Dracula Chapter 2 enriched!

I realise it’s a tremendous cheek to say I’m enriching the great Bram’s work.  What I really mean is that you are going to get my comments on it as I go along. Comments about places and races and other things that pop into my head. Along with links

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CHAPTER 2

Jonathan Harker’s Journal Continued

 

5 May.--I must have been asleep, for certainly if I had been fully awake I must have noticed the approach of such a remarkable place. In the gloom the courtyard looked of considerable size, and as several dark ways led from it under great round arches, it perhaps seemed bigger than it really is. I have not yet been able to see it by daylight.

When the caleche stopped, the driver jumped down and held out his hand to assist me to alight. Again I could not but notice his prodigious strength. His hand actually seemed like a steel vice that could have crushed mine if he had chosen.[1] Then he took my traps, and placed them on the ground beside me as I stood close to a great door, old and studded with large iron nails, and set in a projecting doorway of massive stone. I could see even in the dim light that the stone was massively carved, but that the carving had been much worn by time and weather. As I stood, the driver jumped again into his seat and shook the reins. The horses started forward and trap and all disappeared down one of the dark openings.[2]

I stood in silence where I was, for I did not know what to do. Of bell or knocker there was no sign. Through these frowning walls and dark window openings it was not likely that my voice could penetrate. The time I waited seemed endless, and I felt doubts and fears crowding upon me. What sort of place had I come to, and among what kind of people? What sort of grim adventure was it on which I had embarked? Was this a customary incident in the life of a solicitor’s clerk sent out to explain the purchase of a London estate to a foreigner? Solicitor’s clerk! Mina would not like that. Solicitor, for just before leaving London I got word that my examination was successful, and I am now a full-blown solicitor! I began to rub my eyes and pinch myself to see if I were awake. It all seemed like a horrible nightmare to me, and I expected that I should suddenly awake, and find myself at home, with the dawn struggling in through the windows, as I had now and again felt in the morning after a day of overwork. But my flesh answered the pinching test, and my eyes were not to be deceived. I was indeed awake and among the Carpathians. All I could do now was to be patient, and to wait the coming of morning.[3]

Just as I had come to this conclusion I heard a heavy step approaching behind the great door, and saw through the chinks the gleam of a coming light. Then there was the sound of rattling chains[4] and the clanking of massive bolts drawn back. A key was turned with the loud grating noise 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 foot, without a single speck of colour about him anywhere[5] . He held in his hand an antique silver lamp, in which the flame burned without a chimney or globe of any kind, throwing long quivering shadows as it flickered in the draught of the open door. The old man motioned me in with his right hand with a courtly gesture, saying in excellent English, but with a strange intonation.

“Welcome to my house! Enter freely and of your own free will!”[6] He made no motion of stepping to meet me, but stood like a statue,as though his gesture of welcome had fixed him into stone. The instant, however, that I had stepped over the threshold, he moved impulsively forward, and holding out his hand grasped mine with a strength which made me wince, an effect which was not lessened by the fact that it seemed cold as ice, more like the hand of a dead than a living man. Again he said.

“Welcome to my house! Enter freely. Go safely, and leave something of the happiness you bring!” The strength of the handshake was so much akin to that which I had noticed in the driver, whose face I had not seen, that for a moment I doubted if it were not the same person to whom I was speaking. So to make sure, I said interrogatively, “Count Dracula?”

He bowed in a courtly was as he replied, “I am Dracula, and I bid you welcome, Mr. Harker, to my house. Come in, the night air is chill, 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 my luggage. He had carried it in before I could forestall him. I protested, but he insisted.

“Nay, sir, you are my guest. It is late, and my people are not available. Let me see to your comfort myself. “He insisted on carrying my traps along the passage, and then up a great winding stair, and along another great passage, on whose stone floor our steps rang heavily. At the end of this he threw open a heavy door, and I rejoiced to see within a well-lit room in which a table was spread for supper, and on whose mighty hearth a great fire of logs,freshly replenished, flamed and flared.

The Count halted, putting down my bags, closed the door, and crossing the room, opened another door, which led into a small octagonal room lit by a single lamp, and seemingly without a window of any sort. Passing through this, he opened another door, and motioned me to enter. It was a welcome sight. For here was a great bedroom well lighted and warmed with another log fire, also added to but lately, for the top logs were fresh, which sent a hollow roar up the wide chimney. The Count himself left my luggage inside and withdrew, saying, before he closed the door.

“You will need, after your journey, to refresh yourself by making your toilet. I trust you will find all you wish. 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 seemed to have dissipated all my doubts and fears. Having then reached my normal state, I discovered that I was half famished with hunger. So making a hasty toilet, I went into the other room.

I found supper already laid out. My host, who stood on one side of the great fireplace, leaning against the stonework, made a graceful wave of his hand to the table, and said,

“I pray you, be seated and sup how you please. You will I trust, excuse me that I do not join you, but I have dined already, and I do not sup.[7]

I handed to him the sealed letter which Mr. Hawkins had entrusted to me. He opened it and read it gravely. Then, with a charming smile, he handed it to me to read. One passage of it, at least, gave me a thrill of pleasure.

“I must regret that an attack of gout, from which malady 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 in his own way, 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.”

The count himself came forward and took off the cover of a dish, and I fell to at once on an excellent roast chicken. This, with some cheese and a salad and a bottle of old tokay, of which I had two glasses, was my supper. During the time I was eating it the Count asked me many question as to my journey, and I told him by degrees all I had experienced.

By this time I had finished my supper, and by my host’s desire had drawn up a chair by the fire and begun to smoke a cigar which he offered me, at the same time excusing himself that he did not smoke. I had now an opportunity of observing him, and found him of a very marked physiognomy.

His face was a strong, a very strong, aquiline, with high bridge of the thin nose and peculiarly arched nostrils, with lofty domed forehead, and hair growing scantily round the temples but profusely elsewhere. His eyebrows were very massive, almost meeting over the nose, and with bushy hair that seemed to curl in its own profusion. The mouth, so far as I could see it under the heavy moustache, was fixed and rather cruel-looking, with peculiarly sharp white teeth. These protruded over the lips, whose remarkable ruddiness showed astonishing vitality in a man of his years. For the rest, his ears were pale, and at the tops extremely pointed. The chin was broad and strong, and the cheeks firm though thin. The general effect was one of extraordinary pallor.[8]

Hitherto I had noticed the backs of his hands as they lay on his knees in the firelight, and they had seemed rather white and fine. But seeing them now close to me, I could not but notice that they were rather coarse, broad, with squat fingers. Strange to say, there were hairs in the centre of the palm. The nails were long and fine, and cut to a sharp point. As the Count leaned over me and his hands touched me, I could not repress a shudder. It may have been that his breath was rank, but a horrible feeling of nausea came over me, which, do what I would, I could not conceal.

The Count, evidently noticing it, drew back. And with a grim sort of smile, which showed more than he had yet done his protruberant teeth, sat himself down again on his own side of the fireplace. We were both silent for a while, and as I looked towards the window I saw the first dim streak of the coming dawn. There seemed a strange stillness over everything. But as I listened, I heard as if from down below in the valley the howling of many wolves. The Count’s eyes gleamed, and he said.

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“Listen to them, the children of the night. What music they make!”[9] Seeing, I suppose, some expression in my face strange to him, he added,” Ah, sir, you dwellers in the city cannot enter into the feelings of the hunter.” Then he rose and said.

