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Home Horror Dracula. But a stranger in a strange land, he is no one; men know him not—and to know not is to care not for. You come to me not alone as agent of my friend Peter Hawkins, of Exeter, to tell me all about my new estate in London.
You shall, I trust, rest here with me awhile, so that by our talking I may learn the English intonation; and I would that you tell me when I make error, even of the smallest, in my speaking.
I am sorry that I had to be away so long to-day; but you will, I know, forgive one who has so many important affairs in hand. Of course I said all I could about being willing, and asked if I might come into that room when I chose.
There is reason that all things are as they are, and did you see with my eyes and know with my knowledge, you would perhaps better understand.
Our ways are not your ways, and there shall be to you many strange things. Nay, from what you have told me of your experiences already, you know something of what strange things there may be.
Sometimes he sheered off the subject, or turned the conversation by pretending not to understand; but generally he answered all I asked most frankly.
Then as time went on, and I had got somewhat bolder, I asked him of some of the strange things of the preceding night, as, for instance, why the coachman went to the places where he had seen the blue flames.
He then explained to me that it was commonly believed that on a certain night of the year—last night, in fact, when all evil spirits are supposed to have unchecked sway—a blue flame is seen over any place where treasure has been concealed.
Why, there is hardly a foot of soil in all this region that has not been enriched by the blood of men, patriots or invaders.
In old days there were stirring times, when the Austrian and the Hungarian came up in hordes, and the patriots went out to meet them—men and women, the aged and the children too—and waited their coming on the rocks above the passes, that they might sweep destruction on them with their artificial avalanches.
When the invader was triumphant he found but little, for whatever there was had been sheltered in the friendly soil. Those flames only appear on one night; and on that night no man of this land will, if he can help it, stir without his doors.
And, dear sir, even if he did he would not know what to do. Why, even the peasant that you tell me of who marked the place of the flame would not know where to look in daylight even for his own work.
Even you would not, I dare be sworn, be able to find these places again? Whilst I was placing them in order I heard a rattling of china and silver in the next room, and as I passed through, noticed that the table had been cleared and the lamp lit, for it was by this time deep into the dark.
When I came in he cleared the books and papers from the table; and with him I went into plans and deeds and figures of all sorts.
He was interested in everything, and asked me a myriad questions about the place and its surroundings. He clearly had studied beforehand all he could get on the subject of the neighbourhood, for he evidently at the end knew very much more than I did.
When I remarked this, he answered:—. He will be in Exeter, miles away, probably working at papers of the law with my other friend, Peter Hawkins.
We went thoroughly into the business of the purchase of the estate at Purfleet. When I had told him the facts and got his signature to the necessary papers, and had written a letter with them ready to post to Mr.
Hawkins, he began to ask me how I had come across so suitable a place. I read to him the notes which I had made at the time, and which I inscribe here:—.
It is surrounded by a high wall, of ancient structure, built of heavy stones, and has not been repaired for a large number of years.
The closed gates are of heavy old oak and iron, all eaten with rust. It contains in all some twenty acres, quite surrounded by the solid stone wall above mentioned.
There are many trees on it, which make it in places gloomy, and there is a deep, dark-looking pond or small lake, evidently fed by some springs, as the water is clear and flows away in a fair-sized stream.
It looks like part of a keep, and is close to an old chapel or church. I could not enter it, as I had not the key of the door leading to it from the house, but I have taken with my kodak views of it from various points.
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 but few houses close at hand, one being a very large house only recently added to and formed into a private lunatic asylum.
It is not, however, visible from the grounds. 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; and, after all, how few days go to make up a century. I rejoice also that there is a chapel of old times.
We Transylvanian nobles love not to think that our bones may lie amongst the common dead. I seek not gaiety nor mirth, not the bright voluptuousness of much sunshine and sparkling waters which please the young and gay.
I am no longer young; and my heart, through weary years of mourning over the dead, is not attuned to mirth. 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 shadow, and would be alone with my thoughts when I may. Presently, with an excuse, he left me, asking me to put all my papers together.
He was some little time away, and I began to look at some of the books around me. One was an atlas, which I found opened naturally at England, as if that map had been much used.
On looking at it I found in certain places little rings marked, and on examining these I noticed that one was near London on the east side, manifestly where his new estate was situated; the other two were Exeter, and Whitby on the Yorkshire coast.
It was the better part of an hour when the Count returned. But you must not work always. Come; I am informed that your supper is ready.
The Count again excused himself, as he had dined out on his being away from home. But he sat as on the previous night, and chatted whilst I ate.
After supper I smoked, as on the last evening, and the Count stayed with me, chatting and asking questions on every conceivable subject, hour after hour.
I was not sleepy, as the long sleep yesterday had fortified me; but I could not help experiencing that chill which comes over one at the coming of the dawn, which is like, in its way, the turn of the tide.
