Dracula (Chapter 1, page 2 of 12)


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Chapter 1

I read that every known superstition in the world is gathered into the
horseshoe of the Carpathians, as if it were the centre of some sort of
imaginative whirlpool; if so my stay may be very interesting. (Mem.,
I must ask the Count all about them.)

I did not sleep well, though my bed was comfortable enough, for I had
all sorts of queer dreams. There was a dog howling all night under my
window, which may have had something to do with it; or it may have
been the paprika, for I had to drink up all the water in my carafe,
and was still thirsty. Towards morning I slept and was wakened by the
continuous knocking at my door, so I guess I must have been sleeping
soundly then.

I had for breakfast more paprika, and a sort of porridge of maize
flour which they said was "mamaliga", and egg-plant stuffed with
forcemeat, a very excellent dish, which they call "impletata". (Mem.,
get recipe for this also.)

I had to hurry breakfast, for the train started a little before eight,
or rather it ought to have done so, for after rushing to the station
at 7:30 I had to sit in the carriage for more than an hour before we
began to move.

It seems to me that the further east you go the more unpunctual are
the trains. What ought they to be in China?

All day long we seemed to dawdle through a country which was full of
beauty of every kind. Sometimes we saw little towns or castles on the
top of steep hills such as we see in old missals; sometimes we ran by
rivers and streams which seemed from the wide stony margin on each
side of them to be subject to great floods. It takes a lot of water,
and running strong, to sweep the outside edge of a river clear.

At every station there were groups of people, sometimes crowds, and in
all sorts of attire. Some of them were just like the peasants at home
or those I saw coming through France and Germany, with short jackets,
and round hats, and home-made trousers; but others were very
picturesque.

The women looked pretty, except when you got near them, but they were
very clumsy about the waist. They had all full white sleeves of some
kind or other, and most of them had big belts with a lot of strips of
something fluttering from them like the dresses in a ballet, but of
course there were petticoats under them.

The strangest figures we saw were the Slovaks, who were more barbarian
than the rest, with their big cow-boy hats, great baggy dirty-white
trousers, white linen shirts, and enormous heavy leather belts, nearly
a foot wide, all studded over with brass nails. They wore high boots,
with their trousers tucked into them, and had long black hair and
heavy black moustaches. They are very picturesque, but do not look
prepossessing. On the stage they would be set down at once as some
old Oriental band of brigands. They are, however, I am told, very
harmless and rather wanting in natural self-assertion.

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