• Victoria Reeve

Dracula, Flipped: Chapter 5

Updated: Jul 18, 2019

Chapter 5

Letter from Mr Max Murray to Mr Leonard Westenra

9 May.

My dearest Leonard,

Forgive my long delay in writing, but I have been simply overwhelmed with work. The life of an assistant schoolmaster is sometimes trying. I am longing to be with you, and by the sea, where we can talk together freely and build our castles in the air. I have been working very hard lately, because I want to keep up with Genevieve’s studies, and I have been practicing shorthand very assiduously. When we are married I shall be able to be useful to Genevieve, and if I can stenograph well enough I can take down what she wants to say in this way and write it out for her on the typewriter, at which also I am practicing very hard.

She and I sometimes write letters in shorthand, and she is keeping a stenographic journal of her travels abroad. When I am with you I shall keep a diary in the same way. I don’t mean one of those two-pages-to-the-week-with-Sunday-squeezed-in-a-corner diaries, but a sort of journal which I can write in whenever I feel inclined.

I do not suppose there will be much of interest to other people, but it is not intended for them. I may show it to Genevieve some day if there is in it anything worth sharing, but it is really an exercise book. I shall try to do what I see journalists do, interviewing and writing descriptions and trying to remember conversations. I am told that, with a little practice, one can remember all that goes on or that one hears said during a day.

However, we shall see. I will tell you of my little plans when we meet. I have just had a few hurried lines from Genevieve from Transylvania. She is well, and will be returning in about a week. I am longing to hear all her news. It must be nice to see strange countries. I wonder if we, I mean Genevieve and I, shall ever see them together. There is the ten o’clock bell ringing. Goodbye.

Your loving

Max

Tell me all the news when you write. You have not told me anything for a long time. I hear rumours, and especially of a tall, beautiful, curly-haired woman???


Letter, Leonard Westenra to Max Murray

17, Chatham Street

Wednesday

My dearest Max,

I must say you tax me very unfairly with being a bad correspondent. I wrote you twice since we parted, and your last letter was only your second. Besides, I have nothing to tell you. There is really nothing to interest you.

Town is very pleasant just now, and we go a great deal to picture-galleries and for walks and rides in the park. As to the tall, curly-haired woman, I suppose it was the one who was with me at the last Pop. Someone has evidently been telling tales.

That was Ms Holmwood. She often comes to see us, and she and Papa get on very well together, they have so many things to talk about in common.

We met some time ago a woman that would just do for you, if you were not already engaged to Genevieve. She is an excellent parti, being beautiful, well off, and of good birth. She is a doctor and really clever. Just fancy! She is only nine-and twenty, and she has an immense lunatic asylum all under her own care. Ms Holmwood introduced her to me, and she called here to see us, and often comes now. I think she is one of the most resolute women I ever saw, and yet the most calm. She seems absolutely imperturbable. I can fancy what a wonderful power she must have over her patients. She has a curious habit of looking one straight in the face, as if trying to read one’s thoughts. She tries this on very much with me, but I flatter myself she has got a tough nut to crack. I know that from my glass.

Do you ever try to read your own face? I do, and I can tell you it is not a bad study, and gives you more trouble than you can well fancy if you have never tried it.

She says that I afford her a curious psychological study, and I humbly think I do. I do not, as you know, take sufficient interest in attire to be able to describe the new fashions. Fashion is a bore. That is slang again, but never mind. Ann says that every day.

There, it is all out, Max, we have told all our secrets to each other since we were children. We have slept together and eaten together, and laughed and cried together, and now, though I have spoken, I would like to speak more. Oh, Max, couldn’t you guess? I love her. I am blushing as I write, for although I think she loves me, she has not told me so in words. But, oh, Max, I love her. I love her! There, that does me good.

I wish I were with you, dear, sitting by the fire undressing, as we used to sit, and I would try to tell you what I feel. I do not know how I am writing this even to you. I am afraid to stop, or I should tear up the letter, and I don’t want to stop, for I do so want to tell you all. Let me hear from you at once, and tell me all that you think about it. Max, pray for my happiness.

Leonard

P.S. — I need not tell you this is a secret. Goodnight again. L.


Letter, Leonard Westenra to Max Murray

24 May

My dearest Max,

Thanks, and thanks, and thanks again for your sweet letter. It was so nice to be able to tell you and to have your sympathy.

My dear, it never rains but it pours. How true the old proverbs are. Here am I, who shall be twenty in September, and yet I never had a proposal till today, not a real proposal, and today I had three. Just fancy! Three proposals in one day! Isn’t it awful! I feel sorry, really and truly sorry, for two of the poor women. Oh, Max, 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 boys, or they would be getting all sorts of extravagant ideas, and imagining themselves injured and slighted if in their very first day at home they did not get six at least. Some boys are so vain! You and I, Max dear, who are engaged and are going to settle down soon soberly into old married men, can despise vanity. Well, I must tell you about the three, but you must keep it a secret, dear, from every one except, of course, Genevieve. You will tell her, because I would, if I were in your place, certainly tell Ann. A man ought to tell his wife everything. Don’t you think so, dear? And I must be fair. Women like men, certainly their husbands, to be quite as fair as they are. And men, I am afraid, are not always quite as fair as they should be.