They say that people who are near death die generally at the change to the dawn or at the turn of the tide; any one who has when tired, and tied as it were to his post, experienced this change in the atmosphere can well believe it.
All at once we heard the crow of a cock coming up with preternatural shrillness through the clear morning air; Count Dracula, jumping to his feet, said:—.
How remiss I am to let you stay up so long. I went into my own room and drew the curtains, but there was little to notice; my window opened into the courtyard, all I could see was the warm grey of quickening sky.
So I pulled the curtains again, and have written of this day. 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! 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. I only slept a few hours when I went to bed, and feeling that I could not sleep any more, got up.
I had hung my shaving glass by the window, and was just beginning to shave. In starting I had cut myself slightly, but did not notice it at the moment.
This time there could be no error, for the man was close to me, and I could see him over my shoulder. But there was no reflection of him in the mirror!
The whole room behind me was displayed; but there was no sign of a man in it, except myself. This was startling, and, coming on the top of so many strange things, was beginning to increase that vague feeling of uneasiness which I always have when the Count is near; but at the instant I saw that the cut had bled a little, and the blood was trickling over my chin.
I laid down the razor, turning as I did so half round to look for some sticking plaster. When the Count saw my face, his eyes blazed with a sort of demoniac fury, and he suddenly made a grab at my throat.
I drew away, and his hand touched the string of beads which held the crucifix. It made an instant change in him, for the fury passed so quickly that I could hardly believe that it was ever there.
It is more dangerous than you think in this country. Away with it! Then he withdrew without a word. It is very annoying, for I do not see how I am to shave, unless in my watch-case or the bottom of the shaving-pot, which is fortunately of metal.
When I went into the dining-room, breakfast was prepared; but I could not find the Count anywhere. So I breakfasted alone.
It is strange that as yet I have not seen the Count eat or drink. He must be a very peculiar man! After breakfast I did a little exploring in the castle.
I went out on the stairs, and found a room looking towards the South. The view was magnificent, and from where I stood there was every opportunity of seeing it.
The castle is on the very edge of a terrible precipice. A stone falling from the window would fall a thousand feet without touching anything!
As far as the eye can reach is a sea of green tree tops, with occasionally a deep rift where there is a chasm. Here and there are silver threads where the rivers wind in deep gorges through the forests.
But I am not in heart to describe beauty, for when I had seen the view I explored further; doors, doors, doors everywhere, and all locked and bolted.
In no place save from the windows in the castle walls is there an available exit. I rushed up and down the stairs, trying every door and peering out of every window I could find; but after a little the conviction of my helplessness overpowered all other feelings.
When I look back after a few hours I think I must have been mad for the time, for I behaved much as a rat does in a trap.
When, however, the conviction had come to me that I was helpless I sat down quietly—as quietly as I have ever done anything in my life—and began to think over what was best to be done.
I am thinking still, and as yet have come to no definite conclusion. Of one thing only am I certain; that it is no use making my ideas known to the Count.
He knows well that I am imprisoned; and as he has done it himself, and has doubtless his own motives for it, he would only deceive me if I trusted him fully with the facts.
So far as I can see, my only plan will be to keep my knowledge and my fears to myself, and my eyes open. I am, I know, either being deceived, like a baby, by my own fears, or else I am in desperate straits; and if the latter be so, I need, and shall need, all my brains to get through.
I had hardly come to this conclusion when I heard the great door below shut, and knew that the Count had returned. He did not come at once into the library, so I went cautiously to my own room and found him making the bed.
This was odd, but only confirmed what I had all along thought—that there were no servants in the house.
When later I saw him through the chink of the hinges of the door laying the table in the dining-room, I was assured of it; for if he does himself all these menial offices, surely it is proof that there is no one else to do them.
This gave me a fright, for if there is no one else in the castle, it must have been the Count himself who was the driver of the coach that brought me here.
This is a terrible thought; for if so, what does it mean that he could control the wolves, as he did, by only holding up his hand in silence.
How was it that all the people at Bistritz and on the coach had some terrible fear for me? What meant the giving of the crucifix, of the garlic, of the wild rose, of the mountain ash?
Bless that good, good woman who hung the crucifix round my neck! It is odd that a thing which I have been taught to regard with disfavour and as idolatrous should in a time of loneliness and trouble be of help.
Is it that there is something in the essence of the thing itself, or that it is a medium, a tangible help, in conveying memories of sympathy and comfort?
Some time, if it may be, I must examine this matter and try to make up my mind about it. In the meantime I must find out all I can about Count Dracula, as it may help me to understand.
To-night he may talk of himself, if I turn the conversation that way. I must be very careful, however, not to awake his suspicion.
