Carmilla

by

Sheridan Le Fanu

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Laura Character Analysis

Laura is the book’s protagonist and narrator, who retells as an adult her adolescent experiences with the vampire Carmilla. As a child, Laura lives a lonely and sheltered life with her father and governesses in a castle in Styria, Austria. Her most formative early memory—and her first experience with fear—happened when she was six years old and she woke in the night to find a strange woman caressing her. While the woman’s affection first soothed Laura into sleep, she then awoke once more with two stabbing pains in her breast, the woman having vanished. As a child, Laura is used to getting what she wants and she enjoys her life of modest luxury, but she feels lonely and wishes for companionship. She is therefore excited when Carmilla—a girl her age—comes to stay with her family, but she soon finds herself both attracted to and repulsed by her new friend. Laura spends much of the book reconciling the complex emotions Carmilla inspires within her. The two become close friends and Laura is enthralled by Carmilla’s physical affections, though Carmilla’s secrecy and mysterious behavior trouble Laura, since she believes that true friends should be honest and open with one another. After repeated dreams of nighttime visitations, Laura begins to fall ill, and a visit from her father’s friend General Spielsdorf reveals that the source of the illness is bites from Carmilla, who is a vampire from an extinct aristocratic family. Though the men vanquish Carmilla and Laura is mostly restored to health, her lingering illness and her new ability to contemplate darker aspects of life show that Carmilla’s companionship had a lasting influence in ways that Laura does not wholly resent.

Laura Quotes in Carmilla

The Carmilla quotes below are all either spoken by Laura or refer to Laura. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
). Note: all page numbers and citation info for the quotes below refer to the Wildside Press edition of Carmilla published in 2000.
Chapter 1  Quotes

In Styria, we, though by no means magnificent people, inhabit a castle, or schloss. A small income, in that part of the world, goes a great way. Eight or nine hundred a year does wonders. Scantily enough ours would have answered among wealthy people at home. My father is English, and I bear an English name, although I never saw England. But here, in this lonely and primitive place, where everything is so marvelously cheap, I really don't see how ever so much more money would at all materially add to our comforts, or even luxuries.

Related Characters: Laura (speaker), Laura’s Father
Page Number: 7
Explanation and Analysis:

The first occurrence in my existence, which produced a terrible impression upon my mind, which, in fact, never has been effaced, was one of the very earliest incidents of my life which I can recollect….I saw a solemn, but very pretty face looking at me from the side of the bed. It was that of a young lady who was kneeling, with her hands under the coverlet. I looked at her with a kind of pleased wonder, and ceased whimpering. She caressed me with her hands, and lay down beside me on the bed, and drew me towards her….I was now for the first time frightened.

Related Characters: Laura (speaker), Carmilla
Related Symbols: Dreams
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 3  Quotes

I saw the very face which had visited me in my childhood at night, which remained so fixed in my memory, and on which I had for so many years often ruminated with horror, when no one suspected of what I was thinking.

Related Characters: Laura (speaker), Carmilla
Page Number: 26
Explanation and Analysis:

“If you were less pretty I think I should be very afraid of you, but being as you are, and you and I both so young, I feel only that I have made your acquaintance twelve years ago, and have already a right to your intimacy; at all events it does seem as if we were destined, from our earliest childhood, to be friends. I wonder whether you feel as strangely drawn towards me as I do to you…”

Related Characters: Carmilla (speaker), Laura
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 4 Quotes

In these mysterious moods I did not like her. I experienced a strange tumultuous excitement that was pleasurable, ever and anon, mingled with a vague sense of fear and disgust. I had no distinct thought about her while such scenes lasted, but I was conscious of a love growing into adoration, and also of abhorrence. This I know is paradox, but I can make no other attempt to explain the feeling.

Related Characters: Laura (speaker), Carmilla
Page Number: 33
Explanation and Analysis:

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 ardor of a lover; it embarrassed me; it was hateful and yet over-powering; and with gloating eyes she drew me to her…” You are mine, you shall be mine, you and I are one forever.”

Related Characters: Laura (speaker), Carmilla (speaker)
Page Number: 34
Explanation and Analysis:

“You pierce my ears,” said Carmilla, almost angrily, and stopping her ears with her tiny fingers. “Besides, how can you tell that your religion and mine are the same; your forms wound me, and I hate funerals. What a fuss! Why you must die—everyone—must die; and all are happier when they do… I don’t trouble my head about peasants.”

Related Characters: Carmilla (speaker), Laura, Young peasant girl
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:

“We are in God’s hands: nothing can happen without his permission, and all will end well for those who love him. He is our faithful creator; He has made us all, and will take care of us.”
“Creator? Nature!” said the young lady in answer to my gentle father. “And this disease that invades the country is natural.”