“But you must be tired. Your bedroom is all ready, and tomorrow you shall sleep as late as you will. I have to be away till the afternoon, so sleep well and dream well!” With a courteous bow, he opened for me himself the door to the octagonal room [10], and I entered my bedroom.

I am all in a sea of wonders. I doubt. I fear. I think strange things, which I dare not confess to my own soul. God keep me, if only for the sake of those dear to me!

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7 May.–It is again early morning, but I have rested and enjoyed the last twenty-four hours. I slept till late in the day, and awoke of my own accord[11]. When I had dressed myself I went into the room where we had supped, and found a cold breakfast laid out, with coffee kept hot by the pot being placed on the hearth[12]. There was a card on the table, on which was written–

“I have to be absent for a while. Do not wait for me. D.[13]” I set to and enjoyed a hearty meal. When I had done, I looked for a bell, so that I might let the servants know I had finished, but I could not find one. There are certainly odd deficiencies in the house, considering the extraordinary evidences of wealth which are round me. The table service is of gold, and so beautifully wrought that it must be of immense value. The curtains and upholstery of the chairs and sofas and the hangings of my bed are of the costliest and most beautiful fabrics, and must have been of fabulous value when they were made, for they are centuries old, though in excellent order. I saw something like them in Hampton Court, but they were worn and frayed and moth-eaten[14]. But still in none of the rooms is there a mirror[15]. There is not even a toilet glass on my table, and I had to get the little shaving glass from my bag before I could either shave or brush my hair. I have not yet seen a servant anywhere, or heard a sound near the castle except the howling of wolves[16]. Some time after I had finished my meal, I do not know whether to call it breakfast of dinner, for it was between five and six o’clock when I had it[17], I looked about for something to read, for I did not like to go about the castle until I had asked the Count’s permission. There was absolutely nothing in the room, book, newspaper, or even writing materials, so I opened another door in the room and found a sort of library. The door opposite mine I tried, but found locked[18].

In the library, I 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 center was littered with English magazines and newspapers, though none of them were of very recent date. The books were of the most varied kind, history, geography, politics, political economy, botany, geology, law, all relating to England and English life and customs and manners. There were even such books of reference as the London Directory, the “Red” and “Blue” books, Whitaker’s Almanac, the Army and Navy Lists, and it somehow gladdened my heart to see it, the Law List[19].

Whilst I was looking at the books, the door opened, and the Count entered. He saluted me in a hearty way, and hoped that I had had a good night’s rest. Then he went on.

“I am glad you found your way in here, for I am sure there is much that will interest you. These companions,” and he laid his hand on some of the books, “have been good friends to me, and for some years past, ever since I had the idea of going to London, have given me many, many hours of pleasure. Through them I have come to know your great England, and to know her is to love her. I long to go 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 change, its death, and all that makes it what it is. But alas! As yet I only know your tongue through books. To you, my friend, I look that I know it to speak.”

“But, Count,” I said, “You know and speak English thoroughly!” [20]He bowed gravely.

“I thank you, my friend, for your all too-flattering estimate, but yet I fear that I am but a little way on the road I would travel. True, I know the grammar and the words, but yet I know not how to speak them.

“Indeed,” I said, “You speak excellently.”

“Not so,” he answered. “Well, I know that, did I move and speak in your London, none there are who would not know me for a stranger. That is not enough for me. Here I am noble. I am a Boyar[21]. The common people know me, and I am master. But a stranger in a strange land, he is no one. Men know him not, and to know not is to care not for. I am content if I am like the rest, so that no man stops if he sees me, or pauses in his speaking if he hears my words, `Ha, ha! A stranger!’ I have been so long master that I would be master still, or at least that none other should be master of me. 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 a while, 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 today, 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. He answered, “Yes, certainly,” and added.

“You may go anywhere you wish in the castle, except where the doors are locked[22], where of course you will not wish to go. 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.” I said I was sure of this, and then he went on.

“We are in Transylvania, and Transylvania is not England[23]. 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.”

This led to much conversation, and as it was evident that he wanted to talk, if only for talking’s sake, I asked him many questions regarding things that had already happened to me or come within my notice. Sometimes he sheered off the subject[24], 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.[25]

“That treasure has been hidden,” he went on, “in the region through which you came last night, there can be but little doubt. For it was the ground fought over for centuries by the Wallachian, the Saxon, and the Turk[26]. 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 the 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.”[27]

“But how,” said I, “can it have remained so long undiscovered, when there is a sure index to it if men will but take the trouble to look? “The Count smiled, and as his lips ran back over his gums, the long, sharp, canine teeth showed out strangely[28]. He answered.

“Because your peasant is at heart a coward and a fool![29] 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?”

“There you are right,” I said. “I know no more than the dead where even to look for them.” Then we drifted into other matters.

“Come,” he said at last, “tell me of London and of the house which you have procured for me.” With an apology for my remissness, I went into my own room to get the papers from my bag. 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. The lamps were also lit in the study or library[30], and I found the Count lying on the sofa, reading, of all things in the world, and English Bradshaw’s Guide[31]. 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 neighborhood, for he evidently at the end knew very much more than I did. When I remarked this, he answered.

“Well, but, my friend, is it not needful that I should? When I go there I shall be all alone, and my friend Harker Jonathan, nay, pardon me. I fall into my country’s habit of putting your patronymic first[32], my friend Jonathan Harker will not be by my side to correct and aid me. He will be in Exeter, miles away, probably working at papers of the law with my other friend, Peter Hawkins. So!”

We went thoroughly into the business of the purchase of the estate at Purfleet[33]. 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.

“At Purfleet, on a by-road, I came across just such a place as seemed to be required, and where was displayed a dilapidated notice that the place was for sale. It was 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.

“The estate is called Carfax, no doubt a corruption of the old Quatre Face[34], as the house is four sided, agreeing with the cardinal points of the compass. 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. The house is very large and of all periods back, I should say, to mediaeval times, for one part is of stone immensely thick, with only a few windows high up and heavily barred with iron. It looks like part of a keep, and is close to an old chapel or church.[35] 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[36] views of it from various points. The house had 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[37]. It is not, however, visible from the grounds.”

When I had finished, he said, “I am glad that it is old and big. 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[38]. 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[39], is 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.” Somehow his words and his look did not seem to accord, or else it was that his cast of face made his smile look malignant and saturnine[40].

Presently, with an excuse, he left me, asking me to pull 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 to 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[41].

It was the better part of an hour when the Count returned. “Aha!” he said. “Still at your books? Good! But you must not work always. Come! I am informed that your supper is ready.” He took my arm, and we went into the next room, where I found an excellent supper ready on the table. 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[42], and the Count stayed with me, chatting and asking questions on every conceivable subject, hour after hour[43]. I felt that it was getting very late indeed, but I did not say anything, for I felt under obligation to meet my host’s wishes in every way. 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[44], 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 dawn or at the turn of the tide[45]. Anyone 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 the cock coming up with preternatural shrillness through the clear morning air.

Count Dracula, jumping to his feet, said, “Why there is the morning again! How remiss I am to let you stay up so long. You must make your conversation regarding my dear new country of England less interesting, so that I may not forget how time flies by us,” and with a courtly bow, he quickly left me.

I went into my 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.

