Dracula – Day 98 of 138

“I’m the depity,” he answered.

I saw at once that I was on the right track. Phonetic spelling had again misled me. A half crown tip put the deputy’s knowledge at my disposal, and I learned that Mr. Bloxam, who had slept off the remains of his beer on the previous night at Corcoran’s, had left for his work at Poplar at five o’clock that morning. He could not tell me where the place of work was situated, but he had a vague idea that it was some kind of a “new-fangled ware’us,” and with this slender clue I had to start for Poplar. It was twelve o’clock before I got any satisfactory hint of such a building, and this I got at a coffee shop, where some workmen were having their dinner. One of them suggested that there was being erected at Cross Angel Street a new “cold storage” building, and as this suited the condition of a “new-fangled ware’us,” I at once drove to it. An interview with a surly gatekeeper and a surlier foreman, both of whom were appeased with the coin of the realm, put me on the track of Bloxam. He was sent for on my suggestion that I was willing to pay his days wages to his foreman for the privilege of asking him a few questions on a private matter. He was a smart enough fellow, though rough of speech and bearing. When I had promised to pay for his information and given him an earnest, he told me that he had made two journeys between Carfax and a house in Piccadilly, and had taken from this house to the latter nine great boxes, “main heavy ones,” with a horse and cart hired by him for this purpose.

I asked him if he could tell me the number of the house in Piccadilly, to which he replied, “Well, guv’nor, I forgits the number, but it was only a few door from a big white church, or somethink of the kind, not long built. It was a dusty old ’ouse, too, though nothin’ to the dustiness of the ’ouse we tooked the bloomin’ boxes from.”

“How did you get in if both houses were empty?”

“There was the old party what engaged me a waitin’ in the ’ouse at Purfleet. He ’elped me to lift the boxes and put them in the dray. Curse me, but he was the strongest chap I ever struck, an’ him a old feller, with a white moustache, one that thin you would think he couldn’t throw a shadder.”

How this phrase thrilled through me!

“Why, ’e took up ’is end o’ the boxes like they was pounds of tea, and me a puffin’ an’ a blowin’ afore I could upend mine anyhow, an’ I’m no chicken, neither.”

“How did you get into the house in Piccadilly?” I asked.

“He was there too. He must ’a started off and got there afore me, for when I rung of the bell he kem an’ opened the door ’isself an’ ’elped me carry the boxes into the ’all.”

“The whole nine?” I asked.

“Yus, there was five in the first load an’ four in the second. It was main dry work, an’ I don’t so well remember ’ow I got ’ome.”

I interrupted him, “Were the boxes left in the hall?”

“Yus, it was a big ’all, an’ there was nothin’ else in it.”

I made one more attempt to further matters. “You didn’t have any key?”

“Never used no key nor nothink. The old gent, he opened the door ’isself an’ shut it again when I druv off. I don’t remember the last time, but that was the beer.”

“And you can’t remember the number of the house?”

“No, sir. But ye needn’t have no difficulty about that. It’s a ’igh ’un with a stone front with a bow on it, an’ ’igh steps up to the door. I know them steps, ’avin’ ’ad to carry the boxes up with three loafers what come round to earn a copper. The old gent give them shillin’s, an’ they seein’ they got so much, they wanted more. But ’e took one of them by the shoulder and was like to throw ’im down the steps, till the lot of them went away cussin’.”

I thought that with this description I could find the house, so having paid my friend for his information, I started off for Piccadilly. I had gained a new painful experience. The Count could, it was evident, handle the earth boxes himself. If so, time was precious, for now that he had achieved a certain amount of distribution, he could, by choosing his own time, complete the task unobserved. At Piccadilly Circus I discharged my cab, and walked westward. Beyond the Junior Constitutional I came across the house described and was satisfied that this was the next of the lairs arranged by Dracula. The house looked as though it had been long untenanted. The windows were encrusted with dust, and the shutters were up. All the framework was black with time, and from the iron the paint had mostly scaled away. It was evident that up to lately there had been a large notice board in front of the balcony. It had, however, been roughly torn away, the uprights which had supported it still remaining. Behind the rails of the balcony I saw there were some loose boards, whose raw edges looked white. I would have given a good deal to have been able to see the notice board intact, as it would, perhaps, have given some clue to the ownership of the house. I remembered my experience of the investigation and purchase of Carfax, and I could not but feel that if I could find the former owner there might be some means discovered of gaining access to the house.

There was at present nothing to be learned from the Piccadilly side, and nothing could be done, so I went around to the back to see if anything could be gathered from this quarter. The mews were active, the Piccadilly houses being mostly in occupation. I asked one or two of the grooms and helpers whom I saw around if they could tell me anything about the empty house. One of them said that he heard it had lately been taken, but he couldn’t say from whom. He told me, however, that up to very lately there had been a notice board of “For Sale” up, and that perhaps Mitchell, Sons, & Candy the house agents could tell me something, as he thought he remembered seeing the name of that firm on the board. I did not wish to seem too eager, or to let my informant know or guess too much, so thanking him in the usual manner, I strolled away. It was now growing dusk, and the autumn night was closing in, so I did not lose any time. Having learned the address of Mitchell, Sons, & Candy from a directory at the Berkeley, I was soon at their office in Sackville Street.

The gentleman who saw me was particularly suave in manner, but uncommunicative in equal proportion. Having once told me that the Piccadilly house, which throughout our interview he called a “mansion,” was sold, he considered my business as concluded. When I asked who had purchased it, he opened his eyes a thought wider, and paused a few seconds before replying, “It is sold, sir.”


  1. TurtleReader Identiconcomment_author_IP, $comment->comment_author); }else{echo $gravatar_link;}}*/ ?>

    TurtleReader wrote:

    a. A group of buildings originally containing private stables, often converted into residential apartments.
    b. A small street, alley, or courtyard on which such buildings stand.

Post a Comment

Your email is never published nor shared. (To tell the truth I don't even really care if you give me your email or not.)