a modern English adaptation by James Hampton Belton of Bram Stoker’s novel
Chapter I – Into the Carpathians
Jonathon Harker left Munich at 8:35 PM on the 1st of May, arriving in Vienna early the next morning. He should have arrived at 6:46, but the train was an hour late. He travelled on to Budapest, which seemed a wonderful place from the glimpses he got of it from the train and the little he could see as he walked through its streets. He feared to go very far from the station, as he had arrived late and would leave as near to the correct time as possible. He had the impression that he was leaving the West and entering the East. The most western of the splendid bridges over the Danube, which was at this crossing nobly wide and deep, took him into lands whose traditions were of Turkish rule.
Harker’s train left in good time, and came to Klausenburgh after nightfall. He stopped for the night at the Hotel Royale. For supper, he had a chicken cooked with red pepper, which was very good but made him thirsty. He made a mental note to get the recipe for Mina. The waiter told him it was called “paprika hendl,” and that, as it was a national dish, he should be able to get it anywhere along the Carpathians. Harker didn’t know how he would have been able to get on without his smattering of German.
Having had some free time in London, Harker had visited the British Museum, and searched the books and maps in the library regarding Transylvania, thinking that knowledge of the country could be important when dealing with one of its a noblemen. He had found that the district he would be visiting was in the extreme east of the country, on the borders of three states, Transylvania, Moldavia and Bukovina, in the midst of the Carpathian mountains, one of the wildest and least known parts of Europe. He had been unable to find any map or work giving the exact locality of Castle Dracula, as there were no maps of this country as yet to compare with the British Ordnance Survey maps. He did find that Bistritz, the post town named by Count Dracula, was a fairly well-known place.
The population of Transylvania consisted of four distinct nationalities: Saxons in the South, mixed with the Wallachs, who are the descendants of the Dacians; Magyars in the West; and Szekelys in the East and North. Harker was traveling among the latter, who claim to be descended from Attila and the Huns. He suspected this might be so, recalling that when the Magyars conquered the country in the eleventh century, they had found the Huns settled in it. He had read that every known superstition in the world was gathered into the horseshoe of the Carpathians, as if it were the centre of some sort of imaginative whirlpool. He planned to ask the Count all about them.
Harker did not sleep well, though his bed was comfortable enough. He had all sorts of odd dreams. A dog was howling all night under his window, which may have had something to do with it. It may have been the paprika; he had drunk all the water in his carafe, and was still thirsty. Towards morning, he slept and was awakened by continuous knocking at his door. He guessed he must have been sleeping soundly then. For breakfast, he had more paprika, a porridge of maize flour which his server called “mamaliga,” and egg-plant stuffed with forcemeat, a very excellent dish called “impletata.” He had to hurry breakfast, because the train left a little before eight, or rather it ought to have done so. After rushing to the station at 7:30, he sat in the carriage for more than an hour before it began to move. It seemed to him that the further east he went the less punctual the trains were, and he wondered how late they would be in China.
All day long, the train dawdled through country full of beauty of every kind. He saw little towns and castles atop steep hills like the ones he’d seen in old prayer books. At times they ran by rivers and streams that seemed from the wide stony margins at the water’s edge to be subject to great floods that had eroded away their banks. At every station, there were people, sometimes crowds, in all sorts of attire. Some were just like English peasants, others like those Harker had seen coming through France and Germany, with short jackets, round hats, and home-made trousers. Others were very picturesque. The women looked pretty from a distance, but were mostly overweight. They wore full white sleeves, and most had big belts with strips fluttering from them like the dresses in a ballet, and petticoats under them. The strangest were the Slovaks, who were more barbarian than the rest, with their big cowboy hats, great baggy dirty white trousers, white linen shirts, and enormous heavy leather belts, nearly a foot wide, studded all over with brass nails. They wore high boots, with their trousers tucked into them, and had long black hair and heavy black moustaches. They were very picturesque, but unattractive. Harker had been told they were harmless.
The train arrived in Bistritz on the dark side of twilight. It was a very interesting old place. Being practically on the border—the Borgo Pass leads from it into Bukovina—it had had a very stormy existence, and it certainly showed marks of it. Fifty years ago a series of great fires had taken place, wrecking terrible havoc on five separate occasions. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, it fell under siege for three weeks and lost 13,000 people, the war proper being assisted by famine and disease.
Count Dracula had directed Harker to go to the Golden Krone Hotel, which he found, to his delight, to be thoroughly old-fashioned; he wanted to see all he could of the ways of the country. He was expected. As he approached the door, a cheerful elderly woman in the usual peasant dress—a white undergarment with a long, colourful double apron, front, and back, fitting almost too tightly for modesty. When he came close she bowed.
“The Herr Englishman?” she said.
“Yes,” he replied, “Jonathan Harker.”
She smiled, and said something to an elderly man in white shirt-sleeves, who had followed her to the door. He went and immediately returned with a letter for Harker.
Welcome to the Carpathians. I am anxiously expecting you. Sleep well tonight. At three tomorrow, the diligence will start for Bukovina; a place on it is kept for you. At the Borgo Pass, my carriage will await you and will bring you to me. I trust that your journey from London has been a happy one, and that you will enjoy your stay in my beautiful land.
Harker that his landlord had received a letter from the Count directing him to secure the best place on the coach for his guest. When he asked about it, the man seemed reticent, and pretended that he could not understand Harker’s German. This could not be true, because up to then he had understood it perfectly, or had answered Harker’s questions exactly as if he did. He and his wife, the old woman who had received Harker, exchanged frightened looks. He mumbled that the money had been sent in the letter, and that was all he knew. When I asked him if he knew Count Dracula, or could tell me anything of his castle, both the landlord and his wife crossed themselves, and, saying that they knew nothing at all, refused to speak further. It was so near the time to leave that Harker had no time to ask any one else. He found it very mysterious and not at all comforting.
Just as he was about to leave, the old woman came up to his room.
“Must you go?” she said hysterically. “Oh! young Herr, must you go?”
She was in such an excited state that she seemed to have lost her grip on what German she knew, and mixed it all up with some other language that Harker did not know. He was just able to follow her by asking many questions. He told her that he must go at once, and that he was engaged on important business.
“Do you know what day it is?” she asked him.
“It is the fourth of May” Harker replied.
“Oh, yes! I know that!” she said, shaking her head. “I know that, but do you know what day it is?”
“I don’t understand,” he replied.
“It is the eve of St. George’s Day,” she said. “Do you not know that tonight, when the clock strikes midnight, all the evil things in the world will have full sway? Do you know where you are going, and what you are going to?”
She was in such distress that Harker tried to comfort her. Finally she went down on her knees and implored him not to go, or at least to wait a day or two before starting. He found it ridiculous but was uncomfortable. However, there was business to be done, and he could allow nothing to interfere with it. He tried to raise her up.
She rose and dried her eyes, and taking a crucifix from her neck offered it to him. He did not know what to do, for, as an English Churchman, he had been taught to regard such things as idolatrous, and yet it seemed so ungracious to refuse an old women who meant so well and was in such a state of mind. She saw the doubt in his face and put the rosary round his neck.
“For your mother’s sake,” she said, and left the room.
Harker wrote in his diary while he waited for the coach, which was, of course, late. The crucifix was still round his neck. Whether it was the old woman’s fear, the many ghostly traditions of the place, or the crucifix itself, he did not know, but he was not feeling nearly as at ease as usual. Then the coach approached.
The grey of the morning had passed, and the sun was high over the distant horizon, which seemed jagged, but whether with trees or hills Harker didn’t know, for it was so far off that big things and little were mixed. He was not sleepy, and, as I am not to be called till I awake, naturally I write till sleep comes. There are many odd things to put down, and, lest who reads them may fancy that I dined too well before I left Bistritz, let me put down my dinner exactly. I dined on what they called “robber steak”—bits of bacon, onion, and beef, seasoned with red pepper, and strung on sticks and roasted over the fire, in the simple style of the London cat’s meat! The wine was Golden Mediasch, which produces a queer sting on the tongue, which is, however, not disagreeable. I had only a couple of glasses of this, and nothing else.
When Harker got into the coach, the driver had not taken his seat. Harker saw him talking with the landlady. They were evidently talking about him, for every now and then they looked at him. Some of the people sitting on the bench outside the door—called by a name meaning “word-bearer”—came and listened, and looked at him, most of them pityingly. He could hear a lot of words being repeated, odd words, for there were many nationalities in the crowd. He quietly took his polyglot dictionary from his bag and looked them up. They didn’t cheer to him. Among them were “Ordog”—Satan, “pokol”—hell, “stregoica”—witch, “vrolok” and “vlkoslak”—both of which mean the same thing, one being Slovak and the other Serbian for either werewolf or vampire. He made a note to ask the Count about these superstitions.
When the coach started off, the crowd around the inn door, which had by this time swelled, all made the sign of the cross and pointed two fingers towards Harker. With some difficulty, Harker got another passenger to tell him what this meant. The man would not answer at first, but on learning that Harker was English, explained that it was a charm to ward against the evil eye. Harker, just setting out for an unknown place to meet an unknown man, found this unpleasant, but every one seemed so kindhearted, sorrowful, and sympathetic that he couldn’t help being touched. He would never forget the last glimpse of the inn yard and the picturesque crowd, all crossing themselves as they stood around the wide archway, against a background of rich foliage of oleander and orange trees in green tubs clustered in the centre of the yard. The driver, whose wide linen drawers called “gotza” covered the entire front of the box seat, cracked his big whip over his four small horses, which ran abreast of eachother, and they set off on their journey.
Harker soon forgot his ghostly fears in the beauty of the scenery as they drove along, although if he had known the languages that his fellow-passengers were speaking, he might not have been able to throw them off so easily. Before the coach lay a green sloping land full of forests and woods, flanked here and there by steep hills, crowned with copses of trees or farmhouses, their blank gable ends to the road. Bewildering masses of fruit blossom were everywhere—apple, plum, pear, cherry. As they drove by, Harker saw the green grass under the trees spangled with fallen petals. The road ran in and out among these green hills of what they call here the “Mittel Land”, losing itself as it swept around a grassy curve, or was shut out from the sky by the straggling ends of pine woods, which here and there ran down the hillsides like tongues of flame. The road was rugged, but the coach seemed to fly over it with a feverish haste. Harker could not understand then what the hurry was, but the driver was evidently bent on losing no time in reaching Borgóprund. Harker had been told that this road was excellent in summertime, but it had not yet been put in order after the winter snows. In this respect it was different from most of the of roads in the Carpathians. It was an old tradition that they were not kept in too good order. The Hospadars did not repair them, lest the Turks should think that they were preparing to bring in foreign troops, and so hasten the war which was always at hand.
Beyond the green swelling hills of the Mittel Land, mighty slopes of forest rose up to the lofty slopes of the Carpathians themselves. Right and left of the coach they towered, with the afternoon sun falling fully upon them and bringing out all the glorious colours of the beautiful range, deep blue and purple in the shadows of the peaks, green and brown where grass and rock mingled. There was an endless perspective of jagged rock and pointed crags, til they were lost in the distance where the snowy peaks rose grandly. Here and there were mighty rifts in the mountains, through which, as the sun began to sink, Hark saw the white gleam of falling water. One of his companions touched his arm as they swept round the base of a hill and a lofty, snow-covered peak came into view, seeming, as they wound on their serpentine way, to be right in front of them.
