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Chapter 1 of Fairy Tales
Written by BrothersGrimm

THE GOLDEN BIRD

        A certain king had a beautiful garden, and in the garden stood a tree which bore golden apples. These apples were always counted, and about the time when they began to grow ripe it was found that every night one of them was gone. The king became very angry at this, and ordered the gardener to keep watch all night under the tree. The gardener set his eldest son to watch; but about twelve o’clock he fell asleep, and in the morning another of the apples was missing. Then the second son was ordered to watch; and at midnight he too fell asleep, and in the morning another apple was gone. Then the third son offered to keep watch; but the gardener at first would not let him, for fear some harm should come to him: however, at last he consented, and the young man laid himself under the tree to watch. As the clock struck twelve he heard a rustling noise in the air, and a bird came flying that was of pure gold; and as it was snapping at one of the apples with its beak, the gardener’s son jumped up and shot an arrow at it. But the arrow did the bird no harm; only it dropped a golden feather from its tail, and then flew away. The golden feather was brought to the king in the morning, and all the council was called together. Everyone agreed that it was worth more than all the wealth of the kingdom: but the king said, ‘One feather is of no use to me, I must have the whole bird.’

        Then the gardener’s eldest son set out and thought to find the golden bird very easily; and when he had gone but a little way, he came to a wood, and by the side of the wood he saw a fox sitting; so he took his bow and made ready to shoot at it. Then the fox said, ‘Do not shoot me, for I will give you good counsel; I know what your business is, and that you want to find the golden bird. You will reach a village in the evening; and when you get there, you will see two inns opposite to each other, one of which is very pleasant and beautiful to look at: go not in there, but rest for the night in the other, though it may appear to you to be very poor and mean.’ But the son thought to himself, ‘What can such a beast as this know about the matter?’ So he shot his arrow at the fox; but he missed it, and it set up its tail above its back and ran into the wood. Then he went his way, and in the evening came to the village where the two inns were; and in one of these were people singing, and dancing, and feasting; but the other looked very dirty, and poor. ‘I should be very silly,’ said he, ‘if I went to that shabby house, and left this charming place’; so he went into the smart house, and ate and drank at his ease, and forgot the bird, and his country too.

        Time passed on; and as the eldest son did not come back, and no tidings were heard of him, the second son set out, and the same thing happened to him. He met the fox, who gave him the good advice: but when he came to the two inns, his eldest brother was standing at the window where the merrymaking was, and called to him to come in; and he could not withstand the temptation, but went in, and forgot the golden bird and his country in the same manner.

        Time passed on again, and the youngest son too wished to set out into the wide world to seek for the golden bird; but his father would not listen to it for a long while, for he was very fond of his son, and was afraid that some ill luck might happen to him also, and prevent his coming back. However, at last it was agreed he should go, for he would not rest at home; and as he came to the wood, he met the fox, and heard the same good counsel. But he was thankful to the fox, and did not attempt his life as his brothers had done; so the fox said, ‘Sit upon my tail, and you will travel faster.’ So he sat down, and the fox began to run, and away they went over stock and stone so quick that their hair whistled in the wind.

        When they came to the village, the son followed the fox’s counsel, and without looking about him went to the shabby inn and rested there all night at his ease. In the morning came the fox again and met him as he was beginning his journey, and said, ‘Go straight forward, till you come to a castle, before which lie a whole troop of soldiers fast asleep and snoring: take no notice of them, but go into the castle and pass on and on till you come to a room, where the golden bird sits in a wooden cage; close by it stands a beautiful golden cage; but do not try to take the bird out of the shabby cage and put it into the handsome one, otherwise you will repent it.’ Then the fox stretched out his tail again, and the young man sat himself down, and away they went over stock and stone till their hair whistled in the wind.

        Before the castle gate all was as the fox had said: so the son went in and found the chamber where the golden bird hung in a wooden cage, and below stood the golden cage, and the three golden apples that had been lost were lying close by it. Then thought he to himself, ‘It will be a very droll thing to bring away such a fine bird in this shabby cage’; so he opened the door and took hold of it and put it into the golden cage. But the bird set up such a loud scream that all the soldiers awoke, and they took him prisoner and carried him before the king. The next morning the court sat to judge him; and when all was heard, it sentenced him to die, unless he should bring the king the golden horse which could run as swiftly as the wind; and if he did this, he was to have the golden bird given him for his own.

        So he set out once more on his journey, sighing, and in great despair, when on a sudden his friend the fox met him, and said, ‘You see now what has happened on account of your not listening to my counsel. I will still, however, tell you how to find the golden horse, if you will do as I bid you. You must go straight on till you come to the castle where the horse stands in his stall: by his side will lie the groom fast asleep and snoring: take away the horse quietly, but be sure to put the old leathern saddle upon him, and not the golden one that is close by it.’ Then the son sat down on the fox’s tail, and away they went over stock and stone till their hair whistled in the wind.

        All went right, and the groom lay snoring with his hand upon the golden saddle. But when the son looked at the horse, he thought it a great pity to put the leathern saddle upon it. ‘I will give him the good one,’ said he; ‘I am sure he deserves it.’ As he took up the golden saddle the groom awoke and cried out so loud, that all the guards ran in and took him prisoner, and in the morning he was again brought before the court to be judged, and was sentenced to die. But it was agreed, that, if he could bring thither the beautiful princess, he should live, and have the bird and the horse given him for his own.

        Then he went his way very sorrowful; but the old fox came and said, ‘Why did not you listen to me? If you had, you would have carried away both the bird and the horse; yet will I once more give you counsel. Go straight on, and in the evening you will arrive at a castle. At twelve o’clock at night the princess goes to the bathing-house: go up to her and give her a kiss, and she will let you lead her away; but take care you do not suffer her to go and take leave of her father and mother.’ Then the fox stretched out his tail, and so away they went over stock and stone till their hair whistled again.

        As they came to the castle, all was as the fox had said, and at twelve o’clock the young man met the princess going to the bath and gave her the kiss, and she agreed to run away with him, but begged with many tears that he would let her take leave of her father. At first he refused, but she wept still more and more, and fell at his feet, till at last he consented; but the moment she came to her father’s house the guards awoke and he was taken prisoner again.

        Then he was brought before the king, and the king said, ‘You shall never have my daughter unless in eight days you dig away the hill that stops the view from my window.’ Now this hill was so big that the whole world could not take it away: and when he had worked for seven days, and had done very little, the fox came and said. ‘Lie down and go to sleep; I will work for you.’ And in the morning he awoke and the hill was gone; so he went merrily to the king, and told him that now that it was removed he must give him the princess.

        Then the king was obliged to keep his word, and away went the young man and the princess; and the fox came and said to him, ‘We will have all three, the princess, the horse, and the bird.’ ‘Ah!’ said the young man, ‘that would be a great thing, but how can you contrive it?’

        ‘If you will only listen,’ said the fox, ‘it can be done. When you come to the king, and he asks for the beautiful princess, you must say, “Here she is!” Then he will be very joyful; and you will mount the golden horse that they are to give you, and put out your hand to take leave of them; but shake hands with the princess last. Then lift her quickly on to the horse behind you; clap your spurs to his side, and gallop away as fast as you can.’

        All went right: then the fox said, ‘When you come to the castle where the bird is, I will stay with the princess at the door, and you will ride in and speak to the king; and when he sees that it is the right horse, he will bring out the bird; but you must sit still, and say that you want to look at it, to see whether it is the true golden bird; and when you get it into your hand, ride away.’

        This, too, happened as the fox said; they carried off the bird, the princess mounted again, and they rode on to a great wood. Then the fox came, and said, ‘Pray kill me, and cut off my head and my feet.’ But the young man refused to do it: so the fox said, ‘I will at any rate give you good counsel: beware of two things; ransom no one from the gallows, and sit down by the side of no river.’ Then away he went. ‘Well,’ thought the young man, ‘it is no hard matter to keep that advice.’

        He rode on with the princess, till at last he came to the village where he had left his two brothers. And there he heard a great noise and uproar; and when he asked what was the matter, the people said, ‘Two men are going to be hanged.’ As he came nearer, he saw that the two men were his brothers, who had turned robbers; so he said, ‘Cannot they in any way be saved?’ But the people said ‘No,’ unless he would bestow all his money upon the rascals and buy their liberty. Then he did not stay to think about the matter, but paid what was asked, and his brothers were given up, and went on with him towards their home.

        And as they came to the wood where the fox first met them, it was so cool and pleasant that the two brothers said, ‘Let us sit down by the side of the river, and rest a while, to eat and drink.’ So he said, ‘Yes,’ and forgot the fox’s counsel, and sat down on the side of the river; and while he suspected nothing, they came behind, and threw him down the bank, and took the princess, the horse, and the bird, and went home to the king their master, and said. ‘All this have we won by our labour.’ Then there was great rejoicing made; but the horse would not eat, the bird would not sing, and the princess wept.

        The youngest son fell to the bottom of the river’s bed: luckily it was nearly dry, but his bones were almost broken, and the bank was so steep that he could find no way to get out. Then the old fox came once more, and scolded him for not following his advice; otherwise no evil would have befallen him: ‘Yet,’ said he, ‘I cannot leave you here, so lay hold of my tail and hold fast.’ Then he pulled him out of the river, and said to him, as he got upon the bank, ‘Your brothers have set watch to kill you, if they find you in the kingdom.’ So he dressed himself as a poor man, and came secretly to the king’s court, and was scarcely within the doors when the horse began to eat, and the bird to sing, and the princess left off weeping. Then he went to the king, and told him all his brothers’ roguery; and they were seized and punished, and he had the princess given to him again; and after the king’s death he was heir to his kingdom.

        A long while after, he went to walk one day in the wood, and the old fox met him, and besought him with tears in his eyes to kill him, and cut off his head and feet. And at last he did so, and in a moment the fox was changed into a man, and turned out to be the brother of the princess, who had been lost a great many many years.

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Chapter 1 of Fairy Tales
Written by BrothersGrimm
THE GOLDEN BIRD
        A certain king had a beautiful garden, and in the garden stood a tree which bore golden apples. These apples were always counted, and about the time when they began to grow ripe it was found that every night one of them was gone. The king became very angry at this, and ordered the gardener to keep watch all night under the tree. The gardener set his eldest son to watch; but about twelve o’clock he fell asleep, and in the morning another of the apples was missing. Then the second son was ordered to watch; and at midnight he too fell asleep, and in the morning another apple was gone. Then the third son offered to keep watch; but the gardener at first would not let him, for fear some harm should come to him: however, at last he consented, and the young man laid himself under the tree to watch. As the clock struck twelve he heard a rustling noise in the air, and a bird came flying that was of pure gold; and as it was snapping at one of the apples with its beak, the gardener’s son jumped up and shot an arrow at it. But the arrow did the bird no harm; only it dropped a golden feather from its tail, and then flew away. The golden feather was brought to the king in the morning, and all the council was called together. Everyone agreed that it was worth more than all the wealth of the kingdom: but the king said, ‘One feather is of no use to me, I must have the whole bird.’
        Then the gardener’s eldest son set out and thought to find the golden bird very easily; and when he had gone but a little way, he came to a wood, and by the side of the wood he saw a fox sitting; so he took his bow and made ready to shoot at it. Then the fox said, ‘Do not shoot me, for I will give you good counsel; I know what your business is, and that you want to find the golden bird. You will reach a village in the evening; and when you get there, you will see two inns opposite to each other, one of which is very pleasant and beautiful to look at: go not in there, but rest for the night in the other, though it may appear to you to be very poor and mean.’ But the son thought to himself, ‘What can such a beast as this know about the matter?’ So he shot his arrow at the fox; but he missed it, and it set up its tail above its back and ran into the wood. Then he went his way, and in the evening came to the village where the two inns were; and in one of these were people singing, and dancing, and feasting; but the other looked very dirty, and poor. ‘I should be very silly,’ said he, ‘if I went to that shabby house, and left this charming place’; so he went into the smart house, and ate and drank at his ease, and forgot the bird, and his country too.
        Time passed on; and as the eldest son did not come back, and no tidings were heard of him, the second son set out, and the same thing happened to him. He met the fox, who gave him the good advice: but when he came to the two inns, his eldest brother was standing at the window where the merrymaking was, and called to him to come in; and he could not withstand the temptation, but went in, and forgot the golden bird and his country in the same manner.
        Time passed on again, and the youngest son too wished to set out into the wide world to seek for the golden bird; but his father would not listen to it for a long while, for he was very fond of his son, and was afraid that some ill luck might happen to him also, and prevent his coming back. However, at last it was agreed he should go, for he would not rest at home; and as he came to the wood, he met the fox, and heard the same good counsel. But he was thankful to the fox, and did not attempt his life as his brothers had done; so the fox said, ‘Sit upon my tail, and you will travel faster.’ So he sat down, and the fox began to run, and away they went over stock and stone so quick that their hair whistled in the wind.
        When they came to the village, the son followed the fox’s counsel, and without looking about him went to the shabby inn and rested there all night at his ease. In the morning came the fox again and met him as he was beginning his journey, and said, ‘Go straight forward, till you come to a castle, before which lie a whole troop of soldiers fast asleep and snoring: take no notice of them, but go into the castle and pass on and on till you come to a room, where the golden bird sits in a wooden cage; close by it stands a beautiful golden cage; but do not try to take the bird out of the shabby cage and put it into the handsome one, otherwise you will repent it.’ Then the fox stretched out his tail again, and the young man sat himself down, and away they went over stock and stone till their hair whistled in the wind.
        Before the castle gate all was as the fox had said: so the son went in and found the chamber where the golden bird hung in a wooden cage, and below stood the golden cage, and the three golden apples that had been lost were lying close by it. Then thought he to himself, ‘It will be a very droll thing to bring away such a fine bird in this shabby cage’; so he opened the door and took hold of it and put it into the golden cage. But the bird set up such a loud scream that all the soldiers awoke, and they took him prisoner and carried him before the king. The next morning the court sat to judge him; and when all was heard, it sentenced him to die, unless he should bring the king the golden horse which could run as swiftly as the wind; and if he did this, he was to have the golden bird given him for his own.
        So he set out once more on his journey, sighing, and in great despair, when on a sudden his friend the fox met him, and said, ‘You see now what has happened on account of your not listening to my counsel. I will still, however, tell you how to find the golden horse, if you will do as I bid you. You must go straight on till you come to the castle where the horse stands in his stall: by his side will lie the groom fast asleep and snoring: take away the horse quietly, but be sure to put the old leathern saddle upon him, and not the golden one that is close by it.’ Then the son sat down on the fox’s tail, and away they went over stock and stone till their hair whistled in the wind.
        All went right, and the groom lay snoring with his hand upon the golden saddle. But when the son looked at the horse, he thought it a great pity to put the leathern saddle upon it. ‘I will give him the good one,’ said he; ‘I am sure he deserves it.’ As he took up the golden saddle the groom awoke and cried out so loud, that all the guards ran in and took him prisoner, and in the morning he was again brought before the court to be judged, and was sentenced to die. But it was agreed, that, if he could bring thither the beautiful princess, he should live, and have the bird and the horse given him for his own.
        Then he went his way very sorrowful; but the old fox came and said, ‘Why did not you listen to me? If you had, you would have carried away both the bird and the horse; yet will I once more give you counsel. Go straight on, and in the evening you will arrive at a castle. At twelve o’clock at night the princess goes to the bathing-house: go up to her and give her a kiss, and she will let you lead her away; but take care you do not suffer her to go and take leave of her father and mother.’ Then the fox stretched out his tail, and so away they went over stock and stone till their hair whistled again.
        As they came to the castle, all was as the fox had said, and at twelve o’clock the young man met the princess going to the bath and gave her the kiss, and she agreed to run away with him, but begged with many tears that he would let her take leave of her father. At first he refused, but she wept still more and more, and fell at his feet, till at last he consented; but the moment she came to her father’s house the guards awoke and he was taken prisoner again.
        Then he was brought before the king, and the king said, ‘You shall never have my daughter unless in eight days you dig away the hill that stops the view from my window.’ Now this hill was so big that the whole world could not take it away: and when he had worked for seven days, and had done very little, the fox came and said. ‘Lie down and go to sleep; I will work for you.’ And in the morning he awoke and the hill was gone; so he went merrily to the king, and told him that now that it was removed he must give him the princess.
        Then the king was obliged to keep his word, and away went the young man and the princess; and the fox came and said to him, ‘We will have all three, the princess, the horse, and the bird.’ ‘Ah!’ said the young man, ‘that would be a great thing, but how can you contrive it?’
        ‘If you will only listen,’ said the fox, ‘it can be done. When you come to the king, and he asks for the beautiful princess, you must say, “Here she is!” Then he will be very joyful; and you will mount the golden horse that they are to give you, and put out your hand to take leave of them; but shake hands with the princess last. Then lift her quickly on to the horse behind you; clap your spurs to his side, and gallop away as fast as you can.’
        All went right: then the fox said, ‘When you come to the castle where the bird is, I will stay with the princess at the door, and you will ride in and speak to the king; and when he sees that it is the right horse, he will bring out the bird; but you must sit still, and say that you want to look at it, to see whether it is the true golden bird; and when you get it into your hand, ride away.’
        This, too, happened as the fox said; they carried off the bird, the princess mounted again, and they rode on to a great wood. Then the fox came, and said, ‘Pray kill me, and cut off my head and my feet.’ But the young man refused to do it: so the fox said, ‘I will at any rate give you good counsel: beware of two things; ransom no one from the gallows, and sit down by the side of no river.’ Then away he went. ‘Well,’ thought the young man, ‘it is no hard matter to keep that advice.’
        He rode on with the princess, till at last he came to the village where he had left his two brothers. And there he heard a great noise and uproar; and when he asked what was the matter, the people said, ‘Two men are going to be hanged.’ As he came nearer, he saw that the two men were his brothers, who had turned robbers; so he said, ‘Cannot they in any way be saved?’ But the people said ‘No,’ unless he would bestow all his money upon the rascals and buy their liberty. Then he did not stay to think about the matter, but paid what was asked, and his brothers were given up, and went on with him towards their home.
        And as they came to the wood where the fox first met them, it was so cool and pleasant that the two brothers said, ‘Let us sit down by the side of the river, and rest a while, to eat and drink.’ So he said, ‘Yes,’ and forgot the fox’s counsel, and sat down on the side of the river; and while he suspected nothing, they came behind, and threw him down the bank, and took the princess, the horse, and the bird, and went home to the king their master, and said. ‘All this have we won by our labour.’ Then there was great rejoicing made; but the horse would not eat, the bird would not sing, and the princess wept.
        The youngest son fell to the bottom of the river’s bed: luckily it was nearly dry, but his bones were almost broken, and the bank was so steep that he could find no way to get out. Then the old fox came once more, and scolded him for not following his advice; otherwise no evil would have befallen him: ‘Yet,’ said he, ‘I cannot leave you here, so lay hold of my tail and hold fast.’ Then he pulled him out of the river, and said to him, as he got upon the bank, ‘Your brothers have set watch to kill you, if they find you in the kingdom.’ So he dressed himself as a poor man, and came secretly to the king’s court, and was scarcely within the doors when the horse began to eat, and the bird to sing, and the princess left off weeping. Then he went to the king, and told him all his brothers’ roguery; and they were seized and punished, and he had the princess given to him again; and after the king’s death he was heir to his kingdom.
        A long while after, he went to walk one day in the wood, and the old fox met him, and besought him with tears in his eyes to kill him, and cut off his head and feet. And at last he did so, and in a moment the fox was changed into a man, and turned out to be the brother of the princess, who had been lost a great many many years.
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Written by Prose in portal Prose

