Harker and the Count: Chapter V

David Bowles
35 min readMay 14, 2023

[previous chapter]


5 May 1893. The Castle.

I must have been asleep, for certainly if I had been fully awake, I should have noticed the approach of such a remarkable place, seemingly carved from the very rock of the mountain by antediluvian giants. In the gloom the courtyard looked of considerable size, and as several dark ways led from it under great round arches, it perhaps appeared bigger than it really is. I have not yet been able to see it by daylight.

When the calèche stopped, the driver jumped down and held out her hand to assist me to alight. Again I could not but notice her prodigious strength, so at odds with her thin if tall frame. Her hand actually seemed like a steel vice that could have crushed mine if she had chosen. Then she took out my traps and placed them on the ground beside me as I stood close to a great door, old and studded with large iron nails, and set in a projecting doorway of massive stone. I could see even in the dim light that the stone was massively carved, but that the carving had been much worn by time and weather. As I stood, the driver jumped again into her seat and shook the reins; the horse started forward, and the calèche disappeared down one of the dark openings.

I stood in silence where I was, for I did not know what to do. Of bell or knocker there was no sign; through these frowning walls and dark window openings it was not likely that my voice could penetrate. The time I waited seemed endless, and I felt doubts and fears crowding upon me. What sort of place had I come to, and among what kind of people? What sort of grim adventure was it on which I had embarked? Was this a customary incident in the life of a junior solicitor sent out to explain the purchase of a London estate to a foreigner?

I rubbed my eyes and pinched myself to see if I were awake. It all seemed a horrible nightmare to me, and I expected that I should suddenly open my eyes and find myself at home, with the dawn struggling in through the windows, as I had now and again felt in the morning after a day of overwork. But my flesh answered the pinching test, and my eyes were not to be deceived. I was indeed awake and among the Southern Carpathians. All I could do now was to be patient and to wait the coming of the morning.

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…



David Bowles

A Mexican American author & translator from South Texas. Teaches literature & Nahuatl at UTRGV. VP of the Texas Institute of Letters.