Image source
Hathi Trust
Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu

"Carmilla" is a Gothic novella that was originally published as a serial in the literary magazine The Dark Blue. It tells the story of an eighteen-year-old girl named Laura and her house guest, Carmilla. Laura is instantly drawn to the beautiful and cryptic girl, but despite her insistent prodding, Carmilla refuses to tell Laura about her past. Carmilla seduces Laura through her words and actions, and the girls soon develop an intimate relationship. Le Fanu demonstrates the sexual tension between the two girls in the following passages.


Sometimes after an hour of apathy, my strange and beautiful companion would take my hand and hold it with a fond pressure, renewed again and again; blushing softly, gazing in my face with languid and burning eyes, and breathing so fast that her dress rose and fell with the tumultuous respiration. It was like the ardour of a lover; it embarrassed me; it was hateful and yet overpowering; and with gloating eyes she drew me to her, and her hot lips travelled along my cheek in kisses; and she would whisper, almost in sobs, 'You are mine, you shall be mine, you and I are one for ever.' Then she has thrown herself back in her chair, with her small hands over her eyes, leaving me trembling.


'How interesting!' she said, languidly, 'But see what beautiful moonlight!' She glanced through the hall-door, which stood a little open. 'Suppose you take a little ramble round the court, and look down at the road and river.'

'It is so like the night you came to us,' I said.

She sighed, smiling.

She rose, and each with her arm about the other's waist, we walked out upon the pavement.

In silence, slowly we walked down to the drawbridge, where the beautiful landscape opened before us.

'And so you were thinking of the night I came here?' she almost whispered. 'Are you glad I came?'

'Delighted, dear Carmilla,' I answered.

'And you asked for the picture you think like me, to hang in your room,' she murmured with a sigh, as she drew her arm closer about my waist, and let her pretty head sink upon my shoulder.

'How romantic you are, Carmilla,' I said. 'Whenever you tell me your story, it will be made up chiefly of some one great romance.'

She kissed me silently.

'I am sure, Carmilla, you have been in love; that there is, at this moment, an affair of the heart going on.'

'I have been in love with no one, and never shall,' she whispered, 'Unless it should be with you.'

How beautiful she looked in the moonlight!

Shy and strange was the look with which she quickly hid her face in my neck and hair, with tumultuous sighs, that seemed almost to sob, and pressed in mine a hand that trembled.

Her soft cheek was glowing against mine. 'Darling, darling,' she murmured, 'I live in you; and you would die for me, I love you so.'

Volume number of excerpt
Chapter number of excerpt
London: British & Colonial
Page numbers in original volume
594, 601-602

Sheridan Le Fanu, Joseph. The Dark Blue. Vol. II, III. London: British & Colonial, 1871-1873. Project Gutenberg. 7 Nov. 2003. Web. <>.

Fitzgerald, M. Laura and Carmilla. Digital image. Hathi Trust. University of Chicago, n.d. Web. <;seq=639;width=850>.

Friston, D. H. Laura's Nightmare. Digital image. Hathi Trust. University of Chicago, n.d. Web. <;seq=751;width=850>.

Friston, D. H. Bertha and Millarca. Digital image. Hathi Trust. University of California, n.d. Web. <;seq=86;height=675>.