Related Characters: Carmilla (speaker), Laura’s Father (speaker), Laura
Page Number: 40
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 5 Quotes

“And you asked for the picture you think like me, to hang in your room,” she murmured with a sigh, 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.”

Related Characters: Laura (speaker), Carmilla (speaker)
Page Number: 45
Explanation and Analysis:

“I have been in love with no one, and never shall,” she whispered, “unless it should be with you.” … I live in you; and you would die for me, I love you so.”

Related Characters: Laura (speaker), Carmilla (speaker)
Page Number: 45-46
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 6 Quotes

“The time is very near when you shall know everything. You will think me cruel, very selfish, but love is always selfish; the more ardent the more selfish. How jealous I am you cannot know. You must come with me, loving me, to death; or else hate me and still come with me, and hating me through death and after. There is no such word as indifference in my apathetic nature.”

Related Characters: Laura (speaker), Carmilla (speaker)
Page Number: 49-50
Explanation and Analysis:

“Love will have its sacrifices. No sacrifice without blood.”

Related Characters: Laura (speaker), Carmilla (speaker)
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 50
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 7 Quotes

It would be vain my attempting to tell you the horror with which, even now, I recall the occurrence of that night. It was no such transitory terror as a dream leaves behind it. It seemed to deepen by time, and communicated itself to the room and the very furniture that had encompassed the apparition.

Related Characters: Laura (speaker)
Related Symbols: Dreams
Page Number: 53
Explanation and Analysis:

For some nights I slept profoundly; but still every morning I felt the same lassitude, and a languor weighed upon me all day. I felt myself a changed girl. A strange melancholy was stealing over me, a melancholy that I would not have interrupted. Dim thoughts of death began to open, and an idea that I was slowly sinking took gentle, and, somehow, not unwelcome, possession of me…Whatever it might be, my soul acquiesced to it.

Related Characters: Laura (speaker)
Page Number: 55-56
Explanation and Analysis:

….and of having spoken to people whom I could not see; and especially of one clear voice, of a female’s, very deep, that spoke as if at a distance, slowly, and producing always the same sensation of indescribable solemnity and fear…Sometimes it was as if warm lips kissed me, and longer and longer and more lovingly as they reached my throat, but there the caress fixed itself.

Related Characters: Laura (speaker)
Related Symbols: Dreams
Page Number: 57
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 8 Quotes

“I wish all mysteries were as easily and innocently explained as yours, Carmilla,” he said laughing. “And so we may congratulate ourselves on the certainty that the most natural explanation of the occurrence is the one that involves no drugging, no tampering with locks, no burglars, or poisoners, or witches—nothing that need alarm Carmilla, or anyone else, for our safety.”

Related Characters: Laura’s Father (speaker), Laura, Carmilla
Page Number: 63
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 15 Quotes

If human testimony, taken with every care and solemnity, judicially, before commissions innumerable, each consisting of many members, all chosen for integrity and intelligence…it is difficult to deny, or even to doubt the existence of such a phenomenon as the Vampire. For my part I have heard no theory by which to explain what I myself have witnessed and experienced, other than that supplied by the ancient and well-attested belief of the country.

Related Characters: Laura (speaker)
Page Number: 102
Explanation and Analysis:

Here then, were all the admitted signs and proofs of vampirism. The body, therefore, in accordance with the ancient practice, was raised, and a sharp stake driven through the heart of the vampire, who uttered a piercing shriek at the moment, in all respects such as might escape from a living person in the last agony. Then the head was struck off, and a torrent of blood flowed from the severed neck….and that territory has never since been plagued by the visits of a vampire.

Related Characters: Laura (speaker), Carmilla
Related Symbols: Blood
Page Number: 102
Explanation and Analysis:
Chapter 16 Quotes

I write all this you suppose with composure. But far from it; I cannot think of it without agitation. Nothing but your earnest desire so repeatedly expressed, could have induced me to sit down to a task that has unstrung my nerves for months to come, and reinduced a shadow of the unspeakable horror which years after my deliverance continued to make my days and nights dreadful, and solitude insupportably terrific.

Related Characters: Laura (speaker)
Page Number: 104
Explanation and Analysis:

Its horrible lust for living blood supplies the vigor of its waking existence. The vampire is prone to become fascinated with an engrossing vehemence, resembling the passion of love, by particular persons. In pursuit of these it will exercise inexhaustible patience and stratagem, for access to a particular object may be obstructed in a hundred different ways. It will never desist until it has satiated its passion, and drained the very life of its coveted victims…. In these cases it seems to yearn for something like sympathy and consent.

Related Characters: Laura (speaker), Carmilla
Page Number: 105
Explanation and Analysis:

The following Spring my father took me a tour through Italy. We remained away for more than a year. It was long before the terror of recent events subsided; and to this hour the image of Carmilla returns to memory with ambiguous alternations—sometimes the playful, languid, beautiful girl; sometimes the writhing fiend I saw in the ruined church; and often from a reverie I have started, fancying I heard the light step of Carmilla at the drawing room door.

