The Return to Castle Dracula
The friends took two days to reach Galatz. They were nearer to Dracula now. Mina was pale and ill. Sometimes she could not answer Van Helsing’s questions. The Professor took Mina to a hotel to rest. Arthur and Jonathan tried to get news of Dracula.
They soon returned. Dracula’s box was on a fast boat. The Vampire was travelling up the River Seruth.
The River Seruth went high up into the Carpathian Mountains. Castle Dracula was 20 kilometres from the river.
‘We must stop Dracula before he reaches the castle.’ Van Helsing told them. ‘In his tomb, the Vampire will be safe. And then Mina will be in his power forever.’
‘We must go up the river after him,’ Jonathan said quickly. ‘You and Arthur must do that,’ the Professor replied. ‘Mina and I will go by land to Castle Dracula. We will get there before the Vampire. I will put holy bread in Dracula’s tomb.’
On 23rd October, Mina and Van Helsing went by train to Veresti. At Veresti, the Professor bought a small carriage and four fast horses.
It was winter and it was very cold. Wolves were near and they howled day and night. Professor Van Helsing hypnotized Mina every day. She always said the same words.
‘It is dark. It is dark. I can hear fast-moving water.’
Mina slept all day and Van Helsing could not wake her. But as soon as night came, she woke up. The Professor was afraid. Mina was pale and thin. Her face was changing. She was becoming more and more like a vampire. Would Mina die before Dracula could be destroyed?
When they crossed the high mountains, snow was falling. At Bistritz, Van Helsing bought new horses. They reached the Borgo Pass early in the afternoon.
On the right, was the narrow road to Castle Dracula. The tall mountains were covered with snow. The strong wind moved the snow in the air. The howling wolves were closer now. Had Dracula sent them?
The old Professor was not afraid. He drove up the narrow road until it was dark. That night, Mina was very excited. Her eyes shone brightly but she would not eat. Every day Dracula’s power was stronger.
The Professor had made a fire. He took some of the holy bread and broke it into pieces. Then he placed the pieces in a circle on the ground around Mina.
Mina was watching Van Helsing carefully. She did not move. Her face went white.
‘Come closer to the fire,’ the Professor said. Mina stood up, walked a few steps and stopped. She could not move out of the circle. Van Helsing covered Mina and himself with thick cloaks. Wolves howled. But Mina and Van Helsing were safe inside the circle.
The snow went on falling. It moved round and round in the wind. And then there was mist and snow.
As the mist moved in the wind, it changed into three beautiful women. They were the three vampires that Jonathan had seen in Castle Dracula!
The vampires laughed and called to Mina from outside the circle.
‘Come, sister, come!’ they cried. ‘You are like us now.’
But Mina turned away and the vampires could not enter the circle.
They called to Mina all night. But when the dawn came, the beautiful women changed back into mist. Mina slept.
In the morning, the four horses were dead. Van Helsing made the fire as big as he could. He left Mina sleeping inside the circle. Then the old Professor started to walk up the narrow road to Castle Dracula.
The snow was very deep and the wind blew into the Professor’s face. His bag was heavy. He was cold and afraid. He felt the Vampire’s power around him.
Castle Dracula looked black against the white mountains. Van Helsing went on.
At last, he reached the terrible building. When he came to the chapel door it was wide open! But the air inside smelt terrible and he could not breathe.
The chapel was full of old tombs. One tomb was bigger than the others. On it was written the name «DRACULA».
When Van Helsing opened the tomb, he saw It was empty. The Professor opened his bag. He took out some holy bread. He put the bread inside the tomb and closed the lid. The Vampire would never enter it again.
Then Van Helsing found the tombs of the three women vampires. They looked very beautiful. Their eyes were open and they smiled at him. The old Professor looked at them for a moment. But then he remembered Lucy.
He took sharp stakes and hammered them through the vampires’ hearts. How they screamed as he hammered down the stakes! But when the Professor cut off their heads the vampires changed. There was nothing in the tombs but dust!
Then Van Helsing left that terrible place. Slowly he walked down the road to Mina.
‘My husband is near,’ Mina called out. ‘Quickly, I must go to Jonathan.’
The snow had stopped falling. The air was clear and cold. It was almost sunset and the sun was red in the sky. To the north, Castle Dracula was a great, black shape on the side of the mountain. Far below them, the River Seruth was black against the snow.
They could see a narrow, winding road which went up the side of the mountain. Along this road, a cart was moving quickly. On the cart was a huge wooden box. Dracula was returning to his castle! Professor Van Helsing put his arm around Mina, but she was not afraid.
‘Look,’ she whispered.
Behind the cart were two men on horses. ‘It is Jonathan and Arthur!’ Mina cried. ‘And they are moving faster than the cart!’
‘The sun is going down behind the mountains,’ Van Helsing said. ‘Dracula must be destroyed before the light has gone.’
Jonathan and Arthur were galloping faster and faster. Their shadows were long and black on the snow. At last, the two friends reached the cart.
The driver tried to hit Arthur but Jonathan pulled the man down from the cart. They fought together for a moment and then the man ran off, shouting with fear.
The black shadows had grown longer now. The light had almost gone. Was there time to destroy the Vampire?
Jonathan jumped onto the cart. He pushed the huge wooden box down onto the snow. The box broke open.
There lay Count Dracula. The last light of the sun shone onto the Count’s cruel face. Jonathan’s long, sharp stake was above Dracula’s heart. As the stake went through the Vampire’s body, Dracula gave a terrible cry. Then Arthur’s knife cut through the Vampire’s throat. There was silence. But there was no blood on the snow. Count Dracula’s body was a heap of dust!
Mina ran down the road and Jonathan took his dear wife in his arms. The Vampire was dead. The years of blood and fear were over.
— THE END —
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