“Look! Isten szek! God’s seat!” the man said, crossing himself reverently.
As the way wound on endlessly and the sun sank lower and lower behind them, the shadows of the evening began to creep around them. The snowy mountain top still held the sunset, and seemed to glow a delicate cool pink. The sunset threw the ghost-like clouds that seemed to wind ceaselessly through the valleys among the Carpathians into strange relief, engendering odd thoughts and grim fancies. Here and there they passed Czechs and Slovaks in picturesque attire, and Harker noticed that goitre was painfully prevalent. Many crosses stood by the roadside, and as they swept by, his companions all crossed themselves. Here and there, a peasant man or woman knelt before a shrine, and did not even turn round as they approached, but seemed in the self surrender of devotion to have no eyes or ears for the outer world. Many things were new to Harker. There were haystacks among the trees, and beautiful masses of weeping birch, their white stems shining like silver through the delicate green of their leaves. Now and again they passed a peasant’s cart with its long, snake-like vertebra, calculated to suit the inequalities of the road, on which were seated groups of home coming peasants, the Cszeks in white, the Slovaks in coloured sheepskins, carrying long staves with axes at end like lances. As the evening fell, it began to get very cold, and the growing twilight seemed to merge into dark mistiness the gloom of the trees, oak, beech, and pine. In the valleys which ran deep between the spurs of the hills as they ascended through the pass, dark firs stood out here and there against the background of late lying snow. As the road cut through pine woods that seemed in the darkness to be closing in upon them, great masses of mist bestrewed the trees, producing a weird, solemn effect. Sometimes the hills were so steep that, despite the driver’s haste, the horses could only go slowly. Harker wanted to get down and walk up them, as he did at home, but the driver would not hear of it.
“No, no,” he said; “you must not walk here. The dogs are too fierce.”
He looked round to catch the approving smile of the rest of the passengers.
“You may have enough of such matters before you go to sleep,” he added, with what he evidently meant as a grim pleasantry.
He stopped for a moment to light his lamps. When it grew dark there was some excitement among the passengers, and they kept speaking to him, one after the other, as if urging him to further speed. He lashed the horses unmercifully with his long whip, and with wild cries of encouragement urged them to further exertions. Through the darkness, Harker saw a patch of grey light ahead of them, as though there was a cleft in the hills. The passengers became even more excited. The crazy coach rocked on its leather springs and swayed like a boat tossed on a stormy sea. Harker had to hold on. The road grew more level, and they flew along it. The mountains came nearer on either side and frowned down upon them. They were entering the Borgo Pass. One by one, several of the passengers offered Harker gifts, which they pressed upon him with an earnestness that would take no denial. They were odd and varied, but each was given in simple good faith with a kindly word and a blessing, and the same movements which he had seen outside the hotel at Bistritz—the sign of the cross and the ward against the evil eye. Then, as they flew along, the driver leaned forward, and on each side the passengers, craning over the edge of the coach, peered eagerly into the darkness. Something very exciting was either happening or expected, but though Harker asked each passenger, no one would give him any explanation. Their excitement kept up for some little time. At last they saw before them the pass opening up on the eastern side. Dark, rolling clouds loomed overhead, and the air held the heavy, oppressive sense of thunder. It seemed as though the mountain range had separated two atmospheres, and that now we had got into the thunderous one. Harker began looking out for the conveyance that was to take him to the Count. Each moment he expected to see the glare of lamps through the blackness, but all was dark. The only light was the flickering rays of their own lamps, in which the steam from the hard driven horses rose in a white cloud. He could see the sandy road lying white before them, but there was no sign of a vehicle on it. The other passengers drew back with a sigh of gladness, which seemed to mock his own disappointment. Harker was wondering what to do when the driver, looking at his watch, said to the others something that Harker could hardly hear, it was spoken so quietly and in so low a tone. He thought it was “an hour less than the time.” Then the driver turned to Harker.
“There is no carriage here,” he said in German worse than Harker’s own. “Herr is not expected after all. You will now come on to Bukovina, and return tomorrow or the next day. Better the next day.”
While the driver was speaking, the horses began to neigh and snort and plunge wildly, so that he had to pull them up. Then, among a chorus of screams from the other passengers, who all crossed themselves, a two wheeled carriage drawn by four horses came up behind the coach, overtook it, and drew up beside it. The coach’s lamps revealed that the horses were splendid coal black animals. They were driven by a tall man with a long brown beard and a large black hat, which hid his face. Harker could only see the gleam of very the man’s eyes, which seemed red in the lamplight, as he turned to them.
“You are early to-night, my friend,” he said to the driver,
“The English Herr was in a hurry,” the driver stammered in reply.
“That is why, I suppose, you wished him to go on to Bukovina,” the stranger replied. “You cannot deceive me, my friend. I know too much, and my horses are swift.”
He smiled, and the lamplight fell on his hard-looking mouth, very red lips, and sharp looking teeth, as white as ivory.
“Denn die Todten reiten schnell” whispered one of Harker’s fellow travellers to another.
He recognized the line from Burger’s “Lenore”: For the dead travel fast.
“Give me the Herr’s luggage,” said the stranger.
With exceeding alacrity, Harker’s bags were handed out and put in the carriage. He descended from the coach, as the carriage was close, its driver helping him, catching his arm in a grip of steel. The man’s strength must have been prodigious. Without a word he shook his reins, the horses turned, and they swept into the darkness of the Pass. Harker looked back and saw the shadows of his fellow travellers crossing themselves, projected against the steam from the coach’s horses by the light of its lamps. Then the coach’s driver cracked his whip and called to his horses, and off they swept on their way to Bukovina. As they sank into the darkness, Harker felt a strange chill, and a lonely feeling came over him. A cloak was thrown over his shoulders, and a rug across his knees.
“The night is chill, mein Herr, and my master the Count bade me take all care of you,” the driver said in excellent German. “There is a flask of slivovitz underneath the seat, if you should require it.”
Harker recognized slivovitz as the plum brandy of the country. He did not drink any, but it was a comfort to know it was there all the same. He felt a little strange, and not a little frightened. Had there been any alternative, he might have taken it, instead of undertaking the unknown night journey. The carriage went at a face pace along a straight stretch, then made a complete turn and went along another straight road. It seemed to Harker that they were simply going over the same ground. He took note of a landmark, and found that this was the case. He would have asked the driver what this meant, but feared any protest would have no effect if there was an intention to delay. Curious to know how time was passing, he struck a match and by its flame looked at his watch. It was a few minutes to midnight. This gave him a shock; general superstition about midnight was increased by his recent experiences. He waited with a sick feeling of suspense.
A dog began to howl somewhere in a farmhouse far down the road—a long, agonized wailing, as if from fear. The sound was taken up by another dog, and then another and another, til, borne on the wind that now sighed softly through the pass, wild howling came from all over the country through the gloom of the night. At the first howl the horses began to strain and rear, but the driver spoke to them soothingly, and they quieted down, shivering and sweating as though they had run away from sudden fright. Far off in the distance, from the mountains on each side of us, a louder and a sharper howling—that of wolves—began. This affected both the horses and Harker in the same way. He thought of jumping from the carriage and running, while they reared again and plunged madly, so that the driver had to use all his strength to keep them from bolting. In a few minutes, however, Harker grew accustomed to the sound, and the horses became so quiet that the driver was able to descend and stand before them. He petted and soothed them, whispering in their ears as Harker had heard horse-tamers did, with extraordinary effect, for under his caresses they became manageable again, though they still trembled. The driver retook his seat, shook his reins, and started off at a great pace. This time, after going to the far side of the pass, he turned down a narrow roadway which ran sharply to the right.
Soon, they were hemmed in by trees, which in places arched right over the roadway until it was as though they were passing through a tunnel. Great frowning rocks guarded the road on either side. Though the way was sheltered, Harker could hear the rising wind moaning and whistling through the rocks, and the branches of the trees crashed together as they swept along. It grew colder and colder, and fine, powdery snow began to fall, so that soon they and their surroundings were covered with a white blanket. The wind still carried the baying of dogs, though it grew fainter as they went on their way. The howling of the wolves sounded nearer and nearer, as though they were closing on us from every side. Harker grew dreadfully afraid, and the horses shared his fear. The driver, however, was not in the least disturbed. Harker kept turning his head to the left and the right, but could see nothing through the darkness.
Suddenly, away to the left, Harker saw a faint flickering blue flame. The driver saw it at the same moment, and at once reigned in the horses. Jumping to the ground, he disappeared into the darkness. Harker didn’t know what to do, and the howling of the wolves grew closer. The driver suddenly appeared again, and without a word took his seat, and they resumed their journey. This incident seemed to be repeated endlessly, like an awful nightmare. Once the flame appeared so near the road that even in the darkness around them, Harker could watch the driver’s motions. The man went rapidly to where the blue flame arose—it must have been very faint, for it did not seem to illuminate the place around it at all—and gathering a few stones, formed them into some device. Once, a strange optical effect appeared. When the driver stood between Harker and the flame, he did not obstruct it, and Harker could see its ghostly flicker all the same. This startled him, but as the effect was only momentary, he decided that his eyes had deceived him as they strained through the darkness. For a time there were no more blue flames, and they sped onward through the gloom, with the howling of the wolves around them, as though the beasts were following them in a moving circle.
There came a time when the driver went further afield than he had yet gone, and during his absence, the horses began to tremble worse than ever and to snort and scream with fright. Harker could not see any reason for it; the howling of the wolves had stopped altogether. Then the moon, sailing through the black clouds, appeared behind the jagged crest of a jutting, pine-clad rock, and by its light he saw a ring of wolves around the carriage, with white teeth, lolling red tongues, long, sinewy limbs, and shaggy hair. They were a hundred times more terrible in their grim silence than when they had howled. Harker felt paralyzed with fear.
The wolves began to howl, as though the moonlight had had some peculiar effect on them. The horses jumped and reared, and looked helplessly round with eyes that rolled terribly, but the living ring of terror surrounded them on every side, and they had to remain within it. Harker called to the coachman, thinking their only chance was to try to break through the ring to help the man approach. He shouted and beat the side of the carriage, hoping to scare the wolves from that side to give the man a chance of reaching the drivers seat. The he heard the driver’s voice give an imperious command, and looking towards the sound, saw the man standing in the roadway. He swept his long arms, as though brushing aside some impalpable obstacle, and the wolves fell back. Just then a heavy cloud passed across the face of the moon, so that they were once more in darkness.
When Harker could see again, the driver was climbing into the carriage, and the wolves had disappeared. This was so strange and uncanny that a dreadful fear came upon Harker, and he was afraid to speak or move. Time seemed interminable as they swept on their way, now in almost complete darkness, for the rolling clouds obscured the moon. They kept on ascending, with occasional periods of quick descent, but mainly always ascending. Suddenly, Harker realized that the driver was pulling the horses up in the courtyard of a vast ruined castle, from whose tall black windows came no ray of light, and whose broken battlements showed a jagged line against the moonlit sky.
