Upon a paper attached to the Narrative which follows,
Hesselius has written a rather elaborate note, which he
with a reference to his Essay on the strange subject which the
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
"laity," I shall forestall the intelligent lady, who
it, in nothing; and after due consideration, I have determined,
therefore, to abstain from presenting any precis of the
Doctor's reasoning, or extract from his statement on a
which he describes as "involving, not improbably, some of
profoundest arcana of our dual existence, and its
I was anxious on discovering this paper, to reopen the
correspondence commenced by Doctor Hesselius, so many years
with a person so clever and careful as his informant seems to
been. Much to my regret, however, I found that she had died in
She, probably, could have added little to the Narrative
she communicates in the following pages, with, so far as I can
pronounce, such conscientious particularity.
In Styria, we, though by no means magnificent people,
castle, or schloss. A small income, in that part of the world,
great way. Eight or nine hundred a year does wonders. Scantily
ours would have answered among wealthy people at home. My
English, and I bear an English name, although I never saw
here, in this lonely and primitive place, where everything is so
marvellously cheap, I real]y don't see how ever so much
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,
small estate on which it stands, a bargain.
Nothing can be more picturesque or solitary. It stands on
slight eminence in a forest. The road, very old and narrow,
front of its drawbridge, never raised in my time, and its moat,
with perch, and sailed over by many swans, and floating on its
white fleets of water-lilies.
Over all this the schloss shows its many-windowed front;
towers, and its Gothic chapel.
The forest opens in an irregular and very picturesque
before its gate, and at the right a steep Gothic bridge carries
road over a stream that winds in deep shadow through the wood.
said that this is a very lonely place. Judge whether I say
Looking from the hall door towards the road, the forest in which
castle stands extends fifteen miles to the right, and twelve to
left. The nearest inhabited village is about seven of your
miles to the left. The nearest inhabited schloss of any historic
associations, is that of old General Spielsdorf, nearly twenty
away to the right.
I have said "the nearest inhabited
because there is, only three miles westward, that is to say in
direction of General Spielsdorf's schloss, a ruined village,
its quaint little church, now roofless, in the aisle of which
mouldering tombs of the proud family of Karnstein, now extinct,
once owned the equally desolate chateau which, in the thick of
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
I must tell you now, how very small is the party who
the inhabitants of our castle. I don't include servants,
dependents who occupy rooms in the buildings attached to the
Listen, and wonder! My father, who is the kindest man on earth,
growing old; and I, at the date of my story, only nineteen.
years have passed since then. I and my father constituted the
at the schloss. My mother, a Styrian lady, died in my infancy,
had a good-natured governess, who had been with me from, I might
say, my infancy. I could not remember the time time when her
benignant face was not a familiar picture in my memory. This
Madame Perrodon, a native of Berne, whose care and good nature
part supplied to me the loss of my mother, whom I do not even
so early I lost her. She made a third at our little dinner
There was a fourth, Mademoiselle De Lafontaine, a lady such as
term, I believe, a "finishing governess." She spoke
and German, Madame Perrodon French and broken English, to which
father and I added English, which, partly to prevent its
lost language among us, and partly from patriotic motives, we
every day. The consequence was a Babel, at which strangers used
laugh, and which I shall make no attempt to reproduce in this
narrative. And there were two or three young lady friends
pretty nearly of my own age, who were occasional visitors, for
or shorter terms; and these visits I sometimes returned.
These were our regular social resources; but of course
were chance visits from "neighbours" of only five or
leagues distance. My life was, notwithstanding, rather a
I can assure you.
My gouvernantes had just so much control over me as you
conjecture such sage persons would have in the case of a rather
girl, whose only parent allowed her pretty nearly her own way in
The first occurrence in my existence, which produced a
impression upon my mind, which, in fact, never has been effaced,
one of the very earliest incidents of my life which I can
Some people will think it so trifling that it should not be
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
room in the upper story of the castle, with a steep oak roof. I
have been more than six years old, when one night I awoke, and
round the room from my bed, failed to see the nursery-maid.
was my nurse there; and I thought myself alone. I was not
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
makes us cover up our heads when the door cracks suddenly, or
flicker of an expiring candle makes the shadow of a bed-post
the wall, nearer to our faces. I was vexed and insulted at
myself, as I conceived, neglected, and I began to whimper,
to a hearty bout of roaring; when to my surprise, I saw a
very pretty face looking at me from the side of the bed. It was
of a young lady who was kneeling, with her hands under the
looked at her with a kind of pleased wonder, and ceased
She caressed me with her hands, and lay down beside me on the
drew me towards her, smiling; I felt immediately delightfully
and fell asleep again. I was wakened by a sensation as if two
ran into my breast very deep at the same moment, and I cried
The lady started back, with her eyes fixed on me, and then
upon the floor, and, as I thought, hid herself under the bed.
I was now for the first time frightened, and I yelled with
my might and main. Nurse, nursery-maid, housekeeper, all came
in, and hearing my story, they made light of it, soothing me all
could meanwhile. But, child as I was, I could perceive that
faces were pale with an unwonted look of anxiety, and I saw them
under the bed, and about the room, and peep under tables and
cupboards; and the housekeeper whispered to the nurse:
hand along that hollow in the bed; some one did lie
sure as you did not; the place is still warm."
I remember the nursery-maid petting me, and all three
my chest, where I told them I felt the puncture, and pronouncing
there was no sign visible that any such thing had happened to
The housekeeper and the two other servants who were in
of the nursery, remained sitting up all night; and from that
servant always sat up in the nursery until I was about fourteen.
I was very nervous for a long time after this. A doctor
called in, he was pallid and elderly. How well I remember his
saturnine face, slightly pitted with smallpox, and his chestnut
For a good while, every second day, he came and gave me
of course I hated.
The morning after I saw this apparition I was in a state
terror, and could not bear to be left alone, daylight though it
for a moment.
I remember my father coming up and standing at the
talking cheerfully, and asking the nurse a number of questions,
laughing very heartily at one of the answers; and patting me on
shoulder, and kissing me, and telling me not to be frightened,
was nothing but a dream and could not hurt me.
But I was not comforted, for I knew the visit of the
woman was not a dream; and I was awfully
I was a little consoled by the nursery-maid's
that it was she who had come and looked at me, and lain down
in the bed, and that I must have been half-dreaming not to have
her face. But this, though supported by the nurse, did not
I remembered, in the course of that day, a venerable old
in a black cassock, coming into the room with the nurse and
housekeeper, and talking a little to them, and very kindly to
face was very sweet and gentle, and he told me they were going
and joined my hands together, and desired me to say, softly,
were praying, "Lord hear all good prayers for us, for
sake." I think these were the very words, for I often
them to myself, and my nurse used for years to make me say them
I remembered so well the thoughtful sweet face of that
white-haired old man, in his black cassock, as he stood in that
lofty, brown room, with the clumsy furniture of a fashion three
years old about him, and the scanty light entering its shadowy
atmosphere through the small lattice. He kneeled, and the three
with him, and he prayed aloud with an earnest quavering voice
appeared to me, a long time. I forget all my life preceding
event, and for some time after it is all obscure also, but the
have just described stand out vivid as the isolated pictures of
phantasmagoria surrounded by darkness.
I am now going to tell you something so strange that it
require all your faith in my veracity to believe my story. It
only true, nevertheless, but truth of which I have been an
It was a sweet summer evening, and my father asked me, as
sometimes did, to take a little ramble with him along that
forest vista which I have mentioned as lying in front of the
"General Spielsdorf cannot come to us so soon as I
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
lady, his niece and ward, Mademoiselle Rheinfeldt, whom I had
seen, but whom I had heard described as a very charming girl,
whose society I had promised myself many happy days. I was more
disappointed than a young lady living in a town, or a bustling
neighbourhood can possibly imagine. This visit, and the new
acquaintance it promised, had furnished my day dream for many
"And how soon does he come?" I asked.
"Not till autumn. Not for two months, I dare
answered. "And I am very glad now, dear, that you never
"And why?" I asked, both mortified and curious.
"Because the poor young lady is dead," he
"I quite forgot I had not told you, but you were not in the
when I received the General's letter this evening."
I was very much shocked. General Spielsdorf had mentioned
his first letter, six or seven weeks before, that she was not so
as he would wish her, but there was nothing to suggest the
suspicion of danger.
"Here is the General's letter," he said,
it to me.
"I am afraid he is in great affliction; the letter appears
to have been written very nearly in distraction."
We sat down on a rude bench, under a group of magnificent
trees. The sun was setting with all its melancholy splendour
the sylvan horizon, and the stream that flows beside our home,
passes under the steep old bridge I have mentioned, wound
a group of noble trees, almost at our feet, reflecting in its
the fading crimson of the sky. General Spielsdorf's letter
extraordinary, so vehement, and in some places so
that I read it twice over-the second time aloud to my
was still unable to account for it, except by supposing that
unsettled his mind.
It said "I have lost my darling daughter, for as such
loved her. During the last days of dear Bertha's illness I
not able to write to you. Before then I had no idea of her
have lost her, and now learn all, too late. She died in
peace of innocence, and in the glorious hope of a blessed
The fiend who betrayed our infatuated hospitality has done it
thought I was receiving into my house innocence, gaiety, a
companion for my lost Bertha. Heavens! what a fool have I been!
thank God my child died without a suspicion of the cause of her
sufferings. She is gone without so much as conjecturing the
her illness, and the accursed passion of the agent of all this
I devote my remaining days to tracking and extinguishing a
am told I may hope to accomplish my righteous and merciful
present there is scarcely a gleam of light to guide me. I curse
conceited incredulity, my despicable affectation of superiority,
blindness, my obstinacy-all- too late. I cannot write
collectedly now. I am distracted. So soon as I shall have a
recovered, I mean to devote myself for a time to enquiry, which
possibly lead me as far as Vienna. Some time in the autumn, two
hence, or earlier if I live, I will see you-that is, if you
me; I will then tell you all that I scarce dare put upon paper
Farewell. Pray for me, dear friend."
In these terms ended this strange letter. Though I had
seen Bertha Rheinfeldt my eyes filled with tears at the sudden
intelligence; I was startled, as well as profoundly
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
the possible meanings of the violent and incoherent sentences
had just been reading. We had nearly a mile to walk before
the road that passes the schloss in front, and by that time the
was shining brilliantly. At the drawbridge we met Madame
Mademoiselle De Lafontaine, who had come out, without their
enjoy the exquisite moonlight.
We heard their voices gabbling in animated dialogue as we
approached. We joined them at the drawbridge, and turned about
admire with them the beautiful scene.
The glade through which we had just walked lay before us.
our left the narrow road wound away under clumps of lordly
was lost to sight amid the thickening forest. At the right the
road crosses the steep and picturesque bridge, near which stands
ruined tower which once guarded that pass; and beyond the bridge
abrupt eminence rises, covered with trees, and showing in the
some grey ivy-clustered rocks.
Over the sward and low grounds a thin film of mist was
like smoke, marking the distances with a transparent veil; and
there we could see the river faintly flashing in the moonlight.
No softer, sweeter scene could be imagined. The news I
just heard made it melancholy; but nothing could disturb its
of profound serenity, and the enchanted glory and vagueness of
My father, who enjoyed the picturesque, and I, stood
silence over the expanse beneath us. The two good governesses,
standing a little way behind us, discoursed upon the scene, and
eloquent upon the moon.
Madame Perrodon was fat, middle-aged, and romantic, and
and sighed poetically. Mademoiselle De Lafontaine-in right
father who was a German, assumed to be psychological,
something of a mystic-now declared that when the moon shone
light so intense it was well known that it indicated a special
spiritual activity. The effect of the full moon in such a state
brilliancy was manifold. It acted on dreams, it acted on
acted on nervous people, it had marvelous physical influences
with life. Mademoiselle related that her cousin, who was mate
merchant ship, having taken a nap on deck on such a night, lying
back, with his face full in the light on the moon, had wakened,
dream of an old woman clawing him by the cheek, with his
horribly drawn to one side; and his countenance had never quite
recovered its equilibrium.
"The moon, this night," she said, "is full
idyllic and magnetic influence-and see, when you look
at the front of the schloss how all its windows flash and
that silvery splendour, as if unseen hands had lighted up the
receive fairy guests."
There are indolent styles of the spirits in which,
to talk ourselves, the talk of others is pleasant to our
and I gazed on, pleased with the tinkle of the ladies'
"I have got into one of my moping moods
said my father, after a silence, and quoting Shakespeare, whom,
of keeping up our English, he used to read aloud, he said:
"'In truth I know not why I am so
It wearies me: you say it wearies you;
But how I got
"I forget the rest. But I feel as if some great
were hanging over us. I suppose the poor General's
letter has had something to do with it."
At this moment the unwonted sound of carriage wheels and
hoofs upon the road, arrested our attention.
They seemed to be approaching from the high ground
the bridge, and very soon the equipage emerged from that point.
horsemen first crossed the bridge, then came a carriage drawn by
horses, and two men rode behind.
It seemed to be the travelling carriage of a person of
and we were all immediately absorbed in watching that very
spectacle. It became, in a few moments, greatly more
just as the carriage had passed the summit of the steep bridge,
the leaders, taking fright, communicated his panic to the rest,
after a plunge or two, the whole team broke into a wild gallop
together, and dashing between the horsemen who rode in front,
thundering along the road towards us with the speed of a
The excitement of the scene was made more painful by the
long-drawn screams of a female voice from the carriage window.
