Carmilla (Chapter 8, page 1 of 3)


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Chapter 8

At sight of the room, perfectly undisturbed except for our violent
entrance, we began to cool a little, and soon recovered our senses
sufficiently to dismiss the men. It had struck Mademoiselle that
possibly Carmilla had been wakened by the uproar at her door, and in her
first panic had jumped from her bed, and hid herself in a press, or
behind a curtain, from which she could not, of course, emerge until the
majordomo and his myrmidons had withdrawn. We now recommenced our
search, and began to call her name again.

It was all to no purpose. Our perplexity and agitation increased. We
examined the windows, but they were secured. I implored of Carmilla, if
she had concealed herself, to play this cruel trick no longer--to come
out and to end our anxieties. It was all useless. I was by this time
convinced that she was not in the room, nor in the dressing room, the
door of which was still locked on this side. She could not have passed
it. I was utterly puzzled. Had Carmilla discovered one of those secret
passages which the old housekeeper said were known to exist in the
schloss, although the tradition of their exact situation had been lost?
A little time would, no doubt, explain all--utterly perplexed as, for
the present, we were.

It was past four o'clock, and I preferred passing the remaining hours of
darkness in Madame's room. Daylight brought no solution of the
difficulty.

The whole household, with my father at its head, was in a state of
agitation next morning. Every part of the chateau was searched. The
grounds were explored. No trace of the missing lady could be discovered.
The stream was about to be dragged; my father was in distraction; what a
tale to have to tell the poor girl's mother on her return. I, too, was
almost beside myself, though my grief was quite of a different kind.

The morning was passed in alarm and excitement. It was now one o'clock,
and still no tidings. I ran up to Carmilla's room, and found her
standing at her dressing table. I was astounded. I could not believe my
eyes. She beckoned me to her with her pretty finger, in silence. Her
face expressed extreme fear.

I ran to her in an ecstasy of joy; I kissed and embraced her again and
again. I ran to the bell and rang it vehemently, to bring others to the
spot who might at once relieve my father's anxiety.

"Dear Carmilla, what has become of you all this time? We have been in
agonies of anxiety about you," I exclaimed. "Where have you been? How
did you come back?"

"Last night has been a night of wonders," she said.

"For mercy's sake, explain all you can."

"It was past two last night," she said, "when I went to sleep as usual
in my bed, with my doors locked, that of the dressing room, and that
opening upon the gallery. My sleep was uninterrupted, and, so far as I
know, dreamless; but I woke just now on the sofa in the dressing room
there, and I found the door between the rooms open, and the other door
forced. How could all this have happened without my being wakened? It
must have been accompanied with a great deal of noise, and I am
particularly easily wakened; and how could I have been carried out of my
bed without my sleep having been interrupted, I whom the slightest stir
startles?"

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