Harker thought he must have been asleep, because if he had been fully awake he would have noticed such a remarkable place as they approach. In the gloom, the courtyard looked large, and as several dark ways led from it through great round arches, it might be even bigger, seen by daylight.
When the carriage stopped, the driver jumped down and held out his hand to assist Harker, who again noticed the man’s prodigious strength. His hand was like a steel vice that could have crushed Harker’s if he had chosen. He took out Harker’s luggage and placed it on the ground beside him, next to a great old door, studded with large iron nails and set in a massive projecting stone doorway. Even in the dim light, Harker could see that the stone had been carved, but the carving had been worn by time and the weather. The driver jumped back into his seat and shook the reins, the horses started forward, and the carriage disappeared down one of the dark openings.
Harker stood in silence, not knowing what to do. There was no bell or knocker, and it was unlikely that his voice could penetrate the frowning walls and darkened windows. He waited seemingly endlessly, and felt doubts and fears crowding in upon him. What sort of place had he come to, and among what kind of people? What sort of grim adventure had he embarked upon? Was this a normal incident in the life of a lawyer’s clerk sent to explain the purchase of a London estate to a foreigner? Then Harker remembered just before leaving London, had got word that he had passed the bar, and was now a full blown lawyer. He began to rub his eyes and pinch himself to see if he was awake. It seemed like a horrible nightmare, and he expected to suddenly awaken and find himself at home, with the dawn struggling in through the windows, as he sometimes did in the morning after a day of overwork. But his flesh answered the pinching test, and his eyes were deceived. He was awake and among the Carpathians. All he could do was to be patient, and to wait for the coming of the morning.
Just as he had come to this conclusion, he heard heavy steps approaching behind the great door, and saw through the cracks a growing gleam of light. Chains rattled chains and a massive bolt was drawn back. A key turned with the loud grating of long disuse, and the great door swung back.
Within stood a tall old man, clean shaven save for a long white moustache, and clad in black from head to toe. There wasn’t a single speck of colour to him anywhere. He held an antique silver lamp in his hand in which a flame burned without a chimney or globe of any kind, throwing long quivering shadows as it flickered in the draft from the open door. The old man motioned Harker to enter with his right hand with a courtly gesture.
“Welcome to my house!” he said in excellent English, with a strange intonation. “Enter freely and of your own will!”
He made no move to step to meet Harker, but stood like a statue, as though his gesture of welcome had fixed him into stone. The instant that Harker stepped across the threshold, the man moved forward impulsively, and grasped Harker’s hand with a strength that made the Englishman wince. The old man’s hand seemed as cold as ice—more like the hand of a dead than a living man.
“Welcome to my house,” he repeated. “Come freely, go safely, and leave something of the happiness you bring!”
The strength of his handshake was so much like that of his driver, whose face Harker hadn’t seen, that for a moment Harker wondered if they might be the same person.
“Count Dracula?” Harker asked.
The man bowed in a courtly way.
“I am Dracula”, he replied, “and I bid you welcome, Mr. Harker, to my house. Come in. The night air is chilly, and you must need to eat and rest.”
As he was speaking, he put the lamp on a bracket on the wall, and stepping out, took Harker’s luggage. He had carried it in before Harker could protest.
“Sir, you are my guest,” said the Count. “It is late, and my people are not available. Let me see to your comfort myself.”
He insisted on carrying Harker’s cases along the passage, up a great winding stair, and along another great passage, on whose stone floor their steps rang heavily. At the end of it, he threw open a heavy door, and Harker rejoiced to see a well lit room in which a table was spread for supper, and on whose mighty hearth a great fire of freshly replenished logs flamed and flared.
The Count halted, putting down Harker’s bags, closed the door, and crossing the room, opened another door that led into a small octagonal room lit by a single lamp, and seemingly to be windowless. Passing through it, he opened another door, and motioned for Harker to enter. Beyond it was a welcome sight; a large bedroom, well lit and warmed by another log fire, also added to recently, for the top logs were fresh, which sent a hollow roar up the wide chimney. The Count himself left Harker’s luggage inside and withdrew.
“You will need, after your journey, to refresh yourself,” he said before he closed the door. “I trust you will find everything you need. When you are ready, come into the other room, where you will find your supper prepared.”
The light and warmth and the Count’s courteous welcome had dissipated all of Harker’s doubts and fears. He discovered that he was half famished with hunger. He cleaned up hastily, then went into the other room.
Supper was already laid out. His host, who stood on one side of the great fireplace, leaning against the stonework, gracefully wave of his hand to the table.
“I pray, be seated and eat as you please,” said the Count. “You will, I trust, excuse me if I do not join you. I have dined already.”
Harker handed the Count the sealed letter entrusted to him by Mr. Hawkins. The Count opened it and read it gravely. Then, with a charming smile, he handed it to Harker to read. One passage of it, at least, gave Harker a thrill of pleasure.
“I must regret that an attack of gout, a malady from which I am a constant sufferer, forbids absolutely any travelling on my part for some time to come, but I am happy to say I can send a sufficient substitute, one in whom I have every possible confidence. He is a young man, full of energy and talent, and of a very faithful disposition. He is discreet and silent, and has grown into manhood in my service. He shall be ready to attend on you when you will during his stay, and shall take your instructions in all matters.”
Then then Count himself came forward and removed the cover from the dish, and Harker dug in at once to an excellent roast chicken. This, with some cheese, a salad, and a bottle of old Tokay, of which he had two glasses, was his supper. As he was eating, the Count asked him many questions about his journey, and Harker told him everything he had experienced.
When he had finished his supper, at his host’s request he drew up a chair by the fire, and lit a cigar that the Count offered him, excusing himself because he did not smoke. Harker had an opportunity to observe the man, and found him very unusual looking.
His face was a strong—very strong—with an aquiline, high bridged, thin nose and peculiarly arched nostrils. He had a high domed forehead, and his hair grew scantily around his temples but profusely elsewhere. His eyebrows were massive, almost meeting over his nose, and so bushy that they seemed to curl in profusion. His mouth, as far as Harker could see it under his heavy moustache, was fixed and rather cruel looking, with peculiarly sharp white teeth. These protruded over his lips, whose remarkable redness showed astonishing vitality in a man of his years. His ears were pale, and at the tops extremely pointed. His chin was broad and strong, and his cheeks firm though thin. He was extraordinarily pale.
Harker had noticed the backs of his hands as they lay on his knees in the firelight, and they had seemed rather white and fine. Close up, he noticed that they were rather coarse—broad, with squat fingers. Strangely, there were hairs in the centre the Count’s palms. His nails were long and fine, and cut to a sharp point. As the Count leaned over Harker and touched him, Harker could not repress a shudder. The Count’s breath was rank, and a horrible feeling of nausea came over Harker that he could not conceal. The Count, evidently noticing, drew back. With a grim sort of smile, which showed even more of his protruding teeth, he sat down again on the other side of the fireplace. They were both silent for a while. As Harker looked towards the window, he saw the first dim streak of the coming dawn. There was a strange stillness over everything, but as he listened he heard the howling of many wolves from down below in the valley. The Count’s eyes gleamed.
“Listen to them—the children of the night,” he said. “What music they make! Ah, sir, you city dwellers cannot enter into the feelings of the hunter.”
Then the Count rose.
“But you must be tired,” he said. “Your bedroom is ready, and tomorrow you shall sleep as late as you wish. I will be away til the afternoon, so sleep well and dream well!”
With a courteous bow, he opened the door to the octagonal room for Harker, and the lawyer entered his bedroom. He was in a sea of wonders. His doubts and fears made him think strange things that he dared not confess to his own soul. He prayed to God to keep him, if only for the sake of those dear to him.
* * *
Harker slept until late in the day, and awoke of his own accord. When he had dressed, he went into the room where he had had supper, and found a cold breakfast laid out, with coffee kept hot by placing the pot on the hearth. There was a card on the table.
I have to be absent for a while. Do not wait for me.—D.
Harker set to and enjoyed the hearty meal. When he had done, he looked for a bell to let the servants know he had finished, but couldn’t find one. There were certainly odd deficiencies in the house, considering the extraordinary evidence of wealth around him. The table service was of gold, and so beautifully wrought that it must have been immensely valuable. The curtains and upholstery of the chairs and sofas and the hangings of his bed were of the costliest and most beautiful fabrics, and must have been fabulously valuable when they were made, but they were centuries old, though in excellent order. He seen something like them in Hampton Court, but those were worn, frayed, and moth eaten. None of the rooms had a mirror, not even a small one on his table, and he had to get the little shaving glass out of his bag to shave and brush his hair. He had not yet seen a servant anywhere, or heard a sound except the howling of wolves. Some time after he had finished his meal, which he had had between five and six o’clock, he began to look about for something to read. There was nothing in the room, neither books, newspaper, or even writing materials. He didn’t want to go about the castle until he had asked the Count’s permission, but decided to try the door opposite his; he found it locked. He then opened another door in the room and found a library.
In the library he found, to my great delight, a vast number of English books, whole shelves full of them, and bound volumes of magazines and newspapers. A table in the centre was littered with magazines and newspapers, though none of them were of very recent. The books were varied—history, geography, politics, political economy, botany, geology, law—all relating to England and English life, customs, and manners. There were even reference books like the London Directory, the Red and Blue books, Whitaker’s Almanac, the Army and Navy Lists, and—it gladdened his heart to see—the Law List.
Whilst Harker was looking at the books, the door opened, and the Count entered. He saluted Harker heartily.
“I hope you had a good night’s rest,” said the Count. “I am glad you found your way in here, for I am sure there is much that will interest you. These companions have been good friends to me, and for some years, ever since I had the idea of going to London, have given me hours and hours of pleasure. Through them I have come to know your great country, and to know her is to love her. I long to walk through the crowded streets of your mighty London, to be in the midst of the whirl and rush of humanity, to share its life, its changes, its death, and all that makes it what it is. Alas, as yet I only know your tongue through books. I look to you, my friend, to know it to speak.”
“But, Count,” Harker said, “you know and speak English thoroughly!”
The Count bowed gravely.
“I thank you, my friend, for your too flattering estimate, but I fear that I am but a little way on the road I would travel. True, I know the grammar and the words, but I do not know how to speak them.”
“Truly, you speak excellently,” said Harker.
“Not so,” the Count replied. “If I moved and spoke in your London, none there would not know me for a stranger. That is not enough for me. Here I am a noble; I am boyar. The common people know me, and I am master. But a stranger in a strange land is no one. Men do not know him—and to not know is to not care for. I am content to be like the rest, so that no man stops if he see me, or pauses if he hears my words, and thinks ‘Ha, ha! a stranger!’ I have been a master so long that I want to remain a master—or at least no one should be master of me. You do not come to me only as the agent of my friend Peter Hawkins, of Exeter, to tell me about my new estate in London. You will, I hope, stay here with me a while, so that by our talking I may learn the English intonation. I would like you to tell me when I make an error, even the smallest one, in my speaking. I am sorry that I had to be away so long today, but you will, I hope, forgive one who has so many important affairs in hand.”
