Monthly Archives: April 2014

THE MYSTERY OF THE SEA by Bram Stoker

Chapter 1 – Second Sight

I had just arrived at Cruden Bay on my annual visit, and after a late breakfast was sitting on the low wall which was a continuation of the escarpment of the bridge over the… Water of Cruden. Opposite to me, across the road and standing under the only little clump of trees in the place was a tall, gaunt old woman, who kept looking at me intently. As I sat, a little group, consisting of a man and two women, went by. I found my eyes follow them, for it seemed to me after they had passed me that the two women walked together and the man alone in front carrying on his shoulder a little black box-a coffin. I shuddered as I thought, but a moment later I saw all three abreast as they had been. The old woman was now looking at me with eyes that blazed. She came across the road and said to me without preface:

“What saw ye then, that yer e’en looked so awed?” I did not like to tell her so I did not answer. Her great eyes were fixed keenly upon me, seeming to look me through and through. I felt that I grew quite red, whereupon she said, apparently to herself: “I thocht so! Even I did not see that which he saw.”

“How do you mean?” I queried. She answered ambiguously:

“Wait! Ye shall perhaps know before this hour to-morrow!”

Her answer interested me and I tried to get her to say more; but she would not. She moved away with a grand stately movement that seemed to become her great gaunt form.

After dinner whilst I was sitting in front of the hotel, there was a great commotion in the village; much running to and fro of men and women with sad mien. On questioning them I found that a child had been drowned in the little harbour below. Just then a woman and a man, the same that had passed the bridge earlier in the day, ran by with wild looks. One of the bystanders looked after them pityingly as he said:

“Puir souls. It’s a sad home-comin’ for them the nicht.”

“Who are they?” I asked. The man took off his cap reverently as he answered:

“The father and mother of the child that was drowned!” As he spoke I looked round as though someone had called me.

There stood the gaunt woman with a look of triumph on her face.

To read the rest of this novel visit:
The Mystery of the Sea at bramstoker.org


Picture of Bram Stoker – 2

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“Dead-Heads” by Bram Stoker

“Dead-Heads” by Bram Stoker

“Dead-Heads” was a nonfiction article by Bram Stoker. It was first published in the October 1, 1909 issue of The Fortnightly Review.

To read this article visit:
“Dead-Heads” at bramstoker.org


“Americans as Actors” by Bram Stoker

“Americans as Actors” was a nonfiction article by Bram Stoker. It was first published in the February 1, 1909 issue of The Fortnightly Review.