I asked him a few questions on Transylvania history, and he warmed up to the subject wonderfully. In his speaking of things and people, and especially of battles, he spoke as if he had been present at them all.
This he afterwards explained by saying that to a boyar the pride of his house and name is his own pride, that their glory is his glory, that their fate is his fate.
I wish I could put down all he said exactly as he said it, for to me it was most fascinating. It seemed to have in it a whole history of the country.
He 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 which I shall put down as nearly as I can; for it tells in its way the story of his race:—.
Here, in the whirlpool of European races, the Ugric tribe bore down from Iceland the fighting spirit which Thor and Wodin gave them, which their Berserkers displayed to such fell intent on the seaboards of Europe, ay, and of Asia and Africa too, till the peoples thought that the were-wolves themselves had come.
Here, too, when they came, they found the Huns, whose warlike fury had swept the earth like a living flame, till the dying peoples held that in their veins ran the blood of those old witches, who, expelled from Scythia had mated with the devils in the desert.
Fools, fools! What devil or what witch was ever so great as Attila, whose blood is in these veins? Is it strange that when Arpad and his legions swept through the Hungarian fatherland he found us here when he reached the frontier; that the Honfoglalas was completed there?
When was redeemed that great shame of my nation, the shame of Cassova, when the flags of the Wallach and the Magyar went down beneath the Crescent?
Who was it but one of my own race who as Voivode crossed the Danube and beat the Turk on his own ground? This was a Dracula indeed!
Woe was it that his own unworthy brother, when he had fallen, sold his people to the Turk and brought the shame of slavery on them!
Was it not this Dracula, indeed, who inspired that other of his race who in a later age again and again brought his forces over the great river into Turkey-land; who, when he was beaten back, came again, and again, and again, though he had to come alone from the bloody field where his troops were being slaughtered, since he knew that he alone could ultimately triumph!
They said that he thought only of himself. Where ends the war without a brain and heart to conduct it? 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 as a tale that is told.
It was by this time close on morning, and we went to bed. I must not confuse them with experiences which will have to rest on my own observation, or my memory of them.
Last evening when the Count came from his room he began by asking me questions on legal matters and on the doing of certain kinds of business.
First, he asked if a man in England might have two solicitors or more. I told him he might have a dozen if he wished, but that it would not be wise to have more than one solicitor engaged in one transaction, as only one could act at a time, and that to change would be certain to militate against his interest.
He seemed thoroughly to understand, and went on to ask if there would be any practical difficulty in having one man to attend, say, to banking, and another to look after shipping, in case local help were needed in a place far from the home of the banking solicitor.
I asked him to explain more fully, so that I might not by any chance mislead him, so he said:—. Your friend and mine, Mr.
Peter Hawkins, from under the shadow of your beautiful cathedral at Exeter, which is far from London, buys for me through your good self my place at London.
Now here let me say frankly, lest you should think it strange that I have sought the services of one so far off from London instead of some one resident there, that my motive was that no local interest might be served save my wish only; and as one of London residence might, perhaps, have some purpose of himself or friend to serve, I went thus afield to seek my agent, whose labours should be only to my interest.
Now, suppose I, who have much of affairs, wish to ship goods, say, to Newcastle, or Durham, or Harwich, or Dover, might it not be that it could with more ease be done by consigning to one in these ports?
I explained all these things to him to the best of my ability, and he certainly left me under the impression that he would have made a wonderful solicitor, for there was nothing that he did not think of or foresee.
For a man who was never in the country, and who did not evidently do much in the way of business, his knowledge and acumen were wonderful.
When he had satisfied himself on these points of which he had spoken, and I had verified all as well as I could by the books available, he suddenly stood up and said:—.
Peter Hawkins, or to any other? When your master, employer, what you will, engaged that someone should come on his behalf, it was understood that my needs only were to be consulted.
I have not stinted. Is it not so? What could I do but bow acceptance? It was Mr. The Count saw his victory in my bow, and his mastery in the trouble of my face, for he began at once to use them, but in his own smooth, resistless way:—.
It will doubtless please your friends to know that you are well, and that you look forward to getting home to them.
They were all of the thinnest foreign post, and looking at them, then at him, and noticing his quiet smile, with the sharp, canine teeth lying over the red underlip, I understood as well as if he had spoken that I should be careful what I wrote, for he would be able to read it.
So I determined to write only formal notes now, but to write fully to Mr. Hawkins in secret, and also to Mina, for to her I could write in shorthand, which would puzzle the Count, if he did see it.
When I had written my two letters I sat quiet, reading a book whilst the Count wrote several notes, referring as he wrote them to some books on his table.
Then he took up my two and placed them with his own, and put by his writing materials, after which, the instant the door had closed behind him, I leaned over and looked at the letters, which were face down on the table.
I felt no compunction in doing so, for under the circumstances I felt that I should protect myself in every way I could. One of the letters was directed to Samuel F.