We all advanced in curiosity and horror; me rather in
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
roadside a magnificent lime tree, on the other stands an
cross, at sight of which the horses, now going at a pace that
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
out, and turned my head away; at the same moment I heard a cry
lady-friends, who had gone on a little.
Curiosity opened my eyes, and I saw a scene of utter
Two of the horses were on the ground, the carriage lay upon its
with two wheels in the air; the men were busy removing the
a lady, with a commanding air and figure had got out, and stood
clasped hands, raising the handkerchief that was in them every
then to her eyes. Through the carriage door was now lifted a
lady, who appeared to be lifeless. My dear old father was
beside the elder lady, with his hat in his hand, evidently
his aid and the resources of his schloss. The lady did not
hear him, or to have eyes for anything but the slender girl who
being placed against the slope of the bank.
I approached; the young lady was apparently stunned, but
was certainly not dead. My father, who piqued himself on being
something of a physician, had just had his fingers on her wrist
assured the lady, who declared herself her mother, that her
though faint and irregular, was undoubtedly still
lady clasped her hands and looked upward, as if in a momentary
transport of gratitude; but immediately she broke out again in
theatrical way which is, I believe, natural to some people.
She was what is called a fine looking woman for her time
life, and must have been handsome; she was tall, but not thin,
dressed in black velvet, and looked rather pale, but with a
commanding countenance, though now agitated strangely.
"Who was ever being so born to calamity?" I
say, with clasped hands, as I came up. "Here am I, on a
of life and death, in prosecuting which to lose an hour is
lose all. My child will not have recovered sufficiently to
route for who can say how long. I must leave her: I cannot,
delay. How far on, sir, can you tell, is the nearest village? I
leave her there; and shall not see my darling, or even hear of
my return, three months hence."
I plucked my father by the coat, and whispered earnestly
ear: "Oh! papa, pray ask her to let her stay with
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
to remain as our guest, under my charge, until her return, it
confer a distinction and an obligation upon us, and we shall
with all the care and devotion which so sacred a trust
"I cannot do that, sir, it would be to task your
and chivalry too cruelly," said the lady, distractedly.
"It would, on the contrary, be to confer on us a very
kindness at the moment when we most need it. My daughter has
been disappointed by a cruel misfortune, in a visit from which
long anticipated a great deal of happiness. If you confide this
lady to our care it will be her best consolation. The nearest
on your route is distant, and affords no such inn as you could
placing your daughter at; you cannot allow her to continue her
for any considerable distance without danger. If, as you say,
cannot suspend your journey, you must part with her to-night,
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
distinguished and even imposing, and in her manner so engaging,
impress one, quite apart from the dignity of her equipage, with
conviction that she was a person of consequence.
By this time the carriage was replaced in its upright
and the horses, quite tractable, in the traces again.
The lady threw on her daughter a glance which I fancied
quite so affectionate as one might have anticipated from the
of the scene; then she beckoned slightly to my father, and
or three steps with him out of hearing; and talked to him with a
and stern countenance, not at all like that with which she had
I was filled with wonder that my father did not seem to
perceive the change, and also unspeakably curious to learn what
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
daughter lay, supported by Madame Perrodon. She kneeled beside
for a moment and whispered, as Madame supposed, a little
her ear; then hastily kissing her she stepped into her carriage,
door was closed, the footmen in stately liveries jumped up
outriders spurred on, the postillions cracked their whips, the
plunged and broke suddenly into a furious canter that threatened
again to become a gallop, and the carriage whirled away,
the same rapid pace by the two horsemen in the rear.
We followed the cortege with our eyes until it was
swiftly lost to sight in the misty wood; and the very sound of
hoofs and the wheels died away in the silent night air.
Nothing remained to assure us that the adventure had not
an illusion of a moment but the young lady, who just at that
opened her eyes. I could not see, for her face was turned from
she raised her head, evidently looking about her, and I heard a
sweet voice ask complainingly,
"Where is mamma?"
Our good Madame Perrodon answered tenderly, and added some
I then heard her ask:
"Where am I? What is this place?" and after
"I don't see the carriage; and Matska, where is
Madame answered all her questions in so far as she
them; and gradually the young lady remembered how the
about, and was glad to hear that no one in, or in attendance on,
carriage was hurt; and on learning that her mamma had left her
till her return in about three months, she wept.
I was going to add my consolations to those of Madame
when Mademoiselle De Lafontaine placed her hand upon my arm,
"Don't approach, one at a time is as much as she
at present converse with; a very little excitement would
overpower her now."
As soon as she is comfortably in bed, I thought, I will
to her room and see her.
My father in the meantime had sent a servant on horseback
the physician, who lived about two leagues away; and a bedroom
being prepared for the young lady's reception.
The stranger now rose, and leaning on Madame's arm,
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
drawing-room is long, having four windows, that looked over the
and drawbridge, upon the forest scene I have just described.
It is furnished in old carved oak, with large carved
and the chairs are cushioned with crimson Utrecht velvet. The
are covered with tapestry, and surrounded with great gold
figures being as large as life, in ancient and very curious
and the subjects represented are hunting, hawking, and generally
festive. It is not too stately to be extremely comfortable; and
we had our tea, for with his usual patriotic leanings he
the national beverage should make its appearance regularly with
coffee and chocolate.
We sat here this night, and with candles lighted, were
over the adventure of the evening.
Madame Perrodon and Mademoiselle De Lafontaine were both
party. The young stranger had hardly lain down in her bed when
sank into a deep sleep; and those ladies had left her in the
care of a
"How do you like our guest?" I asked, as soon as
Madame entered. "Tell me all about her?"
"I like her extremely," answered Madame,
I almost think, the prettiest creature I ever saw; about your
so gentle and nice."
"She is absolutely beautiful," threw in
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
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
coloured turban on her head. and who was gazing all the time
carriage window, nodding and grinning derisively towards the
with gleaming eyes and large white eye-balls, and her teeth set
as if in
"Did you remark what an ill-looking pack of men the
servants were?" asked Madame.
"Yes," said my father, who had just come in,
"ugly, hang-dog looking fellows. as ever I beheld in my
hope they mayn't rob the poor lady in the forest. They are
rogues, however; they got everything to rights in a
"I dare say they are worn out with too long
said Madame. "Besides looking wicked, their faces were so
strangely lean, and dark, and sullen. I am very curious, I own;
dare say the young lady will tell you all about it to-morrow, if
"I don't think she will," said my father,
mysterious smile, and a little nod of his head, as if he knew
about it than he cared to tell us.
This made us all the more inquisitive as to what had
between him and the lady in the black velvet, in the brief but
interview that had immediately preceded her departure.
We were scarcely alone, when I entreated him to tell me.
did not need much pressing.
"There is no particular reason why I should not tell
She expressed a reluctance to trouble us with the care of her
saying she was in delicate health, and nervous, but not subject
kind of seizure-she volunteered that- nor to any
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
little, I tell you. She then said, 'I am making a long
vital importance-she emphasized the word-rapid
secret; I shall return for my child in three months; in the
she will be silent as to who we are, whence we come, and whither
are travelling.' That is all she said. She spoke very pure
French. When she said the word 'secret,' she paused
few seconds, looking sternly, her eyes fixed on mine. I fancy
makes a great point of that. You saw how quickly she was gone.
I have not done a very foolish thing, in taking charge of the
For my part, I was delighted. I was longing to see and
her; and only waiting till the doctor should give me leave.
live in towns, can have no idea how great an event the
a new friend is, in such a solitude as surrounded us.
The doctor did not arrive till nearly one o'clock;
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
had driven away.
When the physician came down to the drawing-room, it was
report very favourably upon his patient. She was now sitting
pulse quite regular, apparently perfectly well. She had
injury, and the little shock to her nerves had passed away quite
harmlessly. There could be no harm certainly in my seeing her,
both wished it; and, with this permission I sent, forthwith, to
whether she would allow me to visit her for a few minutes in her
The servant returned immediately to say that she desired
You may be sure I was not long in availing myself of this
Our visitor lay in one of the handsomest rooms in the
It was, perhaps, a little stately. There was a sombre piece of
tapestry opposite the foot of the bed, representing Cleopatra
asps to her bosom; and other solemn classic scenes were
little faded, upon the other walls. But there was gold carving,
rich and varied colour enough in the other decorations of the
more than redeem the gloom of the old tapestry.
There were candles at the bed-side. She was sitting up;
slender pretty figure enveloped in the soft silk dressing-gown,
embroidered with flowers, and lined with thick quilted silk,
mother had thrown over her feet as she lay upon the ground.
What was it that, as I reached the bed-side and had just
my little greeting, struck me dumb in a moment, and made me
step or two from before her? I will tell you.
I saw the very face which had visited me in my childhood
night, which remained so fixed in my memory, and on which I had
many years so often ruminated with horror, when no one suspected
what I was thinking.
It was pretty, even beautiful; and when I first beheld it,
the same melancholy expression.
But this almost instantly lighted into a strange fixed
There was a silence of fully a minute, and then at length
she spoke; I could not.
"How wonderful!" she exclaimed. "Twelve
ago, I saw your face in a dream, and it has haunted me ever
"Wonderful indeed!" I repeated, overcoming with
effort the horror that had for a time suspended my utterances.
"Twelve years ago, in vision or reality, I certainly
you. I could not forget your face. It has remained before my
Her smile had softened. Whatever I had fancied strange in
was gone, and it and her dimpling cheeks were now delightfully
I felt reassured, and continued more in the vein which
hospitality indicated, to bid her welcome, and to tell her how
pleasure her accidental arrival had given us all, and especially
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.
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
still wondering; and she said:
"I must tell you my vision about you; it is so very
that you and I should have had, each of the other so vivid a
that each should have seen, I you and you me, looking as we do
when of course we both were mere children. I was a child, about
years old, and I awoke from a confused and troubled dream, and
myself in a room, unlike my nursery, wainscoted clumsily in some
wood, and with cupboards and bedsteads, and chairs, and benches
about it. The beds were, I thought, all empty, and the room
without anyone but myself in it; and I, after looking about me
time, and admiring especially an iron candlestick with two
which I should certainly know again, crept under one of the beds
reach the window; but as I got from under the bed, I heard
crying; and looking up, while I was still upon my knees, I saw
assuredly you-as I see you now; a beautiful young lady,
golden hair and large blue eyes, and lips- your
you are here. Your looks won me; I climbed on the bed and put
about you, and I think we both fell asleep. I was aroused by a
you were sitting up screaming. I was frightened, and slipped
the ground, and, it seemed to me, lost consciousness for a
when I came to myself, I was again in my nursery at home. Your
have never forgotten since. I could not be misled by mere
You are the lady whom I saw then."
It was now my turn to relate my corresponding vision,
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
I think I should be very much afraid of you, but being as you
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,
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
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
but there was also something of repulsion. In this ambiguous
however, the sense of attraction immensely prevailed. She
and won me; she was so beautiful and so indescribably engaging.
I perceived now something of languor and exhaustion
over her, and hastened to bid her good night.
"The doctor thinks," I added, "that you
have a maid to sit up with you to-night; one of ours is waiting,
you will find her a very useful and quiet creature."
"How kind of you, but I could not sleep, I never
an attendant in the room. I shan't require any
and, shall I confess my weakness, I am haunted with a terror of
robbers. Our house was robbed once, and two servants murdered,
always lock my door. It has become a habit-and you look so
know you will forgive me. I see there is a key in the
She held me close in her pretty arms for a moment and
in my ear, "Good night, darling, it is very hard to part
but good night; to-morrow, but not early, I shall see you
She sank back on the pillow with a sigh, and her fine eyes
followed me with a fond and melancholy gaze, and she murmured
"Good night, dear friend."
Young people like, and even love, on impulse. I was
by the evident, though as yet undeserved, fondness she showed
liked the confidence with which she at once received me. She
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
most beautiful creature I had ever seen, and the unpleasant
of the face presented in my early dream, had lost the effect of
first unexpected recognition.
She confessed that she had experienced a similar shock on
seeing me, and precisely the same faint antipathy that had
my admiration of her. We now laughed together over our
Her Habits-A Saunter
I told you that I was charmed with her in most
There were some that did not please me so well.
She was above the middle height of women. I shall begin
describing her. She was slender, and wonderfully graceful.
that her movements were languid-very languid-
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
quite wonderful, I never saw hair so magnificently thick and
it was down about her shoulders; I have often placed my hands
and laughed with wonder at its weight. It was exquisitely fine
soft, and in colour a rich very dark brown, with something of
loved to let it down, tumbling with its own weight, as, in her
she lay back in her chair talking in her sweet low voice, I used
fold and braid it, and spread it out and play with it. Heavens!
had but known all!
I said there were particulars which did not please me. I
told you that her confidence won me the first night I saw her;
found that she exercised with respect to herself, her mother,
history, everything in fact connected with her life, plans, and
an ever wakeful reserve. I dare say I was unreasonable, perhaps
wrong; I dare say I ought to have respected the solemn
upon my father by the stately lady in black velvet. But
curiosity is a
restless and unscrupulous passion, and no one girl can endure,
patience, that hers should be baffled by another. What harm
do anyone to tell me what I so ardently desired to know? Had
trust in my good sense or honour? Why would she not believe me
assured her, so solemnly, that I would not divulge one syllable
she told me to any mortal breathing.
