The House of the Vampire

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Summary

Discover this ultimate classic for the first time or fall in love with an old favourite all over again.

Status:
Complete
Chapters:
31
Rating:
n/a
Age Rating:
13+

Chapter 1

The freakish little leader of the orchestra, newly imported from Sicily to New York, tossed his conductor's wand excitedly through the air, drowning with musical thunders the hum of conversation and the clatter of plates.

Yet neither his apish demeanour nor the deafening noises that responded to every movement of his agile body detracted attention from the figure of Reginald Clarke and the young man at his side as they smilingly wound their way to the exit.

The boy's expression was pleasant, with an inkling of wistfulness, while the soft glimmer of his lucid eyes betrayed the poet and the dreamer. The smile of Reginald Clarke was the smile of a conqueror. A suspicion of silver in his crown of dark hair only added dignity to his bearing, while the infinitely ramified lines above the heavy-set mouth spoke at once of subtlety and of strength. Without stretch of the imagination one might have likened him to a Roman cardinal of the days of the Borgias, who had miraculously stepped forth from the time-stained canvas and slipped into twentieth century evening-clothes.

With the affability of complete self-possession he nodded in response to greetings from all sides, inclining his head with special politeness to a young woman whose sea-blue eyes were riveted upon his features with a look of mingled hate and admiration.

The woman, disregarding his silent salutation, continued to stare at him wild-eyed, as a damned soul in purgatory might look at Satan passing in regal splendour through the seventy times sevenfold circles of hell.

Reginald Clarke walked on unconcernedly through the rows of gay diners, still smiling, affable, calm. But his companion bethought himself of certain rumours he had heard concerning Ethel Brandenbourg's mad love for the man from whose features she could not even now turn her eyes. Evidently her passion was unreciprocated. It had not always been so. There was a time in her career, some years ago in Paris, when it was whispered that she had secretly married him and, not much later, obtained a divorce. The matter was never cleared up, as both preserved an uncompromising silence upon the subject of their matrimonial experience. Certain it was that, for a space, the genius of Reginald Clarke had completely dominated her brush, and that, ever since he had thrown her aside, her pictures were but plagiarisms of her former artistic self.

The cause of the rupture between them was a matter only of surmise; but the effect it had on the woman testified clearly to the remarkable power of Reginald Clarke. He had entered her life and, behold! the world was transfixed on her canvases in myriad hues of transcending radiance; he had passed from it, and with him vanished the brilliancy of her colouring, as at sunset the borrowed amber and gold fade from the face of the clouds.

The glamour of Clarke's name may have partly explained the secret of his charm, but, even in circles where literary fame is no passport, he could, if he chose, exercise an almost terrible fascination. Subtle and profound, he had ransacked the coffers of mediæval dialecticians and plundered the arsenals of the Sophists. Many years later, when the vultures of misfortune had swooped down upon him, and his name was no longer mentioned without a sneer, he was still remembered in New York drawing-rooms as the man who had brought to perfection the art of talking. Even to dine with him was a liberal education.

Clarke's marvellous conversational power was equalled only by his marvellous style. Ernest Fielding's heart leaped in him at the thought that henceforth he would be privileged to live under one roof with the only writer of his generation who could lend to the English language the rich strength and rugged music of the Elizabethans.

Reginald Clarke was a master of many instruments. Milton's mighty organ was no less obedient to his touch than the little lute of the troubadour. He was never the same; that was his strength. Clarke's style possessed at once the chiselled chasteness of a Greek marble column and the elaborate deviltry of the late Renaissance. At times his winged words seemed to flutter down the page frantically like Baroque angels; at other times nothing could have more adequately described his manner than the timeless calm of the gaunt pyramids.

The two men had reached the street. Reginald wrapped his long spring coat round him.

"I shall expect you to-morrow at four," he said.

The tone of his voice was deep and melodious, suggesting hidden depths and cadences.

"I shall be punctual."

The younger man's voice trembled as he spoke.

"I look forward to your coming with much pleasure. I am interested in you."

The glad blood mounted to Ernest's cheeks at praise from the austere lips of this arbiter of literary elegance.

An almost imperceptible smile crept over the other man's features.

"I am proud that my work interests you," was all the boy could say.

"I think it is quite amazing, but at present," here Clarke drew out a watch set with jewels, "I am afraid I must bid you good-bye."

He held Ernest's hand for a moment in a firm genial grasp, then turned away briskly, while the boy remained standing open-mouthed. The crowd jostling against him carried him almost off his feet, but his eyes followed far into the night the masterful figure of Reginald Clarke, toward whom he felt himself drawn with every fiber of his body and the warm enthusiasm of his generous youth.

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hazel: I like how the author escalates the story, from someone who were unknown to each other to someone who was and always have been the center of attention of everybody. the timing of every events in the story was well plotted and delivered. You can be very hooked up in reading the whole stoey and no...

Curvykitten: The author broached a very difficult subject but did it with care and understanding. Liam is a man in a million. So glad i read this

Roeシ: I love how well written the book is for the topic that presents to the reader. It's funny but doesn't water down the struggles of the main character by using that humor.

cristinadani2001: I will give my opinion when I finish

naomipeng1977: Great story. I love the main character’s relationship.

Lakeyshia: This book was definitely a good read!!! Thanks Author!!!

😜😜 CJ 😜😜: This book was fun to read and I can't wait for the next chapter.

Libs Motstu: You can write wonderful stories Alex, you have a gift and creative mind. I am concerned about the many errors, grammar etc. Can you please ask someone to edit your books before you publish? Otherwise good luck, and I look forward to your next book💞🥰🙏🏾

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Kellyan David: I really liked but it's not the ending I was hoping for. I really enjoy reading and the ending made it a bit real and not fiction because ppl do go through things like that. I'm happy they stuck together through it all

Melanie Rose: I liked the characters

Rhea: I like everything about the novel except for a few grammar errors. I would recommend this novel to anyone who likes to read about action and romance. I gave it this rating because the novel is by far one of my favorites

gogihabtu24: Beautiful story ever!!

Aurelia: Beautiful story❤❤❤❤❤❤!!!

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