Related Characters: Laura (speaker), Carmilla
Page Number: 107-108
Explanation and Analysis:
Get the entire Carmilla LitChart as a printable PDF.
Carmilla PDF

Laura Character Timeline in Carmilla

The timeline below shows where the character Laura appears in Carmilla. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1 
Class and Class Warfare Theme Icon
The young woman, Laura, lives in a “schloss” (or castle) in Styria, Austria. There, a little wealth goes a... (full context)
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Class and Class Warfare Theme Icon
Laura describes the region in which she lives, which is incredibly picturesque, but also quite “lonely”... (full context)
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Laura was nineteen at the time of the events she’s describing, and eight years have passed... (full context)
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
The ease of Laura’s life means that she remembers clearly her first moment of true fear. It left a... (full context)
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Soothed into sleep, Laura woke to the feeling of two needles digging into her breast. Opening her eyes, she... (full context)
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Love and Lust Theme Icon
The incident terrified Laura and left her nervous for a long time. For years afterwards, a servant would sit... (full context)
Chapter 2 
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 Laura re-tells an event that she says would be almost impossible to believe, had she not... (full context)
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Laura’s father tells her that the General won’t be arriving for another two months, and that... (full context)
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Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Laura and her father meet up with Laura’s governesses Madame Perrodon and Mademoiselle De Lafontaine. As... (full context)
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
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Laura notes that the carriage seems to belong to a person of rank. It begins to... (full context)
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...her trip. She has the idea to leave her daughter in the nearest village, but Laura begs her father to let the girl stay with them, since she longs for a... (full context)
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The girl’s mother, who Laura notes has an extremely distinguished appearance, speaks to Laura’s father separately. She suddenly appears stern,... (full context)
Chapter 3 
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Laura and her companions watch the carriage drive away. The young girl asks where she is... (full context)
Class and Class Warfare Theme Icon
The girl is brought to her room by servants, and Laura waits in their sitting room. Laura describes the room, which is richly furnished but still... (full context)
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After the others have left, Laura asks her father what he meant by his comment. He tells her that the girl’s... (full context)
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The doctor doesn’t arrive until one o’clock in the morning, but Laura is so excited she can’t sleep. The doctor reports that the girl has suffered no... (full context)
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Upon approaching the girl, Laura is shocked to find that she recognizes the girl as the face that she saw... (full context)
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Laura relates her own recollection, and the girl wonders if they should be afraid of each... (full context)
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Laura notices that the girl appears tired and she tells the girl that her the doctor... (full context)
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Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
The next day they meet up again. For the most part Laura is extremely happy with her new companion. She once again praises the girl’s beauty and,... (full context)
Chapter 4
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Love and Lust Theme Icon
Laura continues to wonder about the nature of the girl, whose name is Carmilla. She describes... (full context)
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
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Carmilla occasionally embraces Laura and whispers in her ear, which makes Laura uncomfortable. It arouses within her a pleasurable... (full context)
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
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Laura comments that she is now writing after years have passed, and that there are certain... (full context)
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Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Love and Lust Theme Icon
Laura tries to understand Carmilla’s behavior, wondering if she is insane or perhaps a male suitor... (full context)
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Class and Class Warfare Theme Icon
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
One day, Laura and Carmilla are sitting under the trees when they witness the funeral procession of a... (full context)
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Laura and Carmilla return home, and Laura thinks about Carmilla’s strange behavior, as it is the... (full context)
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Laura’s father returns that evening out of sorts, informing Laura and Carmilla that another young peasant... (full context)
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 There is a silence, before Laura’s father changes the subject and informs them that he has sent for the doctor for... (full context)
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Love and Lust Theme Icon
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Later that day, the doctor arrives and speaks with Laura’s father in private. When they emerge, Laura’s father is laughing at the doctor’s suggestions. They... (full context)
Chapter 5
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Class and Class Warfare Theme Icon
...son of the picture cleaner from Gratz arrives with cases of paintings. After eating dinner, Laura, her father, and the servants (other than Carmilla who sits back apathetically) crowd around as... (full context)
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Laura comments on the striking resemblance, but Laura’s father appears fairly unimpressed and uninterested, continuing to... (full context)
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Upon closer examination, Laura and her father realize that they’re not looking at a portrait of Marcia Karnstein, but... (full context)
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The two girls depart with their arms around each other’s waists. Carmilla asks Laura if she’s happy that she came to stay with them, and Laura tells her she’s... (full context)
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
This scares Laura, who pushes herself off of Carmilla. Suddenly, Carmilla once more becomes apathetic and asks if... (full context)
Chapter 6
