This is the dark tale of Count Dracula, told through chilling journal entries and letters. It starts with Jonathan Harker’s visit to the Count’s castle.
Letter from Miss Mina Murray to Miss Lucy Westenra
My dearest Lucy,
Forgive me for not writing in so long, but I have been simply overwhelmed with work. The life of an assistant teacher is exhausting. I miss you so much, and I miss the sea, where we can talk together freely and build our castles in the sky.
I have been working very hard lately because I want to keep up with Jonathan’s studies. I have been practicing writing in shorthand very seriously. When we are married, I want to be useful to Jonathan. If I get good at writing quickly, I can take down notes for him and write them up on the typewriter. I’m also practicing typing, by the way.
Jonathan and I sometimes write letters to each other in shorthand, and he is keeping a journal of his travels abroad in shorthand, too. When I visit you, I want to keep a diary in the same way.
But I don’t want one of those diaries that have a full week blocked out on a single page with Sunday squeezed into a little corner. I want a blank diary so that I can write whenever I want and as much as I want. It won’t be an interesting diary, but that’s alright because nobody else has to read it. I might show it to Jonathan one day if there is anything worth sharing, but it’s really just an exercise book. I’ll try to do what I see lady journalists doing: interviewing people and writing descriptions and trying to remember conversations. I heard that, with a little practice, you can remember everything that happens and everything that you hear during the day. However, we’ll see if that’s true.
I will tell you about my plans when we meet. I have just read a short letter from Jonathan. He is in Transylvania now and he is well. He will be returning in about a week. I can’t wait to hear all his news. It must be so nice to see foreign countries. I wonder if Jonathan and I will ever be able to see them together.
The ten o’clock bell is ringing now. Goodbye!
P.S. Tell me all the news when you write. You haven’t told me anything for a long time. I hear rumors, and lately, I’ve been hearing about a tall, handsome curly-haired man???
Letter from Lucy Westenra to Mina Murray
17 Chatham Street,
My dearest Mina,
You are being very unfair to call me a bad correspondent. I wrote to you twice since we parted, and your last letter was only your second. Besides, I have nothing new to tell you. There is really nothing to interest you.
The town is very pleasant now, and we go for a lot of walks and rides in the park.
As for the tall, curly-haired man, I think I know who you are talking about. Someone must have been gossiping. That was Mr. Holmwood. Arthur Holmwood. He often comes to see us because he and mamma get along so well. They talk often because they have a lot in common.
Some time ago, we met a man who would be just perfect for you, if you weren’t already engaged to Jonathan. He is an excellent catch because he is handsome, rich, and comes from a good family. He is a doctor and really clever. Just fancy! He is only twenty-nine years old and he owns a huge lunatic asylum. Arthur introduced him to me, and now he visits often. I think he is one of the most determined men I’ve ever seen, and yet, the calmest. He seems absolutely collected. He must have such a power over his patients. And he has a strange habit of looking right into your eyes, as if he’s trying to read your thoughts. He tries this on me frequently, but I flatter myself to say that I’m not so easy to read.
I know that because of my mirror. Do you ever try to read your own face? I do, and I can tell you it’s very difficult.
Anyway, the man said I was a curious case to study. I humbly agree. You know, I’m different from other women because I don’t care to dress in the latest fashions. Clothing is a bore to me. Arthur agrees that I’m a curious woman.
There. That’s everything I have to say. Mina, we have told all our secrets to each other since we were children. We have slept together and eaten together and laughed together and cried together. And, oh, Mina. Can’t you guess how I feel about Arthur? I love him. I love him! I am blushing as I write this. Although I think he loves me, he hasn’t actually told me. But oh, Mina, I love him. I love him. I love him!
There. I’ve said it. I wish I were with you, dear, sitting by the fire, just like we used to. And I would try to tell you how I feel about him. I can’t believe I’m even writing this in a letter. I should tear this letter up, but I don’t want to stop writing. I want to tell you everything.
Send me a letter at once, and tell me what you think about it. Mina, I must stop writing. Goodnight. Pray for me. Pray for my happiness.
P.S. I don’t need to tell you that this is a secret, do I? Goodnight again.
Letter from Lucy Westenra to Mina Murray
My dearest Mina,—
Thanks, and thanks, and thanks again for your sweet letter. It was so nice to be able to tell you about the man I love and to have your sympathy.
My dear, how true the old proverbs are. “When it rains, it pours.”
Here I am, about to turn twenty in September, and yet I have never been proposed to.
Until today! And, no, not one proposal. Three proposals in one day! Isn’t it awful. I feel sorry, truly sorry, for two of the poor fellows.
Oh, Mina, I am so happy that I don’t know what to do with myself. And three proposals! But, for goodness sake, don’t tell any of the girls. They would be getting wild ideas and end up disappointed if they don’t get six proposals a day. Some girls are so vain! You and I, who are already engaged, can despise vanity.
Well, I want to tell you about the three, but you must keep it a secret, dear, from everyone, except, of course, from Jonathan. You can tell him, because if I were you, I’d tell him, too. A woman should tell her husband everything—don’t you think so?
Anyway, proposal number one came just before lunch. He is the man I mentioned before: Dr. John Seward, the lunatic asylum man, with the strong jaw and good forehead. He was very cool, but a little nervous. He spoke to me, Mina, very straightforwardly. He told me how dear I was to him, even though he had known me for such a short time. And he told me he wanted a life with me. He was going to tell me how unhappy he would be if I rejected him, but when he saw me crying, he apologized for troubling me. Then he asked if there was a possibility that I could learn to love him over time. When I shook my head, his hands trembled. He hesitated before asking me, “Do you love someone else?” He wanted to know if he had any chance of winning my heart.
