This is the dark tale of Count Dracula, told through chilling journal entries. It starts with Jonathan Harker’s visit to the Count’s castle.
It is early morning now, but I haven’t yet written about yesterday. Let me tell you the tale now.
Yesterday, I slept until late in the day. I woke up lazily and dressed myself. I went into the room where we had eaten dinner, and I found a cold breakfast on the table, with coffee being kept hot in a pot by the fireplace.
There was a card on the table.
I sat down and enjoyed a hearty breakfast. When I finished, I looked for a bell to call the servants, but I couldn’t find one. It was strange that a magnificent castle like this didn’t have a bell for servants.
In fact, now that I think about it, there are a lot of strange things about this castle. The dinner table, for example, is made of gold and it looks incredibly expensive. The curtains and the furniture are also luxurious, even though they appear to be hundreds of years old. But still, none of the rooms have a mirror. There isn’t even a small mirror in the bathroom! I had to use a pocket mirror from my bag to shave and brush my hair.
And I still haven’t seen a servant anywhere. I haven’t heard a single sound, except the howling of wolves. Some time after I had finished breakfast—I call it breakfast, even though I ate it as late as 5 or 6 pm—I looked around for something to read. I didn’t want to go wandering around the castle without the Count’s permission. There was absolutely nothing in the room for entertainment. No books or newspapers or even writing materials. So I opened another door in the room and I found some kind of library. I also tried to open another door, but it was locked.
In the library, I was lucky to find a large number of English books. There were shelves and shelves of them, as well as magazines and newspapers. A table in the center of the room was messy with English magazines and newspapers, although none of them were recent. The books were also old, but there were many kinds. There were books about history, geography, politics, political economy, botany, geology, law, and more. And they all related to England and English life.
While I was looking at the books, the door opened, and the Count entered. He greeted me happily and said, “I hope that you had a good night’s rest.”
He continued, “I am glad you found your way in here, because I am sure that there are many books that will interest you. These companions,” he laid his hand on some of the books, “have been good friends to me. For years, I have had the pleasure of reading these books about London. From these books, I have learned about your great England. And ‘to know’ is ’to love.’ I long to walk down the crowded streets of your great London. To share its life, its change, its death, and its everything. But! I’ve only learned the English language through these books. I can not speak English as well as you.”
“But, Count,” I said, “you know and speak English so well!”
He bowed at my compliment.
“Thank you, my friend. You flatter me. But yet, I fear that my English is not good enough. True, I know the grammar and the words, but I don’t know how to speak.”
“That’s not true,” I said. “You speak excellently!”
“No,” he answered, “If I were to move to London and speak, everyone would notice my accent and think that I was a stranger. That is not good enough for me. Here, I am a noble. I am a Count. The common people know me, and I am their master. But a stranger in a strange land is unimportant. He is no one. Men do not know him, and ‘to not know’ is ‘to not care about.’
“I might be content,” the Count continued, “if I fit in with the other commoners. But what if someone stops and listens to my words, and laughs out, ‘Ha, ha! A stranger’ to me? For so long, I have been a master. I will always be a master. And no one will ever be my master.
“My friend, Peter Hawkins, sent you here to tell me all about my new estate in London. But that is not your only job. You will, I hope, rest here with me for a while, so that I can learn English intonation properly. And if I make a mistake in my speaking, even a small mistake, would you correct me? I am sorry that I had to be away for so long today. But I know that you will forgive me, because I have so many important affairs to take care of.”
I listened to the Count, agreeing to make myself as helpful as possible. I also asked him if it was alright for me to use the library room whenever I want.
He answered, “Yes, certainly. You may go anywhere you wish in the castle, except where the doors are locked. You wouldn’t want to go in those rooms, anyway. There is a reason for that. If you knew what I knew, you would understand.”
I agreed not to go through the locked doors.
He continued, “We are in Transylvania, and Transylvania is not England. Our ways are not your ways. To you, there will be many strange things.”
We continued talking for some time. It was clear that he wanted to talk (perhaps simply for the sake of practicing). I asked him a lot of questions regarding things that had happened to me during my journey. For the most part, he answered my questions, but sometimes he changed the subject, or he pretended not to understand English.
As time went on, I started to get somewhat bolder. I asked him about some of the strange things of the night before. For instance, why the driver went to places where he had seen blue flames. The Count explained to me that it was commonly believed that on a certain night of the year, all evil spirits are free to roam. That special night was last night. It is also said that a blue flame is seen over any place where treasure has been concealed.
“Treasure has been hidden,” the Count continued, “in the region that you traveled through last night. In that region, countless battles have been fought by the Wallachian, the Saxon, and the Turk for centuries. All of the soil in this region has been enriched by the blood of men. When soldiers came through the valley, men, women, elderly and even children waited up in the mountain rocks. When the soldiers passed through, the people sent rock avalanches over them. The soldiers, as well as their treasures, were buried under the rocks long ago.”
