Carmilla (Chapter 2, page 1 of 6)


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Chapter 2

I am now going to tell you something so strange that it will require all
your faith in my veracity to believe my story. It is not only true,
nevertheless, but truth of which I have been an eyewitness.

It was a sweet summer evening, and my father asked me, as he sometimes
did, to take a little ramble with him along that beautiful forest vista
which I have mentioned as lying in front of the schloss.

"General Spielsdorf cannot come to us so soon as I had hoped," said my
father, as we pursued our walk.

He was to have paid us a visit of some weeks, and we had expected his
arrival next day. He was to have brought with him a young lady, his
niece and ward, Mademoiselle Rheinfeldt, whom I had never seen, but whom
I had heard described as a very charming girl, and in whose society I
had promised myself many happy days. I was more disappointed than a
young lady living in a town, or a bustling neighborhood can possibly
imagine. This visit, and the new acquaintance it promised, had furnished
my day dream for many weeks.

"And how soon does he come?" I asked.

"Not till autumn. Not for two months, I dare say," he answered. "And I
am very glad now, dear, that you never knew Mademoiselle Rheinfeldt."

"And why?" I asked, both mortified and curious.

"Because the poor young lady is dead," he replied. "I quite forgot I had
not told you, but you were not in the room when I received the General's
letter this evening."

I was very much shocked. General Spielsdorf had mentioned in his first
letter, six or seven weeks before, that she was not so well as he would
wish her, but there was nothing to suggest the remotest suspicion
of danger.

"Here is the General's letter," he said, handing it to me. "I am afraid
he is in great affliction; the letter appears to me to have been written
very nearly in distraction."

We sat down on a rude bench, under a group of magnificent lime trees.
The sun was setting with all its melancholy splendor behind the sylvan
horizon, and the stream that flows beside our home, and passes under the
steep old bridge I have mentioned, wound through many a group of noble
trees, almost at our feet, reflecting in its current the fading crimson
of the sky. General Spielsdorf's letter was so extraordinary, so
vehement, and in some places so self-contradictory, that I read it twice
over--the second time aloud to my father--and was still unable to
account for it, except by supposing that grief had unsettled his mind.

It said "I have lost my darling daughter, for as such I loved her.
During the last days of dear Bertha's illness I was not able to write
to you.

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