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I write all this you suppose with composure. But far from it; I cannot think of it
without agitation. Nothing but your earnest desire so repeatedly expressed, could
have induced me to sit down to a task that has unstrung my nerves for months to
come, and reinduced a shadow of the unspeakable horror which years after my
deliverance continued to make my days and nights dreadful, and solitude
insupportably terrific.
Let me add a word or two about that quaint Baron Vordenburg, to whose curious
lore we were indebted for the discovery of the Countess Mircalla’s grave.
He had taken up his abode in Gratz, where, living upon a mere pittance, which
was all that remained to him of the once princely estates of his family, in Upper
Styria, he devoted himself to the minute and laborious investigation of the
marvellously authenticated tradition of Vampirism. He had at his fingers’ ends all
the great and little works upon the subject. “Magia Posthuma,” “Phlegon de
Mirabilibus,” “Augustinus de cura pro Mortuis,” “Philosophicae et Christianae
Cogitationes de Vampiris,” by John Christofer Herenberg; and a thousand others,
among which I remember only a few of those which he lent to my father. He had
a voluminous digest of all the judicial cases, from which he had extracted a
system of principles that appear to govern—some always, and others
occasionally only— the condition of the vampire. I may mention, in passing, that
the deadly pallor attributed to that sort of revenants, is a mere melodramatic
fiction. They present, in the grave, and when they show themselves in human
society, the appearance of healthy life. When disclosed to light in their coffins,
they exhibit all the symptoms that are enumeranted as those which proved the
vampire-life of the long-dead Countess Karnstein.
How they escape from their graves and return to them for certain hours every
day, without displacing the clay or leaving any trace of disturbance in the state of
the coffin or the cerements, has always been admitted to be utterly inexplicable.
The amphibious existence of the vampire is sustained by daily renewed slumber
in the grave. Its horrible lust for living blood supplies the vigour of its waking
existence. The vampire is prone to be fascinated with an engrossing vehemence,
resembling the passion of love, by particular persons. In pursuit of these it will
exercise inexhaustible patience and stratagem, for access to a particular object
may be obstructed in a hundred ways. It will never desist until it has satiated its
passion, and drained the very life of its coveted victim. But it will, in these cases,
husband and protract its murderous enjoyment with the refinement of an epicure,
and heighten it by the gradual approaches of an artful courtship. In these cases it
seems to yearn for something like sympathy and consent. In ordinary ones it
goes direct to its object, overpowers with violence, and strangles and exhausts
often at a single feast.
The vampire is, apparently, subject, in certain situations, to special conditions. In
the particular instance of which I have given you a relation, Mircalla seemed to
be limited to a name which, if not her real one, should at least reproduce, without
the omission or addition of a single letter, those, as we say, anagrammatically,
which compose it. Carmilla did this; so did Millarca.