“I am more than willing,” said Harker. “Might I come to this room when I choose?”
“Yes, certainly,” said the Count. “You may go anywhere you wish in the castle, except where the doors are locked, where of course you will not wish to go. There is reason that all things are as they are, and if you saw with my eyes and knew with my knowledge, you would understand.”
“I’m sure of this,” replied Harker.
“We are in Transylvania, and Transylvania is not England,” said the Count. “Our ways are not your ways, and there will be many things that are strange to you. From what you have told me of your experiences already, you know something of what strange things there may be.”
Since the Count wanted to talk, if only for talking’s sake, Harker asked him many questions about things that had already happened to him or that he had noticed. Sometimes the Count changed the subject, or turned the conversation by pretending not to understand him. Generally he answered what Harker asked very frankly. As time went on, Harker grew bolder, and asked the Count about some of the strange things that had happened the preceding night. He asked why the coachman went to the places where he had seen the blue flames.
“It is commonly believed that on a certain night of the year—last night, in fact, when all evil spirits are supposed to have unchecked sway—that a blue flame is seen over any place where treasure has been concealed,” the Count explained. “There is little doubt that treasure has been hidden in the region that you came through last night. It was ground fought over for centuries by the Wallachians, the Saxons, and the Turks. Why, there is hardly a foot of soil in this entire region that has not been enriched by the blood of men, either patriots or invaders. In the old days, there were stirring times when the Austrians and the Hungarians came up in hordes, and the patriots went out to meet them—men and women, the aged and the children too—and waited on the rocks above the passes to sweep destruction down on them with artificial avalanches. When the invader was triumphant, he found little, for whatever there was had been sheltered in the friendly soil.”
“But how,” said Harker, “can it have remained undiscovered so long, when there is a sure way to find it if men only take the trouble to look?”
The Count smiled, and as his lips ran back over his gums, his long, sharp, canine teeth showing strangely.
“Because a peasant is at heart a coward and a fool!” he answered. “The flames only appear on one night, and on that night, no man of this land will, if he can help it, stir outside his doors. Even if he did, he would not know what to do. Even the peasant that you tell me of who marked the locations of the flames would not know where to find them in daylight. Even you would not, I would guess, be able to find these places again?”
“There you are right,” Harker said. “I know no more where even to look for them than the dead.”
Then they drifted into other matters.
“Come,” said the Count at last, “tell me of London and the house that you have procured for me.”
With an apology for being remiss, Harker went to his room to get the papers from his bag. While he was putting them in order, he heard china and silver rattling in the next room. Upon returning, the table had been cleared and the lamp lit, for it was by this time very dark. The lamps were also lit in the library, and he found the Count lying on the sofa, reading an English Bradshaw’s Guide. When Harker came in, the Count cleared the books and papers from the table. Harker went into plans, deeds, and figures of all sorts with him. The Count was interested in everything, and asked Harker a myriad questions about the place and its surroundings. He had clearly studied all he could get on the subject of the neighbourhood beforehand, and in the end knew much more than Harker did.
“Well, but, my friend, is it not needful that I should?” asked the Count when Harker remarked on this. “When I go there I will be all alone, and my friend Harker Jonathan—pardon me, I fall into my country’s habit of putting your surname first—my friend Jonathan Harker will not be by my side to correct and help me. He will be in Exeter, miles away, probably working on legal papers with my other friend, Peter Hawkins.”
They went thoroughly into the business of the purchase of the estate at Purfleet. When Harker had told the Count the facts and got his signature on the necessary papers, and had written a letter ready to post with them to Mr. Hawkins, the Count began to ask him how he had come across so suitable a place. Harker the notes which he had made at the time to the Count.
“At Purfleet, on a by-road, I came across a place the seemed to fit our client’s requirements, and there was a dilapidated notice displayed saying that the property was for sale. It is surrounded by a high and ancient wall built of heavy stones, and has not been repaired for many years. The closed gates are of heavy old oak and rust eaten iron. The estate is called Carfax, no doubt a corruption of the old Quatre Face, as the house is four-sided, aligned with the points of the compass. It is on twenty acres, surrounded by the solid stone wall mentioned above. There are many trees on the property, which make it gloomy in places, and there is a deep, dark-looking pond, evidently fed by some springs, as its water is clear and flows away in a fair-sized stream. The house is very large and appears to have been built in many periods going back to mediæval times, for one part is of immensely thick stone, with only a few windows high up that are heavily barred with iron. It looks like part of a keep, an old chapel or a church. I could not enter it, as I didn’t have the key to the door leading into it from the house, but I have taken views of it from various points with my Kodak. The house has been added to, but in a very straggling way, and I can only guess at the amount of ground it covers, which must be very great. There are few houses close at hand, one being a very large house only recently added to and turned into a private lunatic asylum. It is not, however, visible from the grounds.”
“I am glad that it is old and big,” said the Count when Harker had finished. “I myself am of an old family, and to live in a new house would kill me. A house cannot be made habitable in a day. After all, how few days go to make up a century. I rejoice also that there is a chapel from old times. We Transylvanian nobles love not to think that our bones may lie among the common dead. I do not seek fun or laughter, nor the bright voluptuousness of much sunshine and sparkling waters which please the young and free spirited. I am no longer young, and my heart, through weary years of mourning over the dead, is not attuned to laughter. Moreover, the walls of my castle are broken, the shadows are many, and the wind breathes cold through the broken battlements and casements. I love the shade and the shadows, and want to be alone with my thoughts when I wish.”
Somehow the Count’s words and his look did not seem to match, or the cast of his face made his smile look malignant and saturnine. Presently, with an excuse, he left Harker, asking the lawyer to put all his papers together. The Count was gone for a short time, and Harker began to look at some of the books around him. One was an atlas, which fell open naturally to the map of England, as if that map had been used a lot. Looking at it, he found little circles marking certain places, and noticed that one was near London on the east side where the Count’s new estate was situated. The other two were Exeter, and Whitby, on the Yorkshire coast. About an hour had passed when the Count returned.
“Aha!” he said, “still at your books? Good! But you must not always work. Come; I am told that your supper is ready.”
He took Harker’s arm, and they went into the next room, where Harker found an excellent supper laid out on the table. The Count again excused himself, saying he had dined out while away from home. He sat as he had previous night, and chatted while Harker ate. After supper, Harker smoked, as he had on the previous evening, and the Count stayed with him, chatting and asking questions on every conceivable subject, for hour after hour. Harker felt that it was getting very late, but did not say anything, because he felt obliged to meet his host’s wishes in every way. He was not sleepy, as his long sleep the day before had fortified him, but he could not help experiencing the chill that comes over one at the coming of the dawn, which is like the turn of the tide. They say that people who are near death often die at dawn or at the turn of the tide. Anyone who has, when tired and at his post, experienced this change in the atmosphere can well believe it. All at once, he heard a rooster crow with preternatural shrillness in the clear morning air. At this sound, Count Dracula jumped to his feet.
“Why, there is the morning again!” he said. “How remiss I am to let you stay up so long. You must make your stories of my dear new country of England less interesting, so that I don’t forget how time flies by us.”
With a courtly bow, he quickly left.
Harker went into his bedroom and drew the curtains, but there was little to see. His window opened into the courtyard, all he saw was the warm grey of the quickening sky. He pulled the curtains closed again, and sat down to write in his diary.
* * *
<<<8 May.—I began to fear as I wrote in this book that I was getting too diffuse; but now I am glad that I went into detail from the first, for there is something so strange about this place and all in it that I cannot but feel uneasy. I wish I were safe out of it, or that I had never come. It may be that this strange night-existence is telling on me; but would that that were all! If there were any one to talk to I could bear it, but there is no one. I have only the Count to speak with, and he!—I fear I am myself the only living soul within the place. Let me be prosaic so far as facts can be; it will help me to bear up, and imagination must not run riot with me. If it does I am lost. Let me say at once how I stand—or seem to.>>>
Harker only slept a few hours when he went to bed, and feeling that he could not sleep any more, got up. He had hung his shaving mirror by the window, and was just beginning to shave. Suddenly he felt a hand on his shoulder.
“Good-morning,” the Count’s said to him.
Harker started, for it amazed he that he had not seen the Count, since the whole room behind him was reflected in the mirror. In starting, he cut himself slightly, but did not notice it at the moment. Having answered the Count’s salutation, he turned to the mirror to see how he had been mistaken. This time there could be no mistake, for the Count was close to him, and Harker could see him over his shoulder. But there was no reflection of the Count in the mirror! The whole room behind Harker was visible, but there was no sign of a man in it, except for himself. This was startling, and, coming on the top of so many strange things, increased the vague feeling of uneasiness that Harker always had when the Count was near. At the instant, he saw that the cut had bled a little, and the blood was trickling down his chin. He put down the razor, turning half around as he did to look for some sticking plaster. When the Count saw Harker’s face, his eyes blazed with a sort of demoniac fury, and he suddenly made a grab at the lawyer’s throat. Harker drew away, and his hand touched the string of beads which held the crucifix. It changed the Count instantly. His fury passed so quickly that Harker could hardly believe that it was ever there.
“Take care,” said the Count. “Take care how you cut yourself. It is more dangerous than you think in this country.”
He seized the shaving mirror.
“And this is the wretched thing that has done its mischief,” he said. “It is a foul bauble of man’s vanity. Away with it!”
Opening the heavy window with a wrench of his terrible hand, the Count threw the mirror out, and it shattered into a thousand pieces on the stones of the courtyard far below. Then he left without a word. Harker was very annoyed. He could not see how he could shave, unless he used his watch case or the bottom of his shaving pot, which was fortunately of metal.
When Harker went into the dining room, breakfast was prepared, but he could not find the Count anywhere. He breakfasted alone. It was strange that as yet he had never seen the Count eat or drink. After breakfast, Harker did a little exploring. He went out onto the stairs, and found a room that looked south. The view was magnificent. The castle was on the very edge of a terrible precipice. A stone dropped from the window would fall a thousand feet without touching anything. A sea of green tree tops stretched as far as the eye could see, occasionally riven by chasms. Here and there, silver threads of rivers wound in deep gorges through the forest.
When he had seen the view, Harker explored further. There were doors, doors, doors everywhere, but all were locked and bolted. Only the windows in the castle walls offered an available exit. The castle was a veritable prison, and Harker realized he was a prisoner!
Chapter III – The Weird Sisters
When he found that he was a prisoner, a wild feeling came over Harker. He rushed up and down the stairs, trying every door and peering out of every window he could find. He went mad for a while, behaving like a rat in a trap. Finally, the conviction that he was helpless overpowered all other feelings and he sat down quietly—as quietly as he had ever done anything in his life—and began to think over what it was best to do. He was certain of only one thing; it was no use making his ideas known to the Count. The Count knows well that he did that Harker was imprisoned. As the Count was the one who had imprisoned Harker, and doubtless had his own motives for it, he would only deceive him if Harker trusted him with the facts. So far as Harker could see, his only plan was to keep his knowledge and his fears to himself, and keep his eyes open. He was either being deceived, like a baby, by his own fears, or was in desperate straits. If it was the latter, he would need all his intelligence to get through.