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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[46]. 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[47]. Let me be prosaiac 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. Suddenly I felt a hand on my shoulder, and heard the Count’s voice saying to me, “Good morning.” I started, for it amazed me that I had not seen him, since the reflection of the glass covered the whole room behind me. In starting I had cut myself slightly, but did not notice it at the moment[48]. Having answered the Count’s salutation, I turned to the glass again to see how I had been mistaken. 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! [49]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 the 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[50]. It made an instant change in him, for the fury passed so quickly that I could hardly believe that it was ever there.

“Take care,” he said, “take care how you cut yourself. It is more dangerous that you think in this country.” Then seizing the shaving glass, he went on, “And this is the wretched thing that has done the mischief. It is a foul bauble of man’s vanity. Away with it!” And opening the window with one wrench of his terrible hand, he flung out the glass, which was shattered into a thousand pieces on the stones of the courtyard far below. 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[51], 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 terrific 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.[52]

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. The castle is a veritable prison, and I am a prisoner![53]

 

[1] The idea that a vampire has great strength seems to come from Stoker, not from historical lore. However, the idea that madmen have exceptional strength is an old one and it could just have jumped into Stoker’s imagination from that.

[2] Of course these features of the isolated ruined castle are classics tropes of Gothic fiction.  This is a nice looking article (it’s all about the looks!) detailing some features of Gothic Fiction. But this article is actually more user friendly and allows you to get it far more easily.  Marilyn Manson has just come on my sound system. Seems uncannily appropriate.

[3] So what we have here is what Dwight Swain would call a “sequel”. We’ve had the scene where we get presented with the stimulus, i.e. the arrival at the castle, and now we have an internal dilemma where young Jonathan starts to realise the shit he’s been dropped in. Check this out if interested.

[4] The rattling of chains even! How Gothic! I loves it.

[5] Bella Lugosi this ain’t. (He’s dead by the way) I met the drummer from Bauhaus once in a pub in Carlisle called the Beehive. He offered me a job, but not drumming. Though I used to be a drummer. “Bella Lugosi’s Dead – undead, undead, undead.”

[6] That famous line. There is of course the tradition that vampires cannot enter a property unless they are invited in. This is said to have its roots in folklore, but I can’t find which folklore it derives from. 

[7] Jonathan doesn’t know why, but we do: shush now!

[8]  We get a lot of foreshadowing in this description: he’s cold as a dead man. He’s pale. He has bushy eyebrows, remember hairiness has been seen as an evil trait ever since the days of Esau. And Jacob said to Rebekah his mother, Behold, Esau my brother is a hairy man, and I am a smooth man:  Being a hairy man myself, I hate them smoothies. He has pointed nails and sharp protruding teeth. I think also that I have said elsewhere that the fear of the monster is an archetypal fear of being predated by a hairy sharp toothed beast.  Regarding the hairiness and the sharp nails, it has been noted that after death hair and nails continue to grow and so a corpse dug up not long after it was interred, would show long nails and hair. This may be a connotation here. 

[9] Wolves! I spent a sunday two weeks ago with two timber wolves. They were beautiful, but also possibly would have eaten me if I put a foot wrong. Even so, I can’t find wolves nasty. But then, the last wolf where I live was murdered about 300 years ago. My partner loves wolves a lot but I think if I were walking in the lonely hills (a habit of mine) and came across a wolf pack – oh my days! I remember being up a fell on my own and seeing these two rangy dogs – lurchers running up the fell about 500 yards away. They looked fierce and there was no onwer/master. I began to hold back. Then their human arrived and they went off. I don’t think they saw me. Did I mention I am a bit like Strider? He who walks unseen. Except when I trip over.

[10]  The evil number 8, as previously mentioned.

[11]  Isn’t it a blissful thing to wake of your own accord? No alarm, no one shaking you or disturbing. Just waking to the sunshine and a soft breeze ruffling the curtain through an open window. The sparrows chirping in the eaves of the thatched roof… 

[12] Where’s Drac getting his coffee? What kind of beans are they? I wonder if he knew about the Coffee Judge?

[13] Pretty matey already. Don’t trust him Jonathan. He’s like one of those salesmen and rings up you calling you by your first name like he knows you. Rebuff him.

[14] I mean Drac has had centuries to amass this stuff. But how come he keeps it so nice? Does he have a maid? I mean he was a sexist old beast and he did have three brides. Down with the Patriarchy!

[15] This is an interesting thing. The mirror. I think there are probably two ideas going on here. The first is that the vampire has no soul, therefore in some way can not cast a reflection like a true human could. Or a cat. The second is that mirrors reflect and in some sense rebound forces coming at them. Is it something apotropaic (my how I love that word. Almost as much as numinous. Both very heavily used by my leader C G Jung.)

[16] The wolves again. Later it’s bats.

[17] I get his dilemma. My daughter is like that. One of them anyway. She would lie in bed all day and then I’d be like: “Is this breakfast or dinner? You tell me!” Of course among the working class British, dinner is lunch. The story behind this is that dinner is the main meal of the day and the working class were either so hungry from their labours that they ate it earlier, or they were waiting on the gentry in the evening so had to have their main meal at midday.

[18] Another ominosity. I can’t recall whether this door is ever opened. Sometimes writers just drop mysteries into stories and then never resolve them. I remember Michael Moorcock writing about this. You don’t even have to resolve them. Of course the neat novelist resolves everything.  I hate them too.

[19] I think we should write an analysis of Dracula from a UKIP point of view. They think that all foreigners, especially Romanians want to come and live in England (I say England advisedly) and that they plot and scheme. To the UKIPPER, or just plain Kipper, this would be proof of the Romanian’s plan to smuggle himself illegally to Blighty and their enjoy our NHS for free. He’d probably be housed in a mansion by the Council. Him and his three wives, and claim unemployment benefit. I think there will probably emerge a school of lit crit based in the UKIP world view.  For US readers, UKIP is like Trump.  All your problems are caused by foreigners and immigrants. Get rid of the foreigners for a blissful dawn of the pure land. I didn’t promise my commentary would be politics free by the way.

[20] Should be a new paragraph here, Bram. Just saying. My MS Word is just itching to correct his grammar and style. But I’m like FU word! FU!

[21] Check out the WIKI for Boyar. They are aristocracy in Wallachia (the Romanian lands technically south of Transylvania) just below princes.

[22] Aha, Bram didn’t just drop that locked door carelessly. There’s something behind it!

[23] This is true, but as Stereophonics sang

“We’re going wrong
We’ve all become the same
We dress the same ways
Only our accents change” 
They’re from the Aman Valley though. South Wales.

[24] I do this. I think if I was still at school I’d get an ADHD diagnosis.

[25] Though why would Drac want treasure? He’s minted anyway.

[26] You will remember that the Wallachians are the descendents of the original Dacian tribes then the Saxons came and founded some wonderful cities in Transylvania. Sibiu and Sighisoara are my faves.  The first time I went to Sibiu was in 1991 and there in the massive, beautiful central square, I thought: If this was in the West it would be full of markets and cafes. Then when I went back in 2014 it was full of markets and cafes.  It is the most wonderful wonderful place. Then Sighisoara is where Dracula was born (Vlad Tepes).  Still not fully tarted up by tourism. Awesome. Go to the graveyard. Stay in the Schneiderturm. The city was built by Saxons. Each of the towers was maintained by a guild. You can stay in the Tailors Tower. You get a free mug when you do. And some wine.

[27] Not sure what this adds to the story, but maybe I’m missing something.

[28] Hmm.

[29] Class war too. What a snob.

[30] Of course he has no servants because he’d eat them.

[31] Check it out

[32]Quite oriental. They don’t do that now I don’t think.