There was a coldness, it seemed to me, beyond her years,
smiling melancholy persistent refusal to afford me the least ray
I cannot say we quarrelled upon this point, for she would
quarrel upon any. It was, of course, very unfair of me to press
very ill-bred, but I really could not help it; and I might just
have let it alone.
What she did tell me amounted, in my unconscionable
It was all summed up in three very vague disclosures:
First-Her name was Carmilla.
Second-Her family was very ancient and noble.
Third-Her home lay in the direction of the west.
She would not tell me the name of her family, nor their
armorial bearings, nor the name of their estate, nor even that of
country they lived in.
You are not to suppose that I worried her incessantly on
subjects. I watched opportunity, and rather insinuated than
inquiries. Once or twice, indeed, I did attack her more
no matter what my tactics, utter failure was invariably the
Reproaches and caresses were all lost upon her. But I must add
that her evasion was conducted with so pretty a melancholy and
deprecation, with so many, and even passionate declarations of
liking for me, and trust in my honour, and with so many promises
should at last know all, that I could not find it in my heart
be offended with her.
She used to place her pretty arms about my neck, draw me
her, and laying her cheek to mine, murmur with her lips near my
"Dearest, your little heart is wounded; think me not cruel
I obey the irresistible law of my strength and weakness; if your
heart is wounded, my wild heart bleeds with yours. In the
my enormous humiliation I live in your warm life, and you shall
sweetly die-into mine. I cannot help it; as I draw near to
you, in your turn, will draw near to others, and learn the
that cruelty, which yet is love; so, for a while, seek to know
of me and mine, but trust me with all your loving spirit."
And when she had spoken such a rhapsody, she would press
more closely in her trembling embrace, and her lips in soft
gently glow upon my cheek.
Her agitations and her language were unintelligible to me.
From these foolish embraces, which were not of very
occurrence, I must allow, I used to wish to extricate myself;
energies seemed to fail me. Her murmured words sounded like a
in my ear, and soothed my resistance into a trance, from which I
seemed to recover myself when she withdrew her arms.
In these mysterious moods I did not like her. I
strange tumultuous excitement that was pleasurable, ever and
mingled with a vague sense of fear and disgust. I had no
thoughts about her while such scenes lasted, but I was conscious
love growing into adoration, and also of abhorrence. This I
paradox, but I can make no other attempt to explain the feeling.
I now write, after an interval of more than ten years,
trembling hand, with a confused and horrible recollection of
occurrences and situations, in the ordeal through which I was
unconsciously passing; though with a vivid and very sharp
of the main current of my story. But, I suspect, in all lives
are certain emotional scenes, those in which our passions have
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
companion would take my hand and hold it with a fond pressure,
again and again; blushing softly, gazing in my face with languid
burning eyes, and breathing so fast that her dress rose and fell
the tumultuous respiration. It was like the ardour of a lover;
embarrassed me; it was hateful and yet over-powering; and with
eyes she drew me to her, and her hot lips travelled along my
kisses; and she would whisper, almost in sobs, "You are
shall be mine, you and I are one for ever." Then
thrown herself back in her chair, with her small hands over her
leaving me trembling.
"Are we related," I used to ask; "what can
mean by all this? I remind you perhaps of some one whom you
you must not, I hate it; I don't know you-I don't
myself when you look so and talk so."
She used to sigh at my vehemence, then turn away and drop
Respecting these very extraordinary manifestations I
vain to form any satisfactory theory-I could not refer them
affectation or trick. It was unmistakably the momentary
of suppressed instinct and emotion. Was she, notwithstanding
mother's volunteered denial, subject to brief visitations
insanity; or was there here a disguise and a romance? I had
old story books of such things. What if a boyish lover had
way into the house, and sought to prosecute his suit in
with the assistance of a clever old adventuress. But there
things against this hypothesis, highly interesting as it was to
I could boast of no little attentions such as masculine
gallantry delights to offer. Between these passionate moments
were long intervals of common-place, of gaiety, of brooding
during which, except that I detected her eyes so full of
fire, following me, at times I might have been as nothing to
Except in these brief periods of mysterious excitement her ways
girlish; and there was always a languor about her, quite
with a masculine system in a state of health.
In some respects her habits were odd. Perhaps not so
in the opinion of a town lady like you, as they appeared to us
people. She used to come down very late, generally not till one
she would then take a cup of chocolate, but eat nothing; we then
out for a walk, which was a mere saunter, and she seemed, almost
immediately, exhausted, and either returned to the schloss or
one of the benches that were placed, here and there, among the
This was a bodily languor in which her mind did not sympathise.
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,
indicated a people of strange manners, and described customs of
we knew nothing. I gathered from these chance hints that her
country was much more remote than I had at first fancied.
As we sat thus one afternoon under the trees a funeral
us by. It was that of a pretty young girl, whom I had often
daughter of one of the rangers of the forest. The poor man was
behind the coffin of his darling; she was his only child, and he
quite heartbroken. Peasants walking two-and-two came behind,
singing a funeral hymn.
I rose to mark my respect as they passed, and joined in
hymn they were very sweetly singing.
My companion shook me a little roughly, and I turned
She said brusquely, "Don't you perceive how
"I think it very sweet, on the contrary," I
vexed at the interruption, and very uncomfortable, lest the
composed the little procession should observe and resent what
I resumed, therefore, instantly, and was again
"You pierce my ears," said Carmilla, almost angrily,
stopping her ears with her tiny fingers. "Besides, how can
tell that your religion and mine are the same; your forms wound
I hate funerals. What a fuss! Why you must die-
must die; and all are happier when they do. Come home."
"My father has gone on with the clergyman to the
churchyard. I thought you knew she was to be buried
"She? I don't trouble my head about
I don't know who she is," answered Carmilla, with a
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,
"Tell me nothing about ghosts. I shan't sleep
to-night if you do."
"I hope there is no plague or fever coming; all this
very like it," I continued. "The swineherd's
died only a week ago, and she thought something seized her by
throat as she lay in her bed, and nearly strangled her. Papa
horrible fancies do accompany some forms of fever. She was
the day before. She sank afterwards, and died before a
"Well, her funeral is over, I hope, and
hymn sung; and our ears shan't be tortured with that
jargon. It has made me nervous. Sit down here, beside me; sit
hold my hand; press it hard-hard-harder."
We had moved a little back, and had come to another seat.
She sat down. Her face underwent a change that alarmed
even terrified me for a moment. It darkened, and became
livid; her teeth and hands were clenched, and she frowned and
compressed her lips, while she stared down upon the ground at
and trembled all over with a continued shudder as irrepressible
ague. All her energies seemed strained to suppress a fit, with
she was then breathlessly tugging; and at length a low
of suffering broke from her, and gradually the hysteria
"There! That comes of strangling people with hymns!"
said at last.
"Hold me, hold me still. It is passing away."
And so gradually it did; and perhaps to dissipate the
impression which the spectacle had left upon me, she became
animated and chatty; and so we got home.
This was the first time I had seen her exhibit any
symptoms of that delicacy of health which her mother had spoken
was the first time, also, I had seen her exhibit anything like
Both passed away like a summer cloud; and never but once
afterwards did I witness on her part a momentary sign of anger.
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,
figure of a wanderer whom I knew very well. He used to visit
schloss generally twice a year.
It was the figure of a hunchback, with the sharp lean
that generally accompany deformity. He wore a pointed black
he was smiling from ear to ear, showing his white fangs. He was
dressed in buff, black, and scarlet, and crossed with more
belts than I could count, from which hung all manner of things.
Behind, he carried a magic-lantern, and two boxes, which I well
one of which was a salamander, and in the other a mandrake.
monsters used to make my father laugh. They were compounded of
of monkeys, parrots squirrels, fish, and hedgehogs, dried and
together with great neatness and startling effect. He had a
box of conjuring apparatus, a pair of foils and masks attached
belt, several other mysterious cases dangling about him, and a
staff with copper ferrules in his hand. His companion was a
spare dog, that followed at his heels, but stopped short,
at the drawbridge, and in a little while began to howl dismally.
In the meantime, the mountebank, standing in the midst of
court-yard, raised his grotesque hat, and made us a very
bow, paying his compliments very volubly in execrable French,
German not much better. Then, disengaging his fiddle, he began
scrape a lively air to which he sang with a merry discord,
ludicrous airs and activity, that made me laugh, in spite of the
Then he advanced to the window with many smiles and
salutations, and his hat in his left hand, his fiddle under his
and with a fluency that never took breath, he gabbled a long
advertisement of all his accomplishments, and the resources of
various arts which he placed at our service, and the curiosities
entertainments which it was in his power, at our bidding, to
"Will your ladyships be pleased to buy an amulet
the oupire, which is going like the wolf, I hear, through these
he said dropping his hat on the pavement.
"They are dying of it right and left and here is a charm
never fails; only pinned to the pillow, and you may laugh in his
These charms consisted of oblong slips of vellum, with
cabalistic ciphers and diagrams upon them.
purchased one, and so did I.
He was looking up, and we were smiling down upon him,
at least, I can answer for myself. His piercing black eye, as
looked up in our faces, seemed to detect something that fixed
moment his curiosity,
In an instant he unrolled a leather case, full of all
odd little steel instruments.
"See here, my lady," he said, displaying it, and
addressing me, "I profess, among other things less useful,
of dentistry. Plague take the dog!" he interpolated.
"Silence, beast! He howls so that your ladyships can
hear a word. Your noble friend, the young lady at your right,
sharpest tooth,-long, thin, pointed, like an awl, like a
ha, ha! With my sharp and long sight, as I look up, I have seen
distinctly; now if it happens to hurt the young lady, and I
must, here am I, here are my file, my punch, my nippers; I will
round and blunt, if her ladyship pleases; no longer the tooth of
fish, but of a beautiful young lady as she is. Hey? Is the
displeased? Have I been too bold? Have I offended her?"
The young lady, indeed, looked very angry as she drew back
"How dares that mountebank insult us so? Where is
father? I shall demand redress from him. My father would have
wretch tied up to the pump, and flogged with a cart-whip, and
the bones with the castle brand!"
She retired from the window a step or two, and sat down,
had hardly lost sight of the offender, when her wrath subsided
suddenly as it had risen, and she gradually recovered her usual
and seemed to forget the little hunchback and his follies.
My father was out of spirits that evening. On coming in
told us that there had been another case very similar to the two
ones which had lately occurred. The sister of a young peasant
estate, only a mile away, was very ill, had been, as she
attacked very nearly in the same way, and was now slowly but
"All this," said my father, "is strictly
referable to natural causes. These poor people infect one
their superstitions, and so repeat in imagination the images of
that have infested their neighbours."
"But that very circumstance frightens one
"How so?" inquired my father.
"I am so afraid of fancying I see such things; I
would be as bad as reality."
"We are in God's hands: nothing can happen
permission, and all will end well for those who love him. He is
faithful creator; He has made us all, and will take care of
"Creator! Nature!" said the young lady
answer to my gentle father. "And this disease that invades
country is natural. Nature. All things proceed from
they? All things in the heaven, in the earth, and under the
and live as Nature ordains? I think so."
"The doctor said he would come here to-day,"
father, after a silence. "I want to know what he thinks
and what he thinks we had better do."
"Doctors never did me any good," said Carmilla.
"Then you have been ill?" I asked.
"More ill than ever you were," she answered.
"Yes, a long time. I suffered from this very
I forget all but my pain and weakness, and they were not so bad
suffered in other diseases."
"You were very young then?"
"I dare say; let us talk no more of it. You would
wound a friend?"
She looked languidly in my eyes, and passed her arm round
waist lovingly, and led me out of the room. My father was busy
some papers near the window.
"Why does your papa like to frighten us?" said
pretty girl with a sigh and a little shudder.
"He doesn't, dear Carmilla, it is the very
thing from his mind."
"Are you afraid, dearest?"
"I should be very much if I fancied there was any
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
they may live together. Girls are caterpillars while they live
world, to be finally butterflies when the summer comes; but in
meantime there are grubs and larvae, don't you see-
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
for some time. He was a skilful man, of sixty and upwards, he
powder, and shaved his pale face as smooth as a pumpkin. He and
emerged from the room together, and I heard papa laugh, and say
"Well, I do wonder at a wise man like you. What do
to hippogriffs and dragons?"
The doctor was smiling, and made answer, shaking his
"Nevertheless life and death are mysterious states,
know little of the resources of either."
And so the walked on, and I heard no more. I did not then
what the doctor had been broaching, but I think I guess it now.
A Wonderful Likeness
This evening there arrived from Gratz the grave,
of the picture cleaner, with a horse and cart laden with two
packing cases, having many pictures in each. It was a journey
leagues, and whenever a messenger arrived at the schloss from
little capital of Gratz, we used to crowd about him in the hall,
hear the news.
This arrival created in our secluded quarters quite a
sensation. The cases remained in the hall, and the messenger was
charge of by the servants till he had eaten his supper. Then
assistants, and armed with hammer, ripping-chisel, and
met us in the hall. where we had assembled to witness the
Carmilla sat looking listlessly on, while one after the
the old pictures, nearly all portraits, which had undergone the
of renovation, were brought to light. My mother was of an old
Hungarian family, and most of these pictures, which were about
restored to their places, had come to us through her.
My father had a list in his hand, from which he read, as
artist rummaged out the corresponding numbers. I don't know
the pictures were very good, but they were, undoubtedly, very
some of them very curious also. They had, for the most part,
of being now seen by me, I may say, for the first time; for the
and dust of time had all but obliterated them.
