The Flight of the Vampire
Count Dracula’s plan had failed. The Vampire was returning to his own country. In Transylvania he would be safe. If the Vampire reached Castle Dracula he could rest and grow strong again. And while he lived, Mina was in terrible danger. Count Dracula had to be destroyed before he reached his castle.
Arthur and Jonathan went to the Port of London the next day. They found that a ship called the Queen Catherine had left for Varna. Varna was a port on the Black Sea. Dracula had travelled from Varna in July!
When it was dark, a tall man had carried a huge wooden box onto the Queen Catherine. The man was Count Dracula! A thick mist had covered the ship before it sailed. And Dracula was in the box.
The three men began to make their plans at once. Mina was resting in her room.
‘Vampires cannot cross water without help,’ the Professor explained. ‘But Dracula is travelling by ship because it is easier. He will not have to move his box until the ship reaches land. When the ship reaches Varna, Dracula will wait for darkness. Then he will carry the box from the ship. Later, the box, with the Count inside, will be taken to Castle Dracula. There, the Vampire will be safe.’
‘Then we must follow him!’ Arthur cried. ‘We must…’
Van Helsing held up his hand. ‘Before we decide what to do,’ he said, ‘I have something to tell you. Mina must not know our plans.’
‘Why not?’ Jonathan cried angrily. ‘Dracula has harmed her most of all.’
‘But the Vampire has power over Mina,’ the Professor replied. ‘Perhaps he knows what she is thinking. Anything we tell her — he will know.’
No one spoke. Van Helsing and Arthur looked at their friend sadly.
‘You are right.’ Jonathan said at last. ‘I will not tell Mina anything.’
‘Then let us follow Dracula,’ Arthur said. ‘I have money. We could hire a small, fast ship and…’
‘No, we must follow Dracula by land,’ Van Helsing replied. ‘He will make the ship go quickly. But the ship will take two weeks to reach Varna. By land, we can get there in a few days.’
‘So we shall be waiting for him when he reaches Varna,’ Jonathan said.
‘No, not you, Jonathan,’ Van Helsing said. ‘You must stay here and look after Mina.’
As he spoke, the door opened. Mina stood there. Her face was pale.
‘No one will stay here to look after me,’ she said. ‘I am going with you.’
‘You will be in great danger if you come with us,’ the Professor said. ‘The nearer you are to Dracula…’
‘I know the danger, Professor,’ Mina replied. ‘If Dracula calls me to him, I shall have to go. But you can hypnotize me. Then I can tell you where the Count is.’
The Professor smiled.
‘You are right, dear Mina,’ he said.
Mina held Jonathan’s hand and looked at her friends.
‘Every day, Dracula has more power over me,’ Mina said. ‘If his power becomes too strong, you must kill me.’
At last, the three men agreed.
‘Thank you,’ Mina said quietly. ‘Remember, if I become a vampire, I shall be your enemy, too!’
In the second week of October, the four friends began their journey across Europe. They took the fastest trains and, in a few days, they were in Varna.
Professor Van Helsing hypnotized Mina every day. He hypnotized her before dawn and before darkness came. Dracula’s power was not as strong then. Mina always said the same words.
‘Everything is dark. I can hear the wind. I hear the sound of moving water.’
So the friends knew that Dracula had not left the ship. They stayed in Varna waiting for news. More than a week passed. Every day, Arthur went to the port. He asked if the Queen Catherine had arrived. Then at last news came.
When Arthur told the others, his face was white.
‘The Queen Catherine arrived at Galatz, at one o’clock today,’ he said.
‘My God! What shall we do?’ Jonathan cried. ‘Where is Galatz?’
Mina looked at her map.
‘Galatz is a port on the River Danube,’ she said. ‘It is more than 200 kilometres away.’
‘We must get a ship,’ Arthur said. But Jonathan did not agree.
‘I think we should go by train,’ he said.
‘What will Dracula do?’ Mina asked slowly. ‘Will he go to Castle Dracula by water or by land? It is nearly sunset,’ she went on. ‘Professor, hypnotize me. I shall tell you what I can.’
Van Helsing did as Mina asked. At first she could not answer his questions. But at last she spoke.
‘I hear the sound of water. The water is moving fast. I hear birds singing. It is dark, dark… I cannot tell you any more. His power is too strong.’