Thursday, June 02, 2005

From the Guyana Project

I have formerly remarked that I wished to have it in my power to say that I had been sucked by the vampire. I gave them many an opportunity, but they always fought shy; and though they now sucked a young man of the Indian breed very severely, as he was sleeping in his hammock in the shed next to mine, they would have nothing to do with me. His great toe seemed to have all the attractions. I examined it minutely as he was bathing it in the river at daybreak. The midnight surgeon had made a hole in it almost of a triangular shape, and the blood was then running from it apace. His hammock was so defiled and stained with clotted blood that he was obliged to beg an old black woman to wash it. As she was taking it down to the river-side she spread it out before me, and shook her head. I remarked that I supposed her own toe was too old and tough to invite the vampire-doctor to get his supper out of it, and she answered, with a grin, that doctors generally preferred young people.

Nobody has yet been able to inform me how it is that the vampire manages to draw such a large quantity of blood, generally from the toe, and the patient all the time remains in a profound sleep. I have never heard of an instance of a man waking under the operation. On the contrary, he continues in a sound sleep, and at the time of rising his eyes first inform him that there has been a thirsty thief on his toe.

The teeth of the vampire are very sharp and not unlike those of a rat. If it be that he inflicts the wound with his teeth (and he seems to have no other instruments), one would suppose that the acuteness of the pain would cause the person who is sucked to awake. We are in darkness in this matter, and I know of no means by which one might be enabled to throw light upon it. It is to be hoped that some future wanderer through the wilds of Guiana
will be more fortunate than I have been and catch this nocturnal depredator in the fact. I have once before mentioned that I killed a vampire which measured thirty-two inches from wing to wing extended, but others which I have since examined have generally been from twenty to twenty-six inches in dimension.

-- From Charles Waterton's Wanderings in South America (1825), text available online from Project Gutenberg.

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