A Prisoner in the Castle
I looked up at the high castle walls. There were no lights in any of the windows. In front of me was a great wooden door.
As I stood there, I heard the door being unlocked. It opened slowly. A very tall old man was standing there. He held a lamp in his hand. His hair and face were white and he was dressed in black. He held his lamp up high and said, ‘Welcome to my home. Enter Castle Dracula, Mr Harker.’
As I stepped inside, Count Dracula took hold of my arm. He was terribly strong and his hand was as cold as ice. The Count locked the door carefully and put the keys into his pocket.
I followed him down long passages and up winding stairs. I walked like a man in a dream. At last, the Count opened a door and led me into a room without windows. I could see two open doors. Through one door, I could see a bedroom. Through the other door, I could see food and drink on a table.
‘When you are ready, my dear friend,’ the Count said, ‘I shall be waiting for you.’
In a few minutes, I was sitting at the table. I was very hungry. The Count told me he had already eaten.
Later, we sat together near the fire. The Count spoke good English and he asked me many questions. I was tired and I began to feel very ill. The castle was completely silent. But outside the wolves were howling.
‘Can you hear the children of the night?’ the Count said quietly. ‘Listen to their music!’
Count Dracula’s face was very close to mine. The fire made his eyes shine with a red light. There was an unpleasant smell in the room. I wondered what it was. The Count smiled. He had very red lips and his teeth were long and sharp.
‘You are tired,’ he said. ‘It is time for you to sleep.’
That night, I had strange and terrible dreams. In my dreams, I heard the sound of wolves and strange laughter.
When I woke up, it was late in the morning. There was fresh food in the other room and a note from the Count on the table.
I have to leave you alone today, I read. You can go anywhere in the Castle. But some doors are locked. Do not try to open them. D.
I saw no one all day. But I found the Count’s library. It was full of books about England and I spent the day reading them. I was still reading when Count Dracula returned in the evening.
‘These books are my good friends,’ he said. ‘They have taught me a lot about your country. And now I have you, Mr Harker, to talk to.’
‘You speak English well, Count,’ I said. The Count smiled and showed his sharp, white teeth.
‘You must tell me about my new house,’ he said. ‘And you have papers for me to sign.’
I showed Count Dracula the maps and photographs I had brought with me.
‘The house is about 22 kilometres to the east of London,’ I told him. ‘It is large and parts of it are very old.’
‘Good,’ said the Count. ‘I have always lived in an old house. I could not live in a new one.’
‘The gardens have a high wall around them,’ I went on. ‘This is a photograph of the chapel. It is the oldest part of the house.’
‘So I shall be near the tombs of the dead,’ said Count
Dracula quietly. He held the photograph in his hand. For the first time, I noticed his long, pointed nails.
The Count went on talking all night long. Once, I must have fallen asleep. I sat up suddenly. Count Dracula was leaning over me. His breath had a terrible smell. What did it remind me of? As I opened my eyes he turned away.
‘Well, my friend,’ said Dracula, ‘We have been talking all night. You are tired. Go to bed and sleep.’
But I did not sleep well. My mind was troubled. Once more, I had terrible dreams.
It was very early when I woke up. I decided to dress and shave.
I looked round my bedroom. To my surprise, there was no mirror. Fortunately, I had brought a small shaving mirror with me. I hung it by the window and began to shave.
‘Good morning, my friend,’ said a voice behind me. I was so surprised that my razor slipped and I cut myself. I turned. There stood Count Dracula! He had come up behind me. Why had I not seen his face in my mirror?
The Count saw the blood on my face. He made a strange sound and his hands moved towards my throat. His eyes shone with red fire. Then his hands touched the cross around my neck and the fire in his eyes disappeared.
‘Take care,’ he said. ‘It is dangerous to cut yourself in Castle Dracula. And this mirror is not needed here.’
As he spoke, he threw my mirror out of the open window. It broke on the stones far below. The Count turned and left the room. When I went to have my breakfast, he had gone. I was by myself once again.
I was very restless. I spent the day looking round the castle. Wherever I went, I found locked doors. Some windows opened but they were high up in the castle walls. The ground was hundreds of metres below.
There was no way out of the castle. Except for Count Dracula, I was completely alone. Was I a prisoner in this strange and terrible place?