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 have quite agreed with Carmilla, but I did
my best, and the impression was a little losing its force.
For some nights I slept profoundly; but still every morning I felt the same
lassitude, and a languor weighed upon me all day. I felt myself a changed girl. A
strange melancholy was stealing over me, a melancholy that I would not have
interrupted. Dim thoughts of death began to open, and an idea that I was slowly
sinking took gentle, and, somehow, not unwelcome, possession of me. If it was
sad, the tone of mind which this induced was also sweet. Whatever it might be,
my soul acquiesced in it.
I would not admit that I was ill, I would not consent to tell my papa, or to have the
doctor sent for.
Carmilla became more devoted to me than ever, and her strange paroxysms of
languid adoration more frequent. She used to gloat on me with increasing 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