It was late in the afternoon when the
Professor and I took our way towards the east whence I knew Jonathan was coming.
We did not go fast, though the way was steeply downhill, for we had to take heavy
rugs and wraps with us. We dared not face the possibility of being left without
warmth in the cold and the snow. We had to take some of our provisions too, for
we were in a perfect desolation, and so far as we could see through the snowfall,
there was not even the sign of habitation. When we had gone about a mile, I was
tired with the heavy walking and sat down to rest. Then we looked back and saw
where the clear line of Dracula's castle cut the sky. For we were so deep under
the hill whereon it was set that the angle of perspective of the Carpathian mountains
was far below it. We saw it in all its grandeur, perched a thousand feet on the
summit of a sheer precipice, and with seemingly a great gap between it and the
steep of the adjacent mountain on any side. There was something wild and uncanny
about the place. We could hear the distant howling of wolves. They were far off,
but the sound, even though coming muffled through the deadening snowfall, was
full of terror. I knew from the way Dr. Van Helsing was searching about that he
was trying to seek some strategic point, where we would be less exposed in case
of attack. The rough roadway still led downwards. We could trace it through the
In a little while the Professor signalled to me, so I got
up and joined him. He had found a wonderful spot, a sort of natural hollow in
a rock, with an entrance like a doorway between two boulders. He took me by the
hand and drew me in.
"See!" he said, "here you will be in
shelter. And if the wolves do come I can meet them one by one."
brought in our furs, and made a snug nest for me, and got out some provisions
and forced them upon me. But I could not eat, to even try to do so was repulsive
to me, and much as I would have liked to please him, I could not bring myself
to the attempt. He looked very sad, but did not reproach me. Taking his field
glasses from the case, he stood on the top of the rock, and began to search the
Suddenly he called out, "Look! Madam Mina, look! Look!"
sprang up and stood beside him on the rock. He handed me his glasses and pointed.
The snow was now falling more heavily, and swirled about fiercely, for a high
wind was beginning to blow. However, there were times when there were pauses between
the snow flurries and I could see a long way round. From the height where we were
it was possible to see a great distance. And far off, beyond the white waste of
snow, I could see the river lying like a black ribbon in kinks and curls as it
wound its way. Straight in front of us and not far off, in fact so near that I
wondered we had not noticed before, came a group of mounted men hurrying along.
In the midst of them was a cart, a long leiter wagon which swept from side to
side, like a dog's tail wagging, with each stern inequality of the road. Outlined
against the snow as they were, I could see from the men's clothes that they were
peasants or gypsies of some kind.
On the cart was a great square chest.
My heart leaped as I saw it, for I felt that the end was coming. The evening was
now drawing close, and well I knew that at sunset the Thing, which was till then
imprisoned there, would take new freedom and could in any of many forms elude
pursuit. In fear I turned to the Professor. To my consternation, however, he was
not there. An instant later, I saw him below me. Round the rock he had drawn a
circle, such as we had found shelter in last night.
When he had completed
it he stood beside me again saying, "At least you shall be safe here from
him!" He took the glasses from me, and at the next lull of the snow swept
the whole space below us. "See," he said, "they come quickly. They
are flogging the horses, and galloping as hard as they can."
and went on in a hollow voice, "They are racing for the sunset. We may be
too late. God's will be done!" Down came another blinding rush of driving
snow, and the whole landscape was blotted out. It soon passed, however, and once
more his glasses were fixed on the plain.
Then came a sudden cry, "Look!
Look! Look! See, two horsemen follow fast, coming up from the south. It must be
Quincey and John. Take the glass. Look before the snow blots it all out!"
I took it and looked. The two men might be Dr. Seward and Mr. Morris. I knew at
all events that neither of them was Jonathan. At the same time I knew that Jonathan
was not far off. Looking around I saw on the north side of the coming party two
other men, riding at breakneck speed. One of them I knew was Jonathan, and the
other I took, of course, to be Lord Godalming. They too, were pursuing the party
with the cart. When I told the Professor he shouted in glee like a schoolboy,
and after looking intently till a snow fall made sight impossible, he laid his
Winchester rifle ready for use against the boulder at the opening of our shelter.
are all converging," he said. "When the time comes we shall have gypsies
on all sides." I got out my revolver ready to hand, for whilst we were speaking
the howling of wolves came louder and closer. When the snow storm abated a moment
we looked again. It was strange to see the snow falling in such heavy flakes close
to us, and beyond, the sun shining more and more brightly as it sank down towards
the far mountain tops. Sweeping the glass all around us I could see here and there
dots moving singly and in twos and threes and larger numbers. The wolves were
gathering for their prey.
Every instant seemed an age whilst we waited.
The wind came now in fierce bursts, and the snow was driven with fury as it swept
upon us in circling eddies. At times we could not see an arm's length before us.
But at others, as the hollow sounding wind swept by us, it seemed to clear the
air space around us so that we could see afar off. We had of late been so accustomed
to watch for sunrise and sunset, that we knew with fair accuracy when it would
be. And we knew that before long the sun would set. It was hard to believe that
by our watches it was less than an hour that we waited in that rocky shelter before
the various bodies began to converge close upon us. The wind came now with fiercer
and more bitter sweeps, and more steadily from the north. It seemingly had driven
the snow clouds from us, for with only occasional bursts, the snow fell. We could
distinguish clearly the individuals of each party, the pursued and the pursuers.
Strangely enough those pursued did not seem to realize, or at least to care, that
they were pursued. They seemed, however, to hasten with redoubled speed as the
sun dropped lower and lower on the mountain tops.
