OF WHAT BEFELL ON PEMBURY HILL
It was a night of tempest with rain and wind, a great wild wind that shouted mightily near and far, filling the world with halloo; while, ever and anon, thunder crashed and lightning flamed athwart the muddy road that wound steeply up betwixt grassy banks topped by swaying trees. Broken twigs, whirling down the wind, smote me in the dark, fallen branches reached out arms that grappled me unseen, but I held on steadfastly, since every stride carried me nearer to vengeance, that vengeance for the which I prayed and lived. So with bared head lifted exulting to the tempest and grasping the stout hedge-stake that served me for staff, I climbed the long ascent of Pembury Hill.
Reaching the summit at last I must needs stay awhile to catch my breath and shelter me as well as I might 'neath the weather bank, for upon this eminence the rain lashed and the wind smote me with a fury redoubled.
And now, as I stood amid that howling darkness, my back propped by the bank, my face lifted to the tempest, I was aware of a strange sound, very shrill and fitful, that reached me 'twixt the booming wind-gusts, a sound that came and went, now loud and clear, anon faint and remote, and I wondered what it might be.
Then the rushing dark was split asunder by a jagged lightning flash, and I saw. Stark against the glare rose black shaft and crossbeam, wherefrom swung a creaking shape of rusty chains and iron bands that held together something shrivelled and black and wet with rain, a grisly thing that leapt on the buffeting wind, that strove and jerked as it would fain break free and hurl itself down upon me.
Now hearkening to the dismal creak of this chained thing, I fell to meditation. This awful shape (thought I) had been a man once, hale and strong,--even as I, but this man had contravened the law (even as I purposed to do) and he had died a rogue's death and so hung, rotting, in his chains, even as this my own body might do some day. And, hearkening to the shrill wail of his fetters, my flesh crept with loathing and I shivered. But the fit passed, and in my vain pride I smote my staff into the mud at my feet and vowed within myself that nought should baulk me of my just vengeance, come what might; as my father had suffered death untimely and hard, so should die the enemy of my race; for the anguish he had made me endure so should he know anguish. I bethought me how long and deadly had been this feud of ours, handed down from one generation to another, a dark, blood smirched record of bitter wrongs bitterly avenged. "To hate like a Brandon and revenge like a Conisby!" This had been a saying in our south country upon a time; and now--he was the last of his race as I was the last of mine, and I had come back out of hell that this saying might be fulfilled. Soon--ha, yes, in a few short hours the feud should be ended once and for all and the house of Conisby avenged to the uttermost. Thinking thus, I heeded no more the raving tempest around me until, roused by the plunge and rattle of the gibbet-chains, I raised my head and shaking my staff up at that black and shrivelled thing, I laughed loud and fierce, and, even as I did so, there leapt a great blaze of crackling flame and thereafter a thunder-clap that seemed to shake the very earth and smite the roaring wind to awed silence; and in this silence, I heard a whisper:
A Chancery judge once had the kindness to inform me, as one of a company of some hundred and fifty men and women not labouring under any suspicions of lunacy, that the Court of Chancery, though the shining subject of much popular prejudice (at which point I thought the judge's eye had a cast in my direction), was almost immaculate.
There had been, he admitted, a trivial blemish or so in its rate of progress, but this was exaggerated and had been entirely owing to the "parsimony of the public," which guilty public, it appeared, had been until lately bent in the most determined manner on by no means enlarging the number of Chancery judges appointed--I believe by Richard the Second, but any other king will do as well.
This seemed to me too profound a joke to be inserted in the body of this book or I should have restored it to Conversation Kenge or to Mr. Vholes, with one or other of whom I think it must have originated. In such mouths I might have coupled it with an apt quotation from one of Shakespeare's sonnets:
"My nature is subdued To what it works in, like the dyer's hand: Pity me, then, and wish I were renewed!"
But as it is wholesome that the parsimonious public should know what has been doing, and still is doing, in this connexion, I mention here that everything set forth in these pages concerning the Court of Chancery is substantially true, and within the truth.
The case of Gridley is in no essential altered from one of actual occurrence, made public by a disinterested person who was professionally acquainted with the whole of the monstrous wrong from beginning to end. At the present moment (August, 1853) there is a suit before the court which was commenced nearly twenty years ago, in which from thirty to forty counsel have been known to appear at one time, in which costs have been incurred to the amount of seventy thousand pounds, which is A FRIENDLY SUIT, and which is (I am assured) no nearer to its termination now than when it was begun. There is another well-known suit in Chancery, not yet decided, which was commenced before the close of the last century and in which more than double the amount of seventy thousand pounds has been swallowed up in costs. If I wanted other authorities for Jarndyce and Jarndyce, I could rain them on these pages, to the shame of--a parsimonious public.
The snail on the slope
From this height, the forest was like foam, luxuriant and blotchy, a gigantic world--encompassing porous sponge, like an animal waiting in concealment, now fallen asleep and overgrown with rough moss. A formless mask hiding a face, as yet revealed to none.
Pepper shook off his sandals and sat down with his bare legs dangling over the precipice. It seemed to him that his heels at once became damp, as if he had actually immersed them in the warm lilac fog that lay banked up in the shadows under the cliff. He fished out the pebbles he had collected from his pocket and laid them out neatly beside him. He then selected the smallest and gently tossed it down into the living and silent, slumbering, all-enveloping indifference, and the white spark was extinguished, and nothing happened--no branch trembled, no eye half-opened to glance up.
