This mixture of simplicity and cunning, of superstition and commercial reasoning, aroused Van Helsing, who said, “Mine friend, that Devil is more clever than he is thought by some, and he know when he meet his match!”
The skipper was not displeased with the compliment, and went on, “When we got past the Bosphorus the men began to grumble. Some o’ them, the Roumanians, came and asked me to heave overboard a big box which had been put on board by a queer lookin’ old man just before we had started frae London. I had seen them speer at the fellow, and put out their twa fingers when they saw him, to guard them against the evil eye. Man! but the supersteetion of foreigners is pairfectly rideeculous! I sent them aboot their business pretty quick, but as just after a fog closed in on us I felt a wee bit as they did anent something, though I wouldn’t say it was again the big box. Well, on we went, and as the fog didn’t let up for five days I joost let the wind carry us, for if the Deil wanted to get somewheres, well, he would fetch it up a’reet. An’ if he didn’t, well, we’d keep a sharp lookout anyhow. Sure eneuch, we had a fair way and deep water all the time. And two days ago, when the mornin’ sun came through the fog, we found ourselves just in the river opposite Galatz. The Roumanians were wild, and wanted me right or wrong to take out the box and fling it in the river. I had to argy wi’ them aboot it wi’ a handspike. An’ when the last o’ them rose off the deck wi’ his head in his hand, I had convinced them that, evil eye or no evil eye, the property and the trust of my owners were better in my hands than in the river Danube. They had, mind ye, taken the box on the deck ready to fling in, and as it was marked Galatz via Varna, I thocht I’d let it lie till we discharged in the port an’ get rid o’t althegither. We didn’t do much clearin’ that day, an’ had to remain the nicht at anchor. But in the mornin’, braw an’ airly, an hour before sunup, a man came aboard wi’ an order, written to him from England, to receive a box marked for one Count Dracula. Sure eneuch the matter was one ready to his hand. He had his papers a’ reet, an’ glad I was to be rid o’ the dam’ thing, for I was beginnin’ masel’ to feel uneasy at it. If the Deil did have any luggage aboord the ship, I’m thinkin’ it was nane ither than that same!”
“What was the name of the man who took it?” asked Dr. Van Helsing with restrained eagerness.
“I’ll be tellin’ ye quick!” he answered, and stepping down to his cabin, produced a receipt signed “Immanuel Hildesheim.” Burgen-strasse 16 was the address. We found out that this was all the Captain knew, so with thanks we came away.