"There is a picture that I have not seen yet,"
father. "In one corner, at the top of it, is the name, as
as I could read, 'Marcia Karnstein,' and the date
'1698'; and I am curious to see how it has turned
I remembered it; it was a small picture, about a foot and
half high, and nearly square, without a frame; but it was so
by age that I could not make it out.
The artist now produced it, with evident pride. It was
beautiful; it was startling; it seemed to live. It was the
"Carmilla, dear, here is an absolute miracle. Here
are, living, smiling, ready to speak, in this picture.
beautiful, Papa? And see, even the little mole on her
My father laughed, and said "Certainly it is a
likeness," but he looked away, and to my surprise seemed but
little struck by it, and went on talking to the picture cleaner,
was also something of an artist, and discoursed with
the portraits or other works, which his art had just brought
and colour, while I was more and more lost in wonder the
looked at the picture.
"Will you let me hang this picture in my room,
"Certainly, dear," said he, smiling,
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
seem to hear it. She was leaning back in her seat, her fine
their long lashes gazing on me in contemplation, and she smiled
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
gold. The name is Mircalla, Countess Karnstein, and this is a
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
"None who bear the name, I believe. The family were
ruined, I believe, in some civil wars, long ago, but the ruins
castle are only about three miles away."
"How interesting!" she said, languidly.
what beautiful moonlight!" She glanced through the
which stood a little open. "Suppose you take a little
round the court, and look down at the road and river."
"It is so like the night you came to us," I
She sighed; smiling.
She rose, and each with her arm about the other's
walked out upon the pavement.
In silence, slowly we walked down to the drawbridge, where
beautiful landscape opened before us.
"And so you were thinking of the night I came
she almost whispered. "Are you glad I came?"
"Delighted, dear Carmilla," I answered.
"And you asked for the picture you think like me, to
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
"How romantic you are, Carmilla," I said.
"Whenever you tell me your story, it will be made up
some one great romance."
She kissed me silently.
"I am sure, Carmilla, you have been in love; that
at this moment, an affair of the heart going on."
"I have been in love with no one, and never
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
face in my neck and hair, with tumultuous sighs, that seemed
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
me, I love you so."
I started from her.
She was gazing on me with eyes from which all fire, all
had flown, and a face colourless and apathetic.
"Is there a chill in the air, dear?" she said
drowsily. "I almost shiver; have I been dreaming? Let us
Come; come; come in."
"You look ill, Carmilla; a little faint. You
must take some wine," I said.
"Yes. I will. I'm better now. I shall be
in a few minutes. Yes, do give me a little wine," answered
Carmilla, as we approached the door. "Let us look again
moment; it is the last time, perhaps, I shall see the moonlight
"How do you feel now, dear Carmilla? Are you really
I was beginning to take alarm, lest she should have been
stricken with the strange epidemic that they said had invaded
country about us.
"Papa would be grieved beyond measure." I added,
"if he thought you were ever so little ill, without
letting us know. We have a very skilful doctor near this, the
physician who was with papa to-day."
"I'm sure he is. I know how kind you all are;
dear child, I am quite well again. There is nothing ever wrong
me, but a little weakness. People say I am languid; I am
exertion; I can scarcely walk as far as a child of three years
every now and then the little strength I have falters, and I
you have just seen me. But after all I am very easily set up
a moment I am perfectly myself. See how I have recovered."
So, indeed, she had; and she and I talked a great deal,
very animated she was; and the remainder of that evening passed
any recurrence of what I called her infatuations. I mean her
talk and looks, which embarrassed, and even frightened me.
But there occurred that night an event which gave my
quite a new turn, and seemed to startle even Carmilla's
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
quite herself again, and Madame, and Mademoiselle De Lafontaine,
us, and made a little card party, in the course of which papa
for what he called his "dish of tea."
When the game was over he sat down beside Carmilla on the
and asked her, a little anxiously, whether she had heard from
mother since her arrival.
She answered "No."
He then asked whether she knew where a letter would reach
"I cannot tell," she answered ambiguously,
have been thinking of leaving you; you have been already too
and too kind to me. I have given you an infinity of trouble,
should wish to take a carriage to-morrow, and post in pursuit of
know where I shall ultimately find her, although I dare not yet
"But you must not dream of any such thing,"
my father, to my great relief. "We can't afford to
so, and I won't consent to your leaving us, except under
of your mother, who was so good as to consent to your remaining
us till she should herself return. I should be quite happy if I
that you heard from her: but this evening the accounts of the
of the mysterious disease that has invaded our neighbourhood,
more alarming; and my beautiful guest, I do feeI the
unaided by advice from your mother, very much. But I shall do
and one thing is certain, that you must not think of leaving us
her distinct direction to that effect. We should suffer too
parting from you to consent to it easily."
"Thank you, sir, a thousand times for your
she answered, smiling bashfully. "You have all been too
me; I have seldom been so happy in all my life before, as in
beautiful chateau, under your care, and in the society of your
So he gallantly, in his old-fashioned way, kissed her
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
ever confide fully in me?"
She turned round smiling, but made no answer, only
smile on me.
"You won't answer that?" I said. "You
answer pleasantly; I ought not to have asked you."
"You were quite right to ask me that, or anything.
not know how dear you are to me, or you could not think any
too great to look for. But I am under vows, no nun half so
and I dare not tell my story yet, even to you. The time is very
when you shall know everything. You will think me cruel, very
but love is always selfish; the more ardent the more selfish.
jealous I am you cannot know. You must come with me, loving me,
death; or else hate me and still come with me. and
through death and after. There is no such word as indifference
"Now, Carmilla, you are going to talk your wild
again," I said hastily.
"Not I, silly little fool as I am, and full of whims
fancies; for your sake I'll talk like a sage. Were you ever
"No; how you do run on. What is it like? How
"I almost forget, it is years ago."
"You are not so old. Your first ball can hardly be
"I remember everything it-with an effort. I see
all, as divers see what is going on above1 them, through a
dense, rippling, but transparent. There occurred that night
confused the picture, and made its colours faint. I was all but
assassinated in my bed, wounded here," she touched
breast, "and never was the same since."
"Were you near dying?"
"Yes, very-a cruel love-strange love, that
have taken my life. Love will have its sacrifices. No
without blood. Let us go to sleep now; I feel so lazy. How can
up just now and lock my door?"
She was lying with her tiny hands buried in her rich wavy
under her cheek, her little head upon the pillow, and her
eyes followed me wherever I moved, with a kind of shy smile that
could not decipher.
I bid her good night, and crept from the room with an
I often wondered whether our pretty guest ever said her
prayers. I certainly had never seen her upon her knees.
the morning she never came down until long after our family
were over, and at night she never left the drawing-room to
brief evening prayers in the hall.
If it had not been that it had casually come out in one of
careless talks that she had been baptised, I should have doubted
being a Christian. Religion was a subject on which I had never
her speak a word. If I had known the world better, this
neglect or antipathy would not have so much surprised me.
The precautions of nervous people are infectious, and
of a like temperament are pretty sure, after a time, to imitate
I had adopted Carmilla's habit of locking her bedroom door,
taken into my head all her whimsical alarms about midnight
prowling assassins. I had also adopted her precaution of making
brief search through her from, to satisfy herself that no
assassin or robber was
These wise measures taken, I got into my bed and fell
A light was burning in my room. This was an old habit, of very
date, and which nothing could have tempted me to dispense with.
Thus fortifed I might take my rest in peace. But dreams
through stone walls, light up dark rooms, or darken light ones,
their persons make their exits and their entrances as they
laugh at locksmiths.
I had a dream that night that was the beginning of a very
I cannot call it a nightmare, for I was quite conscious of
being asleep. But I was equally conscious of being in my room,
lying in bed, precisely as I actually was. I saw, or fancied I
the room and its furniture just as I had seen it last, except
was very dark, and I saw something moving round the foot of the
which at first I could not accurately distinguish. But I soon
it was a sooty-black animal that resembled a monstrous cat. It
appeared to me about four or five feet long for it measured
length of the hearthrug as it passed over it; and it continued
and fro-ing with the lithe, sinister restlessness of a beast in
I could not cry out, although as you may suppose, I was
Its pace was growing faster, and the room rapidly darker and
and at length so dark that I could no longer see anything of it
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
needles darted, an inch or two apart, deep into my breast. I
with a scream. The room was lighted by the candle that burnt
through the night, and I saw a female figure standing at the
the bed, a little at the right side. It was in a dark loose
its hair was down and covered its shoulders. A block of stone
not have been more still. There was not the slightest stir of
respiration. As I stared at it, the figure appeared to have
its place, and was now nearer the door; then, close to it, the
opened, and it passed out.
I was now relieved, and able to breathe and move. My
thought was that Carmilla had been playing me a trick, and that
forgotten to secure my door. I hastened to it, and found it
usual on the inside. I was afraid to open it-I was
sprang into my bed and covered my head up in the bedclothes, and
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
transitory terror as a dream leaves behind it. It seemed to
time, and communicated itself to the room and the very furniture
had encompass the apparition.
I could not bear next day to be alone for a moment. I
have told papa, but for two opposite reasons. At one time I
would laugh at my story, and I could not bear its being treated
jest; and at another I thought he might fancy that I had been
by the mysterious complaint which had invaded our neighbourhood.
myself no misgiving of the kind, and as he had been rather an
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.
perceived that I was out of spirits and nervous, and at length I
them what lay so heavy at my heart.
Mademoiselle laughed, but I fancied that Madame Perrodon
"By-the-by," said Mademoiselle, laughing,
long lime-tree walk, behind Carmilla's bedroom-window, is
"Nonsense!" exclaimed Madame, who probably
theme rather inopportune, "and who tells that story, my
"Martin says that he came up twice, when the old
was being repaired, before sunrise, and twice saw the same
figure walking down the lime-tree avenue."
"So he well might, as long as there are cows to milk
river fields," said Madame.
"I daresay; but Martin chooses to be frightened, and
did I see fool more frightened."
"You must not say a word about it to Carmilla,
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
were together, "and I am sure I should have seen something
dreadful if it had not been for that charm I bought from the
little hunchback whom I called such hard names. I had a dream
something black coming round my bed, and I awoke in a perfect
and I really thought, for some seconds, I saw a dark figure near
chimney-piece, but I felt under my pillow for my charm, and the
my fingers touched it, the figure disappeared, and I felt quite
certain, only that I had it by me, that something frightful
made its appearance, and, perhaps, throttled me, as it did those
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,
"No, I had dropped it into a china vase in the
drawing-room, but I shall certainly take it with me to-night, as
have so much faith in it."
At this distance of time I cannot tell you, or even
how I overcame my horror so effectually as to lie alone in my
night. I remember distinctly that I pinned the charm to my
fell asleep almost immediately, and slept even more soundly than
Next night I passed as well. My sleep was delightfully
and dreamless. But I wakened with a sense of lassitude and
which, however, did not exceed a degree that was almost
"Well, I told you so," said Carmilla, when I
my quiet sleep, "I had such delightful sleep myself last
pinned the charm to the breast of my nightdress. It was too far
the night before. I am quite sure it was all fancy, except the
I used to think that evil spirits made dreams, but our doctor
it is no such thing. Only a fever passing by, or some other
they often do, he said, knocks at the door, and not being able
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
antidote against the malaria," she answered.
"Then it acts only on the body?"
"Certainly; you don't suppose that evil spirits
frightened by bits of ribbon, or the perfumes of a
shop? No, these complaints, wandering in the air, begin by
nerves, and so infect the brain, but before they can seize upon
the antidote repels them. That I am sure is what the charm has
for us. It is nothing magical, it is simply natural.
I should have been happier if I could have quite agreed
Carmilla, but I did my best, and the impression was a little
For some nights I slept profoundly; but still every
felt the same lassitude, and a languor weighed upon me all day.
myself a changed girl. A strange melancholy was stealing over
melancholy that I would not have interrupted. Dim thoughts of
began to open, and an idea that I was slowly sinking took
somehow, not unwelcome, possession of me. If it was sad, the
mind which this induced was also sweet. Whatever it might be,
acquiesced in it.
I would not admit that I was ill, I would not consent to
my papa, or to have the doctor sent for.
Carmilla became more devoted to me than ever, and her
paroxysms of languid adoration more frequent. She used to gloat
with increasing ardour the more my strength and spirits waned.
always shocked me like a momentary glare of insanity.
Without knowing it, I was now in a pretty advanced stage
strangest illness under which mortal ever suffered. There was
unaccountable fascination in its earlier symptoms that more than
reconciled me to the incapacitating effect of that stage of the
This fascination increased for a time, until it reached a
point, when gradually a sense of the horrible mingled itself
deepening, as you shall hear, until it discoloured and perverted
whole state of my life.
The first change I experienced was rather agreeable. It
very near the turning point from which began the descent of
Certain vague and strange sensations visited me in my
The prevailing one was of that pleasant, peculiar cold thrill
feel in bathing, when we move against the current of a river.
soon accompanied by dreams that seemed interminable, and were so
that I could never recollect their scenery and persons, or any
connected portion of their action. But they left an awful
and a sense of exhaustion, as if I had passed through a long
great mental exertion and danger. After all these dreams there
remained on waking a remembrance of having been in a place very
dark, and of having spoken to people whom I could not see; and
especially of one clear voice, of a female's, very deep,
spoke as if at a distance, slowly, and producing always the same
sensation of indescribable solemnity and fear. Sometime there
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
more lovingly as they reached my throat, but there the caress
itself. My heart beat faster, my breathing rose and fell
full drawn; a sobbing, that rose into a sense of strangulation,
supervened, and turned into a dreadful convulsion, in which my
left me and I became unconscious.