To read this article visit:
“Americans as Actors” at bramstoker.org


“The Slim Syrens” by Bram Stoker

‘The first show what I ever went out with was Mr Sloper’s Company for the Society Gal, what was called “The Syrens.” You see, when the play was first done, society ‘ad long wysts and thin ‘ips and no bust t…o speak of, and the lydies what plyed in it original was chose according. My! but they was a skinny lot – reg’lar bags o’ bones; if ye’d a biled down the lot for stock you’d no need to ‘ave skimmed it. W’y, the tights they wore! – Speakin’ of legs as yards of pump-water ain’t in it; theirs looked as you might ‘ave rolled ’em up on a spool. And as to their chestys – why, you might ‘ave put ’em through the mangle and none ever the wuss – except the mangle from jerkiness, where it might ‘ave well expected to take it a bit india-rubbery. But the ply ‘ad so long a run that the fashion got changed, and the swells began to like ’em thick. So the gals got changed, too; some of ’em makin’ up with ‘eavy fleshings an’ them shove-up corsets, what’d take a pinch out of your – your stummick an’ swell out your throat with it, till they come into line with the fashion. Lor’, the things I’ve seen the girls do to make theirselves look bulkier than what nature made ’em! Any’ow, when they ‘ad run the fust companies twice round the Greats, Mr Sloper thought as ‘ow ‘e’d go one better on the fashion. “Ketch the risin’ tide” was ever ‘is mortar! So the company engyged for “The New Edition Society Gal” was corkers! They used to say in the wardrobe as ‘ow there was a twenty-stun standard, and no one would be engyged that couldn’t pass the butcher. Of course, the wardrobe of the theayter or the travelling shows was no use for “The Slim Syrens” – for that’s what they came to be kown as. We ‘ad to ‘ave a lot of tights made a purpose, and when they come ‘ome the young man ‘as brought ’em laughed that much that he cried, and he wanted to stay an’ see ’em put on, till I ‘unted ‘im out. I never see such tights in all my time. They was wove that bias everywhere as I felt my ‘eart sink when I thought of ‘ow we was to take up ladders in ’em; for fat girls does a deal more in that wy than slim ones – let alone the ‘arder pullin’ to drag ’em on. But the tights wasn’t the wust. You remember, Mrs Solomon, as ‘ow there’s a scene when Society goes in for to restore Wat-ho, and the ‘ole bilin’ dresses theirselves as shepherds. Mr Sloper didn’t want to spend no more money than he could ‘elp; so down he goes to Morris Angel’s, tykin’ me and Mrs Beilby, that was wardrobe mistress to the Slim Syrens, with ‘im. Well, ole Morris Angel trots out all the satin britches as ‘e ‘ad in stock. Of course, the most of ’em was no use to our little lot, but we managed to pick out a few that was likely for lydies what runs large. These did for some of the crowd, and, of course, the principals got theirs made to order. They wasn’t so much fuller than Angel’s lot, arter all; for our lydies, though bulky, liked good fits, and sure enough at the dress rehearsal most of them looked as if they had been melted and poured in. Mr Sloper and the styge manager and some of the syndicate gentlemen what came to see the rehearsal had no end of fun, and the things they said, and the jokes they made, and the way that the girls run after ’em and ‘ammered of ’em playful, as girls does, ‘d made you laugh to have seen it. And talk of blushin’! Well, there! The most particular of the lot, and him what didn’t like the laughin’ and the jokin’, was Mr Santander, that was going to take out the Company as manager – him what they called “Smack” Santander in the green room. There was one girl what was his ladyfriend as he had put into the lead, though the other girls said as ‘ow she ‘ad no rights to be shoved on that way. But, there! Gals is mostly like that when another gal gets took up and ‘elped on. Why, the things what I’ve ‘eard and seen just because a girl was put into the front row! When she was bein’ dressed, which it was in the wardrobe, because Mr Santander was that particular that Miss Amontillado should be dressed careful, well do I remember the remark as Mrs Beilby made: “Well, Miss,” says she, “there’s no denyin’ of that you are very fine and large!” Which was gospel truth, and no concealin’ of it either in the wardrobe or on the styge, an’ most of all in the orchestra, where the gentlemen never left for their whiskey-and-soda, or their beer or cards or what not, or a smoke, till she ‘ad gone to ‘er dressin’-room, which most of ’em got new glasses – them what didn’t use opery-glasses. Well, when dress rehearsal was over, Mr Sloper ‘e tried to be very serious, and, says he, “Lydies, you must try and be careful; remember that you carry weight!” – which that hended ‘is speech for ‘im, for he choked with laughter till the syndicate gentleman come and slapped ‘im on the back, and then laughed, too, fit to bust.

‘When we was startin’ the season Mr Santander sent for me and spoke to me about Miss Amontillado, and told me that it was as much as my plyce was worth if anything went wrong with ‘er. I told ‘im as ‘ow I’d do my best, and I took Miss Amontillado aside, and, ses I, “Miss, it’s temptin’ providence it is,” says I, “for a fine, strapping young lydy as you in britches like them,” I says. “You do kick about that free,” I says; “and satin is only satin at the best, and though the stryn is usual on it in the right direction up and down, there’s the stryn on yours all round. What if I was you I wouldn’t take no chances,” I says. Well, she laughed, and says she, “Well, you dear old geeser” – for she was a young lydy as was alwys kind and affable to her inferiors – “and what would you do if you was me?” “Well, miss,” I says, “if I was as gifted as you is, I’d have them made on webbin’ what’d ‘old, and wouldn’t show if the wust come to the wust.” She only laughed, and gave me sixpence, and, says she, “You’re a good ole sort, Sniffles” – for that’s what some of the young ones called me – “and I’ll tell Smack how well you look after me. Then perhaps he’ll raise your screw.”

