The Strange Appetites of a Hungarian Count

kiss pianist

A postcard, later in date than our story, but expressive of the Count’s strange lusts.


Though In Human Form.

Strange Appetite of a Hungarian Count.

Nothing Save the Taste of Human Blood Satisfied Him.

Disguised as a Music Teacher He Got a Number of Girl Pupils,

Picked Out His Victim, and, With the Aid of His Wife,

He Would Make a Sharp Cut in the Back of the Neck,

Then Suck the Warm Blood Until He Had His Fill.

How a Clever Detective Got On To the Fiend and Brought Him To Justice.

Translated for The Enquirer from the French Police Records, by E.C. Waggener.

One morning in the year 1867 [another edition says 1880], third-floor apartments were taken at 319 Rue St. Honore, Paris, by a couple with Austrian passports, who called themselves Jean Kislov and wife. Kislov gave out his occupation as that of musician, a teacher as well as composer. He was also a man of education, well-informed on many subjects, haughty and aristocratic in manner, and unusually striking in appearance, with his long, cadaverous face set in a frame of thick, black hair and ornamented with a long mustache that hung to his breast. His eyes, intensely black and singularly brilliant, flashed and burned as if they belonged anywhere in the world rather than in that ghastly white mask, cold and expressionless as stone and the pallor of it heightened by vividly red lips.

He was thin, too, as a shadow, though there was nothing of the look or the languor of disease about him. On the contrary, a fire and vim about all he did that, coupled with his dress—entirely black and of the finest fabric, was of itself impressive.

Mme. Kislov was a less distinguished person, a florid blonde, with the white-eyebrows and the pinkish tint of the skin about them, peculiar to Albinos. She was very plump, as well, and with the rose bloom laid on her glistening white skin, looked precisely like a wax doll.

They had lived in the Rue St. Honore in the neighborhood of four months when something happened that, taken with later developments, brought Kislov under the surveillance of the police. Riding in a fiacre on day on the Boulevard Montmartre, he was assaulted by a workman with a knife, who would have killed him, but for the prompt assistance of a sergeant de ville.

He was arrested, but, strange to say, Kislov refused to testify against him, and Jasz, who was a Hungarian, was finally discharged. All that he would say was that he knew Kislov, and that he was a monster.

Naturally this statement and Kislov’s refusal to appear against the assassin provoked inquiry into the musician’s antecedents. Two things were promptly demonstrated—that his name was not Kislov, and that he was a buyer of considerable arsenic in the pharmacies of his neighborhood.

Further inquiry, however, soon set the official curiosity at rest. The Austrian Embassy, which had stamped Kislov’s passport, told the Paris authorities that they knew him well, and were satisfied with his reason for living incognito. He was a Hungarian nobleman of rank and great wealth, and had left his estates to live in France under an assumed name because the stupid and ignorant peasantry had got it into their heads that he was a vampire who lived on human blood.

This explained the attempt made on his life by Jasz, who was doubtless from his neighborhood. As for the arsenic, Mme. Kislov was a Styrian and an accredited arsenic eater; while the professional teaching of Kislov was the simple eccentricity and fad of an artistic enthusiast.

The agent of the Police Bureau, however, was not satisfied with the report of the Austrian officials, and determined to pursue the inquiry on his own account. To this end, Sylvain, a man of great shrewdness and authority, hunted up Jasz, and learned by persistence questioning, that the vampirism business and charges against Kislov were intimately connected with this alleged music mania, and absolutely in some ways inexplicable.

It was a clew for Sylvain. He set to work to look into Kislov’s pupils and teaching methods. The first point discovered was that Kislov’s classes were composed entirely of young women; that he gave his instruction for a merely nominal pay, but exacted perhaps the most arbitrary conditions: in short exercised over his pupils a species of despotism as strange as it was imperious. He dismissed or received them at pleasure and without cause; assumed a right of arbitrary selection that he allowed no one to dispute; He would have absolutely none but good-looking pupils and these always must be blondes. The fairer they were the more likely they were to be accepted. More than this, he confined his pupils to the middle classes, only in very rare instances consenting to receive one from the higher social circles.

To offset all this Kislov was said to be and was, an extraordinary teacher, thoroughly master of his art and possessing the faculty of imparting to his pupil his own enthusiasm. When a pupil pleased him he spared no time or pains to cultivate and improve her efficiency. A fine conversationalist and with a fund of widespread information, his pupils seemed to find a magnetic spell in the somber mystery of his flashing eyes, the tender courtesy of his sympathetic manners, which made them not only like the man, but improve rapidly and charmingly under his guidance.

