Today we’re featuring an exclusive extract from Carmilla: The Wolves of Styria, by David Brian. Have a read.
Correspondence from Laura Bennett, addressed to Doctor Hesselius. March 6th, 1871
We followed the cortège with our eyes, until it was swiftly lost to sight in the misty wood; and the very sound of the hoofs and the wheels died away in the silent night air.
Nothing at that point remained to assure us that the adventure had not been an illusion, but for the young lady, who just at that moment opened her eyes. I could not see, for her face was turned from me, but she raised her head, evidently looking about her, and I heard a very sweet voice ask complainingly, “Where is mamma?”
Our good Madame Perrodon answered tenderly, and added some comfortable assurances.
I then heard her ask: “Where am I? What is this place?” and after that she said, “I don’t see the carriage; and Matska, where is she?”
Madame answered all her questions in so far as she understood them; and gradually the young lady remembered how the misadventure came about, and was glad to hear that no one in, or in attendance on the carriage was hurt; and on learning that her mamma had left her here, till her return in about three months, she wept.
I was going to add my consolations to those of Madame Perrodon when Mademoiselle De Lafontaine placed her hand upon my arm, saying:
“Don’t approach, one at a time is as much as she can at present converse with; a very little excitement would possibly overpower her now.”
As soon as she is comfortably in bed, I thought, I will run up to her room and see her.
My father in the meantime had instructed that a servant on horseback be sent for the physician, who lived about two leagues away; and also that a bedroom be prepared for the young lady’s reception.
The stranger now rose, and leaning on Madame’s arm, walked slowly towards the drawbridge that led into the castle gate, our small group forming a cortege behind them.
It was at this point, that for sure the evening’s strangest of happenings occurred. We were barely a stones throw from the drawbridge, when a sound, much like the distant rolling of thunder, signalled that once again something was approaching from the high ground. In unison, we turned, only to behold a sight the like of which I will never forget.
Down from the hills, and running out onto the bridge, there appeared a wolf. Now I make no claim to having been an expert on such animals, indeed my previous experience consisted of only ever before having seen two of these most beguiling of creatures. They are rare in these parts now, and on both previous occasions it had been but the briefest of glimpses, viewed from some considerable distance. However, even allowing for my lack of knowledge of such beasts, I recognised the fact that this animal was huge, being easily big enough to have taken down a stallion, without assistance from other members of its pack.
I opened my mouth to speak; I was both excited and alarmed at being in such close proximity to this fascinating and equally frightening creature. However, my silence was sustained by Mademoiselle De Lafontaine’s grip upon my forearm. A grip which grew suddenly tighter, as with her other hand she pointed back towards the hills. Our little group fell as silent as it had become still, not a one of us daring to move. We watched in awe, and I dare say no small amount of fear, as running down from the hilltops, under the light of a silver moon, there appeared six more wolves. They raced out onto the road, and then across the bridge, and although slightly smaller in stature than the first black beast, every one and all looked a most formidable creature.
Within an instant they had passed, trailing off in the same direction as the carriage cortège had previously taken. It took us some moments before any of us actually found our voices, and then we broke into an excitable babble, each one of us seeking to offer our own explanation as to what could have possibly brought these animals this close to our home.
Various hypotheses were offered up to account for the appearance of the wolves, and it was an event we would further discuss many times over the coming days. Yet thinking back to these events now, although it was not noticed by me at the time, I am
sure that our young visitor did not partake of discussion about the beasts, at least not on that first night of her arrival at our schloss.
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