Bram Stoker’s Dracula by Fred Saberhagen & James V. Heart

Shortly before two o’clock, Holmwood and Morris returned to the Piccadilly house, to report a successful mission, in the East End and elsewhere. All in all, forty-nine of Dracula’s fifty coffins had now been denied him*

What to do now?

Quincey gave his opinion: “There’s nothing to do but wait here. If, however, he doesn’t turn up by five o’clock, we must start off; for it won’t do to leave Mrs. Harker alone after sunset.”

Van Helsing had just begun to say something about the need for a concerted plan of attack when he stopped speaking and held up a warning hand.

All four men could hear the sound of a key being softly inserted in the lock of the hall door. With a swift glance around the room, Quincey Morris at once laid out their plan of attack, and without speaking a word, with a gesture, placed each man in position. Van Helsing, Harker, and Seward were placed behind the door. Godalming and Quincey stood ready to move in front of the window, should their enemy attempt to escape them by that route.

They waited in a suspense that made the seconds pass with nightmare slowness.

A moment later slow, careful steps could be heard coming along the hall; the count was evidently prepared for some surprise—at least he feared it.

Suddenly with a single bound he leaped into the room, winning a way past his enemies before any of them could raise a hand to stay him. There was something so pantherlike in the movement, something so inhuman, that it sobered them all.

As the count saw them a horrible snarl passed over his face, showing the eyeteeth long and pointed; but the evil smile quickly passed into a cold stare of lionlike disdain.

Harker evidently meant to try whether his lethal-weapon would avail him anything, for he had ready his great kukri knife, and made a fierce and sudden cut. The blow was a powerful one; only the diabolical quickness of the count’s leap back saved him.

Instinctively Seward moved forward with a protective impulse, holding the crucifix and wafer in his left hand. He felt a mighty power fly along his arm and saw the monster cower back.

The next instant Dracula had swept under Harker’s arm before his next blow could fall, dashed across the room, and threw himself at the window. Amid the crash and glitter of falling glass, he tumbled into the flag-stoned area below.

Running to the window, the men saw Dracula spring unhurt from the ground, cross the yard, and push open the stable door. There he turned and spoke to them.

“You think to baffle me, you bastards with your pale faces all in a row, like sheep in a butcher’s. You shall be sorry yet! My revenge is just begun. I spread it over centuries, and time is on my side. Bah!” With a contemptuous sneer he passed quickly through the door, and his foes heard the rusty bolt creak as he fastened it behind him.

Godalming and Morris had rushed out into the yard, and Harker had lowered himself from the window to follow the count; but by the time they had forced open the bolted stable door, there was no sign of him.

Realizing the difficulty of following their enemy through the stable, Van Helsing and Seward moved back toward the hall. The first to speak was the professor. “We have learned something—much! Notwithstanding his brave words, he fears us; he fear time, he fear want.”

It was now late in the afternoon, and sunset was not far off, with heavy hearts the others agreed with the professor when he said: “Let us go back to Madam Mina—poor, dear Madam Mina. We need not despair; there is but one more earth box, and when we find it, all may yet be well.”

Seward could see that he was speaking as bravely as he could to comfort Harker.

On returning to the asylum, the group was welcomed by Mina. On seeing their faces, her own became as pale as death. For a second or two her eyes were closed as if in secret prayer. Then she said cheerfully: “I can never thank you all enough. Oh, my poor darling!” And she took her husband’s graying head in her hands and kissed it.

The sky had begun to lighten with the first foreshadowings of dawn when Mina awakened her husband. Her voice and manner were calm and determined. “Jonathan, go, call the professor. I want to see him at once.”


“I have an idea. I think that now, only now in this hour before the dawn, I may be able to speak freely—about him.”

Harker hastened to do as his wife requested.

In two minutes Van Helsing, wrapped in his dressing gown, was in the room, and Morris and Lord Godalming with Dr. Seward were at the door asking questions.

When the professor saw Mina, a positive smile ousted the anxiety from his face. He rubbed his hands together and said: “Oh, friend Jonathan, we have got our dear Madam Mina, as of old, back to us today!” Turning to her, he asked cheerfully: “And what am I to do for you? For at this hour you do not want me for nothings.”

At last Mina, in an almost ordinary voice, replied to Van Helsing’s question: “It is hard to describe. But he… speaks to me, without even trying to do so.”

The professor nodded. He understood, at least in part.

Quietly, as if the two of them were quite alone, he said to Mina: “Prince Dracula has a strong mind connection to you. He was, in life, a most wonderful man. Soldier, statesman, alchemist—the highest development of science in his time. His heart was strong enough to survive the grave.”

Mina searched the professor’s eyes, as if to find in them a spark of hope. “Then you admire him.”

The old man nodded. “Much so. His mind is great.” Then he leaned forward deliberately. “But greater is the absolute necessity to stamp him out. That is why I ask you help me to find him, before it is too late.”

Torn with a terrible inner conflict, Mina murmured: “I know that you must fight—that you must destroy him—even as you did Lucy.”

Van Helsing, even as he nodded in agreement, sighed in grief and sympathy.

Mina continued in a dead voice: “I know also that I am becoming like him. When I find in myself a sign of harm to anyone I love, I shall die.”

The professor’s bushy eyebrows rose. “You would not take your own life?”

She nodded, with firm conviction. “I would, if there were no friend who loved me, who would save me such a pain, and so desperate an effort!”

Van Helsing struck the table with his hand. “No, I tell you, that must not be! You must not die by any hand, least of all your own. Until the other, who has fouled your sweet life, is true dead, you must not die, for if he still walks as an undead, your death would make you even as he is. No, you must live!”

Mina’s eyes looked in turn at each of the men who were gathered here with her, united by their determination to fight for her. Her gaze seemed to reach them from the great distance of her terrible position as the vampire’s victim. First Professor Van Helsing, then her husband—to meet Jonathan’s eyes required the greatest effort on her part—then Dr. Seward, Arthur Holmwood, and finally Quincey Morris.

She said to all of them: “And I see that you must fight. But not in hate. The poor lost soul who has wrought all this misery is the saddest of all of us. You must pity him, too—as you must me. Why need we seek him further when he is gone away from us?”

“Because, my dear Madam Mina, now more than ever must we find him, even if we have to follow him to the jaws of hell!”


“Because,” Van Helsing answered solemnly, “he can live for centuries, and you are but mortal woman. Time is now to be dreaded—since once he put that mark upon your throat!”

Harker sprang forward to his wife’s side, as for a moment it seemed that she might faint.

But then with an act of will she rallied. “I want you to hypnotize me!” the woman anxiously declared, speaking to Van Helsing. “Do it before the dawn, for then I feel I can speak, and speak freely. Be quick, for the time is short!”

Without a word Van Helsing motioned for his patient to sit up in bed. Setting his candle on the bedside table, and looking fixedly at her, he commenced to make hypnotic gestures in front of her, from over the top of her head downward, with each hand in turn.

Mina gazed at him fixedly for a few minutes. Seward could feel his own heart beating strongly, for he felt that some crisis was at hand.

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Categories: Saberhagen, Fred