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
 Laura and Carmilla return to the schloss, Carmilla seeming to have returned to her normal self.... (full context)
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
To Laura’s relief, her father insists that he won’t allow Carmilla to leave, as he has promised... (full context)
Love and Lust Theme Icon
Laura accompanies Carmilla to her room, and they talk as she prepares for bed. Laura asks... (full context)
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Carmilla grows tired, and Laura bids her goodnight. Once she has left, Laura wonders if Carmilla ever says her prayers,... (full context)
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Laura returns to her room, where she has adopted Carmilla’s practice of locking her door at... (full context)
Chapter 7
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
Recalling the experience of her dream, Laura knows that she couldn’t properly convey how terrified she had been. It was not a... (full context)
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
...dark figure in her room that only disappeared when she touched her charm. This convinces Laura to tell her of her own dream, from which she did not use her own... (full context)
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Laura relates to Carmilla the effectiveness of the charm, which Carmilla tells her is because dreams... (full context)
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Laura continues to sleep soundly, although she feels tired and lazy in the morning. She feels... (full context)
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Although Laura did not know it at the time, she was in the advanced stages of an... (full context)
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Three weeks after the beginning of Laura’s illness, the effects begin to take a toll on her appearance as she grows pale... (full context)
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One night, Laura dreams that she hears a sweet female voice which tells her “Your mother warns you... (full context)
Chapter 8
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Laura and her governesses calm down slightly seeing that there is no sign of an attack,... (full context)
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Laura spends the rest of the evening in Madame Perrodon’s room, and the next morning she... (full context)
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Carmilla tells Laura what happened to her the previous evening. She had gone to sleep in her own... (full context)
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After sending the servants away, Laura’s father speculates on what happened. He predicts that Carmilla was sleepwalking, and that she unlocked... (full context)
Chapter 9
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Love and Lust Theme Icon
...to allow an attendant to sleep in her room. The next morning, a doctor—for whom Laura’s father had sent without informing her—arrives to examine Laura. Laura meets the doctor in the... (full context)
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Laura’s father asks her to come closer, and for the first time Laura is truly alarmed... (full context)
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Laura and Madame Perrodon discuss the reasoning behind the doctor’s strange directions. While Madame Perrodon thinks... (full context)
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Laura’s father leaves the room briefly before returning to announce that he is traveling to Karnstein... (full context)
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Laura, her father, and Madame Perrodon depart for their journey at noon, heading towards the deserted... (full context)
Chapter 10
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
The General has changed drastically since Laura has last seen him, about ten months ago. He appears thinner and more stern, changes... (full context)
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
Science, Religion, Nature, and the Supernatural Theme Icon
...will cleanse the earth of certain monsters and bring safety to the people. This intrigues Laura’s father, who notes that the house of Karnstein has been extinct for years, and the... (full context)
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...has left to live for is to enact revenge on the monster that killed her. Laura’s father asks to hear the story from the beginning before they reach the ruins. (full context)
Chapter 13
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
Loss of Innocence Theme Icon
...sensation of cold water against her breast and the piercing of needles. In the present, Laura—who is listening intently to the General’s story—is shocked to hear the similarities between Bertha’s symptoms... (full context)
Women and Sexuality Theme Icon
...ask for the location of the grave of Mircalla, Countess of Karnstein. Recognizing the name, Laura’s father asks the General if he would like to see the portrait they have of... (full context)
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Class and Class Warfare Theme Icon
Laura, who has grown fatigued, takes a seat as the General calls for the woodman. The... (full context)
Chapter 14
Love and Lust Theme Icon
With the General’s story completed, Laura and her father are unsure of what to say. Her father enters a chapel while... (full context)
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Carmilla enters the chapel. Laura rises to greet her but is interrupted by a cry from the General, who rushes... (full context)
Chapter 15
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...help, telling him that he has saved the region from the plague of the vampire. Laura’s father speaks to the General and the Baron away from Laura, who guesses that they... (full context)
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They return home with the priest, and Laura is disappointed to discover that Carmilla is not there nor is there any trace of... (full context)
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However, everything becomes clear to Laura a few days later. She relates to the reader the myth of the vampire, which—considering... (full context)
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The next day, Carmilla’s grave is opened, accompanied by a medical examiner, and Laura’s father and the General both immediately recognize the girl. Her eyes are open and there... (full context)
Chapter 16
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In conclusion, having finished re-telling her story, Laura recalls that she still thinks of the events with anxiety. If it had not been... (full context)
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Laura comments on Baron Vordenburg, who devoted his life to the investigation of the vampire and... (full context)
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After Carmilla was defeated, Baron Vordenburg stayed with Laura and her father for a few weeks. Laura’s father recounted the story of the Moravian... (full context)
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Laura ends her story by saying that after the events with Carmilla, her father took her... (full context)