Carmilla (Chapter 5, page 1 of 3)


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Chapter 5

This evening there arrived from Gratz the grave, dark-faced son of the
picture cleaner, with a horse and cart laden with two large packing
cases, having many pictures in each. It was a journey of ten leagues,
and whenever a messenger arrived at the schloss from our little capital
of Gratz, we used to crowd about him in the hall, to hear the news.

This arrival created in our secluded quarters quite a sensation. The
cases remained in the hall, and the messenger was taken charge of by the
servants till he had eaten his supper. Then with assistants, and armed
with hammer, ripping chisel, and turnscrew, he met us in the hall, where
we had assembled to witness the unpacking of the cases.

Carmilla sat looking listlessly on, while one after the other the old
pictures, nearly all portraits, which had undergone the process of
renovation, were brought to light. My mother was of an old Hungarian
family, and most of these pictures, which were about to be restored to
their places, had come to us through her.

My father had a list in his hand, from which he read, as the artist
rummaged out the corresponding numbers. I don't know that the pictures
were very good, but they were, undoubtedly, very old, and some of them
very curious also. They had, for the most part, the merit of being now
seen by me, I may say, for the first time; for the smoke and dust of
time had all but obliterated them.

"There is a picture that I have not seen yet," said my father. "In one
corner, at the top of it, is the name, as well as I could read, 'Marcia
Karnstein,' and the date '1698'; and I am curious to see how it has
turned out."

I remembered it; it was a small picture, about a foot and a half high,
and nearly square, without a frame; but it was so blackened by age that
I could not make it out.

The artist now produced it, with evident pride. It was quite beautiful;
it was startling; it seemed to live. It was the effigy of Carmilla!

"Carmilla, dear, here is an absolute miracle. Here you are, living,
smiling, ready to speak, in this picture. Isn't it beautiful, Papa? And
see, even the little mole on her throat."

My father laughed, and said "Certainly it is a wonderful likeness," but
he looked away, and to my surprise seemed but little struck by it, and
went on talking to the picture cleaner, who was also something of an
artist, and discoursed with intelligence about the portraits or other
works, which his art had just brought into light and color, while I was
more and more lost in wonder the more I looked at the picture.

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