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The Beggar's Banquet

Having asked the old, the ill, the lame, the poor, the blind, and the vagabonds to a large dining hall in Tirgoviste, Dracula ordered that a feast be prepared for them.

On the appointed day, Tirgoviste groaned under the weight of the large number of beggars who had come. The prince's servants passed out a batch of clothes to each one, then they led the beggars to a large mansion where tables had been set. The beggars marveled at the prince's generosity, and they spoke among themselves: "Truly it is a prince's kind of grace." Then they started eating. And what do you think they saw before them: a meal such as one would find on the prince's own table, wines and all the best things to eat which weigh you down. The beggars had a feast that became legendary.

They ate and drank greedily. Most of them became dead drunk. As they became unable to communicate with one another, and became incoherent, they were suddenly faced with fire and smoke on all sides. The prince had ordered his servants to set the house on fire.

They rushed to the doors to get out, but the doors were locked. The fire progressed. The blaze rose high like inflamed dragons. Shouts, shreiks, and moans arose from the lips of all the poor enclosed there. But why should a fire be moved by the entreaties of men? They fell upon each other. They embraced each other. They sought help, but there was no human ear left to listen to them. They began to twist in the torments of the fire that was destroying them. The fire stifled some, the embers reduced others to ashes, the flames grilled most of them. When the fire finally abated, there was no trace of any living soul.

From Dracula: Prince of Many Faces, by Radu Florescu and Raymond McNally (Little, Brown and Company, 1989).

This is the Romanian version of the incident whereby Dracula (Prince Vlad Tepes) rid his kingdom of the beggars, sick, and poor. Occurring some time around 1450, Dracula's own words on the issue were: "These men live off the sweat of others, so they are useless to humanity. It is a form of thievery. ... May such men be eradicated from my land!"

"Dracula: Prince of Many Faces" is one of the best books regarding this historic/mythic figure.