Closer and closer they
drew. The Professor and I crouched down behind our rock, and held our weapons
ready. I could see that he was determined that they should not pass. One and all
were quite unaware of our presence.
All at once two voices shouted out to
"Halt!" One was my Jonathan's, raised in a high key of passion. The
other Mr. Morris' strong resolute tone of quiet command. The gypsies may not have
known the language, but there was no mistaking the tone, in whatever tongue the
words were spoken. Instinctively they reined in, and at the instant Lord Godalming
and Jonathan dashed up at one side and Dr. Seward and Mr. Morris on the other.
The leader of the gypsies, a splendid looking fellow who sat his horse like a
centaur, waved them back, and in a fierce voice gave to his companions some word
to proceed. They lashed the horses which sprang forward. But the four men raised
their Winchester rifles, and in an unmistakable way commanded them to stop. At
the same moment Dr. Van Helsing and I rose behind the rock and pointed our weapons
at them. Seeing that they were surrounded the men tightened their reins and drew
up. The leader turned to them and gave a word at which every man of the gypsy
party drew what weapon he carried, knife or pistol, and held himself in readiness
to attack. Issue was joined in an instant.
The leader, with a quick movement
of his rein, threw his horse out in front, and pointed first to the sun, now close
down on the hill tops, and then to the castle, said something which I did not
understand. For answer, all four men of our party threw themselves from their
horses and dashed towards the cart. I should have felt terrible fear at seeing
Jonathan in such danger, but that the ardor of battle must have been upon me as
well as the rest of them. I felt no fear, but only a wild, surging desire to do
something. Seeing the quick movement of our parties, the leader of the gypsies
gave a command. His men instantly formed round the cart in a sort of undisciplined
endeavour, each one shouldering and pushing the other in his eagerness to carry
out the order.
In the midst of this I could see that Jonathan on one side
of the ring of men, and Quincey on the other, were forcing a way to the cart.
It was evident that they were bent on finishing their task before the sun should
set. Nothing seemed to stop or even to hinder them. Neither the levelled weapons
nor the flashing knives of the gypsies in front, nor the howling of the wolves
behind, appeared to even attract their attention. Jonathan's impetuosity, and
the manifest singleness of his purpose, seemed to overawe those in front of him.
Instinctively they cowered aside and let him pass. In an instant he had jumped
upon the cart, and with a strength which seemed incredible, raised the great box,
and flung it over the wheel to the ground. In the meantime, Mr. Morris had had
to use force to pass through his side of the ring of Szgany. All the time I had
been breathlessly watching Jonathan I had, with the tail of my eye, seen him pressing
desperately forward, and had seen the knives of the gypsies flash as he won a
way through them, and they cut at him. He had parried with his great bowie knife,
and at first I thought that he too had come through in safety. But as he sprang
beside Jonathan, who had by now jumped from the cart, I could see that with his
left hand he was clutching at his side, and that the blood was spurting through
his fingers. He did not delay notwithstanding this, for as Jonathan, with desperate
energy, attacked one end of the chest, attempting to prize off the lid with his
great Kukri knife, he attacked the other frantically with his bowie. Under the
efforts of both men the lid began to yield. The nails drew with a screeching sound,
and the top of the box was thrown back.
By this time the gypsies, seeing
themselves covered by the Winchesters, and at the mercy of Lord Godalming and
Dr. Seward, had given in and made no further resistance. The sun was almost down
on the mountain tops, and the shadows of the whole group fell upon the snow. I
saw the Count lying within the box upon the earth, some of which the rude falling
from the cart had scattered over him. He was deathly pale, just like a waxen image,
and the red eyes glared with the horrible vindictive look which I knew so well.
I looked, the eyes saw the sinking sun, and the look of hate in them turned to
But, on the instant, came the sweep and flash of Jonathan's great
knife. I shrieked as I saw it shear through the throat. Whilst at the same moment
Mr. Morris's bowie knife plunged into the heart.
It was like a miracle,
but before our very eyes, and almost in the drawing of a breath, the whole body
crumbled into dust and passed from our sight.
I shall be glad as long as
I live that even in that moment of final dissolution, there was in the face a
look of peace, such as I never could have imagined might have rested there.
Castle of Dracula now stood out against the red sky, and every stone of its broken
battlements was articulated against the light of the setting sun.
taking us as in some way the cause of the extraordinary disappearance of the dead
man, turned, without a word, and rode away as if for their lives. Those who were
unmounted jumped upon the leiter wagon and shouted to the horsemen not to desert
them. The wolves, which had withdrawn to a safe distance, followed in their wake,
leaving us alone.
Mr. Morris, who had sunk to the ground, leaned on his
elbow, holding his hand pressed to his side. The blood still gushed through his
fingers. I flew to him, for the Holy circle did not now keep me back; so did the
two doctors. Jonathan knelt behind him and the wounded man laid back his head
on his shoulder. With a sigh he took, with a feeble effort, my hand in that of
his own which was unstained.
He must have seen the anguish of my heart in
my face, for he smiled at me and said, "I am only too happy to have been
of service! Oh, God!" he cried suddenly, struggling to a sitting posture
and pointing to me. "It was worth for this to die! Look! Look!"
sun was now right down upon the mountain top, and the red gleams fell upon my
face, so that it was bathed in rosy light. With one impulse the men sank on their
knees and a deep and earnest "Amen" broke from all as their eyes followed
the pointing of his finger.
The dying man spoke, "Now God be thanked
that all has not been in vain! See! The snow is not more stainless than her forehead!
The curse has passed away!"
And, to our bitter grief, with a smile
and in silence, he died, a gallant gentleman.