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CARMILLA

by J.S. Le Fanu

from Through a glass darkly (1872, 1929 ed.)


PROLOGUE

UPON a paper attached to the Narrative which follows
Doctor Hesselius has written a rather elaborate note, which
he accompanies with a reference to his Essay on the strange
subject which the MS. illuminates.

  This mysterious subject he treats, in that Essay, with his
usual learning and acumen, and with remarkable directness
and condensation.  It will form but one volume of the series
of that extraordinary man's collected papers.

  As I publish the case, in this volume, simply to interest
the "laity," I shall forestall the intelligent lady who
relates it in nothing; and after due consideration I have
determined, therefore, to abstain from presenting any precis
of the learned Doctor's reasoning, or extract from his
statement on a subject which he deseribes as "involving, not
improbably, some of the profoundest arcana of our dual
existenee, and its intermediates."

  I was anxious, on discovering this paper, to re-open the
correspondence commenced by Doctor Hesselius, so many years
before, with a person so clever and careful as his informant
seems to have been.  Much to my regret, however, I found
that she had died in the interval.

  She, probably, could have added little to the Narrative
which she communicates in the following pages, with, so far
as I can pronounce, such a conscientious particularity.


  
                    CHAPTER I

                 AN EARLY FRIGHT

IN Styria we, though by no means magnificent people, inhabit
a castle, or schloss.  A small income in that part of the
world goes a great way.  Eight or nine hundred a year does
wonders.  Scantily enough ours would have answered among
wealthy people at home.  My father is English, and I bear an
English name, although I never saw England.  But here, in
this lonely and primitive place, where everything is so
marvellously cheap, I really don't see how ever so much more
money would at all materially add to our comforts, or even
luxuries.

  My father was in the Austrian service, and retired upon a
pension and his patrimony, and purchased this feudal
residence and the small estate on which it stands, a
bargain.

  Nothing can be more picturesque or solitary.  It stands on
a slight eminence in a forest.  The road, very old and
narrow, passes in front of its drawbridge, never raised in
my time, and its moat, stocked with perch, and sailed over
by many swans, and floating on its surface white fleets of
water-lilies.
 
  Over all this the schloss shows its many-windowed front,
its towers, and its Gothic chapel.

  The forest opens in an irregular and very picturesque
glade before its gate, and at the right a steep Gothic
bridge carries the road over a stream that winds in deep
shadow through the wood.

  I have said that this is a very lonely place.  Judge
whether I say truth.  Looking from the hall door towards the
road, the forest in which our castle stands extends fifteen
miles to the right and twelve to the left.  The nearest
inhabited village is about seven of your English miles to
the left.  The nearest inhabited schloss of any historic
associations is that of old General Spielsdorf, nearly
twenty miles away to the right.

  I have said "the nearest inhabited village"
because there is, only three miles westward, that is to say
in the direction of General Spielsdorf's schloss, a ruined
village, with its quaint little church, now roofless, in the
aisle of which are the mouldering tombs of the proud family
of Karnstein, now extinct, who once owned the equally-
desolate chateau which, in the thick of the forest,
overlooks the silent ruins of the town.

  Respecting the cause of the desertion of this striking and
melancholy spot, there is a legend which I shall relate to
you another time.
 
  I must tell you now how very small is the party who
constitute the inhabitants of our castle.  I don't include
servants, or those dependants who occupy rooms in the
buildings attached to the schloss.  Listen, and wonder!  My
father, who is the kindest man on earth, but growing old;
and I, at the date of my story, only nineteen.  Eight years
have passed since then.  I and my father constituted the
family at the schloss.  My mother, a Styrian lady, died in
my infancy, but I had a good-natured governess, who had been
with me from, I might almost say, my infancy.  I could not
remember the time when her fat, benignant face was not a
familiar picture in my memory.  This was Madame Perrodon, a
native of Berne, whose care and good nature in part supplied
to me the loss of my mother, whom I do not even remember, so
early I lost her.  She made a third at our little dinner
party.  There was a fourth, Mademoiselle de Lafontaine, a
lady such as you term, I believe, a "finishing governess." 
She spoke French and German, Madame Perrodon French and
broken English, to which my father and I added English,
which, partly to prevent its becoming a lost language among
us, and partly from patriotic motives, we spoke every day. 
The consequence was a Babel, at which strangers used to
laugh, and which I shall make no attempt to reproduce in
this narrative.  And there were two or three young lady
friends besides, pretty nearly of my own age, who were
occasional visitors for longer or shorter terms; and these
visits I sometimes returned.

  These were our regular social resources; but of course
there were chance visits from "neighbours" of only five or
six leagues' distance.  My life was, notwithstanding, rather
a solitary one, I can assure you.

  My gouvernantes had just so much control over me as you
might conjecture such sage persons would have in the case of
a rather spoiled girl, whose only parent allowed her pretty
nearly her own way in everything.

  The first occurrence in my existence which produced a
terrible impression upon my mind, which, in fact, never has
been effaced, was one of the very earliest incidents of my
life which I can recollect.  Some people will think it so
trifling that it should not be recorded here.  You will see,
however, by-and-by, why I mention it.  The nursery, as it
was called, though I had it all to myself, was a large room
in the upper story of the castle, with a steep oak roof.  I
can't have been more than six years old, when one night I
awoke and, looking round the room from my bed, failed to see
the nursery-maid.  Neither was my nurse there; and I thought
myself alone.  I was not frightened, for I was one of those
happy children who are studiously kept in ignorance of ghost
stories, of fairy tales, and of all such lore as makes us
cover up our heads when the door creaks suddenly, or the
flicker of an expiring candle makes the shadow of a bed-post
dance upon the wall, nearer to our faces.  I was vexed and
insulted at finding myself, as I conceived, neglected, and I
began to whimper, preparatory to a hearty bout of roaring;
when, to my surprise, I saw a solemn, but very pretty face
looking at me from the side of the bed.  It was that of a
young lady, who was kneeling, with her hands under the
coverlet.  I looked at her with a kind of pleased wonder,
and ceased whimpering.  She caressed me with her hands, and
lay down beside me on the bed, and drew me towards her,
smiling; I felt immediately delightfully soothed, and fell
asleep again.  I was wakened by a sensation as if two
needles ran into my breast very deep at the same moment, and
I cried loudly.  The lady started back with her eyes fixed
on me, and then slipped down upon the floor, and, as I
thought, hid herself under the bed.

  I was now for the first time frightened, and I yelled with
all my might and main.  Nurse, nursery-maid, housekeeper,
all came running in, and hearing my story they made light of
it, soothing me all they could meanwhile.  But, child as I
was, I could perceive that their faces were pale with an
unwonted look of anxiety, and I saw them look under the bed,
and about the room, and peep under tables and pluck open
cupboards; and the housekeeper whispered to the nurse: "Lay
your hand along that hollow in the bed; someone did
 lie there, so sure as you did not; the place is
still warm."

  I remember the nursery-maid petting me, and all three
examining my chest, where I told them I felt the puncture,
and pronouncing that there was no sign visible that any such
thing had happened to me.

  The housekeeper and the two other servants who were in
charge of the nursery remained sitting up all night; and
from that time a servant always sat up in the nursery until
I was about fourteen.

  I was very nervous for a long time after this.  A doctor
was called in; he was pallid and elderly.  How well I
remember his long saturnine face, slightly pitted with
small-pox, and his chestnut wig.  For a good while, every
second day, he came and gave me medicine, which of course I
hated.

  The morning after I saw this apparition I was in a state
of terror, and could not bear to be left alone, daylight
though it was, for a moment.

  I remember my father coming up and standing at the
bedside, and talking cheerfully, and asking the nurse a
number of questions, and laughing very heartily at one of
the answers; and patting me on the shoulder, and kissing me,
and telling me not to be frightened, that it was nothing but
a dream and could not hurt me.

  But I was not comforted, for I knew the visit of the
strange woman was not a dream; and I was
awfully frightened.

  I was a little consoled by the nursery-maid's assuring me
that it was she who had come and looked at me, and lain down
beside me in the bed, and that I must have been half-
dreaming not to have known her face.  But this, though
supported by the nurse, did not quite satisfy me.

  I remember, in the course of that day, a venerable old
man, in a black cassock, coming into the room with the nurse
and housekeeper, and talking a little to them, and very
kindly to me; his face was very sweet and gentle, and he
told me they were going to pray, and joined my hands
together, and desired me to say softly while they were
praying, "Lord, hear all good prayers for us, for Jesus'
sake."  I think these were the very words, for I often
repeated them to myself, and my nurse used for years to make
me say them in my prayers.

  I remember so well the thoughtful sweet face of that
white-haired old man, in his black cassock, as he stood in
that rude, lofty, brown room, with the clumsy furniture of a
fashion three hundred years old, about him, and the scanty
light entering its shadowy atmosphere through the small
lattice.  He kneeled, and the three women with him, and he
prayed aloud with an earnest quavering voice for what
appeared to me a long time.  I forget all my life preceding
that event, and for some time after it is all obscure also;
but the scenes I have just described stand out vivid as the
isolated pictures of the phantasmagoria surrounded by
darkness.


                     CHAPTER II

                      A GUEST

I AM now going to tell you something so strange that it will
require all your faith in my veracity to believe my story. 
It is not only true, nevertheless, but truth of which I have
been an eye-witness.

  It was a sweet summer evening, and my father asked me, as
he sometimes did, to take a little ramble with him along
that beautiful forest vista which I have mentioned as Iying
in front of the schloss.

  "General Spielsdorf cannot come to us so soon as I had
hoped," said my father, as we pursued our walk.

  He was to have paid us a visit for some weeks, and we had
expected his arrival next day.  He was to have brought with
him a young lady, his niece and ward, Mademoiselle
Rheinfeldt, whom I had never seen, but whom I had heard
described as a very charming girl, and in whose society I
had promised myself many happy days.  I was more
disappointed than a young lady living in a town or a
bustling neighbourhood can possibly imagine.  This visit,
and the new acquaintance it promised, had furnished my
day-dream for many weeks.

  "And how soon does he come?" I asked.

  "Not till autumn.  Not for two months, I dare say," he
answered.  "And I am very glad now, dear, that you never
knew Mademoiselle Rheinfeldt."

  "And why?" I asked, both mortified and curious.

  "Because the poor young lady is dead," he replied.  "I
quite forgot I had not told you, but you were not in the
room when I received the General's letter this evening."

  I was very much shocked.  General Spielsdorf had mentioned
in his first letter, six or seven weeks before, that she was
not so well as he would wish her, but there was nothing to
suggest the remotest suspicion of danger.

  "Here is the General's letter," he said, handing it to me.

  "I am afraid he is in great affliction; the letter appears
to me to have been written very nearly in distraction."

  We sat down on a rude bench, under a group of magnificent
lime trees.  The sun was setting with all its melancholy
splendour behind the sylvan horizon, and the stream that
flows beside our home, and passes under the steep old bridge
I have mentioned, wound through many a group of noble
trees, almost at our feet, reflecting in its current the
fading crimson of the sky.  General Spielsdorf's letter was
so extraordinary, so vehement, and in some places so self-
contradictory, that I read it twice over--the second time
aloud to my father--and was still unable to account for it,
except by supposing that grief had unsettled his mind.

  It said, "I have lost my darling daughter, for as such I
loved her.  During the last days of dear Bertha's illness I
was not able to write to you.  Before then I had no idea of
her danger.  I have lost her, and now learn all
, too late.  She died in the peace of innocence, and
in the glorious hope of a blessed futurity.  The fiend who
betrayed our infatuated hospitality has done it all.  I
thought I was receiving into my house innocence, gaiety, a
charming companion for my lost Bertha.  Heavens! what a fool
have I been!  I thank God my child died without a suspicion
of the cause of her sufferings.  She is gone without so much
as conjecturing the nature of her illness, and the accursed
passion of the agent of all this misery.  I devote my
remaining days to tracking and extinguishing a monster.  I
am told I may hope to accomplish my righteous and merciful
purpose.  At present there is scarcely a gleam of light to
guide me.  I curse my conceited incredulity, my despicable
affectation of superiority, my blindness, my obstinacy--all
--too late.  I cannot write or talk collectedly now.  I am
distracted.  So soon as I shall have a little recovered I
mean to devote myself for a time to enquiry, which may
possibly lead me as far as Vienna.  Some time in the autumn,
two months hence, or earlier if I live, I will see you--that
is, if you permit me; I will then tell you all that I scarce
dare put upon paper now.  Farewell.  Pray for me, dear
friend."

  In these terms ended this strange letter.  Though I had
never seen Bertha Rheinfeldt, my eyes filled with tears at
the sudden intelligence; I was startled, as well as
profoundly disappointed.

  The sun had now set, and it was twilight by the time I had
returned the General's letter to my father.

  It was a soft clear evening, and we loitered, speculating
upon the possible meanings of the violent and incoherent
sentences which I had just been reading.  We had nearly a
mile to walk before reaching the road that passes the
schloss in front, and by that time the moon was shining
brilliantly.  At the drawbridge we met Madame Perrodon and
Mademoiselle de Lafontaine, who had come out without their
bonnets to enjoy the exquisite moonlight.

  We heard their voices gabbling in animated dialogue as we
approached.  We joined them at the drawbridge, and turned
about to admire with them the beautiful scene.

  The glade through which we had just walked lay before us. 
At our left the narrow road wound away under clumps of
lordly trees, and was lost to sight amid the thickening
forest.  At the right the same road crosses the steep and
picturesque bridge, near which stands a ruined tower which
once guarded that pass; and beyond the bridge an abrupt
eminence rises, covered with trees, and showing in the
shadow some grey ivy-clustered rocks.

  Over the sward and low grounds a thin film of mist was
stealing like smoke, marking the distances with a
transparent veil; and here and there we could see the river
faintly flashing in the moonlight.

  No softer, sweeter scene could be imagined.  The news I
had just heard made it melancholy; but nothing could disturb
its character of profound serenity, and the enchanted glory
and vagueness of the prospect.

  My father, who enjoyed the picturesque, and I, stood
looking in silence over the expanse beneath us.  The two
good governesses, standing a little way behind us,
discoursed upon the scene, and were eloquent upon the moon.

  Madame Perrodon was fat, middle-aged, and romantic, and
talked and sighed poetically.  Mademoiselle de Lafontaine--in right
of her father, who was a German, assumed to be
psychological, metaphysical, and something of a mystic--now
declared that when the moon shone with a light so intense it
was well known that it indicated a special spiritual
activity.  The effect of the full moon in such a state of
brilliancy was manifold.  It acted on dreams, it acted on
lunacy, it acted on nervous people; it had marvellous
physical influences connected with life.  Mademoiselle
related that her cousin, who was mate of a merchant ship,
having taken a nap on deck on such a night, lying on his
back, with his face full in the light of the moon, had
wakened, after a dream of an old woman clawing him by the
cheek, with his features horribly drawn to one side; and his
countenance had never quite recovered its equilibrium.

  "The moon, this night," she said, "is full of odylic and
magnetic influence--and see, when you look behind you at the
front of the schloss, how all its windows flash and twinkle
with that silvery splendour, as if unseen hands had lighted
up the rooms to receive fairy guests."

  There are indolent states of the spirits in which,
indisposed to talk ourselves, the talk of others is pleasant
to our listless ears; and I gazed on, pleased with the
tinkle of the ladies' conversation.

  "I have got into one of my moping moods to-night," said my
father, after a silence, and quoting Shakespeare, whom, by
way of keeping up our English, he used to read aloud, he
said:
  "In truth I know not why I am so sad:
   It wearies me; you say it wearies you; 
   But how I got it--came by it...

  "I forget the rest.  But I feel as if some great
misfortune were hanging over us.  I suppose the poor
General's afflicted letter has had something to do with it."

  At this moment the unwonted sound of carriage wheels and
many hoofs upon the road arrested our attention.

  They seemed to be approaching from the high ground over-
looking the bridge, and very soon the equipage emerged from
that point.  Two horsemen first crossed the bridge, then
came a carriage drawn by four horses, and two men rode
behind.

  It seemed to be the travelling carriage of a person of
rank; and we were all immediately absorbed in watching that
very unusual spectacle.  It became, in a few moments,
greatly more interesting, for just as the carriage had
passed the summit of the steep bridge, one of the leaders,
taking fright, communicated his panic to the rest, and,
after a plunge or two, the whole team broke into a wild
gallop together, and, dashing between the horsemen who rode
in front, came thundering along the road towards us with the
speed of a hurricane.