[33] I’m like: why? Purfleet. I’ve never been.

[34] You will note that in later adaptations, Carfax becomes Carfax Abbey. It’s not an abbey here, just an old house. I like the derivation Quatre Face. Carfax is the surname of a character in  Sherlock Holmes story. that was published in 1911. He may have got the name from Stoker.  There is a Carfax in Oxford, from whence, I guess, Bram got the name. It actually derives from the Latin quadrifurcus – crossroads. They’re very clever in Oxford.

 

[35] Dracula clearly likes the Gothic style. I mean he lives in a partly ruined castle in Transylvania, he wants a medieval house in London he lands in Whitby, which has its own Goth festival every year. Nuff said. Look how he dresses.

[36] Founded in 1888. Who knew it was that old? Plenty of folk, maybe you.

[37][37] Aha. He must have plotted this out. He’s no pantser.  Lindisfarne’s Lady Eleanor has come on now.  Very apposite.  I need to post all the lyrics. Sorry:

Playing magician sitting lotus on the floor
Belly dancing beauty with a power driven saw
Had my share of nightmares, didn’t think there could be much more
then in walked Rodrick Usher with the Lady Eleanor

She tied my eyes with ribbon of a silken ghostly thread
I gazed with trouble vision on an old four poster bed
Where Eleanor had risen to kiss the neck below my head
and bid me come along with her to the land of the dancing dead

But it’s all right, Lady Eleanor
All right, Lady Eleanor
I’m all right where I am

She gazed with loving beauty like a mother to a son
like living, dying, seeing, being all rolled into one
Then all at once I heard some music playing in my bones
the same old song I’d heard for years, reminding me of home

But it’s all right, Lady Eleanor
All right, Lady Eleanor
I’m all right where I am

Then creeping on towards me, licking lips with tongues of fire
a host of golden demons screaming lust and base desire
and when it seemed for certain that the screams could get no higher
I heard a voice above the rest screaming ‘You’re a liar’

But it’s all right, Lady Eleanor
All right, Lady Eleanor
I’m all right here in your arms

 

[38] Again, I say: Oh yeah?

[39] Interestingly we get a bit of Dracula’s backstory. You will remember the movie adaptations that have him in love with his dead wife etc. Maybe this is where the justification for this comes from?

[40] There’s a lot of debate in our house whether Saturn is a bad guy. He was not so nice in Greek mythology and then in astrology the planet causes heaviness, poverty, age, contraction. My partner thinks he’s much misunderstood. I’m not so sure. Dracula is Saturnine and Dracula’s no saint.

[41] Whitby gets its first mensh.

[42] Well smoking is bad for your health, but it’s the least of Jonathan’s worries right now.  Rush Passage to Bangkok is on now. That guitar riff is awesome and then halfway through it starts up again with a dragging insistent movement.  it gets your bowels in the Cromwellian sense.

[43] He seems pretty affable really.

[44] I used to get this on night shift around 4 am. You get really cold.

[45] I found that midnight, dusk and dawn are favoured times for the banshee as she cries out the death howl. It’s something to do with transitions I guess.

[46] Rayne Hall talks about this in Writing Scary Scenes. To create that feeling of unease, you just hint that things aren’t right. The reader gets it.

[47] He thinks he’s being figurative, but we know it’s literal. Joke’s on Jonathan.

[48] I remember that scene in the Francis Ford Coppola version. But in that the Dracula’s hair was too much. It distracted me.

[49] The first evidence that Dracula is not what he appears to be…

[50] I think writers who are talking about vampires these days have a problem in post Christian Europe where the masses of the people don’t believe. The USA is far more religious of course, at least in the middle.

[51] I can shave by touch. I didn’t realise that it was such a rare gift until I read this. I suppose it’s like having perfect pitch or something.

[52] Super Gothic.

[53] And so we finish. Jonathan realises he’s up shit creek.

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Portishead Poltergiest Diary

The Curious Fortean

The Following I found quite by chance printed in a book by the famous ghost hunter Eliot O'Donnall. It is of interest to me not only because its very concise and assumingly accurate rendition of a poltergeist case but also because as I live very near to the town of Portishead where the case occurs. I have in the past looked for paranormal happenings in the town but until now I have found nothing of note. Unfortunately the names of the people and the house have been changed but the old part of the town is rather small so I hope that I may be able to locate the building and find out a little more about the people and the peculiar goings on. Anyway enjoy folks, and watch this space i'll let you all know when I find out a little more. “Before I commence my story,” he writes…

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4-Question Interview: Tony Walker

The Merry Ghost Hunter

present-tensionsWhile hunting for ghosts on the Web, I came across a site titled simply: Ghost Stories. It’s “a blog to discuss, present, curate and review classic ghost stories, Gothic fiction and Weird Tales,” and it’s managed by Tony Walker.

Tony is also a writer, and the plot of his novel Unreal City is introduced this way: “Hard-boiled detective Christian Le Cozh is hired by a man who thinks his wife was killed by a vampire.  Le Cozh is sceptical but he needs the money. He accompanies his client to a graveyard at midnight to persuade him to get medical help. Then things go wrong and he has to hunt the beasts, before they hunt him.”

Given that Le Cozh clearly qualifies as an occult detective, I subjected poor Tony to the four questions I ask of any writer who 1) is currently working in this cross-genre and 2) is…

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Dracula – enriched! Chapter 1

I, like a Pewdiepie of Classic Horror Literature © have the great temerity to try to enrich Bram Stoker’s Dracula. It’s a great story that I’ve loved since I was a kid. It inspired me over the years to go to pretty much everywhere mentioned in the novel from Transylvania (twice) to Whitby (lots of times) to London and the graveyards that inspired Stoker.  So, when I say enriched, I mean I am adding my own commentary and illuminations (I hope) to things in Stoker’s text that might need a bit of expanding, and I’m taking the liberty of adding my own reactions reflexively,  which I hope will add to your enjoyment. I’ve even added some photos (mostly mine) and some illustrations (nicked – I mean: borrowed under Creative Commons rights). I should say that I adore footnotes but WordPress has made them endnotes, which I despise. I will try to sort that. If I can’t fix it, at least you can click on the numbers to get to the end notes.

***

CHAPTER 1

JONATHAN HARKER’S JOURNAL

(Kept in shorthand.)

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Keleti Station, Budapest

3 May. Bistritz[1].–Left Munich at 8:35 P. M., on 1st May, arriving at Vienna early next morning; should have arrived at 6:46, but train was an hour late. Buda-Pesth seems a wonderful place, from the glimpse which I got of it from the train and the little I could walk through the streets[2]. I feared to go very far from the station, as we had arrived late and would start as near the correct time as possible. The impression I had was that we were leaving the West and entering the East; the most western of splendid bridges over the Danube, which is here of noble width and depth, took us among the traditions of Turkish rule[3].

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Parliament Building, Budapest

We left in pretty good time, and came after nightfall to Klausenburgh[4]. Here I stopped for the night at the Hotel Royale. I had for dinner, or rather supper, a chicken done up some way with red pepper, which was very good but thirsty. (Mem  get recipe for Mina.) I asked the waiter, and he said it was called “paprika hendl,[5]” and that, as it was a national dish, I should be able to get it anywhere along the Carpathians. I found my smattering of German very useful here; indeed, I don’t know how I should be able to get on without it.

