Monthly Archives: October 2015

“Interview with Mr. Bram Stoker”

“Interview with Mr. Bram Stoker” was an interview with Bram Stoker by an unnamed reporter. It was first published in the UK as a part of the article “Fire at Sir Henry Irving’s Stores” in the February 18, 1898 issue of The Pall Mall Gazette, London.

For more information and a copy of this interview visit:
“Interview with Mr. Bram Stoker” at bramstoker.org

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“Bengal Roses” by Bram Stoker

CHAPTER I.

The mail had brought from Nice a cardboard box of flowers. The study was hot and close, despite the open windows, so when I opened it the scent of the roses filled the air with a new fragrance. I took out the spray on the top, a magnificent cluster of great pink Bengal roses; but the day of glory of this kind is a short one, and the journey was long; the mere motion of lifting the spray finished the work of destruction. I held in my hand only a bare stalk, whilst the moss green carpet was scattered with the great petals of the flowers. From the open box still came the sweet, simple fragrance of some more hardy Vulcan roses, and that cool, earthy smell which clings around damp moss.

And then a flood of memory rushed over me, aided by that best of mnemonics, a once-known perfume. I lit a cigar, and as I sat in my easy chair, with the roses beside me, the light of the July evening paled and paled, till I sat alone in the darkness. Twenty years of hopes, struggles and success were obliterated, and I lived again an old chapter of my boy’s life, which contained the fragments of a romance. All came back so vividly that time and space were annihilated. I did not merely remember; once more the things were! Ah, me! that chapter of boyish love and jealousy, which has neither youth nor age! Once again I remembered how these things worked into other lives, and then I lived the past again.

* * *

A sweet old garden of a country rectory, large and full of queer nooks and shady places. Great lime trees on one side, where in summer the bees kept up a perpetual hum, and under whose shelter the moss grew deep and green. Just without the shadow, so that there was shelter from wind, but no lack of sun, a great trellis, covered with a luxuriant growth of Bengal roses. Hard by, some prim old trees of yew and juniper and arbor vitae. But of all these the rose trellis was, of old, the most sweet, and is now most full of memories.

Beside it some former incumbent had placed an old Greek marble seat, a segment of a circle adorned with flutings and finished with tigers’ heads and claws. This had been brought from Greece long, long ago by a wealthy patron and given to the rector as a tribute to his archaeological worth. Time had wrought its changes, and the damp and the shade had filled the hollows and crevices of the carved marble with delicate green. This was always a favorite haunt of mine, and here I mainly learned my lessons and also studied such romances as were available. Being a delicate child, I had been sent to live with the rector, so that I might get plenty of exercise and fresh air and country living. Mr. Petersen was an old man, and, although never a brilliant scholar, was an excellent teacher for such a lad as I was. Mrs. Petersen was nearly as old as her husband, and, as their circumstances were not good, I have no doubt that, though the money that my parents paid was hardly earned, it was a welcome addition to the housekeeping. There was but one servant in the house; the gardener attended to the cows and pigs and my pony, these being the only animals kept. After a while I grew quite strong and hardy, and by myself took long walks and rides all around the country. It was my habit to study the county map which hung in the hall, and to so arrange my rambles that by degrees I came to have a local topographical knowledge certainly not possessed by my tutor, whose age and circumstances and whose habits of a quiet, retired life debarred him from such exercise. I had no companion of my own age, except when at home in London, for at Westoby Puerorum the children were few, and of such a kind that I had but little in common with them. We met at Sunday school, and as I did not care for their horseplay and got disgusted with their perpetual lying, they voted me a muff, and left me alone–after I had proved in one or two pitched battles that at any rate I was not a coward.

I was about 12 years old when there came an addition to our circle in the shape of a grand-daughter of Mrs. Petersen by her first marriage, an orphan, with neither home nor friends. Before she came there were anxious discussions between the old people as to the probable result of her coming. It was evident there was some old cause for anxiety, and once I heard a remark which puzzled me. It was made by Mrs. Petersen:

“It is so good of you, Edward, and, my dear. I see through all your sweet forbearance; but it is not right that you should be troubled with folk that don’t belong to you. Arabella always took her own way in spite of me–and of her poor father–and maybe her daughter will want to do the same. We have lived too peacefully, you and I, dear, all these years to be willing to let any disturbance come through some one we never saw,” and the old lady wiped away a quiet tear.

“Nay, my dear,” said the rector, “I might well say, as Ruth said to Naomi, ‘Thy people shall be my people.’ And, my dear, your God and mine is hers also, and we are all children of his family. Let the little girl come. I doubt not that he will watch over her and mould all things to good purpose.” And so it was that Bella Devanti came to us.