‘Both Mr Santander and Miss Amontillado was anxious about the first night, and there was bets in the dressin’-room as to how she’d come off in ‘er ‘igh-kickin’ act. You’ll remember, Mrs Solomon, ‘ow the ply goes, as ‘ow to the surprise of all, the young Society gal as didn’t do nothin’ more nor a skirt-dance, sudden ups and tykes the kyke from all the perfeshionals. When Miss Amontillado was dressed for the act in her shepherd dress, I says to her, “Now miss,” I says, “do be keerful”; and Mr Santander ‘e says, “‘Ear! ‘ear!” ‘e says. “Oh, I’m all right,” she says. “Look ‘ere, Smack,” and she ups and does a split as made my ‘eart jump, it was that sudden, and up on her ‘eels agin afore you could say Jack Robinson!

To read the rest of this story visit:
“The Slim Syrens” at bramstoker.org


“Coggins’s Property” by Bram Stoker

‘When I was in “Her Grace the Blanchisseuse”, I had just gone on the stage and played a lot of little parts of a line or two. Sometimes I was a body without a voice, and sometimes a voice without a body!’

‘Vox et praeterea nihil,’ murmured another Young Man, who had been to a public school.

‘Amongst the voice parts was one which was supposed to come from a queen who was in bed in a room off the salon which was represented in the scene. The edge of the bed was dimly seen, and I had to put out a hand with a letter and speak two lines. My attendant took the letter, the door was shut – and that was all. Of course, I had not to dress for the part, except that I put on a little silk and lace jacket, and one sleeve as of a nightdress, so I used to come on from the side just before my cue and slip into, or, rather, on to the bed. Then a property man came with a quilt embroidered with the Imperial Arms, which he threw over me, tucking in the edge nearest the audience. The man originally appointed to this work was Coggins, and as he had a great deal of work to do – for it was a “property” play – he only got to me in time to do his work and clear out before the door opened and my attendant came in. Coggins was an excellent fellow, grave, civil, punctual, sober, and as steady and stolid as a rock. The scene was a silent one, and what appeared to be my room was almost in the dark. The effect to the audience was to see through the lighted salon this dim sleeping chamber; to see a white hand with a letter emerge from the bed curtains, and to hear a drowsy voice as of one newly roused from sleep. There was no opportunity of speaking a word, and no need for it. Coggins knew his work thoroughly, and the stage manager and his assistants insisted on the most rigorous silence. After a few nights, when I found Coggins so attentive in his work, I said “goodnight” when I passed him at the stage-door, and gave him a shilling. He seemed somewhat surprised, but doffed his cap with the utmost respect. Henceforward we always saluted each other, each in our own way; and he had an occasional shilling, which he always received with a measure of surprise. In other portions of his nightly work and mine I often came in contact with, or rather in juxtaposition to, Coggins; but he never seemed to show the same delicate nicety which he exhibited towards me in his manipulations of my tucking-up in “Her Grace the Blanchisseuse”. The piece, as you know, had a long run in London, and then the original Company went round the “Greats” for a whole season. Of course, the Manager took with him all the people who worked in London who were necessary, and amongst them came the excellent and stolid Coggins.

‘After months of work done under all possible conditions, we all came to know our cues so well that we were able to cut the time pretty fine; we often turned up at our places only at the moment of our cues. My own part was essentially favourable for this, and I am afraid I began to cut it a little too fine; for I got to arriving at my place just a second or two before Coggins made his appearance with the Imperial quilt.

