and Execution
As he spoke one of the strangest looking men I ever
beheld entered the chapel at the door through which
Carmilla had made her entrance and her exit. He was
tall, narrow-chested, stooping, with high shoulders,
and dressed in black. His face was brown and dried in
with deep furrows; he wore an oddly-shaped hat with
a broad leaf. His hair, long and grizzled, hung on his
shoulders. He wore a pair of gold spectacles, and
walked slowly, with an odd shambling gait, with his
face sometimes turned up to the sky, and sometimes
bowed down towards the ground, seemed to wear a
perpetual smile; his long thin arms were swinging, and
his lank hands, in old black gloves ever so much too
wide for them, waving and gesticulating in utter abstraction.
"The very man!" exclaimed the General, advancing
with manifest delight. "My dear Baron, how happy I
am to see you, I had no hope of meeting you so soon."
He signed to my father, who had by this time returned,
and leading the fantastic old gentleman, whom he
called the Baron to meet him. He introduced him
formally, and they at once entered into earnest conversation.
The stranger took a roll of paper from his
pocket, and spread it on the worn surface of a tomb
that stood by. He had a pencil case in his fingers, with
which he traced imaginary lines from point to point
on the paper, which from their often glancing from it,
together, at certain points of the building, I concluded
to be a plan of the chapel. He accompanied, what I
may term, his lecture, with occasional readings from a
dirty little book, whose yellow leaves were closely written
They sauntered together down the side aisle, opposite
to the spot where I was standing, conversing as they
went; then they began measuring distances by paces,
and finally they all stood together, facing a piece of the
sidewall, which they began to examine with great minuteness;
pulling off the ivy that clung over it, and
rapping the plaster with the ends of their sticks, scraping
here, and knocking there. At length they ascertained
the existence of a broad marble tablet, with
letters carved in relief upon it.
With the assistance of the woodman, who soon
returned, a monumental inscription, and carved escutcheon,
were disclosed. They proved to be those of
the long lost monument of Mircalla, Countess Karnstein.
The old General, though not I fear given to the
praying mood, raised his hands and eyes to heaven, in
mute thanksgiving for some moments.
"Tomorrow," I heard him say; "the commissioner
will be here, and the Inquisition will be held according
Then turning to the old man with the gold spectacles,
whom I have described, he shook him warmly by
both hands and said:
"Baron, how can I thank you? How can we all thank
you? You will have delivered this region from a plague
that has scourged its inhabitants for more than a
century. The horrible enemy, thank God, is at last
My father led the stranger aside, and the General
followed. I know that he had led them out of hearing,
that he might relate my case, and I saw them glance
often quickly at me, as the discussion proceeded.
My father came to me, kissed me again and again,
and leading me from the chapel, said:
"It is time to return, but before we go home, we must
add to our party the good priest, who lives but a little
way from this; and persuade him to accompany us to
In this quest we were successful: and I was glad, being
unspeakably fatigued when we reached home. But my
satisfaction was changed to dismay, on discovering
that there were no tidings of Carmilla. Of the scene
that had occurred in the ruined chapel, no explanation
was offered to me, and it was clear that it was a secret
which my father for the present determined to keep
The sinister absence of Carmilla made the remembrance
of the scene more horrible to me. The arrangements
for the night were singular. Two servants, and
Madame were to sit up in my room that night; and the
ecclesiastic with my father kept watch in the adjoining
The priest had performed certain solemn rites that
night, the purport of which I did not understand any
more than I comprehended the reason of this extraordinary
precaution taken for my safety during sleep.
I saw all clearly a few days later.
The disappearance of Carmilla was followed by the
discontinuance of my nightly sufferings.