It was now three weeks since the commencement of this
unaccountable state. My sufferings had, during the last week,
upon my appearance. I had grown pale, my eyes were dilated and
darkened underneath, and the languor which I had long felt began
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
him that I was quite well.
In a sense this was true. I had no pain, I could complain
no bodily derangement. My complaint seemed to be one of the
imagination, or the nerves, and, horrible as my sufferings were,
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,
they were seldom ill for much more than three days, when death
end to their miseries.
Carmilla complained of dreams and feverish sensations, but
no means of so alarming a kind as mine. I say that mine were
alarming. Had I been capable of comprehending my condition, I
have invoked aid and advice on my knees. The narcotic of an
unsuspected influence was acting upon me, and my perceptions
I am going to tell you now of a dream that led immediately
an odd discovery.
One night, instead of the voice I was accustomed to hear
dark, I heard one, sweet and tender, and at the same time
"Your mother warns you to beware of the
the same time a light unexpectedly sprang up, and I saw
standing, near the foot of my bed, in her white nightdress,
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,
next recollection is that of standing on the lobby, crying for
Madame and Mademoiselle came scurrying out of their rooms
alarm; a lamp burned always on the lobby, and seeing me, they
learned the cause of my terror.
I insisted on our knocking at Carmilla's door. Our
knocking was unanswered. It soon became a pounding and an
shrieked her name, but all was vain.
We all grew frightened, for the door was locked. We
back, in panic, to my room. There we rang the bell long and
If my father's room had been at that side of the house,
have called him up at once to our aid. But, alas! he was quite
hearing, and to reach him involved an excursion for which we
none of us
Servants, however, soon came running up the stairs; I had
on my dressing-gown and slippers meanwhile, and my companions
already similarly furnished. Recognising the voices of the
the lobby, we sallied out together; and having renewed, as
our summons at Carmilla's door, I ordered the men to force
lock. They did so, and we stood, holding our lights aloft, in
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
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
senses sufficiently to dismiss the men. It had struck
that possibly Carmilla had been wakened by the uproar at her
in her first panic had jumped from her bed, and hid herself in a
or behind a curtain, from which she could not, of course, emerge
the majordomo and his myrmidons had withdrawn. We now
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
of Carmilla, if she had concealed herself, to play this cruel
longer-to come out and to end our anxieties. It was all
I was by this time convinced that she was not in the room, nor
dressing-room, the door of which was still locked on this side.
could not have passed it. I was utterly puzzled. Had Carmilla
discovered one of those secret passages which the old
were known to exist in the schloss, although the tradition of
exact situation had been lost? A little time would, no doubt,
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
solution of the difficulty.
The whole household, with my father at its head, was in a
of agitation next morning. Every part of the chateau was
The grounds were explored. No trace of the missing lady could
discovered. The stream was about to be dragged; my father was
distraction; what a tale to have to tell the poor girl's
her return. I, too, was almost beside myself, though my grief
quite of a different kind.
The morning was passed in alarm and excitement. It was
o'clock, and still no tidings. I ran up to Carmilla's
and found her standing at her dressing-table. I was astounded.
could not believe my eyes. She beckoned me to her with her
finger, in silence. Her face expressed extreme fear.
I ran to her in an ecstasy of joy; I kissed and embraced
again and again. I ran to the bell and rang it vehemently, to
others to the spot who might at once relieve my father's
"Dear Carmilla, what has become of you all this time?
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
"For mercy's sake, explain all you can."
"It was past two last night," she said,
went to sleep as usual in my bed, with my doors locked, that of
dressing-room, and that opening upon the gallery. My sleep was
uninterrupted, and, so far as I know, dreamless; but I woke just
the sofa in the dressing-room there, and I found the door
rooms open, and the other door forced. How could all this have
happened without my being wakened? It must have been
a great deal of noise, and I am particularly easily wakened; and
could I have been carried out of my bed without my sleep having
interrupted, I whom the slightest stir startles?"
By this time, Madame, Mademoiselle, my father, and a
the servants were in the room. Carmilla was, of course,
with inquiries, congratulations, and welcomes. She had but one
to tell, and seemed the least able of all the party to suggest
of accounting for what had happened.
My father took a turn up and down the room, thinking. I
Carmilla's eye follow him for a moment with a sly, dark
When my father had sent the servants away, Mademoiselle
gone in search of a little bottle of valerian and salvolatile,
there being no one now in the room with Carmilla, except my
Madame, and myself, he came to her thoughtfully, took her hand
kindly, led her to the sofa, and sat down beside her.
"Will you forgive me, my dear, if I risk a
ask a question?"
"Who can have a better right?" she said.
what you please, and I will tell you everything. But my story
simply one of bewilderment and darkness. I know absolutely
Put any question you please, but you know, of course, the
mamma has placed me under."
"Perfectly, my dear child. I need not approach the
on which she desires our silence. Now, the marvel of last night
consists in your having been removed from your bed and your
without being wakened, and this removal having occurred
while the windows were still secured, and the two doors locked
inside. I will tell you my theory and ask you a question."
Carmilla was leaning on her hand dejectedly; Madame and I
"Now, my question is this. Have you ever been
walking in your sleep?"
"Never, since I was very young indeed."
"But you did walk in your sleep when you were
"Yes; I know I did. I have been told so often by my
My father smiled and nodded.
"Well, what has happened is this. You got up in your
sleep, unlocked the door, not leaving the key, as usual, in the
but taking it out and locking it on the outside; you again took
key out, and carried it away with you to some one of the
five-and-twenty rooms on this floor, or perhaps upstairs or
There are so many rooms and closets,so much heavy furniture,
accumulations of lumber, that it would require a week to search
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
the sofa in the dressing-room, which we had searched so
"She came there after you had searched it, still in
sleep, and at last awoke spontaneously, and was as much
find herself where she was as any one else. I wish all
as easily and innocently explained as yours, Carmilla," he
laughing. "And so we may congratulate ourselves on the
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
else, for our safety."
Carmilla was looking charmingly. Nothing could be more
beautiful than her tints. Her beauty was, I think, enhanced by
graceful languor that was peculiar to her. I think my father
silently contrasting her looks with mine, for he said:
"I wish my poor Laura was looking more like
and he sighed.
So our alarms were happily ended, and Carmilla restored to her friends.
As Carmilla would not hear of an attendant sleeping in her
room, my father arranged that a servant should sleep outside her
so that she would not attempt to make another such excursion
being arrested at her own door.
That night passed quietly; and next morning early, the
whom my father had sent for without telling me a word about it,
to see me.
Madame accompanied me to the library; and there the grave
little doctor, with white hair and spectacles, whom I mentioned
was waiting to receive me.
I told him my story, and as I proceeded he grew graver and
We were standing, he and I, in the recess of one of the
windows, facing one another. When my statement was over, he
with his shoulders against the wall, and with his eyes fixed on
earnestly, with an interest in which was a dash of horror.
After a minute's reflection, he asked Madame if he
see my father.
He was sent for accordingly, and as he entered, smiling,
"I dare say, doctor, you are going to tell me that I
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
I had just conferred with the physician. It seemed an earnest
argumentative conversation. The room is very large, and I and
stood together, burning with curiosity, at the farther end. Not
could we hear, however, for they spoke in a very low tone, and
recess of the window quite concealed the doctor from view, and
nearly my father, whose foot, arm, and shoulder only could we
the voices were, I suppose, all the less audible for the sort of
which the thick wall and window formed.
After a time my father's face looked into the room;
pale, thoughtful, and, I fancied, agitated.
"Laura, dear, come here for a moment. Madame, we
trouble you, the doctor says, at present."
Accordingly I approached, for the first time a little
for, although I felt very weak, I did not feel ill; and
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
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,
"You mentioned a sensation like that of two needles
piercing the skin, somewhere about your neck, on the night when
experienced your first horrible dream. Is there still any
"None at all," I answered.
"Can you indicate with your finger about the point at
you think this occurred?"
"Very little below my throat-here,"
I wore a morning dress, which covered the place I pointed
"Now you can satisfy yourself," said the doctor.
"You won't mind your papa's lowering your dress a
little. It is necessary, to detect a symptom of the complaint
which you have been suffering."
I acquiesced. It was only an inch or two below the edge
"God bless me!-so it is," exclaimed my
"You see it now with your own eyes," said the
with a gloomy triumph.
"What is is?" I exclaimed, beginning to be
"Nothing, my dear young lady, but a small blue spot,
the size of the tip of your little finger; and now," he
turning to papa, "the question is what is best to be
Is there any danger?" I urged, in great trepidation.
"I trust not, my dear," answered the doctor.
"I don't see why you should not recover. I don't
why you should not begin immediately to get better. That
the point at which the sense of strangulation begins?"
Yes," I answered.
"And-recollect as well as you can-the same
was a kind of centre of that thrill which you described just
the current of a cold stream running against you?"
"It may have been; I think it was."
"Ay, you see?" he added, turning to my father.
"Shall I say a word to Madame?"
"Certainly," said my father.
He called Madame to him, and said:
"I find my young friend here far from well. It
be of any great consequence, I hope; but it will be necessary
some steps be taken, which I will explain by-and-by; but in the
meantime, Madame, you will be so good as not to let Miss Laura
for one moment. That is the only direction I need give for the
present. It is indispensable."
"We may rely upon your kindness, Madame, I
added my father.
Madame satisfied him eagerly.
"And you, dear Laura, I know you will observe the
"I shall have to ask your opinion upon another
whose symptoms slightly resemble those of my daughter, that have
been detailed to you-very much milder in degree, but I
quite of the same sort. She is a young lady-our guest; but
say you will be passing this way again this evening, you
better than take your supper here, and you can then see her.
not come down till the afternoon."
"I thank you," said the doctor. "I shall
you, then, at about seven this evening."
And then they repeated their directions to me and to
and with this parting charge my father left us, and walked out
doctor; and I saw them pacing together up and down between the
the moat, on the grassy platform in front of the castle,
absorbed in earnest conversation.
The doctor did not return. I saw him mount his horse
take his leave, and ride away eastward through the forest.
Nearly at the same time I saw the man arrive from
with the letters, and dismount and hand the bag to my father.
In the meantime, Madame and I were both busy, lost in
conjecture as to the reasons of the singular and earnest
which the doctor and my father had concurred in imposing.
she afterwards told me, was afraid the doctor apprehended a
seizure, and that, without prompt assistance, I might either
life in a fit, or at least be seriously hurt.
The interpretation did not strike me; and I fancied,
luckily for my nerves, that the arrangement was prescribed
secure a companion, who would prevent my taking too much
eating unripe fruit, or doing any of the fifty foolish things to
young people are supposed to be prone.
About half an hour after my father came in-he had a
in his hand-and said:
"This letter had been delayed; it is from General
Spielsdorf. He might have been here yesterday, he may not come
to-morrow or he may be here to-day."
He put the open letter into my hand; but he did not look
pleased, as he used when a guest, especially one so much loved
General, was coming. On the contrary, he looked as if he wished
the bottom of the Red Sea. There was plainly something on his
which he did not choose to divulge.
"Papa, darling, will you tell me this?" said I,
suddenly laying my hand on his arm, and looking, I am sure,
in his face.
"Perhaps," he answered, smoothing my hair
over my eyes.
"Does the doctor think me very ill?"
"No, dear; he thinks, if right steps are taken, you
quite well again, at least, on the high road to a complete
in a day or two," he answered, a little dryly.
"I wish our good friend, the General, had chosen any other
that is, I wish you had been perfectly well to receive him."
"But do tell me, papa," I insisted,
"what does he think is the matter with me?"
"Nothing; you must not plague me with
answered, with more irritation than I ever remember him to have
displayed before; and seeing that I looked wounded, I suppose,
kissed me, and added, "You shall know all about it in a day
two; that is, all that I know. In the meantime you are not to
your head about it."
He turned and left the room, but came back before I had
wondering and puzzling over the oddity of all this; it was
say that he was going to Karnstein, and had ordered the carriage
ready at twelve, and that I and Madame should accompany him; he
going to see priest who lived near those picturesque grounds,
business, and as Carmilla had never seen them, she could follow,
she came down, with Mademoiselle, who would bring materials for
you call a picnic, which might be laid for us in the ruined
At twelve o'clock, accordingly, I was ready, and not
after, my father, Madame and I set out upon our projected drive.
Passing the drawbridge we turn to the right, and follow
road over the steep Gothic bridge, westward, to reach the
village and ruined castle of Karnstein.
No sylvan drive can be fancied prettier. The ground
into gentle hills and hollows, all clothed with beautiful wood,
destitute of the comparative formality which artificial planting
early culture and pruning impart.
The irregularities of the ground often lead the road out
course, and cause it to wind beautifully round the sides of
hollows and the steeper sides of the hills, among varieties of
Turning one of these points, we suddenly encountered our
friend, the General, riding towards us, attended by a mounted
His portmanteaus were following in a hired wagon, such as we
The General dismounted as we pulled up, and, after the
greetings, was easily persuaded to accept the vacant seat in the
carriage and send his horse on with his servant to the schloss.
