The 600 girls murdered to provide blood for the mad Countess now have their eerie memorial. For nothing can remove the bloodstain in ‘Dracula’s Castle’!
The bloodstains on the top of the main stairway in the palace of Holyrood House, Edinburgh, the Scottish capital, are still there, though then can no longer be seen. David Rizzio, favorite of Mary Queen of Scots, dragged from her presence by jealous rivals, fell there, his body pierced by 56 stab wounds, on March 9, 1566.
The spot is now marked by a brass plate on which are engraved particulars of the murder but underneath, say the guides, the telltale marks have never faded or been washed away. They, like several other bloodstains, may never be eradicated.
For many years successive landlords of the Chequers Inn, at Crookham, in the English county of Hampshire, tried to get rid of bloodstains from the wall in the bar. It was made late in the 19th century when Jack Mackerel was shot dead by his best friend, the local gamekeeper. The gamekeeper was already very drunk and someone, eager to make a quick profit from his drunkenness, said: “I’ll bet you five shillings you can’t shoot out the candle flame.”
The gamekeeper rose, picked up the gun that he always carried with him and cocked it. On this occasion his hand was unsteady and the gun wavered as he took aim and fired. The flame was still flickering as the noise died away. But Jack Mackerel was there on the floor, dead.
Blood spurted from his body onto the wall and could not be washed away. Soaps and powders, scrubbings and rubbings failed to remove it and eventually, the wall was stripped and scraped. Then a pottery pelican in flight was carefully placed on the once rusty red spot and it seemed that the bloodstain had vanished.
However, in recent years the pelican was broken, the wall beneath was revealed once more and there was the bloodstain, clearly visible.
Cat and Man
Another indelible bloodstain, much older, can still be seen in the porch of the ‘Cat and Man’ church, in the village of Barnburgh, near Doncaster, Yorkshire, according to a newspaper report. It originated in an incident more macabre than any murder.
About 500 years ago Sir Percival Cresacre, a local knight, was riding toward Doncaster through thick woods when he was attacked by a wild cat, which jumped up on to the back of his horse.
Sire Percival’s steed, terrified by the attack, threw its rider and bolted, leaving Sir Percival injured and still struggling with his vicious attacker in an effort to reach safety.
With the wild cat still clawing at him Sir Percival Cresacre staggered into the church porch and stumbled. His legs, as he fell to his death, crushed the cat against the stonework and it, too, died. So the cat killed the man and the man killed the cat in the same moment.
To this day the gory stain, of either man or cat, can clearly be seen.
Jim Thorpe’s Bloody Hand
The bloodstain that can still be seen on the wall of a cell in Carbon County Jail, in the town of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania, was, however, placed there deliberately.
In 1878 Thomas P. Fisher, was arrested tried and found guilty of murdering Morgan Powell. During the whole of his imprisonment until the day of his execution Fisher protested his innocence.
As he was being dragged away to be hanged he managed to cut his hand and, allowing the blood to flow freely, planted it firmly on the wall of his cell, shouting: “My mark will stay here as long as this prison remains.” Repeated painting and whitewashing have failed to remove the outline of a man’s hand, marked in blood.
The Shadows of Hiroshima
In Hiroshima, Japan, scene of the world’s first atomic bomb explosion on August 6, 1945, there is a shadow which, many experts believe, will remain there forever.
An unidentified man was sitting on the steps of the Sumitomo Bank building when the bomb exploded over the city. It obliterated him and many, many others, but he achieved a strange immortality.
The dark outline of his body, which for a split second protected the granite steps of the bank, was all that remained. No attempt was made to remove it but, over the years, it began to fade from a deep black to a gray. Then plans were made to seal it in an airtight container, as a grim memento of a great atrocity.
In far distant Castle Lockenhaus, high in a remote part of the Burgenland district of Austria, its caretaker tells visitors of a discolored patch of earth under the castle arch that turns blood red after rain.
“The stain is a reminder of the dreadful things that once happened here — and the terrible woman who made Lockenhaus a place of fear,” she says. For Lockenhaus is part of the terrible legend of Dracula.
In the 16th century the castle was owned by Countess Bathori, a beautiful noblewoman with a bizarre taste in drinks. It was said that she drank human blood.
Villagers talked of the strange disappearances of young girls, of screams from the castle and mysterious carriages vanishing into the night. With relief they heard one day that the countess had sold the castle and was leaving to go to her original home in Roumania.
The old story gradually faded from people’s minds until, in 1610, Countess Bathori was caught in the act of drinking human blood in Csejtl Castle in the Carpathian Mountains, admitting, as she did, that she firmly believed that human blood improved her complexion.
To get it, apparently, she had murdered more than 600 peasant girls and when she was arrested three were found bound, tortured and drained of their blood in the castle dungeons. Three of the Countess’s accomplices were taken and burned at the stake and she was walled up alive in her own castle.
Naturally the news from Csejtl reached her old home and the stories told by old folk were repeated and in many instances believed. The caretaker of Castle Lockenhaus in the 1970s claimed: “Mercifully we believe that the countess only murdered a few girls here. But some time after her execution in Roumania the mysterious bloodstain appeared.”
Normally it shows as a faint, muddy patch beneath the arched entrance to one of the old dungeons. But when rain comes, it turns scarlet.
Experts have examined the soil for traces of minerals that might produce a reddish tint when rain falls. They found nothing to support that belief.
Efforts have been made to remove the stain, but without avail. Some mysterious power has given it a permanence that defies explanation and the power of modern science to get rid of it.