A Visit to Hythe
In England, Mina was waiting for Jonathan Harker to return.
His letters to her from Castle Dracula had been short and strange. Mina was worried. Was Jonathan ill? Why did he not return to England.
In the middle of July, Mina was invited to stay with her friend, Lucy West. Lucy and her husband, Arthur, lived in the little town of Hythe, by the sea. Arthur West was a doctor.
‘Arthur is in Amsterdam,’ Lucy wrote. ‘He is staying with Professor Van Helsing, his old teacher. Come and stay with me until your Jonathan returns. Hythe is not far from London. The sea air will be good for you.’
Mina travelled down to Hythe the following day. The weather was good and the two young women went out walking every day. Sometimes, they walked by the sea. But most of all Lucy liked to walk to the old church on the hill. She enjoyed sitting in the quiet old churchyard.
Mina and Lucy slept in the same bedroom. One night, near the end of July, Mina woke up suddenly. Lucy was walking out of the bedroom door, but she was fast asleep. Mina took her friend back to bed. Lucy did not wake up and, in the morning, she remembered nothing.
On 8th August, the weather changed. Black clouds covered the sky. The air felt heavy and there was a thick mist over the sea. The storm came soon after midnight. Lucy was very excited by the thunder and lightning. She sat by the window all night, looking at the sea.
By morning, everything was quiet. But there was a mist over the sea. Lucy’s, servant told the two friends that a ship had been wrecked on the shore.
‘Was it an English ship? Are the poor sailors safe?’ Lucy asked her.
‘It was a Russian ship,’ the woman replied. ‘It had come from a place called Varna. There was something very strange about the ship. There was no one on it, living or dead!
‘But as soon as the ship touched the shore,’ the woman went on, ‘a huge dog jumped down. It ran away up the hill. There was another strange thing, too. The ship was full of big wooden boxes. Some men came from London and took them away. When the boxes were taken off the ship one of them broke open. It was full of earth! Who would bring earth all that way? I cannot understand it.’
Lucy’s face had gone white, but her eyes were shining.
‘Let’s walk up to the church, Mina,’ she said. ‘Perhaps we shall find the dog.’ But the churchyard was empty and no one had seen the animal.
That night, Mina heard a noise and woke up. Lucy’s bed was empty and the bedroom door was wide open! Lucy was nowhere in the house. Mina put on her clothes and her shoes. Then, taking shoes and a shawl for Lucy, Mina ran out into the silent street.
Where had Lucy gone? Mina looked up and down the empty street. Was Lucy in the churchyard? Mina ran up the hill and stopped for a moment at the churchyard gate.
Yes, there was Lucy! Was there something moving behind her? Mina thought she saw a white face and two red eyes. But when she reached Lucy, her friend was alone.
Lucy was half asleep. Mina put the shawl round her friend and took her back to the house. When Mina was putting her to bed she saw two red marks on Lucy’s throat. Mina wondered what had made the marks. But she said nothing to Lucy.
From that time, Lucy became paler and paler. Her pretty face grew thin and white. Mina knew her friend was ill. She wanted to send Arthur a telegram, but Lucy would not let her.
‘Arthur is doing some important work in Professor Van Helsing’s hospital,’ Lucy said. ‘I do not want to worry him.’
But every night, Lucy left her bed while she was asleep. Mina had to lock the bedroom door to keep her friend safe.
One night, Mina found Lucy leaning out of the open window. A huge, black bird was sitting beside her. When Mina moved near, the bird flew slowly away. Lucy was fast asleep but she was holding her throat. The two marks were still there. They looked very red and painful.
Then on 19th August, Mina received a letter from a hospital in Budapest.
‘Oh, Lucy! Jonathan is safe!’ Mina cried. ‘He has been very ill. But now he is asking for me. I do not want to leave you. You are not well. But I must go to Budapest.’
‘Of course, my dear,’ Lucy said. ‘You must go to Budapest.’
Mina travelled by train to Budapest. It was a long journey. At last, she was able to hold her dear Jonathan in her arms. How thin and pale he was! ‘Why didn’t you tell me you were ill?’ Mina asked. ‘What happened at Castle Dracula?’
‘I cannot talk about Castle Dracula now,’ Jonathan whispered. ‘Terrible things happened there. Was I ill — or mad? I don’t know. I can’t tell you about it now. I will tell you all about it later.’
‘Jonathan,’ Mina said, ‘forget what has happened. You must get well. Then we will begin our new life — together.’
‘Yes,’ Jonathan whispered. ‘But we will get married at once. I will never leave you again!’
Mina and Jonathan were married on 1st September in Budapest. They did not reach England until 18th September. The weather in London was fine and warm. Mina and Jonathan drove slowly through the city in the early evening. The streets were full of happy people.
Suddenly Jonathan gave a terrible cry.
‘My God, look!’ he said. ‘It is the Count!’
Jonathan pointed at a tall man who was talking to a beautiful young woman. The man had a cruel, white face. As he smiled, Mina saw his red lips and sharp, white teeth.
‘Count Dracula is here in London!’ Jonathan cried. ‘I was not mad. Those things did happen in Castle Dracula!’
‘Please, Jonathan, you will be ill again,’ Mina said. ‘The Count has a house near London. Why shouldn’t he be here?
‘There is terrible danger,’ Jonathan told her. ‘I will tell you all about it when we get home.’
As they drove up to their home, a servant opened the door. She held out a telegram.
‘This has just arrived, madam,’ she said.
The telegram was from Doctor Arthur West, Lucy’s husband. As Mina read it, her eyes filled with tears. The message was very short.
My dear wife is dead. She was buried yesterday. Arthur.
‘Lucy dead? I can’t believe it,’ Jonathan said quietly. ‘How did it happen?’
‘Arthur must come and stay with us,’ Mina said. ‘I’ll send him a telegram at once.’
That night, Jonathan told Mina all about Castle Dracula. He told her the terrible things that had happened there. And now Count Dracula was in England. What was he planning to do?