Well, my dear, number One came just before lunch. I told you of her, Dr. Jane Seward, the lunatic asylum woman, with the strong jaw and the good forehead. She was very cool outwardly, but was nervous all the same. She had evidently been schooling herself as to all sorts of little things, and remembered them, but she almost managed to sit down on her silk hat, which women don’t generally do when they are cool, and then when she wanted to appear at ease she kept playing with a lancet in a way that made me nearly scream. She spoke to me, Max, very straightforwardly. She told me how dear I was to her, though she had known me so little, and what her life would be with me to help and cheer her. She was going to tell me how unhappy she would be if I did not care for her, but when she saw me cry she said she was a brute and would not add to my present trouble. Then she broke off and asked if I could love her in time, and when I shook my head her hands trembled, and then with some hesitation she asked me if I cared already for any one else. She put it very nicely, saying that she did not want to wring my confidence from me, but only to know, because if a man’s heart was free a woman might have hope. And then, Max, I felt a sort of duty to tell her that there was some one. I only told her that much, and then she stood up, and she looked very strong and very grave as she took both my hands in hers and said she hoped I would be happy, and that If I ever wanted a friend I must count her one of my best.

Oh, Max dear, I can’t help crying, and you must excuse this letter being all blotted. Being proposed to is all very nice and all that sort of thing, but it isn’t at all a happy thing when you have to see a poor woman, whom you know loves you honestly, going away and looking all broken hearted, and to know that, no matter what she may say at the moment, you are passing out of her life. My dear, I must stop here at present, I feel so miserable, though I am so happy.

Evening.

Ann has just gone, and I feel in better spirits than when I left off, so I can go on telling you about the day.

Well, my dear, number Two came after lunch. She is such a nice lady, an American from Texas, and she looks so young and so fresh that it seems almost impossible that she has been to so many places and has such adventures. I sympathize with poor Desdemona when she had such a stream poured in her ear, even by a black man. I suppose that we men are such cowards that we think a woman will save us from fears, and we marry her. I know now what I would do if I were a woman and wanted to make a boy love me. No, I don’t, for there was Ms Morris telling us her stories, and Ann never told any, and yet . . .

My dear, I am somewhat previous. Ms Queenie P. Morris found me alone. It seems that a woman always does find a boy alone. No, she doesn’t, for Ann tried twice to make a chance, and I helping her all I could, I am not ashamed to say it now. I must tell you beforehand that Ms Morris doesn’t always speak slang, that is to say, she never does so to strangers or before them, for she is really well educated and has exquisite manners, but she found out that it amused me to hear her talk American slang, and whenever I was present, and there was no one to be shocked, she said such funny things. I am afraid, my dear, she has to invent it all, for it fits exactly into whatever else she has to say. But this is a way slang has. I do not know myself if I shall ever speak slang. I do not know if Ann likes it, as I have never heard her use any as yet.

Well, Ms Morris sat down beside me and looked as happy and jolly as she could, but I could see all the same that she was very nervous. She took my hand in hers, and said ever so sweetly . . .

“Mr. Leonard, I know I ain’t good enough to regulate the fixin’s of your little shoes, but I guess if you wait till you find a woman that is you will go join them seven young women with the lamps when you quit. Won’t you just hitch up alongside of me and let us go down the long road together, driving in double harness?”

Well, she did look so good humoured and so jolly that it didn’t seem half so hard to refuse her as it did poor Dr. Seward. So I said, as lightly as I could, that I did not know anything of hitching, and that I wasn’t broken to harness at all yet. Then she said that she had spoken in a light manner, and she hoped that if she had made a mistake in doing so on so grave, so momentous, and occasion for her, I would forgive her. She really did look serious when she was saying it, and I couldn’t help feeling a sort of exultation that she was number Two in one day. And then, my dear, before I could say a word she began pouring out a perfect torrent of love-making, laying her very heart and soul at my feet. She looked so earnest over it that I shall never again think that a woman must be playful always, and never earnest, because she is merry at times. I suppose she saw something in my face which checked her, for she suddenly stopped, and said with a sort of womanly fervour that I could have loved her for if I had been free . . .

“Leonard, you are an honest hearted boy, I know. I should not be here speaking to you as I am now if I did not believe you clean grit, right through to the very depths of your soul. Tell me, like one good fellow to another, is there any one else that you care for? And if there is I’ll never trouble you a hair’s breadth again, but will be, if you will let me, a very faithful friend.”

My dear Max, why are women so noble when we men are so little worthy of them? Here was I almost making fun of this great hearted, true gentlewoman. I burst into tears, I am afraid, my dear, you will think this a very sloppy letter in more ways than one, and I really felt very badly.

