"I am glad you found your way in here, for I am sure there is much thatwill interest you. These friends"--and he laid his hand on some of thebooks--"have been good friends to me, and for some years past, eversince I had the idea of going to London, have given me many, many hoursof pleasure. Through them I have come to know your great England; andto know her is to love her. I long to go through the crowded streetsof your mighty London, to be in the midst of the whirl and rush ofhumanity, to share its life, its change, its death, and all that makesit 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!" He bowedgravely.
"I thank you, my friend, for your all too flattering estimate, but yetI fear that I am but a little way on the road I would travel. True, Iknow 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 yourLondon, none there are who would not know me for a stranger. That isnot enough for me. Here I am noble; I am _boyar_; the common peopleknow me, and I am master. But a stranger in a strange land, he is noone; men know him not--and to know not is to care not for. I am contentif I am like the rest, so that no man stops if he sees me, or pause inhis speaking if he hear my words, to say, 'Ha, ha! a stranger!' I havebeen so long master that I would be master still--or at least that noneother should be master of me. You come to me not alone as agent of myfriend Peter Hawkins, of Exeter, to tell me all about my new estate inLondon. You shall, I trust, rest here with me a while, so that by ourtalking I may learn the English intonation; and I would that you tellme when I make error, even of the smallest, in my speaking. I am sorrythat I had to be away so long to-day; but you will, I know, forgive onewho has so many important affairs in hand."
Of course I said all I could about being willing, and asked if I mightcome into that room when I chose. He answered: "Yes, certainly," andadded:--
"You may go anywhere you wish in the castle, except where the doors arelocked, where of course you will not wish to go. There is reason thatall things are as they are, and did you see with my eyes and know withmy knowledge, you would perhaps better understand." I said I was sureof this, and then he went on:--
"We are in Transylvania; and Transylvania is not England. Our ways arenot your ways, and there shall be to you many strange things. Nay, fromwhat you have told me of your experiences already, you know somethingof what strange things here may be."
This led to much conversation. And as it was evident that he wanted totalk, if only for talking's sake, I asked him many questions regardingthings that had already happened to me or come within my notice.Sometimes he sheered off the subject, or turned the conversation bypretending not to understand; but generally he answered all I askedmost frankly. Then as time went on, and I had got somewhat bolder, Iasked him of some of the strange things of the preceding night, as, forinstance, why the coachman went to the places where we had seen theblue flames. Was it indeed true that they showed where gold was hidden?He then explained to me that it was commonly believed that on a certainnight of the year--last night, in fact, when all evil spirits aresupposed to have unchecked sway--a blue flame is seen over any placewhere treasure has been concealed. "That treasure has been hidden," hewent on, "in the region through which you came last night, there can bebut little doubt; for it was the ground fought over for centuries bythe Wallachian, the Saxon, and the Turk. Why, there is hardly a foot ofsoil 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 theAustrian and the Hungarian came up in hordes, and the patriots went outto meet them--men and women, the aged and the children too--and waitedtheir coming on the rocks above the passes, that they might sweepdestruction on them with their artificial avalanches. When the invaderwas triumphant he found but little, for whatever there was had beensheltered in the friendly soil."
"But how," said I, "can it have remained so long undiscovered, whenthere 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; he answered:--
"Because your peasant is at heart a coward and a fool! Those flamesonly 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 hedid he would not know what to do. Why, even the peasant that you tellme of who marked the place of the flame would not know where to look indaylight even for his own work. You would not, I dare be sworn, be ableto find these places again?"
"There you are right," I said. "I know no more than the dead where evento look for them." Then we drifted into other matters.
"Come," he said at last, "tell me of London and of the house which youhave procured for me." With an apology for my remissness, I went intomy own room to get the papers from my bag. Whilst I was placing them inorder I heard a rattling of china and silver in the next room, and asI passed through, noticed that the table had been cleared and the lamplit, for it was by this time deep into the dark. The lamps were alsolit in the study or library, and I found the Count lying on the sofa,reading, of all things in the world, an English Bradshaw's Guide. WhenI came in he cleared the books and papers from the table; and with himI went into plans and deeds and figures of all sorts. He was interestedin everything, and asked me a myriad questions about the place and itssurroundings. He clearly had studied beforehand all he could get on thesubject of the neighbourhood, for he evidently at the end knew verymuch more than I did. When I remarked this, he answered:--
"Well, but, my friend, is it not needful that I should? When I go thereI shall be all alone, and my friend Harker Jonathan--nay, pardon me,I fall into my country's habit of putting your patronymic first--myfriend Jonathan Harker will not be by my side to correct and aid me. Hewill be in Exeter, miles away, probably working at papers of the lawwith my other friend, Peter Hawkins. So!"
We went thoroughly into the business of the purchase of the estate atPurfleet. When I had told him the facts and got his signature to thenecessary papers, and had written a letter with them ready to post toMr. Hawkins, he began to ask me how I had come across so suitable aplace. I read to him the notes which I had made at the time, and whichI inscribe here:--
"At Purfleet, on a by-road, I came across just such a place as seemedto be required, and where was displayed a dilapidated notice thatthe place was for sale. It is surrounded by a high wall, of ancientstructure, built of heavy stones, and has not been repaired for a largenumber of years. The closed gates were of heavy old oak and iron, alleaten with rust.