Billington, No. The second and fourth were unsealed. I was just about to look at them when I saw the door-handle move.
I sank back in my seat, having just had time to replace the letters as they had been and to resume my book before the Count, holding still another letter in his hand, entered the room.
He took up the letters on the table and stamped them carefully, and then turning to me, said:—. You will, I hope, find all things as you wish.
It is old, and has many memories, and there are bad dreams for those who sleep unwisely. Be warned! Should sleep now or ever overcome you, or be like to do, then haste to your own chamber or to these rooms, for your rest will then be safe.
I quite understood; my only doubt was as to whether any dream could be more terrible than the unnatural, horrible net of gloom and mystery which seemed closing around me.
I shall not fear to sleep in any place where he is not. I have placed the crucifix over the head of my bed—I imagine that my rest is thus freer from dreams; and there it shall remain.
When he left me I went to my room. After a little while, not hearing any sound, I came out and went up the stone stair to where I could look out towards the South.
There was some sense of freedom in the vast expanse, inaccessible though it was to me, as compared with the narrow darkness of the courtyard.
Looking out on this, I felt that I was indeed in prison, and I seemed to want a breath of fresh air, though it were of the night. I am beginning to feel this nocturnal existence tell on me.
It is destroying my nerve. I start at my own shadow, and am full of all sorts of horrible imaginings. God knows that there is ground for my terrible fear in this accursed place!
I looked out over the beautiful expanse, bathed in soft yellow moonlight till it was almost as light as day. In the soft light the distant hills became melted, and the shadows in the valleys and gorges of velvety blackness.
The mere beauty seemed to cheer me; there was peace and comfort in every breath I drew. The window at which I stood was tall and deep, stone-mullioned, and though weatherworn, was still complete; but it was evidently many a day since the case had been there.
I drew back behind the stonework, and looked carefully out. I did not see the face, but I knew the man by the neck and the movement of his back and arms.
In any case I could not mistake the hands which I had had so many opportunities of studying. I was at first interested and somewhat amused, for it is wonderful how small a matter will interest and amuse a man when he is a prisoner.
But my very feelings changed to repulsion and terror when I saw the whole man 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 I could not believe my eyes. I thought it was some trick of the moonlight, some weird effect of shadow; but I kept looking, and it could be no delusion.
I saw the fingers and toes grasp the corners of the stones, worn clear of the mortar by the stress of years, and by thus using every projection and inequality move downwards with considerable speed, just as a lizard moves along a wall.
What manner of man is this, or what manner of creature is it in the semblance of man? I feel the dread of this horrible place overpowering me; I am in fear—in awful fear—and there is no escape for me; I am encompassed about with terrors that I dare not think of He moved downwards in a sidelong way, some hundred feet down, and a good deal to the left.
He vanished into some hole or window. When his head had disappeared, I leaned out to try and see more, but without avail—the distance was too great to allow a proper angle of sight.
I knew he had left the castle now, and thought to use the opportunity to explore more than I had dared to do as yet. I went back to the room, and taking a lamp, tried all the doors.
They were all locked, as I had expected, and the locks were comparatively new; but I went down the stone stairs to the hall where I had entered originally.
I found I could pull back the bolts easily enough and unhook the great chains; but the door was locked, and the key was gone!
I went on to make a thorough examination of the various stairs and passages, and to try the doors that opened from them. One or two small rooms near the hall were open, but there was nothing to see in them except old furniture, dusty with age and moth-eaten.
At last, however, I found one door at the top of the stairway which, though it seemed to be locked, gave a little under pressure.
I tried it harder, and found that it was not really locked, but that the resistance came from the fact that the hinges had fallen somewhat, and the heavy door rested on the floor.
Here was an opportunity which I might not have again, so I exerted myself, and with many efforts forced it back so that I could enter. I was now in a wing of the castle further to the right than the rooms I knew and a storey lower down.
From the windows I could see that the suite of rooms lay along to the south of the castle, the windows of the end room looking out both west and south.
On the latter side, as well as to the former, there was a great precipice. The castle was built on the corner of a great rock, so that on three sides it was quite impregnable, and great windows were placed here where sling, or bow, or culverin could not reach, and consequently light and comfort, impossible to a position which had to be guarded, were secured.
To the west was a great valley, and then, rising far away, great jagged moun tain fastnesses, rising peak on peak, the sheer rock studded with mountain ash and thorn, whose roots clung in cracks and crevices and crannies of the stone.
This was evidently the portion of the castle occupied by the ladies in bygone days, for the furniture had more air of comfort than any I had seen.
The windows were curtainless, and the yellow moonlight, flooding in through the diamond panes, enabled one to see even colours, whilst it softened the wealth of dust which lay over all and disguised in some measure the ravages of time and the moth.