To read the rest of this story visit:
“Bengal Roses” at bramstoker.org


“The Red Stockade” by Bram Stoker

We was on the southern part of the China station, when the “George Ranger” was ordered to the Straits of Malacca, to put down the pirates that had been showing themselves of late. It was in the forties, when ships was ships, not iron-kettles full of wheels, and other devilments, and there was a chance of hand-to-hand fighting – not being blown up in an iron cellar by you don’t know who. Ships was ships in them days!

There had been a lot of throat-cutting and scuttling, for them devils stopped at nothing. Some of us had been through the straits before, when we was in the “Polly Phemus,” seventy-four, going to the China station, and although we had never come to quarters with the Malays, we had seen some of their work, and knew what kind they was. So, when we had left Singapore in the “George Ranger,” for that was our saucy, little thirty-eight-gun frigate, – the place wasn’t in them days what it is now, – many and many ‘s the yarn was told in the fo’c’sle, and on the watches, of what the yellow devils could do, and had done. Some of us took it one way, and some another, but all, save a few, wanted to get into hand-grips with the pirates, for all their kreeses, and their stinkpots, and the devil’s engines what they used. There was some that didn’t mind cold steel of an ordinary kind, and would have faced cutlasses and boarding-pikes, any day, for a holiday, but that didn’t like the idea of those knives like crooked flames, and that sliced a man in two, and hacked through the bowels of him. Naturally, we didn’t take much stock of this kind; and many’s the joke we had on them, and some of them cruel enough jokes, too.

You may be sure there was good stories, with plenty of cutting, and blood, and tortures in them, told in their watches, and nigh the whole ship’s crew was busy, day and night, remembering and inventing things that’d make them gasp and grow white. I think that, somehow, the captain and the officers must have known what was goin’ on, for there came tales from the ward-room that was worse nor any of ours. The midshipmen used to delight in them, like the ship’s boys did, and one of them, that had a kreese, used to bring it out when he could, and show how the pirates used it when they cut the hearts out of men and women, and ripped them up to the chins. It was a bit cruel, at times, on them poor, white-livered chaps, – a man can’t help his liver, I suppose, – but, anyhow, there’s no place for them in a warship, for they’re apt to do more harm by living where there’s men of all sorts, than they can do by dying. So there wasn’t any mercy for them, and the captain was worse on them than any. Captain Wynyard was him that commanded the corvette “Sentinel” on the China station, and was promoted to the “George Ranger” for cutting up a fleet of junks that was hammering at the “Rajah,” from Canton, racing for Southampton with the first of the season’s tea. He was a man, if you like, a bulldog full of hellfire, when he was on for fighting; he wouldn’t have a white liver at any price. “God hates a coward,” he said once, “and under Her Britannic Majesty I’m here to carry out God’s will. Trice him up, and give him a dozen!” At least, that’s the story they tell of him when he was round Shanghai, and one of his men had held back when the time came for boarding a fire-junk that was coming down the tide. And with that he went in, and steered her off with his own hands.

Well, the captain knew what work there was before us, and that it weren’t no time for kid gloves and hair-oil, much less a bokey in your buttonhole and a top-hat, and he didn’t mean that there should be any funk on his ship. So you take your davy that it wasn’t his fault if things was made too pleasant aboard for men what feared fallin’ into the clutches of the Malays.

Now and then he went out of his way to be nasty over such folk, and, boy or man, he never checked his tongue on a hard word when any one’s face was pale before him. There was one old chap on board that we called “Old Land’s End,” for he came from that part, and that had a boy of his on the “Billy Ruffian,” when he sailed on her, and after got lost, one night, in cutting out a Greek sloop at Navarino, in 1827. We used to chaff him when there was trouble with any of the boys, for he used to say that his boy might have been in that trouble, too. And now, when the chaff was on about bein’ afeered of the Malay’s, we used to rub it into the old man; but he would flame up, and answer us that his boy died in his duty, and that he couldn’t be afeered of nought.

One night there was a row on among the midshipmen, for they said that one of them, Tempest by name, owned up to being afraid of being kreesed. He was a rare bright little chap of about thirteen, that was always in fun and trouble of some kind; but he was soft-hearted, and sometimes the other lads would tease him. He would own up truthfully to anything he thought, or felt, and now they had drawn him to own something that none of them would – no matter how true it might be. Well, they had a rare fight, for the boy was never backward with his fists, and by accident it came to the notice of the captain. He insisted on being told what it was all about, and when young Tempest spoke out, and told him, he stamped on the deck, and called out:

“I’ll have no cowards in this ship,” and was going on, when the boy cut in:

“I’m no coward, sir; I’m a gentleman!”

“Did you say you were afraid? Answer me – yes, or no?”

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


“The Man from Shorrox’” by Bram Stoker

Throth, yer ’ann’rs, I’ll tell ye wid pleasure; though, trooth to tell, it’s only poor wurrk telling the same shtory over an’ over agin. But I niver object to tell it to rale gintlemin, like yer ’ann’rs, what don’t forget that a poor man has a mouth on to him as much as Creeshus himself has.