  The excitement of the scene was made more painful by the
clear, long-drawn screams of a female voice from the
carriage window.

  We all advanced in curiosity and horror; my father in
silence, the rest with various ejaculations of terror.
 Our suspense did not last long.  Just before you reach the
castle drawbridge, on the route they were coming, there
stands by the roadside a magnificent lime tree, on the other
stands an ancient stone cross, at sight of which the horses,
now going at a pace that was perfectly frightful, swerved so
as to bring the wheel over the projecting roots of the tree.
 I knew what was coming.  I covered my eyes, unable to see
it out, and turned my head away; at the same moment I heard
a cry from my lady-friends, who had gone on a little.

  Curiosity opened my eyes, and I saw a scene of utter
confusion.  Two of the horses were on the ground, the
carriage lay upon its side, with two wheels in the air; the
men were busy removing the traces, and a lady with a
commanding air and figure had got out, and stood with
clasped hands, raising the handkerchief that was in them
every now and then to her eyes.  Through the carriage door
was now lifted a young lady, who appeared to be lifeless. 
My dear old father was already beside the elder lady, with
his hat in his hand, evidently tendering his aid and the
resources of his schloss.  The lady did not appear to hear
him, or to have eyes for anything but the slender girl who
was being placed against the slope of the bank.

  I approached; the young lady was apparently stunned, but
she was certainly not dead.  My father, who piqued himself
on being something of a physician, had just had his fingers
to her wrist and assured the lady, who declared herself her
mother, that her pulse, though faint and irregular, was
undoubtedly still distinguishable.  The lady clasped her
hands and looked upward, as if in a momentary transport of
gratitude; but immediately she broke out again in that
theatrical way which is, I believe, natural to some people.

  She was what is called a fine-looking woman for her time
of life, and must have been handsome; she was tall, but not
thin, and dressed in black velvet, and looked rather pale,
but with a proud and commanding countenance, though now
agitated strangely.

  "Was ever beiug so born to calamity?" I heard her say,
with clasped hands, as I came up.  "Here am I, on a journey
of life and death, in prosecuting which to lose an hour is
possibly to lose all.  My child will not have recovered
sufficiently to resume her route for who can say how long. 
I must leave her; I cannot, dare not, delay.  How far on,
sir, can you tell, is the nearest village?  I must leave her
there; and shall not see my darling, or even hear of her
till my return, three months hence."

  I plucked my father by the coat, and whispered earnestly
in his ear, "Oh! papa, pray ask her to let her stay with us
--it would be so delightful.  Do, pray."

  "If Madame will entrust her child to the care of my
daughter, and of her good gouvernante, Madame Perrodon, and
permit her to remain as our guest, under my charge, until
her return, it will confer a distinction and an obligation
upon us, and we shall treat her with all the care and
devotion which so sacred a trust deserves."
  
  "I cannot do that, sir, it would be to task your kindness
and chivalry too cruelly," said the lady, distractedly.

  "It would, on the contrary, be to confer on us a very
great kindness at the moment when we most need it.  My
daughter has just been disappointed by a cruel misfortune,
in a visit from which she had long anticipated a great deal
of happiness.  If you confide this young lady to our care it
will be her best consolation.  The nearest village on your
route is distant, and aftords no such inn as you could think
of placing your daughter at; you cannot allow her to
continue her journey for any considerable distance without
danger.  If, as you say, you cannot suspend your journey,
you must part with her to-night, and nowhere could you do so
with more honest assurances of care and tenderness than
here."

  There was something in this lady's air and appearance so
distinguished, and even imposing, and in her manner so
engaging, as to impress one, quite apart from the dignity of
her equipage, with a conviction that she was a person of
consequence.

  By this time the carriage was replaced in its upright
position, and the horses, quite tractable, in the traces
again.

  The lady threw on her daughter a glance which I fancied
was not quite so affectionate as one might have anticipated
from the beginning of the scene; then she beckoned slightly
to my father, and withdrew two or three steps with him out
of hearing; and talked to him with a fixed and stern
countenance, not at all like that with which she had
hitherto spoken.

  I was filled with wonder that my father did not seem to
perceive the change, and also unspeakably curious to learn
what it could be that she was speaking, almost in his ear,
with so much earnestness and rapidity.

  Two or three minutes at most, I think, she remained thus
employed, then she turned, and a few steps brought her to
where her daughter lay, supported by Madame Perrodon.  She
kneeled beside her for a moment and whispered, as Madame
supposed, a little benediction in her ear; then hastily
kissing her, she stepped into her carriage, the door was
closed, the footmen in stately liveries jumped up behind,
the outriders spurred on, the postilions cracked their
whips, the horses plunged and broke suddenly into a furious
canter that threatened soon again to become a gallop, and
the carriage whirled away, followed at the same rapid pace
by the two horsemen in the rear.


                       CHAPTER III

                    WE COMPARE NOTES

WE followed the cortege with our eyes until it
was swiftly lost to sight in the misty wood; and the very
sound of the hoofs and wheels died away in the silent night
air.

  Nothing remained to assure us that the adventure had not
been an illusion of a moment but the young lady, who just at
that moment opened her eyes.  I could not see, for her face
was turned from me, but she raised her head, evidently
looking about her, and I heard a very sweet voice ask
complainingly, "Where is mamma?"

  Our good Madame Perrodon answered tenderly, and added some
comfortable assurances.

  I then heard her ask:
  "Where am I?  What is this place?" and after that she
said, "I don't see the carriage; and Matska, where is she?"

  Madame answered all her questions in so far as she
understood them; and gradually the young lady remembered how
the misadventure came about, and was glad to hear that no
one in, or in attendance on, the carriage was hurt; and on
learning that her mamma had left her here, till her return
in about three months, she wept.

  I was going to add my consolations to those of Madame
Perrodon when Mademoiselle de Lafontaine placed her hand
upon my arm, saying:
  "Don't approach, one at a time is as much as she can at
present converse with; a very little excitement would
possibly overpower her now."

  As soon as she is comfortably in bed, I thought, I will
run up to her room and see her.

  My father in the meantime had sent a servant on horseback
for the physician, who lived about two leagues away; and a
bedroom was being prepared for the young lady's reception.

  The stranger now rose, and leaning on Madame's arm, walked
slowly over the drawbridge and into the castle gate.  In the
hall servants waited to receive her, and she was conducted
forthwith to her room.

  The room we usually sat in as our drawing-room is long,
having four windows that looked over the moat and drawbridge
upon the forest scene I have just described.

  It is furnished in old carved oak, with large carved
cabinets, and the chairs are cushioned with crimson Utrecht
velvet.  The walls are covered with tapestry, and surrounded
with great gold frames, the figures being as large as life,
in ancient and very curious costume, and the subjects
represented are hunting, hawking, and generally festive.  It
is not too stately to be extremely comfortable; and here we
had our tea, for with his usual patriotic leanings he
insisted that the national beverage should make its
appearance regularly with our coffee and chocolate.

  We sat here this night, and, with candles lighted, were
talking over the adventure of the evening.

  Madame Perrodon and Mademoiselle de Lafontaine were both
of our party.  The young stranger had hardly lain down in
her bed when she sank into a deep sleep; and those ladies
had left her in the care of a servant.

  "How do you like our guest?" I asked, as soon as Madame
entered.  "Tell me all about her?"

  "I like her extremely," answered Madame, "she is, I almost
think, the prettiest creature I ever saw; about your age,
and so gentle and nice."

  "She is absolutely beautiful," threw in Mademoiselle, who
had peeped for a moment into the stranger's room.

  "And such a sweet voice!" added Madame Perrodon.

  "Did you remark a woman in the carriage, after it was set
up again, who did not get out," inquired Mademoiselle, "but
only looked from the window?"

  No, we had not seen her.

  Then she described a hideous black woman, with a sort of
coloured turban on her head, who was gazing all the time
from the carriage window, nodding and grinning derisively
towards the ladies, with gleaming eyes and large white
eye-balls, and her teeth set as if in fury.

  "Did you remark what an ill-looking pack of men the
servants were?" asked Madame.

  "Yes," said my father, who had just come in, "ugly,
hang-dog looking fellows, as ever I beheld in my life.  I
hope they mayn't rob the poor lady in the forest.  They are
clever rogues, however; they got everything to rights in a
minute."

  "I dare say they are worn out with too long travelling,"
said Madame.  "Besides looking wicked, their faces were so
strangely lean, and dark, and sullen.  I am very curious, I
own; but I dare say the young lady will tell us all about it
to-morrow, if she is sufficiently recovered."

  "I don't think she will," said my father, with a
mysterious smile, and a little nod of his head, as if he
knew more about it than he cared to tell us.

  This made me all the more inquisitive as to what had
passed between him and the lady in the black velvet, in the
brief but earnest interview that had immediately preceded
her departure.

  We were scarcely alone, when I entreated him to tell me. 
He did not need much pressing.

  "There is no particular reason why I should not tell you. 
She expressed a reluctance to trouble us with the care of
her daughter, saying she was in delicate health, and
nervous, but not subject to any kind of seizure--she
volunteered that--nor to any illusion; being, in fact,
perfectly sane."

  "How very odd to say all that!" I interpolated.  "It was
so unnecessary."

  "At all events it was said," he laughed,
"and as you wish to know all that passed, which was indeed
very little, I tell you.  She then said, 'I am making a long
journey of vital importance'--she emphasized
the word--'rapid and secret; I shall return for my child in
three months; in the meantime she will be silent as to who
we are, whence we come, and whither we are travelling.' 
That is all she said.  She spoke very pure French.  When she
said the word 'secret,' she paused for a few seconds,
looking sternly, her eyes fixed on mine.  I fancy she makes
a great point of that.  You saw how quickly she was gone.  I
hope I have not done a very foolish thing in taking charge
of the young lady."

  For my part I was delighted.  I was longing to see and
talk to her; and only waiting till the doctor should give me
leave.  You who live in towns can have no idea how great an
event the introduction of a new friend is, in such a
solitude as surrounded us.

  The doctor did not arrive till nearly one o'clock; but I
could no more have gone to my bed and slept, than I could
have overtaken, on foot, the carriage in which the princess
in black velvet had driven away.

  When the physician came down to the drawing-room, it was
to report very favourably upon his patient.  She was now
sitting up, her pulse quite regular, apparently perfectly
well.  She had sustained no injury, and the little shock to
her nerves had passed quite harmlessly.  There could be no
harm certainly in my seeing her, if we both wished it; and,
with this permission, I sent, forthwith, to know whether she
would allow me to visit her for a few minutes in her room. 
The servant returned immediately to say that she desired
nothing more.

  You may be sure I was not long in availing myself of this
permission.

  Our visitor lay in one of the handsomest rooms in the
schloss.  It was, perhaps, a little stately.  There was a
sombre piece of tapestry opposite the foot of the bed,
representing Cleopatra with the asps to her bosom; and other
solemn classic scenes were displayed, a little faded, upon
the other walls.  But there was gold carving, and rich and
varied colour enough in the other decorations of the room,
to more than redeem the gloom of the old tapestry.

  There were candles at the bed-side.  She was sitting up;
her slender pretty figure enveloped in the soft silk
dressing-gown, embroidered with flowers, and Uned with thick
quilted silk, which her mother had thrown over her feet as
she lay upon the ground.

  What was it that, as I reached the bed-side and had just
begun my little greeting, struck me dumb in a moment, and
made me recoil a step or two from before her?  I will tell
you.

  I saw the very face which had visited me in my childhood
at night, which remained so fixed in my memory, and on which
I had for so many years so often ruminated with horror, when
no one suspected of what I was thinking.

  It was pretty, even beautiful; and when I first beheld it,
wore the same melancholy expression.

  But this almost instantly lighted into a strange fixed
smile of recognition.

  There was a silence of fully a minute, and then at length
she spoke; I could not.

  "How wonderful!" she exclaimed.  "Twelve years ago, I saw
your face in a dream, and it has haunted me ever since."

  "Wonderful indeed!" I repeated, overcoming with an effort
the horror that had for a time suspended my utterances. 
"Twelve years ago, in vision or reality, I certainly saw
you.  I could not forget your face.  It has remained before
my eyes ever since."

  Her smile had softened.  Whatever I had fancied strange in
it, was gone, and it and her dimpling cheeks were now
delightfully pretty and intelligent.

  I felt reassured, and continued more in the vein which
hospitality indicated, to bid her welcome, and to tell her
how much pleasure her accidental arrival had given us all,
and especially what a happiness it was to me.

  I took her hand as I spoke.  I was a little shy, as lonely
people are, but the situation made me eloquent, and even
bold.  She pressed my hand, she laid hers upon it, and her
eyes glowed, as, looking hastily into mine, she smiled again
and blushed.

  She answered my welcome very prettily.  I sat down beside
her, still wondering; and she said:
  "I must tell you my vision about you; it is so very
strange that you and I should have had, each of the other so
vivid a dream, that each should have seen, I you and you me,
looking as we do now, when of course we both were mere
children.  I was a child, about six years old, and I awoke
from a confused and troubled dream, and found myself in a
room, unlike my nursery, wainscoted clumsily in some dark
wood, and with cupboards and bedsteads, and chairs and
benches placed about it.  The beds were, I thought, all
empty, and the room itself without anyone but myself in it;
and I, after looking about me for some time, and admiring
especially an iron candlestick, with two branches, which I
should certainly know again, crept under one of the beds to
reach the window; but as I got from under the bed, I heard
someone crying; and looking up, while I was still upon my
knees, I saw you--most assuredly you--as I see you now; a
beautiful young lady, with golden hair and large blue eyes,
and lips--your lips--you, as you are here.  Your looks won
me; I climbed on the bed and put my arms about you, and I
think we both fell asleep.  I was aroused by a scream; you
were sitting up screaming.  I was frightened, and slipped
down upon the ground, and, it seemed to me, lost
consciousness for a moment; and when I came to myself, I was
again in my nursery at home.  Your face I have never
forgotten since.  I could not be misled by mere resemblance. 
You are the lady whom I then saw."

  It was now my turn to relate my corresponding vision,
which I did, to the undisguised wonder of my new
acquaintance.

  "I don't know which should be most afraid of the other,"
she said, again smiling.  "If you were less pretty I think I
should be very much afraid of you, but being as you are, and
you and I both so young, I feel only that I have made your
acquaintance twelve years ago, and have already a right to
your intimacy; at all events, it does seem as if we were
destined, from our earliest childhood, to be friends.  I
wonder whether you feel as strangely drawn towards me as I
do to you; I have never had a friend--shall I find one now?" 
She sighed, and her fine dark eyes gazed passionately on me.

  Now the truth is, I felt rather unaccountably towards the
beautiful stranger.  I dixd feel, as she said, "drawn
towards her," but there was also something of repulsion.  In
this ambiguous feeling, however, the sense of attraction
immensely prevailed.  She interested and won me; she was so
beautiful and so indescribably engaging.

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

  "The doctor thinks," I added, "that you ought to have a
maid to sit up with you to-night; one of ours is waiting,
and you will find her a very useful and quiet creature."

  "How kind of you, but I could not sleep, I never could
with an attendant in the room.  I shant require any
assistance--and, shall I confess my weakness, I am haunted
with a terror of robbers.  Our house was robbed once, and
two servants murdered, so I always lock my door.  It has
become a habit--and you look so kind I know you will forgive
me.  I see there is a key in the lock."

  She held me close in her pretty arms for a moment and
whispered in my ear, "Good-night, darling, it is very hard
to part with you, but good-night; to-morrow, but not early,
I shall see you again."

  She sank back on the pillow with a sigh, and her fine eyes
followed me with a fond and melancholy gaze, and she
murmured again "Good-night, dear friend."

  Young people like, and even love, on impulse.  I was
flattered by the evident, though as yet undeserved, fondness
she showed me.  I liked the confidence with which she at
once received me.  She was determined that we should be very
dear friends.

  Next day came and we met again.  I was delighted with my
companion; that is to say, in many respects.

  Her looks lost nothing in daylight--she was certainly the
most beautiful creature I had ever seen, and the unpleasant
remembrance of the face presented in my early dream, had
lost the effect of the first unexpected recognition.

  She confessed that she had experienced a similar shock on
seeing me, and precisely the same faint antipathy that had
mingled with my admiration of her.  We now laughed together
over our momentary horrors.

 
                        CHAPTER IV

                   HER HABITS--A SAUNTER

I TOLD YOU that I was charmed with her in most particulars.

  There were some that did not please me so well.