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Klausenberg or Cluj, Transylvania

 

Having had some time at my disposal when in London, I had visited the British Museum[6], and made search among the books and maps in the library regarding Transylvania; it had struck me that some foreknowledge of the country could hardly fail to have some importance in dealing with a nobleman of that country. I find that the district he named is in the extreme east of the country, just on the borders of three states, Transylvania, Moldavia and Bukovina, in the midst of the Carpathian Mountains; one of the wildest and least known portions of Europe. I was not able to light on any map or work giving the exact locality of the Castle Dracula, as there are no maps of this country as yet to compare with our own Ordnance Survey maps; but I found that Bistritz, the post town named by Count Dracula, is a fairly well-known place. I shall enter here some of my notes, as they may refresh my memory when I talk over my travels with Mina.

In the population of Transylvania there are four distinct nationalities: Saxons in the South, and mixed with them the Wallachs[1], who are the descendants of the Dacians; Magyars[2] in the West, and Szekelys[3] in the East and North. I am going among the latter, who claim to be descended from Attila and the Huns. This may be so, for when the Magyars conquered the country in the eleventh century they found the Huns settled in it. I read that every known superstition in the world is gathered into the horseshoe of the Carpathians, as if it were the centre of some sort of imaginative whirlpool; if so my stay may be very interesting. (Mem[7], I must ask the Count all about them.)

I did not sleep well, though my bed was comfortable enough, for I had all sorts of queer dreams. There was a dog howling all night under my window, which may have had something to do with it; or it may have been the paprika, for I had to drink up all the water in my carafe, and was still thirsty[8]. Towards morning I slept and was wakened by the continuous knocking at my door, so I guess I must have been sleeping soundly then. I had for breakfast more paprika, and a sort of porridge of maize flour which they said was “mamaliga,” and egg-plant stuffed with forcemeat, a very excellent dish, which they call “impletata[9].” (Mem. get recipe for this also.) I had to hurry breakfast, for the train started a little before eight, or rather it ought to have done so, for after rushing to the station at 7:30 I had to sit in the carriage for more than an hour before we began to move. It seems to me that the further east you go the more unpunctual are the trains[10]. What ought they to be in China?

All day long we seemed to dawdle through a country which was full of beauty of every kind. Sometimes we saw little towns or castles on the top of steep hills such as we see in old missals[11]; sometimes we ran by rivers and streams which seemed from the wide stony margin on each side of them to be subject to great floods. It takes a lot of water, and running strong, to sweep the outside edge of a river clear. At every station there were groups of people, sometimes crowds, and in all sorts of attire. Some of them were just like the peasants at home or those I saw coming through France and Germany, with short jackets and round hats and home-made trousers; but others were very picturesque[12].

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Biserica near Sibiu

The women looked pretty, except when you got near them, but they were very clumsy about the waist. They had all full white sleeves of some kind or other, and most of them had big belts with a lot of strips of something fluttering from them like the dresses in a ballet, but of course there were petticoats under them. The strangest figures we saw were the Slovaks[13], who were more barbarian than the rest, with their big cow-boy hats, great baggy dirty-white trousers, white linen shirts, and enormous heavy leather belts, nearly a foot wide, all studded over with brass nails. They wore high boots, with their trousers tucked into them, and had long black hair and heavy  black moustaches. They are very picturesque, but do not look prepossessing. On the stage they would be set down at once as some old Oriental band of brigands. They are, however, I am told, very harmless and rather wanting in natural self-assertion.

It was on the dark side of twilight when we got to Bistritz, which is a very interesting old place. Being practically on the frontier–for the Borgo Pass leads from it into Bukovina[14]–it has had a very stormy existence, and it certainly shows marks of it. Fifty years ago a series of great fires took place, which made terrible havoc on five separate occasions. At the very beginning of the seventeenth century it underwent a siege of three weeks and lost 13,000 people, the casualties of war proper being assisted by famine and disease.

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Count Dracula had directed me to go to the Golden Krone Hotel[4], which I found, to my great delight, to be thoroughly old-fashioned[15], for of course I wanted to see all I could of the ways of the country. I was evidently expected, for when I got near the door I faced a cheery-looking elderly woman in the usual peasant dress—white undergarment with long double apron, front, and back, of coloured stuff fitting almost too tight for modesty.

When I came close she bowed and said, “The Herr Englishman?”

“Yes,” I said, “Jonathan Harker.” She smiled, and gave some message to an elderly man in white shirt-sleeves, who had followed her to the door. He went, but immediately returned with a letter:–

“My Friend.–Welcome to the Carpathians. I am anxiously expecting   you. Sleep well to-night. At three to-morrow the diligence will start for Bukovina; a place on it is kept for you. At the Borgo     Pass[16] 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.  “Your friend, “DRACULA[5].”  

4 May.–I found that my landlord had got a letter from the Count, directing him to secure the best place on the coach for me; but on making inquiries as to details he seemed somewhat reticent, and pretended that he could not understand my German. This could not be true, because up to then he had understood it perfectly; at least, he answered my questions exactly as if he did. He and his wife, the old lady who had received me, looked at each other in a frightened sort of way. He mumbled out that the money had been sent in a letter, and that was all he knew. When I asked him if he knew Count Dracula, and could tell me anything of his castle, both he and his wife crossed themselves, and, saying that they knew nothing at all, simply refused to speak further. It was so near the time of starting that I had no time to ask any one else, for it was all very mysterious and not by any means comforting.

Just before I was leaving, the old lady came up to my room and said in a very hysterical way:  “Must you go? Oh! young Herr, must you go?” She was in such an excited state that she seemed to have lost her grip of what German she knew, and mixed it all up with some other language which I did not know at all. I was just able to follow her by asking many questions. When I told her that I must go at once, and that I was engaged on important business, she asked again:  “Do you know what day it is?” I answered that it was the fourth of May. She shook her head as she said again:  “Oh, yes! I know that! I know that, but do you know what day it is?” On my saying that I did not understand, she went on:  “It is the eve of St. George’s Day. Do you not know that to-night, 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 evident distress that I tried to comfort her, but without effect. Finally she went down on her knees and implored me not to go; at least to wait a day or two before starting. It was all very ridiculous but I did not feel comfortable. However, there was business to be done, and I could allow nothing to interfere with it. I therefore tried to raise her up, and said, as gravely as I could, that I thanked her, but my duty was imperative, and that I must go. She then rose and dried her eyes, and taking a crucifix from her neck offered it to me. I did not know what to do, for, as an English Churchman[6], I have been taught to regard such things as in some measure idolatrous, and yet it seemed so ungracious to refuse an old lady meaning so well and in such a state of mind. She saw, I suppose, the doubt in my face, for she put the rosary round my neck, and said, “For your mother’s sake,” and went out of the room.

I am writing up this part of the diary whilst I am waiting for the coach, which is, of course, late; and the crucifix is still round my neck. Whether it is the old lady’s fear, or the many ghostly traditions of this place, or the crucifix itself, I do not know, but I am not feeling nearly as easy in my mind as usual. If this book should ever reach Mina before I do, let it bring my good-bye. Here comes the coach!

 

5 May. The Castle.

The grey of the morning has passed, and the sun is high over the distant horizon, which seems jagged, whether with trees or hills I know not, for it is so far off that big things and little are mixed. I am 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[7], 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 I got on the coach the driver had not taken his seat, and I saw him talking with the landlady. They were evidently talking of me, for every now and then they looked at me, and some of the people who were sitting on the bench outside the door–which they call by a name meaning “word-bearer”[8]–came and listened, and then looked at me, most of them pityingly. I could hear a lot of words often repeated, queer words, for there were many nationalities in the crowd; so I quietly got my polyglot dictionary from my bag and looked them out.