He had hardly come to this conclusion when he heard the great door below shut, and knew that the Count had returned. The Count did not come to the library immediately, so Harker went cautiously to his own room and found the Count making the bed. This was odd, but only confirmed what Harker had thought all along—that there were no servants in the house. Later, Harker peered through the chink of the hinges of the door and saw the Count laying the table in the dining room, and he was assured of it. If the Count himself did all these menial chorrs, surely it is proved that there was no one else to do them. This gave Harker a fright, for if there was no one else in the castle, it must have been the Count himself who drove the coach that brought Harker there. That was a terrible thought. What did it mean that the Count could control the wolves, as he did, by only holding up his hand in silence? Why did all the people in Bistritz and on the coach fear so terribly for Harker? What were the crucifix, garlic, wild rose, and mountain ash given to him? He bless the good, good woman who had hung the crucifix about his neck. It was a comfort and a strength to him whenever he touched it. It was odd that a thing that he had been taught to regard as idolatrous would, in a time of loneliness and trouble, be of help. He wondered if there was something in the essence of the thing itself, or whether it was a medium, a tangible help, in conveying memories of sympathy and comfort. He resolved, if able, to examine the matter and try to make up his mind about it. In the meantime, he set out to find out all he could about Count Dracula, hoping that the Count would talk of himself, if he turn the conversation that way. He would have to be very careful, however, not to awake the Count’s suspicion.
* * *
Harker had a long talk with the Count. He asked him a few questions on Transylvanian history, and the Count warmed up to the subject wonderfully. In speaking of things and people, and especially of battles, the Count spoke as if he had been present at them all. He explained this by saying that to a boyar, the equivalent of an English duke, the pride of his house and name is his own pride, that their glory is his glory, that their fate is his fate. Whenever the Count spoke of his house, he always said we, and spoke in the plural, like a king. Harker wished he could write down all the Count said exactly as he said it, because it was most fascinating, an entire history of the country. The Count grew excited as he spoke, and walked about the room pulling his great white moustache and grasping anything on which he laid his hands as though he would crush it by main strength. One thing he said, Harker later wrote down in his diary as nearly as he could. It told the story of the Count’s people.
“We Szekelys have a right to be proud, for in our veins flows the blood of many brave races who fought like lions for lordship. Here, in the whirlpool of Europe, the Ugric tribe brought down from Iceland the fighting spirit that Thor and Odin gave them, which their berserkers displayed with such evil intent on the seaboards of Europe, and of Asia and Africa too, til people thought that werewolves themselves had come. Here, when they came, they found the Huns, whose warlike fury had swept the earth like a living flame. Dying peoples held that in the Huns veins ran the blood of those old witches, who, expelled from Scythia had mated with devils in the desert. Fools, fools! What devil or witch was as great as Attila, whose blood rus in my veins? Is it a wonder that we were a conquering race, that we were proud, or that when the Magyars, the Lombards, the Avars, the Bulgars, or the Turks poured their thousands on our frontiers, we drove them back? Is it strange that when Arpad the Hungarian and his legions swept through the fatherland, he found us here when he reached the frontier, and that the conquest was completed there? When the Hungarian flood swept eastward, the Szekelys were claimed as kindred by the victorious Magyars. For centuries we were entrusted to guard the frontier of Turkey, and took on the endless duty of the frontier guard, for, as the Turks say, ‘water sleeps, but the enemy is sleepless.’ Who more gladly than we throughout the four nations received the ‘bloody sword,’ and at its warlike call flocked more quickly to the standard of the King? Who redeemed the great shame of my nation at the battle of Kosovo, when the flags of the Wallachs and the Magyars went down beneath the crescent flag of the Turks? One of my own family crossed the Danube as warlord and beat the Turks on their own ground. He was a Dracula indeed! His own unworthy brother, when he had fallen, sold his people to the Turks and brought the shame of slavery on them! But this Dracula inspired another of his race who in a later age brought his forces over the great river into Turkey. When he was beaten back, he came again, and again, and again, though he had to return alone from the bloody field where his troops were slaughtered, since he knew that he alone could ultimately triumph! They said that he thought only of himself. Bah! What good are peasants without a leader? How will the war end without a brain and heart to conduct it? When, after the battle of Mohács, we threw off the Hungarian yoke, we Draculas were among the leaders, for our spirit would not allow that we were not free. Ah, young sir, the Szekelys—and the Dracula clan as their heart’s blood, their brains, and their swords—can boast a record that fungal growths like the Hapsburgs and the Romanoffs will never reach. The warlike days are over. Blood is too precious a thing in these days of dishonourable peace, and the glories of the great races are just a tale that is told.”
By this time, morning was close, and they went to bed.
* * *
Harker had spent the next day wearily over books, and, simply to keep his mind occupied, had gone over some of the questions on the bar exam. That evening, when the Count came from his room, he began by asking Harker questions on legal matters and on certain kinds of business. There was a certain method to the Count’s inquiries.
First, he asked if in England a man could have two lawyers or more. Harker told the Count he could have a dozen if he wanted, but that it would not be wise to have more than one lawyer engaged in any one transaction, as only one could act at a time, and that to change lawyers would be against his interest. The Count seemed to understand thoroughly, and went on to ask if there would be any practical difficulty in having one man to attend to banking and another to look after shipping, in case local help were needed in a place far from the home of the lawyer dealing with banking. Harker asked the Count to explain more fully, so that he wouldn’t accidentally mislead him.
“I will illustrate,” said the Count. “Your friend and mine, Mr. Peter Hawkins, from the shadow of the beautiful cathedral at Exeter, which is far from London, buys for me through you my place in London. Good! Don’t think it strange that I sought the services of one so far from London instead of some one who lives there. My motive was that no local interest might be served save my wishes only. Since a Londoner might, perhaps, serve his or a friends to interests, I went afield to seek my agent, whose labours should be only in my interest. Now suppose I wish to ship goods to Newcastle, Durham, Harwich, or Dover. Wouldn’t it be easier to consign them to someone in these ports?”
“It would certainly be most easy,” said Harker, “but we lawyers have a system of agency, so that work can be done locally on instruction from any lawyer, and the client, simply placing himself in the hands of one man, can have his wishes carried out by him without further trouble.”
“But,” said the Count, “I am free to direct it myself. Is that not so?”
“Of course,” Harker replied “this is often done by businessmen who don’t want all of their affairs to be known by any one person.”
“Good!” said the Count.
He went on to ask about making consignments and the forms to be gone through, and the sorts of difficulties which might arise, but by forethought could be guarded against. Harker explained all these things to the Count to the best of his ability, and the Count gave Harker the impression that he would have made a wonderful lawyer, because there was nothing he didn’t think of or foresee. For a man who had never been in the country, and didn’t do much business, his knowledge and acumen were amazing. When the Count had satisfied himself that he had the answers he needed, and Harker had verified everything as well as he could with the books available, the Count suddenly stood up.
“Have you written to our friend Mr. Peter Hawkins since your first letter, or to any other?” he asked.
It was with some bitterness in his heart that Harker answered that he had not, and as yet had not seen any opportunity of sending letters to anybody.
“Then write them now, my young friend,” said the Count, laying a heavy hand on Harker’s shoulder. “Write to our friend and to any other you wish and say, if it pleases you, that you will stay with me until a month from now.”
“Do you wish me to stay so long?” Harker asked, his heart cold at the thought.
“I desire it very much. I will take no refusal. When your master, your employer, engaged you to come on his behalf, it was understood that only my needs were to be consulted. I have spared you nothing. Is this not so?”
What could Harker do but accept? He had to think of Mr. Hawkins’s interests, not his own. Besides, while Count Dracula was speaking, his eyes and in his bearing made Harker remember that he was a prisoner, and that if even if he wished to refuse, he had no choice. The Count saw his victory in Harker’s bow, and his mastery in Harker’s troubled face, and he began at once to use them, but in his own smooth, irresistible way.
“I pray, my good young friend, that you will not discuss things other than business in your letters. It will doubtless please your friends to know that you are well, and that you look forward to getting home to them. Is this not so?”
As he spoke, he handed Harker three sheets of note-paper and three envelopes. They were all of the thinnest paper, and looking at them, then at the Count, and noticing his quiet smile, with his sharp, canine teeth lying over his red lower lip, Harker understood as well as if the Count had said so that he should be careful what he wrote, for the Count would be able to read it. He decided to write only formal notes, but to write a full letter to Mr. Hawkins in secret, and also one to Mina, for to her he could write in shorthand, which would puzzle the Count, if he did look at it. When Harker had written his two letters, he sat quietly, reading a book, while the Count wrote several notes, referring as he wrote them to some books on his table. He then took up Harkers letters and placed them with his own, and put away his writing materials. The instant the door had closed behind him, Harker leaned over and looked at the letters, which were face down on the table. He felt no compunction in doing so, feeling that he should protect myself in every way he could.
One of the letters was addressed to Samuel F. Billington, No. 7, The Crescent, Whitby, another to Herr Leutner, Varna. The third was to Coutts & Co., London, and the fourth to Herren Klopstock & Billreuth, bankers, Budapest. The second and fourth were unsealed. Harker was just about to look at them when he saw the door handle turn. He sank back in my seat, having just had time to replace the letters where they had been, and resumed his book before the Count, holding still another letter in his hand, entered the room. The Count picked up the letters on the table and stamped them carefully, and then turned to Harker.
“I trust you will forgive me, but I have much work to do in private this evening. You will, I hope, find all things as you wish.”
At the door the Count turned, and paused for a moment.
“Let me advise you, my dear young friend,” he said. “No, let me warn you with all seriousness, that should you leave these rooms you must not by any chance go to sleep in any other part of the castle. It is old, and has many memories, and there are bad dreams for those who sleep unwisely. Be warned! Should sleep ever overcome you, or be likely to, make haste to your own chamber or to these rooms, for your rest will then be safe. But if you be not careful in this respect, then…”
The Count motioned with his hands as if he were washing them. Harker quite understood. His only doubt was whether any dream could be more terrible than the unnatural, horrible net of gloom and mystery which seemed closing around him.
* * *
When the Count left, Harker went to his room, thinking he would not be afraid to sleep in anywhere that the Count wasn’t. Harker had placed the crucifix over the head of his bed. He imagined that his rest was made freer from dreams, and decided it would remain there. After a little while, not hearing any sounds, he went out and up the stone stairs to where I could look out towards the south. There was a sense of freedom in the vast expanse, inaccessible though it was to him, compared with the narrow darkness of the courtyard. Looking out on it, he felt that he truly was in prison, and wanted a breath of fresh air, though it was night. He had begun to feel his nocturnal existence tell on him. It was destroying his nerve. He was starting at his own shadow, and was full of all sorts of horrible imaginings. God knew that there were grounds for his terrible fear in that accursed place. He looked out over the beautiful expanse, bathed in soft yellow moonlight that was almost as light as day. In the soft light, the distant hills melted, and the shadows in the valleys and gorges were a velvety black. Their simple beauty cheered him. There was peace and comfort in every breath he drew. As he leaned out of the window, his eye was caught by something moving a storey below him to his left, where he imagined that the windows of the Count’s own room would look out. The window at which Harker stood was tall and deep, with stone mullions separating the pains, and though weather worn, was still intact, but it was evidently years since the casing had been there. He drew back behind the stonework, and looked out carefully.