"The estate is called Carfax, no doubt a corruption of the old _QuatreFace_, as the house is four-sided, agreeing with the cardinal pointsof the compass. It contains in all some twenty acres, quite surroundedby 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 pondor small lake, evidently fed by some springs, as the water is clearand flows away in a fair-sized stream. The house is very large and ofall periods back, I should say, to mediaeval times, for one part is ofstone immensely thick, with only a few windows high up and heavilybarred with iron. It looks like part of a keep, and is close to an oldchapel or church. I could not enter it, as I had not the key of thedoor leading to it from the house, but I have taken with my Kodak viewsof it from various points. The house has been added to, but in a verystraggling 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, onebeing a very large house only recently added to and formed into aprivate lunatic asylum. 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, andto live in a new house would kill me. A house cannot be made habitablein a day; and, after all, how few days go to make up a century. Irejoice that there is a chapel of old times. We Transylvanian nobleslove not to think that our bones may be amongst the common dead. I seeknot gaiety nor mirth, not the bright voluptuousness of much sunshineand sparkling waters which please the young and gay. I am no longeryoung; 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 brokenbattlements and casements. I love the shade and the shadow, and wouldbe alone with my thoughts when I may."
Somehow his words and his look did not seem to accord, or else it wasthat his cast of face made his smile look malignant and saturnine.
Presently, with an excuse, he left me, asking me to put all my paperstogether. He was some little time away, and I began to look at some ofthe books around me. One was an atlas, which I found opened naturallyat England, as if that map had been much used. On looking at it Ifound in certain places little rings marked, and on examining these Inoticed that one was near London on the east side, manifestly where hisnew estate was situated; the other two were Exeter, and Whitby on theYorkshire coast.
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, andwe went into the next room, where I found an excellent supper readyon the table. The Count again excused himself, as he had dined out onhis being away from home. But he sat as on the previous night, andchatted whilst I ate. After supper I smoked, as on the last evening,and the Count stayed with me, chatting and asking questions on everyconceivable subject, hour after hour. I felt that it was getting verylate indeed, but I did not say anything, for I felt under obligation tomeet my host's wishes in every way. I was not sleepy, as the long sleepyesterday had fortified me; but I could not help experiencing thatchill which comes over one at the coming of dawn, which is like, in itsway, the turn of the tide. They say that people who are near death diegenerally at the change to the dawn or at the turn of the tide; anyone who has, when tired, and tied as it were to his post, experiencedthis change in the atmosphere can well believe it. All at once we heardthe crow of a cock coming up with preternatural shrillness through theclear morning air; Count Dracula, jumping to his feet, said:--
"Why, there is the morning again! How remiss I am to let you stay up solong. You must make your conversation regarding my dear new country ofEngland less interesting, so that I may not forget how time flies byus," and, with a courtly bow, he left me.
I went into my own room and drew the curtains, but there was littleto notice; my window opened into the courtyard; all I could see wasthe warm grey quickening sky. So I pulled the curtains again, and havewritten of this day.
_8 May._--I began to fear as I wrote in this book that I was gettingtoo 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 thatI cannot but feel uneasy. I wish I were safe out of it, or that I hadnever come. It may be that this strange night-existence is telling onme; but would that that were all! If there were any one to talk to Icould bear it, but there is no one. I have only the Count to speakwith, and he!--I fear I am myself the only living soul within theplace. Let me be prosaic so far as facts can be; it will help me tobear up, and imagination must not run riot with me. If it does I amlost. 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 couldnot 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 theglass covered the whole room behind me. In starting I had cut myselfslightly, but did not notice it at the moment. Having answered theCount's salutation, I turned to the glass again to see how I had beenmistaken. This time there could be no error, for the man was close tome, and I could see him over my shoulder. But there was no reflectionof him in the mirror! The whole room behind me was displayed; but therewas 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 increasethat vague feeling of uneasiness whic
h I always have when the Count isnear; but at that instant I saw that the cut had bled a little, and theblood was trickling over my chin. I laid down the razor, turning as Idid so half round to look for some sticking plaster. When the Count sawmy face, his eyes blazed with a sort of demoniac fury, and he suddenlymade a grab at my throat. I drew away, and his hand touched the stringof beads which held the crucifix. It made an instant change in him, forthe fury passed so quickly that I could hardly believe that it was everthere.
"Take care," he said, "take care how you cut yourself. It is moredangerous than you think in this country." Then seizing the shavingglass, he went on: "And this is the wretched thing that has done themischief. It is a foul bauble of man's vanity. Away with it!" andopening the heavy window with one wrench of his terrible hand, he flungout the glass, which was shattered into a thousand pieces on the stonesof the courtyard far below. Then he withdrew without a word. It is veryannoying, for I do not see how I am to shave, unless in my watch-caseor the bottom of the shaving-pot, which is fortunately of metal.
When I went into the dining-room, breakfast was prepared; but I couldnot find the Count anywhere. So I breakfasted alone. It is strangethat as yet I have not seen the Count eat or drink. He must be a verypeculiar 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 everyopportunity of seeing it. The castle is on the very edge of a terribleprecipice. A stone falling from the window would fall a thousand feetwithout touching anything! As far as the eye can reach is a sea ofgreen tree-tops, with occasionally a deep rift where there is a chasm.Here and there are silver threads where the rivers wind in deep gorgesthrough the forests.