‘At last one night, in the Grand at Leeds – you know what a huge theatre it is, and how puzzling to get on the right floor – I went just across the line of safety. I was chatting in the dressing-room with Birdie Squeers, when the call-boy came tearing along the passage shouting: “Miss Venables, Miss Venables. You’re late! Hurry up, or there will be a stage wait!” I jumped for the door and tore along the passage, and got to the back of the stage just in time to meet the stolid Coggins with his stolidity for once destroyed. He had the Imperial quilt as usual folded over one arm, but he was gesticulating wildly with the other. “‘Ere!” he called in a fierce whisper to a group of the other workmen. “Who the ‘ell has took my Property?”

‘”Yer property!” said one of the others. “Garn! ye juggins. Hain’t ye got it on yer arm?”

‘”This! This is all right,” he answered. “That ain’t what I mean. Wot I want is wot I covers up with this.”

‘”Well, and ain’t the bed there? You keep your hair on, and don’t be makin’ a hass of yerself.” I heard no more, for I slipped by and got on to the bed from the back. Coggins had evidently made up his mind that his particular work should not be neglected. He was not responsible for the figure in the bed, but only for putting on the quilt; and on the quilt should go. His look of blank amazement when he found that the quilt did not lie flat as on his first effort amused me. I heard him murmur to himself:

‘”A trick, is it? Puttin’ the Property back like that. I’ll talk to them when the Act’s over.” Coggins was a sturdy fellow, and I had heard him spoken of as a bruiser, so I thought I would see for myself the result of his chagrin. I suppose it was a little cruel of me, but I felt a certain sort of chagrin myself. I was a newcomer to the stage, and I had hitherto felt a sort of interest in Coggins. His tender, nightly devotion to his work, of which I was at least the central figure, had to me its own romantic side. He was of the masses, and I had come of the classes, but he was a man and I a woman, and a man’s devotion is always sweet – to a woman. I had often taken to heart Claude Melnotte’s romantic assumption of Pauline’s reply to his suit:

“That which the Queen of Navarre gave to the poor Troubadour:
“Show me the oracle that can tell nations I am beautiful.”

‘But it had begun to dawn upon me that my friend and humble admirer, Coggins, had no interest in me at all. My part in the play came to an end before the close of the scene, and so when the doors were closed I slipped from my place as usual; I did not, however, go to my dressing-room as was my habit, but waited to see what Coggins would do. In his usual course he came and removed his quilt; and again there was a look of annoyed amazement on his face when he found that it lay flat on the bed.

To read the rest of this story visit:
“Coggins’s Property” at bramstoker.org


UK First Edition Book Cover

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MISS BETTY by Bram Stoker

CHAPTER I – GRANDFATHER’S STORY

OF all the incidents of her early life none had so great or lasting an effect on Betty Pole as those of that evening in Cheyne Walk on which she had been accused of breaking the blue china jar. This was one of those beautiful pieces, brought from Holland, which had been given to her grandfather by the Dutch Minister when on some diplomatic mission to King William III. Great store had been set on it by the household generally, and Betty’s mother had often, during her lifetime, enjoined on the children special care of the beautiful piece of oriental china. She always said that it was to be looked upon as a sort of heirloom in the family.