Harker saw the Count’s head emerge from the window below. He did not see the the Count’s face, but knew the man by his neck and the movement of his back and arms. Harker could not mistake the hands that he had had so many opportunities to study. He was at first interested and somewhat amused, but these feelings changed to repulsion and terror when he saw the Count slowly emerge from the window and begin to crawl down the castle wall over that dreadful abyss, face down, with his cloak spreading out around him like great wings. At first Harker could not believe his eyes. He thought it was some trick of the moonlight, some weird effect of shadow. He kept looking, and it could be no delusion. Hr saw the Count’s fingers and toes grasp the corners of the stones, worn clear of mortar by the stress of years, and using every projection, move downward quickly, like a lizard moves along a wall.
Harker wondered what manner of man the Count was, or what kind of creature in the semblance of a man. He felt the dread of the horrible place overpowering him. He was in fear—in awful fear—and there was no escape for him. He was surrounded by terrors that he dared not think about.
* * *
Three days later, Harker once again saw the Count go out in his lizard like fashion. The Count moved downwards and sideways, descending a hundred feet down, and moving to the left. He vanished into some hole or window. When the Count’s head had disappeared, Harker leaned out to try and see more, but it was no use—the distance was too great to allow a proper line of sight. But Harker now knew that the Count had left the castle, and decided to use the opportunity to explore more than he had previously dared to. He went back to his room for a lamp, and returned to retry all the doors. They were all locked, as he had expected, and the locks were fairly new. He went down the stone stairs to the hall where he had originally entered the castle. He found he could pull draw the bolts easily enough and unhook the great chains, but the front door was locked, and the key was not in the lock. It must be in the Count’s room. Harker resolved to watch for the Count’s door to be unlocked, so that he could get the key and escape. He thoroughly examined all the stairs and passages, and tried the doors that opened from them. Two small rooms near the hall were unlocked, but there was nothing in them except old furniture, dusty with age and moth-eaten. At last, he found a door at the top of the stairway that, though it seemed to be locked, gave a little under pressure. He pushed harder, and found that it was not really locked, but that its hinges had sagged, and the heavy door was resting on the floor. Knowing that he might not have the opportunity again, he exerted myself, and with much effort, forced it open so that he could enter. He was now in a wing of the castle to the right of the rooms he knew, and a storey lower down. From the windows, he could see that the suite of rooms lay along the south side of the castle, with the windows at the end room looking out both west and south. On both sides, there was a great precipice. The castle was built on the corner of a huge rock, so that on three sides it was quite impregnable, and large windows were placed here, where slings, arrows, or musket balls could not reach, and consequently light and comfort, impossible in a position which had to be guarded, were secured. To the west, there was a great valley, and, rising far away, massive jagged mountain fastnesses, rising peak upon peak, their sheer rock flanks studded with mountain ash and thorn whose roots clung in cracks, crevices, and crannies. This was clearly the portion of the castle occupied by the ladies in bygone days, because the furniture looked more comfortable than any Harker had seen. The windows were curtainless, and the yellow moonlight, flooding in through the diamond panes, even enabled him to see colours, while it softened the wealth of dust that lay over everything and disguised the ravages of time and moths. His lamp seemed to have little effect in the brilliant moonlight, but he was glad to have it with him, because there was a dreadful loneliness to the place that chilled his heart and made his nerves tremble. Still, it was better than living alone in the rooms that he had come to hate due to the presence of the Count, and trying to calm his nerves, he found a soft quietude come over him. He sat at a little oak table where in old times some fair lady might have sat to pen, with much thought and many blushes, her poorly spelled love letter, and writing in his diary in shorthand everything that had happened since he had last closed it. The practice reminded him that he was still in the nineteenth century, and yet, unless his senses deceived him, the old centuries had powers of their own which mere modernity could not kill.
When Harker had written in his diary and had replaced the book and pen in his pocket, he felt sleepy. The Count’s warning came into his mind, but he took pleasure in disobeying it. The feeling of sleep was upon him, and with it the obstinacy which sleep brings as its outrider. The soft moonlight soothed him, and the wide expanse outside gave him a refreshing sense of freedom. He decided not to return to his gloom haunted rooms, but to sleep in this room where, long ago, ladies had sat and sung and lived sweet lives whilst their gentle hearts were sad for their men, away in the midst of remorseless wars. He pulled a large couch out of its place it the corner, so that as he lay, he could look at the lovely view, and ignoring the dust, composed himself for sleep.
Moments later, Harker realized that he was not alone. The room was the same, unchanged since he had come into it. He could see, in the brilliant moonlight, where his own footsteps had disturbed the thick accumulation of dust on the floor. In the moonlight opposite him were three young women, noble ladies by their dress and manner. He thought that he must be dreaming when he saw them, because, though the moonlight was behind them, they cast no shadows on the floor. They came close to me, and looked at him for some time, and then whispered together. Two were dark, and had high aquiline noses, like the Count, and large, dark, piercing eyes that seemed almost red when contrasted with the pale yellow moon. The other was blonde, and as fair as could be, with great wavy masses of golden hair and eyes like pale sapphires. He seemed to know her face, know it in connection with some dreamy fear, but could not recollect how or where. All three had brilliant white teeth that shone like pearls against the ruby red of their voluptuous lips. There was something about them that made him uneasy, a longing and at the same time a deadly fear. He felt a wicked, burning desire for them to kiss him with those red lips. He hoped that Mina would never learn of this and be caused pain, but it was the truth. They whispered together, and all three laughed—silvery, musical laughter, but hard, as though the sound never came through the softness of human lips. It was like the intolerable, tingling sweetness of water glasses when played by a cunning hand. The blonde girl shook her head coquettishly, and the other two urged her on.
“Go on!” said one of the others. “You first, and we shall follow. You have the right to begin.”
“He is young and strong,” the other one one added, “and there are kisses for us all.”
Harker lay quiet, looking out under his eyelashes in an agony of delightful anticipation. The blonde girl advanced and bent over him til he could feel her breath on me. It was sweet in one sense, honey sweet, and sent the same tingling through his nerves as her voice, but with a bitterness underlying the sweetness, a bitter offensiveness, like the smell of blood.
He was afraid to raise his eyelids, but looked out and saw perfectly under his lashes. The girl went down on her knees, and bent over him, gloating. Her deliberate voluptuousness both thrilled and repulsed him, and as she arched her neck, she licked her lips like an animal, and in the moonlight he could see the moisture shining on her scarlet lips and red tongue as it lapped her white sharp teeth. Lower and lower went her head as her lips went below his mouth and chin and seemed about to fasten on his throat. Then she paused, and he could hear the sound of her tongue as she licked her teeth and lips, and felt her hot breath on his neck. The skin of his throat began to tingle as one’s flesh does when a hand that is about to tickle it approaches. He could feel the soft, shivering touch of her lips on the super-sensitive skin of his throat, and the hard dents of two sharp teeth, just touching and pausing there. He closed his eyes in weary ecstasy and waited—waited with beating heart.
A that instant, another sensation swept through his as quick as lightning. Harker became conscious of the presence of the Count, and of his being lapped in a storm of fury. Harker’s eyes opened involuntarily, and he saw the Count’s strong hand grasp the slender neck of the fair woman and with a giant’s power draw it back as her blue eyes transformed with fury, her white teeth gnashed with rage, and her fair cheeks blazed red with passion. But the Count! Never had Harker imagined such wrath and fury, even of the demons of the pit. The man’s eyes were positively blazing. The red light in them was lurid, as if the flames of hell-fire blazed behind them. His face was deathly pale, and the lines of it were like hard drawn wires. The thick eyebrows that met over his nose now seemed like a heaving bar of white-hot metal. With a fierce sweep of his arm, he hurled the woman from him, and then motioned to the others, as though he were beating them back. It was the same imperious gesture that Harker had seen the Count use with the wolves. His voice, though low, almost a whisper, see cut through the air of the room.
“How dare you touch him, any of you?” he said. “How dare you cast eyes on him when I had forbidden it? Back, I tell you! This man belongs to me! Beware how you meddle with him, or you’ll have to deal with me.”
The fair girl laugh lewdly.
“You yourself never loved,” she said. “You never love!”
The other women joined, and mirthless, hard, soulless laughter rang through the room that almost made Harker faint; it seemed like the pleasure of fiends. Then the Count turned, after looking at Harker’s face attentively.
“Yes, I too can love,” he said in a soft whisper. “You yourselves know this from the past. Is it not so? I promise you that when I am done with him you shall kiss him as much as you wish. Now go! go! I must awaken him, for there is work to be done.”
“Are we to have nothing to-night?” said one of women, with a low laugh.
She pointed to the bag which the Count had thrown upon the floor, and which moved as though there was something alive in it. He nodded his head. One of the women jumped forward and opened it. If Harker’s ears did not deceive his, there was a gasp and a low wail, like that of a half smothered child. The women closed round, leaving Harker aghast with horror, but as he looked they disappeared along with the dreadful bag. There was no door near them, and they could not have passed him without his noticing. They simply faded into the rays of the moonlight and passed out through the window; he could see their dim, shadowy forms outside for a moment before they entirely faded away.
Then the horror overcame Harker, and he sank down unconscious.
Chapter IV – The Count’s Secret
The next morning, Harker awoke in his own bed. He thought he must have fallen asleep and had a nightmare. If it had not been a dream, the Count must have carried him there. He hoped he had dreamed it, but feared that what he had experienced was startlingly real. It had seemed so real that, sitting in the broad, full sunlight of the morning, he couldn’t fully believe that it was all a dream.
He tried to reach certainty, but could not. There was some evidence. His clothes were folded and laid out in a manner which was not his habit. His watch was unwound, and he rigorously wound it just before going to bed. There were other details. But these things were not proof. They might only be evidence that his mind was disturbed. For some reason or another, he had certainly been very upset. He resolved to look for proof. He was glad of one thing: if the Count had carried Harker there and undressed him, he must have been in a hurry, because Harker’s pockets were untouched. He was sure his diary would have been a mystery the Count would not have tolerated. He would have taken or destroyed it. As Harker looked round his room, although it had been so full of fear, it now seemed a sanctuary, for nothing could be more dreadful than those awful women, who were waiting to suck his blood.
He prayed to God preserve his sanity. Safety and the assurance of safety were things of the past. While he lived there was only one thing to hope for: that he would not go mad, if, indeed, he was not mad already. If he was sane, then it was maddening to think that of all the foul things that lurk in that hateful place that the Count was the least dreadful to him, and that to the Count alone he could look for safety, even though it was only while it served the Count’s purpose. He prayed for calm. He began to have new insights on certain things which had puzzled him. Until then, he had never quite knew what Shakespeare meant when he made Hamlet say “My tablets! quick, my tablets! ’Tis meet that I put it down,” but now, feeling like his brain was unhinged or the shock had come that would end in its undoing, he turned to his diary for comfort. The habit of accurately entering into it helped to soothe him.