It was about ten months since we had last seen him: but
time had sufficed to make an alteration of years in his
had grown thinner; something of gloom and anxiety had taken the
of that cordial serenity which used to characterise his
dark blue eyes, always penetrating, now gleamed with a sterner
from under his shaggy grey eyebrows. It was not such a change
alone usually induces, and angrier passions seemed to have had
share in bringing it about.
We had not long resumed our drive, when the General began
talk, with his usual soldierly directness, of the bereavement,
termed it, which he had sustained in the death of his beloved
ward; and he then broke out in a tone of intense bitterness and
inveighing against the
"hellish arts" to which she had fallen a victim, and
expressing, with more exasperation than piety, his wonder that
should tolerate so monstrous an indulgence of the lusts and
My father, who saw at once that something very
had befallen, asked him, if not too painful to him, to detail
circumstances which he thought justified the strong terms in
"I should tell you all with pleasure," said the
"but you would not believe me."
"Why should I not?" he asked.
"Because," he answered testily, "you
nothing but what consists with your own prejudices and
remember when I was like you, but I have learned better."
"Try me," said my father; "I am not such a
dogmatist as you suppose. Besides which, I very well know that
generally require proof for what you believe, and am, therefore,
strongly predisposed to respect your conclusions."
"You are right in supposing that I have not been led
lightly into a belief in the marvellous-for what I have
experienced is marvellous-and I have been forced by
evidence to credit that which ran counter, diametrically, to all
theories. I have been made the dupe of a preternatural
Notwithstanding his professions of confidence in the
penetration, I saw my father, at this point, glance at the
with, as I thought, a marked suspicion of his sanity.
The General did not see it, luckily. He was looking
and curiously into the glades and vistas of the woods that were
"You are going to the Ruins of Karnstein?" he
"Yes, it is a lucky coincidence; do you know I was going to
you to bring me there to inspect them. I have a special object
exploring. There is a ruined chapel, ain't there, with a
many tombs of that extinct family?"
"So there are-highly interesting," said my
father. "I hope you are thinking of claiming the title and
My father said this gaily, but the General did not
the laugh, or even the smile, which courtesy exacts for a
joke; on the contrary, he looked grave and even fierce,
ruminating on a
matter that stirred his anger and horror.
"Something very different," he said, gruffly.
"I mean to unearth some of those fine people. I hope, by
blessing, to accomplish a pious sacrilege here, which will
earth of certain monsters, and enable honest people to sleep in
beds without being assailed by murderers. I have strange things
tell you, my dear friend, such as I myself would have scouted as
incredible a few months since."
My father looked at him again, but this time not with a
of suspicion-with an eye, rather, of keen intelligence and
"The house of Karnstein," he said, "has
extinct: a hundred years at least. My dear wife was maternally
descended from the Karnsteins. But the name and title have long
to exist. The castle is a ruin; the very village is deserted;
fifty years since the smoke of a chimney was seen there; not a
"Quite true. I have heard a great deal about that
last saw you; a great deal that will astonish you. But I had
relate everything in the order in which it occurred," said
General. "You saw my dear ward-my child, I may call
creature could have been more beautiful, and only three months
"Yes, poor thing! when I saw her last she certainly
quite lovely," said my father. "I was grieved and
more than I can tell you, my dear friend; I knew what a blow it
He took the General's hand, and they exchanged a kind
pressure. Tears gathered in the old soldier's eyes. He did
seek to conceal them. He said:
"We have been very old friends; I knew you would feel
me, childless as I am. She had become an object of very near
to me, and repaid my care by an affection that cheered my home
my life happy. That is all gone. The years that remain to me
may not be very long; but by God's mercy I hope to
service to mankind before I die, and to subserve the vengeance
Heaven upon the fiends who have murdered my poor child in the
her hopes and beauty!"
"You said, just now, that you intended relating
as it occurred," said my father. "Pray do; I assure
it is not mere curiosity that prompts me."
By this time we had reached the point at which the
road, by which the General had come, diverges from the road
were travelling to Karnstein.
"How far is it to the ruins?" inquired the
looking anxiously forward.
"About half a league," answered my father.
"Pray let us hear the story you were so good as to
"With all my heart," said the General, with an
and after a short pause in which to arrange his subject, he
one of the strangest narratives I ever heard.
"My dear child was looking forward with great
the visit you had been so good as to arrange for her to your
daughter." Here he made me a gallant but melancholy bow.
the meantime we had an invitation to my old friend the Count
whose schloss is about six leagues to the other side of
was to attend the series of fetes which, you remember, were
him in honour of his illustrious visitor, the Grand Duke
"Yes; and very splendid, I believe, they were,"
"Princely! But then his hospitalities are quite
has Aladdin's lamp. The night from which my sorrow dates
devoted to a magnificent masquerade. The grounds were thrown
trees hung with coloured lamps. There was such a display of
as Paris itself had never witnessed. And such music-music,
know, is my weakness-such ravishing music! The finest
instrumental band, perhaps, in the world, and the finest singers
could be collected from all the great operas in Europe. As you
wandered through these fantastically illuminated grounds, the
moon-lighted chateau throwing a rosy light from its long rows of
windows, you would suddenly hear these ravishing voices stealing
the silence of some grove, or rising from boats upon the lake.
myself, as I looked and listened, carried back into the romance
poetry of my early youth.
"When the fireworks were ended, and the ball
returned to the noble suite of rooms that were thrown open to
dancers. A masked ball, you know, is a beautiful sight; but so
brilliant a spectacle of the kind I never saw before.
"It was a very aristocratic assembly. I was myself
the only 'nobody' present.
"My dear child was looking quite beautiful. She wore
mask. Her excitement and delight added an unspeakable charm to
features, always lovely. I remarked a young lady, dressed
magnificently, but wearing a mask, who appeared to me to be
my ward with extraordinary interest. I had seen her, earlier in
evening, in the great hall, and again, for a few minutes,
us, on the terrace under the castle windows, similarly employed.
lady, also masked, richly and gravely dressed, and with a
like a person of rank, accompanied her as a chaperon. Had the
lady not worn a mask, I could, of course, have been much more
upon the question whether she was really watching my poor
am now well assured that she was.
"We were now in one of the salons. My poor
child had been dancing, and was resting a little in one of the
near the door; I was standing near. The two ladies I have
had approached and the younger took the chair next my ward;
companion stood beside me, and for a little time addressed
a low tone, to her charge.
"Availing herself of the privilege of her mask, she
to me, and in the tone of an old friend, and calling me by my
opened a conversation with me, which piqued my curiosity a good
She referred to many scenes where she had met me- at Court,
distinguished houses. She alluded to little incidents which I
ceased to think of, but which, I found, had only lain in
abeyance in my
memory, for they instantly started into life at her touch.
"I became more and more curious to ascertain who she
every moment. She parried my attempts to discover very adroitly
pleasantly. The knowledge she showed of many passages in my
seemed to me all but unaccountable; and she appeared to take a
unnatural pleasure in foiling my curiosity, and in seeing me
in my eager perplexity, from one conjecture to another.
"In the meantime the young lady, whom her mother
the odd name of Millarca, when she once or twice addressed her,
with the same ease and grace, got into conversation with my
"She introduced herself by saying that her mother was
very old acquaintance of mine. She spoke of the agreeable
which a mask rendered practicable; she talked like a friend; she
admired her dress, and insinuated very prettily her admiration
beauty. She amused her with laughing criticisms upon the people
crowded the ballroom, and laughed at my poor child's fun.
very witty and lively when she pleased, and after a time they
very good friends, and the young stranger lowered her mask,
a remarkably beautiful face. I had never seen it before,
my dear child. But though it was new to us, the features were
engaging, as well as lovely, that it was impossible not to feel
attraction powerfully. My poor girl did so. I never saw anyone
taken with another at first sight, unless, indeed, it was the
herself, who seemed quite to have lost her heart to her.
"In the meantime, availing myself of the licence of a
masquerade, I put not a few questions to the elder lady.
" 'You have puzzled me utterly,' I said,
laughing. 'Is that not enough? Won't you, now,
stand on equal terms, and do me the kindness to remove your
" 'Can any request be more unreasonable?'
'Ask a lady to yield an advantage! Beside, how do you know
should recognise me? Years make changes.'
" 'As you see,' I said, with a bow, and, I
suppose, a rather melancholy little laugh.
" 'As philosophers tell us,' she said;
'and how do you know that a sight of my face would help
" 'I should take chance for that,' I
'It is vain trying to make yourself out an old woman; your
" 'Years, nevertheless, have passed since I saw
rather since you saw me, for that is what I am considering.
there, is my daughter; I cannot then be young, even in the
people whom time has taught to be indulgent, and I may not like
compared with what you remember me. You have no mask to remove.
can offer me nothing in exchange.'
" 'My petition is to your pity, to remove
" 'And mine to yours, to let it stay where it
" 'Well, then, at least you will tell me whether
are French or German; you speak both languages so
" 'I don't think I shall tell you that,
you intend a surprise, and are meditating the particular point
" 'At all events, you won't deny
said, 'that being honoured by your permission to converse,
to know how to address you. Shall I say Madame la
"She laughed, and she would, no doubt, have met me
another evasion-if, indeed, I can treat any occurrence in an
interview every circumstance of which was pre-arranged, as I now
believe, with the profoundest cunning, as liable to be modified
" 'As to that,' she began; but she was
interrupted, almost as she opened her lips, by a gentleman,
black, who looked particularly elegant and distinguished, with
drawback, that his face was the most deadly pale I ever saw,
death. He was in no masquerade-in the plain evening dress
gentleman; and he said, without a smile, but with a courtly and
unusually low bow:-
" 'Will Madame la Comtesse permit me to say a
words which may interest her?'
"The lady turned quickly to him, and touched her lip
token of silence; she then said to me, 'Keep my place for
General; I shall return when I have said a few words.'
"And with this injunction, playfully given, she
little aside with the gentleman in black, and talked for some
apparently very earnestly. They then walked away slowly
the crowd, and I lost them for some minutes.
"I spent the interval in cudgelling my brains for a
conjecture as to the identity of the lady who seemed to remember
kindly, and I was thinking of turning about and joining in the
conversation between my pretty ward and the Countess's
and trying whether, by the time she returned, I might not have a
surprise in store for her, by having her name, title, chateau,
estates at my fingers' ends. But at this moment she
accompanied by the pale man in black, who said:
" 'I shall return and inform Madame la Comtesse
her carriage is at the door.'
"He withdrew with a bow."
" 'Then we are to lose Madame la Comtesse, but I
only for a few hours,' I said, with a low bow.
" 'It may be that only, or it may be a few
was very unlucky his speaking to me just now as he did. Do you
"I assured her I did not.
" 'You shall know me,' she said, 'but
present. We are older and better friends than, perhaps, you
I cannot yet declare myself. I shall in three weeks pass your
beautiful schloss, about which I have been making enquiries. I
then look in upon you for an hour or two, and renew a friendship
I never think of without a thousand pleasant recollections.
moment a piece of news has reached me like a thunderbolt. I
out now, and travel by a devious route, nearly a hundred miles,
all the dispatch I can possibly make. My perplexities multiply.
only deterred by the compulsory reserve I practise as to my name
making a very singular request of you. My poor child has not
recovered her strength. Her horse fell with her, at a hunt
had ridden out to witness, her nerves have not yet recovered the
and our physician says that she must on no account exert herself
some time to come. We came here, in consequence, by very easy
six leagues a day. I must now travel day and night, on a
life and death- a mission the critical and momentous nature
which I shall be able to explain to you when we meet, as I hope
shall, in a few weeks, without the necessity of any
"She went on to make her petition, and it was in the
of a person from whom such a request amounted to conferring,
than seeking a favour. This was only in manner, and, as it
quite unconsciously. Than the terms in which it was expressed,
could be more deprecatory. It was simply that I would consent
charge of her daughter during her absence.
"This was, all things considered, a strange, not to
audacious request. She in some sort disarmed me, by stating and
admitting everything that could be urged against it, and
herself entirely upon my chivalry. At the same moment, by a
that seems to have predetermined all that happened, my poor
to my side, and, in an undertone, besought me to invite her new
Millarca, to pay us a visit. She had just been sounding her,
thought, if her mamma would allow her, she would like it
"At another time I should have told her to wait a
until, at least, we knew who they were. But I had not a moment
think in. The two ladies assailed me together, and I must
refined and beautiful face of the young lady, about which there
something extremely engaging, as well as the elegance and fire
birth, determined me; and, quite overpowered, I submitted, and
undertook, too easily, the care of the young lady, whom her
"The Countess beckoned to her daughter, who listened
grave attention while she told her, in general terms, how
peremptorily she had been summoned, and also of the arrangement
made for her under my care, adding that I was one of her
most valued friends.
"I made, of course, such speeches as the case seemed
call for, and found myself, on reflection, in a position which I
not half like.
"The gentleman in black returned, and very
conducted the lady from the room.
"The demeanour of this gentleman was such as to
with the conviction that the Countess was a lady of very much
importance than her modest title alone might have led me to
"Her last charge to me was that no attempt was to be
to learn more about her than I might have already guessed, until
return. Our distinguished host, whose guest she was, knew her
" 'But here,' she said, 'neither I nor
daughter could safely remain for more than a day. I removed my
imprudently for a moment, about an hour ago, and, too late, I
you saw me. So I resolved to seek an opportunity of talking a
to you. Had I found that you had seen me, I would have
myself on your high sense of honour to keep my secret some
it is, I am satisfied that you did not see me; but if you now
or, on reflection,
should suspect, who I am, I commit myself, in like
entirely to your honour. My daughter will observe the same
and I well know that you will, from time to time, remind her,
should thoughtlessly disclose it.'