Friday Feature: @Dark

It’s that magical day once again. It’s bloody Friday. Which means we bash down doors with our Friday Feature battering ram once again and root through the memories and thoughts of another Proser. This week we are lucky enough to have the bright ray of sunshine that is the one and only @Dark

P: What is your given name and your Proser username?

D: Mark is the name my parents assigned, the sound a hairlip dog makes. I go by Dark on Prose, mainly due to my perspective on life and the human conditions I experience and observe.

I have been called a pessimist, but I argue a realist. It is not an overt intention to be maudlin, melancholy, and Dark, but simply how I am. I do find beauty in much of life, although I am more in tune with the shadows walking hand in hand.

P: Where do you live?

D: I am a third generation Colorado native. Most of life saw me haunting the suburbs of Denver, but I now reside high up in the Rockies in a small town just outside Glenwood Springs, home of the world's largest natural hot springs pool. Open year round alongside the banks of the Colorado River, the pool harnesses 3.5 million gallons of mineral rich waters bubbling up from the earth's core EVERY DAY.

P: What is your occupation?

D: Currently I am the In-school Suspension Supervisor at a local middle school, which means I spend my days monitoring the behavior and productivity of the somewhat less than cream of the crop students. Before this, though, I taught high school English for many years. During that tenure, I coached, directed the school plays, and drove the bus to activities and events. I have also worked in business management, traveled as a consultant, landscaped, and even given drum lessons.

P: What is your relationship with writing and how has it evolved?

D: Like all relationships, mine with writing is a messy and complicated one. I have always written with relative ease (not to be mistaken for having written well), but not to the liking of some. A college professor crucified everything I ever put to paper, and to this day I find myself fearful of what Charlie Meyer would say. A wife once berated my efforts so vehemently that I quit writing altogether for several years.

In pushing myself to improve, my OCD will kick down the door and I will agonize over and scrutinize every word or construction searching for the Holy Grail of composition. When having not written for some time, the congealed clog of ideas and thoughts become so impacted that an authorial enema ensues. Most of it gets flushed, but a few choice nuggets might cling.

P: What value does reading add to both your personal and professional life?

D: As a kid, reading allowed me that escape that everyone speaks of. I wish I had held onto it so much tighter through the years as less innocent avenues of escape were travelled. Now in the "winter of my discontent," it is once again a warm and safe place in which to retreat.

Professionally, my writing has provided prominence in every venture, especially education. Being able to "do" as well as "teach" was critical to my success. I wrote and delivered speeches for countless occasions from Veteran's Day ceremonies to National Honor Society Inductions to Commencement. My students were perennially ranked in the top of annual state assessments because they felt confident that I knew what I was doing and had their back.

P: Can you describe your current literary ventures and what can we look forward to in future posts?

D: Not being a literary luminary like so many here, my current ventures are reserved exclusively for Prosers. Future posts probably wont vary greatly from previous ones - sorry. Actually, new posts may be a bit lighter as I am on new meds.

P: What do you love about Prose? Practically everything; Diverse formats and genres, creative challenges and nonjudgmental support. The pride and quality that went into the inception of Prose is evident at every turn, and invites pride and quality from our community, free from censorship.

P: Is there one book that you would recommend everybody should read before they die?

D: Nope. They have to read at least four. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe and Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton for their humanity and its destruction. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein for its all-consuming desperation - on many levels, and Fahrenheit 451 for Bradbury's almost psychic look into a future without books.

P: Do you have an unsung hero who got you into reading and/or writing?

D: Not really - they have just always been part of me.

P: Describe yourself in three words!

D: "Life is Suffering." This is the First Noble Truth of Buddhism. All aspects of life - birth, aging, illness, union with what is displeasing, separation from what is pleasing, not getting what we want, death - is suffering, either for us or for those in our circle of influence.

The good news is that the Second Noble Truth allows us to identify the origin of our suffering and take steps to mediate it. So when taken at face value, those three words are quite bleak, they sum up my perspective of being realistic and aware of the now.

P: Is there one quote, from a writer or otherwise, that sums you up?

D: "Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." - William Shakespeare, Macbeth

P: What is your favourite music to listen to, and do you write to it?

D: I have never been able to listen to music while either reading or writing. Too much is already going on in me little ol' brainses. I do love me some Pearl Jam and Blue October, though. Fun fact: KISS was my first concert when I was around 14 and saw them again on a cruise for my 50th.

P: You climb out of a time machine into a dystopian future with no books. What do you tell them?

D: "You stupid little fucks! We knew you'd let this happen! Give me a pen - "

P: Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you/your work/social media accounts?

D: What kind of writer wouldn't want to flood the webiverse with his musings and rantings? Me. My only internet presence is right here. Not too bright, I know, but I guess I never felt worthy of taking the next steps, whatever they may be.

Thanks muchly to Dark for answering our questions. Do we need to tell you to follow if you don’t already do so, interact and like what he does? No, of course we don’t. We’re also running low on victims to feature in future Friday Features, so stop being shy and get in touch on info@theprose.com as we want to know aaaaall about you, even if that is delivered from behind a veil of anonymity (which is just fine).

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Written by Prose in portal Prose
Friday Feature: @Dark
It’s that magical day once again. It’s bloody Friday. Which means we bash down doors with our Friday Feature battering ram once again and root through the memories and thoughts of another Proser. This week we are lucky enough to have the bright ray of sunshine that is the one and only @Dark

P: What is your given name and your Proser username?
D: Mark is the name my parents assigned, the sound a hairlip dog makes. I go by Dark on Prose, mainly due to my perspective on life and the human conditions I experience and observe.

I have been called a pessimist, but I argue a realist. It is not an overt intention to be maudlin, melancholy, and Dark, but simply how I am. I do find beauty in much of life, although I am more in tune with the shadows walking hand in hand.

P: Where do you live?
D: I am a third generation Colorado native. Most of life saw me haunting the suburbs of Denver, but I now reside high up in the Rockies in a small town just outside Glenwood Springs, home of the world's largest natural hot springs pool. Open year round alongside the banks of the Colorado River, the pool harnesses 3.5 million gallons of mineral rich waters bubbling up from the earth's core EVERY DAY.

P: What is your occupation?
D: Currently I am the In-school Suspension Supervisor at a local middle school, which means I spend my days monitoring the behavior and productivity of the somewhat less than cream of the crop students. Before this, though, I taught high school English for many years. During that tenure, I coached, directed the school plays, and drove the bus to activities and events. I have also worked in business management, traveled as a consultant, landscaped, and even given drum lessons.

P: What is your relationship with writing and how has it evolved?
D: Like all relationships, mine with writing is a messy and complicated one. I have always written with relative ease (not to be mistaken for having written well), but not to the liking of some. A college professor crucified everything I ever put to paper, and to this day I find myself fearful of what Charlie Meyer would say. A wife once berated my efforts so vehemently that I quit writing altogether for several years.

In pushing myself to improve, my OCD will kick down the door and I will agonize over and scrutinize every word or construction searching for the Holy Grail of composition. When having not written for some time, the congealed clog of ideas and thoughts become so impacted that an authorial enema ensues. Most of it gets flushed, but a few choice nuggets might cling.

P: What value does reading add to both your personal and professional life?
D: As a kid, reading allowed me that escape that everyone speaks of. I wish I had held onto it so much tighter through the years as less innocent avenues of escape were travelled. Now in the "winter of my discontent," it is once again a warm and safe place in which to retreat.

Professionally, my writing has provided prominence in every venture, especially education. Being able to "do" as well as "teach" was critical to my success. I wrote and delivered speeches for countless occasions from Veteran's Day ceremonies to National Honor Society Inductions to Commencement. My students were perennially ranked in the top of annual state assessments because they felt confident that I knew what I was doing and had their back.

P: Can you describe your current literary ventures and what can we look forward to in future posts?
D: Not being a literary luminary like so many here, my current ventures are reserved exclusively for Prosers. Future posts probably wont vary greatly from previous ones - sorry. Actually, new posts may be a bit lighter as I am on new meds.

P: What do you love about Prose? Practically everything; Diverse formats and genres, creative challenges and nonjudgmental support. The pride and quality that went into the inception of Prose is evident at every turn, and invites pride and quality from our community, free from censorship.

P: Is there one book that you would recommend everybody should read before they die?
D: Nope. They have to read at least four. Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe and Cry, the Beloved Country by Alan Paton for their humanity and its destruction. Mary Shelley's Frankenstein for its all-consuming desperation - on many levels, and Fahrenheit 451 for Bradbury's almost psychic look into a future without books.

P: Do you have an unsung hero who got you into reading and/or writing?
D: Not really - they have just always been part of me.

P: Describe yourself in three words!
D: "Life is Suffering." This is the First Noble Truth of Buddhism. All aspects of life - birth, aging, illness, union with what is displeasing, separation from what is pleasing, not getting what we want, death - is suffering, either for us or for those in our circle of influence.

The good news is that the Second Noble Truth allows us to identify the origin of our suffering and take steps to mediate it. So when taken at face value, those three words are quite bleak, they sum up my perspective of being realistic and aware of the now.

P: Is there one quote, from a writer or otherwise, that sums you up?
D: "Out, out, brief candle! Life's but a walking shadow, a poor player that struts and frets his hour upon the stage and is heard no more. It is a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing." - William Shakespeare, Macbeth

P: What is your favourite music to listen to, and do you write to it?
D: I have never been able to listen to music while either reading or writing. Too much is already going on in me little ol' brainses. I do love me some Pearl Jam and Blue October, though. Fun fact: KISS was my first concert when I was around 14 and saw them again on a cruise for my 50th.

P: You climb out of a time machine into a dystopian future with no books. What do you tell them?
D: "You stupid little fucks! We knew you'd let this happen! Give me a pen - "

P: Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you/your work/social media accounts?
D: What kind of writer wouldn't want to flood the webiverse with his musings and rantings? Me. My only internet presence is right here. Not too bright, I know, but I guess I never felt worthy of taking the next steps, whatever they may be.

Thanks muchly to Dark for answering our questions. Do we need to tell you to follow if you don’t already do so, interact and like what he does? No, of course we don’t. We’re also running low on victims to feature in future Friday Features, so stop being shy and get in touch on info@theprose.com as we want to know aaaaall about you, even if that is delivered from behind a veil of anonymity (which is just fine).

#nonfiction  #news  #opinion  #FF  #FridayFeature 
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Chapter 4 of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Written by LFrankBaum

The Road Through the Forest

        After a few hours the road began to be rough, and the walking grew so difficult that the Scarecrow often stumbled over the yellow bricks, which were here very uneven. Sometimes, indeed, they were broken or missing altogether, leaving holes that Toto jumped across and Dorothy walked around. As for the Scarecrow, having no brains, he walked straight ahead, and so stepped into the holes and fell at full length on the hard bricks. It never hurt him, however, and Dorothy would pick him up and set him upon his feet again, while he joined her in laughing merrily at his own mishap.

        The farms were not nearly so well cared for here as they were farther back. There were fewer houses and fewer fruit trees, and the farther they went the more dismal and lonesome the country became.

        At noon they sat down by the roadside, near a little brook, and Dorothy opened her basket and got out some bread. She offered a piece to the Scarecrow, but he refused.

        "I am never hungry," he said, "and it is a lucky thing I am not, for my mouth is only painted, and if I should cut a hole in it so I could eat, the straw I am stuffed with would come out, and that would spoil the shape of my head."

        Dorothy saw at once that this was true, so she only nodded and went on eating her bread.

        "Tell me something about yourself and the country you came from," said the Scarecrow, when she had finished her dinner. So she told him all about Kansas, and how gray everything was there, and how the cyclone had carried her to this queer Land of Oz.

        The Scarecrow listened carefully, and said, "I cannot understand why you should wish to leave this beautiful country and go back to the dry, gray place you call Kansas."

        "That is because you have no brains" answered the girl. "No matter how dreary and gray our homes are, we people of flesh and blood would rather live there than in any other country, be it ever so beautiful. There is no place like home."

        The Scarecrow sighed.

        "Of course I cannot understand it," he said. "If your heads were stuffed with straw, like mine, you would probably all live in the beautiful places, and then Kansas would have no people at all. It is fortunate for Kansas that you have brains."

        "Won't you tell me a story, while we are resting?" asked the child.

        The Scarecrow looked at her reproachfully, and answered:

        "My life has been so short that I really know nothing whatever. I was only made day before yesterday. What happened in the world before that time is all unknown to me. Luckily, when the farmer made my head, one of the first things he did was to paint my ears, so that I heard what was going on. There was another Munchkin with him, and the first thing I heard was the farmer saying, 'How do you like those ears?'

        "'They aren't straight,'" answered the other.

        "'Never mind,'" said the farmer. "'They are ears just the same,'" which was true enough.

