July, 1897. The Russian schooner, Demeter, sets sail from Varna carrying fifty oblong boxes partially filled with earth. A month later, in the midst of a raging storm, the derelict Demeter runs aground in Whitby, England, her crew missing save for her captain, tied to the wheel with a crucifix in his lifeless hands. The only living thing aboard is a huge dog that escapes into the night.
In his classic 'Dracula', Bram Stoker, with a few cryptic entries in an unnamed captain's journal, offered scant hints regarding the terrifying voyage that brought the vampire king from his homeland to a blood-rich London. Now, the whole mind-rending tale is told. The story of Trevor Harrington, a British scholar and fugitive. Of Swales, the old Scot cook, who deceives their commander, but knows a good deal "aboon grims and boh-ghosts". Of Ekaterina Gabor, a beautiful Romanian who follows her lover by stowing away. Of Captain Nikilov, fighting for his ship and crew while something evil, more virulent than the black plague, decimates their number. Of Demeter herself, named for the Greek goddess of renewal, lost and tossed on an unforgiving sea. And of Count Dracula, at rest in Demeter's dark hold until the unintended actions of her crew resurrect the vampire and his unquenchable bloodlust.
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The old man was crying. The wind tossed his wispy hair and fanned the tears running down his tortured face. He twisted his hat in trembling, arthritic fingers and begged the young woman to forgive him.
The where was the village of Whitby, on the Yorkshire coastline of the North Sea. It was quite like any other English village. One horse-cart streets separating red-roofed houses, jammed together and atop one another like hurriedly stacked boxes, protected by cliffs rising so steeply to the east and west one could stand upon either and look across without seeing the town. The river Esk wound a sharp S approaching the southern viaduct, straightened north through the village, then broadened to the harbor and sea. Oddly, because of Whitby's position in this valley, though the sea lay to the east, the villagers could only see her by looking north. On the eastern side of the river, atop the great steps rising in a slow curve from the pier drawbridge, overlooking the harbor and out to sea, there stood the ruins of Whitby's ancient Abbey. On the same field, nearer the harbor, stood the parish church. Surrounding the church and stretching across the field to the cliff's edge above the harbor, was the massive village cemetery. Of all the places visited in the telling of this tale, it is most appropriate the story begin there, in the company of the ancient dead.
The when was simpler; a gray Friday evening on the 6th of August, 1897.
The who was the old man (locals agreed, he was nearly a hundred) tearfully making his case. He was a Scotsman by birth, a whaler by trade, retired from the sea. With him was the young woman to whom he poured out his rapidly beating heart, the charming Mina Murray.
Already translated. Translated by Robert Enskat