I must say they were not cheering to me, for amongst them were “Ordog”–Satan, “pokol”–hell, “stregoica”–witch, “vrolok” and “vlkoslak”[9]–both of which mean the same thing, one being Slovak and the other Servian[10] for something that is either were-wolf or vampire.

(Mem.I must ask the Count about these superstitions[11])

When we started, the crowd round the inn door, which had by this time swelled to a considerable size, all made the sign of the cross and pointed two fingers towards me. With some difficulty I got a fellow-passenger to tell me what they meant; he would not answer at first, but on learning that I was English, he explained that it was a charm or guard against the evil eye. This was not very pleasant for me, just starting for an unknown place to meet an unknown man; but every one seemed so kind-hearted, and so sorrowful, and so sympathetic that I could not but be touched. I shall never forget the last glimpse which I had of the inn-yard and its crowd of picturesque figures, all crossing themselves, as they stood round the wide archway, with its background of rich foliage of oleander and orange trees in green tubs clustered in the centre of the yard.

Then our driver, whose wide linen drawers covered the whole front of the box-seat–“gotza” they call them–cracked his big whip over his four small horses, which ran abreast, and we set off on our journey.  I soon lost sight and recollection of ghostly fears in the beauty of the scene as we drove along, although had I known the language, or rather languages, which my fellow-passengers were speaking, I might not have been able to throw them off so easily. Before us lay a green sloping land full of forests and woods, with here and there steep hills, crowned with clumps of trees or with farmhouses, the blank gable end to the road. There was everywhere a bewildering mass of fruit blossom–apple, plum, pear, cherry[12]; and as we drove by I could see the green grass under the trees spangled with the fallen petals. In and out amongst these green hills of what they call here the “Mittel Land” ran the road, losing itself as it swept round the grassy curve, or was shut out by the straggling ends of pine woods, which here and there ran down the hillsides like tongues of flame.

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The road was rugged, but still we seemed to fly over it with a feverish haste. I could not understand then what the haste meant, but the driver was evidently bent on losing no time in reaching Borgo Prund. I was told that this road is in summertime excellent, but that it had not yet been put in order after the winter snows. In this respect it is different from the general run of roads in the Carpathians, for it is an old tradition that they are not to be kept in too good order. Of old the Hospadars would not repair them, lest the Turk should think that they were preparing to bring in foreign troops, and so hasten the war which was always really at loading point.

Beyond the green swelling hills of the Mittel Land rose mighty slopes of forest up to the lofty steeps of the Carpathians themselves. Right and left of us they towered, with the afternoon sun falling full upon them and bringing out all the glorious colours of this beautiful range, deep blue and purple in the shadows of the peaks, green and brown where grass and rock mingled, and an endless perspective of jagged rock and pointed crags, till these were themselves lost in the distance, where the snowy peaks rose grandly. Here and there seemed mighty rifts in the mountains, through which, as the sun began to sink, we saw now and again the white gleam of falling water.

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One of my companions touched my arm as we swept round the base of a hill and opened up the lofty, snow-covered peak of a mountain, which seemed, as we wound on our serpentine way, to be right before us:–  “Look! Isten szek!”–“God’s seat!”–and he crossed himself reverently.  As we wound on our endless way, and the sun sank lower and lower behind us, the shadows of the evening began to creep round us. This was emphasised by the fact that the snowy mountain-top still held the sunset, and seemed to glow out with a delicate cool pink.

Here and there we passed Cszeks and Slovaks, all in picturesque attire, but I noticed that goitre was painfully prevalent[13]. By the roadside were many crosses, and as we swept by, my companions all crossed themselves. Here and there was a peasant man or woman kneeling before a shrine, who did not even turn round as we approached, but seemed in the self-surrender of devotion to have neither eyes nor ears for the outer world.

There were many things new to me: for instance, hay-ricks in the trees, and here and there very beautiful masses of weeping birch, their white stems shining like silver through the delicate green of the leaves. Now and again we passed a leiter-wagon[14]–the ordinary peasant’s cart–with its long, snake-like vertebra, calculated to suit the inequalities of the road. On this were sure to be seated quite a group of home-coming peasants, the Cszeks with their white, and the Slovaks with their coloured, sheepskins, the latter carrying lance-fashion their long staves, with axe at end.

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As the evening fell it began to get very cold, and the growing twilight seemed to merge into one dark mistiness the gloom of the trees, oak, beech, and pine, though in the valleys which ran deep between the spurs of the hills, as we ascended through the Pass, the dark firs stood out here and there against the background of late-lying snow.

Sometimes, as the road was cut through the pine woods that seemed in the darkness to be closing down upon us, great masses of greyness, which here and there bestrewed the trees, produced a peculiarly weird and solemn effect, which carried on the thoughts and grim fancies engendered earlier in the evening, when the falling sunset threw into strange relief the ghost-like clouds which amongst the Carpathians seem to wind ceaselessly through the valleys.

Sometimes the hills were so steep that, despite our driver’s haste, the horses could only go slowly. I wished to get down and walk up them, as we do at home, but the driver would not hear of it. “No, no,” he said; “you must not walk here; the dogs are too fierce”; and then he added, with what he evidently meant for grim pleasantry–for he looked round to catch the approving smile of the rest–“and you may have enough of such matters before you go to sleep.”

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The only stop he would make was a moment’s pause to light his lamps.  When it grew dark there seemed to be some excitement amongst the passengers, and they kept speaking to him, one after the other, as though urging him to further speed. He lashed the horses unmercifully with his long whip, and with wild cries of encouragement urged them on to further exertions. Then through the darkness I could see a sort of patch of grey light ahead of us, as though there were a cleft in the hills.

The excitement of the passengers grew greater; the crazy coach rocked on its great leather springs, and swayed like a boat tossed on a stormy sea. I had to hold on. The road grew more level, and we appeared to fly along. Then the mountains seemed to come nearer to us on each side and to frown down upon us; we were entering on the Borgo Pass.

One by one several of the passengers offered me gifts, which they pressed upon me with an earnestness which would take no denial; these were certainly of an odd and varied kind, but each was given in simple good faith, with a kindly word, and a blessing, and that strange mixture of fear-meaning movements which I had seen outside the hotel at Bistritz–the sign of the cross and the guard against the evil eye. Then, as we flew along, the driver leaned forward, and on each side the passengers, craning over the edge of the coach, peered eagerly into the darkness. It was evident that something very exciting was either happening or expected, but though I asked each passenger, no one would give me the slightest explanation. This state of excitement kept on for some little time; and at last we saw before us the Pass opening out on the eastern side.

There were dark, rolling clouds overhead, and in the air 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. I was now myself looking out for the conveyance which was to take me to the Count.

 

Each moment I expected to see the glare of lamps through the blackness; but all was dark. The only light was the flickering rays of our own lamps, in which the steam from our hard-driven horses rose in a white cloud. We could see now the sandy road lying white before us, but there was on it no sign of a vehicle. The passengers drew back with a sigh of gladness, which seemed to mock my own disappointment. I was already thinking what I had best do, when the driver, looking at his watch, said to the others something which I could hardly hear, it was spoken so quietly and in so low a tone; I thought it was “An hour less than the time.”

Then turning to me, he said in German worse than my own:–  “There is no carriage here. The Herr is not expected after all. He will now come on to Bukovina, and return to-morrow or the next day; better the next day.”