You have heard, no doubt, of the appalling superstition
that prevails in Upper and Lower Styria, in
Moravia, Silesia, in Turkish Serbia, in Poland, even in
Russia; the superstition, so we must call it, of the
If human testimony, taken with every care and solemnity,
judicially, before commissions innumerable,
each consisting of many members, all chosen for integrity
and intelligence, and constituting reports more
voluminous perhaps than exist upon any one other
class of cases, is worth anything, it is difficult to deny,
or even to doubt the existence of such a phenomenon
as the Vampire.
For my part I have heard no theory by which to
explain what I myself have witnessed and experienced,
other than that supplied by the ancient and well-attested
belief of the country.
The next day the formal proceedings took place in
the Chapel of Karnstein.
The grave of the Countess Mircalla was opened; and
the General and my father recognized each his perfidious
and beautiful guest, in the face now disclosed to
view. The features, though a hundred and fifty years
had passed since her funeral, were tinted with the
warmth of life. Her eyes were open; no cadaverous
smell exhaled from the coffin. The two medical men,
one officially present, the other on the part of the
promoter of the inquiry, attested the marvelous fact
that there was a faint but appreciable respiration, and
a corresponding action of the heart. The limbs were
perfectly flexible, the flesh elastic; and the leaden coffin
floated with blood, in which to a depth of seven inches,
the body lay immersed.
Here then, were all the admitted signs and proofs of
vampirism. The body, therefore, in accordance with
the ancient practice, was raised, and a sharp stake
driven through the heart of the vampire, who uttered
a piercing shriek at the moment, in all respects such as
might escape from a living person in the last agony.
Then the head was struck off, and a torrent of blood
flowed from the severed neck. The body and head was
next placed on a pile of wood, and reduced to ashes,
which were thrown upon the river and borne away, and
that territory has never since been plagued by the visits
of a vampire.
My father has a copy of the report of the Imperial
Commission, with the signatures of all who were present
at these proceedings, attached in verification of
the statement. It is from this official paper that I have
summarized my account of this last shocking scene.
I write all this you suppose with composure. But far
from it; I cannot think of it without agitation. Nothing
but your earnest desire so repeatedly expressed, could
have induced me to sit down to a task that has unstrung
my nerves for months to come, and reinduced a
shadow of the unspeakable horror which years after
my deliverance continued to make my days and nights
dreadful, and solitude insupportably terrific.
Let me add a word or two about that quaint Baron
Vordenburg, to whose curious lore we were indebted
for the discovery of the Countess Mircalla's grave.
He had taken up his abode in Gratz, where, living
upon a mere pittance, which was all that remained to
him of the once princely estates of his family, in Upper
Styria, he devoted himself to the minute and laborious
investigation of the marvelously authenticated tradition
of Vampirism. He had at his fingers' ends all the
great and little works upon the subject.
"Magia Posthuma," "Phlegon de Mirabilibus,"
"Augustinus de cura pro Mortuis," "Philosophicae et
Christianae Cogitationes de Vampiris," by John Christofer
Herenberg; and a thousand others, among which
I remember only a few of those which he lent to my
father. He had a voluminous digest of all the judicial
cases, from which he had extracted a system of principles
that appear to govern--some always, and others
occasionally only--the condition of the vampire. I
may mention, in passing, that the deadly pallor attributed
to that sort of revenants, is a mere melodramatic
fiction. They present, in the grave, and when they show
themselves in human society, the appearance of
healthy life. When disclosed to light in their coffins,
they exhibit all the symptoms that are enumerated as
those which proved the vampire-life of the long-dead
How they escape from their graves and return to
them for certain hours every day, without displacing
the clay or leaving any trace of disturbance in the state
of the coffin or the cerements, has always been admitted
to be utterly inexplicable. The amphibious existence
of the vampire is sustained by daily renewed
slumber in the grave. Its horrible lust for living blood
supplies the vigor of its waking existence. The vampire
is prone to be fascinated with an engrossing vehemence,
resembling the passion of love, by particular
persons. In pursuit of these it will exercise inexhaustible
patience and stratagem, for access to a particular
object may be obstructed in a hundred ways. It
will never desist until it has satiated its passion, and
drained the very life of its coveted victim. But it will,
in these cases, husband and protract its murderous
enjoyment with the refinement of an epicure, and
heighten it by the gradual approaches of an artful
courtship. In these cases it seems to yearn for something
like sympathy and consent. In ordinary ones it
goes direct to its object, overpowers with violence, and
strangles and exhausts often at a single feast.
