Stoker's Manuscript

Stoker's Manuscript by Royce Prouty Read Free Book Online

Book: Stoker's Manuscript by Royce Prouty Read Free Book Online
Authors: Royce Prouty
characteristics of vampires and Stoker marked them off as he incorporated or agreed with them. Then there were a few with lines through them and a
written by Stoker in the margins. These items did not see final print.
    Then at the bottom of the page the words
No Epil
were written boldly by the left-hander. At first I thought it read
No Evil
, but something told me to look again at every word on the page. Whoever his assistant was emphatically insisted on discarding the epilogue, the version detailing the count’s burial beside his bride. The assistant also drew a line through
and boldly wrote,
    Also among the notes was the 1897
article detailing the fire that consumed the publishing company’s office and warehouse. I recognized the bulk paper as northern European stock mechanically processed, typical of all news stock because of its high-yield harvest capacity and ink-absorption quality. Another
article detailed a subsequent smaller conflag at the Lyceum Theatre, separated by a mere two weeks. In part it read:
    . . . questioned following the fire was one George Anton, an itinerant craftsman engaged by the Lyceum Theatre to install electricity at the playhouse, who was said to have had a bit of a row with the author on 18 May following a stage reading of Mr. Stoker’s manuscript to secure theatrical copyrights. In attendance were Henry Irving, owner of the Lyceum, and Ellen Terry, an actress and employee of the theatre. Both were questioned following the conflagration, and Mr. Anton was released from Scotland Yard.
    Following the warehouse fire and the publisher’s setback, it took two years to get the rights out of the court system and publish another printing with Doubleday & McClure. I paused and pushed my seat away from the table when the enormity of his endeavor struck me. Gazing at the large display of material, I thought of the writer’s plight. Not only Abraham Stoker, but all who toil in the craft of words—that a man should write and write and write and fill volumes with notes and drafts and typed pages, only to send his creation out into the world for inspection and judgment by humans. Any number of impediments can keep it forever in manuscript form, yet here was a project that took commercial form, only to meet with fire on the eve of success. Did Bram Stoker view the fire with a similar sense of loss as I had the last time I saw my childhood home?
    Had the author not prevailed in his legal pursuit, the world might never have read his story. There’s a lot to be said for persistence in the ashes.
    I don’t know how long I sat there staring at this piece of history, but I did notice my host clearing his throat as a reminder that my time had long ago run over. Work concluded, I returned to the Rittenhouse Hotel to construct my engagement letter and certificate of authenticity.
    The first time I gave a positive certificate I later found myself defending the claim in court, not because it was a fake but because I failed to include my methods of testing, rendering doubt to a subsequent buyer. See, authentication work is not a verification process for the benefit of a buyer, but rather a representation to the entire public, both for persons known and unknown, for universal reliance thereon. Simply put, my first efforts failed the weight test. Subsequently I had learned to craft my letters much like CPA firms construct their audit reports, in the double negative stance that I performed the following standard tasks of attestation and could not find anything that would conclude it was
the real thing, etc.
    After proofing my letter, I faced the reality that I would actually be journeying back to my homeland. Not home, for that was a walled convent. Still, the place of anyone’s birth holds value. On the Internet I checked train routes in and out of Baia Mare, the modest-sized town where our mother was buried. I also noted where the Hall of Records was located if I needed

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