“But how,” I said, “could the treasures have remained undiscovered for so long? Especially if they can be found with the blue flames?”
The Count smiled, and his lips pulled back to show his long, sharp teeth. “Because the peasants are cowards and fools! Those flames only appear on one night, and on that night, no man dares to go outside. And even if they did go out, they would not know what to do. Even the driver that you tell me about! Even after he marked the places of the flames, he wouldn’t be able to find them again in daylight. Even you, I believe, would not be able to find those places again.”
“Yes, that is true,” I said. “I have no idea where to even start looking for them.”
The conversation changed to other topics.
“Now,” he said at last, “tell me about London and the house which you have procured for me.”
With an apology for my unpreparedness, I went back to my room to get the papers from my bag. While I was organizing them, I heard a rattling of plates and silverware in the next room. When I passed through, I noticed that the table had been cleared and the lamp had been lit (because it was already late in the evening). The lamps were also lit in the library, and I found the Count lying on the sofa. Of all things in the world, he was reading a London railway timetable.
When I came in the room, he cleared the books and papers from the table. We talked about the house, and the deeds, and the payments. He was interested in every detail. He asked me a myriad of questions about the place and its surroundings. It was obvious that he had studied everything possible about the neighborhood. At the end of the conversation, I realized that he knew even more about the neighborhood than I did.
When I admitted this, he answered, “Oh, my friend, is it not important that I know everything? When I go there, I will be all alone. And even you, Harker Jonathan—oh, pardon me. In my country, we say the family name first—even you, Jonathan Harker, will not be by my side to guide me. You will be in Exeter, miles away, probably working hard in a law office with my other friend, Peter Hawkins. So!”
When we finished the business talk, he signed the papers and wrote a letter to Mr. Hawkins. He asked me how I had come across such a suitable place. I read him the notes which I had written at the time I found the place:
At Purfleet, on a side road, I came across a perfect place. There is an old ‘for sale’ sign. It is surrounded by a high wall that resembles ancient architecture. The house is built of heavy stones and has not been repaired for a long time. The closed gates are made of heavy oak and rusted iron. The estate is called Carfax. The house has four sides, each pointing perfectly north, east, south and west. The stone wall encloses about 20 acres of land. There are many trees, which make it look gloomy, and there is a deep, dark-looking pond, which is fed by some springs. The house is very large and it looks like a mansion from medieval times because the stone is thick. Also, all of the windows are high up, and are covered with iron bars. I couldn’t enter it because I didn’t have the key for the door, but I have taken a few photographs from various angles. I can see that there are some rooms that were added after the house was first constructed, including a chapel or church of some kind. The whole area of the house must be very great. But there are so few neighbors. One neighbor is a very large house that has recently been changed into a private lunatic asylum. However, it is not visible from here.
When I finished reading, he said, “I am glad that it is big and old. I, myself, am from an old family, and to live in a new house would kill me. A new house cannot become a home in one day. And I’m so glad that there is an old chapel. We Transylvanian nobles love to believe that when we die, our bones are not placed next to dead commoners. I don’t want a bright, sunny house that young people seem to love. I am no longer young. My heart, after many years of grieving the dead, is not accustomed to laughter. Moreover, the walls of my castle are broken, and wind is cold in the hallways. I love the shadows, because I can be alone with my thoughts.”
Somehow, his words and his expression did not seem to match because he was smiling.
Then, he made an excuse to leave. After he was gone for a little time, I began to look at some of the books around me. One was a world altas, and it fell open naturally to the page of England. All the other pages had been untouched. As I looked at the map, I noticed certain places were circled. One circle was where his new estate was located. The other two circles were Exeter and Whitby, on the Yorkshire coast.
After about an hour, the Count returned. “Aha!” he said. “Still looking at the books? Good! But you must not always work. Come. I was told that your dinner is ready.”
He took my arm and we went into the next room, where I found an excellent dinner ready on the table. The Count again excused himself because he had already eaten while he was away. Just as the night before, he sat down and chatted while I ate. After dinner, I smoked while the Count chatted and asked questions about every possible topic, hour after hour. I thought that it was getting very late, but I didn’t mention it because I felt like I was under the obligation to meet my host’s wishes in every way. I was not sleepy because I had woken up so late. Even so, I couldn’t help but feel a chill when dawn came. It is said that people who are near death tend to die at dawn.
The sound of the rooster’s morning call was shrill. Count Dracula jumped to his feet and said, “Oh! It is morning again already! I am sorry to keep you up so long. You must make your conversation less interesting because I forget how time is flying.” With a bow, he quickly left the room.
I went into my room and I drew open the curtains. There was nothing interesting to look at in the courtyard. All I could see was the warm gray of the dawning sky. So I closed the curtains again and wrote this journal entry.