" She whispered a few words to her daughter, kissed
hurriedly twice, and went away, accompanied by the pale
black, and disappeared in the crowd.
" 'In the next room,' said Millarca,
'there is a window that looks upon the hall door. I should
to see the last of mamma, and to kiss my hand to her.'
"We assented, of course, and accompanied her to the
We looked out, and saw a handsome old-fashioned carriage, with
troop of couriers and footmen. We saw the slim figure of the
gentleman in black, as he held a thick velvet cloak, and placed
about her shoulders and threw the hood over her head. She
him, and just touched his hand with hers. He bowed low
the door closed, and the carriage began to move.
" 'She is gone,' said Millarca, with a
" 'She is gone,' I repeated to myself, for
-in the hurried moments that had elapsed since my
reflecting upon the folly of my act.
" 'She did not look up,' said the young
" 'The Countess had taken off her mask, perhaps,
did not care to show her face,' I said; 'and she could
know that you were in the window.'
"She sighed, and looked in my face. She was so
that I relented. I was sorry I had for a moment repented of my
hospitality, and I determined to make her amends for the
churlishness of my reception.
"The young lady, replacing her mask, joined my ward
persuading me to return to the grounds, where the concert was
be renewed. We did so, and walked up and down the terrace that
under the castle windows. Millarca became very intimate with
amused us with lively descriptions and stories of most of the
people whom we saw upon the terrace. I liked her more and more
minute. Her gossip without being ill-natured, was extremely
to me, who had been so long out of the great world. I thought
life she would give to our sometimes lonely evenings at home.
"This ball was not over until the morning sun had
reached the horizon. It pleased the Grand Duke to dance till
loyal people could not go away, or think of bed.
"We had just got through a crowded saloon, when my
asked me what had become of Millarca. I thought she had been by
side, and she fancied she was by mine. The fact was, we had
"All my efforts to find her were vain. I feared that
had mistaken, in the confusion of a momentary separation from
people for her new friends, and had, possibly, pursued and lost
the extensive grounds which were thrown open to us.
"Now, in its full force, I recognised a new folly in
having undertaken the charge of a young lady without so much as
her name; and fettered as I was by promises, of the reasons for
imposing which I knew nothing, I could not even point my
saying that the missing young lady was the daughter of the
had taken her departure a few hours before.
"Morning broke. It was clear daylight before I gave
search. It was not till near two o'clock next day that we
anything of my missing charge.
"At about that time a servant knocked at my
door, to say that he had been earnestly requested by a young
appeared to be in great distress, to make out where she could
General Baron Spielsdorf and the young lady his daughter, in
charge she had been left by her mother.
"There could be no doubt, notwithstanding the slight
inaccuracy, that our young friend had turned up; and so she had.
to heaven we had lost her!
"She told my poor child a story to account for her
failed to recover us for so long. Very late, she said, she had
the housekeeper's bedroom in despair of finding us, and had
fallen into a deep sleep which, long as it was, had hardly
recruit her strength after the fatigues of the ball.
"That day Millarca came home with us. I was only too
happy, after all, to have secured so charming a companion for my dear girl."
"There soon, however, appeared some drawbacks. In
first place, Millarca complained of extreme languor-the
that remained after her late illness-and she never emerged
her room till the afternoon was pretty far advanced. In the
place, it was accidentally discovered, although she always
door on the inside, and never disturbed the key from its place
admitted the maid to assist at her toilet, that she was
sometimes absent from her room in the very early morning, and at
various times later in the day, before she wished it to be
that she was stirring. She was repeatedly seen from the windows
schloss, in the first faint grey of the morning, walking through
trees, in an easterly direction, and looking like a person in a
This convinced me that she walked in her sleep. But this
did not solve the puzzle. How did she pass out from her room,
the door locked on the inside? How did she escape from the
without unbarring door or window?
"In the midst of my perplexities, an anxiety of a
more urgent kind presented itself.
"My dear child began to lose her looks and health,
that in a manner so mysterious, and even horrible, that I became
"She was at first visited by appalling dreams; then,
she fancied, by a spectre, sometimes resembling Millarca,
the shape of a beast, indistinctly seen, walking round the foot
bed, from side to side. Lastly came sensations. One, not
but very peculiar, she said, resembled the flow of an icy stream
against her breast. At a later time, she felt something like a
large needles pierce her, a little below the throat, with a very
pain. A few nights after, followed a gradual and convulsive
strangulation; then came unconsciousness."
I could hear distinctly every word the kind old General
saying, because by this time we were driving upon the short
spreads on either side of the road as you approach the roofless
which had not shown the smoke of a chimney for more than half a
You may guess how strangely I felt as I heard my own
so exactly described in those which had been experienced by the
girl who, but for the catastrophe which followed, would have
that moment a visitor at my father's chateau. You may
also, how I felt as I heard him detail habits and mysterious
peculiarities which were, in fact, those of our beautiful guest,
A vista opened in the forest; we were on a sudden under
chimneys and gables of the ruined village, and the towers and
battlements of the dismantled castle, round which gigantic trees
grouped, overhung us from a slight eminence.
In a frightened dream I got down from the carriage, and in
silence, for we had each abundant matter for thinking; we soon
the ascent, and were among the spacious chambers, winding
dark corridors of the castle.
"And this was once the palatial residence of the
Karnsteins!" said the old General at length, as from a great
window he looked out across the village, and saw the wide,
expanse of forest. "It was a bad family, and here its
blood-stained annals were written," he continued.
"It is hard that they should, after death, continue to
human race with their atrocious lusts. That is the chapel of
Karnsteins, down there."
He pointed down to the grey walls of the Gothic building
visible through the foliage, a little way down the steep.
"And I hear the axe of a woodman," he added, "busy
the trees that surround it; he possibly may give us the
of which I am in search, and point out the grave of Mircalla,
of Karnstein. These rustics preserve the local traditions of
families, whose stories die out among the rich and titled so
the families themselves become extinct."
"We have a portrait, at home, of Mircalla, the
Karnstein; should you like to see it?" asked my father.
"Time enough, dear friend," replied the General.
"I believe that I have seen the original; and one motive
led me to you earlier than I at first intended, was to explore
chapel which we are now approaching."
"What! see the Countess Mircalla," exclaimed my
"why, she has been dead more than a century!"
"Not so dead as you fancy, I am told," answered
"I confess, General, you puzzle me utterly,"
my father, looking at him, I fancied, for a moment with a return
the suspicion I detected before. But although there was anger
detestation, at times, in the old General's manner, there
"There remains to me," he said, as we passed
heavy arch of the Gothic church-for its dimensions would
justified its being so styled-"but one object which can
interest me during the few years that remain to me on earth, and
is to wreak on her the vengeance which, I thank God, may still
accomplished by a mortal arm."
"What vengeance can you mean?" asked my father,
"I mean, to decapitate the monster," he
a fierce flush, and a stamp that echoed mournfully through the
ruin, and his clenched hand was at the same moment raised, as if
grasped the handle of an axe, while he shook it ferociously in
"What?" exclaimed my father, more than ever
"To strike her head off."
"Cut her head off!"
"Aye, with a hatchet, with a spade, or with anything
can cleave through her murderous throat. You shall hear,"
answered, trembling with rage. And hurrying forward he said:
"That beam will answer for a seat; your dear child is
fatigued; let her be seated, and I will, in a few sentences,
The squared block of wood, which lay on the grass-grown
pavement of the chapel, formed a bench on which I was very glad
myself, and in the meantime the General called to the woodman,
been removing some boughs which leaned upon the old walls; and,
hand, the hardy old fellow stood before us.
He could not tell us anything of these monuments; but
an old man, he said, a ranger of this forest, at present
the house of the priest, about two miles away, who could point
every monument of the old Karnstein family; and, for a trifle,
undertook to bring him back with him, if we would lend him one
horses, in little more than half an hour.
"Have you been long employed about this forest?"
my father of the old man.
"I have been a woodman here," he answered in his
"under the forester, all my days; so has my father before
so on, as many generations as I can count up. I could show You
very house in the village here, in which my ancestors
"How came the village to be deserted?" asked the
"It was troubled by revenants, sir; several
tracked to their graves, there detected by the usual tests, and
extinguished in the usual way, by decapitation, by the stake,
burning; but not until many of the villagers were killed.
"But after all these proceedings according to
continued-"so many graves opened, and so many vampires
deprived of their horrible animation-the village was not
But a Moravian nobleman, who happened to be travelling this
how matters were, and being skilled
-as many people are in his country-in such affairs, he
offered to deliver the village from its tormentor. He did so
There being a bright moon that night, he ascended, shortly after
sunset, the towers of the chapel here, from whence he could
see the churchyard beneath him; you can see it from that window.
this point he watched until he saw the vampire come out of his
and place near it the linen clothes in which he had been folded,
then glide away towards the village to plague its inhabitants.
"The stranger, having seen all this, came down from
steeple, took the linen wrappings of the vampire, and carried
to the top of the tower tower, which he again mounted. When the
vampire returned from his prowlings and missed his clothes, he
furiously to the Moravian, whom he saw at the summit of the
who, in reply, beckoned him to ascend and take them. Whereupon
vampire, accepting his invitation, began to climb the steeple,
soon as he had reached the battlements, the Moravian, with a
his sword, clove his skull in twain, hurling him down to the
churchyard, whither, descending by the winding stairs, the
followed and cut his head off, and next day delivered it and the
to the villagers, who duly impaled and burnt them.
"This Moravian nobleman had authority from the then
the family to remove the tomb of Mircalla, Countess Karnstein,
he did effectually, so that in a little while its site was quite
"Can you point out where it stood?" asked the
The forester shook his head, and smiled.
"Not a soul living could tell you that now," he
"besides, they say her body was removed; but no one is sure
Having thus spoken, as time pressed, he dropped his axe
departed, leaving us to hear the remainder of the General's strange story.
"My beloved child," he resumed, "was now
rapidly worse. The physician who attended her had failed to
the slightest impression on her disease, for such I then
to be. He saw my alarm, and suggested a consultation. I called
abler physician, from Gratz. Several days elapsed before he
He was a good and pious, as well as a leaned man. Having seen
ward together, they withdrew to my library to confer and
from the adjoining room, where I awaited their summons, heard
gentlemen's voices raised in something sharper than a
philosophical discussion. I knocked at the door and entered. I
the old physician from Gratz maintaining his theory. His rival
combating it with undisguised ridicule, accompanied with bursts
laughter. This unseemly manifestation subsided and the
ended on my entrance.
" 'Sir,' said my first physician, 'my
learned brother seems to think that you want a conjuror, and not
" 'Pardon me,' said the old physician from
looking displeased, 'I shall state my own view of the case
own way another time. I grieve, Monsieur le General, that by my
and science I can be of no use. Before I go I shall do myself
honour to suggest something to you.'
"He seemed thoughtful, and sat down at a table and
write. Profoundly disappointed, I made my bow, and as I turned
the other doctor pointed over his shoulder to his companion who
writing, and then, with a shrug, significantly touched his
"This consultation, then, left me precisely where I
walked out into the grounds, all but distracted. The doctor
Gratz, in ten or fifteen minutes, overtook me. He apologised
having followed me, but said that he could not conscientiously
his leave without a few words more. He told me that he could
mistaken; no natural disease exhibited the same symptoms; and
death was already very near. There remained, however, a day, or
possibly two, of life. If the fatal seizure were at once
with great care and skill her strength might possibly return.
hung now upon the confines of the irrevocable. One more assault
extinguish the last spark of vitality which is, every moment,
" 'And what is the nature of the seizure you
" 'I have stated all fully in this note, which I
in your hands upon the distinct condition that you send for the
nearest clergyman, and open my letter in his presence, and on no
account read it till he is with you; you would despise it else,
is a matter of life and death. Should the priest fail you,
indeed, you may read it.'
"He asked me, before taking his leave finally,
would wish to see a man curiously learned upon the very subject,
after I had read his letter, would probably interest me above
others, and he urged me earnestly to invite him to visit him
so took his leave.
"The ecclesiastic was absent, and I read the letter
myself. At another time, or in another case, it might have
ridicule. But into what quackeries will not people rush for a
chance, where all accustomed means have failed, and the life of
beloved object is at stake?
"Nothing, you will say, could be more absurd than the
learned man's letter. It was monstrous enough to have
him to a madhouse. He said that the patient was suffering from
visits of a vampire! The punctures which she described as
occurred near the throat, were, he insisted, the insertion of
long, thin, and sharp teeth which, it is well known, are
vampires; and there could be no doubt, he added, as to the
presence of the small livid mark which all concurred in
that induced by the demon's lips, and every symptom
the sufferer was in exact conformity with those recorded in
of a similar visitation.
"Being myself wholly sceptical as to the existence of
such portent as the vampire, the supernatural theory of the good
furnished, in my opinion, but another instance of learning and
intelligence oddly associated with some one hallucination. I
miserable, however, that, rather than try nothing, I acted upon
instructions of the letter.