* * *
Harker went down to look at the room in daylight, feeling he must know the truth. When he got to the doorway at the top of the stairs, he found it closed. It had been so forcefully driven against the jamb that part of the woodwork had splintered. The bolt of the lock had not been shot, but the door was fastened from the inside. He feared what had happened was no dream, and resolved to act on this assumption.
That night, the Count asked Harker in the suavest tones to write three letters, one saying that his work was nearly done, and that he would start for home within a few days, another that he was setting the next morning, and the third saying that he had left the castle and arrived at Bistritz. Harker would have refused, but felt that it would be madness to quarrel openly with the Count while he was so absolutely in the man’s power. To refuse would excite the Count’s suspicion and arouse his anger. The Count knew that Harker knew too much, and that he must not live, or he would be dangerous to him. Harker’s only chance was to prolong things and to look for his chance to escape. He saw in the Count’s eyes the gathering wrath that was manifest when he had hurled the fair woman from him. The Count explained to Harker that posts were few and uncertain, and that by Harker writing the letters now, he was ensuring peace of mind for his friends. The Count assured Harker that he would countermand the later letters, which would be held at Bistritz until their due times, should chance prolonging Harker’s stay. To oppose him would have created suspicion. Harker therefore pretended to agree, and asked the Count what dates he should put on the letters. The Count thought for a minute.
“The first should be June 12, the second June 19, and the third June 29,” he said.
Harker realized he now knew the span of his life.
* * *
Nine days later, Harker saw a chance of escape, or at least of being able to send a message home. A band of Szgany had come to the castle, and were encamped in the courtyard. The Szgany were gypsies; He had notes about them in his book. They were peculiar to that part of the world, though allied to gypsies all the world over. There were thousands of them in Hungary and Transylvania, and they were almost outside all law. As a rule, they attached themselves to some great noble, and called themselves by his name. They were fearless, without religion, save superstition, and spoke only their own dialect of Romani.
Harker decided to write some letters home and try to have the Szgany post them. He had already spoken to them through his window to begin getting acquainted. They took their hats off, bowed, and many signs. Harker could not understand these any more than he could their language.
He wrote a letter to Mina in shorthand, and simply asked Mr. Hawkins to communicate with her. To her he explained the situation, but without the horrors that he could only guess at. He though it would shock and frighten her to death if he were to tell her all his fears. Should the letters be intercepted, the Count would still not know Harker’s secret, or the extent of his knowledge.
Harker threw the letters through the bars of his window with a gold piece, and made what signs he could to indicate his wish to have them posted. The man who took them pressed them to his heart and bowed, and then put them in his cap. Harker could do no more. He stole back to the study, and began to read. When the Count did not come in, Harker wrote in his diary.
When the Count arrived, he sat down beside Harker, and opened the two letters.
“The Szgany have given me these. Though I don’t know where they came from, I shall, of course, take care of them,” he said in his smoothest voice. “ Look! One is from you, to my friend Peter Hawkins. The other…”
The Count looked at the strange symbols after he’d opened the envelope, and a dark look came into his face, and his eyes blazed wickedly.
“The other is a vile thing, an outrage upon friendship and hospitality!” he said. “It is not signed. Well! Then it cannot matter to us.”
The Count calmly held letter and envelope in the flame of the lamp until they were consumed.
“The letter to Hawkins I shall, of course, send on, since it is yours. Your letters are sacred to me. Your pardon, my friend. I unknowingly broke the seal. Will you cover it again?”
He held out the letter to Harker, and with a courteous bow handed him a clean envelope. Harker could only readdress it and hand it back to him in silence. When the Count left the room, Harker heard the key turn softly. A minute later, he went over and tried it, and the door was locked.
An hour or two after, the Count came into the room quietly. His arrival awakened Harker, who had fallen asleep on the sofa. The Count was very courteous and cheery. He saw that Harker had been sleeping.
“So, my friend, you are tired?” said the Count. “Get to bed. There is the surest rest. I may not have the pleasure of talking with you tonight, since there is much I must do. But sleep, I pray.”
Harker went to his room and to bed, and, strangely, slept without dreaming. Despair has its own calms.
* * *
In the morning when Harker woke, he looked for paper and envelopes in his bag to keep them in his pocket, in case he got an opportunity to write another letter, but to his surprise and shock, every scrap of paper was gone, and with it all of his notes and memos relating to railways and travel, his letter of credit, and anything that might be useful if he was outside the castle. He sat and pondered a while, and then a thought occurred to him, and he searched his suitcase and the wardrobe where he had put his clothes.
The suit which he had travelled in was gone, as well as his overcoat and lap blanket. He found no trace of them anywhere. It looked like some new scheme of villainy.
As he was sitting on the edge of his bed, wracking his brains, he heard the cracking of whips and the pounding and scraping of horses’ hooves on the rocky path beyond the courtyard. He joyfully hurried to the window, and saw two large wagons drive into the yard, each drawn by eight sturdy horses, with a Slovak at the head of each pair, with wide hats, great nail-studded belts, dirty sheepskins, and high boots. They had long staves in their hands. Harker ran to the door, intending to descend and join them through the main hall, thinking that the way might have been opened for them. He was shocked to find that his door was locked from the outside.
Harker ran to the window and cried to them. They looked up at him and pointed, but just then the head man of the Szgany came out, and seeing them pointing to his window, said something that made them laugh. After this, Harker’s piteous cries and agonized entreaties wouldn’t even make them look at him. They resolutely turned away. The wagons contained big, square boxes, with handles of thick rope that were evidently empty by the ease with which the Slovaks handled them, and how they resonated hollowly as they were handled roughly. When they were all unloaded and stacked in one corner of the yard, the Slovaks were paid by the Szgany, and spitting on it for luck, lazily went to their horses. Shortly afterwards, Harker heard the cracking of their whips die away in the distance.
A week later, the Count left Harker early and locked himself into his own room. As soon as Harker dared, he ran up the winding stair and looked out of the window that opened south. He watched for the Count, feeling there was something going on. The Szgany were quartered somewhere in the castle and were doing work of some kind. Now and then, he heard far-away muffled sounds of mattocks and spades, and wondered what villainy they were up to.
He had been at the window for less than half an hour when he saw something coming out of the Count’s window. He drew back and watched carefully, and saw the man emerge. Harker was shocked to see that the Count was wearing the suit of clothes Harker had worn while travelling, and the terrible bag that Harker had seen the women take away slung over his shoulder. This, then, was the Count’s evil scheme. He would allow others to think they had seen Harker, leaving evidence that he had been seen in the town, posting his own letters, and any wickedness done by the count would be attributed to Harker by the local people.
Harker raged to think that this could happen, while he was shut up, a prisoner, without that protection of the law which is even a criminal’s right and consolation.
He watched for the Count’s return, and sat doggedly at the windowfor a long time. He began to notice quaint little specks floating in the rays of moonlight. They were like tiny grains of dust, and they whirled around and gathered in nebulous clusters. He watched them, and a soothing calm stole over he. He leaned back in the embrasure in a more comfortable position to fully enjoy the aerial frolicking.
The low, piteous howling of dogs somewhere far below in the valley, hidden from his sight, startled him. It rang loudly in his ears, and the floating motes of dust took on new shapes as they danced in the moonlight. He struggled to wake to some call of his instincts. His very soul was struggling, and his half-remembered sensibilities striving to answer the call. He realized he was being hypnotised. The dust danced faster and faster. The moonbeams seemed to quiver in the gloom beyond. More and more dust gathered until it seemed to take on dim phantom shapes. Harker started, broad awake and in full possession of his senses, and ran screaming from the place. The phantom shapes, which gradually materialized from the moonbeams, were the three ghostly women to whom the Count had promised him. He fled, and felt somewhat safer in his own room, where there was no moonlight and the lamp was burning brightly.
A couple of hours had passed when Harker heard something stirring in the Count’s room, and something like a sharp wail was quickly suppressed. Then there was silence, deep, awful silence, that chilled him. His heart beating in his ears, he tried the door, but he was locked in his prison, and could do nothing. He sat down and simply cried.
As he sat, he heard a sound outside in the courtyard—the agonised cry of a woman. He rushed to the window and, throwing it open, peered out between the bars. There was a woman with dishevelled hair, holding her hands over her heart as though distressed with running. She leaned against a corner of the gateway. When she saw his face at the window, she threw herself forward.
“Monster, give me my child!” she shouted, in a voice laden with menace.
She threw herself on her knees, and raising up her hands, cried the same words in tones which wrung Harker’s heart. She tore her hair and beat her chest, abandoning herself to the violence of extravagant emotion. Finally, she threw herself forward, and, though he could not see her, he could hear her beating her naked hands against the door.
High overhead in the tower, Harker heard the Count calling in his harsh, metallic voice. His call was answered from far and wide by the howling of wolves. Minutes later, a pack of them poured, like water freed from a pent up dam, through the wide entrance into the courtyard.
The woman did not cry out, and the howling of the wolves was short. Before long they streamed away, licking their lips.
Harker could not pity her, because knew what had become of her child, and the woman was better off dead.
What should he do? What could he do? How could he escape from this dreadful creature of night and gloom and fear?
* * *
How dear to Harker’s heart and eye the morning was. When the sun rose so high that it struck the top of the great gateway opposite his window, the high spot that it touched seemed as if the dove from Noah’s ark had alighted there. His fear fell from him as if it had been a vaporous garment that dissolved in the warmth. He must take action of some sort whilst the courage of the day was upon him. The previous night, one of his post-dated letters had been sent, the first of the fatal series that was to blot out every trace of his existence from the earth.
It had always been at night that he had been molested, threatened, in danger, or afraid. Harker realized had never seen the Count in the daylight. He wondered whether the Count slept when others woke so that he could be awake while they slept. If only Harker could get into the Count’s room. There was no possible way. The door was always locked.
Yet there was a way, if one dared to take it. Where the Count had gone, another could go. Harker had seen the man crawl from his window. Could Harker could imitate the Count, and go in by his window? The risks were terriible, but Harker’s need was desperate. He decided to risk it. At worst, it would mean death. A man’s death is not a calf’s, and perhaps the hereafter was still open to him. He prayed to God to help him.
While his courage was fresh, Harker went straight to the window on the south side, and stepped out onto the narrow ledge of stone that ran around the building on that side. The stones were big and roughly cut, and the mortar between them had been washed away by time been. He took off his boots and ventured out on the desperate path. After looking down once to make sure that a sudden glimpse of the awful depth would not overcome him, he kept his eyes away from it. He knew the direction and distance to the Count’s window, and made for it as well as he could using the opportunities available. He did not feel dizzy—he suppose he was too excited—and the time seemed ridiculously short when he found himself standing on the window sill and trying to raise the sash. He became filled with agitation when he bent down and slid feet first in through the window. He looked around for the Count, but, with surprise and gladness, discovered that the room was empty! It was sparsely furnished with odd things that seemed never to have been used. The furniture was the same style as that in the south rooms, and was covered with dust. Harker looked for the key, but it was not in the lock, and he could not find it anywhere. The only thing he found was a great heap of gold in one corner—gold of all kinds, Roman, British, Austrian, Hungarian, Greek, and Turkish money, covered with a film of dust, as though it had been long buried. None of it was less than three hundred years old. There were also chains and ornaments, some jewelled, but all of them old and stained.
