Carmilla HTML version

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, leaving
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
“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
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 chateau. 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,
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
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.