And then, Mina, I felt like it was my duty to tell him that there was someone else I loved. I only told him that much, and he stood up, and he gave me a strong, grave look as he said, “I hope you will be happy. If you ever need a friend, please count me as one of your best.”
Oh, Mina, I can’t help crying. I’m so sorry for the tear drops all over the page. Being proposed to is very nice, but it isn’t at all happy when you have to reject a poor fellow and watch him walk away broken-hearted.
My dear, I must stop here now. I feel so miserable, even though I am so happy.
Arthur has just left, and I feel better so I’ll continue the story.
Well, number two came after lunch. He is such a nice fellow—an American from Texas—and he looks so young and fresh that it seems impossible that he has visited so many places and has had so many adventures. Mr. Quincey Morris found me alone. It’s funny how that always happens, isn’t it? How do men always find us women alone?
Mr. Morris is very educated and has exquisite manners, but he found out that it amused me to hear him speak with American slang. So whenever I was alone with him, he would say such funny things in his American way.
Anyway, today, Mr. Morris sat down beside me, looking as happy as he could, even though I could tell that he was nervous. He took my hand and said ever so sweetly:
“Miss Lucy, I know I ain’t good enough for you, but I don’t think there exists a man good enough for you. Why don’t you just get hitched to me, and we can drive on down the long road together. What d’ya say?”
Well, he looked so good-humored and happy that it wasn’t as bad as refusing poor Dr. Seward. I told him as gently as possible that I didn’t want to get hitched.
Then, he apologized for proposing to me with such a casual air and he begged me to forgive him. He really did look serious. Oh, Mina, I hope you don’t think I’m a flirt, but I must admit, I was feeling elated at being proposed to twice.
And then, before I could say another word, he began pouring out all his love to me, and saying all these romantic and poetic things. He looked so earnest! He must have read my face, though, because he suddenly stopped and said:
“Lucy, you are an honest girl. I wouldn’t be talking to you like this if I didn’t believe in you. I feel like I can see right into the depths of your soul. Tell me, is there anyone else that you love? If there is, I’ll never trouble you again. But please, let me stay your faithful friend.”
My dear Mina, why are men so noble when speaking to women they love?
I burst into tears again and I felt very badly. Why can’t a woman marry three men? Or all of the men who propose to her? It would save all this trouble.
But, I’m glad to say that, even through my tears, I was able to look straight into Mr. Morris’s eyes and tell him:
“Yes, there is someone that I love, though he has not told me that he loves me.”
I think I was right to tell him directly because his face lit up. He took both of my hands and said, in a very passionate way:
“That’s my brave girl. It’s better to be rejected by the one you love than to be accepted by any other girl in the world. Don’t cry, my dear. I’m a tough man. If that other fellow you love doesn’t make you happy, he’ll have to answer to me. Lucy, your honesty has made me a friend, and friendship is more important than love. It’s less selfish. Oh, I’m so lonely now. Won’t you give me a kiss? It will help keep away the darkness. It’s alright to kiss me because that other fellow hasn’t proposed to you yet, right?”
That really won me over, Mina, because it was so brave and sweet and noble of him to say that, wasn’t it? And he was so sad. So I leaned over and kissed him. And he took my two hands again, and he said:
“Lucy, I hold your hand, and you’ve kissed me. If these things don’t make us friends, nothing ever will. Thank you for your sweet honesty to me, and goodbye.”
He walked right out of the room without looking back. He didn’t cry, but here I am, crying like a baby. Oh, why must such a noble man be unhappy when there are lots of other women who would adore him? I would love him if I were free—but I don’t want to be free. I love Arthur.
My dear, I feel so upset writing this. I can’t write about anything happy yet.
P.S. Oh, I don’t need to tell you who number three is, do I? I’m sure you can guess. Besides, it was so confusing. It all passed so quickly, from the moment he entered the room, to the moment when his arms were around me and he was kissing me. I am very, very happy, and I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve it. All I can do is try to show God that I am grateful that he sent me such a lover, such a husband, such a friend.
Dr. Seward’s Diary
I have no appetite today. I cannot eat. I cannot sleep. So I’ll write this diary instead.
Yesterday, I was rejected, and since then I’ve had an empty feeling. Nothing in the world seems important anymore.
The only cure for this is to dive into work, so I went down to see my patients. I picked out a patient who has been very interesting to me lately. He is very strange and I am determined to understand him. Today, I seemed to get nearer than ever to the heart of his mystery.
I questioned him further than I had ever done, trying to get the facts of his hallucination. Normally, I try to avoid the point of madness with my patients, but now that I think back, my manner was a little cruel. I may have pushed him too far.
He says strange things such as, “Under what circumstances would I NOT avoid the pit of hell?” and “Hell has its price!”
Patient R. M. Renfield. Case 59.
Optimistic temperament. Great physical strength. Very excitable. Long periods of gloom. A possibly dangerous man.
Letter from Quincey Morris to Arthur Holmwood
My dear Art,
Do you remember when we used to sit by the campfire and drank together, telling stories?
Tomorrow night, let’s have another campfire. I know that I can ask you because your lady has plans at a dinner party and you are free. Another one is coming: our old friend, Jack Seward.
I want to drink and celebrate your luck. You must be the happiest man in the whole wide world because you won the heart of the noblest woman that God has ever made.
So please, come and drink with us. I promise to take care of you if you drink too much. Come!
Yours, forever and always,
Telegram from Arthur Holmwood to Quincey Morris
Count me in. I look forward to speaking with you because I have gossip that will make your ears tingle.