If he were to throw a pebble every one and a half minutes, and if what the one-legged cook, nicknamed Pansy, said was true and what Madame Bardot, head of the Assistance to the Local Population Group, reckoned, if what driver Acey whispered to the unknown man from the Engineering Penetration Group was untrue, and if human intuition was worth anything at all, and if wishes came true once in a lifetime, then at the seventh stone, the bushes behind him would part with a crash, and the director would step out onto the soft crushed grass of the dew-gray clearing. He would be stripped to the waist in his gray garbardines with the lilac braid, breathing heavily, sleek and glossy, yellow-pink and shaggy, looking nowhere in particular, neither at the forest beneath him nor at the sky above him, bending down to bury his arms in the grass, then unbending to raise a breeze with his broad palms, each time the mighty fold on his belly bulging out over his trousers, while air, saturated with carbon dioxide and nicotine, would burst out of his open mouth with a whistling gurgle.
The bushes behind parted with a crash. Pepper looked around cautiously, but it wasn't the director, it was someone he knew, Claudius-Octavian Haus-botcher from the Eradication Group. He approached without haste and halted two paces away, looking Pepper up and down with his piercing dark eyes. He knew something or suspected something, something very important, and this knowledge or suspicion had frozen his long face, the stony face of a man who had brought here to the precipice a strange, alarming piece of news. No one in the whole world knew what this news was, but it was already clear that everything had altered decisively; what had gone before was no longer significant and now, at last, everyone would be required to contribute all he was capable of.
Jonathan Harker's Journal
3 May. Bistritz.__Left Munich at 8:35 P.M., on 1st May, arriving at Vienna early next morning; should have arrived at 6:46, but train was an hour late. Buda-Pesth seems a won derful place, from the glimpse which I got of it from the train and the little I could walk through the streets. I feared to go very far from the station, as we had arrived late and would start as near the correct time as possible.
The impression I had was that we were leaving the West and entering the East; the most western of splendid bridges over the Danube, which is here of noble width and depth, took us among the traditions of Turkish rule.
We left in pretty good time, and came after nightfall to Klausenburgh. Here I stopped for the night at the Hotel Royale. I had for dinner, or rather supper, a chicken done up some way with red pepper, which was very good but thirsty.
(Mem. get recipe for Mina.) I asked the waiter, and he said it was called "paprika hendl," and that, as it was a nation al dish, I should be able to get it anywhere along the Car pathians.
I found my smattering of German very useful here, in deed, I don't know how I should be able to get on without it.
Having had some time at my disposal when in London, I had visited the British Museum, and made search among the books and maps in the library regarding Transylvania; it had struck me that some foreknowledge of the country could hardly fail to have some importance in dealing with a nobleman of that country.
I find that the district he named is in the extreme east of the country, just on the borders of three states, Transylvania, Moldavia, and Bukovina, in the midst of the Carpathian mountains; one of the wildest and least known portions of Europe.
I was not able to light on any map or work giving the exact locality of the Castle Dracula, as there are no maps of this country as yet to compare with our own Ordance Survey Maps; but I found that Bistritz, the post town named by Count Dracula, is a fairly well-known place. I shall enter here some of my notes, as they may refresh my memory when I talk over my travels with Mina.
CABBAGES AND KINGS
By the Carpenter
They will tell you in Anchuria, that President Miraflores, of that volatile republic, died by his own hand in the coast town of Coralio; that he had reached thus far in flight from the inconveniences of an imminent revolution; and that one hundred thousand dollars, government funds, which he carried with him in an American leather valise as a souvenir of his tempestuous administration, was never afterward recovered.
For a ~real~, a boy will show you his grave. It is back of the town near a little bridge that spans a mangrove swamp. A plain slab of wood stands at its head. Some one has burned upon the headstone with a hot iron this inscription:
CHAPTER I--A BEGGAR ON HORSEBACK
The 25th day of August, 1751, about two in the afternoon, I, David Balfour, came forth of the British Linen Company, a porter attending me with a bag of money, and some of the chief of these merchants bowing me from their doors. Two days before, and even so late as yestermorning, I was like a beggar-man by the wayside, clad in rags, brought down to my last shillings, my companion a condemned traitor, a price set on my own head for a crime with the news of which the country rang. To-day I was served heir to my position in life, a landed laird, a bank porter by me carrying my gold, recommendations in my pocket, and (in the words of the saying) the ball directly at my foot.
There were two circumstances that served me as ballast to so much sail. The first was the very difficult and deadly business I had still to handle; the second, the place that I was in. The tall, black city, and the numbers and movement and noise of so many folk, made a new world for me, after the moorland braes, the sea-sands and the still country-sides that I had frequented up to then. The throng of the citizens in particular abashed me. Rankeillor's son was short and small in the girth; his clothes scarce held on me; and it was plain I was ill qualified to strut in the front of a bank-porter. It was plain, if I did so, I should but set folk laughing, and (what was worse in my case) set them asking questions. So that I behooved to come by some clothes of my own, and in the meanwhile to walk by the porter's side, and put my hand on his arm as though we were a pair of friends.
At a merchant's in the Luckenbooths I had myself fitted out: none too fine, for I had no idea to appear like a beggar on horseback; but comely and responsible, so that servants should respect me.
Thence to an armourer's, where I got a plain sword, to suit with my degree in life. I felt safer with the weapon, though (for one so ignorant of defence) it might be called an added danger. The porter, who was naturally a man of some experience, judged my accoutrement to be well chosen.