Elizabeth was of a severe and cruel disposition, and her handmaidens led no joyous life. Slight faults are said to have been punished by most merciless tortures. One day, as the lady of Csejta was adoring at her mirror those charms which that faithful monitor told her were fast waning, she gave way to her ungovernable temper, excited, perhaps, by the mirror's unwelcome hint, and struck her unoffending maid with such force in the face as to draw blood. As she washed from her hand the stain, she fancied that the part which the blood had touched grew whiter, softer, and as it were, more young. Imbued with the dreams of the age, she believed that accident had revealed to her what so many philosophers had wasted years to discover, -- that in a maiden's blood she possessed the elixir vitae, the source of never failing youth and beauty! Remorseless by nature, she and now urged by that worst of woman's weaknesses, vanity, no sooner did the thought flash across her brain than her resolution was taken; the life of her luckless handmaiden seemed as nought compared with the rich boon her murder promised to secure.
Elizabeth, however, was wary as she was cruel. At the foot of the rock on which Csejta stands, was a small cottage inhabited by two old women, and between the cellar of this cottage and the castle was a subterranean passage, known only to one or two persons, and never used but in times of danger. With the aid of these crones and her steward, the poor girl was led through the secret passage to the cottage, where the horrid deed was accomplished, and the body of the murderess washed in virgin's blood! Not satisfied with the first essay, at different intervals, by the aid of these accomplices and the secret passage, no less than three hundred maidens were sacrificed at the shrine of vanity and superstition. Several years had been occupied in this pitiless slaughter, and no suspicion of the truth was excited, though the greatest amazement pervaded the country at the disappearance of so many persons.
At last, however, Elizabeth called into play against her, two passions stronger even than vanity or cunning -- love and revenge became interested in the discovery of the mystery. Among the victims of Csejta was a beautiful maiden who was beloved by and betrothed to a young man of the neighbourhood. In despair at the loss of his mistress, he followed her traces with such perseverance, that, in spite of the hitherto successful caution of the murderess, he penetrated the bloody secrets of the castle, and burning for revenge, flew to Presburg, boldly accused Elizabeth Bathory of murder before the Palatine, in open court, and demanded judgment against her.
So grave an accusation, so openly preferred against an individual of such high rank, demanded the most serious attention, and George Thurzo, the then Palatine, undertook to investigate the affair in person. Proceeding immediately to Csejta, before the murderess of her accomplices had any idea of the accusation, he discovered the still warm body of a young girl whom they had been destroying as the Palatine approached, and had not had time to dispose of before he apprehended them. The rank of Elizabeth mitigated her punishment to imprisonment for life, but her assistants were burned at the stake.