Whilst he was speaking the horses began to neigh and snort and plunge wildly, so that the driver had to hold them up. Then, amongst a chorus of screams from the peasants and a universal crossing of themselves, a calèche, with four horses, drove up behind us, overtook us, and drew up beside the coach. I could see from the flash of our lamps, as the rays fell on them, that the horses were coal-black and splendid animals. They were driven by a tall man, with a long brown beard and a great black hat, which seemed to hide his face from us. I could only see the gleam of a pair of very bright eyes, which seemed red in the lamplight, as he turned to us.

He said to the driver:–  “You are early to-night, my friend.”

The man stammered in reply:–  “The English Herr was in a hurry,” to which the stranger replied:–  “That is why, I suppose, you wished him to go on to Bukovina. You cannot deceive me, my friend; I know too much, and my horses are swift.”

As he spoke he smiled, and the lamplight fell on a hard-looking mouth, with very red lips and sharp-looking teeth, as white as ivory.

One of my companions whispered to another the line from Burger’s “Lenore“:–      “Denn die Todten reiten schnell”–     (“For the dead travel fast.”)

The strange driver evidently heard the words, for he looked up with a gleaming smile. The passenger turned his face away, at the same time putting out his two fingers and crossing himself.

“Give me the Herr’s luggage,” said the driver; and with exceeding alacrity my bags were handed out and put in the calèche. Then I descended from the side of the coach, as the calèche was close alongside, the driver helping me with a hand which caught my arm in a grip of steel; his strength must have been prodigious. Without a word he shook his reins, the horses turned, and we swept into the darkness of the Pass. As I looked back I saw the steam from the horses of the coach by the light of the lamps, and projected against it the figures of my late companions crossing themselves.

Then the driver cracked his whip and called to his horses, and off they swept on their way to Bukovina. As they sank into the darkness I felt a strange chill, and a lonely feeling came over me; but a cloak was thrown over my shoulders, and a rug across my knees, and the driver said in excellent German:–  “The night is chill, mein Herr, and my master the Count bade me take all care of you. There is a flask of slivovitz (the plum brandy of the country) underneath the seat, if you should require it.” I did not take any, but it was a comfort to know it was there all the same. I felt a little strangely, and not a little frightened. I think had there been any alternative I should have taken it, instead of prosecuting that unknown night journey.

The carriage went at a hard pace straight along, then we made a complete turn and went along another straight road. It seemed to me that we were simply going over and over the same ground again; and so I took note of some salient point, and found that this was so. I would have liked to have asked the driver what this all meant, but I really feared to do so, for I thought that, placed as I was, any protest would have had no effect in case there had been an intention to delay. By-and-by, however, as I was curious to know how time was passing, I struck a match, and by its flame looked at my watch; it was within a few minutes of midnight. This gave me a sort of shock, for I suppose the general superstition about midnight was increased by my recent experiences. I waited with a sick feeling of suspense.

Then a dog began to howl somewhere in a farmhouse far down the road–a long, agonised wailing, as if from fear. The sound was taken up by another dog, and then another and another, till, borne on the wind which now sighed softly through the Pass, a wild howling began, which seemed to come from all over the country, as far as the imagination could grasp it 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, but shivered and sweated as though after a runaway from sudden fright.

Then, far off in the distance, from the mountains on each side of us began a louder and a sharper howling–that of wolves–which affected both the horses and myself in the same way–for I was minded to jump from the calèche and run, whilst they reared again and plunged madly, so that the driver had to use all his great strength to keep them from bolting.

In a few minutes, however, my own ears got accustomed to the sound, and the horses so far became quiet that the driver was able to descend and to stand before them. He petted and soothed them, and whispered something in their ears, as I have heard of horse-tamers doing, and with extraordinary effect, for under his caresses they became quite manageable again, though they still trembled. The driver again took his seat, and shaking his reins, started off at a great pace. This time, after going to the far side of the Pass, he suddenly turned down a narrow roadway which ran sharply to the right.

Soon we were hemmed in with trees, which in places arched right over the roadway till we passed as through a tunnel; and again great frowning rocks guarded us boldly on either side. Though we were in shelter, we could hear the rising wind, for it moaned and whistled through the rocks, and the branches of the trees crashed together as we swept along. It grew colder and colder still, and fine, powdery snow began to fall, so that soon we and all around us were covered with a white blanket.

The keen wind still carried the howling of the dogs, though this grew fainter as we went on our way. The baying of the wolves sounded nearer and nearer, as though they were closing round on us from every side. I grew dreadfully afraid, and the horses shared my fear. The driver, however, was not in the least disturbed; he kept turning his head to left and right, but I could not see anything through the darkness.

Suddenly, away on our left, I saw a faint flickering blue flame[15]. The driver saw it at the same moment; he at once checked the horses, and, jumping to the ground, disappeared into the darkness. I did not know what to do, the less as the howling of the wolves grew closer; but while I wondered the driver suddenly appeared again, and without a word took his seat, and we resumed our journey. I think I must have fallen asleep and kept dreaming of the incident, for it seemed to be repeated endlessly, and now looking back, it is like a sort of awful nightmare. Once the flame appeared so near the road, that even in the darkness around us I could watch the driver’s motions. He went rapidly to where the blue flame arose–it must have been very faint, for it did not seem to illumine the place around it at all–and gathering a few stones, formed them into some device.

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Once there appeared a strange optical effect: when he stood between me and the flame he did not obstruct it, for I could see its ghostly flicker all the same. This startled me, but as the effect was only momentary, I took it that my eyes deceived me straining through the darkness.

Then for a time there were no blue flames, and we sped onwards through the gloom, with the around us, as though they were following in a moving circle.  At last 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. I could not see any cause for it, for the howling of the wolves had ceased altogether; but just then the moon, sailing through the black clouds, appeared behind the jagged crest of a beetling, pine-clad rock, and by its light I saw around us a ring of wolves, with white teeth and lolling red tongues, with long, sinewy limbs and shaggy hair[16]. They were a hundred times more terrible in the grim silence which held them than even when they howled. For myself, I felt a sort of paralysis of fear.
a-wolf

It is only when a man feels himself face to face with such horrors that he can understand their true import.  All at once the wolves began to howl as though the moonlight had had some peculiar effect on them. The horses jumped about and reared, and looked helplessly round with eyes that rolled in a way painful to see; but the living ring of terror encompassed them on every side; and they had perforce to remain within it. I called to the coachman to come, for it seemed to me that our only chance was to try to break out through the ring and to aid his approach. I shouted and beat the side of the calèche, hoping by the noise to scare the wolves from that side, so as to give him a chance of reaching the trap. How he came there, I know not, but I heard his voice raised in a tone of imperious command, and looking towards the sound, saw him stand in the roadway. As he swept his long arms, as though brushing aside some impalpable obstacle, the wolves fell back and back further still.

Just then a heavy cloud passed across the face of the moon, so that we were again in darkness.  When I could see again the driver was climbing into the calèche, and the wolves had disappeared. This was all so strange and uncanny that a dreadful fear came upon me, and I was afraid to speak or move. The time seemed interminable as we swept on our way, now in almost complete darkness, for the rolling clouds obscured the moon. We kept on ascending, with occasional periods of quick descent, but in the main always ascending. Suddenly, I became conscious of the fact that the driver was in the act of pulling up the horses 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.

