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Title: Authenticated Vampire Story
Author: Franz Hartman
* A Project Gutenberg of Australia eBook *
eBook No.: 0605751.txt
Language: English
Date first posted: August 2006
Date most recently updated: August 2006

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Authenticated Vampire Story
Franz Hartman

On June 10, 1909, there appeared in a prominent Vienna paper (the
Neues Wiener Journal) a notice (which I herewith enclose) saying that
the castle of B---had been burned by the populace, because there was a
great mortality among the peasant children, and it was generally
believed that this was due to the invasion of a vampire, supposed to
be the last Count B--, who died and acquired that reputation. The
castle was situated in a wild and desolate part of the Carpathian
Mountains and was formerly a fortification against the Turks. It was
not inhabited owing to its being believed to be in the possession of
ghosts, only a wing of it was used as a dwelling for the caretaker and
his wife.

Now it so happened that when I read the above notice, I was sitting in
a coffee-house at Vienna in company with an old friend of mine who is
an experienced occultist and editor of a well known journal and who
had spent several months in the neighborhood of the castle. From him I
obtained the following account and it appears that the vampire in
question was probably not the old Count, but his beautiful daughter,
the Countess Elga, whose photograph, taken from the original painting,
I obtained. My friend said:--

"Two years ago I was living at Hermannstadt, and being engaged in
engineering a road through the hills, I often came within the vicinity
of the old castle, where I made the acquaintance of the old castellan,
or caretaker, and his wife, who occupied a part of the wing of the
house, almost separate from the main body of the building. They were a
quiet old couple and rather reticent in giving information or
expressing an opinion in regard to the strange noises which were often
heard at night in the deserted halls, or of the apparitions which the
Wallachian peasants claimed to have seen when they loitered in the
surroundings after dark. All I could gather was that the old Count was
a widower and had a beautiful daughter, who was one day killed by a
fall from her horse, and that soon after the old man died in some
mysterious manner, and the bodies were buried in a solitary graveyard
belonging to a neighboring village. Not long after their death an
unusual mortality was noticed among the inhabitants of the village:
several children and even some grown people died without any apparent
illness; they merely wasted away; and thus a rumor was started that
the old Count had become a vampire after his death. There is no doubt
that he was not a saint, as he was addicted to drinking, and some
shocking tales were in circulation about his conduct and that of his
daughter; but whether or not there was any truth in them. I am not in
a position to say.

"Afterwards the property came into possession of---, a distant
relative of the family, who is a young man and officer in a cavalry
regiment at Vienna. It appears that the heir enjoyed his life at the
capital and did not trouble himself much about the old castle in the
wilderness; he did not even come to look at it, but gave his direction
by letter to the old janitor, telling him merely to keep things in
order and to attend to repairs, if any were necessary. Thus the
castellan was actually master of the house and offered its hospitality
to me and my friends.

"One evening myself and my two assistants, Dr. E--, a young lawyer,
and Mr. W--, a literary man, went to inspect the premises. First we
went to the stables. There were no horses, as they had been sold; but
what attracted our special attention was an old queer-fashioned coach
with gilded ornaments and bearing the emblems of the family. We then
inspected the rooms, passing through some halls and gloomy corridors,
such as may be found in any old castle. There was nothing remarkable
about the furniture; but in one of the halls there hung in a frame an
oil-painting, a portrait, representing a lady with a large hat and
wearing a fur coat. We all were involuntarily startled on beholding
this picture; not so much on account of the beauty of the lady, but on
account of the uncanny expression of her eyes, and Dr. E--, after
looking at the picture for a short time, suddenly exclaimed--

"'How strange! The picture closes its eyes and opens them again, and
now begins to smile!'.

"Now Dr. E---is a very sensitive person and has more than once had
some experience in spiritism, and we made up our minds to form a
circle for the purpose of investigating this phenomenon. Accordingly,
on the same evening we sat around a table in an adjoining room,
forming a magnetic chain with our hands. Soon the table began to move
and the name 'Elga' was spelled. We asked who this Elga was, and the
answer was rapped out 'The lady, whose picture you have seen."

"'Is the lady living?' asked Mr. W--. This question was not answered;
but instead it was rapped out: 'If W---desires it, I will appear to
him bodily tonight at two o'clock.' W---consented, and now the table
seemed to be endowed with life and manifested a great affection for
W--; it rose on two legs and pressed against his breast, as if it
intended to embrace him.