  She was above the middle height of women.  I shall begin
by describing her.  She was slender, and wonderfully
graceful.  Except that her movements were languid--very
languid--indeed, there was nothing in her appearance to
indicate an invalid.  Her complexion was rich and brilliant;
her features were small and beautifully formed; her eyes
large, dark, and lustrous; her hair was quite wonderful, I
never saw hair so magnificently thick and long when it was
down about her shoulders; I have often placed my hands under
it, and laughed with wonder at its weight.  It was
exquisitely fine and soft, and in colour a rich very dark
brown, with something of gold.  I loved to let it down,
tumbling with its own weight; as, in her room, she lay back
in her chair talking in her sweet low voice, I used to fold
and braid it, and spread it out and play with it.  Heavens !
If I had but known all!

  I said there were particulars which did not please me.  I
have told you that her confidence won me the first night I
saw her; but I found that she exercised with respect to
herself, her mother, her history, everything in fact
connected with her life, plans, and people, an ever-wakeful
reserve.  I dare say I was unreasonable, perhaps I was
wrong; I dare say I ought to have respected the solemn
injunction laid upon my father by the stately lady in black
velvet.  But curiosity is a restless and unscrupulous
passion, and no one girl can endure, with patience, that
her's should be baffled by another.  What harm could it do
anyone to tell me what I so ardently desired to know?  Had
she no trust in my good sense or honour?  Why would she not
believe me when I assured her, so solemnly, that I would not
divulge one syllable of what she told me to any mortal
breathing.

  There was a coldness, it seemed to me, beyond her years,
in her smiling melancholy persistent refusal to afford me
the least ray of light.

  I cannot say we quarrelled upon this point, for she would
not quarrel upon any.  It was, of course, very unfair of me
to press her, very illbred, but I really could not help it;
and I might just as well have let it alone.

  What she did tell me amounted, in my unconscionable
estimation--to nothing.

  It was all summed up in three very vague disclosures:
    First.  Her name was Carmilla.
    Second.  Her family was very ancient and noble.
    Third.  Her home lay in the direction of the west.

  She would not tell me the name of her family, nor their
armorial bearings, nor the name of their estate, nor even
that of the country they lived in.

  You are not to suppose that I worried her incessantly on
these subjects.  I watched opportunity, and rather
insinuated than urged my inquiries.  Once or twice, indeed,
I did attack her more directly.  But no matter what my
tactics, utter failure was invariably the result. 
Reproaches and caresses were all lost upon her.  But I must
add this, that her evasion was conducted with so pretty a
melancholy and deprecation, with so many, and even
passionate declarations of her liking for me, and trust in
my honour, and with so many promises that I should at last
know all, that I could not find it in my heart long to be
offended with her.

  She used to place her pretty arms about my neck, draw me
to her, and laying her cheek to mine, murmur with her lips
near my ear, "Dearest, your little heart is wounded; think
me not cruel because I obey the irresistible law of my
strength and weakness; if your dear heart is wounded, my
wild heart bleeds with yours.  In the rapture of my enormous
humiliation I live in your warm life, and you shall die--die,
sweetly die--into mine.  I cannot help it; as I draw
near to you, you, in your turn, will draw near to others,
and learn the rapture of that cruelty, which yet is love;
so, for a while, seek to know no more of me and mine, but
trust me with all your loving spirit."

  And when she had spoken such a rhapsody, she would press
me more closely in her trembling embrace, and her lips in
soft kisses gently glow upon my cheek.

  Her agitations and her language were unintelligible to me.

  From these foolish embraces, which were not of very
frequent occurrence, I must allow, I used to wish to
extricate myself; but my energies seemed to fail me.  Her
murmured words sounded like a lullaby in my ear, and soothed
my resistance into a trance, from which I only seemed to
recover myself when she withdrew her arms.

  In these mysterious moods I did not like her.  I
experienced a strange tumultuous excitement that was
pleasurable, ever and anon mingled with a vague sense of
fear and disgust.  I had no distinct thoughts about her
while such scenes lasted, but I was conscious of a love
growing into adoration, and also of abhorrence.  This I know
is paradox, but I can make no other attempt to explain the
feeling.

  I now write, after an interval of more than ten years,
with a trembling hand, with a confused and horrible
recollection of certain occurrences and situations in the
ordeal through which I was unconsciously passing; though
with a vivid and very sharp remembrance of the main current
of my story.  But, I suspect, in all lives there are certain
emotional scenes, those in which our passions have been most
wildly and terribly roused, that are of all others the most
vaguely and dimly remembered.

  Sometimes after an hour of apathy my strange and beautiful
companion would take my hand and hold it with a fond
pressure, renewed again and again; blushing softly, gazing
in my face with languid and burning eyes, and breathing so
fast that her dress rose and fell with the tumultuous
respiration.  It was like the ardour of a lover; it
embarrassed me; it was hateful and yet overpowering; and
with gloating eyes she drew me to her, and her hot lips
travelled along my cheek in kisses; and she would whisper,
almost in sobs, "You are mine, you shall be
mine, and you and I are one for ever."  Then she has thrown
herself back in her chair, with her small hands over her
eyes, leaving me trembling.

  "Are we related," I used to ask; "what can you mean by all
this?  I remind you perhaps of someone whom you love; but
you must not, I hate it; I don't know you--I don't know
myself when you look so and talk so."

  She used to sigh at my vehemence, then turn away and drop
my hand.

  Respecting these very extraordinary manifestations I
strove in vain to form any satisfactory theory--I could not
refer them to affectation or trick.  It was unmistakably the
momentary breaking out of suppressed instinct and emotion. 
Was she, notwithstanding her mother's volunteered denial,
subject to brief visitations of insanity; or was there here
a disguise and a romance?  I had read in old story books of
such things.  What if a boyish lover had found his way into
the house, and sought to prosecute his suit in masquerade,
with the assistance of a clever old adventuress!  But there
were many things against this hypothesis, highly interesting
as it was to my vanity.

  I could boast of no little attentions such as masculine
gallantry delights to offer.  Between these passionate
moments there were long intervals of common-place, of
gaiety, of brooding melancholy, during which, except that I
detected her eyes so full of melancholy fire following me,
at times I might have been as nothing to her.  Except in
these brief periods of mysterious excitement her ways were
girlish; and there was always a languor about her, quite
incompatible with a masculine system in a state of health.

  In some respects her habits were odd.  Perhaps not so
singular in the opinion of a town lady like you, as they
appeared to us rustic people.  She used to come down very
late, generally not till one o'clock, she would then take a
cup of chocolate, but eat nothing; we then went out for a
walk, which was a mere saunter, and she seemed, almost
immediately, exhausted, and either returned to the schloss
or sat on one of the benches that were placed, here and
there, among the trees.  This was a bodily languor in which
her mind did not sympathize.  She was always an animated
talker, and very intelligent.

  She sometimes alluded for a moment to her own home, or
mentioned an adventure or situation, or an early
recollection, which indicated a people of strange manners,
and described customs of which we knew nothing.  I gathered
from these chance hints that her native country was much
more remote than I had at first fancied.

  As we sat thus one afternoon under the trees a funeral
passed us by.  It was that of a pretty young girl, whom I
had often seen, the daughter of one of the rangers of the
forest.  The poor man was walking behind the coffin of his
darling; she was his only child, and he looked quite
heartbroken.  Peasants walking twoand-two came behind, they
were singing a funeral hymn.

  I rose to mark my respect as they passed, and joined in
the hymn they were very sweetly singing.

  My companion shook me a little roughly, and I turned
surprised.

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

  "I think it very sweet, on the contrary," I answered,
vexed at the interruption, and very uncomfortable, lest the
people who composed the little procession should observe and
resent what was passing.

  I resumed, therefore, instantly, and was again
interrupted.  "You pierce my ears," said Carmilla, almost
angrily, and stopping her ears with her tiny fingers. 
"Besides, how can you tell that your religion and mine are
the same; your forms wound me, and I hate funerals.  What a
fuss!  Why, you must die--everyone must die;
and all are happier when they do.  Come home."

  "My father has gone on with the clergyman to the
churchyard.  I thought you knew she was to be buried
to-day."

  "She?  I don't trouble my head about
peasants.  I don't know who she is," answered Carmilla, with
a flash from her fine eyes.

  "She is the poor girl who fancied she saw a ghost a
fortnight ago, and has been dying ever since, till
yesterday, when she expired."

  "Tell me nothing about ghosts.  I shan't sleep to-night if
you do."

  "I hope there is no plague or fever coming; all this looks
very like it," I continued.  "The swineherd's young wife
died only a week ago, and she thought something seized her
by the throat as she lay in her bed, and nearly strangled
her.  Papa says such horrible fancies do accompany some
forms of fever.  She was quite well the day before.  She
sank afterwards, and died before a week."

  "Well, her funeral is over I hope, and
her hymn sung; and our ears shan't be
tortured with that discord and jargon.  It has made me
nervous.  Sit down here, beside me; sit close; hold my hand;
press it hard--hard--harder."

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

  She sat down.  Her face underwent a change that alarmed
and even terrified me for a moment.  It darkened, and became
horribly livid; her teeth and hands were clenched, and she
frowned and compressed her lips, while she stared down upon
the ground at her feet, and trembled all over with a
continued shudder as irrepressible as ague.  All her
energies seemed strained to suppress a fit, with which she
was then breathlessly tugging; and at length a low
convulsive cry of suffering broke from her, and gradually
the hysteria subsided.  "There!  That comes of strangling
people with hymns!"  she said at last.  "Hold me, hold me
still.  It is passing away."

  And so gradually it did; and perhaps to dissipate the
sombre impression which the spectacle had left upon me, she
became unusually animated and chatty; and so we got home.

  This was the first time I had seen her exhibit any
definable symptoms of that delicacy of health which her
mother had spoken of.  It was the first time, also, I had
seen her exhibit anything like temper.

  Both passed away like a summer cloud; and never but once
afterwards did I witness on her part a momentary sign of
anger.  I will tell you how it happened.

  She and I were looking out of one of the long drawing-room
windows, when there entered the court-yard, over the draw-
bridge, a figure of a wanderer whom I knew very well.  He
used to visit the schloss generally twice a year.

  It was the figure of a hunchback, with the sharp lean
features that generally accompany deformity.  He wore a
pointed black beard, and he was smiling from ear to ear,
showing his white fangs.  He was dressed in buff, black, and
scarlet, and crossed with more straps and belts than I could
count, from which hung all manner of things.  Behind, he
carried a magic-lantern and two boxes, which I well knew, in
one of which was a salamander and in the other a mandrake. 
These monsters used to make my father laugh.  They were
compounded of parts of monkeys, parrots, squirrels, fish,
and hedgehogs, dried and stitched together with great
neatness and startling effect.  He had a fiddle, a box of
conjuring apparatus, a pair of foils and masks attached to
his belt, several other mysterious cases dangling about him,
and a black staff with copper ferrules in his hand.  His
companion was a rough spare dog that followed at his heels,
but stopped short, suspiciously, at the drawbridge, and in a
little while began to howl dismally.

  In the meantime the mountebank, standing in the midst of
the court-yard, raised his grotesque hat, and made us a very
ceremonious bow, paying his compliments very volubly in
execrable French, and German not much better.  Then,
disengaging his fiddle, he began to scrape a lively air, to
which he sang with a merry discord, dancing with ludicrous
airs and activity that made me laugh, in spite of the dog's
howling.

  Then he advanced to the window with many smiles and
salutations, and his hat in his left hand, his fiddle under
his arm, and with a fluency that never took breath he
gabbled a long advertisement of all his accomplishments, and
the resources of the various arts which he placed at our
service, and the curiosities and entertainments which it was
in his power at our bidding to display.

  "Will your ladyships be pleased to buy an amulet against
the oupire, which is going like the wolf, I hear, through
these woods," he said, dropping his hat on the pavement. 
"They are dying of it right and left, and here is a charm
that never fails; only pinned to the pillow, and you may
laugh in his face."

  These charms consisted of oblong slips of vellum, with
cabalistic ciphers and diagrams upon them.

  Carmilla instantly purchased one, and so did I.

  He was looking up, and we were smiling down upon him,
amused; at least, I can answer for myself.  His piercing
black eye, as he looked up in our faces, seemed to detect
something that fixed for a moment his curiosity.

  In an instant he unrolled a leather case, full of all
manner of odd little steel instruments.

  "See here, my lady," he said, displaying it, and
addressing me, "I profess, among other things less useful,
the art of dentistry.  Plague take the dog!" he
interpolated.  "Silence, beast!  He howls so that your
ladyships can scarcely hear a word.  Your noble friend, the
young lady at your right, has the sharpest tooth--long,
thin, pointed, like an awl, like a needle; ha, ha!  With my
sharp and long sight, as I look up, I have seen it
distinctly; now if it happens to hurt the young lady, and I
think it must, here am I, here are my file, my pouch, my
nippers; I will make it round and blunt, if her ladyship
pleases; no longer the tooth of a fish, but a beautiful
young lady as she is.  Hey?  Is the young lady displeased? 
Have I been too bold?  Have I offended her?"

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

  "How dares that mountebank insult us so?  Where is your
father?  I shall demand redress from him.  My father would
have had the wretch tied up to the pump, and flogged with a
cartwhip, and burnt to the bones with the castle brand!"

  She retired from the window a step or two, and sat down,
and had hardly lost sight of the offender when her wrath
subsided as suddenly as it had risen, and she gradually
recovered her usual tone and seemed to forget the little
hunchback and his follies.

  My father was out of spirits that evening.  On coming in
he told us that there had been another case very similar to
the two fatal ones which had lately occurred.  The sister of
a young peasant on his estate, only a mile away, was very
ill, had been, as she described it, attacked very nearly in
the same way, and was now slowly but steadily sinking.

  "All this," said my father, "is strictly referable to
natural causes.  These poor people infect one another with
their superstitions, and so repeat in imagination the images
of terror that have infested their neighbours."

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

  "How so?" inquired my father.

  "I am so afraid of fancying I see such things; I think it
would be as bad as reality."
 "We are in God's hands; nothing can happen without His
permission, and all will end well for those who love Him. 
He is our faithful creator; He has made us all, and will
take care of us."

  "Creator! Nature!" said the young lady in
answer to my gentle father.  "And this disease that invades
the country is natural.  Nature.  All things proceed from
Nature--don't they?  All things in the heaven, in the earth,
and under the earth, act and live as Nature ordains?  I
think so."

  "The doctor said he would come here to-day," said my 
father, after a silence.  "I want to know what he thinks
about it, and what he thinks we had better do."

  "Doctors never did me any good," said Carmilla.

  "Then you have been ill?" I asked.

  "More ill than ever you were," she answered.

  "Long ago?"

  "Yes, a long time.  I suffered from this very illness; but
I forget all but my pain and weakness, and they were not so
bad as are suffered in other diseases."

  "You were very young then?"

  "I dare say; let us talk no more of it.  You would not
wound a friend?"  She looked languidly in my eyes, and
passed her arm round my waist lovingly and led me out of the
room.  My father was busy over some papers near the window.

  "Why does your papa like to frighten us?" said the pretty
girl, with a sigh and a little shudder.

  "He doesn't, dear Carmilla, it is the very furthest thing
from his mind."

  "Are you afraid, dearest?"

  "I should be very much if I fancied there was any real
danger of my being attacked as those poor people were."

  "You are afraid to die?"

  "Yes, everyone is."

  "But to die as lovers may--to die together, so that they
may live together.  Girls are caterpillars while they live
in the world, to be finally butterflies when the summer
comes; but in the meantime there are grubs and larvae, don't
you see--each with their peculiar propensities, necessities
and structure.  So says Monsieur Buffon, in his big book in
the next room."

  Later in the day the doctor came, and was closeted with
papa for some time.  He was a skilful man of sixty and
upwards, he wore powder, and shaved his pale face as smooth
as a pumpkin.  He and papa emerged from the room together,
and I heard papa laugh, and say as they came out:

  "Well, I do wonder at a wise man like you.  What do you
say to hippogriffs and dragons?"

  The doctor was smiling, and made answer, shaking his head:
  "Nevertheless, life and death are mysterious states, and
we know little of the resources of either."

  And so they walked on, and I heard no more.  I did not
then know what the doctor had been broaching, but I think I
guess it now.

                      CHAPTER V

                 A WONDERFUL LIKENESS

THIS evening there arrived from Gratz the grave,
dark-faced son of the picture-cleaner, with a horse and cart
laden with two large packing-cases, having many pictures in
each.  It was a journey of ten leagues, and whenever a
messenger arrived at the schloss from our little capital of
Gratz we used to crowd about him in the hall to hear the
news.
 