Still, this was the curious point, as Sylvain had discovered—there was always an impassioned end to this triumphal progress, and the relations of master and pupil abruptly terminated. The pupil, after an almost tender friendship with the teacher, would be startled by a sudden inexplicable coldness and a dismissal so abrupt, rough, and peremptory, as to admit of no protest; else invited to go to Mme. Kislov’s apartment to practice some original music on his own piano, one of incomparable tone. In the last case, the pupil was never taught again; in the second case the pupil never returned to the wife’s apartment to practice a second time. The circumstances, as Sylvain found. When he personally investigated the cases of the favored pupils invited to practice at Kislov’s house, were mainly the same with one and all.

The case of Mlle. Swartz, for instance, the daughter of a German concierge. She was a brilliant blonde, young, about 17 years, with a very fair voice and preparing to go on the stage. A plump, good-natured soul, full of archness and a frank grace that would greatly aid her in her profession, she was the picture of joyous health; a rosy Hebe of Saxon lineage, with the blue eyes of Franconia and the yellow locks of the English girl.

She was received at Kislov’s house with delighted courtesy by the tutor and with gracious ease by madame, his wife. The team room was rather dark, shaded by crimson curtains that shed a deep glow on everything, and in the air a strong, tropical odor of perfume that was somewhat oppressive. Mlle. Swartz’s faith and admiration for her teacher were unbounded, though mingled with a little awe, which made her feel confused and a little dizzy when, presently, after a little chat, Kislov advanced to lead her to the piano, a confusion that did not wear off, but rather increased as she began to play the opening bars of a piece of music. Kislov accompanying her with a flute and Mme. Kislov occasionally chiming in with a chord on the guitar.

All at once there was a blank, and when she came to herself, she was at an open window, and Mme. Kislov was bending over her with gentle solicitude.

“You are better now?” she asked. “You are not alarmed, my dear? The room is too warm, and made you faint.”

Then Kislov, in his deep, sonorous voice added: “Stafosta, you had better call a carriage and accompany Mlle. Swartz home.

Unhappily, owing to the dizziness and languor that possessed her, Mlle. Swartz scarcely noticed anything. All she thought of or desired was to be taken home, which was speedily done.

She was as white as linen, and frightened her people cruelly. But Mme. Kislov explained it as the result of a fainting fit and declared that she would be quite well the next day. She was not well the next day, however, and it was fully three months before the deadly pallor left her. Meanwhile a note had come from Kislov, stating that, owing to unavoidable circumstances, &c., he would not be able to permit Mlle. Swartz to resume her studies under his direction—something she had no intention of doing, her liking and reverence having given place to an invincible repugnance.

Four others among Kislov’s pupils, Sylvain found, had suffered almost identical experiences with those of Mlle. Swartz. He was still pondering the mystery, when a sixth case came to his ears that was exciting interest in a considerably higher circle. A Mlle. Goijoux-Enchuysen, daughter of a rich Dutch banker, who had been in Paris since 1868, and also been taking music lessons from Kislov. She was as perfect a blonde as Mlle. Swartz, but delicate, less robust and exceedingly nervous. She returned from her visit to Kislov’s house in a dead swoon, followed by fever and delirium.

In seeking to quiet her restless tossings the nurse found the pillow supporting her head stained with blood and examination disclosed a small wound on the back of the neck from which the blood oozed freely. A surgeon was promptly called, who found the hemorrhage, though small, stubbornly persistent and only to be conquered by powerful styptics. The character of the wound also puzzled him greatly, being, as he said, with the attending bleeding, singularly like an exaggerated leech bite.

Kislov stoutly denied that she had been hurt while with him, and the doctor could not dispute it, since he had found no trace of it in his first examination of his patient. He was, nevertheless, worried enough to appeal to the police for particulars, concerning Kislov and thus it came to Sylvain’s ears.

Sylvain called at once on the doctor, and finally induced him to see Mlle. Swartz and the other pupils of Kislov similarly troubled. Three weeks later Jean Kislov and wife were summoned before the Judge d’Instruction—Sylvain had made his case.  

Kislov at first haughtily refused to answer, but finally admitted that he was not Jean Kislov, but the Comte Hadnaji Jotintzo; that his wife was the Comtesse Starnoska, and that his Hungarian estate lay on the Teiss, near the town of Madriega. The practices attributed to him were ridiculous rubbish and simply incredible that the authorities of enlightened Paris should be touched with the childish superstition of ignorant peasant boors.

Mlle. Swartz and the other pupils called—Mlle. Goijoux-Enchuysen being still too ill to appear—and testified to the facts already told. The surgeon of Mlle. Goijoux-Enchuysen, however, appeared, and testified to his patient’s condition. She was as feeble as a babe, as if sapped of all strength, and though superficial in depth, the character of the wound was such that he would stake his reputation on the fact that she had either been cupped there or that the wound had been sucked. The neck of Mlle. Swartz, also the other four pupils, showed a small scar, precisely in the position of the wound on his patient’s neck.

