George Sylvester Viereck would love your feedback! Got a few minutes to write a review?
Write a Review

The House of the Vampire

By George Sylvester Viereck All Rights Reserved ©

Other / Horror

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.

Continue Reading Next Chapter
Further Recommendations

amy: I love your unique style. The twists were very unexpected. I love the way you deliver the ending. Great job. I hope to see a lot from you. Keep up the good work.

Ashley Beckett : The book is amazing so far and has made me laugh and smile. Can’t wait for more!!!

Rianne28: I loved it. It was fun, drama and love in the right balans

happypuput: Whoa.. Your story is so fantastic. Can't stop myself reading it until there's nothing left. I wish there would be a sequel to this or not? Nevertheless, your story gives me a mixed feeling. I love it, yet I'm so desperate.

bpreetham1804: The story is absolutely fantastic. It is a drama which will hold the nerves till the end.

Wade Arndt: Over all very touching story. The prologue brought tears to my eyes. There were quite a few misused words. And no description of the main characters physical attributes. Having said that, I thought it was wonderful. I'll be reading it again.

K.K ☆: This is beautiful! I love it so much, there was a bit of grammatical errors but it was worth it!

Martinez990: This story is very original and intriguing, it keeps you connected at all times. Very well put together and thought through. The style is captivating and intriguing.The author has done a really good job creating something that will attract the reader's attention.

Hadley Swiss: Despite several grammar mistakes, missing words etc, I had to give this book a five-star rating. Why? Because it was funny; the characters were all lovable, life-like and imperfect. The author used the premise of love and misunderstandings to create a realistic, lovable story which I’d even rerea...

More Recommendations

A.K.G: It's a very interest story and I loved every minute of it.Props to author on writting this wonderful story successfully and I hope there will be a sequel to look forward to.

Hayls: One of the best pieces of writing I've ever read!

badreputation: This was an amaaaaaaaaaaaaazing story! Why are you not a professional author?!!!!!! You are so good!!!!!

{{ contest.story_page_sticky_bar_text }} Be the first to recommend this story.

About Us:

Inkitt is the world’s first reader-powered book publisher, offering an online community for talented authors and book lovers. Write captivating stories, read enchanting novels, and we’ll publish the books you love the most based on crowd wisdom.