  This arrival created in our secluded quarters quite a
sensation.  The cases remained in the hall, and the
messenger was taken charge of by the servants till he had
eaten his supper.  Then with assistants, and armed with
hammer, ripping chisel, and turnscrew he met us in the hall,
where we had assembled to witness the unpacking of the
cases.
  
  Carmilla sat looking listlessly on, while one after the
other the old pictures, nearly all portraits which had
undergone the process of renovation, were brought to light. 
My mother was of an old Hungarian family, and most of these
pictures, which were about to be restored to their places,
had come to us through her.
 
  My father had a list in his hand, from which he read, as
the artist rummaged out the corresponding numbers.  I don't
know that the pictures were very good, but they were,
undoubtedly, very old, and some of them very curious also.  
They had, for the most part, the merit of being now seen by 
me, I may say, for the first time; for the smoke and dust of 
time had all but obliterated them.
 
  "There is a picture that I have not seen yet," said my
father.  "In one corner, at the top of it, is the name, as
well as I could read, 'Marcia Karnstein,' and the date 
'1698,' and I am curious to see how it has turned out."
 
  I remembered it; it was a small picture, about a foot and a
half high, and nearly square, without a frame; but it was so
blackened by age that I could not make it out.
 
  The artist now produced it, with evident pride.  It was
quite beautiful; it was startling; it seemed to live.  It
was the effigy of Carmilla!
 
  "Carmilla, dear, here is an absolute miracle.  Here you
are, living, smiling, ready to speak, in this picture. 
Isn't it beautiful, papa?  And see, even the little mole on
her throat."
 
  My father laughed and said, "Certainly it is a wonderful
likeness," but he looked away, and to my surprise seemed but
little struck by it, and went on talking to the
picture-cleaner, who was also something of an artist, and
discoursed with intelligence about the portraits or other
works, which his art had just brought into light and colour,
while I was more and more lost in wonder the more I looked
at the picture.
 
  "Will you let me hang this picture in my room, papa?" I
asked.
 
  "Certainly, dear," said he, smiling, "I'm very glad you
think it so like.  It must be prettier even than I thought
it, if it is."
 
  The young lady did not acknowledge this pretty speech, did
not seem to hear it.  She was leaning back in her seat, her
fine eyes under their long lashes gazing on me in
contemplation, and she smiled in a kind of rapture.
 
  "And now you can read quite plainly the name that is
written in the corner.  It is not Marcia; it looks as if it
was done in gold.  The name is Mircalla, Countess Karnstein,
and this is a little coronet over it, and underneath A.D. 
1698.  I am descended from the Karnsteins; that is, mamma
was."

  "Ah!" said the lady, languidly, "so am I, I think, a very
long descent, very ancient.  Are there any Karnsteins living
now?"
 
  "None who bear the name, I believe.  The family were
ruined, I believe, in some civil wars, long ago, but the
ruins of the castle are only about three miles away."
 
  "How interesting!" she said, languidly.  "But see what
beautiful moonlight!" She glanced through the hall door,
which stood a little open.  "Suppose you take a little
ramble round the court, and look down at the road and
river."
 
  "It is so like the night you came to us," I said.
 
  She sighed, smiling.
 
  She rose, and each with her arm about the other's waist we
walked out upon the pavement.
 
  In silence, slowly we walked down to the drawbridge, where
the beautiful landscape opened before us.
 
  "And so you were thinking of the night I came here?" she
almost whispered.  "Are you glad I came?"
 
  "Delighted, dear Carmilla," I answered.
 
  "And you ask for the picture you think like me to hang in
your room," she murmured with a sigh, as she drew her arm
closer about my waist, and let her pretty head sink upon my
shoulder.
 
  "How romantic you are, Carmilla," I said.  "Whenever you
tell me your story, it will be made up chiefly of some one
great romance."
 
  She kissed me silently.
 
  "I am sure, Carmilla, you have been in love; that there is,
at this moment, an affair of the heart going on."
 
  "I have been in love with no one, and never shall," she
whispered, "unless it should be with you."
 
  How beautiful she looked in the moonlight!
 
  Shy and strange was the look with which she quickly hid her
face in my neck and hair, with tumultuous sighs that seemed
almost to sob, and pressed in mine a hand that trembled.
 
  Her soft cheek was glowing against mine.  "Darling,
darling," she murmured, "I live in you; and you would die
for me, I love you so."

  I started from her.
 
  She was gazing on me with eyes from which all fire, all
meaning had flown, and a face colourless and apathetic.
 
  "Is there a chill in the air, dear?" she said drowsily. 
"I almost shiver; have I been dreaming? Let us come in. 
Come, come; come in."
 
  "You look ill, Carmilla; a little faint.  You certainly
must take some wine," I said.
 
  "Yes, I will.  I'm better now.  I shall be quite well in a
few minutes.  Yes, do give me a little wine, answered
Carmilla, as we approached the door.  "Let us look again for 
a moment; it is the last time, perhaps, I shall see the 
moonlight with you."
 
  "How do you feel now, dear Carmilla ? Are you really
better?" I asked.
 
  I was beginning to take alarm, lest she should have been
stricken with the strange epidemic that they said had
invaded the country about us.
 
  "Papa would be grieved beyond measure," I added, "if he
thought you were ever so little ill, without immediately
letting us know.  We have a very skilful doctor near this,
the physician who was with papa to-day."
 
  "I'm sure he is.  I know how kind you all are; but, dear
child, I am quite well again.  There is nothing ever wrong with
me, but a little weakness.  People say I am languid; I am
incapable of exertion; I can scarcely walk as far as a child
of three years old; and every now and then the little
strength I have falters, and I become as you have just seen
me.  But after all I am very easily set up again; in a
moment I am perfectly myself.  See how I have recovered."
 
  So, indeed, she had; and she and I talked a great deal, and
very animated she was; and the remainder of that evening
passed without any recurrence of what I called her
infatuations.  I mean her crazy talk and looks, which
embarrassed and even frightened me.
 
  But there occurred that night an event which gave my
thoughts quite a new turn, and seemed to startle even
Carmilla's languid nature into momentary energy.


                       CHAPTER VI
                  
                  A VERY STRANGE AGONY

WHEN we got into the drawing-room, and had sat down to our
coffee and chocolate, although Carmilla did not take any,
she seemed quite herself again, and Madame, and Mademoiselle
de Lafontaine, joined us, and made a little card party, in
the course of which papa came in for what he called his
"dish of tea."
 
  When the game was over he sat down beside Carmilla on the
sofa, and asked her, a little anxiously, whether she had
heard from her mother since her arrival.
 
  She answered "No."
 
  He then asked her whether she knew where a letter would
reach her at present.
 
  "I cannot tell," she answered ambiguously, "but I have
been thinking of leaving you; you have been already too
hospitable and too kind to me.  I have given you an infinity
of trouble, and I should wish to take a carriage to-morrow
and post in pursuit of her; I know where I shall ultimately
find her, although I dare not yet tell you."
 
  "But you must not dream of any such thing," exclaimed my
father, to my great relief.  "We can t afford to lose you
so, and I won't consent to your leaving us except under the care
of your mother, who was so good as to consent to your
remaining with us till she should herself return.  I should
be quite happy if I knew that you heard from her; but this
evening the accounts of the progress of the mysterious
disease that has invaded our neighbourhood grow even more
alarming; and, my beautiful guest, I do feel the
responsibility, unaided by advice from your mother, very
much.  But I shall do my best; and one thing is certain,
that you must not think of leaving us without her distinct
direction to that effect.  We should suffer too much in
parting from you to consent to it easily."
 
  "Thank you, sir, a thousand times for your hospitality,"
she answered, smiling bashfully.  "You have all been too
kind to me; I have seldom been so happy in all my life
before, as in your beautiful ch■teau, under your care, and
in the society of your dear daughter."
 
  So he gallantly, in his old-fashioned way, kissed her hand,
smiling, and pleased at her little speech.
 
  I accompanied Carmilla as usual to her room, and sat and
chatted with her while she was preparing for bed.
 
  "Do you think," I said at length, "that you will ever
confide fully in me?"
 
  She turned round smiling, but made no answer, only
continued to smile on me.
 
  "You won't answer that?" I said.  "You can't answer 
pleasantly; I ought not to have asked you."
 
  "You were quite right to ask me that, or anything.  You do
not know how dear you are to me, or you could not think any
confidence too great to look for.  But I am under vows, no
nun half so awfully, and I dare not tell my story yet, even
to you.  The time is very near when you shall know
everything.  You will think me cruel, very selfish, but love
is always selfish; the more ardent the more selfish.  How
jealous I am you cannot know.  You must come with me, loving
me, to death; or else hate me, and still come with me, and
hating me through death and after.  There is 
no such word as indifference in my apathetic nature."

  "Now, Carmilla, you are going to talk your wild
nonsense again," I said hastily.
 
  "Not I, silly little fool as I am, and full of whims and 
fancies; for your sake I'll talk like a sage.  Were you ever 
at a ball? "
 
  "No; how you do run on.  What is it like?  How charming it 
must be."
  
  "I almost forget, it is years ago."
 
  I laughed.
 
  "You are not so old.  Your first ball can hardly be forgotten
yet."
 
  "I remember everything about it--with an effort.  I see it all,
as divers see what is going on above them, through a medium, dense,
rippling, but transparent.  There occurred that night what has
confused the picture, and made its colours faint.  I was all but
assassinated in my bed, wounded here," she touched her breast, "and
never was the same since."
 
  "Were you near dying?"
 
  "Yes, very--a cruel love--strange love, that would have taken my
life.  Love will have its sacrifices.  No sacrifice without blood. 
Let us go to sleep now; I feel so lazy.  How can I get up just now
and lock my door?"
 
  She was lying with her tiny hands buried in her rich wavy hair,
under her cheek, her little head upon the pillow, and her
glittering eyes followed me wherever I moved, with a kind of shy
smile that I could not decipher.
 
  I bid her good-night, and crept from the room with an
uncomfortable sensation.
 
  I often wondered whether our pretty guest ever said her prayers. 
I certainly had never seen her upon her knees.  In the morning she
never came down until long after our family prayers were over, and
at night she never left the drawing-room to attend our brief
evening prayers in the hall.
 
  If it had not been that it had casually come out in one of our
careless talks that she had been baptized, I should have doubted
her being a Christian.  Religion was a subject on which I had never
heard her speak a word.  If I had known the world better, this
particular  neglect or antipathy would not have so much surprised
me.
 
  The precautions of nervous people are infectious, and persons of
a like temperament are pretty sure, after a time, to imitate them. 
I had adopted Carmilla's habit of locking her bedroom door, having
taken into my head all her whimsical alarms about midnight invaders
and prowling assassins.  I had also adopted her precaution of
making a brief search through her room, to satisfy herself that no
lurking assassin or robber was "ensconced."
 
  These wise measures taken, I got into my bed and fell asleep.  A
light was burning in my room.  This was an old habit, of very early
date, and which nothing could have tempted me to dispense with.
 
  Thus fortified I might take my rest in peace.  But dreams come
through stone walls, light up dark rooms, or darken light ones, and
their persons make their exits and their entrances as they please,
and laugh at locksmiths.
 
  I had a dream that night that was the beginning of a very strange
agony.
 
  I cannot call it a nightmare, for I was quite conscious of being
asleep.  But I was equally conscious of being in my room and Iying
in bed, precisely as I actually was.  I saw, or fancied I saw, the
room and its furniture just as I had seen it last, except that it
was very dark, and I saw something moving round the foot of the
bed, which at first I could not accurately distinguish.  But I soon
saw that it was a sooty-black animal that resembled a monstrous
cat.  It appeared to me about four or five feet long, for it
measured fully the length of the hearth-rug as it passed over it;
and it continued to-ing and fro-ing with the lithe sinister
restlessness of a beast in a cage.  I could not cry out, although,
as you may suppose, I was terrified.  Its pace was growing faster,
and the room rapidly darker and darker, and at length so dark that
I could no longer see anything of it but its eyes.  I felt it
spring lightly on the bed.  The two broad eyes approached my face,
and suddenly I felt a stinging pain as if two large needles darted,
an inch or two apart, deep into my breast.  I waked with a scream. 
The room was lighted by the candle that burnt there all through the
night, and I saw a female figure standing at the foot of the bed,
a little at the right side.  It was in a dark loose dress, and its
hair was down and covered its shoulders.  A block of stone could
not have been more still.  There was not the slightest stir of
respiration.  As I stared at it the figure appeared to have changed
its place, and was now nearer the door; then, close to it, the door
opened, and it passed out.
 
  I was now relieved, and able to breathe and move.  My first
thought was that Carmilla had been playing me a trick, and that I
had forgotten to secure my door.  I hastened to it, and found it
locked as usual on the inside.  I was afraid to open it--I was
horrified.  I sprang into my bed and covered my head up in the
bed-clothes, and lay there more dead than alive till morning.

  
                          CHAPTER VII

                          DESCENDING

IT would be vain my attempting to tell you the horror with which,
even now, I recall the occurrence of that night.  It was no such
transitory terror as a dream leaves behind it.  It seemed to deepen
by time, and communicated itself to the room and the very furniture
that had encompassed the apparition.
 
  I could not bear next day to be alone for a moment.  I should
have told papa, but for two opposite reasons.  At one time I
thought he would laugh at my story, and I could not bear its being
treated as a jest; and at another, I thought he might fancy that I
had been attacked by the mysterious complaint which had invaded our
neighbourhood.  I had myself no misgivings of the kind, and as he
had been rather an invalid for some time I was afraid of alarming
him.
 
  I was comfortable enough with my good-natured companions, Madame
Perrodon and the vivacious Mademoiselle Lafontaine.  They both
perceived that I was out of spirits and nervous, and at length I
told them what lay so heavy at my
heart.
 
  Mademoiselle laughed, but I fancied that Madame Perrodon looked
anxious.
 
  "By-the-by," said Mademoiselle, laughing, "the long lime tree
walk, behind Carmilla's bedroom window, is haunted!"
 
  "Nonsense!" exclaimed Madame, who probably thought the theme
rather inopportune, "and who tells that story, my dear?"
 
  "Martin says that he came up twice, when the old yard-gate was
being repaired before sunrise, and twice saw the same female figure
walking down the lime tree avenue."
  
  "So he well might, as long as there are cows to milk in the river
fields," said Madame.
 
  "I dare say; but Martin chooses to be frightened, and never did
I see fool more frightened."
 
  "You must not say a word about it to Carmilla, because she can
see down that walk from her room window," I interposed, "and she
is, if possible, a greater coward than I."
 
  Carmilla came down rather later than usual that day.
 
  "I was so frightened last night," she said, so soon as we were
together, "and I am sure I should have seen something dreadful if
it had not been for that charm I bought from the poor little
hunchback whom I called such hard names.  I had a dream of
something black coming round my bed, and I awoke in a perfect
horror, and I really thought, for some seconds, I saw a dark figure
near the chimney piece, but I felt under my pillow for my charm,
and the moment my fingers touched it the figure disappeared, and I
felt quite certain, only that I had it by me, that something
frightful would have made its appearance, and, perhaps, throttled
me, as it did those poor people we heard of."
 
  "Well, listen to me," I began, and recounted my adventure, at the
recital of which she appeared horrified.
  
  "And had you the charm near you?" she asked, earnestly.
 
  "No, I had dropped it into a china vase in the drawing-room, but
I shall certainly take it with me to-night, as you have so much
faith in it."
 
  At this distance of time I cannot tell you, or even understand,
how I overcame my horror so effectually as to lie alone in my room
that night.  I remember distinctly that I pinned the charm to my
pillow.  I fell asleep almost immediately, and slept even more
soundly than usual all night.
 
  Next night I passed as well.  My sleep was delightfully deep and
dreamless.  But I wakened with a sense of lassitude and melancholy,
which, however, did not exceed a degree that was almost luxurious.
 
  "Well, I told you so," said Carmilla, when I described my quiet
sleep, "I had such delightful sleep myself last night; I pinned the
charm to the breast of my nightdress.  It was too far away the
night before.  I am quite sure it was all fancy, except the dreams.

I used to think that evil spirits made dreams, but our doctor told
me it is no such thing.  Only a fever passing by, or some other
malady, as they often do, he said, knocks at the door, and not
being able to get in, passes on, with that alarm."
 
