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Carmilla by J. Sheridan LeFanu

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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 precis 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 luxuries.

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 the right.

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 warm."

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_ frightened.

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 satisfy me.

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 prayers.

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.


_A Guest_

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 weeks

"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 evening."

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 distraction."

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, dear friend."

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
exquisite moonlight.

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 scene.

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 rocks.

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
the moon.

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 equilibrium.

"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 fairy guests."

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 attention.

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 people.

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 hence."

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 here."

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 again.

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 mamma?"

Our good Madame Perrodon answered tenderly, and added some comfortable

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 she?"

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, she wept.

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 castle gate.

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 servant.

"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 room.

"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 fury.

"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 Madame.

"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 this permission.

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

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 since."

"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

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 to me.

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 new acquaintance.

"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 engaging.

I perceived now something of languor and exhaustion stealing over her,
and hastened to bid her good night.

"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 creature."

"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 particulars.

There were some that did not please me so well.

She was above the middle height of women. I shall begin by describing

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 estimation--to

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 to me.

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 arms.

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 has 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 very intelligent.

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 first fancied.

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

Peasants walking two-and-two came behind, they were singing a funeral

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 turned surprised.

She said brusquely, "Don't you perceive how discordant that is?"

"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 today."

"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

We had moved a little back, and had come to another seat.

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 away."

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 dismally.

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, to display.

"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 her?"

The young lady, indeed, looked very angry as she drew back from the

"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
castle 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 steadily sinking.

"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

"But that very circumstance frightens one horribly," said Carmilla.

"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.

"Long ago?"

"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

"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 were."

"You are afraid to die?"

"Yes, every one is."

"But to die as lovers may--to die together, so that they may live

"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

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 his head--

"Nevertheless life and death are mysterious states, and we know little
of the resources of either."

And so the 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 obliterated them.

"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 it out.

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 rapture.

"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,
mamma was."

"Ah!" said the lady, languidly, "so am I, I think, a very long descent,
very ancient. Are there any Karnsteins living now?"

"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

"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 romance."

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 on."

"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 this, the physician who was with papa today."

"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 arrival.

She answered "No."

He then asked whether she knew where a letter would reach her at

"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 bed.

"Do you think," I said at length, "that you will ever confide fully in

She turned round smiling, but made no answer, only continued to smile on

"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

"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."

I laughed.

"You are not so old. Your first ball can hardly be forgotten yet."

"I remember everything 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 decipher.

I bid her good night, and crept from the room with an uncomfortable

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 me.

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 "ensconced."

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 fortified 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
encompass 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 haunted!"

"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 avenue."

"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 chimney-piece, 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 of.

"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, earnestly.

"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

But I wakened with a sense of lassitude and melancholy, which, however,
did not exceed a degree that was almost luxurious.

"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 alarm."

"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 life.

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. Sometime 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

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 miseries.

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

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 my terror.

I insisted on our knocking at Carmilla's door. Our knocking was

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

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 back?"

"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 her.

"Will you forgive me, my dear, if I risk a conjecture, and ask a

"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 young?"

"Yes; I know I did. I have been told so often by my old nurse."

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 someone 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 safety."

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.


_The Doctor_

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 am."

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 window formed.

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 pointed to.

"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, growing pale.

"You see it now with your own eyes," said the doctor, with a gloomy

"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,

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