Carmilla HTML version

saw them look under the bed, and about the room, and peep under tables and
pluck open cupboards; and the housekeeper whispered to the nurse: “Lay your
hand along that hollow in the bed; some one did lie there, so sure as you did not;
the place is still warm.”
I remember the nursery-maid petting me, and all three examining my chest,
where I told them I felt the puncture, and pronouncing that there was no sign
visible that any such thing had happened to me.
The housekeeper and the two other servants who were in charge of the nursery,
remained sitting up all night; and from that time a servant always sat up in the
nursery until I was about fourteen.
I was very nervous for a long time after this. A doctor was called in, he was pallid
and elderly. How well I remember his long saturnine face, slightly pitted with
smallpox, and his chestnut wig. For a good while, every second day, he came
and gave me medicine, which of course I hated.
The morning after I saw this apparition I was in a state of terror, and could not
bear to be left alone, daylight though it was, for a moment.
I remember my father coming up and standing at the bedside, and talking
cheerfully, and asking the nurse a number of questions, and laughing very
heartily at one of the answers; and patting me on the shoulder, and kissing me,
and telling me not to be frightened, that it was nothing but a dream and could not
hurt me.
But I was not comforted, for I knew the visit of the strange woman was not a
dream; and I was awfully frightened.
I was a little consoled by the nursery-maid’s assuring me that it was she who had
come and looked at me, and lain down beside me in the bed, and that I must
have been half-dreaming not to have known her face. But this, though supported
by the nurse, did not quite satisfy me.
I remembered, in the course of that day, a venerable old man, in a black
cassock, coming into the room with the nurse and housekeeper, and talking a
little to them, and very kindly to me; his face was very sweet and gentle, and he
told me they were going to pray, and joined my hands together, and desired me
to say, softly, while they were praying, “Lord hear all good prayers for us, for
Jesus’ sake.” I think these were the very words, for I often repeated them to
myself, and my nurse used for years to make me say them in my prayers.
I remembered so well the thoughtful sweet face of that white-haired old man, in
his black cassock, as he stood in that rude, lofty, brown room, with the clumsy
furniture of a fashion three hundred years old about him, and the scanty light
entering its shadowy atmosphere through the small lattice. He kneeled, and the
three women with him, and he prayed aloud with an earnest quavering voice for,
what appeared to me, a long time. I forget all my life preceding that event, and for
some time after it is all obscure also, but the scenes I have just described stand
out vivid as the isolated pictures of the phantasmagoria surrounded by darkness.