  "And what do you think the charm is?" said I.
 
  "It has been fumigated or immersed in some drug, and is an
antidote against the malaria," she answered.
 
  "Then it acts only on the body?"
 
  "Certainly; you don't suppose that evil spirits are frightened by
bits of ribbon, or the perfumes of a druggist's shop?  No, these
complaints, wandering in the air, begin by trying the nerves and so
infect the brain; but before they can seize upon you the antidote
repels them.  That I am sure is what the charm has done for us.  It
is nothing magical, it is simply natural."
 
  I should have been happier if I could quite have agreed with
Carmilla, but I did my best, and the impression was a little losing
its force.  

  For some nights I slept profoundly; but still every morning I
felt the same lassitude, and a languor weighed upon me all day.  I
felt myself a changed girl.  A strange melancholy was stealing over
me, a melancholy that I would not have interrupted.  Dim thoughts
of death began to open, and an idea that I was slowly sinking took
gentle and, somehow, not unwelcome possession of me.  If it was
sad, the tone of mind which this induced was also sweet.  Whatever
it might be, my soul acquiesced in it.
 
  I would not admit that I was ill, I would not consent to tell my
papa, or to have the doctor sent for.
 
  Carmilla became more devoted to me than ever, and her strange
paroxysms of languid adoration more frequent.  She used to gloat on
me with increasing ardour the more my strength and spirits waned. 
This always shocked me like a momentary glare of insanity.
 
  Without knowing it, I was now in a pretty advanced stage of the
strangest illness under which mortal ever suffered.  There was an
unaccountable fascination in its earlier symptoms that more than
reconciled me to the incapacitating effect of that stage of the
malady.  This fascination increased for a time, until it reached a
certain point, when gradually a sense of the horrible mingled
itself with it, deepening, as you shall hear, until it discoloured
and perverted the whole state of my life.
 
  The first change I experienced was rather agreeable.  It was very
near the turning point from which began the descent of Avernus.
 
  Certain vague and strange sensations visited me in my sleep.  The
prevailing one was of that pleasant, peculiar cold thrill which we
feel in bathing, when we move against the current of a river.  This
was soon accompanied by dreams that seemed interminable, and were
so vague that I could never recollect their scenery and persons, or
any one connected portion of their action.  But they left an awful
impression, and a sense of exhaustion, as if I had passed through
a long period of great mental exertion and danger.  After all these
dreams there remained on waking a remembrance of having been in a
place very nearly dark, and of having spoken to people whom I could
not see; and especially of one clear voice, of a female's, very
deep, that spoke as if at a distance, slowly, and producing always
the same sensation of indescribable solemnity and fear.  Sometimes
there came a sensation as if a hand was drawn softly along my cheek
and neck.  Sometimes it was as if warm lips kissed me, and longer
and more lovingly as they reached my throat, but there the caress
fixed itself.  My heart beat faster, my breathing rose and fell
rapidly and full drawn; a sobbing, that rose into a sense of
strangulation, supervened, and turned into a dreadful convulsion,
in which my senses left me and I became unconscious.
 
  It was now three weeks since the commencement of this
unaccountable state.  My sufferings had, during the last week, told
upon my appearance.  I had grown pale, my eyes were dilated and
darkened underneath, and the languor which I had long felt began to
display itself in my countenance.
 
  My father asked me often whether I was ill; but, with an
obstinacy which now seems to me unaccountable, I persisted in
assuring him that I was quite well.
 
  In a sense this was true.  I had no pain, I could complain of no
bodily derangement.  My complaint seemed to be one of the
imagination, or the nerves, and, horrible as my sufferings were, I
kept them, with a morbid reserve, very nearly to myself.
 
  It could not be that terrible complaint which the peasants call
the oupire, for I had now been suffering for three weeks, and they
were seldom ill for much more than three days, when death put an
end to their miseries.
 
  Carmilla complained of dreams and feverish sensations, but by no
means of so alarming a kind as mine.  I say that mine were
extremely alarming.  Had I been capable of comprehending my
condition, I would have invoked aid and advice on my knees.  The
narcotic of an unsuspected influence was acting upon me, and my
perceptions were benumbed.
 
  I am going to tell you now of a dream that led immediately to an
odd discovery.
 
  One night, instead of the voice I was accustomed to hear in the
dark I heard one, sweet and tender, and at the same time terrible,
which said, "Your mother warns you to beware of the assassin."  At
the same time a light unexpectedly sprang up, and I saw Carmilla,
standing, near the foot of my bed, in her white nightdress, bathed,
from her chin to her feet, in one great stain of blood.
 
  I wakened with a shriek, possessed with the one idea that
Carmilla was being murdered.  I remember springing from my bed, and
my next recollection is that of standing on the lobby crying for
help.
 
  Madame and Mademoiselle came scurrying out of their rooms in
alarm; a lamp burned always on the lobby, and, seeing me, they soon
learned the cause of my terror.
 
  I insisted on our knocking at Carmilla's door.  Our knocking was
unanswered.  It soon became a pounding and an uproar.  We shrieked
her name, but all was vain.
 
  We all grew frightened, for the door was locked.  We hurried
back, in panic, to my room.  There we rang the bell long and
furiously.  If my father's room had been at that side of the house,
we would have called him up at once to our aid.  But, alas! he was
quite out of hearing, and to reach him involved an excursion for
which we none of us had courage.
 
  Servants, however, soon came running up the stairs; I had got on
my dressing-gown and slippers meanwhile, and my companions were
already similarly furnished.  Recognizing the voices of the
servants on the lobby, we sallied out together; and having renewed,
as fruitlessly, our summons at Carmilla's door, I ordered the men
to force the lock.  They did so, and we stood, holding our lights
aloft, in the doorway, and so stared into the room.
 
  We called her by name; but there was still no reply.  We looked
round the room.  Everything was undisturbed.  It was exactly in the
state in which I left it on bidding her good night.  But Carmilla
was gone.

  
                     CHAPTER VIII

                        SEARCH

AT sight of the room, perfectly undisturbed except for our violent
entrance, we began to cool a little, and soon recovered our senses
sufficiently to dismiss the men.  It had struck Mademoiselle that
possibly Carmilla had been wakened by the uproar at her door, and
in her first panic had jumped from her bed and hid herself in a
press, or behind a curtain, from which she could not, of course,
emerge until the majordomo and his myrmidons had withdrawn.  We now
recommenced our search, and began to call her by name again.
 
  It was all to no purpose.  Our perplexity and agitation
increased.  We examined the windows, but they were secured.  I
implored of Carmilla, if she had concealed herself, to play this
cruel trick no longer--to come out and to end our anxieties.  It
was all useless.  I was by this time convinced that she was not in
the room, nor in the dressing-room, the door of which was still
locked on this side.  She could not have passed it.  I was utterly
puzzled.  Had Carmilla discovered one of those secret passages
which the old housekeeper said were known to exist in the schloss,
although the tradition of their exact situation had been lost?  A
little time would, no doubt, explain all--utterly perplexed as, for
the present, we were.
 
  It was past four o'clock, and I preferred passing the remaining
hours of darkness in Madame's room.  Daylight brought no solution
of the difficulty.
 
  The whole household, with my father at its head, was in a state
of agitation next morning.  Every part of the chateau was searched.

The grounds were explored.  Not a trace of the missing lady could
be discovered.  The stream was about to be dragged; my father was
in distraction; what a tale to have to tell the poor girl's mother
on her return.  I, too, was almost beside myself, though my grief
was quite of a different kind.
 
  The morning was passed in alarm and excitement.  It was now one
o'clock, and still no tidings.  I ran up to Carmilla's room, and
found her standing at her dressing-table.  I was astounded.  I
could not believe my eyes.  She beckoned me to her with her pretty
finger, in silence.  Her face expressed extreme fear.
 
  I ran to her in an ecstasy of joy; I kissed and embraced her
again and again.  I ran to the bell and rang it vehemently, to
bring others to the spot, who might at once relieve my father's
anxiety.
 
  "Dear Carmilla, what has become of you all this time?  We have
been in agonies of anxiety about you," I exclaimed.  "Where have
you been?  How did you come back?"

  "Last night has been a night of wonders," she said.
 
  "For mercy's sake, explain all you can."
 
  "It was past two last night," she said, "when I went to sleep as
usual in my bed, with my doors locked, that of the dressingroom and
that opening upon the gallery.  My sleep was uninterrupted and, so
far as I know, dreamless; but I awoke just now on the sofa in the
dressing-room there, and I found the door between the rooms open,
and the other door forced.  How could all this have happened
without my being wakened?  It must have been accompanied with a
great deal of noise, and I am particularly easily wakened; and how
could I have been carried out of my bed without my sleep having
been interrupted, I whom the slightest stir startles?"

  By this time Madame, Mademoiselle, my father, and a number of the
servants were in the room.  Carmilla was, of course, overwhelmed
with inquiries, congratulations, and welcomes.  She had but one
story to tell, and seemed the least able of all the party to
suggest any way of accounting for what had happened.
 
  My father took a turn up and down the room, thinking.  I saw
Carmilla's eye follow him for a moment with a sly, dark glance.
 
  When my father had sent the servants away, Mademoiselle having
gone in search of a little bottle of valerian and sal-volatile, and
there being no one now in the room with Carmilla except my father,
Madame, and myself, he came to her thoughtfully, took her hand very
kindly, led her to the sofa, and sat down beside her.
 
  "Will you forgive me, my dear, if I risk a conjecture, and ask a
question?"
 
  "Who can have a better right?" she said.  "Ask what you please,
and I will tell you everything.  But my story is simply one of
bewilderment and darkness.  I know absolutely nothing.  Put any
question you please.  But you know, of course, the limitations
mamma has placed me under."
 
  "Perfectly, my dear child.  I need not approach the topics on
which she desires our silence.  Now, the marvel of last night
consists in your having been removed from your bed and your room
without being wakened, and this removal having occurred apparently
while the windows were still secured, and the two doors locked upon
the inside.  I will tell you my theory, and first ask you a
question."
 
  Carmilla was leaning on her hand dejectedly; Madame and I were
listening breathlessly.
 
  "Now, my question is this, Have you ever been suspected of
walking in your sleep?"
 
  "Never since I was very young indeed."
 
  "But you did walk in your sleep when you were young?"
 
  "Yes; I know I did.  I have been told so often by my old nurse."
 
  My father smiled and nodded.
 
  "Well, what has happened is this.  You got up in your sleep,
unlocked the door, not leaving the key as usual in the lock, but
taking it out and locking it on the outside; you again took the key
out, and carried it away with you to some one of the
five-and-twenty rooms on this floor, or perhaps upstairs or
downstairs.  There are so many rooms and closets, so much heavy
furniture, and such accumulations of lumber, that it would require
a week to search this old house thoroughly.  Do you see, now, what
I mean?"
 
  "I do, but not all," she answered.
 
  "And how, papa, do you account for her finding herself on
the sofa in the dressing-room, which we had searched so carefully?"
 
  "She came there after you had searched it, still in her sleep,
and at last awoke spontaneously, and was as much surprised to find
herself where she was as anyone else.  I wish all mysteries were as
easily and innocently explained as yours, Carmilla," he said,
laughing.  "And so we may congratulate ourselves on the certainty
that the most natural explanation of the occurrence is one that
involves no drugging, no tampering with locks, no burglars, or
poisoners, or witches--nothing that need alarm Carmilla, or anyone
else, for our safety."
 
  Carmilla was looking charmingly.  Nothing could be more beautiful
than her tints.  Her beauty was, I think, enhanced by that graceful
languor that was peculiar to her.  I think my father was silently
contrasting her looks with mine, for he said:
  "I wish my poor Laura was looking more like herself"; and he
sighed.
 
  So our alarms were happily ended, and Carmilla restored to her
friends.

  
                       CHAPTER IX

                       THE DOCTOR

AS Carmilla would not hear of an attendant sleeping in her room, my
father arranged that a servant should sleep outside her door, so
that she could not attempt to make another such excursion without
being arrested at her own door.
 
  That night passed quietly; and next morning early, the doctor,
whom my father had sent for without telling me a word about it,
arrived to see me.
 
  Madame accompanied me to the library; and there the grave little
doctor, with white hair and spectacles, whom I mentioned before,
was waiting to receive me.

  I told him my story, and as I proceeded he grew graver and
graver.
 
  We were standing, he and I, in the recess of one of the windows,
facing one another.  When my statement was over he leaned with his
shoulders against the wall, and with his eyes fixed on me earnestly
with an interest in which was a dash of horror.
 
  After a minute's reflection, he asked Madame if he could see my
father.
 
  He was sent for accordingly and, as he entered, smiling, he said:
 
  "I dare say, doctor, you are going to tell me that I am an old
fool for having brought you here; I hope I am."
 
  But his smile faded into shadow as the doctor, with a very grave
face, beckoned him to him.
 
  He and the doctor talked for some time in the same recess where
I had just conferred with the physician.  It seemed an earnest and
argumentative conversation.  The room is very large, and I and
Madame stood together, burning with curiosity, at the further end. 
Not a word could we hear, however, for they spoke in a very low
tone, and the deep recess of the window quite concealed the doctor
from view, and very nearly my father, whose foot, arm, and shoulder
only could we see; and the voices were, I suppose, all the less
audible for the sort of closet which the thick wall and window
formed.
 
  After a time my father's face looked into the room; it was pale,
thoughtful, and, I fancied, agitated.
 
  "Laura dear, come here for a moment.  Madame, we shan't trouble
you, the doctor says, at present."
 
  Accordingly I approached, for the first time a little alarmed;
for, although I felt very weak, I did not feel ill; and strength,
one always fancies, is a thing that may be picked up when we
please.
 
  My father held out his hand to me as I drew near, but he was
looking at the doctor, and he said:
  "It certainly is very odd; I don't understand it quite.  Laura,
come here dear; now attend to Doctor Spielsberg, and recollect
yourself"
  
  "You mentioned a sensation like that of two needles piercing the
skin, somewhere about your neck, on the night when you experienced
your first horrible dream.  Is there still any soreness?"
 
  "None at all," I answered.
 
  "Can you indicate with your finger about the point at which you
think this occurred?"
 
  "Very little below my throat--here," I answered.
 
  I wore a morning dress, which covered the place I pointed to.
 
  "Now you ean satisfy yourself," said the doctor.  "You won't mind
your papa's lowering your dress a very little.  It is necessary to
detect a symptom of thc complaint under which you have been
suffering."
 
  I acquiesced.  It was only an inch or two below the edge of my
collar.
 
  "God bless me!--so it is," exclaimed my father, growing pale.
 
  "You see it now with your own eyes," said the doctor, with a
gloomy triumph.
 
  "What is it?" I exclaimed, beginning to be frightened.
 
  "Nothing, my dear young lady, but a small blue spot,
about the size of the tip of your little finger; and now," he
continued, turning to papa, "the
question is, what is best to be done?"
 
  "Is there any danger?" I urged, in great trepidation.
 
  "I trust not, my dear," answered the doctor.  "I don't see why
you should not recover.  I don't see why you should not begin
immediately to get better.  That is the point at which the sense of
strangulation begins?"
 
  "Yes," I answered.
 
  "And--recollect as well as you can--the same point was a kind of
centre of that thrill which you described just now, like 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 won't be of any
great consequence, I hope; but it will be necessary that some steps
be taken, which I will explain by-and-by; but in the meantime,
Madame, you will be so good as not to let Miss Laura be alone for
one moment.  That is the only direction I need give for the
present.  It is indispensable."
 
  "We may rely upon your kindness, Madame, I know," added my
father.
 
  Madame satisfied him eagerly.
 
  "And you, dear Laura, I know you will observe the doctor's
direction."
 
  "I shall have to ask your opinion upon another patient, whose
symptoms slightly resemble those of my daughter, that have just
been detailed to you--very much milder in degree, but I believe
quite of the same sort.  She is a young lady--our guest; but as you
say you will be passing this way again this evening, you can't do
better than take your supper here, and you can then see her.  She
does not come dowu till the afternoon."
 
  "I thank you," said the doctor.  "I shall be with you, then, at
about seven this evening."
 
  And then they repeated their directions to me and to Madame, and
with this parting charge my father left us, and walked out with the
doctor; and I saw them pacing together up and down between the road
and the moat, on the grassy platform in front of the castle,
evidently absorbed in earnest conversation.
 
  The doctor did not return.  I saw him mount his horse there, take
his leave, and ride away eastward through the forest.  Nearly at
the same time I saw the man arrive from Dranfeld with the letters,
and dismount and hand the bag to my father.
 