Then Mlle. Leonide Saumaise was called, a handsome blonde, with a resolute chin, but a face betraying the pallor of recent illness. In obedience to the instruction of M. Sylvain, she had applied to Kislov for music lessons; had been received into his classes, and at last invited to his house, according to the regular programme.

Briefly, she was a spy, and her object to find out the truth of Kislov’s practices for the information of the police. Sylvain watched her movements and was always at hand in case his services were needed, and she herself was provided with ammonia and stimulants to enable her to resist the stupor that had vanquished the others. She had succumbed, however, like the rest, and recovered to find herself pale and faint, as if from copious bleeding.

Instead of going or being taken home at once like the others, she had gone immediately with M. Sylvain to the doctor, the same whose testimony had just been taken and who attended Mlle. Goijoux-Euchysen, and had her neck examined. There was no pain, and at first no appearance of a wound, but the microscope revealed a place over which a sort of membranous film had been skillfully applied. This removed disclosed a shallow lancet wound, the bleeding from which had been checked with styptics and the cut closed with consummate skill.

Here the examination had to close for the day to be resumed on the morrow, and Comte Jotintzo and his wife, under heavy bonds, allowed to go home, but under the secret surveillance of Sylvain, still determined to keep the couple in constant sight.

Armed with a provisional warrant, he took up his watch in a room that he had hired for the purpose immediately beneath the apartment of Kislov and his wife.

Everything seemed as usual, but toward midnight Sylvain was suddenly startled by a piercing shriek in the room above him and a heavy fall. Without losing a second, he darted upstairs and burst open the door. Here a scene met his gaze never to be forgotten.

The gas-jets flamed high, the room was filled with a stifling odor, and on the floor in her night robe, white and still as marble, lay the Comtesse full length, with the Comte kneeling beside her, his lips glued to her neck.

As Sylvain burst the lock he turned upon him eyes glaring like a madman’s, his face and shirt were bespattered with blood, and his mouth and chin literally dripping gore. Even as Sylvain looked the wretch dropped his head and seized again the throat of his victim, snarling and gulping like a feeding tiger.

Recovering himself the officer leaped forward, pistol in hand, but Jotintzo, with a wild cry and bound, sprung to his feet, thrust him like a feather out of his way and fled the room. Sylvain vainly firing upon him as he ran.

The alarm was given and surgeon summoned, but Mme. Jotintzo never regained consciousness. Her neck and flesh were frightfully torn and she died during the night. Her husband, escaping for the moment, was two days later found in the wood of Vincennes, and found dead, as the post-mortem demonstrated, from arsenical poisoning. His wife’s blood had killed him, though the precautions she had taken to preserve her own life had failed of their purpose.

Examination of the apartment showed that the Comte produced insensibility in his victims by means of a preparation of ether, disguised by strong perfumes and diffused by the piano keys. Once overcome, he renewed the dose as long as needed. This apparatus, together with another of rubber, constructed for tapping a vein without injuring the integuments, a box of styptic ointment, and one of leaf fat skin for the closing of incisions, settled the fact that the wretch was fully equipped for the gratification of his horrible appetites and to escape detection.

Moreover, Jotintzo’s vampirism was well known to his family. He had killed two other wives by the same mad thirst for human blood, and had been forced by his relatives to marry this Styrian arsenic-eater, believing she would be safe. In a word, she was Kislov’s keeper—a woman of low birth, who knew whom she was marrying, and who consented to live with him and prevent his doing murder, at the same time permit him a moderate indulgence in his devilish appetites whenever it could be done safely, she always to approve the victim, be present at the time and regulate the quantity of blood taken.  Mme. Kislov had met the fate she deserved.

Cincinnati [OH] Enquirer 26 June 1892: p. 17 

Mrs Daffodil’s Aide-memoire: Mrs Daffodil really cannot censure the negligent parents of these young lady pupils sufficiently. Are they mad? Entrusting their ewe-lambs to a foreigner, a Count, dressed all in black, with pale skin and flashing eyes! With incarnadined lips! Do these parents not read serialized Gothic novels? 

However Mrs Daffodil is full of admiration for the notions of ether being released by piano keys and the Styrian arsenic-eater’s blood poisoning her vampiric husband. They are truly inspired ideas and deserve a wider and more practical application.

For a truly gorge-rising post of another human vampire–from 1870 New York–please visit this Haunted Ohio blog link.

Mrs Daffodil invites you to join her on the curiously named “Face-book,” where you will find a feast of fashion hints, fads and fancies, and historical anecdotes

You may read about a sentimental succubus, a vengeful seamstress’s ghost, Victorian mourning gone horribly wrong, and, of course, Mrs Daffodil’s efficient tidying up after a distasteful decapitation in A Spot of Bother: Four Macabre Tales.


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