Jonanthan Harker's Journal
At nine o'clock
Dr. Van Helsing, Dr. Seward, and I called on Messrs. Mackenzie & Steinkoff,
the agents of the London firm of Hapgood. They had received a wire from London,
in answer to Lord Godalming's telegraphed request, asking them to show us any
civility in their power. They were more than kind and courteous, and took us at
once on board the Czarina Catherine, which lay at anchor out in the river harbor.
There we saw the Captain, Donelson by name, who told us of his voyage. He said
that in all his life he had never had so favourable a run.
he said, "but it made us afeard, for we expect it that we should have to
pay for it wi' some rare piece o' ill luck, so as to keep up the average. It's
no canny to run frae London to the Black Sea wi' a wind ahint ye, as though the
Deil himself were blawin' on yer sail for his ain purpose. An' a' the time we
could no speer a thing. Gin we were nigh a ship, or a port, or a headland, a fog
fell on us and travelled wi' us, till when after it had lifted and we looked out,
the deil a thing could we see. We ran by Gibraltar wi' oot bein' able to signal.
An' til we came to the Dardanelles and had to wait to get our permit to pass,
we never were within hail o' aught. At first I inclined to slack off sail and
beat about till the fog was lifted. But whiles, I thocht that if the Deil was
minded to get us into the Black Sea quick, he was like to do it whether we would
or no. If we had a quick voyage it would be no to our miscredit wi' the owners,
or no hurt to our traffic, an' the Old Mon who had served his ain purpose wad
be decently grateful to us for no hinderin' him."
This mixture of simplicity
and cunning, of superstition and commercial reasoning, aroused Van Helsing, who
said, "Mine friend, that Devil is more clever than he is thought by some,
and he know when he meet his match!"
The skipper was not displeased
with the compliment, and went on, "When we got past the Bosphorus the men
began to grumble. Some o' them, the Roumanians, came and asked me to heave overboard
a big box which had been put on board by a queer lookin' old man just before we
had started frae London. I had seen them speer at the fellow, and put out their
twa fingers when they saw him, to guard them against the evil eye. Man! but the
supersteetion of foreigners is pairfectly rideeculous! I sent them aboot their
business pretty quick, but as just after a fog closed in on us I felt a wee bit
as they did anent something, though I wouldn't say it was again the big box. Well,
on we went, and as the fog didn't let up for five days I joost let the wind carry
us, for if the Deil wanted to get somewheres, well, he would fetch it up a'reet.
An' if he didn't, well, we'd keep a sharp lookout anyhow. Sure eneuch, we had
a fair way and deep water all the time. And two days ago, when the mornin' sun
came through the fog, we found ourselves just in the river opposite Galatz. The
Roumanians were wild, and wanted me right or wrong to take out the box and fling
it in the river. I had to argy wi' them aboot it wi' a handspike. An' when the
last o' them rose off the deck wi' his head in his hand, I had convinced them
that, evil eye or no evil eye, the property and the trust of my owners were better
in my hands than in the river Danube. They had, mind ye, taken the box on the
deck ready to fling in, and as it was marked Galatz via Varna, I thocht I'd let
it lie till we discharged in the port an' get rid o't althegither. We didn't do
much clearin' that day, an' had to remain the nicht at anchor. But in the mornin',
braw an' airly, an hour before sunup, a man came aboard wi' an order, written
to him from England, to receive a box marked for one Count Dracula. Sure eneuch
the matter was one ready to his hand. He had his papers a' reet, an' glad I was
to be rid o' the dam' thing, for I was beginnin' masel' to feel uneasy at it.
If the Deil did have any luggage aboord the ship, I'm thinkin' it was nane ither
than that same!"
"What was the name of the man who took it?"
asked Dr. Van Helsing with restrained eagerness.
"I'll be tellin' ye
quick!" he answered, and stepping down to his cabin, produced a receipt signed
"Immanuel Hildesheim." Burgen-strasse 16 was the address. We found out
that this was all the Captain knew, so with thanks we came away.
Hildesheim in his office, a Hebrew of rather the Adelphi Theatre type, with a
nose like a sheep, and a fez. His arguments were pointed with specie, we doing
the punctuation, and with a little bargaining he told us what he knew. This turned
out to be simple but important. He had received a letter from Mr. de Ville of
London, telling him to receive, if possible before sunrise so as to avoid customs,
a box which would arrive at Galatz in the Czarina Catherine. This he was to give
in charge to a certain Petrof Skinsky, who dealt with the Slovaks who traded down
the river to the port. He had been paid for his work by an English bank note,
which had been duly cashed for gold at the Danube International Bank. When Skinsky
had come to him, he had taken him to the ship and handed over the box, so as to
save porterage. That was all he knew.
We then sought for Skinsky, but were
unable to find him. One of his neighbors, who did not seem to bear him any affection,
said that he had gone away two days before, no one knew whither. This was corroborated
by his landlord, who had received by messenger the key of the house together with
the rent due, in English money. This had been between ten and eleven o'clock last
night. We were at a standstill again.
Whilst we were talking one came running
and breathlessly gasped out that the body of Skinsky had been found inside the
wall of the churchyard of St. Peter, and that the throat had been torn open as
if by some wild animal. Those we had been speaking with ran off to see the horror,
the women crying out. "This is the work of a Slovak!" We hurried away
lest we should have been in some way drawn into the affair, and so detained.
we came home we could arrive at no definite conclusion. We were all convinced
that the box was on its way, by water, to somewhere, but where that might be we
would have to discover. With heavy hearts we came home to the hotel to Mina.
we met together, the first thing was to consult as to taking Mina again into our
confidence. Things are getting desperate, and it is at least a chance, though
a hazardous one. As a preliminary step, I was released from my promise to her.