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byjur_344
No Photos 21st Apr 2010
Just as I had come to this conclusion I heard a... 2114

Just as I had come to this conclusion I heard a heavy step approaching behind the great door, and saw through the chinks the gleam of a coming lightThen there was the sound of rattling chains and the clanking of massive bolts drawn backA key was turned with the loud grating noise of long disuse, and the great door swung backWithin, stood a tall old man, clean shaven save for a long white moustache, and clad in black from head to foot, without a single speck of colour about him anywhereHe held in his hand an antique silver lamp, in which the flame burned without a chimney or globe of any kind, throwing long quivering shadows as it flickered in the draught of the open doorThe old man motioned me in with his right hand with a courtly gesture, saying in excellent English, but with a strange intonation"Welcome to my house! Enter freely and of your own free will!" He made no motion of stepping to meet me, but stood like a statue, as though his gesture of welcome had fixed him into stoneThe instant, however, that I had stepped over the threshold, he moved impulsively forward, and holding out his hand grasped mine with a strength which made me wince, an effect which was not lessened by the fact that it seemed cold as ice, more like the hand of a dead than a living manAgain he said, "Welcome to my house! Enter freelyGo safely, and leave something of the happiness you bring!" The strength of the handshake was so much akin to that which I had noticed in the driver, whose face I had not seen, that for a moment I doubted if it were not the same person to whom I was speakingSo to make sure, I said interrogatively, "Count Dracula?" He bowed in a courtly way as he replied, "I am Dracula, and I bid you welcome, MrCome in, the night air is chill, and you must need to eat and rest As he was speaking, he put the lamp on a bracket on the wall, and stepping out, took my luggageHe had carried it in before I could forestall himI protested, but he insisted"Nay, sir, you are my guestIt is late, and my people are not availableLet me see to your comfort myself He insisted on carrying my traps along the passage, and then up a great winding stair, and along another great passage, on whose stone floor our steps rang heavilyAt the end of this he threw open a heavy door, and I rejoiced to see within a well-lit room in which a table was spread for supper, and on whose mighty hearth a great fire of logs, freshly replenished, flamed and flaredThe Count halted, putting down my bags, closed the door, and crossing the room, opened another door, which led into a small octagonal room lit by a single lamp, and seemingly without a window of any sortPassing through this, he opened another door, and motioned me to enterIt was a welcome sightFor here was a great bedroom well lighted and warmed with another log fire, also added to but lately, for the top logs were fresh, which sent a hollow roar up the wide chimneyThe Count himself left my luggage inside and withdrew, saying, before he closed the door"You will need, after your journey, to refresh yourself by making your toiletI trust you will find all you wishWhen you are ready, come into the other room, where you will find your supper prepared The light and warmth and the Count's courteous welcome seemed to have dissipated all my doubts and fearsHaving then reached my normal state, I discovered that I was half famished with hungerSo making a hasty toilet, I went into the other roomI found supper already laid outMy host, who stood on one side of the great fireplace, leaning against the stonework, made a graceful wave of his hand to the table, and said, "I pray you, be seated and sup how you pleaseYou will I trust, excuse me that I do not join you, but I have dined already, and I do not sup I handed to him the sealed letter which MrHawkins had entrusted to meHe opened it and read it gravelyThen, with a charming smile, he handed it to me to readOne passage of it, at least, gave me a thrill of pleasure"I must regret that an attack of gout, from which malady I am a constant sufferer, forbids absolutely any travelling on my part for some time to shop come

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