Europe | Romania | Transylvania – The back of a taxi, in the vicinity of the Borgo Pass.
I did not sleep well though my bed was comfortable enough, for I had all sorts of queer dreams. There was a dog howling all night under my window. After I had breakfasted Maria took a crucifix from her neck and offered it to me. I did not know what to do, for as a typical young educated Irishman, I have been taught to regard such things as faintly ridiculous, and yet it seemed so ungracious to refuse an old lady meaning so well.
When I got into the taxi the driver had not yet taken his seat, and I saw him talking with the landlady. They were evidently talking of me, for every now and then they looked at me, and some of the people who were sitting on the bench outside the door came and listened, and then looked at me, most of them pityingly. I could hear a lot of words often repeated, queer words, for there were many nationalities in the crowd; so I quietly got out my Lonely Planet Eastern European Phrasebook from my bag and looked them out. I must say they were not cheering to me, for amongst them were ‘ordog’ – satan, ‘pokol’ – hell, ‘strejoica’ – witch, ‘vrolok’ and ‘vlkoslak’ – both of which mean the same thing, one being Slovak and the other Servian for something that is either were-wolf or vampire. [mem. I must ask the Count about these superstitions.]
I shall never forget the last glimpse which I had of the innyard and its crowd of picturesque figures, all crossing themselves, as they stood in the shadow of the huge grey towerblock to see me off. Then our driver gunned the old Dacia into action, and we set off on our journey.
I must put up my pen now as we are nearing our final destination. A strange mood has come over me. The crucifix is still around my neck. Whether it is the old lady’s fear, I do not know, but I am not feeling nearly as easy in my mind as usual. If this book should ever reach Mina before I do, let it bring my goodbye.