  In the meantime, Madame and I were both busy, lost in conjecture
as to the reasons of the singular and earnest direction which the
doctor and my father had concurred in imposing.  Madame, as she
afterwards told me, was afraid the doctor apprehended a sudden
seizure, and that, without prompt assistance, I might either lose
my life in a fit, or at least be seriously hurt.
 
  This interpretatiOn did not strike me; and I fancied, perhaps
luckily for my nerves, that the arrangement was prescribed simply
to secure a companion, who would prevent my taking too much
exercise, or eating unripe fruit, or doing any of the fifty foolish
things to which young people are supposed to be prone.
 
  About half-an-hour after my father came in--he had a letter in
his hand--and said:
  "This letter had been delayed; it is from General Spielsdorf.  He
might have been here yesterday, he may not come till tomorrow, or
he may be here 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 as the
General, was coming.  On the contrary, he looked as if he wished
him at the bottom of the Red Sea.  There was plainly something on
his mind which he did not choose to divulge.
 
  "Papa, darling, will you tell me this?" said I, suddenly laying
my hand on his arm, and looking, I am sure, imploringly in his
face.
 
  "Perhaps," he answered, smoothing my hair caressingly over my
eyes.
 
  "Does the doctor think me very ill?"
 
  "No, dear; he thinks, if right steps are taken, you will be quite
well again, at least on the high road to a complete recovery, in a
day or two," he answered, a little drily.  "I wish our good friend,
the General, had chosen any other time; that is, I wish you had
been perfectly well to receive him."
 
  "But do tell me, papa," I insisted, "what does he think is the
matter with me?"
 
  "Nothing; you must not plague me with questions," he answered,
with more irritation than I ever remember him to have displayed
before; and seeing that I looked wounded, I suppose, he kissed me,
and added, "You shall know all about it in a day or two; that is,
all that I know.  In the meantime, you are not to trouble your head
about it."
 
  He turned and left the room, but came back before I had done
wondering and puzzling over the oddity of all this; it was merely
to say that he was going to Karnstein, and had ordered the carriage
to be ready at twelve, and that I and Madame should accompany him;
he was going to see the priest who lived near those picturesque
grounds upon business, and as Carmilla had never seen them she
could follow, when she came down, with Mademoiselle, who would
bring materials for what you call a pic-nic, which might be laid
for us in the ruined castle.

  At twelve o'clock, accordingly, I was ready, and not long after
my father, Madame and I set out upon our projected drive.  Passing
the drawbridge we turn to the right and follow the road over the
steep Gothic bridge, westward, to reach the deserted village and
ruined castle of Karnstein.
 
  No sylvan drive can be fancied prettier.  The ground breaks into
gentle hills and hollows, all clothed with beautiful wood, totally
destitute of the comparative formality which artificial planting
and early culture and pruning impart.
 
  The irregularities of the ground often lead the road out of its
course, and cause it to wind beautifully round the sides of broken
hollows and the steeper sides of the hills, among varieties of
ground almost inexhaustible.
 
  Turning one of these points, we suddenly encountered our old
friend, the General, riding towards us, attended by a mounted
servant.  His portmanteaus were following in a hired waggon, such
as we term a cart.
 
  The General dismounted as we pulled up, and, after the usual
greetings, was easily persuaded to accept the vacant seat in the
carriage, and send his horse on with his servant to the schloss.

  
                       CHAPTER X

                       BEREAVED

IT was about ten months since we had last seen him; but that time
had sufficed to make an alteration of years in his appearance.  He
had grown thinner; something of gloom and anxiety had taken the
place of that cordial serenity which used to characterize his
features.  His dark blue eyes, always penetrating, now gleamed with
a sterner light from under his shaggy grey eyebrows.  It was not
such a change as grief alone usually induces, and angrier passions
seemed to have had their share in bringing it about.
 
  We had not long resumed our drive, when the General began to
talk, with his usual soldierly directness, of the bereavement, as
he termed it, which he had sustained in the death of his beloved
niece and ward; and he then broke out in a tone of intense
bitterness and fury, inveighing against the "hellish arts" to which
she had fallen a victim, and expressing, with more exasperation
than piety, his wonder that Heaven should tolerate so monstrous an
indulgence of the lusts and malignity of hell.
 
  My father, who saw at once that something very extraordinary had
befallen, asked him, if not too painful to him, to detail the
circumstances which he thought justified the strong terms in which
he expressed himself.

  "I should tell you all with pleasure," said the General, "but you
would not believe me."
 
  "Why should I not?" he asked.
 
  "Because," he answered testily, "you believe in nothing but what
consists with your own prejudices and illusions.  I remember when
I was like you, but I have learned better."
 
  "Try me," said my father; "I am not such a dogmatist as you
suppose.  Besides which, I very well know that you generally
require proof for what you believe, and am, therefore, very
strongly predisposed to respect your conclusions."
 
  "You are right in supposing that I have not been led lightly into
a belief in the marvellous--for what I have experienced is
marvellous--and I have been forced by extraordinary evidence to
credit that which ran counter, diametrically, to all my theories. 
I have been made the dupe of a preternatural conspiracy."
 
  Notwithstanding his professions of confidence in the General's
penetration, I saw my father, at this point, glance at the General,
with, as I thought, a marked suspicion of his sanity.
    The General did not see it, luckily.  He was looking gloomily
and curiously into the glades and vistas of the woods that were
opening before us.
 
  "You are going to the Ruins of Karnstein?" he said.  "Yes, it is
a lucky coincidence; do you know I was going to ask you to bring me
there to inspect them.  I have a special object in exploring. 
There is a ruined chapel, ain't there, with a great many tombs of
that extinct family?"
 
  "So there are--highly interesting," said my father.  "I hope you
are thinking of claiming the title and estates?"
 
  My father said this gaily, but the General did not recollect the
laugh, or even the smile, which courtesy exacts for a friend's
joke; on the contrary, he looked grave and even fierce, ruminating
on a matter that stirred his anger and horror.
 
  "Something very different," he said, gruffly.  "I mean to unearth
some of those fine people.  I hope, by God's blessing, to
accomplish a pious sacrilege here, which will relieve our earth of
certain monsters, and enable honest people to sleep in their beds
without being assailed by murderers.  I have strange things to tell
you, my dear friend, such as I myself would have scouted as
incredible a few months since."
 
  My father looked at him again, but this time not with a glance of
suspicion--with an eye, rather, of keen intelligence and alarm.
                        
  "The house of Karnstein," he said, "has been long extinct: a
hundred years at least.  My dear wife was maternally descended from
the Karnsteins.  But the name and title have long ceased to exist. 
The castle is a ruin; the very village is deserted; it is fifty
years since the smoke of a chimney was seen there; not a roof
left."

  "Quite true.  I have heard a great deal about that since I last
saw you; a great deal that will astonish you.  But I had better
relate everything in the order in which it occurred," said the
General.  "You saw my dear ward--my child, I may call her. No
creature could have been more beautiful, and only three months ago
none more blooming."
 
  "Yes, poor thing! when I saw her last she certainly was quite
lovely," said my father.  "I was grieved and shocked more than I
can tell you, my dear friend; I knew what a blow it was to you."
 
  He took the General's hand, and they exchanged a kind pressure. 
Tears gathered in the old soldier's eyes.  He did not seek to
conceal them.  He said:
  "We have been very old friends; I knew you would feel for me,
childless as I am.  She had become an object of very dear interest
to me, and repaid my care by an affection that cheered my home and
made my life happy.  That is all gone.  The years that remain to me
on earth may not be very long; but by God's mercy I hope to
accomplish a service to mankind before I die, and to subserve the
vengeance of Heaven upon the fiends who have murdered my poor child
in the spring of her hopes and beauty!"
 
  "You said, just now, that you intended relating everything as it
occurred," said my father.  "Pray do; I assure you that it is not
mere curiosity that prompts me."
 
  By this time we had reached the point at which the Drunstall
road, by which the General had come, diverges from the road which
we were travelling to Karnstein.
 
  "How far is it to the ruins?" inquired the General, looking
anxiously forward.
 
  "About half a league," answered my father.  "Pray let us hear the
story you were so good as to promise."

  
                     CHAPTER XI

                     THE STORY

"WITH all my heart," said the General, with an effort; and after a
short pause in which to arrange his subject he commenced one of the
strangest narratives I ever heard.
 
  "My dear child was looking forward with great pleasure to the
visit you had been so good as to arrange for her to your charming
daughter."  Here he made me a gallant but melancholy bow.  "In the
meantime we had an invitation to my old friend the Count Carlsfeld,
whose schloss is about six leagues to the other side of Karnstein. 
It was to attend the series of f■tes which, you remember, were
given by him in honour of his illustrious visitor, the Grand Duke
Charles."
 
  "Yes; and very splendid, I believe, they were," said my father.
 
  "Princely!  But then his hospitalities are quite regal.  He has
Aladdin's lamp.  The night from which my sorrow dates was devoted
to a magnificent masquerade.  The grounds were thrown open, the
trees hung with coloured lamps.  There was such a display of
fireworks as Paris itself had never witnessed.  And such
music--music, you know, is my weakness--such ravishing music! The
finest instrumental band, perhaps, in the world, and the finest
singers who could be collected from all the great operas in Europe.

As you wandered through these fantastically illuminated grounds,
the moon-lighted chateau throwing a rosy light from its long rows
of windows, you would suddenly hear these ravishing voices stealing
from the silence of some grove, or rising from boats upon the lake.

I felt myself, as I looked and listened, carried back into the
romance and poetry of my early youth.
 
  "When the fireworks were ended, and the ball beginning, we
returned to the noble suite of rooms that were thrown open to the
dancers.  A masked ball, you know, is a beautiful sight; but so
brilliant a spectacle of the kind I never saw before.
 
  "It was a very aristocratic assembly.  I was myself almost the
only 'nobody' present.
 
  "My dear child was looking quite beautififl.  She wore no mask. 
Her excitement and delight added an unspeakable charm to her
features, always lovely.  I remarked a young lady, dressed
magnificently but wearing a mask, who appeared to me to be
observing my ward with extraordinary interest.  I had seen her,
earlier in the evening, in the great hall, and again, for a few
minutes, walking near us on the terrace under the castle windows,
similarly employed.  A lady, also masked, richly and gravely
dressed, and with a stately air, like a person of rank, accompanied
her as a chaperon.  Had the young lady not worn a mask, I could, of
course, have been much more certain upon the question whether she
was really watching my poor darling.  I am now well assured that
she was.
 
  "We were now in one of the salons.  My poor dear child had been
dancing, and was resting a little in one of the chairs near the
door; I was standing near.  The two ladies I have mentioned had
approached, and the younger took the chair next my ward; while her
companion stood beside me, and for a little time addressed herself,
in a low tone, to her charge.
 
  "Availing herself of the privilege of her mask, she turned to me,
and in the tone of an old friend, and calling me by my name, opened
a conversation with me, which piqued my curiosity a good deal.  She
referred to many scenes where she had met me--at Court, and at
distinguished houses.  She alluded to little incidents which I had
long ceased to think of, but which, I found, had only lain in
abeyance in my memory, for they instantly started into life at her
touch.
 
  "I became more and more curious to ascertain who she was, every
moment.  She parried my attempts to discover very adroitly and
pleasantly.  The knowledge she showed of many passages in my life
seemed to me all but unaccountable; and she appeared to take a not
unnatural pleasure in foiling my curiosity, and in seeing me
flounder, in my eager perplexity, from one conjecture to another.
 
  "In the meantime the young lady, whom her mother called by the
odd name of Millarca, when she once or twice addressed her, had,
with the same ease and grace, got into conversation with my ward.
 
  "She introduced herself by saying that her mother was a very old
acquaintance of mine.  She spoke of the agreeable audacity which a
mask rendered practicable; she talked like a friend; she admired
her dress, and insinuated very prettily her admiration of her
beauty.  She amused her with laughing criticisms upon the people
who crowded the ballroom, and laughed at my poor child's fun.  She
was very witty and lively when she pleased, and after a time they
had grown very good friends, and the young stranger lowered her
mask, displaying a remarkably beautiful face.  I had never seen it
before, neither had my dear child.  But though it was new to us,
the features were so engaging, as well as lovely, that it was
impossible not to feel the attraction powerfully.  My poor girl did
so.  I never saw anyone more taken with another at first sight,
unless, indeed, it was the stranger herself, who seemed quite to
have lost her heart to her.
 
  "In the meantime, availing myself of the 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, consent to stand on equal terms, and do me
the kindness to remove your mask?'
 
  "'Can any request be more unreasonable?' she replied.  'Ask a
lady to yield an advantage!  Beside, how do you know you should
recognize me?  Years make 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 you?'
 
  "'I should take chance for that,' I answered.  'It is vain trying
to make yourself out an old woman; your figure betrays you.'
 
  "'Years, nevertheless, have passed since I saw you, rather since
you saw me, for that is what I am considering.  Millarca, there, is
my daughter; I cannot then be young, even in the opinion of people
whom time had taught to be indulgent, and I may not like to be
compared with what you remember me.  You have no mask to remove. 
You can offer me nothing in exchange.'
  
  "'My petition is to your pity, to remove it.'
 
  "'And mine to yours, to let it stay where it is,' she replied.
 
  "'Well, then, at least you will tell me whether you are French or
German; you speak both languages so perfectly.'
 
  "'I don't think I shall tell you that, General; you intend a
surprise, and are meditating the particular point of attack.'
 
  "'At all events, you won't deny this,' I said, 'that being
honoured by your permission to converse, I ought to know how to
address you.  Shall I say Madame la Comtesse?'
 
  "She laughed, and she would, no doubt, have met me with another
evasion--if, indeed, I can treat any occurrence in an interview
every circumstance of which was pre-arranged, as I now believe,
with the profoundest cunning, as liable to be modified by accident.
 
  "'As to that,' she began; but she was interrupted, almost as she
opened her lips, by a gentleman, dressed in black, who looked
particularly elegant and distinguished, with this drawback, that
his face was the most deadly pale I ever saw, except in death.  He
was in no masquerade--in the plain evening dress of a gentleman;
and he said, without a smile, but with a courtly and unusually low
bow:
  "'Will Madame la Comtesse permit me to say a very few words which
may interest her?'
 
  "The lady turned quickly to him, and touched her lip in token of
silence; she then said to me, 'Keep my place for me, General; I
shall return when I have said a few words.'
 
  "And with this injunction, playfully given, she walked a little
aside with the gentleman in black, and talked for some minutes,
apparently very earnestly.  They then walked away slowly together
in the crowd, and I lost them for some minutes.
 
  "I spent the interval in cudgelling my brains for conjecture as
to the identity of the lady who seemed to remember me so kindly,
and I was thinking of turning about and joining in the conversation
between my pretty ward and the Countess's daughter, and trying
whether, by the time she returned, I might not have a surprise in
store for her, by having her name, title, ch■teau, and estates at
my fingers' ends.  But at this moment she returned, accompanied by
the pale man in black, who said:
  "'I shall return and inform Madame la Comtesse when her carriage
is at the door.'
 
  "He withdrew with a bow.


                     CHAPTER XII 
                     
                     A PETITION
 
"'THEN we are to lose Madame la Comtesse, but I hope only for a few
hours,' I said, with a low bow.
 
  "'It may be that only, or it may be a few weeks.  It was very
unlucky his
speaking to me just now as he did.  Do you now know me?"
 
  "I assured her I did not.
    "'You shall know me,' she said, 'but not at present.  We are
older and better friends than, perhaps, you suspect.  I cannot yet
declare myself.  I shall in three weeks pass your beautiful
schloss, about which I have been making enquiries.  I shall then
look in upon you for an hour or two, and renew a friendship which
I never think of without a thousand pleasant recollections.  This
moment a piece of news has reached me like a thunderbolt.  I must
set out now, and travel by a devious route nearly a hundred miles,
with all the dispatch I can possibly make.  My perplexities
multiply.  I am only deterred by the compulsory reserve I practise
as to my name from making a very singular request of you.  My poor
child has not quite recovered her strength.  Her horse fell with
her, at a hunt which she had ridden out to witness, her nerves have
not yet recovered the shock, and our physician says that she must
on no account exert herself for some time to come.  We came here,
in consequence, by very easy stages--hardly six leagues a day.  I
must now travel day and night, on a mission of life and death--a
mission the critical and momentous nature of which I shall be able
to explain to you when we meet, as I hope we shall, in a few weeks,
without the necessity of any concealment.
 