My lamp seemed to be of little effect in the brilliant moonlight, but I was glad to have it with me, for there was a dread loneliness in the place which chilled my heart and made my nerves tremble.
Still, it was better than living alone in the rooms which I had come to hate from the presence of the Count, and after trying a little to school my nerves, I found a soft quietude come over me.
Here I am, sitting at a little oak table where in old times possibly some fair lady sat to pen, with much thought and many blushes, her ill-spelt love-letter, and writing in my diary in shorthand all that has happened since I closed it last.
It is nineteenth century up-to-date with a vengeance. Later: the Morning of 16 May. Safety and the assurance of safety are things of the past.
Whilst I live on here there is but one thing to hope for, that I may not go mad, if, indeed, I be not mad already. If I be sane, then surely it is maddening to think that of all the foul things that lurk in this hateful place the Count is the least dreadful to me; that to him alone I can look for safety, even though this be only whilst I can serve his purpose.
Great God! Let me be calm, for out of that way lies madness indeed. I begin to get new lights on certain things which have puzzled me.
Up to now I never quite knew what Shakespeare meant when he made Hamlet say:—. The habit of entering accurately must help to soothe me. I shall fear to doubt what he may say!
When I had written in my diary and had fortunately replaced the book and pen in my pocket I felt sleepy. The sense of sleep was upon me, and with it the obstinacy which sleep brings as outrider.
The soft moonlight soothed, and the wide expanse without gave a sense of freedom which refreshed me. I determined not to return to-night to the gloom-haunted rooms, but to sleep here, where, of old, ladies had sat and sung and lived sweet lives whilst their gentle breasts were sad for their menfolk away in the midst of remorseless wars.
I drew a great couch out of its place near the corner, so that as I lay, I could look at the lovely view to east and south, and unthinking of and uncaring for the dust, composed myself for sleep.
I suppose I must have fallen asleep; I hope so, but I fear, for all that followed was startlingly real—so real that now sitting here in the broad, full sunlight of the morning, I cannot in the least believe that it was all sleep.
I was not alone. The room was the same, unchanged in any way since I came into it; I could see along the floor, in the brilliant moonlight, my own footsteps marked where I had disturbed the long accumulation of dust.
In the moonlight opposite me were three young women, ladies by their dress and manner. I thought at the time that I must be dreaming when I saw them, for, though the moonlight was behind them, they threw no shadow on the floor.
They came close to me, and looked at me for some time, and then whispered together. Two were dark, and had high aquiline noses, like the Count, and great dark, piercing eyes that seemed to be almost red when contrasted with the pale yellow moon.
The other was fair, as fair as can be, with great wavy masses of golden hair and eyes like pale sapphires. I seemed somehow to know her face, and to know it in connection with some dreamy fear, but I could not recollect at the moment how or where.
All three had brilliant white teeth that shone like pearls against the ruby of their voluptuous lips. There was something about them that made me uneasy, some longing and at the same time some deadly fear.
I felt in my heart a wicked, burning desire that they would kiss me with those red lips. They whispered together, and then they all three laughed—such a silvery, musical laugh, but as hard as though the sound never could have come through the softness of human lips.
It was like the intolerable, tingling sweetness of water-glasses when played on by a cunning hand. The fair girl shook her head coquettishly, and the other two urged her on.
One said:—. You are first, and we shall follow; yours is the right to begin. The fair girl advanced and bent over me till I could feel the movement of her breath upon me.
Sweet it was in one sense, honey-sweet, and sent the same tingling through the nerves as her voice, but with a bitter underlying the sweet, a bitter offensiveness, as one smells in blood.
I was afraid to raise my eyelids, but looked out and saw perfectly under the lashes. The girl went on her knees, and bent over me, simply gloating.
There was a deliberate voluptuousness which was both thrilling and repulsive, and as she arched her neck she actually licked her lips like an animal, till I could see in the moonlight the moisture shining on the scarlet lips and on the red tongue as it lapped the white sharp teeth.
Lower and lower went her head as the lips went below the range of my mouth and chin and seemed about to fasten on my throat.
Then she paused, and I could hear the churning sound of her tongue as it licked her teeth and lips, and could feel the hot breath on my neck.
I could feel the soft, shivering touch of the lips on the super-sensitive skin of my throat, and the hard dents of two sharp teeth, just touching and pausing there.
I closed my eyes in a languorous ecstasy and waited—waited with beating heart. But at that instant, another sensation swept through me as quick as lightning.
I was conscious of the presence of the Count, and of his being as if lapped in a storm of fury. But the Count! Never did I imagine such wrath and fury, even to the demons of the pit.
His 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 hard like drawn wires; the thick eyebrows that met over the 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 I had seen used to the wolves.
