The Beautiful Lady of Hythe
After a few days, Arthur West returned to his lonely house in Hythe. Jonathan and Mina did not say anything to Arthur about their fears. But they read the newspaper carefully every day. Then one morning, Jonathan saw these words.
THE BEAUTIFUL LADY OF HYTHE
The young mothers of Hythe are very afraid. Something very strange is happening in this little town by the sea. Some young children have disappeared from their homes. When they were found, the children were safe. But they all told the same strange story. They had met a beautiful lady with long black hair. She had smiled at them and kissed them. All the children were found again in the old churchyard on the hill. They were very pale and they all had small, red marks on their throats. Who had taken them there? Was it the beautiful lady? What had made the marks on the children’s necks? There have been no answers to these questions.
‘Is Lucy the beautiful lady?’ Mina asked. ‘Are the little children her first victims?’
‘I’m afraid they are,’ Jonathan answered. ‘I will send a telegram to Van Helsing at once. He is the only man who can help us — and poor Lucy too.’
Professor Van Helsing left Amsterdam as soon as he received the telegram. He went at once to the Harkers’ home in London.
Mina welcomed the old man with tears in her eyes.
‘Thank you for coming so quickly,’ she said.
‘We do not have much time,’ Van Helsing answered. ‘I will do all I can to help.’
That night, Jonathan told the Professor about Castle Dracula. The Professor asked many questions.
‘You were lucky to get away from Castle Dracula,’ the Professor said at last. ‘Vampires have terrible powers. Count Dracula is the most powerful of them all!’
‘And I helped him to come to England,’ Jonathan whispered. ‘What does he plan to do here? Can we stop him?’
‘Let me tell you all I know about vampires,’ Van Helsing answered. ‘I have studied their history and read many books about them. Some vampires are hundreds of years old. They live on blood, which they take from living people. But vampires stay alive after they have been buried. Their victims die when they have lost all their blood. Then they become vampires too!’
‘That is what happened to poor Lucy,’ Mina said sadly. ‘How can we help her. Is there anything we can do?’
‘We have to do three things to stop the vampire,’ Van Helsing replied. ‘First we must open Lucy’s coffin. Then we must hammer a sharp piece of wood through her heart. Lastly her head must be cut off. Then she can rest forever.’
‘Dear Lucy, how terrible,’ Mina said quietly. ‘How can we tell poor Arthur?’
‘We must go to Hythe at once, Mina,’ the old Professor said. ‘We must help Lucy as quickly as we can. We all loved her. We are the only ones who can help her.’
‘I shall be happy to help,’ Jonathan said quietly.
‘After we have helped Lucy, we must fight the Count himself,’ the Professor said. ‘No one in England is safe until the greatest Vampire of all is destroyed!’
The three friends left immediately for Hythe. They told Arthur that Lucy had become a vampire. At first he was very angry. But Jonathan told Arthur what had happened at Castle Dracula. Then Arthur knew that their terrible story was true.
Arthur, Jonathan and Van Helsing went to the churchyard late that night. Lucy West had been buried in the family vault in the churchyard. The Professor was carrying a large bag. Arthur opened the vault with his key. The three men stood quietly round Lucy’s coffin.
‘Look carefully,’ the Professor said. ‘The vault has not been opened since Lucy’s funeral, has it? Now, watch!’
Then, with a long piece of iron, Van Helsing began to open Lucy’s coffin.
‘There,’ he said as he lifted the lid.
At first, Arthur did not want to look. Lucy had been dead for nearly two weeks. Then he gave a terrible cry.
‘My God! The coffin is empty!’ he shouted. ‘Where is my wife?’
‘I can answer that,’ Jonathan said quietly. ‘Lucy needs blood. She is looking for another victim!’
‘It is true,’ Van Helsing said. ‘Let us wait in the churchyard for Lucy to come back.’
They left the vault and Arthur locked it again. Van Helsing led them to a dark part of the churchyard. They waited. The time passed very slowly.
Then, in the moonlight, they saw something white move towards Lucy’s vault. Arthur gave a cry and stepped forward.
‘My God, it is Lucy!’ he shouted.
The thing turned its head and looked straight at them. The moon was very bright and the three friends could see everything clearly. What they saw filled them with fear.
Yes, it was Lucy. Her face and long, dark hair looked the same. But the eyes shone with a terrible red light. Blood was running from her red lips onto her white dress. She smiled and they could see her sharp, white teeth.
‘Arthur, my love, come to me,’ she whispered. She held out her hands and walked towards him. ‘Come to me now, and never, never leave me.’
Arthur took another step forward. Lucy opened out her arms to hold him. Van Helsing ran in front of Arthur and held up a large cross.
When Lucy saw the cross, she stopped smiling. Her face became cruel and angry. She made a noise like an animal and ran towards the vault. It was shut and locked, but the vampire disappeared inside.
‘Oh, God! Was that terrible thing my Lucy?’ Arthur cried.
‘That is not the dear woman you loved,’ Van Helsing told him. ‘It is the vampire that is using her body. But if we are strong, we can help Lucy to rest peacefully. Give me my bag, Jonathan.’
They entered the vault again. It was almost dawn. When Van Helsing opened the coffin, they saw the vampire. Her eyes were open and she smiled at them. It was a terrible smile.
Van Helsing opened his bag. He took out a long, sharp stake and a hammer. Then he looked at Arthur.
‘I shall hold the stake and point it at her heart,’ the Professor said. ‘Then, as we pray, hammer it down.’
With a last look at the thing in the coffin, Arthur raised the hammer. He brought it down — once, twice, many times. Terrible screams came from the vampire’s blood covered lips. The white dress became red as the stake went into Lucy’s body.
They all prayed. At last, the thing in the coffin stopped moving. Arthur dropped the hammer and almost fainted.
‘Look,’ Van Helsing said, ‘now she is at peace.’
There, in the coffin, lay Lucy. She was dead and at peace. All the blood had gone and there was a beautiful smile on her face.
‘Now you can kiss your wife,’ Van Helsing said. Arthur kissed Lucy once on the lips. Then he turned and left the vault.
Van Helsing and Jonathan worked together. They cut off Lucy’s head. Then they closed the coffin lid and hammered it down.
When they left the vault, it was daylight. Birds were singing and the air was warm.
‘We have begun our work,’ Van Helsing said to Jonathan and Arthur, ‘but we have not finished it. Now we must find Count Dracula. We must destroy him forever!’