A girl and a young man were once in love, but the youth died and became a vampire. The girl knew nothing of this. She happened to be alone in her parents' house, and she put out all the lights and went to bed as usual. Now vampires can enter into empty houses or into unclean houses, but the girl's house was clean and holy, so he could not come in.
Instead of coming in he called at the window, speaking in the same tone and using the same words as he did when alive.
- "Stupid girl, come with me," he said, and took her hand and led her, undressed as she was, to his tomb.
- "Go in," he said.
- "No, friend, I'm afraid," she said.
He went in first, and called,
- "Come quicker."
- "Wait," she said, "I've lost my beads. They must have fallen hereabouts."
And she ran and ran until she saw a house with a light. She went in and found a dead man called Avram on a bench. She drew the bolts of the door and lay down in hiding behind the oven. The vampire came after her with true vampire persistency.
He knocked at the window, saying,
- "Avram, open the door."
Avram was himself a vampire, and was going to obey and open the door. But the hen saw what was happening, and said to the cock,
- "Crow, so as to save the poor girl."
- "No, you crow. It is not my turn."
So the hen crowed quickly before Avram could get to the door, and the girl escaped, because she was clean and holy, and vampires do not easily get hold of clean souls.
There was once a time when vampires were as common as leaves of grass, or berries in a pail, and they never kept still, but wandered round at night among the people. They walked about and joined the evening gatherings in the villages, and, when there were many young people together, the vampires could carry out their habit of inspiring fear, and sucking human blood like leeches. Once, when an evening gathering was in full swing, in came an uninvited guest, the vampire. But no one knew that he was a vampire. He was in the form of a handsome youth, full of fun.
He said "Good day" very politely, sat down on a bank beside the girls, and began to talk, and all the girls imagined that he was a youth from another part of the village. Then the vampire began to tell stories and jokes, so that the girls did not know what to do for laughter. He played and jested and bandied words with them without ceasing.
But there was one girl to whom he paid special attention, and teased unmercifully.
- "Keep still, friend. Have I done anything to annoy you?" said she.
But he still kept on pinching her, till she was black and blue.
- "What is it, friend? You go too far with your joke. Do you want to make an end of me?" said the poor girl.
At the moment her distaff fell. When she stooped to pick it up, what did she see? The tail of the vampire. Then she said to the girl next to her,
- "Let's go. Run away. The creature is a vampire."
The other girl was laughing so much that she did not understand. So the girl who knew the dreadful secret went out alone into the yard, on the pretext that she had to take some lengths of woven linen to the attic. Frightened out of her wits, she ran away with the linen, she ran into a forest, old as the world and black as her fear.
Her companions at the gathering awaited her return. They looked and waited until they saw that she was not coming back. Where could she be?
- "You must fetch her wherever she is," roared the vampire, with bloodshot eyes and hair standing on end.
As the girl could not be found, the vampire killed all the rest of the merrymakers. He sucked their blood, he threw their flesh and bones under the bed, cut off their lips, and put their heads in a row in the window. They looked as if they were laughing. He strung up their intestines on a nail, saying they were strings of beads, and then he fled away. He arrived at the forest where the girl had taken refuge, and found her under a beech-tree.
- "Why did you come here, little girl? Why did you run away from the gathering?"
The girl, poor thing, was so frightened that her tongue clove to her mouth, and she could say nothing.
- "You are afraid, little girl. Come home with me. You will feel better there."
Then, involuntarily, she asked,
-"Where?" "Here in the forest. Come quicker," said the vampire.
They arrived at a hole in the depth of the forest, and she saw that this was the home of the vampire. He pressed her to enter first.
- "No, no. I don't want to. You go first."
So the vampire went in, and began to sweep and clear up. The girl, however, stopped up the hole with the lengths of linen, and fled quickly towards the east. In her flight she saw a little light a long way off. She ran towards the light, came to a house, and found it empty, except for a dead man, who was lying stretched out on a table, with a torch at his head, and his hands crossed on his breast. What was she to do? She entered the house, climbed up on to the stove, and went to sleep, worn out by suffering and fear. And she would have rested well, had not the terrible vampire pursued her. He had thrown aside the linen, and rushed after her, mad with rage. He came into the house, and the dead man rose, and they fought and wrestled till the cock crew and the girl awoke. Now the light was out, the dead man was gone, and the only sound was the song of the little cricket. The girl was left alone with her guardian angel. The dead man and the vampire both vanished at cockcrow, for both were vampires. Waking up in the darkness, the girl looked round the house three times, thought she was at home and had had a horrible dream, and then fell asleep again calmly and fearlessly. When she woke again, and saw all the beauties of the forest, and heard all the songs of the birds, she was amazed and thought herself in heaven. She did not stop long in wonder, but set out for her parents' house, hoping to bring them back with her.
She reached her home, and began to tell about the vampire and how he had gone, and what beautiful things she had seen in the woods of paradise. The parents looked at her, and, full of amazement and doubt, made the sign of the cross. The girl sank into the ground, deeper and deeper, for she too had become a vampire, poor thing. The vampire had bewitched her, and the beauty of the dwelling in the wood had enchanted her too much.
There was an evening gathering in the village, as is the custom. But the youths and maidens present were not the children of well-to-do peasants. The gathering was held in a deserted house; the youths were a noisy, laughing, mocking crowd who made themselves heard from one end of the village to the other, and the girls were just like them. They made a great fire, the girls started spinning, the boys told all kinds of jokes, and the girls shook with laughter.
After it had grown late, three young men, unknown to the company, entered the house.
- "Good evening, good evening," was said, and they joined in the general conversation. While everyone was talking, one of the girls dropped her distaff. The distafffell under the strangers' feet, and the girl stooped to pick it up.
When she went back to her seat she was as white as chalk. "What is it?" asked one of those near her. And the girl murmured that the three strangers had horses' hooves instead of feet. What was to be done? They whispered to one another, and to the boys, that the three strangers were vampires, not men. Then one by one, one by one, they slipped out of the door, and wended their ways homewards. The three vampires remained as vampires, but they did not remain alone in the house, for there was a girl asleep on the oven.
With the dawn of the next day, the sister of the sleeping girl, together with some friends, came to see what had happened to her. When they were still some distance from the house they saw a grinning face looking out of the window
- "Oh, oh," they said, "our sister is laughing."
They drew nearer, and, entering into the house, were horror-struck and made the sign of the cross. It was the head only which was in the window; the lips were cut off, and so the face seemed to smile. Her intestines were stretched out on the nails and on shelves, and the whole house was stained with blood. Poor girl!
Romanian Folk Tales
Tudor Pamfile, "Ion Creanga" 1914