        "'Now I'll make the eyes,'" said the farmer. So he painted my right eye, and as soon as it was finished I found myself looking at him and at everything around me with a great deal of curiosity, for this was my first glimpse of the world.

        "'That's a rather pretty eye,'" remarked the Munchkin who was watching the farmer. "'Blue paint is just the color for eyes.'

        "'I think I'll make the other a little bigger,'" said the farmer. And when the second eye was done I could see much better than before. Then he made my nose and my mouth. But I did not speak, because at that time I didn't know what a mouth was for. I had the fun of watching them make my body and my arms and legs; and when they fastened on my head, at last, I felt very proud, for I thought I was just as good a man as anyone.

        "'This fellow will scare the crows fast enough,' said the farmer. 'He looks just like a man.'

        "'Why, he is a man,' said the other, and I quite agreed with him. The farmer carried me under his arm to the cornfield, and set me up on a tall stick, where you found me. He and his friend soon after walked away and left me alone.

        "I did not like to be deserted this way. So I tried to walk after them. But my feet would not touch the ground, and I was forced to stay on that pole. It was a lonely life to lead, for I had nothing to think of, having been made such a little while before. Many crows and other birds flew into the cornfield, but as soon as they saw me they flew away again, thinking I was a Munchkin; and this pleased me and made me feel that I was quite an important person. By and by an old crow flew near me, and after looking at me carefully he perched upon my shoulder and said:

        "'I wonder if that farmer thought to fool me in this clumsy manner. Any crow of sense could see that you are only stuffed with straw.' Then he hopped down at my feet and ate all the corn he wanted. The other birds, seeing he was not harmed by me, came to eat the corn too, so in a short time there was a great flock of them about me.

        "I felt sad at this, for it showed I was not such a good Scarecrow after all; but the old crow comforted me, saying, 'If you only had brains in your head you would be as good a man as any of them, and a better man than some of them. Brains are the only things worth having in this world, no matter whether one is a crow or a man.'

        "After the crows had gone I thought this over, and decided I would try hard to get some brains. By good luck you came along and pulled me off the stake, and from what you say I am sure the Great Oz will give me brains as soon as we get to the Emerald City."

        "I hope so," said Dorothy earnestly, "since you seem anxious to have them."

        "Oh, yes; I am anxious," returned the Scarecrow. "It is such an uncomfortable feeling to know one is a fool."

        "Well," said the girl, "let us go." And she handed the basket to the Scarecrow.

        There were no fences at all by the roadside now, and the land was rough and untilled. Toward evening they came to a great forest, where the trees grew so big and close together that their branches met over the road of yellow brick. It was almost dark under the trees, for the branches shut out the daylight; but the travelers did not stop, and went on into the forest.

        "If this road goes in, it must come out," said the Scarecrow, "and as the Emerald City is at the other end of the road, we must go wherever it leads us."

        "Anyone would know that," said Dorothy.

        "Certainly; that is why I know it," returned the Scarecrow. "If it required brains to figure it out, I never should have said it."

        After an hour or so the light faded away, and they found themselves stumbling along in the darkness. Dorothy could not see at all, but Toto could, for some dogs see very well in the dark; and the Scarecrow declared he could see as well as by day. So she took hold of his arm and managed to get along fairly well.

        "If you see any house, or any place where we can pass the night," she said, "you must tell me; for it is very uncomfortable walking in the dark."

        Soon after the Scarecrow stopped.

        "I see a little cottage at the right of us," he said, "built of logs and branches. Shall we go there?"

        "Yes, indeed," answered the child. "I am all tired out."

        So the Scarecrow led her through the trees until they reached the cottage, and Dorothy entered and found a bed of dried leaves in one corner. She lay down at once, and with Toto beside her soon fell into a sound sleep. The Scarecrow, who was never tired, stood up in another corner and waited patiently until morning came.

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Chapter 4 of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz
Written by LFrankBaum
The Road Through the Forest
        After a few hours the road began to be rough, and the walking grew so difficult that the Scarecrow often stumbled over the yellow bricks, which were here very uneven. Sometimes, indeed, they were broken or missing altogether, leaving holes that Toto jumped across and Dorothy walked around. As for the Scarecrow, having no brains, he walked straight ahead, and so stepped into the holes and fell at full length on the hard bricks. It never hurt him, however, and Dorothy would pick him up and set him upon his feet again, while he joined her in laughing merrily at his own mishap.
        The farms were not nearly so well cared for here as they were farther back. There were fewer houses and fewer fruit trees, and the farther they went the more dismal and lonesome the country became.
        At noon they sat down by the roadside, near a little brook, and Dorothy opened her basket and got out some bread. She offered a piece to the Scarecrow, but he refused.
        "I am never hungry," he said, "and it is a lucky thing I am not, for my mouth is only painted, and if I should cut a hole in it so I could eat, the straw I am stuffed with would come out, and that would spoil the shape of my head."
        Dorothy saw at once that this was true, so she only nodded and went on eating her bread.
        "Tell me something about yourself and the country you came from," said the Scarecrow, when she had finished her dinner. So she told him all about Kansas, and how gray everything was there, and how the cyclone had carried her to this queer Land of Oz.
        The Scarecrow listened carefully, and said, "I cannot understand why you should wish to leave this beautiful country and go back to the dry, gray place you call Kansas."
        "That is because you have no brains" answered the girl. "No matter how dreary and gray our homes are, we people of flesh and blood would rather live there than in any other country, be it ever so beautiful. There is no place like home."
        The Scarecrow sighed.
        "Of course I cannot understand it," he said. "If your heads were stuffed with straw, like mine, you would probably all live in the beautiful places, and then Kansas would have no people at all. It is fortunate for Kansas that you have brains."
        "Won't you tell me a story, while we are resting?" asked the child.
        The Scarecrow looked at her reproachfully, and answered:
        "My life has been so short that I really know nothing whatever. I was only made day before yesterday. What happened in the world before that time is all unknown to me. Luckily, when the farmer made my head, one of the first things he did was to paint my ears, so that I heard what was going on. There was another Munchkin with him, and the first thing I heard was the farmer saying, 'How do you like those ears?'
        "'They aren't straight,'" answered the other.
        "'Never mind,'" said the farmer. "'They are ears just the same,'" which was true enough.
        "'Now I'll make the eyes,'" said the farmer. So he painted my right eye, and as soon as it was finished I found myself looking at him and at everything around me with a great deal of curiosity, for this was my first glimpse of the world.
        "'That's a rather pretty eye,'" remarked the Munchkin who was watching the farmer. "'Blue paint is just the color for eyes.'
        "'I think I'll make the other a little bigger,'" said the farmer. And when the second eye was done I could see much better than before. Then he made my nose and my mouth. But I did not speak, because at that time I didn't know what a mouth was for. I had the fun of watching them make my body and my arms and legs; and when they fastened on my head, at last, I felt very proud, for I thought I was just as good a man as anyone.
        "'This fellow will scare the crows fast enough,' said the farmer. 'He looks just like a man.'
        "'Why, he is a man,' said the other, and I quite agreed with him. The farmer carried me under his arm to the cornfield, and set me up on a tall stick, where you found me. He and his friend soon after walked away and left me alone.
        "I did not like to be deserted this way. So I tried to walk after them. But my feet would not touch the ground, and I was forced to stay on that pole. It was a lonely life to lead, for I had nothing to think of, having been made such a little while before. Many crows and other birds flew into the cornfield, but as soon as they saw me they flew away again, thinking I was a Munchkin; and this pleased me and made me feel that I was quite an important person. By and by an old crow flew near me, and after looking at me carefully he perched upon my shoulder and said:
        "'I wonder if that farmer thought to fool me in this clumsy manner. Any crow of sense could see that you are only stuffed with straw.' Then he hopped down at my feet and ate all the corn he wanted. The other birds, seeing he was not harmed by me, came to eat the corn too, so in a short time there was a great flock of them about me.
        "I felt sad at this, for it showed I was not such a good Scarecrow after all; but the old crow comforted me, saying, 'If you only had brains in your head you would be as good a man as any of them, and a better man than some of them. Brains are the only things worth having in this world, no matter whether one is a crow or a man.'
        "After the crows had gone I thought this over, and decided I would try hard to get some brains. By good luck you came along and pulled me off the stake, and from what you say I am sure the Great Oz will give me brains as soon as we get to the Emerald City."
        "I hope so," said Dorothy earnestly, "since you seem anxious to have them."
        "Oh, yes; I am anxious," returned the Scarecrow. "It is such an uncomfortable feeling to know one is a fool."
        "Well," said the girl, "let us go." And she handed the basket to the Scarecrow.
        There were no fences at all by the roadside now, and the land was rough and untilled. Toward evening they came to a great forest, where the trees grew so big and close together that their branches met over the road of yellow brick. It was almost dark under the trees, for the branches shut out the daylight; but the travelers did not stop, and went on into the forest.
        "If this road goes in, it must come out," said the Scarecrow, "and as the Emerald City is at the other end of the road, we must go wherever it leads us."
        "Anyone would know that," said Dorothy.
        "Certainly; that is why I know it," returned the Scarecrow. "If it required brains to figure it out, I never should have said it."
        After an hour or so the light faded away, and they found themselves stumbling along in the darkness. Dorothy could not see at all, but Toto could, for some dogs see very well in the dark; and the Scarecrow declared he could see as well as by day. So she took hold of his arm and managed to get along fairly well.
        "If you see any house, or any place where we can pass the night," she said, "you must tell me; for it is very uncomfortable walking in the dark."
        Soon after the Scarecrow stopped.
        "I see a little cottage at the right of us," he said, "built of logs and branches. Shall we go there?"
        "Yes, indeed," answered the child. "I am all tired out."
        So the Scarecrow led her through the trees until they reached the cottage, and Dorothy entered and found a bed of dried leaves in one corner. She lay down at once, and with Toto beside her soon fell into a sound sleep. The Scarecrow, who was never tired, stood up in another corner and waited patiently until morning came.
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Challenge of the Week #55: Write a story of 200 words or more about a stranger. The most masterfully written piece, as voted and determined by the Prose team, will be crowned winner and receive $200. Quality beats quantity, always, but numbers make things easier for our judges, so share, share, share with friends, family, and connections. #ProseChallenge #getlit #itslit
Written by MsHannahTweets

The Stranger's Name

As Science woke up, she yawned. Stretching, her arm hit a vase and it fell, smashing on the ground. She swore under her breath as she stared at the ashes. Hearing the sound, her mother came into the room.

"Is everything all right?" she asked.

"I accidentally knocked over one of my vases. Now this poor person is all over my floor," Science explained, "It's all your fault. You had to name me Science and doom me to a life of getting dead body donations."

This was an argument they had often and her mother didn't feel like having it again, so she silently left the room. Science sighed and looked around at all her vases. She didn't even know where she would have space to put the next one that arrived. Too young (and grossed out) to know how to productively study a body, Science always sent them to get cremated. Not knowing how else to honor them, they were in vases in her room. After cleaning up, Science did what she did every day -studied the human body with countless books and internet searches. She was determined to one day make good use of the bodies.

Eventually a break was needed, so Science took a walk to the park. She sat on a bench and felt sorry for herself. She still felt bad about the broken vase from that morning. Somebody came and sat next to her. A stranger approached her. He seemed around her age, so she wasn't frightened.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

Something about the boy made her want to tell all her secrets. Being named Science, the body donations, the vase breaking this morning -she told him everything. Then she made a few more complaints about her name before quieting down.

"You think your name is weird?" the boy asked, "My parents named me GOD."

"They did not!"

"Oh yes they did," he said, pulling out his driver's license, "They're atheists and thought it would be funny."

"Oh my God!"

"Yes my child?" he said and they both laughed.

"I guess that name would suck too," Science admitted.

"No, it's fun. You just have to take advantage of it. I'm sure you could have a lot of fun with the name Science too. For example, if that was my name, I would never do my science homework. You ARE science -isn't that enough? And those bodies you get -sell them to real scientists. You could make a nice profit."

She laughed, "I never thought of doing those things."

Science's friend Amanda walked over.

"Hey, Amanda, I want you to meet my new friend, God."

"Getting religious these days? Is somebody named Science even allowed to believe in God?"

"Not like that. This is God," she turned her head, "Show her your driver's-"

Science cut herself off. She didn't see God anywhere anymore.

"He was right here," Science told her.

"Are you sure you didn't just make him up to comfort yourself?"

God silently chuckled to himself behind some bushes. Hiding suddenly was one of his favorite ways to mess with people. He loved his name. In life, you have to take advantage of the things granted to you. In death, you might as well donate your body to Science.

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Challenge of the Week #55: Write a story of 200 words or more about a stranger. The most masterfully written piece, as voted and determined by the Prose team, will be crowned winner and receive $200. Quality beats quantity, always, but numbers make things easier for our judges, so share, share, share with friends, family, and connections. #ProseChallenge #getlit #itslit
Written by MsHannahTweets
The Stranger's Name
As Science woke up, she yawned. Stretching, her arm hit a vase and it fell, smashing on the ground. She swore under her breath as she stared at the ashes. Hearing the sound, her mother came into the room.

"Is everything all right?" she asked.

"I accidentally knocked over one of my vases. Now this poor person is all over my floor," Science explained, "It's all your fault. You had to name me Science and doom me to a life of getting dead body donations."

This was an argument they had often and her mother didn't feel like having it again, so she silently left the room. Science sighed and looked around at all her vases. She didn't even know where she would have space to put the next one that arrived. Too young (and grossed out) to know how to productively study a body, Science always sent them to get cremated. Not knowing how else to honor them, they were in vases in her room. After cleaning up, Science did what she did every day -studied the human body with countless books and internet searches. She was determined to one day make good use of the bodies.

Eventually a break was needed, so Science took a walk to the park. She sat on a bench and felt sorry for herself. She still felt bad about the broken vase from that morning. Somebody came and sat next to her. A stranger approached her. He seemed around her age, so she wasn't frightened.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

Something about the boy made her want to tell all her secrets. Being named Science, the body donations, the vase breaking this morning -she told him everything. Then she made a few more complaints about her name before quieting down.

"You think your name is weird?" the boy asked, "My parents named me GOD."

"They did not!"

"Oh yes they did," he said, pulling out his driver's license, "They're atheists and thought it would be funny."

"Oh my God!"

"Yes my child?" he said and they both laughed.

"I guess that name would suck too," Science admitted.

"No, it's fun. You just have to take advantage of it. I'm sure you could have a lot of fun with the name Science too. For example, if that was my name, I would never do my science homework. You ARE science -isn't that enough? And those bodies you get -sell them to real scientists. You could make a nice profit."

She laughed, "I never thought of doing those things."

Science's friend Amanda walked over.

"Hey, Amanda, I want you to meet my new friend, God."

"Getting religious these days? Is somebody named Science even allowed to believe in God?"

"Not like that. This is God," she turned her head, "Show her your driver's-"

Science cut herself off. She didn't see God anywhere anymore.

"He was right here," Science told her.

"Are you sure you didn't just make him up to comfort yourself?"

God silently chuckled to himself behind some bushes. Hiding suddenly was one of his favorite ways to mess with people. He loved his name. In life, you have to take advantage of the things granted to you. In death, you might as well donate your body to Science.
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Challenge of the Week #55: Write a story of 200 words or more about a stranger. The most masterfully written piece, as voted and determined by the Prose team, will be crowned winner and receive $200. Quality beats quantity, always, but numbers make things easier for our judges, so share, share, share with friends, family, and connections. #ProseChallenge #getlit #itslit
Written by Tripe94

The Man Who Shook

I felt the usual breeze of the passing train as I stood waiting for mine. It was a quarter until eleven when I realized that I was one of a few people at the station that night. There were some other business type people like me to my left, standing a good distance away. But a few feet to my right was an old man in a long woolen, grey coat and a brown hat. He was hunched over, staring at the ground. He was shaking terribly as if he were cold. 

Another train came to a stop. Unfortunately, it wasn't mine. The business people to the left of me boarded the train. I checked my right to see if the old man was boarding but only found him still shaking and staring at the ground. He seemed to be closer this time by just an inch. The train left with no one getting off. I was alone with the old man. Minutes passed and it remained just the two of us. With ten minutes until my train, I turned to the man to start up a conversation to break the unnerving silence. 