The vampire is, apparently, subject, in certain situations,
to special conditions. In the particular instance
of which I have given you a relation, Mircalla seemed
to be limited to a name which, if not her real one,
should at least reproduce, without the omission or
addition of a single letter, those, as we say, anagrammatically,
which compose it.
Carmilla did this; so did Millarca.
My father related to the Baron Vordenburg, who
remained with us for two or three weeks after the
expulsion of Carmilla, the story about the Moravian
nobleman and the vampire at Karnstein churchyard,
and then he asked the Baron how he had discovered
the exact position of the long-concealed tomb of the
Countess Mircalla? The Baron's grotesque features
puckered up into a mysterious smile; he looked down,
still smiling on his worn spectacle case and fumbled
with it. Then looking up, he said:
"I have many journals, and other papers, written by
that remarkable man; the most curious among them
is one treating of the visit of which you speak, to
Karnstein. The tradition, of course, discolors and distorts
a little. He might have been termed a Moravian
nobleman, for he had changed his abode to that territory,
and was, beside, a noble. But he was, in truth, a
native of Upper Styria. It is enough to say that in very
early youth he had been a passionate and favored lover
of the beautiful Mircalla, Countess Karnstein. Her
early death plunged him into inconsolable grief. It is
the nature of vampires to increase and multiply, but
according to an ascertained and ghostly law.
"Assume, at starting, a territory perfectly free from
that pest. How does it begin, and how does it multiply
itself? I will tell you. A person, more or less wicked,
puts an end to himself. A suicide, under certain circumstances,
becomes a vampire. That specter visits
living people in their slumbers; they die, and almost
invariably, in the grave, develop into vampires. This
happened in the case of the beautiful Mircalla, who
was haunted by one of those demons. My ancestor,
Vordenburg, whose title I still bear, soon discovered
this, and in the course of the studies to which he
devoted himself, learned a great deal more.
"Among other things, he concluded that suspicion
of vampirism would probably fall, sooner or later,
upon the dead Countess, who in life had been his idol.
He conceived a horror, be she what she might, of her
remains being profaned by the outrage of a posthumous
execution. He has left a curious paper to prove
that the vampire, on its expulsion from its amphibious
existence, is projected into a far more horrible life; and
he resolved to save his once beloved Mircalla from this.
"He adopted the stratagem of a journey here, a
pretended removal of her remains, and a real obliteration
of her monument. When age had stolen upon
him, and from the vale of years, he looked back on the
scenes he was leaving, he considered, in a different
spirit, what he had done, and a horror took possession
of him. He made the tracings and notes which have
guided me to the very spot, and drew up a confession
of the deception that he had practiced. If he had
intended any further action in this matter, death prevented
him; and the hand of a remote descendant has,
too late for many, directed the pursuit to the lair of
We talked a little more, and among other things he
said was this:
"One sign of the vampire is the power of the hand.
The slender hand of Mircalla closed like a vice of steel
on the General's wrist when he raised the hatchet to
strike. But its power is not confined to its grasp; it
leaves a numbness in the limb it seizes, which is slowly,
if ever, recovered from."
The following Spring my father took me a tour
through Italy. We remained away for more than a year.
It was long before the terror of recent events subsided;
and to this hour the image of Carmilla returns to
memory with ambiguous alternations--sometimes the
playful, languid, beautiful girl; sometimes the writhing
fiend I saw in the ruined church; and often from a
reverie I have started, fancying I heard the light step of
Carmilla at the drawing room door.