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Carmilla

7. 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 encompass the apparition.
I could not bear next day to be alone for a moment. I should have told papa, but
for two opposite reasons. At one time I thought he would laugh at my story, and I
could not bear its being treated as a jest; and at another I thought he might fancy
that I had been attacked by the mysterious complaint which had invaded our
neighbourhood. I had myself no misgiving of the kind, and as he had been rather
an invalid for some time, I was afraid of alarming him.
I was comfortable enough with my good-natured companions, Madame
Perrodon, and the vivacious Mademoiselle Lafontaine. They both perceived that I
was out of spirits and nervous, and at length I told them what lay so heavy at my
heart.
Mademoiselle laughed, but I fancied that Madame Perrodon looked anxious.
“By-the-by,” said Mademoiselle, laughing, “the long lime-tree walk, behind
Carmilla’s bedroom-window, is haunted!”
“Nonsense!” exclaimed Madame, who probably thought the theme rather
inopportune, “and who tells that story, my dear?”
“Martin says that he came up twice, when the old yard-gate was being repaired,
before sunrise, and twice saw the same female figure walking down the lime-tree
avenue.”
“So he well might, as long as there are cows to milk in the river fields,” said
Madame.
“I daresay; but Martin chooses to be frightened, and never did I see fool more
frightened.”
“You must not say a word about it to Carmilla, because she can see down that
walk from her room window,” I interposed, “and she is, if possible, a greater
coward than I.”
Carmilla came down rather later than usual that day.
“I was so frightened last night,” she said, so soon as were together, “and I am
sure I should have seen something dreadful if it had not been for that charm I
bought from the poor little hunchback whom I called such hard names. I had a
dream of something black coming round my bed, and I awoke in a perfect horror,
and I really thought, for some seconds, I saw a dark figure near the chimney-
piece, but I felt under my pillow for my charm, and the moment my fingers
touched it, the figure disappeared, and I felt quite certain, only that I had it by me,
that something frightful would have made its appearance, and, perhaps, throttled
me, as it did those poor people we heard of.”
“Well, listen to me,” I began, and recounted my adventure, at the recital of which
she appeared horrified.
“And had you the charm near you?” she asked, earnestly.
“No, I had dropped it into a china vase in the drawing-room, but I shall certainly
take it with me to-night, as you have so much faith in it.”
 
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