  "She went on to make her petition, and it was in the tone of a
person from whom such a request amounted to conferring, rather than
seeking, a favour.  This was only in manner, and, as it seemed,
quite unconsciously.  Than the terms in which it was expressed,
nothing could be more deprecatory.  It was simply that I would
consent to take charge of her daughter during her absence.
 
  "This was, all things considered, a strange, not to say an
audacious request.  She in some sort disarmed me by stating and
admitting everything that could be urged against it, and throwing
herself entirely upon my chivalry.  At the same moment, by a
fatality that seems to have predetermined all that happened, my
poor child came to my side, and, in an undertone, besought me to
invite her new friend, Millarca, to pay us a visit.  She had just
been sounding her, and thought, if her mamma would allow her, she
would like it extremely.
 
  "At another time I should have told her to wait a little, until,
at least, we knew who they were.  But I had no a moment to think
in.  The two ladies assailed me together, and I must confess the
refined and beautiful face of the young lady, about which there was
something extremely engaging, as well as the elegance and fire of
high birth, determined me; and quite overpowered, I submitted, and
undertook, too easily, the care of the young lady, whom her mother
called Millarca.
 
  "The Countess beckoned to her daughter, who listened with grave
attention while she told her, in general terms, how suddenly and
peremptorily she had been summoned, and also of the arrangement she
had made for her under my care, adding that I was one of her
earliest and most valued friends.
 
  "I made, of course, such speeches as the case seemed to call for,
and found myself, on reflection, in a position which I did not half
like.
 
  "The gentleman in black returned, and very ceremoniously
conducted the lady from the room.

  "The demeanour of this gentleman was such as to impress me with
the conviction that the Countess was a lady of very much more
importance than her modest title alone might have led me to assume.
 
  "Her last charge to me was that no attempt was to be made to
learn more about her than I might have already guessed, until her
return.  Our distinguished host, whose guest she was, knew her
reasons.
 
  "'But here,' she said, 'neither I nor my daughter could safely
remain for more than a day.  I removed my mask imprudently for a
moment, about an hour ago, and, too late, I fancied you saw me.  So
I resolved to seek an opportunity of talking a little to you.  Had
I found that you had seen me, I should have thrown myself on your
high sense of honour to keep my secret for some weeks.  As it is,
I am satisfied that you did not see me; but if you now suspect, or,
on reflection, should suspect, who I am, I commit myself, in like
manner, entirely to your honour.  My daughter will observe the same
secrecy, and I well know that you will, from time to time, remind
her, lest she should thoughtlessly disclose it.'
 
  "She whispered a few words to hcr daughter, kissed her hurriedly
twice, and went away, accompanied by the pale gentleman in black,
and disappeared in the crowd.
 
  "'In the next room,' said Millarca, 'there is a window that looks
upon the hall door.  I should like to see the last of mamma, and to
kiss my hand to her.'
 
  "We assented, of course, and accompanied her to the window.  We
looked out, and saw a handsome old-fashioned carriage, with a troop
of couriers and footmen.  We saw the slim figure of the pale
gentleman in black, as he held a thick velvet cloak, and placed it
about her shoulders and threw thc hood over her head.  She nodded
to him, and just touched his hand with hers.  He bowed low
repeatedly as the door closed, and the carriage began to move.
 
  "'She is gone,' said Millarca, with a sigh.
 
  "'She is gone,' I repeated to myself, for the first time--in the
hurried moments that had elapsed since my consent--reflecting upon
the folly of my act.
 
  "'She did not look up,' said the young lady, plaintively.
 
  "'The Countess had taken off her mask, perhaps, and did not care
to show her face,' I said; 'and she could not know that you were in
the window.' 
 
  "She sighed and looked in my face.  She was so beautiful that I
relented.  I was sorry I had for a moment repented of my
hospitality, and I determined to make her amends for the unavowed
churlishness of my reception.
 
  "The young lady, replacing her mask, joined my ward in persuading
me to return to the grounds, where the concert was soon to be
renewed.  We did so, and walked up and down the terrace that lies
under the castle windows.  Millarca became very intimate with us,
and amused us with lively descriptions and stories of most of the
great people whom we saw upon the terrace.  I liked her more and
more every minute.  Her gossip, without being illnatured, was
extremely diverting to me, who had been so long out of the great
world.  I thought what life she would give to our sometimes lonely
evenings at home.
 
  "This ball was not over until the morning sun had almost reached
the horizon.  It pleased the Grand Duke to dance till then, so
loyal people could not go away, or think of bed.
 
  "We had just got through a crowded saloon, when my ward asked me
what had become of Millarca.  I thought she had been by her side,
and she fancied she was by mine.  The i`act was, we had lost her.
 
  "All my efforts to find her were vain.  I feared that she had
mistaken, in the confusion of a momentary separation from us, other
people for her new friends, and had, possibly, pursued and lost
them in the extensive grounds which were thrown open to us.
 
  "Now, in its full force, I recognized a new folly in my having
undertaken the charge of a young lady without so much as knowing
her name; and fettered as I was by promises, of the reasons for
imposing which I knew nothing, I could not even point my inquiries
by saying that the missing young lady was the daughter of the
Countess who had taken her departure a few hours before.
 
  "Morning broke.  It was clear daylight before I gave up my
search.  It was not till near two o'clock next day that we heard
anything of my missing charge.
 
  "At about that time a servant knocked at my niece's door to say
that he had been earnestly requested by a young lady, who appeared
to be in great distress, to make out where she could find the
General Baron Spielsdorf and the young lady, his daughter, in whose
charge she had been left by her mother.
 
  "There could be no doubt, notwithstanding the slight inaccuracy,
that our young friend had turned up; and so she had.  Would to
Heaven we had lost her !
 
  "She told my poor child a story to account for her having failed
to recover us for so long.  Very late, she said, she had got into
the housekeeper's bedroom in despair of finding us, and had then
fallen into a deep sleep which, long as it was, had hardly sufficed
to recruit her strength after the fatigues of the ball.
 
  "That day Millarca came home with us.  I was only too happy,
after all, to have secured so charming a companion for my dear
girl.

  
                     CHAPTER XIII

                     THE WOODMAN

THERE soon, however, appeared some drawbacks.  In the first place,
Millarca complained of extreme languor--the weakness that remained
after her late illness--and she never emerged from her room till
the afternoon was pretty far advanced.  In the next place, it was
accidentally discovered, although she always locked her door on the
inside, and never disturbed the key from its place till she
admitted the maid to assist at her toilet, that she was undoubtedly
sometimes absent from her room in the very early morning, and at
various times later in the day, before she wished it to be
understood that she was stirring.  She was repeatedly seen from the
windows of the schloss, in the first faint grey of the morning,
walking through the trees in an easterly direction, and looking
like a person in a trance.  This convinced me that she walked in
her sleep.  But this hypothesis did not solve the puzzle How did
she pass out from her room Ieaving the door locked on the inside? 
How did she escape from the house without unbarring door or window?
 
  "In the midst of my perplexities, an anxiety of a far more urgent
kind presented itself.
 
  "My dear child began to lose her looks and health, and that in a
manner so mysterious, and even horrible, that I became thoroughly
frightened.
 
  "She was at first visited by appalling dreams; then, as she
fancied, by a spectre, sometimes resembling Millarca, sometimes in
the shape of a beast, indistinctly seen, walking round the foot of
her bed, from side to side.  Lastly came sensations.  One, not
unpleasant, but very peculiar, she said, resembled the flow of an
icy stream against her breast.  At a later time, she felt something
like a pair of large needles pierce her, a little below the throat,
with a very sharp pain.  A few nights after, followed a gradual and
convulsive sense of strangulation; then came unconsciousness.
 
  I could hear distinctly every word the kind old General was
saying, because by this time we were driving upon the short grass
that spreads on either side of the road as you approach the
roofless village which had not shown the smoke of a chimney for
more than half a century.
 
  You may guess how strangely I felt as I heard my own symptoms so
exactly described in those which had been experienced by the poor
girl who, but for the catastrophe which followed, would have been
at that moment a visitor at my father's ch■teau.  You may suppose,
also, how I felt as I heard him detail habits and mysterious
peculiarities which were, in fact, those of our beautiful guest,
Carmilla!
 
  A vista opened in the forest; we were on a sudden under the
chimneys and gables of the ruined village, and the towers and
battlements of the dismantled castle, round which gigantic trees
are grouped, overhung us from a slight eminence.
 
  In a frightened dream I got down from the carriage, and in
silence, for we had each abundant matter for thinking, we soon
mounted the ascent, and were among the spacious chambers, winding
stairs, and dark corridors of the castle.
 
  "And this was once the palatial residence of the Karnsteins!"
said the old General at length, as from a great window he looked
out across the village, and saw the wide, undulating expanse of
forest.  "It was a bad family, and here its blood-stained annals
were written," he continued.  "It is hard that they should, after
death, continue to plague the human race with their atrocious
lusts.  That is the chapel of the Karnsteins, do-vn there."
 
  He pointed down to the grey walls of the Gothic building, partly
visible through the foliage, a little way down the steep.  "And I
hear the axe of a woodman," he added, "busy among the trees that
surround it; he possibly may give us the information of which I am
in search, and point out the grave of Mircalla, Countess of
Karnstein.  These rustics preserve the local traditions of great
families, whose stories die out among the rich and titled so soon
as the families themselves become extinct."
 
  "We have a portrait, at home, of Mircalla, the Countess
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 which has led me to you
earlier than I at first intended, was to explore the chapel which
we are now approaching."
 
  "What! see the Countess Mircalla," exclaimed my father; "why, she
has been dead more than a century!"
 
  "Not so dead as you fancy, I am told," answered the General.

  "I confess, General, you puzzle me utterly," replied my father,
looking at him, I fancied, for a moment with a return of the
suspicion I detected before.  But although there was anger and
detestation, at times, in the old General's manner, there was
nothing flighty.
 
  "There remains to me," he said, as we passed under the heavy arch
of the Gothic church--for its dimensions ¨vould have justified its
being so styled--" but one obj ect which can interest me during the
few years that remain to me on earth, and that is to wreak on her
the vengeance which, I thank God, may still be accomplished by a
mortal arm."
 
  "What vengeance can you mean?" asked my father, in increasing
amazement.
 
  "I mean, to decapitate the monster," he answered, with a fierce
flush, and a stamp that echoed mournfully through the hollow run,
and his clenched hand was at the same moment raised, as if it
grasped the handle of an axe, while he shook it ferociously in the
air.
 
  "What!" exclaimed my father, more than ever bewildered.
 
  "To strike her head off."
 
  "Cut her head off! "
 
  "Aye, with a hatchet, with a spade, or with anything that can
cleave through her murderous throat.  You shall hear," he answered,
trembling with rage.  And hurrying for vard he said:
 
  "That beam will answer for a seat; your dear child is fatigued;
let her be seated, and I will, in a few sentences, close my
dreadful story."
 
  The squared block of wood, which lay on the grass-grown pavement
of the chapel, formed a bench on which I was very glad to seat
myself, and in the meantime the General called to the woodman, who
had been removing some boughs which leaned upon the old walls; and,
axe in hand, the hardy old fellow stood before us.
 
  He could not tell us anything of these monuments; but there was
an old man, he said, a ranger of this forest, at present sojourning
in the house of the priest, about two miles away, who could point
out every monument of the old Karnstein family; and, for a trifle,
he undertook to bring him back with him, if we would lend him one
of our horses, in little more than half-an-hour.
 
  "Have you been long employed about this forest?" asked my father
of the old man.
 
  "I have been a woodman here," he answered in his patois "under
the forester, all my days; so has my father before me, and so on,
as many generations as I can count up.  I could show you the very
house in the village here, in which my ancestors lived."

  "How came the village to be deserted? " asked the General.
 
  "It was troubled by revenants, sir; several were tracked to their
graves, there detected by the usual tests, and extinguished in the
usual way, by decapitation, by the stake, and by burning; but not
until many of the villagers were killed.
 
  "But after all these proceedings according to law," he
continued--"so many graves opened, and so many vampires deprived of
their horrible animation--the village was not relieved.  But a
Moravian nobleman, who happened to be travelling this way, heard
how matters were, and being skilled--as many people are in his
country--in such affairs, he offered to deliver the village from
its tormentor.  He did so thus: There being a bright moon that
night, he ascended, shortly after sunset, the tower of the chapel
here, from whence he could distinctly see the churchyard beneath
him; you can see it from that window.  From this point he watched
until he saw the vampire come out of his grave, and place near it
the linen clothes in which he had been folded, and glide away
towards the village to plague its inhabitants.
 
  "The stranger, having seen all this, came down from the steeple,
took the linen wrappings of the vampire, and carried them up to the
top of the tower, which he again mounted.  When the vampire
returned from his prowlings and missed his clothes, he cried
furiously to the Moravian, whom he saw at the summit of the tower,
and who, in reply, beckoned him to ascend and take them.  Whereupon
the vampire, accepting his invitation, began to climb the steeple,
and so soon as he had reached the battlements, the Moravian, with
a stroke of his sword, clove his skull in twain, hurling him down
to the churchyard, whither, descending by the winding stairs, the
stranger followed and cut his head off, and next day delivered it
and the body to the villagers, who duly impaled and burnt them.
 
  "This Moravian nobleman had authority from the then head of the
family to remove the tomb of Mircalla, Countess Karnstein, which he
did effectually, so that in a little while its site was quite
forgotten."
 
  "Can you point out where it stood?" asked the General, eagerly.
 
  The forester shook his head and smiled.
 
  "Not a soul living could tell you that now," he said; "besides,
they say her body was removed; but no one is sure of that either."
 
  Having thus spoken, as time pressed he dropped his axe and
departed, leaving us to hear the remainder of the General's strange
story.
  
  
                      CHAPTER XIV

                      THE MEETING

MY beloved child," he resumed, "was now growing rapidly worse.  The
physician who attended her had failed to produce the slightest
impression upon her disease, for such I then supposed it to be.  He
saw my alarm, and suggested a consultation.  I called in an abler
physician from Gratz.  Several days elapsed before he arrived.  He
was a good and pious, as well as a learned man.  Having seen my
poor ward together, they withdrew to my library to confer and
discuss.  I, from the adjoining room, where I awaited their
summons, heard these two gentlemen's voices raised in something
sharper than a strictly philosophical discussion.  I knocked at the
door and entered.  I found the old physician from Gratz maintaining
his theory.  His rival was combating it with undisguised ridicule,
accompanied with bursts of laughter.  This unseemly manifestation
subsided and the altercation ended on my entrance.
 
  "'Sir,' said my first physician, 'my learned brother seems to
think that you want a conjuror, and not a doctor.'
 
  "'Pardon me,' said the old physician from Gratz, looking
displeased, 'I shall state my own view of the case in my own way
another time.  I grieve, Monsieur le General, that by my skill and
science I can be of no use.  Before I go I shall do myself the
honour to suggest something to you.'
 
  "He seemed thoughtful, and sat down at a table and began to
write.  Profoundly disappointed I made my bow, and, as I turned to
go, the other doctor pointed over his shoulder to his companion who
was writing, and then, with a shrug, significantly touched his
forehead.
 
  "This consultation, then, left me precisely where I was.  I
walked out into the grounds, all but distracted.  The doctor from
Gratz in ten or fifteen minutes overtook me.  He apologized for
having followed me, but said that he could not conscientiously take
his leave without a few words more.  He told me that he could not
be mistaken; no natural disease exhibited the same symptoms; and
that death was already very near.  There remained, however, a day,
or possibly two, of life.  If the fatal seizure were at once
arrested, with great care and skill her strength might possibly
return.  But all hung now upon the confines of the irrevocable. 
One more assault might extinguish the last spark of vitality which
is, every moment, ready to die.
 
  "'And what is the nature of the seizure you speak of?' I
entreated.
 
  "'I have stated all fully in this note, which I place in your
hands, upon the distinct condition that you send for the nearest
clergyman, and open my letter in his presence, and on no account
read it till he is with you; you would despise it else, and it is
a matter of life and death.  Should the priest fail you, then,
indeed, you may read it.'
 
  "He asked me, before taking his leave finally, whether I would
wish to see a man curiously learned upon the very subject which,
after I had read his letter, would probably interest me above all
others, and he urged me earnestly to invite him to visit him there;
and so took his leave.
 