"We inquired of the castellan whom the picture represented; but to our
surprise he did not know. He said that it was the copy of a picture
painted by the celebrated painter Hans Markart of Vienna, and had been
bought by the old Count because its demoniacal look pleased him so

"We left the castle, and W---retired to his room at an inn, a half-
hour's journey distant from that place. He was of a somewhat skeptical
turn of mind, being neither a firm believer in ghosts and apparitions
nor ready to deny their possibility. He was not afraid, but anxious to
see what would come out of his agreement, and for the purpose of
keeping himself awake he sat down and began to write an article for a

"Towards two o'clock he heard steps on the stairs and the door of the
hall opened, there was a rustling of a silk dress and the sound of the
feet of a lady walking to and fro in the corridor.

"It may be imagined that he was somewhat startled; but taking courage,
he said to himself: 'if this is Elga, let her come in.' Then the door
of his room opened and Elga entered. She was most elegantly dressed
and appeared still more youthful and seductive than the picture. There
was a lounge on the other side of the table where W---was writing, and
there she silently posed herself. She did not speak, but her looks and
gestures left no doubt in regard to her desires and intentions.

"Mr. W---resisted the temptation and remained firm. It is not known,
whether he did so out of principle or timidity or fear. Be this as it
may, he kept on writing, looking from time to time at his visitor and
silently wishing that she would leave.

At last, after half an hour, which seemed to him much longer, the lady
departed in the same manner in which she came.

"This adventure left W---no peace, and we consequently arranged
several sittings at the old castle, where a variety of uncanny
phenomena took place. Thus, for instance, once the servant-girl was
about to light a fire in the stove, when the door of the apartment
opened and Elga stood there. The girl, frightened out of her wits,
rushed out of the room, tumbling down the stairs in terror with the
petroleum lamp in her hand, which broke and came very near to setting
her clothes on fire. Lighted lamps and candles went out when brought
near the picture, and many other 'manifestations' took place, which it
would be tedious to describe; but the following incident ought not to
be omitted.

"Mr. W---was at that time desirous of obtaining the position as co-
editor of a certain journal, and a few days after the above-narrated
adventure he received a letter in which a noble lady of high position
offered him her patronage for that purpose. The writer requested him
to come to a certain place the same evening, where he would meet a
gentleman who would give him further particulars. He went and was met
by an unknown stranger, who told him that he was requested by the
Countess Elga to invite Mr. W---to a carriage drive and that she would
await him at midnight at a certain crossing of two roads, not far from
the village. The stranger then suddenly disappeared.

"Now it seems that Mr. W---had some misgivings about the meeting and
drive and he hired a policeman as detective to go at midnight to the
appointed place, to see what would happen. The policeman went and
reported next morning that he had seen nothing but the well-known, old
fashioned carriage from the castle with two black horses attached to
it standing there as if waiting for somebody, and that he had no
occasion to interfere and merely waited until the carriage moved on.
When the castellan of the castle was asked, he swore that the carriage
had not been out that night, and in fact it could not have been out,
as there were no horses to draw it.

"But this is not all, for on the following day I met a friend who is a
great skeptic and disbeliever in ghosts and always used to laugh at
such things. Now, however, he seemed to be very serious and said:
'Last night something very strange happened to me. At about one
o'clock this morning I returned from a late visit and as I happened to
pass the graveyard of the village, I saw a carriage with gilded
ornaments standing at the entrance. I wondered about this taking place
at such an unusual hour, and being curious to see what would happen, I
waited. Two elegantly dressed ladies issued from the carriage. One of
these was young and pretty, but threw at me a devilish and scornful
look as they both passed by and entered the cemetery. There they were
met by a well-dressed man, who saluted the ladies and spoke to the
younger one, saying: 'Why, Miss Elga! Are you returned so soon?' Such
a queer feeling came over me that I abruptly left and hurried home.

"This matter has not been explained; but certain experiments which we
subsequently made with the picture of Elga brought out some curious

"To look at the picture for a certain time caused me to feel a very
disagreeable sensation in the region of the solar plexus. I began to
dislike the portrait and proposed to destroy it. We held a sitting in
the adjoining room; the table manifested a great aversion against my
presence. It was rapped out that I should leave the circle, and that
the picture must not be destroyed. I ordered a Bible to be brought in
and read the beginning of the first chapter of St. John, whereupon the
above-mentioned Mr. E---(the medium) and another man present claimed
that they saw the picture distorting its face. I turned the frame and
pricked the back of the picture with my penknife in different places,
and Mr. E--, as well as the other man, felt all the pricks, although
they had retired to the corridor.

"I made the sign of the pentagram over the picture, and again the two
gentlemen claimed that the picture was horribly distorting its face.

"Soon afterwards we were called away and left that country. Of Elga I
heard nothing more."

Thus far goes the account of my friend the editor. There are several
points in it which call for an explanation. Perhaps the sages of the
S.P.R. will find it by investigating the laws of nature ruling the
astral plane, unless they prefer to take the easier route, by
proclaiming it all to be humbug and fraud.


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