Gradually Mina’s eyes closed, and she sat stock-still; only by the gentle heaving of her bosom was it possible to see that she was still alive.
The professor made a few more passes and then stopped; his forehead was now covered with great beads of perspiration.
Mina now opened her eyes again, but there was a faraway look in them, and she did not seem the same woman.
By now the men who had been standing in the hallway had come into the room, where they stood crowded around the foot of the bed. Raising his hand to impose silence on them, the professor spoke to Mina in a low, level tone. “His destruction is your salvation, Madam Mina. Help me find him!”
“He is gone,” she responded unexpectedly. And added: “I believe that he has now left the country.”
“Ja,” the professor agreed. “Our experienced hunters were busy yesterday. We may be confident we have now destroyed all of his boxes but one.” Then quietly he asked: “But how do you know, child, that he is gone?”
“Yes, gone,” she whispered presently. “And I must go to him. I have no choice. He calls.”
The old man glanced at the onlookers, silently urging them to remain quiet. Then he waited a little longer, until he was satisfied that the trance was deep enough.
At last he asked Mina softly: “Where are you going?”
Long moments passed before she whispered in reply: “Sleep has no place to call its own—I am drifting, floating.”
“Going home… home.”
The professor took thought, frowning and pulling at his lower lip. “What do you hear?” he tried.
Another pause. “Mother ocean,” the young woman replied at last. “I hear lapping waves, as on a wooden hull… rushing water. Creaking masts…”
The professor turned in hushed elation to his male colleagues. Fiercely he whispered: “Then truly we have driven him from England!”
Hushed exclamations broke from the other men. Spontaneously they edged a little closer to Van Helsing and his patient.
After a glance at Mina, which told him that she was emerging spontaneously from her trance, the professor clenched a fist and spoke in a more normal voice.
“God be thanked that we have once again a clue! The count saw that with but one earth box left, and a pack of men following like dogs after a fox, this London was no place for him. This means he have take his last earth box to board a ship, and he leave the land. Tally-ho, as friend Arthur would say.
“Our old fox is wily; but I, too, am wily, and I think his mind in a little while.”
By this time Mina’s eyes were fully open again and she was listening, nodding slowly in agreement.
Seward, looking on from a little distance, noted grimly that already, with hideous swiftness, this latest victim of the vampire was turning gaunt and pale, her gums receding from her teeth. In his opinion the process of transformation was even now well advanced.
The Harkers were badly in need of rest, as were the small determined band of men who would protect the couple and avenge their injuries. But before any of the group could rest in anything like peace, it was necessary to do all that could be done to verify the report Mina had given under hypnosis. Therefore as soon as full daylight came, the four men other than Jonathan paid a visit to the London docks.
That evening, back in the asylum, Van Helsing reported to the Harkers on the results of this expedition.
“As I knew that he, Prince Dracula, wanted to get back to Transylvania, I felt sure that he must go by the Danube mouth; or by somewhere in the Black Sea, since by that way he come.
“And so with heavy hearts we start to find what ships leave for the Black Sea last night. He was in sailing ship, since Madam Mina tell of masts and sails… and so we go, by suggestion of my Lord Godalming, to your Lloyd’s insurers, where are note of all ships that sail.
“There we find that only one Black Sea-bound ship go out with the tide. She is the Czarina Catherine, and she sail from Doolittle’s Wharf for Varna, and thence on to other parts and up the Danube. And there are those who remember seeing the heavy box, of coffin shape, being loaded on board her, and the tall man, thin and pale, with eyes that seem to be burning, who see that the box is loaded.
“And so, my dear Madam Mina, my dear Jonathan, it is that we can rest for a time, for our enemy is on the sea.”
The Harkers exchanged a look and nodded; this news was no surprise.
Van Helsing continued: “To sail a ship takes time, go she never so quick; and we go on land more quick, and we meet him there. Our best hope is to come on him in the box between sunrise and sunset; for then he can make but little struggle, and we may deal with him as we should.”
For the first time in many days, the Harkers and their friends were now able to sleep with something like a sense of security; and the first day after their confirmation of Dracula’s departure was spent in resting and regaining strength.
Then the preparations for the next phase of the battle went forward apace.
But all was far from satisfactory. On the fifth of October Van Helsing said to Seward: “Friend John, there is something you and I must talk of alone, just at the first at any rate. Later, we may have to take the others into our confidence.”
“What is it, Professor?” Though Seward was afraid he knew.
“Madam Mina, our poor, dear Madam Mina is changing.”
A cold shiver ran through Seward to find his own worst fears thus endorsed.
Van Helsing continued: “With the sad experience of Miss Lucy before us, we must this time be warned before things go too far. I can see the characteristics of the vampire coming into her face. It is now but very, very slight. Her teeth are some sharper, and at times her eyes are more hard.”
Seward thought that “very slight” might be too optimistic a view, but at the moment he was not disposed to argue.
The professor went on: “Now my fear is this. If she can, by our hypnotic trance, tell us what the count see and hear, is it not more true that he, who have hypnotize her first, and who have drink of her very blood and make her drink of his, should compel her mind to disclose to him what she know?”
Seward reluctantly nodded acquiescence. “Yes, including our plans for hunting him.”
“Then what we must do is keep her ignorant of our intent, and so she cannot tell what she know not. This is a painful task; but still it must be. When today we meet, I must tell her that for reason we will not speak she must not more be of our council, but be simply guarded by us.” The professor wiped his forehead, which had broken out in perspiration at the thought of the pain he might have to inflict upon the poor soul already so tortured.
But when it came time for the day’s strategy session in Dr. Seward’s study, Mrs. Harker sent a message by her husband to the rest of Dracula’s foes.
Jonathan, on entering the room where they were waiting for him, reported: “Mina tells me that she believes it better that she should not join us at present. She says in that way we shall be free to discuss our movements without her presence to embarrass us.”
Van Helsing and Seward exchanged a look, both physicians were relieved.
With that question apparently settled, the men began at once planning the campaign. Van Helsing put the facts before his associates.
“The Czarina Catherine left the Thames yesterday morning. It will take her at the quickest speed she has ever made at least three weeks to reach Varna, on the Black Sea; there is the Atlantic and the whole Mediterranean she must traverse. But we can travel overland to the same place in as little as three days.
“Now, if we allow for two days less for the ship’s voyage, owing to such weather influences as we know the count can bring to bear, and if we allow a whole day and night for any delays which we may suffer, then we have a margin of nearly two weeks. Thus, in order to be quite safe, we must leave here on seventeenth October at latest. Then we shall be sure to be in Varna on the day before the ship arrives; of course, we shall all go armed—against evil things, spiritual as well as physical.”
On the morning of the sixth of October, Mina woke her husband early and asked him to bring Dr. Van Helsing. Harker thought it was another occasion for hypnotism, and at once went for the professor.