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End of Chapter 1

Notes

[1] Bistrița, capital of Bistrița-Năsăud County in northern Transylvania, Romania. I’ve never been there.  His journey from Munich, to Vienna, to Budapest makes sense. I myself caught the sleeper train from Budapest Keleti Station, that gloriously run down edifice into Transylvania. We went to Cluj (Harker’s Klausenberg) in fact then on to Brasov. How I remember getting my sandwiches and beer at the station in preparation for the journey, eating Paprika Chicken cooked there and then by the old lady in the dining carriage at some point in the evening.  She was nice, the guard was very grumpy until I tipped him the next morning at Brasov. The excitement of looking out in the early dawn and seeing the mist covered mountains of Transylvania!  Bistrița is a Slavonic word meaning fast moving river.  There have been big ethnic changes in Transylvania since Bram Stoker’s time.  Then it would have been significantly Hungarian speaking, but now is nearly all Romanian as in the Communist years the Hungarians were got rid of and the Saxons were sold to Germany for cash.  When Stoker wrote it was under Hungarian rule, though the majority were ethnically Romanian.

[2] And Budapest! I could go on about Budapest for a while – walking over the chain bridge, the natural hot spring baths at the Art Deco Gellert Hotel. The Goulash! Just go!

[3] The Ottoman Turks occupied eastern Hungary including Budapest in 1540.  Transylvania was a separate Hungarian principality but cut off from Western European influences allowing the growth of religious dissent meaning Protestantism (though of course today it is mainly Romanian Orthodox, while Hungary is Catholic). After the failure of the Turks to take Vienna in 1683, they were driven back from large swathes of Hungary.

[4] Klausenberg is now Cluj. It was one of the cities of the German speaking Saxons. The area was conquered by the Hungarians from the 10th Century – remember they were invading Hunnic tribes from Asia originally, which is why their language is not like other European ones. The Romanians, descendants of the original Dacian tribes conquered by the Romans, who started speaking Latin -> Romanian, were always there.  The Saxons went there in the 14th Century or so.

[5] Paprika Chicken, in German, reminding us that at this time this area was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, a joint empire that spoke many languages.  The Hungarians were always resentful of the influence of the German speaking Austrians. Transylvania had a significant German speaking population at this time from the Saxon settlers who arrived in the late Middle Ages. Their German was not the same as standard German. There aren’t many of them left there now, but you will still see some influence of their language and especially their architecture in the towns and villages. I guess Harker would have found Hungarian pretty difficult, though Romanian (which he doesn’t allude to much at all) is not too bad, apart from their habit of putting “the” at the end of words, thus Dracul  “the dragon” where –ul means “the”.

[6] The British Museum.  I used to work up the top of Gower Street for a few years and when I made a habit of going to the Museum at lunchtime  just to try and digest the amount of stuff that’s there.  From the awesome (literally) Assyrian statuary including demons like Pazuzu of The Exorcist fame, lots of Egyptian mummies, John Dee’s occult paraphernalia, the pagan treasures of the Celts, Anglo-Saxons and Vikings, there’s loads there for people who like the kinds of things we do. Again, just go.

[7] I’ve got an app on my phone to do this.

[8] He’s putting me on edge with all this foreshadowing

[9] The link goes to a blog that does recipes from Dracula. How cool is that? Both these culinary terms are Romanian, not Hungarian or German, which considering the lack of mention he gives to the Romanians is interesting. Did I say I was interested in languages?

[10] That’s not so true today. I loved the trains in Middle Europe.

[11] This is so true. The landscape is awesome. And remember it’s full of bears and wolves and lynxes and eagles – stuff that’s been wiped out in a most of Europe.

[12] Even today, you can see people, particularly women wearing the old peasant costumes. I wonder how long it will last?

[13] Few Slovaks in Transylvania now.  You don’t see people like this in Slovakia, though I’ve only been to Bratislava (another great city. Good trams. Stark Communist era tower blocs too).  Interesting what he says about the Slovaks not being warlike.  You should read HHhH about one Slovak (and a Czech) who assassinated the Nazi leader in Prague in WW2. That is a truly fantastic book.

[14] Bukovina was an easterly province of Austria-Hungary, half populated by Romanians and half by Ruthenians – that is Ukrainian speakers.  The name is Slavonic and means Land of Beech Trees.  It was traditionally ruled by the Romanian speaking Moldavian nobility. Northern Bukovina is now in Ukraine and the southern part in  Romania. This split occurred after the Soviet Union annexed that part of Romania in 1940 and kept the northern part, which was ethnically Slavonic in any case. Not that I am encouraging annexation.

[15] I love European hotels like this. One Christmas I stayed at a hotel in Rudesheim on the Rhine, the Hotel Lindenwirt.  And for another, see the hotel they stay in in The Lady Vanishes. It’s just like this one sounds. Then there’s the Black Elephant in the middle of Prague. Sorry, I digressed because I got excited.

[16] Indeed, to get from Bistrica to Bukovina you need to cross the High Carpathians. The Borgo or Burgo Pass is Hungarian. In Romanian it is Tihuta Pass

[1] A name similar to Walloon and Welsh, a term used by Germanic peoples for subjects of the Roman Empire, often Latin speakers. The Wallachs are the Romanian speakers descended from the original Dacian tribes of the area.

[2] Hungarians

[3] A Hungarian people whose name derives from the Hungarian for “frontier guards” who lived in  Székely Land in Transylvania and Bukovina.

[4] There’s an inn of this name in Vienna and another in Innsbruck, Austria.  There’s even a 2016 video game where you can fight vampires.

[5] The name Dracula seems to mean The Dragon in Romanian Dracul.

[6] That is a Protestant who eschew such “Popish” symbols.

[7] A white wine made in Mediaș, a town in Sibiu County, Transylvania.

[8] I found the meaning of this phrase in an article about marriage in Hungary here. Apparently there’s a low bench of stone outside each door, called “word-bearer” where people gossip.

[9] Apparently should be vrkolak

[10] Serbian, in case you didn’t guess.

[11] Really, Bram?

[12] He’s there in Maytime. This is going to be so beautiful.

[13] This is a sign of iodine deficiency. We got our iodine from fish or other seafood. Too much can give you hyperthyroidism and this can be seen in Japan where they eat iodine loaded seaweed. Landlocked, like Transylvania and with a diet primarily of maize, the peasants suffered from iodine deficiency caused goitres.

[14] Take a look

[15] Apparently there was a local superstition that flickering blue flames mark where treasure is hid. Or, that they are evil spirits. Whatever they are, Dracula seems pretty cool with them. I can’t imagine he had need or want of treasure, so they are probably just evil spirits.

[16] I spent last Sunday with two timber wolves. They were lovely. But they could have eaten me if they’d wanted to. They just chose not to once I told them I was a pack mate.

A strange replacement

The Curious Fortean

It’s not hard to find information about this case, for who wants to know more. It is one of the most peculiar cases of displacement of a soul, to be replaced by somebody else’s in the vacant body.

I’m talking about the 16 year old Hungarian teenager Iris Farczady, who became severely ill in 1933. If she fell into a coma or really died for a very short moment nobody knows. Fact is that she woke up the next morning as a Spanish woman, and never became Iris again.

We regularly hear about people waking up with a strange accent, or speaking a foreign language they never spoke fluently before. Psychologists say this is a brain thing, although they can’t explain it either.

In parapsychological literature there are all kinds of cases of people who become temporarily someone else, suffering from Multiple Personality Syndrome, or undergoing an exchange for…

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