Page 7 of Dracula

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_29 June._--To-day is the date of my last letter, and the Count hastaken steps to prove that it was genuine, for again I saw him leavethe castle by the same window, and in my clothes. As he went down thewall, lizard fashion, I wished I had a gun or some lethal weapon, thatI might destroy him; but I fear that no weapon wrought alone by man'shand would have any effect on him. I dared not wait to see him return,for I feared to see those weird sisters. I came back to the library,and read there till I fell asleep.

I was awakened by the Count, who looked at me as grimly as a man canlook as he said:--

"To-morrow, my friend, we must part. You return to your beautifulEngland, I to some work which may have such an end that we may nevermeet. Your letter home has been despatched; to-morrow I shall not behere, but all shall be ready for your journey. In the morning comethe Szgany, who have some labours of their own here, and also comesome Slovaks. When they have gone, my carriage shall come for you, andshall bear you to the Borgo Pass to meet the diligence from Bukovinato Bistritz. But I am in hopes that I shall see more of you at CastleDracula." I suspected him, and determined to test his sincerity.Sincerity! It seems like a profanation of the word to write it inconnection with such a monster, so I asked him point-blank:--

"Why may I not go to-night?"

"Because, dear sir, my coachman and horses are away on a mission."

"But I would walk with pleasure. I want to get away at once." Hesmiled, such a soft, smooth, diabolical smile that I knew there wassome trick behind his smoothness. He said:--

"And your baggage?"

"I do not care about it. I can send for it some other time."

The Count stood up, and said, with a sweet courtesy which made me rubmy eyes, it seemed so real:--

"You English have a saying which is close to my heart, for its spiritis that which rules our _boyars_: 'Welcome the coming, speed theparting guest.' Come with me, my dear young friend. Not an hour shallyou wait in my house against your will, though sad am I at your going,and that you so suddenly desire it. Come!" With a stately gravity, he,with the lamp, preceded me down the stairs and along the hall. Suddenlyhe stopped.


Close at hand came the howling of many wolves. It was almost as if thesound sprang up at the raising of his hand, just as the music of agreat orchestra seems to leap under the baton of the conductor. After apause of a moment, he proceeded in his stately way, to the door, drewback the ponderous bolts, unhooked the heavy chains, and began to drawit open.

To my intense astonishment I saw that it was unlocked. Suspiciously Ilooked all round, but could see no key of any kind.

As the door began to open, the howling of the wolves without grewlouder and angrier; their red jaws, with champing teeth, and theirblunt-clawed feet as they leaped, came in through the opening door. Iknew that to struggle at the moment against the Count was useless. Withsuch allies as these at his command, I could do nothing. But still thedoor continued slowly to open, and only the Count's body stood in thegap. Suddenly it struck me that this might be the moment and the meansof my doom; I was to be given to the wolves, and at my own instigation.There was a diabolical wickedness in the idea great enough for theCount, and as a last chance I cried out:--

"Shut the door; I shall wait till morning!" and covered my face withmy hands to hide my tears of bitter disappointment. With one sweep ofhis powerful arm, the Count threw the door shut, and the great boltsclanged and echoed through the hall as they shot back into theirplaces.

In silence we returned to the library, and after a minute or two I wentto my own room. The last I saw of Count Dracula was his kissing hishand to me; with a red light of triumph in his eyes, and with a smilethat Judas in hell might be proud of.

When I was in my room and about to lie down, I thought I heard awhispering at my door. I went to it softly and listened. Unless my earsdeceived me, I heard the voice of the Count:--

"Back, back, to your own place! Your time is not yet come. Wait. Havepatience. To-morrow night, to-morrow night, is yours!" There was a low,sweet ripple of laughter, and in a rage I threw open the door, and sawwithout the three terrible women licking their lips. As I appeared theyall joined in a horrible laugh, and ran away.

I came back to my room and threw myself on my knees. Is it then so nearthe end? To-morrow! to-morrow! Lord, help me, and those to whom I amdear!

_30 June, morning._--These may be the last words I ever write in thisdiary. I slept till just before the dawn, and when I woke threw myselfon my knees, for I determined that if Death came he should find meready.

At last I felt that subtle change in the air and knew that the morninghad come. Then came the welcome cock-crow, and I felt that I was safe.With a glad heart, I opened my door and ran down the hall. I had seenthat the door was unlocked and now escape was before me. With handsthat trembled with eagerness, I unhooked the chains and drew back themassive bolts.

