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.
I have had a long talk with the Count. I asked him a few questions about Transylvania history, and he warmed up to the subject wonderfully. He spoke of many things and people, and especially battles. He spoke so vividly, as if he had experienced it all firsthand.
He explained to me that he didn’t actually experience it firsthand, but he is so knowledgeable because all Counts take pride in their house’s history. Their house is their name. And their name is their pride. The glory and the fate of his house is the same as his glory and fate.
Whenever he spoke about his house, he said, “we.” It’s the same way a king would speak.
I wish I could write down exactly what he said, word for word, because it was incredibly fascinating. He seemed to know the whole history of the country. He became excited as he spoke. While talking, he walked around the room, pulled at his great white mustache, and grasped random objects as though he would crush them in his powerful hands.
There is one thing he said which I want to write down as accurately as possible because it seems to describe the history of his race:
“We Szekelys have a right to be proud of ourselves. The blood that flows through our veins is the blood of many brave races who fought for their leader. They fought like lions. In this land, there is a whirlpool of European races. The Ugric tribe came down from Iceland with the fighting spirit of the gods Thor and Wodin. They fought until their enemies thought they were werewolves. The people of Europe, and even of Asia and Africa, feared them.
“Here, too, when the Ugric tribe came, they found the Huns, whose warlike fury had swept the earth like a fire. The people that were defeated by the Huns said that they must have the blood of witches or devils.
“They are fools! There is no devil or witch who is as great as Attila! Attila, whose blood is in my veins?” He held up his arms. “We are a conquering race. We are proud of that. When the Magyar, the Lombard, the Avar, the Bulgar, or the Turk brought thousands of soldiers to this land, we drove them back!
“For centuries, we allied with the Magyars and guarded this land. We fought for our King. It was my race that crossed the river and defeated the Turk on their own land. It was a Dracula!
“It was the greatest shame when his own brother turned his back on the family. He sold us to the Turk as slaves and brought shame to us.
“But, indeed, it was that Dracula who inspired his race to revolt. Again and again, he brought an army over the river into Turkey. It was that Dracula who, even when beaten back, came again and again and again. Even when his army had fallen, he rose again by himself. He knew that he would be victorious. They said that he was selfish. No! Commoners aren’t worth anything without a leader anyway. Wars can never end without a commander.
“And in the final battle, with the Draculas as the leaders, we defeated the Hungarians. Ah, young sir, the Szeklys—and the Draculas as the heart of them—can boast of their victories.
“The warlike days are over, though. Blood is much too precious to waste. The glories of the old days are just tales now.”
By this time, it was nearly morning, and I went to bed.
Let me begin with the facts. The straight, simple facts. Everything that I am completely sure of.
Last evening, when the Count came from his room, he began asking me questions on legal matter and about business, so I had spent the day going through books.
The Count asked questions with intent. I want to write down his questions in the order that he asked them, because it might become important to me later:
First, he asked if a man in England could have more than one solicitor. I told him that he could have as many as he wanted, but it wouldn’t be wise to have more than one solicitor in a single transaction. Only one solicitor can close the deal, so there would be a conflict.
He seemed to understand, and he went on to ask if there would be any difficulty in having one man attend to banking, and another man to take care of shipping. I asked him to explain more fully, because I didn’t want to misunderstand.
He said, “I will illustrate. Our friend, Mr. Peter Hawkins, is in Exeter, which is far from London. He was originally my solicitor, but you are my solicitor in his place. Right? Now, I don’t want you to think it’s strange that I have asked for a solicitor who lives so far from London, rather than a solicitor from London. It’s not that I’m not interested in London. It’s that I have a lot of affairs with shipping, to Newcastle, or Durham, or Harwich, or Dover. I think that the shipping might become easier if I had a solicitor at one of these ports.”
I answered that it would certainly be easy. But I assured him that solicitors work together. If work needed to be done in another area, they would communicate with each other. He only needed to trust one solicitor and it would be less trouble for him.
“But,” he said, “I would have more control over everything.”
“Of course,” I replied, “this method is chosen by men who like to keep their business matters private.”
“Good!” he said. Then, he went on to ask about signing and cosigning and the forms. He asked about what kind of difficulties might pop up and how to avoid them.
I explained all these things to him to the best of my ability. He gave me the impression that he, himself, could have been a wonderful solicitor if he had chosen it as a career. There was no question that he hadn’t asked. For a man who had never lived in England or had purchased estates before, he sure seemed to have a lot of knowledge.
When he was satisfied with all his questions, and I had checked the answers in the books, he suddenly stood up and said, “Have you written a letter to our friend Mr. Peter Hawkins, or anyone?”
With some bitterness in my heart, I answered, “I have not.” There wasn’t any opportunity to send letters to anybody.
“Then write now, my young friend,” he said, putting his hand on my shoulder. “Write to our friend and to anyone else. And please tell them that you will stay with me until a month from now.”
“Do you really want me to stay for so long?” I asked. My heart grew cold at the thought.
“I desire it. I will not take ‘no’ for an answer. When your master or employer sent you here, you agreed to assist my needs. I have not broken an agreement, have I?”
What else could I do but accept. It was Mr. Hawkins’s client, not mine. I had to do this for him.
While Count Dracula was speaking, there was something in his eyes that made me remember that I am his prisoner. It reminded me that, ultimately, I had no choice.
The Count took my bow as a victory.
He said, “I hope, my good young friend, that you will not talk about things that are unrelated to business in your letters. I’m sure that it will please your friends to know that you are well, and that you look forward to getting home to them. Right?”
As he spoke, he handed me three sheets of paper and three envelopes. They were all made of the thinnest paper. I looked at them, and then at him. His smile was quiet, and his sharp canine teeth lay over his red bottom lip. I understood that if I didn’t write my letters exactly as he wanted, he would be able to see through the thin paper and read my letters.
I decided that I would only write formal letters now, but I would write fully to Mr. Hawkins in secret. I would also write to Mina, because I could write in code which would puzzle the Count.
When I had written my two letters, I sat quietly, reading a book. Meanwhile, the Count wrote several notes while referring to some books on his table.
Then, he picked up my two letters and placed them with his own. He put down his writing materials and left the room. The instant the door had closed behind him, I leaned over and looked at the letters, which were face down on the table. I didn’t feel any guilt for invading his privacy because under these circumstances I must protect myself in any way possible.
One of the letters was addressed to Samuel F. Billington in Whitby. Another was addressed to Herr Leutner in Varna. The third to Coutts & Co. in London. The fourth to Herron Klopstock & Billreuth in Budapest. Two of the letters were still unsealed. I was just about to look at them when I saw the door handle move. I put everything back and sank back into my seat. I managed to pick up my book and act as if I had been reading it the whole time. The Count entered the room, holding another letter in his hand. He picked up all the letters on the table and stamped them carefully.
He turned to me and said, “I hope that you will forgive me, but I have a lot of work to do in private this evening. You should have everything you need here.”
He went to the door, but after a brief pause, he added, “Let me advise you, my dear young friend—no, let me warn you with all seriousness. If you leave these rooms, do not fall asleep in any other part of the castle. It is old and has many memories. Bad dreams come to those who sleep unwisely. Be warned! If you feel sleepy at any time, hurry back to your own room to sleep. Your rest will be safe there. But, if you aren’t careful about this…” He finished his speech in a gruesome way, by motioning his hands as if he were washing them. It was a strange hand gesture, but I understood. I only wondered if a bad dream could be worse than my gloomy reality.