I cleared my throat. "Hello."

The old man didn't nudge. The only change in his demeanor was his shaking becoming more of a twitch. I couldn't think of anything else to do but to whistle to fill the void. I looked all around, trying to avoid the strange man. That's when I saw a security mirror up in the corner to the left. The old man and I could be seen. He was staring right at me with full, white eyes. I faced my right to find he wasn't there anymore. I spun my whole body around to see where he went but I was unsuccessful in doing so. He simply vanished. My mind raced and my heart pounded as my train finally arrived. 

Even after thirty minutes on the train, I was unable to comprehend what happened to the old man, why he shook, and why he was staring at me like that. I sat there, tapping my fingers on my briefcase with one hand and rubbing my chin with the other. The train started slowing down. I stood up and waited at the door to get off. When the train came to a full stop, standing on the other side of my door was the old man with his white eyes. Chills crawled throughout my body. The doors slid open and he was gone again. 

I couldn't move until the other passengers were urging me to get out of there way. I took a few steps away from the train, keeping my whole body very still except my legs and feet. Then I dashed for the stairs out of the station. Once I got up the stairs and to the street, I continued to sprint away. I began to run out of breath a half mile away from the train station. I happened come upon a bus stop. I sat on the bench next to a woman to catch my breath. My heart slowed down and it became easier to breathe, but I discovered that I was shaking terribly like the old man. 

The woman leaned over. "Are you alright?" 

I replied, "I don't know."

"You're extremely pale! Looks like you've seen a ghost!"

I said, "I'm not sure." And then everything went dark. 

I woke up, finding myself in the emergency room on a bed. A doctor and a nurse were both standing at my side. 

The doctor leaned in closer. "Mr. Carr? Can you hear me?"

Feeling sluggish, I asked, "What's happening?"

Doctor answered, "You are in a hospital, Mr. Carr. You were brought in because a woman said you fainted at a bus stop."

"I fainted? What's wrong with me?"

"Your vital signs were all normal. No drop in blood sugar or any sign of dehydration. Did you happen to be in any distress prior to the fainting?" 

"Well... yes. Just some weird occurrence at the train station," I stated. 

"Okay. Well, Mr. Carr. Seems like everything is fine with you now. It looks like you can leave. But... um... this is going to seem a bit odd to ask especially to someone who fainted. However, would you be willing to donate some blood Mr. Carr?"

"Um... I guess. Why?"

Doctor then explained, "With the blood banks not doing so well in donations the past year, we are running low especially on the rare blood types and you happen to have a rare blood type. And we really need it because we have a patient on his deathbed at the moment."

"Oh! Sure, doctor! I'm more than happy to help out."

The doctor was relieved and within minutes the nurse was administering the IV. When the pint was half way, I asked the nurse, "So who is the patient?"

She answered, "This old man who was crossing the street when he was hit by a car. He was bleeding out. Apparently, the old man happens to be blind. Beats me as to why he was crossing the street without a cane or any sort of assistance."

I don't know if it was the blood leaving me but my body became cold. "Did you say old man?"

"Yes."

I asked, "Did he happen to shake a lot?"

"Uh... actually, yes! I could hardly get the IV in his arm because of it. How did you know that?"

"I'm asking myself the same thing." 

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Challenge of the Week #55: Write a story of 200 words or more about a stranger. The most masterfully written piece, as voted and determined by the Prose team, will be crowned winner and receive $200. Quality beats quantity, always, but numbers make things easier for our judges, so share, share, share with friends, family, and connections. #ProseChallenge #getlit #itslit
Written by Tripe94
The Man Who Shook
I felt the usual breeze of the passing train as I stood waiting for mine. It was a quarter until eleven when I realized that I was one of a few people at the station that night. There were some other business type people like me to my left, standing a good distance away. But a few feet to my right was an old man in a long woolen, grey coat and a brown hat. He was hunched over, staring at the ground. He was shaking terribly as if he were cold. 

Another train came to a stop. Unfortunately, it wasn't mine. The business people to the left of me boarded the train. I checked my right to see if the old man was boarding but only found him still shaking and staring at the ground. He seemed to be closer this time by just an inch. The train left with no one getting off. I was alone with the old man. Minutes passed and it remained just the two of us. With ten minutes until my train, I turned to the man to start up a conversation to break the unnerving silence. 

I cleared my throat. "Hello."

The old man didn't nudge. The only change in his demeanor was his shaking becoming more of a twitch. I couldn't think of anything else to do but to whistle to fill the void. I looked all around, trying to avoid the strange man. That's when I saw a security mirror up in the corner to the left. The old man and I could be seen. He was staring right at me with full, white eyes. I faced my right to find he wasn't there anymore. I spun my whole body around to see where he went but I was unsuccessful in doing so. He simply vanished. My mind raced and my heart pounded as my train finally arrived. 

Even after thirty minutes on the train, I was unable to comprehend what happened to the old man, why he shook, and why he was staring at me like that. I sat there, tapping my fingers on my briefcase with one hand and rubbing my chin with the other. The train started slowing down. I stood up and waited at the door to get off. When the train came to a full stop, standing on the other side of my door was the old man with his white eyes. Chills crawled throughout my body. The doors slid open and he was gone again. 

I couldn't move until the other passengers were urging me to get out of there way. I took a few steps away from the train, keeping my whole body very still except my legs and feet. Then I dashed for the stairs out of the station. Once I got up the stairs and to the street, I continued to sprint away. I began to run out of breath a half mile away from the train station. I happened come upon a bus stop. I sat on the bench next to a woman to catch my breath. My heart slowed down and it became easier to breathe, but I discovered that I was shaking terribly like the old man. 

The woman leaned over. "Are you alright?" 

I replied, "I don't know."

"You're extremely pale! Looks like you've seen a ghost!"

I said, "I'm not sure." And then everything went dark. 

I woke up, finding myself in the emergency room on a bed. A doctor and a nurse were both standing at my side. 

The doctor leaned in closer. "Mr. Carr? Can you hear me?"

Feeling sluggish, I asked, "What's happening?"

Doctor answered, "You are in a hospital, Mr. Carr. You were brought in because a woman said you fainted at a bus stop."

"I fainted? What's wrong with me?"

"Your vital signs were all normal. No drop in blood sugar or any sign of dehydration. Did you happen to be in any distress prior to the fainting?" 

"Well... yes. Just some weird occurrence at the train station," I stated. 

"Okay. Well, Mr. Carr. Seems like everything is fine with you now. It looks like you can leave. But... um... this is going to seem a bit odd to ask especially to someone who fainted. However, would you be willing to donate some blood Mr. Carr?"

"Um... I guess. Why?"

Doctor then explained, "With the blood banks not doing so well in donations the past year, we are running low especially on the rare blood types and you happen to have a rare blood type. And we really need it because we have a patient on his deathbed at the moment."

"Oh! Sure, doctor! I'm more than happy to help out."

The doctor was relieved and within minutes the nurse was administering the IV. When the pint was half way, I asked the nurse, "So who is the patient?"

She answered, "This old man who was crossing the street when he was hit by a car. He was bleeding out. Apparently, the old man happens to be blind. Beats me as to why he was crossing the street without a cane or any sort of assistance."

I don't know if it was the blood leaving me but my body became cold. "Did you say old man?"

"Yes."

I asked, "Did he happen to shake a lot?"

"Uh... actually, yes! I could hardly get the IV in his arm because of it. How did you know that?"

"I'm asking myself the same thing." 
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Challenge of the Week #55: Write a story of 200 words or more about a stranger. The most masterfully written piece, as voted and determined by the Prose team, will be crowned winner and receive $200. Quality beats quantity, always, but numbers make things easier for our judges, so share, share, share with friends, family, and connections. #ProseChallenge #getlit #itslit
Written by Rasselas

The Stranger

There was a town in a small country in the Balkans. It had suffered from many hardships, and people were starting to feel hopeless it would ever thrive again. A mayor was elected who promised to return the town to the way it used to be - to make it great again.

On the same day the mayor was elected, a stranger came to town.

He looked different from other people. As if there was something about his face that couldn't be seen. To be honest, he did have a face - simply one that couldn't be described in any of the words existing in the small town.

The stranger took lodging in a room above the tavern and spent the evenings talking with the people of the village. As he spoke, they noticed he was using words that hadn't existed in the language before - words that gave meaning to things previously unseen. It was like he could create a new world out of the old just by using the power of names.

The words he used were Red, Blue, Yellow, Green and others.

The city began to transform. It was already filled with what the stranger called colors, but nobody had noticed because the words didn't exist for them.

The mayor heard of this man and became angry. This mayor was trying to return things to the way they were before - but here was a complete nobody - a drifter - who was changing the nature of what the villagers had called reality.

It was simply too much to ask of people to learn about the new world.

The mayor visited the drifter in the tavern and demanded an explanation. The drifter calmly said the word "orange," and the mayor's hair became that color.

After that, the drifter was arrested and put on trial for corrupting the values of the small town. The mayor argued that the stranger was a dangerous man who held too much power in his hands. The power to help was also the power to hurt.

The drifter shrugged his shoulders.

"You have the power to kill me or put me in jail. But I am only a person. It isn't me that is changing your village, but rather the words I've discovered. When you hear me speak, you see the world more deeply than before. The truth is that when you were elected, I was also elected. The two of us are working together to make the village the way it should be. Perhaps it is the universe balancing itself. I personally don't know and don't care. Everything is the will of God."

After that, the stranger spoke the word "Fire," and then burst into flames, vanishing on the spot.

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Challenge of the Week #55: Write a story of 200 words or more about a stranger. The most masterfully written piece, as voted and determined by the Prose team, will be crowned winner and receive $200. Quality beats quantity, always, but numbers make things easier for our judges, so share, share, share with friends, family, and connections. #ProseChallenge #getlit #itslit
Written by Rasselas
The Stranger
There was a town in a small country in the Balkans. It had suffered from many hardships, and people were starting to feel hopeless it would ever thrive again. A mayor was elected who promised to return the town to the way it used to be - to make it great again.

On the same day the mayor was elected, a stranger came to town.

He looked different from other people. As if there was something about his face that couldn't be seen. To be honest, he did have a face - simply one that couldn't be described in any of the words existing in the small town.

The stranger took lodging in a room above the tavern and spent the evenings talking with the people of the village. As he spoke, they noticed he was using words that hadn't existed in the language before - words that gave meaning to things previously unseen. It was like he could create a new world out of the old just by using the power of names.

The words he used were Red, Blue, Yellow, Green and others.

The city began to transform. It was already filled with what the stranger called colors, but nobody had noticed because the words didn't exist for them.

The mayor heard of this man and became angry. This mayor was trying to return things to the way they were before - but here was a complete nobody - a drifter - who was changing the nature of what the villagers had called reality.

It was simply too much to ask of people to learn about the new world.

The mayor visited the drifter in the tavern and demanded an explanation. The drifter calmly said the word "orange," and the mayor's hair became that color.

After that, the drifter was arrested and put on trial for corrupting the values of the small town. The mayor argued that the stranger was a dangerous man who held too much power in his hands. The power to help was also the power to hurt.

The drifter shrugged his shoulders.

"You have the power to kill me or put me in jail. But I am only a person. It isn't me that is changing your village, but rather the words I've discovered. When you hear me speak, you see the world more deeply than before. The truth is that when you were elected, I was also elected. The two of us are working together to make the village the way it should be. Perhaps it is the universe balancing itself. I personally don't know and don't care. Everything is the will of God."

After that, the stranger spoke the word "Fire," and then burst into flames, vanishing on the spot.
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Challenge of the Week #55: Write a story of 200 words or more about a stranger. The most masterfully written piece, as voted and determined by the Prose team, will be crowned winner and receive $200. Quality beats quantity, always, but numbers make things easier for our judges, so share, share, share with friends, family, and connections. #ProseChallenge #getlit #itslit
Written by CarolineFoster

The Wait

My foot tapped with a clear impatience as I waited in the line. I had been here since 6:10 on the dot just so I could get a good spot. Mark that on my list of choices that have taken away twenty minutes of my life I’ll never get back.

I pulled out my pocket watch for what seemed to be the 50th time since arriving at the freak show's entrance. Was it just me, or did the small black needle seem to move slower with each second that I looked at it? Pedestrians seemed to be packed around me, making my skin crawl. God how I couldn’t wait to get my own little bubble of personal space back.

But for now, I was just in the same place they were, waiting for the “closed” sign to flip around and the gates to swing open. The show started at 6:30 but as the seconds ticked on ever so slowly my restlessness seemed to get worse somehow, along with my thread of patience. Kids around me screamed and giggled, chasing one another as they weaved through the line. Mothers and fathers barked at them to be on their best behavior, threatening them with whatever punishment deemed to be fit.

Thank God I planned on being single for the rest of my life.

At last, to my relief, the creaking sound of the gate opening rang throughout the entire back lot, bringing silence among the citizenry. As quickly as that relief came, though, it was instantly replaced by disgust and horror.

An old man unsteadily making his way out of the fog on a thin cane hobbled his way out, head down as he bit his lip in concentration. Grey rags of what might have used to be a pinstripe suit clung to his frail frame, bones jutting out where gaping tears revealed pale skin that was tight with wrinkles. Everything about him seemed to be sharp and precise, not a single curve on him. His gray beard speckled with some hairs of white swayed as he walked, whipping around in the frigid wind, a few strands still left on the top of his head.

Seeing him was like a ghost from a horror story coming to life.

There was a pause between him stopping and opening his mouth. Since his appearance was chilling enough I immediately prepared myself for a demon to fly out of him or black smoke to pour out. “So sorry for the wait everyone,” he croaked, voice hoarse like air rushing over sandpaper, “I have a horrid time trying to find my way around here.”

Lifting his head, I managed to bite back my gasp unlike everyone else. Instead of normal eyes with two colored irises, wide orbs of white gazed at nothing. Red arteries lined the edges that even being a good five feet away was obvious, leading to the bulging scars that inflamed the tissue of his eye sockets. Faintly there was the gray outline of a circle that may at one time been a membrane of his delicate pupil. Just looking at him made shivers trail up and down my spine.

“Now there's a surprise,” he gave a just about toothless grin, only a few brown teeth that scattered along his gums were visible, “No children are crying this time. But I assume I have everyone's attention at the moment, right?”

Some people, so stricken with shock, just managed a slow nod. Obviously, their brains still didn't process the man was most likely blind and a nod would do no good. Since I seemed to be the only one not shaking like an infant, I cleared my throat and let out a loud, “Right you are sir!”

Quicker than my eye could follow he whipped his cane around to point at me. Every person around me jumped back a foot or two but I stood firm, stuffing my hands into my pockets. “Here's a courageous fellow,” he cackled, poking me with the end of it, “What would you happen to be looking for at a humble little freak show like this, hmm...?”

It seemed almost like a trick question as those pure white spheres in his sockets bore into me. Even though I know he couldn't see it, I smirked. “I'm looking for a display of just how creative God can be. Curiosity may have killed the cat but I'm still alive after all of my searchings, aren't I?”

He gave a raspy laugh and reached up to thump me on the shoulder. “You're a brave man I'll give you that,” the corner of his mouth twitched up slightly, “A stupid one at that, but still brave.” He bowed his head and gestured back towards the gate with a crooked finger. “There are creatures in there the devil himself shrinks away from. Monsters of nightmares. Freaks that haven't seen the light of day. They despise people like you, ones who look at them like animals. Go in there,” he lifted his chin, smile gone, “And your life will change forever. I can’t promise you that no harm will come.”

That unsettling feeling was returning quick, whispers of startled guests ringing around me like a church bell chiming as the hour struck. I should have turned and run. I should have decided to just leave it be and go home. I should have listened to the clear warning. But my pride, steadfast and as strong as diamonds, led me to chuckle.

“What do you think I'm here for?”

He started to laugh again, this time, a bit more obnoxious. It was raspy, like a cat that couldn't get a furball out of its esophagus. It was pretty enjoyable until he was coughing for air, struggling to keep breathing. Spit flew out of his mouth, spraying anyone unfortunate to be in a two feet radius of him. One of the women whacked him on the back as she freaked out three times with her purse. To everyone's, including myself, surprise a brown wrinkled tooth flew out and onto a child's hand. I muffled the sound of my own laughter as the little girl screamed and flung it away, wiping at her hand as if she was now infected.