  "The ecclesiastic was absent, and I read the letter by myself. 
At another time, or in another case, it might have excited my
ridicule.  But into what quackeries will not people rush for a last
chance, where all accustomed means have failed, and the life of a
beloved object is at stake?
 
  "Nothing, you will say, could be more absurd than the learned
man's letter.  It was monstrous enough to have consigned him to a
madhouse.  He said that the patient was suffering from the visits
of a vampire!  The punctures which she described as having occurred
near the throat, were, he insisted, the insertion of those two
long, thin, and sharp teeth which, it is well known, are peculiar
to vampires; and there could be no doubt, he added, as to the
well-defined presence of the small livid mark which all concurred
in describing as that induced by the demon's lips, and every
symptom described by the sufferer was in exact conformity with
those recorded in every case of a similar visitation.

  "Being myself wholly sceptical as to the existence of any such
portent as the vampire, the supernatural theory of the good doctor
furnished, in my opinion, but another instance of learning and
intelligence oddly associated with some one hallucination.  I was
so miserable, however, that, rather than try nothing, I acted upon
the instructions of the letter.
 
  "I concealed myself in the dark dressing-room that opened upon
the poor patient's room, in which a candle was burning, and watched
there till she was fast asleep.  I stood at the door, peeping
through the small crevice, my sword laid on the table beside me, as
my directions prescribed, until, a little after one, I saw a large
black object, very ill-defined, crawl, as it seemed to me, over the
foot of the bed, and swiftly spread itself up to the poor girl's
throat, where it swelled, in a moment, into a great, palpitating
mass.
 
  "For a few moments I had stood petrified.  I now sprang forward,
with my sword in my hand.  The black creature suddenly contracted
toward the foot of the bed, glided over it, and, standing on the
floor about a yard below the foot of the bed, with a glare of
skulking ferocity and horror fixed on me, I saw Millarca. 
Speculating I know not ¨vhat, I struck at her instantly with my
sword; but I saw her standing near the door, unscathed.  Horrified,
I pursued and struck again.  She was gone! and my sword flew to
shivers against the door.

  "I can't describe to you all that passed on that horrible night.
The whole house was up and stirring.  The spectre Millarca was
gone.  But her victim was sinking fast, and before the morning
dawned, she died."
 
  The old General was agitated.  We did not speak to him.  My
father walked to some little distance, and began reading the
inscriptions on the tombstones; and thus occupied, he strolled into
the door of a side chapel to prosecute his researches.  The
Generalleanedagainstthewall,driedhiseyes,andsighedheavily.  I was
relieved on hearing the voices of Carmilla and Madame, who were at
that moment approaching.  The voices died away.
 
  In this solitude, having just listened to so strange a story,
connected, as it was, with the great and titled dead, whose
monuments were mouldering among the dust and ivy round us, and
every incident of which bore so awfully upon my own mysterious
case--in this haunted spot, darkened by the towering foliage that
rose on every side, dense and high above its noiseless walls--a
horror began to steal over me, and my heart sank as I thought that
my friends were, after all, not about to enter and disturb this
triste and ominous scene.
 
  The old General's eyes were fixed on the ground, as he 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 old
Gothic carving delights, I saw very gladly the beautiful face and
figure of Carmilla enter the shadowy chapel.
 
  I was just about to rise and speak, and nodded smiling, in answer
to her peculiarly engaging smile; when, with a cry, the old man by
my side caught up the woodman's hatchet, and started forward.  On
seeing him a brutalized change came over her features.  It was an
instantaneous and horrible transformation, as she made a crouching
step backwards.  Before I could utter a scream, he struck at her
with all his force, but she dived under his blow and, unscathed,
caught him in her tiny grasp by the wrist.  He struggled for a
moment to release his arm, but his hand opened, the axe fell to the
ground, and the girl was gone.

  He staggered against the wall.  His grey hair stood upon his
head, and a moisture shone over his face as if he were at the point
of death.
 
  The frightful scene had passed in a moment.  The first thing I
recollect after is Madame standing before me and impatiently
repeating, again and again, the question, "Where is Mademoiselle
Carmilla?"
 
  I answered at length, "I don't know--I can't tell--she went
there," and I pointed to the door through which Madame had just
entered; "only a minute or two since."

  "But I have been standing there, in the passage, ever since
Mademoiselle Carmilla entered; and she did not return."
 
  She then began to call "Carmilla" through every door and passage
and from the windows, but no answer came.
 
  "She called herself Carmilla?" asked the General, still agitated.
 
  "Carmilla, yes," I answered.
 
  "Aye," he said; " that is Millarca.  That is the same person who
long ago was called Mircalla, Countess Karnstein.  Depart from this
accursed ground, my poor child, as quickly as you can.  Drive to
the clergyman's house, and stay there till we come.  Begone!  May
you never behold Carmilla more; you will not find her here."

  
                        CHAPTER XV

                  ORDEAL AND EXECUTION

AS he spoke one of the strangest-looking men I ever beheld entered
the chapel at the door through which Carmilla had made her entrance
and her exit.  He was tall, narrow-chested, stooping, with high
shoulders, and dressed in black.  His face was brown and dried in
with deep furrows; he wore an oddly-shaped hat with a broad leaf. 
His hair, long and grizzled, hung on his shoul ders.  He wore a
pair of gold spectacles, and walked slowly, with an odd shambling
gait, while his face, sometimes turned up to the sky and sometimes
bowed down toward the ground, seemed to wear a perpetual smile; his
long thin arms were swinging, and his lank hands, in old black
gloves ever so much too wide for them, waving and gesticulating in
utter abstraction.
 
  "The very man!" exclaimed the General, advancing with manifest
delight.  "My dear Baron, how happy I am to see you, I had no hope
of meeting you so soon."  He signed to my father, who had by this
time returned, and, leading the fantastic old gentleman, whom he
called the Baron, to meet him, he introduced him formally, and they
at once entered into earnest conversation.  The stranger took a
roll of paper from his pocket, and spread it on the worn surface of
a tomb that stood by.  He had a pencil case in his fingers, with
which he traced imaginary lines from point to point on the paper,
which from their often glancing from it, together, at certain
points of the building, I concluded to be a plan of the chapel.  He
accompanied, what I may term his lecture, with occasional readings
from a dirty little book, whose yellow leaves were closely written
over.
  
  They sauntered together down the side aisle, opposite to the spot
where I was standing, conversing as they went; then they began
measuring distances by paces, and finally they all stood together,
facing a piece of the side-wall, which they began to examine with
great minuteness: pulling off the ivy that clung over it, and
rapping the plaster with the ends of their sticks, scraping here,
and knocking there.  At length they ascertained the existence of a
broad marble tablet, with letters carved in relief upon it.
 
  With the assistance of the woodman, who soon returned, a
monumental inscription and carved escutcheon were disclosed.  They
proved to be those of the long-lost monument of Mircalla, Countess
Karnstein.
 
  The old General, though not I fear given to the praying mood,
raised his hands and eyes to heaven in mute thanksgiving for some
moments.
 
  "To-morrow," I heard him say, "the commissioner will be here, and
the Inquisition will be held according to law."
 
  Then turning to the old man with the gold spectacles, whom I have
described, he shook him warmly by both hands and said: 
  "Baron, how can I thank you?  How can we all thank you?  You will
have delivered this region from a plague that has scourged its
inhabitants for more than a century.  The horrible enemy, thank
God, is at last tracked."
 
  My father led the stranger aside, and the General followed.  I
knew that he had led them out of hearing, that he might relate my
case, and I saw them glance often quickly at me as the discussion
proceeded.  

  My father came to me, kissed me again and again, and leading me
from the chapel, said:
  "It is time to return, but before we go home we must add to our
party the good priest, who lives but a little way from this, and
persuade him to accompany us to the schloss."
 
  In this quest we were successful: and I was glad, being
unspeakably fatigued when we reached home.  But my satisfaction was
changed to dismay on discovering that there were no tidings of
Carmilla.  Of the scene that had occurred in the ruined chapel, no
explanation was offered to me, and it was clear that it was a
secret which my father for the present determined to keep from me.
 
  The sinister absence of Carmilla made the remembrance of the
scene more horrible to me.  The arrangements for that night were
singular.  Two servants and Madame were to sit up in my room that
night; and the ecclesiastic with my father kept watch in the
adjoining dressing-room.
 
  The priest had performed certain solemn rites that night, the
purport of which I did not understand any more than I comprehended
the reason of this extraordinary precaution taken for my safety
during sleep.
 
  I saw all clearly a few days later.
 
  The disappearance of Carmilla was followed by the discontinuance
of my nightly sufferings.
 
  You have heard, no doubt, of the appalling superstition that
prevails in Upper and Lower Styria, in Moravia, Silesia, in Turkish
Servia, in Poland, even in Russia; the superstition, so we must
call it, of the vampire.
 
  If human testimony, taken with every care and solemnity,
judicially, before commissions innumerable, each consisting of many
members, all chosen for integrity and intelligence, and
constituting reports more voluminous perhaps than exist upon any
one other class of cases, is worth anything, it is difflcult to
deny, or even to doubt, the existence of such a phenomenon as the
vampire.
 
  For my part I have heard no theory by which to explain what I
myself have witnessed and experienced, other than that supplied by
the ancient and well-attested belief of the country.
 
  The next day the formal proceedings took place in the Chapel of
Karnstein.  The grave of the Countess Mircalla was opened; and the
General and my father recognized each his perfidious and beautiful
guest, in the face now disclosed to view.  The features, though a
hundred and fifty years had passed since her funeral, were tinted
with the warmth of life.  Her eyes were open; no cadaverous smell
exhaled from the coffln.  The two medical men, one officially
present, the other on the part of the promoter of the inquiry,
attested the marvellous fact that there was a faint but appreciable
respiration and a corresponding action of the heart.  The limbs
were perfectly flexible, the flesh elastic; and the leaden coffin
floated with blood, in which to a depth of seven inches the body
lay immersed.  Here, then, were all the admitted signs and proofs
of vampirism.  The body, therefore, in accordance with the ancient
practice, was raised, and a sharp stake driven through the heart of
the vampire, who uttered a piercing shriek at the moment, in all
respects such as might escape from a living person in the last
agony.  Then the head was struck off, and a torrent of blood flowed
from the severed neck.  The body and head were next placed on a
pile of wood and reduced to ashes, which were thrown upon the river
and borne away; and that territory has never since been plagued by
the visits of a vampire.
 
  My father has a copy of the report of the Imperial Commission,
with the signatures of all who were present at these proceedings,
attached in verification of the statement.  It is from this
official paper that I have summarized my account of this last
shocking scene.
  
  
                        CHAPTER XVI

                        CONCLUSION

I WRITE all this you suppose with composure.  But far from it; I
cannot think of it without agitation.  Nothing but your earnest
desire so repeatedly expressed could have induced me to sit down to
a task that has unstrung my nerves for months to come, and
reinduced a shadow of the unspeakable horror which, years after my
deliverance, continued to make my days and nights dreadful, and
solitude insupportably terrific.
 
  Let me add a word or two about that quaint Baron Vordenburg, to
whose curious lore we were indebted for the discovery of the
Countess Mircalla's grave.

  He had taken up his abode in Gratz, where, living upon a mere
pittance, which was all that remained to him of the once princely
estates of his family in Upper Styria, he devoted himself to the
minute and laborious investigation of the marvellously
authenticated tradition of vampirism.  He had at his fingers' ends
all the great and little works upon the subject, Magia Posthuma,
Phlegon de Mirabilibus, Augustinus de cura pro Mortuis,
Philosophicoe et Christianoe Cogitationes de Vampiris, by John
Christofer Herenberg; and a thousand others, among which I remember
only a few of those which he lent to my father.  He had a
voluminous digest of all the judicial cases, from which he had
extracted a system of principles that appear to govern--some
always, and others occasionally only--the condition of the vampire.

I may mention, in passing, that the deadly pallor attributed to
that sort of revenants is a mere melodramatic fiction.  They
present, in the grave, and when they show themselves in human
society, the appearance of healthy life.  When disclosed to light
in their coffins they exhibit all the symptoms that are enumerated
as those which proved the vampire-life of the long-dead Countess
Karnstein.
 
  How they escape from their graves and return to them for certain
hours every day, without displacing the clay or leaving any trace
of disturbance in the state of the coffin or the cerements, has
always been admitted to be utterly inexplicable.  The amphibious
existence of the vampire is sustained by daily s renewed slumber in
the grave.  Its horrible lust for living blood supplies the vigour
of its waking existence.  The vampire is prone to be fascinated
with an engrossing vehemence, resembling the passion of love, by
particular persons.  In pursuit of these it will exercise
inexhaustible patience and stratagem, for access to a particular
object may be obstructed in a hundred ways.  It will never desist
until it has satiated its passion, and drained the very life of its
coveted victim.  But it will, in these cases, husband and protract
its murderous enjoyment with the refinement of an epicure, and
heighten it by the gradual approaches of an artful courtship.  In
these cases it seems to yearn for something like sympathy and
consent.  In ordinary ones it goes direct to its object, overpowers
with violence, and strangles and exhausts often at a single feast.
 
  The vampire is, apparently, subject, in certain situations, to
special conditions.  In the particular instance of which I have
given you a relation, Mircalla seemed to be limited to a name
which, if not her real one, should at least reproduce, without the
omission or addition of a single letter, those, as we say,
anagrammatically, which compose it.  Carmilla did this; so did
Millarca.
 
  My father related to the Baron Vordenburg, who remained with us
for two or three weeks after the expulsion of Carmilla, the story
about the Moravian nobleman and the vampire at Karnstein
churchyard, and then he asked the Baron how he had discovered the
exact position of the long-concealed tomb of the Countess Millarca.

The Baron's grotesque features puckered up into a mysterious smile;
he looked down, still smiling on his worn spectacle-case
andfumbled with it.  Then looking up, hesaid:
 
  "I have many journals, and other papers, written by that
remarkable man; the most curious among them is one treating of the
visit of which you speak, to Karnstein.  The tradition, of course,
discolours and distorts a little.  He might have been termed a
Moravian nobleman, for he had changed his abode to that territory,
and was, beside, a noble.  But he was, in truth, a native of Upper
Styria.  It is enough to say that in very early youth he had been
a passionate and favoured lover of the beautiful Mircalla, Countess
Karnstein.  Her early death plunged him into inconsolable grief. 
It is the nature of vampires to increase and multiply, but
according to an ascertained and ghostly law.
 
  "Assume, at starting, a territory perfectly free from that pest. 
How does it begin, and how does it multiply itself?  I will tell
you.  A person, more or less wicked, puts an end to himself.  A
suicide, under certain c*cumstances, becomes a vampire.  That
spectre visits living people in their slumbers; they die, and
almost invariably, in the grave, develop into vampires.  This
happened in the case of the beautiful Mircalla, who was haunted by
one of those demons.  My ancestor, Vordenburg, whose title I still
bear, soon discovered this, and in the course of the studies to
which he devoted himself, learned a great deal more.
 
  "Among other things, he concluded that suspicion of vampirism
would probably fall, sooner or later, upon the dead Countess, who
in life had been his idol.  He conceived a horror, be she what she
might, of her remains being profaned by the outrage of a posthumous
execution.  He has left a curious paper to prove that the vampire,
on its expulsion from its amphibious existence, is projected into
a far more horrible life; and he resolved to save his once beloved
Mircalla from this.
 
  "He adopted the stratagem of a journey here, a pretended removal
of her remains, and a real obliteration of her monument.  When age
had stolen upon him, and from the vale of years he looked back on
the scenes he was leaving, he considered, in a different spirit,
what he had done, and a horror took possession of him.  He made the
tracings and notes which have guided me to the very spot, and drew
up a confession of the deception that he had practised.  If he had
intended any further action in this matter, death prevented him;
and the hand of a remote descendant has, too late for many,
directed the pursuit to the lair of the beast."

  We talked a little more, and among other things he said was this:

 "One sign of the vampire is the power of the hand.  The slender
hand of Mircalla closed like a vice of steel on the General's wrist
when he raised the hatchet to strike.  But its power is not
confined to its grasp; it leaves a numbness in the limb it seizes,
which is slowly, if ever, recovered from."
 
  The following Spring my father took me a tour through Italy.  We
remained away for more than a year.  It was long before the terror
of recent events subsided; and to this hour the image of Carmilla
returns to memory with ambiguous alternations--sometimes the
playful, languid, beautiful girl; sometimes the writhing fiend I
saw in the ruined church; and often from a reverie I have started,
fancying I heard the light step of Carmilla at the drawing-room
door.

(End.)