In one corner of the room was a heavy door. Harker tried it, since he could not find the key to the room or to the outer door, which was the main object of his search. It was open, and led through a stone passage to a circular stairway, which descended steeply. He went down it carefully, because the stairs were dark, lit by loopholes in the heavy masonry. At the bottom there was a dark, tunnel-like passage, up which came a deathly, sickly odour, the smell of old earth newly turned. As he went down the passage, the smell grew closer and heavier. At last he pulled open a heavy door that stood ajar, and found himself in an old, ruined chapel, which had evidently been used as a graveyard. The roof was broken, and in two places there were steps leading to vaults, but the ground had recently been dug up, and the earth placed in the great wooden boxes brought by the Slovaks. There was nobody around, and Harker searched for another way out, but there was none. He went over every inch of the ground while he had the chance, even down into the vaults, where the dim light struggled, although to do so filled his soul with dread. Into two of these, he saw nothing but fragments of old coffins and piles of dust. In the third, however, he made a discovery.
There, in one of the fifty great boxes, on a pile of newly turned earth, lay the Count! He was either dead or asleep, Harker could not say which. The Count’s eyes were open and stony, but without the glassiness of death, and his cheeks had the warmth of life through all their pallor. His lips were as red as ever. There was no sign of movement, no pulse, no breath, no heartbeat. Harker bent over him, and tried to in vain to find any sign of life. The Count could not have lain there long, because the earthy smell would have faded away in a few hours. Beside of the box was its cover, pierced with holes here and there. Harker thought the Couunt might have the keys on his person, but as he went to search he saw the Count’s dead eyes, and in them, dead though they were, there was such a look of hatred, though unconscious of Harker’s presence, that he fled from the place, leaving the Count’s room by the window, and crawled back up the castle wall. Regaining his room, he threw myself panting upon the bed and tried to think.
* * *
On the day of Harker’s last letter, the Count took steps to prove that it was genuine, because Harker again saw him leave the castle in Harker’s clothes. As the Count went down the wall, lizard fashion, Harker wished he had a gun with which to destroy him, but feared that no weapon wrought by man would have any effect on the Count. He dared not wait there for the Count’s return, fearing to see the weird sisters. He went back to the library, and read there til he fell asleep.
He was awakened by the Count, who looked at him as grimly as a man can look.
“Tomorrow, my friend, we must part,” he said. “You will return to your beautiful England, I to some work that may mean that we never meet again. Your letter home has been dispatched. Tomorrow I will not be here, but everything will be ready for your journey. In the morning, the Szgany, who have some chores of their own here, will come, as well as some Slovaks. Once they have gone, my carriage will come for you and carry you to the Borgo Pass to meet the coach from Bukovina to Bistritz. But I hope that I will see more of you at Castle Dracula.”
Harker suspected the Count, and determined to test his sincerity. Sincerity! It profaned the word to write it in connection with such a monster.
“Why may I not go to-night?” asked Harker.
“Because, dear sir, my coachman and horses are away on a mission,” said the Count.
“I would be happy to walk,” said Harker. “I want to get away at once.”
The Count smiled such a soft, smooth, diabolical smile that Harker knew there was some trick behind his smoothness.
“And your baggage?” he asked.
“I do not care about it,” said Harker. “I can send for it some other time.”
The Count stood up.
“You English have a saying that is close to my heart, for its spirit is that which rules our nobles,” he said, with sweet courtesy that made Harker rub his eyes, it seemed so real. “‘Welcome the coming and speed the parting guest.’ Come with me, my dear young friend. You will not wait an hour in my house against your will, though sad am I at your going, and that you so suddenly desire it. Come!”
With a stately gravity, the Count, with the lamp, preceded Harker down the stairs and along the hall. Suddenly he stopped.
“Listen!” he said.
Close at hand, Harker heard the howling of many wolves. It was almost as if the sound sprang up at the rising of the Count’s hand, just as the music of a great orchestra seems to leap under the baton of the conductor. After pausing a moment, he proceeded, in his stately way, to the door, drew back the ponderous bolts, unhooked the heavy chains, and began to draw it open.
To Harker’s intense astonishment, he saw that it was unlocked. Suspiciously, he looked around, but could see no key of any kind.
As the door began to open, the howling of the wolves outside grew louder and angrier. Their red jaws, gnashing teeth, and blunt clawed feet came in through the opening door as they leapt at it. Harker knew then that to struggle against the Count was useless at that moment. With allies like these at the Count’s command, Harker could do nothing. The door continued to slowly open, and only the Count’s body stood in the gap. Suddenly, it struck Harker that this might be the moment and means of his doom. He was to be given to the wolves at his own instigation. There was a diabolical wickedness in the idea that suited the Count.
“Shut the door! I’ll wait till morning!” Harker cried out.
Harker covered his face with his hands to hide his tears of bitter disappointment. With one sweep of his powerful arm, the Count slammed the door shut, and the great bolts clanged and echoed through the hall as he shot them back into place.
In silence, they returned to the library, and after a minute or two Harker went to his own room. The last he saw of Dracula, the Count was blowing him a kiss, the red light of triumph in his eyes and a smile that Judas in hell might be proud of.
When Harker was about to lie down, he thought he heard whispering at his door. He went to it softly and listened. Unless his ears deceived me, he heard the voice of the Count.
“Back, back, to your own place! Your time has not yet come. Wait! Have patience! Tonight is mine. Tomorrow night is yours!”
There was a low, sweet ripple of laughter, and in a rage, Harker threw open the door, and saw the three terrible women licking their lips. As I appeared, they laughed horribly and ran away.
Harker went back to his room and threw himself on his knees. Was it so near the end? Tomorrow! tomorrow! He prayed to the Lord to help him and those to whom he was dear.
* * *
He felt that subtle change in the air, and knew that morning had come. A cock crowed, and he felt that he was safe. With a glad heart, he opened his door and ran down to the hall. He had seen that the front door was unlocked, and now escape was possible. With hands that trembled with eagerness, he unhooked the chains and drew back the massive bolts.
The door would not move. Despair seized him. He pulled and pulled at the door, and shook it til, massive as it was, it rattled in its frame. He could see the bolt had been shot. It had been locked after he left the Count.
A wild desire took him to obtain the key at any cost, and he determined then and there to scale the wall again and reach the Count’s room. The Count might kill him, but death seemed the better choice of evils. Without pausing, he rushed up to the east window and scrambled down the wall and into the Count’s room. It was empty, but that was what Harker expected. He could not see a key anywhere, but the pile of gold remained. He went through the door in the corner, down the winding stairs, and along the dark passage to the old chapel. He knew where to find the monster he sought.
The great box was in the same place, close to the wall, but its lid was laid on it, not fastened down, but with the nails ready to be hammered home. Harker knew he must reach the Count’s body to get the key, so he raised the lid and laid it back against the wall. He saw something which filled his soul with horror. There lay the Count, but looking as if his youth had been half renewed. His white hair and moustache were now dark iron grey. His cheeks were fuller, and his white skin seemed ruby red underneath. His mouth was redder than ever, and there were drops of fresh blood on his lips, and it trickled from the corners of the mouth and ran over his chin and neck. Even his deep, burning eyes seemed set among swollen flesh. Their lids and the pouches under them were bloated. It seemed as if that whole awful creature was gorged with blood. He lay like a filthy leech, exhausted with his excess. Harker shuddered as he bent over to touch him, and every sense in him revolted at the contact. He had to search, or he was lost. The coming night might see his own body become a similar banquet to the horrid sisters. Harker felt all over the Count’s body, but found no sign of the key. He stopped and looked at the Count. There was a mocking smile on the bloated face that drove Harker mad. This was the creature he was helping to transfer to London, where for centuries to come he might, among its teeming millions, satiate his lust for blood, and create a new and ever-widening circle of demons to grow fat on the helpless. The very thought drove Harker mad. A terrible desire came upon him to rid the world of the monster. There was no lethal weapon at hand, but he seized a shovel that the workmen had been using to fill the cases, and lifting it high, struck, with the edge downward, at the Count’s hateful face. As he did, the Count’s head turned, and his eyes fell upon Harker with a blaze of basilisk horror. The sight seemed to paralyze Harker, and the shovel turned in his hand and glanced off the Count’s face, merely giving hin a deep gash above the forehead. The shovel fell from Harker’s hand across the box, and as he pulled it away, the flange of the blade caught the edge of the lid, which fell over again, and hid the Count from his sight. The last glimpse he had was of the monstrous bloated face, blood stained and with a grin of malice that would have held its own in the nethermost hell.
Harker thought and thought what he should do next, but his brain seemed on fire, and he waited with growing despair. As he waited, he heard a gypsy song in the distance, sung by merry voices coming closer, and over the song the rolling of heavy wheels and the cracking of whips. The Szgany and the Slovaks who the Count had spoken of were coming. With a last look around and at the box that contained the vile body, Harker ran from the place to the Count’s room, determined to rush out the moment the door was opened. With straining ears, he listened, and heard the grinding of the key in the great lock downstairs and the heavy door falling back. There must have been some other means of entry, or some one had a key for one of the locked doors. The sound of many feet tramping and dying away in some passage sent up a clanging echo. He turned to run down towards the vault to find the new entrance. At the moment, a violent puff of wind blew the door to the winding stair to with a shock that set the dust flying from the lintels. When he ran to push it open, he found that it was hopelessly stuck. He was once more a prisoner, and the net of doom was closing around him more tightly.
In the passage below, Harker heard the sound of many tramping feet and the crash of weights being set down heavily, doubtless the boxes with their cargo of earth. There has the sound of hammering. It must be the box being nailed down. He heard heavy feet tramping along the hall, with many other idle feet coming behind them.
The door was shut, the chains rattled, and the key ground in the lock. He could hear the key being withdrawn, and then another door opened and shut. He heard the creaking of a lock and bolt.
In the courtyard and down the rocky way, he heard the roll of heavy wheels, the crack of whips, and the chorus of the Szgany as they passed into the distance.
He was alone in the castle with those awful women. They had nothing in common with a real woman like Mina. They were devils of the Pit!
Harker decided he would not remain alone with them. He would try to scale the castle wall farther than he had ever attempted. He would take some of the gold with him in case he needed it. He might yet find a way out of the dreadful place.
Then he would head for home! Away to the quickest and nearest train! Away from the cursed spot, from the cursed land, where the devil and his children still walk with earthly feet!
God’s mercy was better than that of the monsters, and the precipice was steep and high. If he fell, he would sleep as a man.
Here ends the first act of the novel.
In act 2, the story moves to England, the pace slows, and we are introduced to Harker’s fiance Mina and her friend Lucy. If you like what I’ve done here and would like to see more, leave me a comment.
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