The man managed to catch his breath, leaning on his cane for support as one hand clutched his knee. As he did, he lifted his head so his milky eyes could stare up at me once again. “Go inside then ye young wanderer,” he gave a toothless grin, “Go inside and come out changed forever. Old Man Pete will watch over ye.”

With a pat on my shoulder, he limped to the front of the line and slammed his cane on the front of the gate. “Y’all heard me! Welcome to the land of God's rejects!”

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Challenge of the Week #55: Write a story of 200 words or more about a stranger. The most masterfully written piece, as voted and determined by the Prose team, will be crowned winner and receive $200. Quality beats quantity, always, but numbers make things easier for our judges, so share, share, share with friends, family, and connections. #ProseChallenge #getlit #itslit
Written by CarolineFoster
The Wait
My foot tapped with a clear impatience as I waited in the line. I had been here since 6:10 on the dot just so I could get a good spot. Mark that on my list of choices that have taken away twenty minutes of my life I’ll never get back.

I pulled out my pocket watch for what seemed to be the 50th time since arriving at the freak show's entrance. Was it just me, or did the small black needle seem to move slower with each second that I looked at it? Pedestrians seemed to be packed around me, making my skin crawl. God how I couldn’t wait to get my own little bubble of personal space back.

But for now, I was just in the same place they were, waiting for the “closed” sign to flip around and the gates to swing open. The show started at 6:30 but as the seconds ticked on ever so slowly my restlessness seemed to get worse somehow, along with my thread of patience. Kids around me screamed and giggled, chasing one another as they weaved through the line. Mothers and fathers barked at them to be on their best behavior, threatening them with whatever punishment deemed to be fit.

Thank God I planned on being single for the rest of my life.

At last, to my relief, the creaking sound of the gate opening rang throughout the entire back lot, bringing silence among the citizenry. As quickly as that relief came, though, it was instantly replaced by disgust and horror.

An old man unsteadily making his way out of the fog on a thin cane hobbled his way out, head down as he bit his lip in concentration. Grey rags of what might have used to be a pinstripe suit clung to his frail frame, bones jutting out where gaping tears revealed pale skin that was tight with wrinkles. Everything about him seemed to be sharp and precise, not a single curve on him. His gray beard speckled with some hairs of white swayed as he walked, whipping around in the frigid wind, a few strands still left on the top of his head.

Seeing him was like a ghost from a horror story coming to life.

There was a pause between him stopping and opening his mouth. Since his appearance was chilling enough I immediately prepared myself for a demon to fly out of him or black smoke to pour out. “So sorry for the wait everyone,” he croaked, voice hoarse like air rushing over sandpaper, “I have a horrid time trying to find my way around here.”

Lifting his head, I managed to bite back my gasp unlike everyone else. Instead of normal eyes with two colored irises, wide orbs of white gazed at nothing. Red arteries lined the edges that even being a good five feet away was obvious, leading to the bulging scars that inflamed the tissue of his eye sockets. Faintly there was the gray outline of a circle that may at one time been a membrane of his delicate pupil. Just looking at him made shivers trail up and down my spine.

“Now there's a surprise,” he gave a just about toothless grin, only a few brown teeth that scattered along his gums were visible, “No children are crying this time. But I assume I have everyone's attention at the moment, right?”

Some people, so stricken with shock, just managed a slow nod. Obviously, their brains still didn't process the man was most likely blind and a nod would do no good. Since I seemed to be the only one not shaking like an infant, I cleared my throat and let out a loud, “Right you are sir!”

Quicker than my eye could follow he whipped his cane around to point at me. Every person around me jumped back a foot or two but I stood firm, stuffing my hands into my pockets. “Here's a courageous fellow,” he cackled, poking me with the end of it, “What would you happen to be looking for at a humble little freak show like this, hmm...?”

It seemed almost like a trick question as those pure white spheres in his sockets bore into me. Even though I know he couldn't see it, I smirked. “I'm looking for a display of just how creative God can be. Curiosity may have killed the cat but I'm still alive after all of my searchings, aren't I?”

He gave a raspy laugh and reached up to thump me on the shoulder. “You're a brave man I'll give you that,” the corner of his mouth twitched up slightly, “A stupid one at that, but still brave.” He bowed his head and gestured back towards the gate with a crooked finger. “There are creatures in there the devil himself shrinks away from. Monsters of nightmares. Freaks that haven't seen the light of day. They despise people like you, ones who look at them like animals. Go in there,” he lifted his chin, smile gone, “And your life will change forever. I can’t promise you that no harm will come.”

That unsettling feeling was returning quick, whispers of startled guests ringing around me like a church bell chiming as the hour struck. I should have turned and run. I should have decided to just leave it be and go home. I should have listened to the clear warning. But my pride, steadfast and as strong as diamonds, led me to chuckle.

“What do you think I'm here for?”

He started to laugh again, this time, a bit more obnoxious. It was raspy, like a cat that couldn't get a furball out of its esophagus. It was pretty enjoyable until he was coughing for air, struggling to keep breathing. Spit flew out of his mouth, spraying anyone unfortunate to be in a two feet radius of him. One of the women whacked him on the back as she freaked out three times with her purse. To everyone's, including myself, surprise a brown wrinkled tooth flew out and onto a child's hand. I muffled the sound of my own laughter as the little girl screamed and flung it away, wiping at her hand as if she was now infected.

The man managed to catch his breath, leaning on his cane for support as one hand clutched his knee. As he did, he lifted his head so his milky eyes could stare up at me once again. “Go inside then ye young wanderer,” he gave a toothless grin, “Go inside and come out changed forever. Old Man Pete will watch over ye.”

With a pat on my shoulder, he limped to the front of the line and slammed his cane on the front of the gate. “Y’all heard me! Welcome to the land of God's rejects!”
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The most horrific thing you ever witnessed.
Written by Dom25 in portal Horror & Thriller

Afghan

Words will never explain what it's like to watch your best friend die in your arms. You're doing everything in your power to stop him from bleeding out. Telling him that it's not that bad and he's going to be fine. The truth is, in the back of your mind you know he's dying and your trying to make his final moments on this wretched earth peaceful. Every single day that goes bye, I think of you. I think about all the good times that we've had together and the bad. I think about your wife and your beautiful baby girl. I think about how I wish it was me. I have nothing, you had everything. The anger, the sadness, they will never escape me. I wish I could have saved you from that Improvised explosive device, but I couldn't. The second you stepped on that pressure plate, it was over. Even though I was disorientated and there was blood poring from my ears and legs; my first instinct was to help you. I can't even put into words how I feel to this day. I see this every night while I try to sleep. I love you Taylor and I'm sorry that I couldn't save you.

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The most horrific thing you ever witnessed.
Written by Dom25 in portal Horror & Thriller
Afghan
Words will never explain what it's like to watch your best friend die in your arms. You're doing everything in your power to stop him from bleeding out. Telling him that it's not that bad and he's going to be fine. The truth is, in the back of your mind you know he's dying and your trying to make his final moments on this wretched earth peaceful. Every single day that goes bye, I think of you. I think about all the good times that we've had together and the bad. I think about your wife and your beautiful baby girl. I think about how I wish it was me. I have nothing, you had everything. The anger, the sadness, they will never escape me. I wish I could have saved you from that Improvised explosive device, but I couldn't. The second you stepped on that pressure plate, it was over. Even though I was disorientated and there was blood poring from my ears and legs; my first instinct was to help you. I can't even put into words how I feel to this day. I see this every night while I try to sleep. I love you Taylor and I'm sorry that I couldn't save you.
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Chapter 9 of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Written by MarkTwain

The Cave.—The Floating House.

         I wanted to go and look at a place right about the middle of the island that I’d found when I was exploring; so we started and soon got to it, because the island was only three miles long and a quarter of a mile wide.

        This place was a tolerable long, steep hill or ridge about forty foot high. We had a rough time getting to the top, the sides was so steep and the bushes so thick. We tramped and clumb around all over it, and by and by found a good big cavern in the rock, most up to the top on the side towards Illinois. The cavern was as big as two or three rooms bunched together, and Jim could stand up straight in it. It was cool in there. Jim was for putting our traps in there right away, but I said we didn’t want to be climbing up and down there all the time.

        Jim said if we had the canoe hid in a good place, and had all the traps in the cavern, we could rush there if anybody was to come to the island, and they would never find us without dogs. And, besides, he said them little birds had said it was going to rain, and did I want the things to get wet?

        So we went back and got the canoe, and paddled up abreast the cavern, and lugged all the traps up there. Then we hunted up a place close by to hide the canoe in, amongst the thick willows. We took some fish off of the lines and set them again, and begun to get ready for dinner.

        The door of the cavern was big enough to roll a hogshead in, and on one side of the door the floor stuck out a little bit, and was flat and a good place to build a fire on. So we built it there and cooked dinner.

         We spread the blankets inside for a carpet, and eat our dinner in there. We put all the other things handy at the back of the cavern. Pretty soon it darkened up, and begun to thunder and lighten; so the birds was right about it. Directly it begun to rain, and it rained like all fury, too, and I never see the wind blow so. It was one of these regular summer storms. It would get so dark that it looked all blue-black outside, and lovely; and the rain would thrash along by so thick that the trees off a little ways looked dim and spider-webby; and here would come a blast of wind that would bend the trees down and turn up the pale underside of the leaves; and then a perfect ripper of a gust would follow along and set the branches to tossing their arms as if they was just wild; and next, when it was just about the bluest and blackest—FST! it was as bright as glory, and you’d have a little glimpse of tree-tops a-plunging about away off yonder in the storm, hundreds of yards further than you could see before; dark as sin again in a second, and now you’d hear the thunder let go with an awful crash, and then go rumbling, grumbling, tumbling, down the sky towards the under side of the world, like rolling empty barrels down stairs—where it’s long stairs and they bounce a good deal, you know.

        “Jim, this is nice,” I says. "I wouldn’t want to be nowhere else but here. Pass me along another hunk of fish and some hot corn-bread.”

        “Well, you wouldn’t a ben here ‘f it hadn’t a ben for Jim. You’d a ben down dah in de woods widout any dinner, en gittn’ mos’ drownded, too; dat you would, honey. Chickens knows when it’s gwyne to rain, en so do de birds, chile.”

        The river went on raising and raising for ten or twelve days, till at last it was over the banks. The water was three or four foot deep on the island in the low places and on the Illinois bottom. On that side it was a good many miles wide, but on the Missouri side it was the same old distance across—a half a mile—because the Missouri shore was just a wall of high bluffs.

        Daytimes we paddled all over the island in the canoe, It was mighty cool and shady in the deep woods, even if the sun was blazing outside. We went winding in and out amongst the trees, and sometimes the vines hung so thick we had to back away and go some other way. Well, on every old broken-down tree you could see rabbits and snakes and such things; and when the island had been overflowed a day or two they got so tame, on account of being hungry, that you could paddle right up and put your hand on them if you wanted to; but not the snakes and turtles—they would slide off in the water. The ridge our cavern was in was full of them. We could a had pets enough if we’d wanted them.

        One night we catched a little section of a lumber raft—nice pine planks. It was twelve foot wide and about fifteen or sixteen foot long, and the top stood above water six or seven inches—a solid, level floor. We could see saw-logs go by in the daylight sometimes, but we let them go; we didn’t show ourselves in daylight.

        Another night when we was up at the head of the island, just before daylight, here comes a frame-house down, on the west side. She was a two-story, and tilted over considerable. We paddled out and got aboard—clumb in at an upstairs window. But it was too dark to see yet, so we made the canoe fast and set in her to wait for daylight.

        The light begun to come before we got to the foot of the island. Then we looked in at the window. We could make out a bed, and a table, and two old chairs, and lots of things around about on the floor, and there was clothes hanging against the wall. There was something laying on the floor in the far corner that looked like a man. So Jim says:

        “Hello, you!”

        But it didn’t budge. So I hollered again, and then Jim says:

        “De man ain’t asleep—he’s dead. You hold still—I’ll go en see.”

        He went, and bent down and looked, and says:

        “It’s a dead man. Yes, indeedy; naked, too. He’s ben shot in de back. I reck’n he’s ben dead two er three days. Come in, Huck, but doan’ look at his face—it’s too gashly.”

I didn’t look at him at all. Jim throwed some old rags over him, but he needn’t done it; I didn’t want to see him. There was heaps of old greasy cards scattered around over the floor, and old whisky bottles, and a couple of masks made out of black cloth; and all over the walls was the ignorantest kind of words and pictures made with charcoal. There was two old dirty calico dresses, and a sun-bonnet, and some women’s underclothes hanging against the wall, and some men’s clothing, too. We put the lot into the canoe—it might come good. There was a boy’s old speckled straw hat on the floor; I took that, too. And there was a bottle that had had milk in it, and it had a rag stopper for a baby to suck. We would a took the bottle, but it was broke. There was a seedy old chest, and an old hair trunk with the hinges broke. They stood open, but there warn’t nothing left in them that was any account. The way things was scattered about we reckoned the people left in a hurry, and warn’t fixed so as to carry off most of their stuff.

        We got an old tin lantern, and a butcher-knife without any handle, and a bran-new Barlow knife worth two bits in any store, and a lot of tallow candles, and a tin candlestick, and a gourd, and a tin cup, and a ratty old bedquilt off the bed, and a reticule with needles and pins and beeswax and buttons and thread and all such truck in it, and a hatchet and some nails, and a fishline as thick as my little finger with some monstrous hooks on it, and a roll of buckskin, and a leather dog-collar, and a horseshoe, and some vials of medicine that didn’t have no label on them; and just as we was leaving I found a tolerable good curry-comb, and Jim he found a ratty old fiddle-bow, and a wooden leg. The straps was broke off of it, but, barring that, it was a good enough leg, though it was too long for me and not long enough for Jim, and we couldn’t find the other one, though we hunted all around.

