Dark Shadows: More Count Petofi

Now that the Count has his severed hand back and reattached (although it still looks nasty), he looks to the future–by that, I mean that he wants Barnabas Collins to take him to the 1960s when Barnabas himself returns to that time.

“The music, paintings, beautiful people of 1969,” the Count muses. “What will they be like?”

Barnabas trapped in his coffin

But Barnabas has to refuse, since he doesn’t actually know how to do that; the Count shuts him up in a coffin and pins him down with a crucifix on his chest.

Count Petofi then brings in Quentin to talk to Barnabas. Quentin is forbidden to touch the crucifix. The Count has instructed him to tell Barnabas that if he doesn’t give up the secret to time travel, it will be at the price of David’s and Jameson’s lives. Both Collins men care very much about one boy or the other.

To back this up, the Count brings David from the future to inhabit Jameson’s body. Everyone except Quentin who sees the boy thinks that Jameson is delirious with fever. And feverish David thinks he’s still in 1969.

While he’s lying there trapped in his coffin, Barnabas does tell Quentin that he has in fact come from the future and that if Jameson dies, then the whole 20th-century Collins family will never exist. He doesn’t mention specifically that David is Jameson’s grandson, nor does he explain how David can recognize 1897’s Quentin when he sees him.

David thinks the man he’s talking to is a ghost; he tells Quentin how he and Amy found the skeleton sealed up in Quentin’s room, which disturbs Quentin. It must be the “sealed up” part of the story that does it, since Quentin couldn’t possibly hope to still be alive 72 years in the future even if he kept in perfect health and stopped knocking back so much brandy every day.

Count Petofi’s desire to travel in time isn’t just based on a desire to see the Swinging ’60s for himself. He also wants to escape to someplace where his enemies can’t possible reach him. For the Count has many enemies.

Charity Trask during those moments when she didn’t think she was Pansy Faye, tried desperately to warn everyone she could that Quentin is a werewolf, with little success. Either they refuse to believe her, or they already know and want to keep it quiet. Count Petofi falls into the second category; since he wants things from Quentin, he protects him.

To make Charity keep her mouth shut, the Count first tries to make her see her own death, but his visions of the future never seem to work out as planned. What Charity does see is a cloaked man with a scimitar kill the Count’s assistant Aristede, then chop off the Count’s Hand. She doesn’t know what this means, but the Count does. The gypsies that Magda stole the Hand from are coming to get it back from whomever currently has it.

The Count eventually puts Charity under a spell to make her think she’s Pansy all the time, but those gypsies are a bigger problem.

To deflect them until he can slip away into the future, the Count visits the graveyard and has Aristede dig up a recently dead man, one Abraham Howell. They cut off his right hand and have the same artist who painted Quentin’s portrait paint it to look as discolored and nasty as the Hand that’s back on the end of his arm.

Gypsy King Johnny Romano is already in town and menacing Magda to make her tell him where the Hand is. She can’t tell him–not because she doesn’t know, but because the Count has put a spell on her so that she can’t speak his name.

Things look pretty dire for Magda, when the wooden inlaid box that used to contain the Hand is suddenly discovered under an upturned chair in the old house’s parlor (Johnny’s men had trashed the place while searching for the Hand).

Mr. Howells retrieves his hand This ruse might well have worked for the Count until the gypsy king and his men were far from Collinsport… if Mr. Howell didn’t show up at their campsite in ghostly form to get his own severed hand back.

The gypsies realize how they’ve been deceived and are back on the track of the true Hand.

When he hears about all this from Magda, Quentin comes up with a clever ruse to force the Count to let Barnabas go. No, it really is clever of him. He goes to Count Petofi and says that he’ll tell King Johnny where the Count is hiding. Oh, and if he doesn’t appear safely back at Collinwood by a designated time, a letter containing this information will be sent to King Johnny.

Quentin tells the Count he left the letter with Angelique; he didn’t–he left it with Beth–but the witchy woman is much more menacing than the maidservant, and it keeps the Count from sending Aristede to threaten Beth.

The ruse works. Count Petofi takes the crucifix from Barnabas’s chest and Barnabas is free to go.

Considering how hostile and suspicious they were toward each other when Barnabas first arrived in 1897, it’s amusing to see what buddies he and Quentin have become. But what’s more funny is how close Quentin and Magda are now, after he killed her sister and she cursed him to turn him into a werewolf.

King Johnny Romano does eventually hunt down Count Petofi, but the scene doesn’t play out as Charity foresaw it. Aristede is more quick with his Dancing Lady blade to Johnny’s back than Johnny is with his scimitar to Count’s Hand. The two bury Johnny’s body, but when they return to the mill, the scimitar has disappeared.


Author: Kathryn L Ramage

Kathryn L. Ramage has a B.A. and M.A. in English lit and has been writing for as long as she can remember. She lives in Maryland with three calico cats named after the Brontë sisters. In addition to being the author of numerous short stories, reviews, essays, and period mystery novellas, she is also the author of a series of fantasy novels set in a dukedom called the Northlands on an alternate Earth whose history has diverged from ours somewhere during the medieval period.