The place was a market town in Kilkenny—or maybe King’s County or Queen’s County. At all evints, it was wan of them counties what Cromwell—bad cess to him!—gev his name to. An’ the house was called after him that was the Lord Liftinint an’ invinted the polis—God forgive him! It was kep’ be a man iv the name iv Misther Mickey Byrne an’ his good lady—at laste it was till wan dark night whin the bhoys mistuk him for another gindeman, an unknown man, what had bought a contagious property—mind ye the impidence iv him. Mickey was comin’ back from the Curragh Races wid his skin that tight wid the full of the whiskey inside of him that he couldn’t open his eyes to see what was goin’ on, or his mouth to set the bhoys right afther he had got the first tap on the head wid wan of the blackthorns what they done such jobs wid. The poor bhoys was that full of sorra for their mishap whin they brung him home to his widdy that the crather hadn’t the hearrt to be too sevare on thim. At the first iv course she was wroth, bein’ only a woman afther all, an’ weemun not bein’ gave to rayson like nun is. Millia murdher! but for a bit she was like a madwoman, and was nigh to have cut the heads from affav thim wid the mate chopper, till, seein’ thim so white and quite, she all at wance flung down the chopper an’ knelt down be the corp.

‘Lave me to me dead,’ she sez. ‘Oh mm! it’s no use more people nor is needful bein’ made unhappy over this night’s terrible wurrk. Mick Byrne would have no man worse for him whin he was living, and he’ll have harm to none for his death! Now go; an’, oh bhoys, be dacent and quite, an’ don’t thry a poor widdied sowl too hard!’

Well, afther that she made no change in things ginerally, but kep’ on the hotel jist the same; an’ whin some iv her friends wanted her to get help, she only sez: ‘Mick an’ me run this house well enough; an’ whin I’m thinkin’ of takun’ help I’ll tell yez. I’ll go on be meself, as I mane to, till Mick an’ me comes together agun.’

An’, sure enough, the ould place wint on jist the same, though, more betoken, there wasn’t Mick wid his shillelagh to kape the pace whin things got pretty hot on fair nights, an’ in the gran’ ould election times, when heads was bruk like eggs—glory be to God!

My! but she was the fine woman, was the Widdy Byrne! A gran’ crathur intirely: a fine upshtandin’ woman, nigh as tall as a modheratesized man, wid a forrm on her that’d warrm yer hearrt to look at, it sthood out that way in the right places. She had shkin like satin, wid a warrm flush in it, like the sun shinun’ on a crock iv yestherday’s crame; an’ her cheeks an’ her neck was that firrm that ye couldn’t take a pinch iv thim—though sorra wan iver dar’d to thry, the worse luck! But her hair! Begor, that was the finishing touch that set all the min crazy. It was jist wan mass iv red, like the heart iv a burnun’ furze-bush whin the smoke goes from aff iv it. Musha! but it’d make the blood come up in yer eyes to see the glint iv that hair wid the light shunun’ on it. There was niver a man, what was a man at all at all, iver kem in be the door that he didn’t want to put his two arrms round the widdy an’ giv’ her a hug immadiate. They was fine min too, some iv thim—and warrm men—big graziers from Kildare, and the like, that counted their cattle be scores, an’ used to come ridin’ in to market on huntin’ horses what they’d refuse hundlireds iv pounds for from officers in the Curragh an’ the quality. Begor, but some iv thim an’ the dhrovers was rare miii in a fight. More nor wance I seen them, forty, maybe half a hundred, strong, clear the market-place at Banagher or Athy. Well do I remimber the way the big, red, hairy wrists iv thim’d go up in the air, an’ down’d come the springy ground-ash saplins what they carried for switches. The whole lot iv thim wanted to come coortun’ the widdy; but sorra wan iv her’d look at thim. She’d flirt an’ be coy an’ taze thim and make thim mad for love iv her, as weemin likes to do. Thank God for the same! for mayhap we min wouldn’t love thim as we do only for their thricky ways; an’ thin what’d become iv the counthry wid nothin’ in it at all except single min an’ ould maids jist dyin’, and growin’ crabbed for want iv chuidher to kiss an’ tache an’ shpank an’ make love to? Shure, yer ’ann’rs, ’tis childher as makes the hearrt iv man green, jist as it is fresh wather that makes the grass grow. Divil a shtep nearer would the widdy iver let mortial man come. ‘No,’ she’d say; ‘whin I see a man fit to fill Mick’s place, I’ll let yez know iv it; thank ye kindly’; an’ wid that she’d shake her head till the beautiful red hair iv it’d be like shparks iv fire—an’ the mm more mad for her nor iver.

To read the rest of this story visit:
“The Man from Shorrox'” at bramstoker.org