        And so, take it all around, we made a good haul. When we was ready to shove off we was a quarter of a mile below the island, and it was pretty broad day; so I made Jim lay down in the canoe and cover up with the quilt, because if he set up people could tell he was a nigger a good ways off. I paddled over to the Illinois shore, and drifted down most a half a mile doing it. I crept up the dead water under the bank, and hadn’t no accidents and didn’t see nobody. We got home all safe

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Chapter 9 of Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Written by MarkTwain
The Cave.—The Floating House.
         I wanted to go and look at a place right about the middle of the island that I’d found when I was exploring; so we started and soon got to it, because the island was only three miles long and a quarter of a mile wide.
        This place was a tolerable long, steep hill or ridge about forty foot high. We had a rough time getting to the top, the sides was so steep and the bushes so thick. We tramped and clumb around all over it, and by and by found a good big cavern in the rock, most up to the top on the side towards Illinois. The cavern was as big as two or three rooms bunched together, and Jim could stand up straight in it. It was cool in there. Jim was for putting our traps in there right away, but I said we didn’t want to be climbing up and down there all the time.
        Jim said if we had the canoe hid in a good place, and had all the traps in the cavern, we could rush there if anybody was to come to the island, and they would never find us without dogs. And, besides, he said them little birds had said it was going to rain, and did I want the things to get wet?
        So we went back and got the canoe, and paddled up abreast the cavern, and lugged all the traps up there. Then we hunted up a place close by to hide the canoe in, amongst the thick willows. We took some fish off of the lines and set them again, and begun to get ready for dinner.
        The door of the cavern was big enough to roll a hogshead in, and on one side of the door the floor stuck out a little bit, and was flat and a good place to build a fire on. So we built it there and cooked dinner.
         We spread the blankets inside for a carpet, and eat our dinner in there. We put all the other things handy at the back of the cavern. Pretty soon it darkened up, and begun to thunder and lighten; so the birds was right about it. Directly it begun to rain, and it rained like all fury, too, and I never see the wind blow so. It was one of these regular summer storms. It would get so dark that it looked all blue-black outside, and lovely; and the rain would thrash along by so thick that the trees off a little ways looked dim and spider-webby; and here would come a blast of wind that would bend the trees down and turn up the pale underside of the leaves; and then a perfect ripper of a gust would follow along and set the branches to tossing their arms as if they was just wild; and next, when it was just about the bluest and blackest—FST! it was as bright as glory, and you’d have a little glimpse of tree-tops a-plunging about away off yonder in the storm, hundreds of yards further than you could see before; dark as sin again in a second, and now you’d hear the thunder let go with an awful crash, and then go rumbling, grumbling, tumbling, down the sky towards the under side of the world, like rolling empty barrels down stairs—where it’s long stairs and they bounce a good deal, you know.
        “Jim, this is nice,” I says. "I wouldn’t want to be nowhere else but here. Pass me along another hunk of fish and some hot corn-bread.”
        “Well, you wouldn’t a ben here ‘f it hadn’t a ben for Jim. You’d a ben down dah in de woods widout any dinner, en gittn’ mos’ drownded, too; dat you would, honey. Chickens knows when it’s gwyne to rain, en so do de birds, chile.”
        The river went on raising and raising for ten or twelve days, till at last it was over the banks. The water was three or four foot deep on the island in the low places and on the Illinois bottom. On that side it was a good many miles wide, but on the Missouri side it was the same old distance across—a half a mile—because the Missouri shore was just a wall of high bluffs.
        Daytimes we paddled all over the island in the canoe, It was mighty cool and shady in the deep woods, even if the sun was blazing outside. We went winding in and out amongst the trees, and sometimes the vines hung so thick we had to back away and go some other way. Well, on every old broken-down tree you could see rabbits and snakes and such things; and when the island had been overflowed a day or two they got so tame, on account of being hungry, that you could paddle right up and put your hand on them if you wanted to; but not the snakes and turtles—they would slide off in the water. The ridge our cavern was in was full of them. We could a had pets enough if we’d wanted them.
        One night we catched a little section of a lumber raft—nice pine planks. It was twelve foot wide and about fifteen or sixteen foot long, and the top stood above water six or seven inches—a solid, level floor. We could see saw-logs go by in the daylight sometimes, but we let them go; we didn’t show ourselves in daylight.
        Another night when we was up at the head of the island, just before daylight, here comes a frame-house down, on the west side. She was a two-story, and tilted over considerable. We paddled out and got aboard—clumb in at an upstairs window. But it was too dark to see yet, so we made the canoe fast and set in her to wait for daylight.
        The light begun to come before we got to the foot of the island. Then we looked in at the window. We could make out a bed, and a table, and two old chairs, and lots of things around about on the floor, and there was clothes hanging against the wall. There was something laying on the floor in the far corner that looked like a man. So Jim says:
        “Hello, you!”
        But it didn’t budge. So I hollered again, and then Jim says:
        “De man ain’t asleep—he’s dead. You hold still—I’ll go en see.”
        He went, and bent down and looked, and says:
        “It’s a dead man. Yes, indeedy; naked, too. He’s ben shot in de back. I reck’n he’s ben dead two er three days. Come in, Huck, but doan’ look at his face—it’s too gashly.”
I didn’t look at him at all. Jim throwed some old rags over him, but he needn’t done it; I didn’t want to see him. There was heaps of old greasy cards scattered around over the floor, and old whisky bottles, and a couple of masks made out of black cloth; and all over the walls was the ignorantest kind of words and pictures made with charcoal. There was two old dirty calico dresses, and a sun-bonnet, and some women’s underclothes hanging against the wall, and some men’s clothing, too. We put the lot into the canoe—it might come good. There was a boy’s old speckled straw hat on the floor; I took that, too. And there was a bottle that had had milk in it, and it had a rag stopper for a baby to suck. We would a took the bottle, but it was broke. There was a seedy old chest, and an old hair trunk with the hinges broke. They stood open, but there warn’t nothing left in them that was any account. The way things was scattered about we reckoned the people left in a hurry, and warn’t fixed so as to carry off most of their stuff.
        We got an old tin lantern, and a butcher-knife without any handle, and a bran-new Barlow knife worth two bits in any store, and a lot of tallow candles, and a tin candlestick, and a gourd, and a tin cup, and a ratty old bedquilt off the bed, and a reticule with needles and pins and beeswax and buttons and thread and all such truck in it, and a hatchet and some nails, and a fishline as thick as my little finger with some monstrous hooks on it, and a roll of buckskin, and a leather dog-collar, and a horseshoe, and some vials of medicine that didn’t have no label on them; and just as we was leaving I found a tolerable good curry-comb, and Jim he found a ratty old fiddle-bow, and a wooden leg. The straps was broke off of it, but, barring that, it was a good enough leg, though it was too long for me and not long enough for Jim, and we couldn’t find the other one, though we hunted all around.
        And so, take it all around, we made a good haul. When we was ready to shove off we was a quarter of a mile below the island, and it was pretty broad day; so I made Jim lay down in the canoe and cover up with the quilt, because if he set up people could tell he was a nigger a good ways off. I paddled over to the Illinois shore, and drifted down most a half a mile doing it. I crept up the dead water under the bank, and hadn’t no accidents and didn’t see nobody. We got home all safe
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Chapter 1 of Dracula
Written by BramStoker

JONATHAN HARKER’S JOURNAL

        3 May. Bistritz.—Left Munich at 8:35 P. M., on 1st May, arriving at Vienna early next morning; should have arrived at 6:46, but train was an hour late. Buda-Pesth seems a wonderful place, from the glimpse which I got of it from the train and the little I could walk through the streets. I feared to go very far from the station, as we had arrived late and would start as near the correct time as possible. The impression I had was that we were leaving the West and entering the East; the most western of splendid bridges over the Danube, which is here of noble width and depth, took us among the traditions of Turkish rule.

        We left in pretty good time, and came after nightfall to Klausenburgh. Here I stopped for the night at the Hotel Royale. I had for dinner, or rather supper, a chicken done up some way with red pepper, which was very good but thirsty. (Mem., get recipe for Mina.) I asked the waiter, and he said it was called “paprika hendl,” and that, as it was a national dish, I should be able to get it anywhere along the Carpathians. I found my smattering of German very useful here; indeed, I don’t know how I should be able to get on without it.

        Having had some time at my disposal when in London, I had visited the British Museum, and made search among the books and maps in the library regarding Transylvania; it had struck me that some foreknowledge of the country could hardly fail to have some importance in dealing with a nobleman of that country. I find that the district he named is in the extreme east of the country, just on the borders of three states, Transylvania, Moldavia and Bukovina, in the midst of the Carpathian mountains; one of the wildest and least known portions of Europe. I was not able to light on any map or work giving the exact locality of the Castle Dracula, as there are no maps of this country as yet to compare with our own Ordnance Survey maps; but I found that Bistritz, the post town named by Count Dracula, is a fairly well-known place. I shall enter here some of my notes, as they may refresh my memory when I talk over my travels with Mina.

In the population of Transylvania there are four distinct nationalities: Saxons in the South, and mixed with them the Wallachs, who are the descendants of the Dacians; Magyars in the West, and Szekelys in the East and North. I am going among the latter, who claim to be descended from Attila and the Huns. This may be so, for when the Magyars conquered the country in the eleventh century they found the Huns settled in it. 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.

        It was on the dark side of twilight when we got to Bistritz, which is a very interesting old place. Being practically on the frontier—for the Borgo Pass leads from it into Bukovina—it has had a very stormy existence, and it certainly shows marks of it. Fifty years ago a series of great fires took place, which made terrible havoc on five separate occasions. At the very beginning of the seventeenth century it underwent a siege of three weeks and lost 13,000 people, the casualties of war proper being assisted by famine and disease.

        Count Dracula had directed me to go to the Golden Krone Hotel, which I found, to my great delight, to be thoroughly old-fashioned, for of course I wanted to see all I could of the ways of the country. I was evidently expected, for when I got near the door I faced a cheery-looking elderly woman in the usual peasant dress—white undergarment with long double apron, front, and back, of coloured stuff fitting almost too tight for modesty.         When I came close she bowed and said, “The Herr Englishman?” “Yes,” I said, “Jonathan Harker.” She smiled, and gave some message to an elderly man in white shirt-sleeves, who had followed her to the door. He went, but immediately returned with a letter:—

        “My Friend.—Welcome to the Carpathians. I am anxiously expecting you. Sleep well to-night. At three to-morrow the diligence will start for Bukovina; a place on it is kept for you. At the Borgo Pass my carriage will await you and will bring you to me. I trust that your journey from London has been a happy one, and that you will enjoy your stay in my beautiful land.

“Your friend,

“Dracula.”

        4 May.—I found that my landlord had got a letter from the Count, directing him to secure the best place on the coach for me; but on making inquiries as to details he seemed somewhat reticent, and pretended that he could not understand my German. This could not be true, because up to then he had understood it perfectly; at least, he answered my questions exactly as if he did. He and his wife, the old lady who had received me, looked at each other in a frightened sort of way. He mumbled out that the money had been sent in a letter, and that was all he knew. When I asked him if he knew Count Dracula, and could tell me anything of his castle, both he and his wife crossed themselves, and, saying that they knew nothing at all, simply refused to speak further. It was so near the time of starting that I had no time to ask any one else, for it was all very mysterious and not by any means comforting.

        Just before I was leaving, the old lady came up to my room and said in a very hysterical way:

        “Must you go? Oh! young Herr, must you go?” She was in such an excited state that she seemed to have lost her grip of what German she knew, and mixed it all up with some other language which I did not know at all. I was just able to follow her by asking many questions. When I told her that I must go at once, and that I was engaged on important business, she asked again:

        “Do you know what day it is?” I answered that it was the fourth of May. She shook her head as she said again:

        “Oh, yes! I know that! I know that, but do you know what day it is?” On my saying that I did not understand, she went on:

        “It is the eve of St. George’s Day. Do you not know that to-night, when the clock strikes midnight, all the evil things in the world will have full sway? Do you know where you are going, and what you are going to?” She was in such evident distress that I tried to comfort her, but without effect. Finally she went down on her knees and implored me not to go; at least to wait a day or two before starting. It was all very ridiculous but I did not feel comfortable. However, there was business to be done, and I could allow nothing to interfere with it. I therefore tried to raise her up, and said, as gravely as I could, that I thanked her, but my duty was imperative, and that I must go. She then rose and dried her eyes, and taking a crucifix from her neck offered it to me. I did not know what to do, for, as an English Churchman, I have been taught to regard such things as in some measure idolatrous, and yet it seemed so ungracious to refuse an old lady meaning so well and in such a state of mind. She saw, I suppose, the doubt in my face, for she put the rosary round my neck, and said, “For your mother’s sake,” and went out of the room. I am writing up this part of the diary whilst I am waiting for the coach, which is, of course, late; and the crucifix is still round my neck. Whether it is the old lady’s fear, or the many ghostly traditions of this place, or the crucifix itself, I do not know, but I am not feeling nearly as easy in my mind as usual. If this book should ever reach Mina before I do, let it bring my good-bye. Here comes the coach!

        5 May. The Castle.—The grey of the morning has passed, and the sun is high over the distant horizon, which seems jagged, whether with trees or hills I know not, for it is so far off that big things and little are mixed. I am not sleepy, and, as I am not to be called till I awake, naturally I write till sleep comes. There are many odd things to put down, and, lest who reads them may fancy that I dined too well before I left Bistritz, let me put down my dinner exactly. I dined on what they called “robber steak”—bits of bacon, onion, and beef, seasoned with red pepper, and strung on sticks and roasted over the fire, in the simple style of the London cat’s meat! The wine was Golden Mediasch, which produces a queer sting on the tongue, which is, however, not disagreeable. I had only a couple of glasses of this, and nothing else.

        When I got on the coach the driver had not taken his seat, and I saw him talking with the landlady. They were evidently talking of me, for every now and then they looked at me, and some of the people who were sitting on the bench outside the door—which they call by a name meaning “word-bearer”—came and listened, and then looked at me, most of them pityingly. I could hear a lot of words often repeated, queer words, for there were many nationalities in the crowd; so I quietly got my polyglot dictionary from my bag and looked them out. I must say they were not cheering to me, for amongst them were “Ordog”—Satan, “pokol”—hell, “stregoica”—witch, “vrolok” and “vlkoslak”—both of which mean the same thing, one being Slovak and the other Servian for something that is either were-wolf or vampire. (Mem., I must ask the Count about these superstitions)

        When we started, the crowd round the inn door, which had by this time swelled to a considerable size, all made the sign of the cross and pointed two fingers towards me. With some difficulty I got a fellow-passenger to tell me what they meant; he would not answer at first, but on learning that I was English, he explained that it was a charm or guard against the evil eye. This was not very pleasant for me, just starting for an unknown place to meet an unknown man; but every one seemed so kind-hearted, and so sorrowful, and so sympathetic that I could not but be touched. I shall never forget the last glimpse which I had of the inn-yard and its crowd of picturesque figures, all crossing themselves, as they stood round the wide archway, with its background of rich foliage of oleander and orange trees in green tubs clustered in the centre of the yard. Then our driver, whose wide linen drawers covered the whole front of the box-seat—“gotza” they call them—cracked his big whip over his four small horses, which ran abreast, and we set off on our journey.

        I soon lost sight and recollection of ghostly fears in the beauty of the scene as we drove along, although had I known the language, or rather languages, which my fellow-passengers were speaking, I might not have been able to throw them off so easily. Before us lay a green sloping land full of forests and woods, with here and there steep hills, crowned with clumps of trees or with farmhouses, the blank gable end to the road. There was everywhere a bewildering mass of fruit blossom—apple, plum, pear, cherry; and as we drove by I could see the green grass under the trees spangled with the fallen petals. In and out amongst these green hills of what they call here the “Mittel Land” ran the road, losing itself as it swept round the grassy curve, or was shut out by the straggling ends of pine woods, which here and there ran down the hillsides like tongues of flame. The road was rugged, but still we seemed to fly over it with a feverish haste. I could not understand then what the haste meant, but the driver was evidently bent on losing no time in reaching Borgo Prund. I was told that this road is in summertime excellent, but that it had not yet been put in order after the winter snows. In this respect it is different from the general run of roads in the Carpathians, for it is an old tradition that they are not to be kept in too good order. Of old the Hospadars would not repair them, lest the Turk should think that they were preparing to bring in foreign troops, and so hasten the war which was always really at loading point.

        Beyond the green swelling hills of the Mittel Land rose mighty slopes of forest up to the lofty steeps of the Carpathians themselves. Right and left of us they towered, with the afternoon sun falling full upon them and bringing out all the glorious colours of this beautiful range, deep blue and purple in the shadows of the peaks, green and brown where grass and rock mingled, and an endless perspective of jagged rock and pointed crags, till these were themselves lost in the distance, where the snowy peaks rose grandly. Here and there seemed mighty rifts in the mountains, through which, as the sun began to sink, we saw now and again the white gleam of falling water. One of my companions touched my arm as we swept round the base of a hill and opened up the lofty, snow-covered peak of a mountain, which seemed, as we wound on our serpentine way, to be right before us:—

        “Look! Isten szek!”—“God’s seat!”—and he crossed himself reverently.

        As we wound on our endless way, and the sun sank lower and lower behind us, the shadows of the evening began to creep round us. This was emphasised by the fact that the snowy mountain-top still held the sunset, and seemed to glow out with a delicate cool pink. Here and there we passed Cszeks and Slovaks, all in picturesque attire, but I noticed that goitre was painfully prevalent. By the roadside were many crosses, and as we swept by, my companions all crossed themselves. Here and there was a peasant man or woman kneeling before a shrine, who did not even turn round as we approached, but seemed in the self-surrender of devotion to have neither eyes nor ears for the outer world. There were many things new to me: for instance, hay-ricks in the trees, and here and there very beautiful masses of weeping birch, their white stems shining like silver through the delicate green of the leaves. Now and again we passed a leiter-wagon—the ordinary peasant’s cart—with its long, snake-like vertebra, calculated to suit the inequalities of the road. On this were sure to be seated quite a group of home-coming peasants, the Cszeks with their white, and the Slovaks with their coloured, sheepskins, the latter carrying lance-fashion their long staves, with axe at end. As the evening fell it began to get very cold, and the growing twilight seemed to merge into one dark mistiness the gloom of the trees, oak, beech, and pine, though in the valleys which ran deep between the spurs of the hills, as we ascended through the Pass, the dark firs stood out here and there against the background of late-lying snow. Sometimes, as the road was cut through the pine woods that seemed in the darkness to be closing down upon us, great masses of greyness, which here and there bestrewed the trees, produced a peculiarly weird and solemn effect, which carried on the thoughts and grim fancies engendered earlier in the evening, when the falling sunset threw into strange relief the ghost-like clouds which amongst the Carpathians seem to wind ceaselessly through the valleys. Sometimes the hills were so steep that, despite our driver’s haste, the horses could only go slowly. I wished to get down and walk up them, as we do at home, but the driver would not hear of it. “No, no,” he said; “you must not walk here; the dogs are too fierce”; and then he added, with what he evidently meant for grim pleasantry—for he looked round to catch the approving smile of the rest—“and you may have enough of such matters before you go to sleep.” The only stop he would make was a moment’s pause to light his lamps.