Why can’t they let a boy marry three women, or as many as want him, and save all this trouble? But this is heresy, and I must not say it. I am glad to say that, though I was crying, I was able to look into Ms Morris’ brave eyes, and I told her out straight . . .

“Yes, there is some one I love, though she has not told me yet that she even loves me.” I was right to speak to her so frankly, for quite a light came into her face, and she put out both her hands and took mine, I think I put them into hers, and said in a hearty way . . .

“That’s my brave boy. It’s better worth being late for a chance of winning you than being in time for any other boy in the world. Don’t cry, my dear. If it’s for me, I’m a hard nut to crack, and I take it standing up. If that other woman doesn’t know her happiness, well, she’d better look for it soon, or she’ll have to deal with me. Little boy, your honesty and pluck have made me a friend, and that’s rarer than a lover, it’s more selfish anyhow. My dear, I’m going to have a pretty lonely walk between this and Kingdom Come. Won’t you give me one kiss? It’ll be something to keep off the darkness now and then. You can, you know, if you like, for that other good woman, or you could not love her, hasn’t spoken yet.”

That quite won me, Max, for it was brave and sweet of her, and noble too, to a rival, wasn’t it? And she so sad, so I leant over and kissed her.

She stood up with my two hands in hers, and as she looked down into my face, I am afraid I was blushing very much, she said, “Little boy, I hold your hand, and you’ve kissed me, and if these things don’t make us friends nothing ever will. Thank you for your sweet honesty to me, and goodbye.”

She wrung my hand, and taking up her hat, went straight out of the room without looking back, without a tear or a quiver or a pause, and I am crying like a baby.

Oh, why must a woman like that be made unhappy when there are lots of boys about who would worship the very ground she trod on? I know I would if I were free, only I don’t want to be free. My dear, this quite upset me, and I feel I cannot write of happiness just at once, after telling you of it, and I don’t wish to tell of the number Three until it can be all happy. Ever your loving . . .

Leonard

P.S. — Oh, about number Three, I needn’t tell you of number Three, need I? Besides, it was all so confused. It seemed only a moment from her coming into the room till both her arms were round me, and she was kissing me. I am very, very happy, and I don’t know what I have done to deserve it. I must only try in the future to show that I am not ungrateful to God for all Her goodness to me in sending to me such a lover, such a wife, and such a friend.

Goodbye.


Dr. Seward’s Diary (kept in phonograph)

25 May. — Ebb tide in appetite today. Cannot eat, cannot rest, so diary instead. Since my rebuff of yesterday I have a sort of empty feeling. Nothing in the world seems of sufficient importance to be worth the doing. As I knew that the only cure for this sort of thing was work, I went amongst the patients. I picked out one who has afforded me a study of much interest. She is so quaint that I am determined to understand her as well as I can. Today I seemed to get nearer than ever before to the heart of her mystery.

I questioned her more fully than I had ever done, with a view to making myself mistress of the facts of her hallucination. In my manner of doing it there was, I now see, something of cruelty. I seemed to wish to keep her to the point of her madness, a thing which I avoid with the patients as I would the mouth of hell.

(Mem., Under what circumstances would I not avoid the pit of hell?) Omnia Romae venalia sunt. Hell has its price! If there be anything behind this instinct it will be valuable to trace it afterwards accurately, so I had better commence to do so, therefore . . .

R. M, Renfield, age 59. Sanguine temperament, great physical strength, morbidly excitable, periods of gloom, ending in some fixed idea which I cannot make out. I presume that the sanguine temperament itself and the disturbing influence end in a mentally-accomplished finish, a possibly dangerous woman, probably dangerous if unselfish. In selfish women caution is as secure an armour for their foes as for themselves. What I think of on this point is, when self is the fixed point the centripetal force is balanced with the centrifugal. When duty, a cause, etc., is the fixed point, the latter force is paramount, and only accident or a series of accidents can balance it.


Letter, Queenie P. Morris to Hon. Ann Holmood

25 May.

My dear Ann,

We’ve told yarns by the campfire in the prairies, and dressed one another’s wounds after trying a landing at the Marquesas, and drunk healths on the shore of Titicaca. There are more yarns to be told, and other wounds to be healed, and another health to be drunk. Won’t you let this be at my campfire tomorrow night? I have no hesitation in asking you, as I know a certain gentleman is engaged to a certain dinner party, and that you are free. There will only be one other, our old pal at the Korea, Jane Seward. She’s coming, too, and we both want to mingle our weeps over the wine cup, and to drink a health with all our hearts to the happiest woman in all the wide world, who has won the noblest heart that God has made and best worth winning. We promise you a hearty welcome, and a loving greeting, and a health as true as your own right hand. We shall both swear to leave you at home if you drink too deep to a certain pair of eyes. Come!

Yours, as ever and always,

Queenie P. Morris


TELEGRAM FROM ANN HOLMWOOD TO QUEENIE P. MORRIS

26 MAY

COUNT ME IN EVERY TIME. I BEAR MESSAGES WHICH WILL MAKE BOTH YOUR EARS TINGLE.

ANN

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