In a voice which, though low and almost in a whisper seemed to cut through the air and then ring round the room he said:—. How dare you cast eyes on him when I had forbidden it?
Back, I tell you all! This man belongs to me! Then the Count turned, after looking at my face attentively, and said in a soft whisper:—. Well, now I promise you that when I am done with him you shall kiss him at your will.
Now go! I must awaken him, for there is work to be done. For answer he nodded his head. One of the women jumped forward and opened it. If my ears did not deceive me there was a gasp and a low wail, as of a half-smothered child.
The women closed round, whilst I was aghast with horror; but as I looked they disappeared, and with them the dreadful bag. There was no door near them, and they could not have passed me without my noticing.
They simply seemed to fade into the rays of the moonlight and pass out through the window, for I could see outside the dim, shadowy forms for a moment before they entirely faded away.
If it be that I had not dreamt, the Count must have carried me here. I tried to satisfy myself on the subject, but could not arrive at any unquestionable result.
To be sure, there were certain small evidences, such as that my clothes were folded and laid by in a manner which was not my habit. My watch was still unwound, and I am rigorously accustomed to wind it the last thing before going to bed, and many such details.
But these things are no proof, for they may have been evidences that my mind was not as usual, and, from some cause or another, I had certainly been much upset.
I must watch for proof. Of one thing I am glad: if it was that the Count carried me here and undressed me, he must have been hurried in his task, for my pockets are intact.
I am sure this diary would have been a mystery to him which he would not have brooked. He would have taken or destroyed it. As I look round this room, although it has been to me so full of fear, it is now a sort of sanctuary, for nothing can be more dreadful than those awful women, who were—who are —waiting to suck my blood.
When I got to the doorway at the top of the stairs I found it closed. It had been so forcibly driven against the jamb that part of the woodwork was splintered.
I could see that the bolt of the lock had not been shot, but the door is fastened from the inside. I fear it was no dream, and must act on this surmise.
Last night the Count asked me in the suavest tones to write three letters, one saying that my work here was nearly done, and that I should start for home within a few days, another that I was starting on the next morning from the time of the letter, and the third that I had left the castle and arrived at Bistritz.
I would fain have rebelled, but felt that in the present state of things it would be madness to quarrel openly with the Count whilst I am so absolutely in his power; and to refuse would be to excite his suspicion and to arouse his anger.
He knows that I know too much, and that I must not live, lest I be dangerous to him; my only chance is to prolong my opportunities.
Something may occur which will give me a chance to escape. I saw in his eyes something of that gathering wrath which was manifest when he hurled that fair woman from him.
He explained to me that posts were few and uncertain, and that my writing now would ensure ease of mind to my friends; and he assured me with so much impressiveness that he would countermand the later letters, which would be held over at Bistritz until due time in case chance would admit of my prolonging my stay, that to oppose him would have been to create new suspicion.
I therefore pretended to fall in with his views, and asked him what dates I should put on the letters. He calculated a minute, and then said:—.
A band of Szgany have come to the castle, and are encamped in the courtyard. These Szgany are gipsies; I have notes of them in my book. They are peculiar to this part of the world, though allied to the ordinary gipsies all the world over.
There are thousands of them in Hungary and Transylvania, who are almost outside all law. They attach themselves as a rule to some great noble or boyar , and call themselves by his name.
They are fearless and without religion, save superstition, and they talk only their own varieties of the Romany tongue.
I shall write some letters home, and shall try to get them to have them posted. I have already spoken them through my window to begin acquaintanceship.
They took their hats off and made obeisance and many signs, which, however, I could not understand any more than I could their spoken language I have written the letters.
Hawkins to communicate with her. To her I have explained my situation, but without the horrors which I may only surmise.
It would shock and frighten her to death were I to expose my heart to her. Should the letters not carry, then the Count shall not yet know my secret or the extent of my knowledge I have given the letters; I threw them through the bars of my window with a gold piece, and made what signs I could to have them posted.
The man who took them pressed them to his heart and bowed, and then put them in his cap. I could do no more. I stole back to the study, and began to read.
As the Count did not come in, I have written here The Count has come. He sat down beside me, and said in his smoothest voice as he opened two letters:—.
It is not signed. Your letters are sacred to me. Your pardon, my friend, that unknowingly I did break the seal. Will you not cover it again?
I could only redirect it and hand it to him in silence. When he went out of the room I could hear the key turn softly. A minute later I went over and tried it, and the door was locked.
When, an hour or two after, the Count came quietly into the room, his coming awakened me, for I had gone to sleep on the sofa. He was very courteous and very cheery in his manner, and seeing that I had been sleeping, he said:—.
Get to bed. There is the surest rest. I may not have the pleasure to talk to-night, since there are many labours to me; but you will sleep, I pray.
