I found that my landlord had got a letter from the Count, directing him to secure the best place on the coach for me; but on making inquiries as to details he seemed somewhat reticent, and pretended that he could not understand my German. This could not be true, because up to then he had understood it perfectly; at least, he answered my questions exactly as if he did. He and his wife, the old lady who had received me, looked at each other in a frightened sort of way. He mumbled out that the money had been sent in a letter, and that was all he knew. When I asked him if he knew Count Dracula, and could tell me anything of his castle, both he and his wife crossed themselves, and, saying that they knew nothing at all, simply refused to speak further. It was so near the time of starting that I had no time to ask any one else, for it was all very mysterious and not by any means comforting.
This is rather a short passage but Stoker is already adding to the unease turning an interesting business trip into something uncanny. Harker is confused that already he is meeting up with resistance in getting passage to Dracula's castle. Then he is tackled by an hysterical woman who tells him that the eve of St. George's Day is full of ill omens. She alludes to the fact that he is traveling someplace that isn't safe but refuses to elaborate. Instead she presses a crucifix on him, even though he is filled with misgivings (being an Anglican), Harker accepts it. Something about the incident has caused him some amount of fright because he leaves the Golden Krone with the crucifix around his neck.
In England today is St. George's Day. According to a Wikipedia entry, many countries celebrate this saint's day on different dates. In England celebration of the day went out of practice sometime in the 18th century. This probably accounts for Harker's complete lack of knowledge about the day. The celebration of this Saint is now coming back and you can see any number of news stories about St. George's day celebrations.
According to the Gregorian calendar used in the Eastern Orthodox Christian church, St. George's Day is celebrated on May 6th. At the time the book was written, the date was then May 5th .This is why the poor, frightened woman was crying about the Eve of the day. I suppose this was in keeping with St. George's slaying of the dragon. The evils things came out before St. George would banish them.
Labels: art, books, Bram Stoker, commentary, culture, Dracula, horror, literature, reading