Chapter Two (go to the original)
I stood in silence where I was, for I did not know what to do. Of bell or knocker there was no sign. Through these frowning walls and dark window openings it was not likely that my voice could penetrate. The time I waited seemed endless, and I felt doubts and fears crowding upon me. What sort of place had I come to, and among what kind of people? What sort of grim adventure was it on which I had embarked? Was this a customary incident in the life of a solicitor’s clerk sent out to explain the purchase of a London estate to a foreigner? Solicitor’s clerk! Mina would not like that. Solicitor, for just before leaving London I got word that my examination was successful, and I am now a full-blown solicitor! I began to rub my eyes and pinch myself to see if I were awake. It all seemed like a horrible nightmare to me, and I expected that I should suddenly awake, and find myself at home, with the dawn struggling in through the windows, as I had now and again felt in the morning after a day of overwork. But my flesh answered the pinching test, and my eyes were not to be deceived. I was indeed awake and among the Carpathians. All I could do now was to be patient, and to wait the coming of morning.
Just as I had come to this conclusion I heard a dull roar issue all around me, as if from the earth itself. Within moments the ground rumbled and the part of the edifice I had been facing began to turn and rise, like the twist of a cork out of a bottle. This went on for nearly a minute until what I had thought was the door was hidden from view and a larger, metal door stood before me. A key was turned with the loud grating noise of long disuse, and the great door opened with a hiss and a creak.
Within, stood a tall old man, clean shaven save for a long white moustache, and clad in black from head to foot, without a single speck of colour about him anywhere. He held in his hand an strange silver lamp, in which an electric light shone brightly, throwing long quivering shadows as it flickered in the draught of the open door. On his face he wore goggles of some dark glass which reflected my own face back at me, lit by the harsh light. The old man motioned me in with his right hand with a courtly gesture, saying in excellent English, but with a strange intonation.