Despair has its own calms. Every scrap of paper was gone, and with it all my notes, my memoranda, relating to railways and travel, my letter of credit, in fact all that might be useful to me were I once outside the castle.
I sat and pondered awhile, and then some thought occurred to me, and I made search of my portmanteau and in the wardrobe where I had placed my clothes.
The suit in which I had travelled was gone, and also my overcoat and rug; I could find no trace of them anywhere. This looked like some new scheme of villainy With joy I hurried to the window, and saw drive into the yard two great leiter-wagons, each drawn by eight sturdy horses, and at the head of each pair a Slovak, with his wide hat, great nail-studded belt, dirty sheepskin, and high boots.
They had also their long staves in hand. I ran to the door, intending to descend and try and join them through the main hall, as I thought that way might be opened for them.
Again a shock: my door was fastened on the outside. Then I ran to the window and cried to them. Henceforth no effort of mine, no piteous cry or agonised entreaty, would make them even look at me.
They resolutely turned away. The leiter-wagons contained great, square boxes, with handles of thick rope; these were evidently empty by the ease with which the Slovaks handled them, and by their resonance as they were roughly moved.
Shortly afterwards, I heard the cracking of their whips die away in the distance. As soon as I dared I ran up the winding stair, and looked out of the window, which opened south.
I thought I would watch for the Count, for there is something going on. The Szgany are quartered somewhere in the castle and are doing work of some kind.
I know it, for now and then I hear a far-away muffled sound as of mattock and spade, and, whatever it is, it must be the end of some ruthless villainy.
I drew back and watched carefully, and saw the whole man emerge. It was a new shock to me to find that he had on the suit of clothes which I had worn whilst travelling here, and slung over his shoulder the terrible bag which I had seen the women take away.
There could be no doubt as to his quest, and in my garb, too! This, then, is his new scheme of evil: that he will allow others to see me, as they think, so that he may both leave evidence that I have been seen in the towns or villages posting my own letters, and that any wickedness which he may do shall by the local people be attributed to me.
Then I began to notice that there were some quaint little specks floating in the rays of the moonlight. They were like the tiniest grains of dust, and they whirled round and gathered in clusters in a nebulous sort of way.
I watched them with a sense of soothing, and a sort of calm stole over me. Something made me start up, a low, piteous howling of dogs somewhere far below in the valley, which was hidden from my sight.
Louder it seemed to ring in my ears, and the floating motes of dust to take new shapes to the sound as they danced in the moonlight.
I felt myself struggling to awake to some call of my instincts; nay, my very soul was struggling, and my half-remembered sensibilities were striving to answer the call.
I was becoming hypnotised! Quicker and quicker danced the dust; the moonbeams seemed to quiver as they went by me into the mass of gloom beyond.
More and more they gathered till they seemed to take dim phantom shapes. And then I started, broad awake and in full possession of my senses, and ran screaming from the place.
The phantom shapes, which were becoming gradually materialised from the moonbeams, were those of the three ghostly women to whom I was doomed.
I fled, and felt somewhat safer in my own room, where there was no moonlight and where the lamp was burning brightly.
With a beating heart, I tried the door; but I was locked in my prison, and could do nothing. I sat down and simply cried.
As I sat I heard a sound in the courtyard without—the agonised cry of a woman. I rushed to the window, and throwing it up, peered out between the bars.
There, indeed, was a woman with dishevelled hair, holding her hands over her heart as one distressed with running.
She was leaning against a corner of the gateway. When she saw my face at the window she threw herself forward, and 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 my heart. Then she tore her hair and beat her breast, and abandoned herself to all the violences of extravagant emotion.
Finally, she threw herself forward, and, though I could not see her, I could hear the beating of her naked hands against the door.
Somewhere high overhead, probably on the tower, I heard the voice of the Count calling in his harsh, metallic whisper. His call seemed to be answered from far and wide by the howling of wolves.
Before many minutes had passed a pack of them poured, like a pent-up dam when liberated, through the wide entrance into the courtyard.
There was no cry from the woman, and the howling of the wolves was but short. Before long they streamed away singly, licking their lips.
What shall I do? How can I escape from this dreadful thing of night and gloom and fear? When the sun grew so high this morning that it struck the top of the great gateway opposite my window, the high spot which it touched seemed to me as if the dove from the ark had lighted there.
My fear fell from me as if it had been a vaporous garment which dissolved in the warmth. I must take action of some sort whilst the courage of the day is upon me.
Last night one of my post-dated letters went to post, the first of that fatal series which is to blot out the very traces of my existence from the earth.
It has always been at night-time that I have been molested or threatened, or in some way in danger or in fear. I have not yet seen the Count in the daylight.
Can it be that he sleeps when others wake, that he may be awake whilst they sleep? If I could only get into his room! But there is no possible way.
