Carmilla HTML version

4. 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 hers
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 ill-bred, 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