The charge against Miss Betty was made by Abigail, she coming right into the back sitting-room after supper, when the dusk was beginning to fall through the trees in the garden of the King’s House in Chelsea. Abigail’s manner was at all times a pronounced one, for all her kindness of heart; but she was not feared so much by the children, who knew the softness as well as the weight of her hand, as by the two men whom she controlled in the despotic manner which purely domestic women assume to lonely men — men who have not wives to protect them. Abigail had in the motherless household the honour and privileges of one whom the mother had trusted, and who by faithful service had earned the trust. As a rule she was a just woman, but on this occasion the violence of her demeanour almost implied to those who knew her that she was herself not quite blameless in the matter. They all knew that she would not wilfully and deliberately lie, but they felt that the occasion was a grave one, and one in which no one would willingly be under the imputation of guilt if it could be avoided. Some of them, face to face with the charge, would have held it justifiable to have deflected the current of public thought if they could not on such an occasion have stemmed it. The young people, one and all, with wonderful unanimity, denied the charge which had at first been made in the general form of ‘one of the children.’ The two men were concerned, as men ever are regarding the breakages of things they value. Betty’s father, Charles Pole, was as near anger as his gentle nature and the sorrow of his too recent loss would let him be. He spoke severely of the need of care, and reminded the children that their dear mother had ever told them to be careful of this thing that she loved; and then the sight of their little black clothes seemed to smite him and he stopped speaking, for he knew that to that mother’s heart one moment of any of his children’s happiness was dearer than all the vessels which had ever grown under the potter’s hand. She had accepted on her marriage the motherhood of the four children of her husband’s first wife, and treated them all just as she afterwards treated her own little Betty, her only child.

After a spell of silence Betty’s grandfather, Dudley Stanmore, spoke-

“I am sorry that the jar, which had for me very dear memories, has been broken; but we must not forget to be just. Tell me, children; which of you broke it?”

There was no answer. Then the old man spoke again, this time more sternly; his voice was grave and strong, despite his ninety and odd years-

“Let whoever did this, own to it!” All were still silent. For a few seconds the old man’s face looked very stern; but then came a smile and a sigh of relief, and he said quietly-

“Well, Mistress Abigail, that is all right! I am glad that none of the children did it.” This was more than Abigail could brook, so she answered hotly-

“Oh yes! saving your presence; but they did;” and turning to the children added: “Ye know, children, that God hates a liar, and that liars stand without the Gates and go into the burning Pit. Now, tell me, which done it?”

Marjory, who though not the eldest had pertness beyond the level of her years, answered-

“None of us did it, Abigail! Did you?”

“Me! Me? you wicked Miss. You! Miss Betty. You were last in the room–what do you say to it?”

Betty, who was sitting in her usual place on a little stool at her grandfather’s knee, said gently, in her sweet, old-fashioned way-

“I know nothing of it, Abigail! When I was in the room I was reading.”

“Take care, Miss Betty, take care! now take care!” said Abigail hotly, as she raised a warning finger. “Tell the truth.”

“But I am telling the truth,” said the child. Here her grandfather joined in:

“My word for Betty’s truth! She would not speak falsely! Would you, dear?” The child looked up, turning her head so that the wrinkled hand which he had laid on it slipped down on her shoulder.

“Oh no, grandfather!” she answered quietly; “how could I?”

“Old master always sticks up for Miss Betty,” said Abigail tartly, “just because she is his kin, I suppose–and so like him!” she added, with a touch of feminine causticity.

The likeness was remarkable, despite the gulf of more than fourscore years that lay between them. The old man’s face was wrinkled, his hair fell in thin, straggling flakes of snow, his eyes were dim, and his tall form was bowed with years, whilst the child’s hair was golden-brown, her eyes were sapphire, and her skin had the freshness and the warm glow of youth. But there was in each the same inward calm, the same line of profile, the same delicacy of nostril, the same resolution of mouth; and, beyond all else, that something which can hardly be put in words–the capacity of exaltation.

Betty’s father now spoke reprovingly-

“Abigail Hood, you forget yourself when you so address Mr. Stanmore. Greater respect is due to him! And beside, he would say nothing but what is true. If Betty is like him, then I thank God that it is so; for her life should be pure and strong and true, like that of her dear mother.”

Abigail was prepared to do battle only up to a certain point, and as there was nothing here to be argued she used with deadly effect her purely feminine arms. Taking up the corner of her apron and holding it to her eyes, she withdrew. Mr. Stanmore then rose, and taking Betty’s hand in his, said-

“Come! We will go and see the broken jar and find out, if we can, what is the cause of it.”

To read the rest of this novel visit:
Miss Betty at bramstoker.org