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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
“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 towers 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 then 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 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
“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.