        When it grew dark there seemed to be some excitement amongst the passengers, and they kept speaking to him, one after the other, as though urging him to further speed. He lashed the horses unmercifully with his long whip, and with wild cries of encouragement urged them on to further exertions. Then through the darkness I could see a sort of patch of grey light ahead of us, as though there were a cleft in the hills. The excitement of the passengers grew greater; the crazy coach rocked on its great leather springs, and swayed like a boat tossed on a stormy sea. I had to hold on. The road grew more level, and we appeared to fly along. Then the mountains seemed to come nearer to us on each side and to frown down upon us; we were entering on the Borgo Pass. One by one several of the passengers offered me gifts, which they pressed upon me with an earnestness which would take no denial; these were certainly of an odd and varied kind, but each was given in simple good faith, with a kindly word, and a blessing, and that strange mixture of fear-meaning movements which I had seen outside the hotel at Bistritz—the sign of the cross and the guard against the evil eye. Then, as we flew along, the driver leaned forward, and on each side the passengers, craning over the edge of the coach, peered eagerly into the darkness. It was evident that something very exciting was either happening or expected, but though I asked each passenger, no one would give me the slightest explanation. This state of excitement kept on for some little time; and at last we saw before us the Pass opening out on the eastern side. There were dark, rolling clouds overhead, and in the air the heavy, oppressive sense of thunder. It seemed as though the mountain range had separated two atmospheres, and that now we had got into the thunderous one. I was now myself looking out for the conveyance which was to take me to the Count. Each moment I expected to see the glare of lamps through the blackness; but all was dark. The only light was the flickering rays of our own lamps, in which the steam from our hard-driven horses rose in a white cloud. We could see now the sandy road lying white before us, but there was on it no sign of a vehicle. The passengers drew back with a sigh of gladness, which seemed to mock my own disappointment. I was already thinking what I had best do, when the driver, looking at his watch, said to the others something which I could hardly hear, it was spoken so quietly and in so low a tone; I thought it was “An hour less than the time.” Then turning to me, he said in German worse than my own:—

        “There is no carriage here. The Herr is not expected after all. He will now come on to Bukovina, and return to-morrow or the next day; better the next day.” Whilst he was speaking the horses began to neigh and snort and plunge wildly, so that the driver had to hold them up. Then, amongst a chorus of screams from the peasants and a universal crossing of themselves, a calèche, with four horses, drove up behind us, overtook us, and drew up beside the coach. I could see from the flash of our lamps, as the rays fell on them, that the horses were coal-black and splendid animals. They were driven by a tall man, with a long brown beard and a great black hat, which seemed to hide his face from us. I could only see the gleam of a pair of very bright eyes, which seemed red in the lamplight, as he turned to us. He said to the driver:—

        “You are early to-night, my friend.” The man stammered in reply:—

        “The English Herr was in a hurry,” to which the stranger replied:—

        “That is why, I suppose, you wished him to go on to Bukovina. You cannot deceive me, my friend; I know too much, and my horses are swift.” As he spoke he smiled, and the lamplight fell on a hard-looking mouth, with very red lips and sharp-looking teeth, as white as ivory. One of my companions whispered to another the line from Burger’s “Lenore”:—

        “Denn die Todten reiten schnell”—

        (“For the dead travel fast.”)

        The strange driver evidently heard the words, for he looked up with a gleaming smile. The passenger turned his face away, at the same time putting out his two fingers and crossing himself. “Give me the Herr’s luggage,” said the driver; and with exceeding alacrity my bags were handed out and put in the calèche. Then I descended from the side of the coach, as the calèche was close alongside, the driver helping me with a hand which caught my arm in a grip of steel; his strength must have been prodigious. Without a word he shook his reins, the horses turned, and we swept into the darkness of the Pass. As I looked back I saw the steam from the horses of the coach by the light of the lamps, and projected against it the figures of my late companions crossing themselves. Then the driver cracked his whip and called to his horses, and off they swept on their way to Bukovina. As they sank into the darkness I felt a strange chill, and a lonely feeling came over me; but a cloak was thrown over my shoulders, and a rug across my knees, and the driver said in excellent German:—

        “The night is chill, mein Herr, and my master the Count bade me take all care of you. There is a flask of slivovitz (the plum brandy of the country) underneath the seat, if you should require it.” I did not take any, but it was a comfort to know it was there all the same. I felt a little strangely, and not a little frightened. I think had there been any alternative I should have taken it, instead of prosecuting that unknown night journey. The carriage went at a hard pace straight along, then we made a complete turn and went along another straight road. It seemed to me that we were simply going over and over the same ground again; and so I took note of some salient point, and found that this was so. I would have liked to have asked the driver what this all meant, but I really feared to do so, for I thought that, placed as I was, any protest would have had no effect in case there had been an intention to delay. By-and-by, however, as I was curious to know how time was passing, I struck a match, and by its flame looked at my watch; it was within a few minutes of midnight. This gave me a sort of shock, for I suppose the general superstition about midnight was increased by my recent experiences. I waited with a sick feeling of suspense.

        Then a dog began to howl somewhere in a farmhouse far down the road—a long, agonised wailing, as if from fear. The sound was taken up by another dog, and then another and another, till, borne on the wind which now sighed softly through the Pass, a wild howling began, which seemed to come from all over the country, as far as the imagination could grasp it through the gloom of the night. At the first howl the horses began to strain and rear, but the driver spoke to them soothingly, and they quieted down, but shivered and sweated as though after a runaway from sudden fright. Then, far off in the distance, from the mountains on each side of us began a louder and a sharper howling—that of wolves—which affected both the horses and myself in the same way—for I was minded to jump from the calèche and run, whilst they reared again and plunged madly, so that the driver had to use all his great strength to keep them from bolting. In a few minutes, however, my own ears got accustomed to the sound, and the horses so far became quiet that the driver was able to descend and to stand before them. He petted and soothed them, and whispered something in their ears, as I have heard of horse-tamers doing, and with extraordinary effect, for under his caresses they became quite manageable again, though they still trembled. The driver again took his seat, and shaking his reins, started off at a great pace. This time, after going to the far side of the Pass, he suddenly turned down a narrow roadway which ran sharply to the right.

        Soon we were hemmed in with trees, which in places arched right over the roadway till we passed as through a tunnel; and again great frowning rocks guarded us boldly on either side. Though we were in shelter, we could hear the rising wind, for it moaned and whistled through the rocks, and the branches of the trees crashed together as we swept along. It grew colder and colder still, and fine, powdery snow began to fall, so that soon we and all around us were covered with a white blanket. The keen wind still carried the howling of the dogs, though this grew fainter as we went on our way. The baying of the wolves sounded nearer and nearer, as though they were closing round on us from every side. I grew dreadfully afraid, and the horses shared my fear. The driver, however, was not in the least disturbed; he kept turning his head to left and right, but I could not see anything through the darkness.

        Suddenly, away on our left, I saw a faint flickering blue flame. The driver saw it at the same moment; he at once checked the horses, and, jumping to the ground, disappeared into the darkness. I did not know what to do, the less as the howling of the wolves grew closer; but while I wondered the driver suddenly appeared again, and without a word took his seat, and we resumed our journey. I think I must have fallen asleep and kept dreaming of the incident, for it seemed to be repeated endlessly, and now looking back, it is like a sort of awful nightmare. Once the flame appeared so near the road, that even in the darkness around us I could watch the driver’s motions. He went rapidly to where the blue flame arose—it must have been very faint, for it did not seem to illumine the place around it at all—and gathering a few stones, formed them into some device. Once there appeared a strange optical effect: when he stood between me and the flame he did not obstruct it, for I could see its ghostly flicker all the same. This startled me, but as the effect was only momentary, I took it that my eyes deceived me straining through the darkness. Then for a time there were no blue flames, and we sped onwards through the gloom, with the howling of the wolves around us, as though they were following in a moving circle.

        At last there came a time when the driver went further afield than he had yet gone, and during his absence, the horses began to tremble worse than ever and to snort and scream with fright. I could not see any cause for it, for the howling of the wolves had ceased altogether; but just then the moon, sailing through the black clouds, appeared behind the jagged crest of a beetling, pine-clad rock, and by its light I saw around us a ring of wolves, with white teeth and lolling red tongues, with long, sinewy limbs and shaggy hair. They were a hundred times more terrible in the grim silence which held them than even when they howled. For myself, I felt a sort of paralysis of fear. It is only when a man feels himself face to face with such horrors that he can understand their true import.

        All at once the wolves began to howl as though the moonlight had had some peculiar effect on them. The horses jumped about and reared, and looked helplessly round with eyes that rolled in a way painful to see; but the living ring of terror encompassed them on every side; and they had perforce to remain within it. I called to the coachman to come, for it seemed to me that our only chance was to try to break out through the ring and to aid his approach. I shouted and beat the side of the calèche, hoping by the noise to scare the wolves from that side, so as to give him a chance of reaching the trap. How he came there, I know not, but I heard his voice raised in a tone of imperious command, and looking towards the sound, saw him stand in the roadway. As he swept his long arms, as though brushing aside some impalpable obstacle, the wolves fell back and back further still. Just then a heavy cloud passed across the face of the moon, so that we were again in darkness.

        When I could see again the driver was climbing into the calèche, and the wolves had disappeared. This was all so strange and uncanny that a dreadful fear came upon me, and I was afraid to speak or move. The time seemed interminable as we swept on our way, now in almost complete darkness, for the rolling clouds obscured the moon. We kept on ascending, with occasional periods of quick descent, but in the main always ascending. Suddenly, I became conscious of the fact that the driver was in the act of pulling up the horses in the courtyard of a vast ruined castle, from whose tall black windows came no ray of light, and whose broken battlements showed a jagged line against the moonlit sky.

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Chapter 1 of Dracula
Written by BramStoker
JONATHAN HARKER’S JOURNAL
        3 May. Bistritz.—Left Munich at 8:35 P. M., on 1st May, arriving at Vienna early next morning; should have arrived at 6:46, but train was an hour late. Buda-Pesth seems a wonderful place, from the glimpse which I got of it from the train and the little I could walk through the streets. I feared to go very far from the station, as we had arrived late and would start as near the correct time as possible. The impression I had was that we were leaving the West and entering the East; the most western of splendid bridges over the Danube, which is here of noble width and depth, took us among the traditions of Turkish rule.
        We left in pretty good time, and came after nightfall to Klausenburgh. Here I stopped for the night at the Hotel Royale. I had for dinner, or rather supper, a chicken done up some way with red pepper, which was very good but thirsty. (Mem., get recipe for Mina.) I asked the waiter, and he said it was called “paprika hendl,” and that, as it was a national dish, I should be able to get it anywhere along the Carpathians. I found my smattering of German very useful here; indeed, I don’t know how I should be able to get on without it.
        Having had some time at my disposal when in London, I had visited the British Museum, and made search among the books and maps in the library regarding Transylvania; it had struck me that some foreknowledge of the country could hardly fail to have some importance in dealing with a nobleman of that country. I find that the district he named is in the extreme east of the country, just on the borders of three states, Transylvania, Moldavia and Bukovina, in the midst of the Carpathian mountains; one of the wildest and least known portions of Europe. I was not able to light on any map or work giving the exact locality of the Castle Dracula, as there are no maps of this country as yet to compare with our own Ordnance Survey maps; but I found that Bistritz, the post town named by Count Dracula, is a fairly well-known place. I shall enter here some of my notes, as they may refresh my memory when I talk over my travels with Mina.
In the population of Transylvania there are four distinct nationalities: Saxons in the South, and mixed with them the Wallachs, who are the descendants of the Dacians; Magyars in the West, and Szekelys in the East and North. I am going among the latter, who claim to be descended from Attila and the Huns. This may be so, for when the Magyars conquered the country in the eleventh century they found the Huns settled in it. 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.
        It was on the dark side of twilight when we got to Bistritz, which is a very interesting old place. Being practically on the frontier—for the Borgo Pass leads from it into Bukovina—it has had a very stormy existence, and it certainly shows marks of it. Fifty years ago a series of great fires took place, which made terrible havoc on five separate occasions. At the very beginning of the seventeenth century it underwent a siege of three weeks and lost 13,000 people, the casualties of war proper being assisted by famine and disease.
        Count Dracula had directed me to go to the Golden Krone Hotel, which I found, to my great delight, to be thoroughly old-fashioned, for of course I wanted to see all I could of the ways of the country. I was evidently expected, for when I got near the door I faced a cheery-looking elderly woman in the usual peasant dress—white undergarment with long double apron, front, and back, of coloured stuff fitting almost too tight for modesty.         When I came close she bowed and said, “The Herr Englishman?” “Yes,” I said, “Jonathan Harker.” She smiled, and gave some message to an elderly man in white shirt-sleeves, who had followed her to the door. He went, but immediately returned with a letter:—
        “My Friend.—Welcome to the Carpathians. I am anxiously expecting you. Sleep well to-night. At three to-morrow the diligence will start for Bukovina; a place on it is kept for you. At the Borgo Pass my carriage will await you and will bring you to me. I trust that your journey from London has been a happy one, and that you will enjoy your stay in my beautiful land.


“Your friend,
“Dracula.”


        4 May.—I found that my landlord had got a letter from the Count, directing him to secure the best place on the coach for me; but on making inquiries as to details he seemed somewhat reticent, and pretended that he could not understand my German. This could not be true, because up to then he had understood it perfectly; at least, he answered my questions exactly as if he did. He and his wife, the old lady who had received me, looked at each other in a frightened sort of way. He mumbled out that the money had been sent in a letter, and that was all he knew. When I asked him if he knew Count Dracula, and could tell me anything of his castle, both he and his wife crossed themselves, and, saying that they knew nothing at all, simply refused to speak further. It was so near the time of starting that I had no time to ask any one else, for it was all very mysterious and not by any means comforting.
        Just before I was leaving, the old lady came up to my room and said in a very hysterical way:
        “Must you go? Oh! young Herr, must you go?” She was in such an excited state that she seemed to have lost her grip of what German she knew, and mixed it all up with some other language which I did not know at all. I was just able to follow her by asking many questions. When I told her that I must go at once, and that I was engaged on important business, she asked again:
        “Do you know what day it is?” I answered that it was the fourth of May. She shook her head as she said again:
        “Oh, yes! I know that! I know that, but do you know what day it is?” On my saying that I did not understand, she went on:
        “It is the eve of St. George’s Day. Do you not know that to-night, when the clock strikes midnight, all the evil things in the world will have full sway? Do you know where you are going, and what you are going to?” She was in such evident distress that I tried to comfort her, but without effect. Finally she went down on her knees and implored me not to go; at least to wait a day or two before starting. It was all very ridiculous but I did not feel comfortable. However, there was business to be done, and I could allow nothing to interfere with it. I therefore tried to raise her up, and said, as gravely as I could, that I thanked her, but my duty was imperative, and that I must go. She then rose and dried her eyes, and taking a crucifix from her neck offered it to me. I did not know what to do, for, as an English Churchman, I have been taught to regard such things as in some measure idolatrous, and yet it seemed so ungracious to refuse an old lady meaning so well and in such a state of mind. She saw, I suppose, the doubt in my face, for she put the rosary round my neck, and said, “For your mother’s sake,” and went out of the room. I am writing up this part of the diary whilst I am waiting for the coach, which is, of course, late; and the crucifix is still round my neck. Whether it is the old lady’s fear, or the many ghostly traditions of this place, or the crucifix itself, I do not know, but I am not feeling nearly as easy in my mind as usual. If this book should ever reach Mina before I do, let it bring my good-bye. Here comes the coach!