But the door would not move. Despair seized me. I pulled and pulledat the door, and shook it till, massive as it was, it rattled in itscasement. I could see the bolt shot. It had been locked after I leftthe Count.

Then a wild desire took me to obtain that key at any risk, and Idetermined then and there to scale the wall again and gain the Count'sroom. He might kill me, but death now seemed the happier choice ofevils. Without a pause I rushed up to the east window and scrambleddown the wall, as before, into the Count's room. It was empty, butthat was as I expected. I could not see a key anywhere, but the heapof gold remained. I went through the door in the corner and down thewinding stair and along the dark passage to the old chapel. I knew nowwell enough where to find the monster I sought.

The great box was in the same place, close against the wall, but thelid was laid on it, not fastened down, but with the nails ready intheir places to be hammered home. I knew I must search the body forthe key, so I raised the lid and laid it back against the wall; andthen I saw something which filled my very soul with horror. There laythe Count, but looking as if his youth had been half-renewed, for thewhite hair and moustache were changed to dark iron-grey; the cheekswere fuller, and the white skin seemed ruby-red underneath; the mouthwas redder than ever, for on the lips were gouts of fresh blood, whichtrickled from the corners of the mouth and ran over the chin and neck.Even the deep, burning eyes seemed set amongst swollen flesh, for thelids and pouches underneath were bloated. It seemed as if the wholeawful creature were simply gorged with blood; he lay like a filthyleech, exhausted with his repletio

n. I shuddered as I bent over totouch him, and every sense in me revolted at the contact; but I hadto search, or I was lost. The coming night might see my own body abanquet in a similar way to those horrid three. I felt all over thebody, but no sign could I find of the key. Then I stopped and lookedat the Count. There was a mocking smile on the bloated face whichseemed to drive me mad. This was the being I was helping to transferto London, where, perhaps for centuries to come, he might, amongst itsteeming millions, satiate his lust for blood, and create a new and everwidening circle of semi-demons to batten on the helpless. The verythought drove me mad. A terrible desire came upon me to rid the worldof such a monster. There was no lethal weapon at hand, but I seized ashovel which the workmen had been using to fill the cases, and liftingit high, struck, with the edge downward, at the hateful face. But as Idid so the head turned, and the eyes fell full upon me, with all theirblaze of basilisk horror. The sight seemed to paralyse me, and theshovel turned in my hand and glanced from the face, merely making adeep gash above the forehead. The shovel fell from my hand across thebox, and as I pulled it away the flange of the blade caught the edgeof the lid, which fell over again, and hid the horrid thing from mysight. The last glimpse I had was of the bloated face, blood-stainedand fixed with a grin of malice which would have held its own in thenethermost hell.

I thought and thought what should be my next move, but my brain seemedon fire, and I waited with a despairing feeling growing over me. AsI waited I heard in the distance a gipsy song sung by merry voicescoming closer, and through their song the rolling of heavy wheels andthe cracking of whips; the Szgany and the Slovaks of whom the Counthad spoken were coming. With a last look round and at the box whichcontained the vile body, I ran from the place and gained the Count'sroom, determined to rush out at the moment the door should be opened.With strained ears I listened, and heard downstairs the grinding ofthe key in the great lock and the falling back of the heavy door.There must have been some other means of entry, or some one had a keyfor one of the locked doors. Then there came the sound of many feettramping and dying away in some passage which sent up a clanging echo.I turned to run down again towards the vault, where I might find thenew entrance; but at that moment there seemed to come a violent puff ofwind, and the door to the winding stair blew to with a shock that setthe dust from the lintels flying. When I ran to push it open, I foundthat it was hopelessly fast. I was again a prisoner, and the net ofdoom was closing round me more closely.

As I write there is in the passage below a sound of many tramping feetand the crash of weights being set down heavily, doubtless the boxes,with their freight of earth. There is a sound of hammering; it is thebox being nailed down. Now I can hear the heavy feet tramping againalong the hall, with many other idle feet coming behind them.

The door is shut, and the chains rattle; there is a grinding of the keyin the lock; I can hear the key withdrawn; then another door opens andshuts; I hear the creaking of lock and bolt.

Hark! in the courtyard and down the rocky way the roll of heavy wheels,the crack of whips, and the chorus of the Szgany as they pass into thedistance.

I am alone in the castle with those awful women. Faugh! Mina is awoman, and there is naught in common. They are devils of the Pit!

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