"I concealed myself in the dark dressing-room, that
upon the poor patient's room, in which a candle was burning,
watched there till she was fast asleep. I stood at the door,
through the small crevice, my sword laid on the table beside me,
directions prescribed, until, a little after one, I saw a large
object, very ill-defined, crawl, as it seemed to me, over the
the bed, and swiftly spread itself up to the poor girl's
where it swelled, in a moment, into a great, palpitating mass.
"For a few moments I had stood petrified. I now
forward, with my sword in my hand. The black creature suddenly
contracted towards the foot of the bed, glided over it, and,
on the floor about a yard below the foot of the bed, with a
skulking ferocity and horror fixed on me, I saw Millarca.
I know not what, I struck at her instantly with my sword; but I
standing near the door, unscathed. Horrified, I pursued, and
again. She was gone; and my sword flew to shivers against the
"I can't describe to you all that passed on that
horrible night. The whole house was up and stirring. The
Millarca was gone. But her victim was sinking fast, and before
morning dawned, she died."
The old General was agitated. We did not speak to him.
father walked to some little distance, and began reading the
inscriptions on the tombstones; and thus occupied, he strolled
door of a side-chapel to prosecute his researches. The General
against the wall, dried his eyes, and sighed heavily. I was
on hearing the voices of Carmilla and Madame, who were at that
approaching. The voices died away.
In this solitude, having just listened to so strange a
connected, as it was, with the great and titled dead, whose
were mouldering among the dust and ivy round us, and every
which bore so awfully upon my own mysterious case-in this
spot, darkened by the towering foliage that rose on every side,
and high above its noiseless walls-a horror began to steal
me, and my heart sank as I thought that my friends were, after
about to enter and disturb this triste and ominous scene.
The old General's eyes were fixed on the ground, as
leaned with his hand upon the basement of a shattered monument.
Under a narrow, arched doorway, surmounted by one of those
demoniacal grotesques in which the cynical and ghastly fancy of
Gothic carving delights, I saw very gladly the beautiful face
figure of Carmilla enter the shadowy chapel.
I was just about to rise and speak, and nodded smiling, in
answer to her peculiarly engaging smile; when with a cry, the
by my side caught up the woodman's hatchet, and started
On seeing him a brutalised change came over her features. It
instantaneous and horrible transformation, as she made a
backwards. Before I could utter a scream, he struck at her with
his force, but she dived under his blow, and unscathed, caught
her tiny grasp by the wrist. He struggled for a moment to
arm, but his hand opened, the axe fell to the ground, and the
He staggered against the wall. His grey hair stood upon
head, and a moisture shone over his face, as if he were at the
The frightful scene had passed in a moment. The first
recollect after, is Madame standing before me, and impatiently
repeating again and again, the question, "Where is
I answered at length, "I don't know-I
tell-she went there," and I pointed to the door
Madame had just entered; "only a minute or two since."
"But I have been standing there, in the passage, ever
Mademoiselle Carmilla entered; and she did not return."
She then began to call "Carmilla," through every
and passage and from the windows, but no answer came.
"She called herself Carmilla?" asked the
"Carmilla, yes," I answered.
"Aye," he said; "that is Millarca. That is
same person who long ago was called Mircalla, Countess
Depart from this accursed ground, my poor child, as quickly as
Drive to the clergyman's house, and stay there till we
Begone! May you never behold Carmilla more; you will not find her here."
As he spoke one of the strangest looking men I ever
entered the chapel at the door through which Carmilla had made
entrance and her exit. He was tall, narrow-chested, stooping,
high shoulders, and dressed in black. His face was brown and
with deep furrows; he wore an oddly-shaped hat with a broad leaf.
hair, long and grizzled, hung on his shoulders. He wore a pair
spectacles, and walked slowly, with an odd shambling gait, with
face sometimes turned up to the sky, and sometimes bowed down
the ground, seemed to wear a perpetual smile; his long thin arms
swinging, and his lank hands, in old black gloves ever so much
for them, waving and gesticulating in utter abstraction.
"The very man!" exclaimed the General,
manifest delight. "My dear Baron, how happy I am to see
had no hope of meeting you so soon." He signed to my
had by this time returned, and leading the fantastic old
whom he called the Baron to meet him. He introduced him
they at once entered into earnest conversation. The stranger
roll of paper from his pocket, and spread it on the worn surface
tomb that stood by. He had a pencil case in his fingers, with
traced imaginary lines from point to point on the paper, which
their often glancing from it, together, at certain points of the
building, I concluded to be a plan of the chapel. He
I may term, his lecture, with occasional readings from a dirty
book, whose yellow leaves were closely written over.
They sauntered together down the side aisle, opposite to
spot where I was standing, conversing as they went; then they
measuring distances by paces, and finally they all stood
facing a piece of the side-wall, which they began to examine
minuteness; pulling off the ivy that clung over it, and rapping
plaster with the ends of their sticks, scraping here, and
there. At length they ascertained the existence of a broad
tablet, with letters carved in relief upon it.
With the assistance of the woodman, who soon returned, a
monumental inscription, and carved escutcheon, were disclosed.
proved to be those of the long lost monument of Mircalla,
The old General, though not I fear given to the praying
raised his hands and eyes to heaven, in mute thanksgiving for
"To-morrow," I heard him say; "the
will be here, and the Inquisition will be held according to
Then turning to the old man with the gold spectacles, whom
have described, he shook him warmly by both hands and said:
"Baron, how can I thank you? How can we all thank
You will have delivered this region from a plague that has
inhabitants for more than a century. The horrible enemy, thank
at last tracked."
My father led the stranger aside, and the General
know that he had led them out of hearing, that he might relate
and I saw them glance often quickly at me, as the discussion
My father came to me, kissed me again and again, and
from the chapel, said:
"It is time to return, but before we go home, we must
to our party the good priest, who lives but a little way from
persuade him to accompany us to the schloss."
In this quest we were successful: and I was glad, being
unspeakably fatigued when we reached home. But my satisfaction
changed to dismay, on discovering that there were no tidings of
Carmilla. Of the scene that had occurred in the ruined chapel,
explanation was offered to me, and it was clear that it was a
which my father for the present determined to keep from me.
The sinister absence of Carmilla made the remembrance of
scene more horrible to me. The arrangements for the night were
singular. Two servants, and Madame were to sit up in my room
night; and the ecclesiastic with my father kept watch in the
The priest had performed certain solemn rites that night,
purport of which I did not understand any more than I
reason of this extraordinary precaution taken for my safety
I saw all clearly a few days later.
The disappearance of Carmilla was followed by the
discontinuance of my nightly sufferings.
You have heard, no doubt, of the appalling superstition
prevails in Upper and Lower Styria, in Moravia, Silesia, in
Servia, in Poland, even in Russia; the superstition, so we must
it, of the Vampire.
If human testimony, taken with every care and solemnity,
judicially, before commissions innumerable, each consisting of
members, all chosen for integrity and intelligence, and
reports more voluminous perhaps than exist upon any one other
cases, is worth anything, it is difficult to deny, or even to
existence of such a phenomenon as the Vampire.
For my part I have heard no theory by which to explain
myself have witnessed and experienced, other than that supplied
ancient and well-attested belief of the country.
The next day the formal proceedings took place in the
Karnstein. The grave of the Countess Mircalla was opened; and
General and my father recognised each his perfidious and
guest, in the face now disclosed to view. The features, though
hundred and fifty years had passed since her funeral, were
the warmth of life. Her eyes were open; no cadaverous smell
from the coffin. The two medical men, one officially present,
other on the part of the promoter of the inquiry, attested the
marvellous fact that there was a faint but appreciable
a corresponding action of the heart. The limbs were perfectly
flexible, the flesh elastic; and the leaden coffin floated with
in which to a depth of seven inches, the body lay immersed.
were all the admitted signs and proofs of vampirism. The body,
therefore, in accordance with the ancient practice, was raised,
sharp stake driven through the heart of the vampire, who uttered
piercing shriek at the moment, in all respects such as might
from a living person in the last agony. Then the head was
and a torrent of blood flowed from the severed neck. The body
was next placed on a pile of wood, and reduced to ashes, which
thrown upon the river and borne away, and that territory has
since been plagued by the visits of a vampire.
My father has a copy of the report of the Imperial
with the signatures of all who were present at these
attached in verification of the statement. It is from this
paper that I have summarized my account of this last shocking scene.
I write all this you suppose with composure. But far from
I cannot think of it without agitation. Nothing but your
desire so repeatedly expressed, could have induced me to sit
down to a
task that has unstrung my nerves for months to come, and
shadow of the unspeakable horror which years after my
continued to make my days and nights dreadful, and solitude
Let me add a word or two about that quaint Baron
whose curious lore we were indebted for the discovery of the
He had taken up his abode in Gratz, where, living upon a
pittance, which was all that remained to him of the once
estates of his family, in Upper Styria, he devoted himself to
minute and laborious investigation of the marvellously
tradition of Vampirism. He had at his fingers' ends all
and little works upon the subject. "Magia Posthuma,"
de Mirabilibus," "Augustinus de cura pro
"Philosophicae et Christianae Cogitationes de
John Christofer Herenberg; and a thousand others, among which I
remember only a few of those which he lent to my father. He had
voluminous digest of all the judicial cases, from which he had
extracted a system of principles that appear to govern-some
always, and others occasionally only- the condition of the
I may mention, in passing, that the deadly pallor attributed to
sort of revenants, is a mere melodramatic fiction. They
present, in the grave, and when they show themselves in human
the appearance of healthy life. When disclosed to light in
coffins, they exhibit all the symptoms that are enumeranted as
which proved the vampire-life of the long-dead Countess
How they escape from their graves and return to them for
certain hours every day, without displacing the clay or leaving
trace of disturbance in the state of the coffin or the
always been admitted to be utterly inexplicable. The amphibious
existence of the vampire is sustained by daily renewed slumber
grave. Its horrible lust for living blood supplies the vigour
waking existence. The vampire is prone to be fascinated with an
engrossing vehemence, resembling the passion of love, by
persons. In pursuit of these it will exercise inexhaustible
and stratagem, for access to a particular object may be
a hundred ways. It will never desist until it has satiated its
passion, and drained the very life of its coveted victim. But
in these cases, husband and protract its murderous enjoyment
refinement of an epicure, and heighten it by the gradual
an artful courtship. In these cases it seems to yearn for
like sympathy and consent. In ordinary ones it goes direct to
object, overpowers with violence, and strangles and exhausts
often at a
The vampire is, apparently, subject, in certain
special conditions. In the particular instance of which I have
you a relation, Mircalla seemed to be limited to a name which,
her real one, should at least reproduce, without the omission or
addition of a single letter, those, as we say, anagrammatically,
compose it. Carmilla did this; so did Millarca.
My father related to the Baron Vordenburg, who remained
for two or three weeks after the expulsion of Carmilla, the
the Moravian nobleman and the vampire at Karnstein churchyard,
he asked the Baron how he had discovered the exact position of
long-concealed tomb of the Countess Mircalla? The Baron's
grotesque features puckered up into a mysterious smile; he
still smiling on his worn spectacle-case and fumbled with it.
looking up, he said:
"I have many journals, and other papers, written by
remarkable man; the most curious among them is one treating of
visit of which you speak, to Karnstein. The tradition, of
discolours and distorts a little. He might have been termed a
nobleman, for he had changed his abode to that territory, and
beside, a noble. But he was, in truth, a native of Upper
is enough to say that in very early youth he had been a
favoured lover of the beautiful Mircalla, Countess Karnstein.
early death plunged him into inconsolable grief. It is the
vampires to increase and multiply, but according to an
"Assume, at starting, a territory perfectly free from
pest. How does it begin, and how does it multiply itself? I
you. A person, more or less wicked, puts an end to himself. A
suicide, under certain circumstances, becomes a vampire. That
visits living people in their slumbers;
they die, and almost invariably, in the grave, develop
vampires. This happened in the case of the beautiful Mircalla,
haunted by one of those demons. My ancestor, Vordenburg, whose
still bear, soon discovered this, and in the course of the
which he devoted himself, learned a great deal more.
"Among other things, he concluded that suspicion of
vampirism would probably fall, sooner or later, upon the dead
who in life had been his idol. He conceived a horror, be she
might, of her remains being profaned by the outrage of a
execution. He has left a curious paper to prove that the
its expulsion from its amphibious existence, is projected into a
more horrible life; and he resolved to save his once beloved
"He adopted the stratagem of a journey here, a
removal of her remains, and a real obliteration of her monument.
age had stolen upon him, and from the vale of years, he looked
the scenes he was leaving, he considered, in a different spirit,
he had done, and a horror took possession of him. He made the
and notes which have guided me to the very spot, and drew up a
confession of the deception that he had practised. If he had
any further action in this matter, death prevented him; and the
a remote descendant has, too late for many, directed the pursuit
lair of the beast."
We talked a little more, and among other things he said
"One sign of the vampire is the power of the hand.
slender hand of Mircalla closed like a vice of steel on the
wrist when he raised the hatchet to strike. But its power is
confined to its grasp; it leaves a numbness in the limb it
which is slowly, if ever, recovered from."
The following Spring my father took me a tour through
We remained away for more than a year. It was long before the
of recent events subsided; and to this hour the image of
returns to memory with ambiguous alternations-sometimes the
playful, languid, beautiful girl; sometimes the writhing fiend I
the ruined church; and often from a reverie I have started,
heard the light step of Carmilla at the drawing-room door.