        5 May. The Castle.—The grey of the morning has passed, and the sun is high over the distant horizon, which seems jagged, whether with trees or hills I know not, for it is so far off that big things and little are mixed. I am not sleepy, and, as I am not to be called till I awake, naturally I write till sleep comes. There are many odd things to put down, and, lest who reads them may fancy that I dined too well before I left Bistritz, let me put down my dinner exactly. I dined on what they called “robber steak”—bits of bacon, onion, and beef, seasoned with red pepper, and strung on sticks and roasted over the fire, in the simple style of the London cat’s meat! The wine was Golden Mediasch, which produces a queer sting on the tongue, which is, however, not disagreeable. I had only a couple of glasses of this, and nothing else.
        When I got on the coach the driver had not taken his seat, and I saw him talking with the landlady. They were evidently talking of me, for every now and then they looked at me, and some of the people who were sitting on the bench outside the door—which they call by a name meaning “word-bearer”—came and listened, and then looked at me, most of them pityingly. I could hear a lot of words often repeated, queer words, for there were many nationalities in the crowd; so I quietly got my polyglot dictionary from my bag and looked them out. I must say they were not cheering to me, for amongst them were “Ordog”—Satan, “pokol”—hell, “stregoica”—witch, “vrolok” and “vlkoslak”—both of which mean the same thing, one being Slovak and the other Servian for something that is either were-wolf or vampire. (Mem., I must ask the Count about these superstitions)
        When we started, the crowd round the inn door, which had by this time swelled to a considerable size, all made the sign of the cross and pointed two fingers towards me. With some difficulty I got a fellow-passenger to tell me what they meant; he would not answer at first, but on learning that I was English, he explained that it was a charm or guard against the evil eye. This was not very pleasant for me, just starting for an unknown place to meet an unknown man; but every one seemed so kind-hearted, and so sorrowful, and so sympathetic that I could not but be touched. I shall never forget the last glimpse which I had of the inn-yard and its crowd of picturesque figures, all crossing themselves, as they stood round the wide archway, with its background of rich foliage of oleander and orange trees in green tubs clustered in the centre of the yard. Then our driver, whose wide linen drawers covered the whole front of the box-seat—“gotza” they call them—cracked his big whip over his four small horses, which ran abreast, and we set off on our journey.
        I soon lost sight and recollection of ghostly fears in the beauty of the scene as we drove along, although had I known the language, or rather languages, which my fellow-passengers were speaking, I might not have been able to throw them off so easily. Before us lay a green sloping land full of forests and woods, with here and there steep hills, crowned with clumps of trees or with farmhouses, the blank gable end to the road. There was everywhere a bewildering mass of fruit blossom—apple, plum, pear, cherry; and as we drove by I could see the green grass under the trees spangled with the fallen petals. In and out amongst these green hills of what they call here the “Mittel Land” ran the road, losing itself as it swept round the grassy curve, or was shut out by the straggling ends of pine woods, which here and there ran down the hillsides like tongues of flame. The road was rugged, but still we seemed to fly over it with a feverish haste. I could not understand then what the haste meant, but the driver was evidently bent on losing no time in reaching Borgo Prund. I was told that this road is in summertime excellent, but that it had not yet been put in order after the winter snows. In this respect it is different from the general run of roads in the Carpathians, for it is an old tradition that they are not to be kept in too good order. Of old the Hospadars would not repair them, lest the Turk should think that they were preparing to bring in foreign troops, and so hasten the war which was always really at loading point.
        Beyond the green swelling hills of the Mittel Land rose mighty slopes of forest up to the lofty steeps of the Carpathians themselves. Right and left of us they towered, with the afternoon sun falling full upon them and bringing out all the glorious colours of this beautiful range, deep blue and purple in the shadows of the peaks, green and brown where grass and rock mingled, and an endless perspective of jagged rock and pointed crags, till these were themselves lost in the distance, where the snowy peaks rose grandly. Here and there seemed mighty rifts in the mountains, through which, as the sun began to sink, we saw now and again the white gleam of falling water. One of my companions touched my arm as we swept round the base of a hill and opened up the lofty, snow-covered peak of a mountain, which seemed, as we wound on our serpentine way, to be right before us:—
        “Look! Isten szek!”—“God’s seat!”—and he crossed himself reverently.
        As we wound on our endless way, and the sun sank lower and lower behind us, the shadows of the evening began to creep round us. This was emphasised by the fact that the snowy mountain-top still held the sunset, and seemed to glow out with a delicate cool pink. Here and there we passed Cszeks and Slovaks, all in picturesque attire, but I noticed that goitre was painfully prevalent. By the roadside were many crosses, and as we swept by, my companions all crossed themselves. Here and there was a peasant man or woman kneeling before a shrine, who did not even turn round as we approached, but seemed in the self-surrender of devotion to have neither eyes nor ears for the outer world. There were many things new to me: for instance, hay-ricks in the trees, and here and there very beautiful masses of weeping birch, their white stems shining like silver through the delicate green of the leaves. Now and again we passed a leiter-wagon—the ordinary peasant’s cart—with its long, snake-like vertebra, calculated to suit the inequalities of the road. On this were sure to be seated quite a group of home-coming peasants, the Cszeks with their white, and the Slovaks with their coloured, sheepskins, the latter carrying lance-fashion their long staves, with axe at end. As the evening fell it began to get very cold, and the growing twilight seemed to merge into one dark mistiness the gloom of the trees, oak, beech, and pine, though in the valleys which ran deep between the spurs of the hills, as we ascended through the Pass, the dark firs stood out here and there against the background of late-lying snow. Sometimes, as the road was cut through the pine woods that seemed in the darkness to be closing down upon us, great masses of greyness, which here and there bestrewed the trees, produced a peculiarly weird and solemn effect, which carried on the thoughts and grim fancies engendered earlier in the evening, when the falling sunset threw into strange relief the ghost-like clouds which amongst the Carpathians seem to wind ceaselessly through the valleys. Sometimes the hills were so steep that, despite our driver’s haste, the horses could only go slowly. I wished to get down and walk up them, as we do at home, but the driver would not hear of it. “No, no,” he said; “you must not walk here; the dogs are too fierce”; and then he added, with what he evidently meant for grim pleasantry—for he looked round to catch the approving smile of the rest—“and you may have enough of such matters before you go to sleep.” The only stop he would make was a moment’s pause to light his lamps.
        When it grew dark there seemed to be some excitement amongst the passengers, and they kept speaking to him, one after the other, as though urging him to further speed. He lashed the horses unmercifully with his long whip, and with wild cries of encouragement urged them on to further exertions. Then through the darkness I could see a sort of patch of grey light ahead of us, as though there were a cleft in the hills. The excitement of the passengers grew greater; the crazy coach rocked on its great leather springs, and swayed like a boat tossed on a stormy sea. I had to hold on. The road grew more level, and we appeared to fly along. Then the mountains seemed to come nearer to us on each side and to frown down upon us; we were entering on the Borgo Pass. One by one several of the passengers offered me gifts, which they pressed upon me with an earnestness which would take no denial; these were certainly of an odd and varied kind, but each was given in simple good faith, with a kindly word, and a blessing, and that strange mixture of fear-meaning movements which I had seen outside the hotel at Bistritz—the sign of the cross and the guard against the evil eye. Then, as we flew along, the driver leaned forward, and on each side the passengers, craning over the edge of the coach, peered eagerly into the darkness. It was evident that something very exciting was either happening or expected, but though I asked each passenger, no one would give me the slightest explanation. This state of excitement kept on for some little time; and at last we saw before us the Pass opening out on the eastern side. There were dark, rolling clouds overhead, and in the air the heavy, oppressive sense of thunder. It seemed as though the mountain range had separated two atmospheres, and that now we had got into the thunderous one. I was now myself looking out for the conveyance which was to take me to the Count. Each moment I expected to see the glare of lamps through the blackness; but all was dark. The only light was the flickering rays of our own lamps, in which the steam from our hard-driven horses rose in a white cloud. We could see now the sandy road lying white before us, but there was on it no sign of a vehicle. The passengers drew back with a sigh of gladness, which seemed to mock my own disappointment. I was already thinking what I had best do, when the driver, looking at his watch, said to the others something which I could hardly hear, it was spoken so quietly and in so low a tone; I thought it was “An hour less than the time.” Then turning to me, he said in German worse than my own:—
        “There is no carriage here. The Herr is not expected after all. He will now come on to Bukovina, and return to-morrow or the next day; better the next day.” Whilst he was speaking the horses began to neigh and snort and plunge wildly, so that the driver had to hold them up. Then, amongst a chorus of screams from the peasants and a universal crossing of themselves, a calèche, with four horses, drove up behind us, overtook us, and drew up beside the coach. I could see from the flash of our lamps, as the rays fell on them, that the horses were coal-black and splendid animals. They were driven by a tall man, with a long brown beard and a great black hat, which seemed to hide his face from us. I could only see the gleam of a pair of very bright eyes, which seemed red in the lamplight, as he turned to us. He said to the driver:—
        “You are early to-night, my friend.” The man stammered in reply:—
        “The English Herr was in a hurry,” to which the stranger replied:—
        “That is why, I suppose, you wished him to go on to Bukovina. You cannot deceive me, my friend; I know too much, and my horses are swift.” As he spoke he smiled, and the lamplight fell on a hard-looking mouth, with very red lips and sharp-looking teeth, as white as ivory. One of my companions whispered to another the line from Burger’s “Lenore”:—
        “Denn die Todten reiten schnell”—
        (“For the dead travel fast.”)
        The strange driver evidently heard the words, for he looked up with a gleaming smile. The passenger turned his face away, at the same time putting out his two fingers and crossing himself. “Give me the Herr’s luggage,” said the driver; and with exceeding alacrity my bags were handed out and put in the calèche. Then I descended from the side of the coach, as the calèche was close alongside, the driver helping me with a hand which caught my arm in a grip of steel; his strength must have been prodigious. Without a word he shook his reins, the horses turned, and we swept into the darkness of the Pass. As I looked back I saw the steam from the horses of the coach by the light of the lamps, and projected against it the figures of my late companions crossing themselves. Then the driver cracked his whip and called to his horses, and off they swept on their way to Bukovina. As they sank into the darkness I felt a strange chill, and a lonely feeling came over me; but a cloak was thrown over my shoulders, and a rug across my knees, and the driver said in excellent German:—
        “The night is chill, mein Herr, and my master the Count bade me take all care of you. There is a flask of slivovitz (the plum brandy of the country) underneath the seat, if you should require it.” I did not take any, but it was a comfort to know it was there all the same. I felt a little strangely, and not a little frightened. I think had there been any alternative I should have taken it, instead of prosecuting that unknown night journey. The carriage went at a hard pace straight along, then we made a complete turn and went along another straight road. It seemed to me that we were simply going over and over the same ground again; and so I took note of some salient point, and found that this was so. I would have liked to have asked the driver what this all meant, but I really feared to do so, for I thought that, placed as I was, any protest would have had no effect in case there had been an intention to delay. By-and-by, however, as I was curious to know how time was passing, I struck a match, and by its flame looked at my watch; it was within a few minutes of midnight. This gave me a sort of shock, for I suppose the general superstition about midnight was increased by my recent experiences. I waited with a sick feeling of suspense.
        Then a dog began to howl somewhere in a farmhouse far down the road—a long, agonised wailing, as if from fear. The sound was taken up by another dog, and then another and another, till, borne on the wind which now sighed softly through the Pass, a wild howling began, which seemed to come from all over the country, as far as the imagination could grasp it through the gloom of the night. At the first howl the horses began to strain and rear, but the driver spoke to them soothingly, and they quieted down, but shivered and sweated as though after a runaway from sudden fright. Then, far off in the distance, from the mountains on each side of us began a louder and a sharper howling—that of wolves—which affected both the horses and myself in the same way—for I was minded to jump from the calèche and run, whilst they reared again and plunged madly, so that the driver had to use all his great strength to keep them from bolting. In a few minutes, however, my own ears got accustomed to the sound, and the horses so far became quiet that the driver was able to descend and to stand before them. He petted and soothed them, and whispered something in their ears, as I have heard of horse-tamers doing, and with extraordinary effect, for under his caresses they became quite manageable again, though they still trembled. The driver again took his seat, and shaking his reins, started off at a great pace. This time, after going to the far side of the Pass, he suddenly turned down a narrow roadway which ran sharply to the right.
        Soon we were hemmed in with trees, which in places arched right over the roadway till we passed as through a tunnel; and again great frowning rocks guarded us boldly on either side. Though we were in shelter, we could hear the rising wind, for it moaned and whistled through the rocks, and the branches of the trees crashed together as we swept along. It grew colder and colder still, and fine, powdery snow began to fall, so that soon we and all around us were covered with a white blanket. The keen wind still carried the howling of the dogs, though this grew fainter as we went on our way. The baying of the wolves sounded nearer and nearer, as though they were closing round on us from every side. I grew dreadfully afraid, and the horses shared my fear. The driver, however, was not in the least disturbed; he kept turning his head to left and right, but I could not see anything through the darkness.
        Suddenly, away on our left, I saw a faint flickering blue flame. The driver saw it at the same moment; he at once checked the horses, and, jumping to the ground, disappeared into the darkness. I did not know what to do, the less as the howling of the wolves grew closer; but while I wondered the driver suddenly appeared again, and without a word took his seat, and we resumed our journey. I think I must have fallen asleep and kept dreaming of the incident, for it seemed to be repeated endlessly, and now looking back, it is like a sort of awful nightmare. Once the flame appeared so near the road, that even in the darkness around us I could watch the driver’s motions. He went rapidly to where the blue flame arose—it must have been very faint, for it did not seem to illumine the place around it at all—and gathering a few stones, formed them into some device. Once there appeared a strange optical effect: when he stood between me and the flame he did not obstruct it, for I could see its ghostly flicker all the same. This startled me, but as the effect was only momentary, I took it that my eyes deceived me straining through the darkness. Then for a time there were no blue flames, and we sped onwards through the gloom, with the howling of the wolves around us, as though they were following in a moving circle.
        At last there came a time when the driver went further afield than he had yet gone, and during his absence, the horses began to tremble worse than ever and to snort and scream with fright. I could not see any cause for it, for the howling of the wolves had ceased altogether; but just then the moon, sailing through the black clouds, appeared behind the jagged crest of a beetling, pine-clad rock, and by its light I saw around us a ring of wolves, with white teeth and lolling red tongues, with long, sinewy limbs and shaggy hair. They were a hundred times more terrible in the grim silence which held them than even when they howled. For myself, I felt a sort of paralysis of fear. It is only when a man feels himself face to face with such horrors that he can understand their true import.
        All at once the wolves began to howl as though the moonlight had had some peculiar effect on them. The horses jumped about and reared, and looked helplessly round with eyes that rolled in a way painful to see; but the living ring of terror encompassed them on every side; and they had perforce to remain within it. I called to the coachman to come, for it seemed to me that our only chance was to try to break out through the ring and to aid his approach. I shouted and beat the side of the calèche, hoping by the noise to scare the wolves from that side, so as to give him a chance of reaching the trap. How he came there, I know not, but I heard his voice raised in a tone of imperious command, and looking towards the sound, saw him stand in the roadway. As he swept his long arms, as though brushing aside some impalpable obstacle, the wolves fell back and back further still. Just then a heavy cloud passed across the face of the moon, so that we were again in darkness.
        When I could see again the driver was climbing into the calèche, and the wolves had disappeared. This was all so strange and uncanny that a dreadful fear came upon me, and I was afraid to speak or move. The time seemed interminable as we swept on our way, now in almost complete darkness, for the rolling clouds obscured the moon. We kept on ascending, with occasional periods of quick descent, but in the main always ascending. Suddenly, I became conscious of the fact that the driver was in the act of pulling up the horses in the courtyard of a vast ruined castle, from whose tall black windows came no ray of light, and whose broken battlements showed a jagged line against the moonlit sky.
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