Bram Stoker’s Dracula by Fred Saberhagen & James V. Heart


“Write now, if you please. Two letters at least, I think. One to your future partner Mr. Hawkins; another to… any loved ones you may have. Say that you shall stay with me until a month from now.”

The young solicitor was taken aback and had to struggle to keep from showing his disappointment openly. Lamely he asked: “Do you wish me to stay so long?”

“I desire it much.” The strange blue eyes grew very hard. “Nay, I will take no refusal. There is much I would have you tell me—about London. About England and all her people.”

Taking note of his visitor’s continued reluctance, the count persevered. “And when your master, employer—call Mr. Hawkins what you will—engaged that someone should come here on his behalf, it was understood that my needs only were to be consulted. I have not stinted. Is it not so?”

The sharp-nailed hand pushed forward on the table several sheets of writing paper and envelopes; Harker took note that all were of the thinnest foreign post. Whatever he might write on them could easily be read, even after the envelopes were sealed.

Still he felt he could do nothing, in the circumstances, but bow his acceptance.

Dracula smiled; once more he was all graciousness.

“But you must be tired. I am remiss as a host; your bedroom is all in readiness, and tomorrow you shall sleep as late as you will. I have to be away until the afternoon; so sleep well and dream well!”

And Harker retired, noting in his journal that he found himself “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!”

Having slept for a few hours, rather uneasily though without any obvious cause of disturbance, Harker awoke to bright sunlight coming in. He got up, and gazed for a time at the empty, utterly deserted, half-ruined courtyard beneath the windows of his rooms. Here and there weeds grew through the pavement, and dust had drifted into all the corners. The archway built and carved into a dragon’s shape seemed an enigma worthy of comparison to the Sphinx.

All was quiet in the hallway outside Harker’s door and, indeed, throughout the whole castle, as far as he could tell; never yet had he seen or heard any movement or talk of servants.

He washed, and dressed himself, and returned to the room where he had supped the night before. There he found a cold breakfast laid out, with coffee kept hot by the pot being placed on the hearth.

On the table was a card, bearing a message in Dracula’s hand:

I have to be absent for a while. Do not wait for me.


Harker was, as he thought, rapidly becoming accustomed to oddities. He fell to and enjoyed a hearty meal. When he had done, he looked for a bell, that he might let the servants know that he had finished; but he could not find one.

Pouring himself more coffee, he sat for a while considering the odd deficiencies in the house, which contrasted so sharply with the extraordinary evidences of wealth. At this meal the table service was again of gold, so beautifully wrought that Harker thought it must be of immense value. The curtains and upholstery of the chairs and sofas in both his rooms, and the hangings of the bed, were of the costliest and most beautiful fabrics. They were centuries old, Harker thought, having seen something like them in the old palace at Hampton Court.

But there were certainly peculiarities. For example, in none of the rooms that he had seen so far was there even the simplest mirror; it seemed he would have to get out the little shaving glass from his bag before he could either shave or brush his hair.

Even stranger, he had not yet seen a servant anywhere, or heard a human voice or movement, other than his own or Dracula’s, near the castle. There were only occasional bird songs, and the howling of wolves, to accompany the intermittent moaning of the wind around the windows and the battlements.

Having finished his coffee, Harker wrote the letters his host had requested and sealed them in their envelopes—where, he observed, they were as transparently readable as he had expected.

That task accomplished, he looked about for something to read—he did not like to set out attempting to explore the castle without the count’s express permission.

His own rooms contained absolutely nothing in the way of books or newspapers; going out into the hall and tentatively trying another door, he was pleased to discover a sizable library, neatly kept and furnished.

And in the library, to Harker’s great delight, were a vast number of English books, whole shelves full of them, and bound volumes of magazines and newspapers. The place had a pleasant air of use and occupation. A table in the center was littered with English magazines and newspapers, though none of very recent date.

The books were of the most varied kind—history, geography, politics, botany, geology, law—all relating to England and English life and customs and manners.

After spending a pleasant hour or so in the library, Harker returned to his own quarters. There he entered an account of his recent experiences and impressions in his journal, which he was still determined to keep as faithfully as possible.

11 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. I wish I were safe out of it, and that I had never come. It may be that this strange night existence is telling on me; but would that were all! If there were anyone to talk to, I could bear it, but there is no one. I have only the count to speak with, and he

Harker broke off at that point, unable or unwilling to set down his own half-formed fears and notions.

Having again sought unsuccessfully in the apartment for a mirror of any kind, he brought out his own small shaving mirror from his trunk and hung it near the window, where the light was best. Realizing that it would be pointless to try to summon a servant, he built up the smoldering fire a little himself and put a pan of water on the hearth to heat.

Harker got out his straight razor, honed the edge rhythmically on the short leather strop, and presently began to shave, humming lightly to himself a tune from Gilbert and Sullivan. Bright sunshine, chirping sparrows near his window, and the sense of having successfully concluded an unusual item of business, combined to drive away vague terrors and apprehensions.

He told himself that last night many things—the strangeness of the journey, the wolves, the peculiarities of his eccentric client—had combined to have a strong effect upon his nerves. But this morning he felt that he had put all such dreams and vapors behind him.

Small wonder, though, Harker mused to himself, that his predecessor, poor Renfield, had suffered seriously from his journey to these regions. Harker wasn’t sure whether Renfield had actually stayed at Castle Dracula, or had even reached it—he would have to ask his host about that. But any man with the least tendency toward—well, toward instability—on being subjected to such strains—

“Good morning.”

The words were spoken so close behind Harker, so distinctly uttered in the middle of a room shown by the shaving mirror to be completely devoid of other people, that the young man could not repress a start as he whirled around. The razor in his hand inevitably inflicted a small nick on his chin.

Count Dracula, garbed as on the previous night, his face fixed in a faint smile, was standing little more than an arm’s length behind him.

Muttering some kind of response to the salutation, Harker involuntarily turned back, wondering, to the shaving glass. His eyes and brain confirmed the incredible fact that the mirror presented no image at all of his visitor, though every other object in the room was plainly reflected.

Obviously his host was aware of his confusion. But it was equally obvious that no explanation was going to be offered.

“Take care!” warned Dracula, demonstrating a sudden anger. “Take care how you cut yourself! In this country it is more dangerous than you think!”

The count stepped forward, causing his young guest to recoil involuntarily.

“And this is the wretched thing that has done the mischief! It is a foul bauble of man’s vanity. Away with it!” Harker, later trying to remember exactly what happened in the next moment, could never be quite sure. It seemed to him that Dracula had never actually touched the little mirror, but that the glass warped and distorted of itself, and in another instant broke, sending a spray of sharp bright fragments onto the carpet.

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Categories: Saberhagen, Fred