The door is always locked, no way for me. Yes, there is a way, if one dares to take it. Where his body has gone why may not another body go?
I have seen him myself crawl from his window. Why should not I imitate him, and go in by his window? The chances are desperate, but my need is more desperate still.
I shall risk it. God help me in my task! Good-bye, Mina, if I fail; good-bye, my faithful friend and second father; good-bye, all, and last of all Mina!
Same day, later. I must put down every detail in order. I went whilst my courage was fresh straight to the window on the south side, and at once got outside on the narrow ledge of stone which runs around the building on this side.
The stones are big and roughly cut, and the mortar has by process of time been washed away between them.
I took off my boots, and ventured out on the desperate way. I looked down once, so as to make sure that a sudden glimpse of the awful depth would not overcome me, but after that kept my eyes away from it.
I did not feel dizzy—I suppose I was too excited—and the time seemed ridiculously short till I found myself standing on the window-sill and trying to raise up the sash.
I was filled with agitation, however, when I bent down and slid feet foremost in through the window.
Then I looked around for the Count, but, with surprise and gladness, made a discovery. The room was empty! It was barely furnished with odd things, which seemed to have never been used; the furniture was something the same style as that in the south rooms, and was covered with dust.
I looked for the key, but it was not in the lock, and I could not find it anywhere. The only thing I found was a great heap of gold in one corner—gold of all kinds, Roman, and British, and Austrian, and Hungarian, and Greek and Turkish money, covered with a film of dust, as though it had lain long in the ground.
None of it that I noticed was less than three hundred years old. There were also chains and ornaments, some jewelled, but all of them old and stained.
At one corner of the room was a heavy door. I tried it, for, since I could not find the key of the room or the key of the outer door, which was the main object of my search, I must make further examination, or all my efforts would be in vain.
It was open, and led through a stone passage to a circular stairway, which went steeply down. I descended, minding carefully where I went, for the stairs were dark, being only lit by loopholes in the heavy masonry.
At the bottom there was a dark, tunnel-like passage, through which came a deathly, sickly odour, the odour of old earth newly turned.
As I went through the passage the smell grew closer and heavier. At last I pulled open a heavy door which stood ajar, and found myself in an old, ruined chapel, which had evidently been used as a graveyard.
The roof was broken, and in two places were steps leading to vaults, but the ground had recently been dug over, and the earth placed in great wooden boxes, manifestly those which had been brought by the Slovaks.
There was nobody about, and I made search for any further outlet, but there was none. Then I went over every inch of the ground, so as not to lose a chance.
I went down even into the vaults, where the dim light struggled, although to do so was a dread to my very soul. Into two of these I went, but saw nothing except fragments of old coffins and piles of dust; in the third, however, I made a discovery.
There, in one of the great boxes, of which there were fifty in all, on a pile of newly dug earth, lay the Count! He was either dead or asleep, I could not say which—for the eyes were open and stony, but without the glassiness of death—and the cheeks had the warmth of life through all their pallor; the lips were as red as ever.
But there was no sign of movement, no pulse, no breath, no beating of the heart. I bent over him, and tried to find any sign of life, but in vain.
He could not have lain there long, for the earthy smell would have passed away in a few hours. By the side of the box was its cover, pierced with holes here and there.
Regaining my room, I threw myself panting upon the bed and tried to think I dared not wait to see him return, for I feared to see those weird sisters.
I came back to the library, and read there till I fell asleep. You return to your beautiful England, I to some work which may have such an end that we may never meet.
Your letter home has been despatched; to-morrow I shall not be here, but all shall be ready for your journey. In the morning come the Szgany, who have some labours of their own here, and also come some Slovaks.
When they have gone, my carriage shall come for you, and shall bear you to the Borgo Pass to meet the diligence from Bukovina to Bistritz. But I am in hopes that I shall see more of you at Castle Dracula.
It seems like a profanation of the word to write it in connection with such a monster, so asked him point-blank:—.
I want to get away at once. He said:—. The Count stood up, and said, with a sweet courtesy which made me rub my eyes, it seemed so real:—.
Not an hour shall you wait in my house against your will, though sad am I at your going, and that you so suddenly desire it. Suddenly he stopped.
Close at hand came the howling of many wolves. After a pause of 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 my intense astonishment I saw that it was unlocked. Suspiciously, I looked all round, but could see no key of any kind.
As the door began to open, the howling of the wolves without grew louder and angrier; their red jaws, with champing teeth, and their blunt-clawed feet as they leaped, came in through the opening door.
I knew then that to struggle at the moment against the Count was useless. With such allies as these at his command, I could do nothing.
Suddenly it struck me that this might be the moment and means of my doom; I was to be given to the wolves, and at my own instigation.
There was a diabolical wickedness in the idea great enough for the Count, and as a last chance I cried out:—.