Friday, February 13, 2009

Versatile

Reading Dracula again, as one does in times of fiscal
stress, I discover that, beside his many other talents,
the Count was a horse-whisperer of no mean ability.
I'm not sure many people know that. Early on in the
book, as the hapless Jonathan Harker is borne
through the Carpathian mountains to the Count's
castle, the howling of wolves in the night causes the
carriage horses to rear in fright. Stepping down,
Harker writes in his journal, the black-hatted driver
(whom we soon know to be Dracula himself) 'petted
and soothed them, and whispered something in their
ears...with extraordinary effect, for under his caresses
they became quite manageable again.' Well done,
that man. Much of the action of the book actually
takes place not in Transylvania but the Yorkshire
seaside town of Whitby; in that regard, I draw New
Zealanders' attention to the singular fact that the two
most celebrated historical figures in Whitby to this day
are Dracula and Captain Cook.

1 comment:

Tim Upperton said...

Years ago I visited Whitby - one of those grey, salt-bitten little towns on the East Yorkshire coast - and I remember climbing the hundred and ninety-nine steps that Dracula bounded up to get to the crumbling graveyard at the top. Vampire he may have been, but his cardiovascular fitness must have been top-notch.