a modern English adaptation by James Hampton Belton
of Bram Stoker’s novel
Why bother? What’s wrong with Stoker’s novel? In two words, it’s an epistolery novel. This is a novel told as a series of letters and journal entries. It’s the literary equivalent of a found footage film. Yuck! The first act of Frankenstein is done in a similar style, but that novel fortunately gets away from its “captain’s log” style after Victor is introduced.
Dracula has other problems. There are anachronisms like “the Pops”, which is the Victorian equivalent of a rock concert. There is a character who’s Scottish accent is nearly incomprehensible. I set out to create a faithful adaptation of the entire novel that is readable and is written as a third person narrative.
Currently, this is a work in progress, and is not available for Kindle yet. Please comment if you like this, want more, or would like to see it available for Kindle. Hope you enjoy.
Chapter I – Into the Carpathians
Jonathon Harker left Munich at 8:35 PM on the 1st of May, arriving in Vienna early the next morning. He should have arrived at 6:46, but the train was an hour late. He travelled on to Budapest, which seemed a wonderful place from the glimpses he got of it from the train and the little he could see as he walked through its streets. He feared to go very far from the station, as he had arrived late and would leave as near to the correct time as possible. He had the impression that he was leaving the West and entering the East. The most western of the splendid bridges over the Danube, which was at this crossing nobly wide and deep, took him into lands whose traditions were of Turkish rule.
Harker’s train left in good time, and came to Klausenburgh after nightfall. He stopped for the night at the Hotel Royale. For supper, he had a chicken cooked with red pepper, which was very good but made him thirsty. He made a mental note to get the recipe for Mina. The waiter told him it was called “paprika hendl,” and that, as it was a national dish, he should be able to get it anywhere along the Carpathians. Harker didn’t know how he would have been able to get on without his smattering of German.
Having had some free time in London, Harker had visited the British Museum, and searched the books and maps in the library regarding Transylvania, thinking that knowledge of the country could be important when dealing with one of its a noblemen. He had found that the district he would be visiting was in the extreme east of the country, on the borders of three states, Transylvania, Moldavia and Bukovina, in the midst of the Carpathian mountains, one of the wildest and least known parts of Europe. He had been unable to find any map or work giving the exact locality of Castle Dracula, as there were no maps of this country as yet to compare with the British Ordnance Survey maps. He did find that Bistritz, the post town named by Count Dracula, was a fairly well-known place.
The population of Transylvania consisted of four distinct nationalities: Saxons in the South, mixed with the Wallachs, who are the descendants of the Dacians; Magyars in the West; and Szekelys in the East and North. Harker was traveling among the latter, who claim to be descended from Attila and the Huns. He suspected this might be so, recalling that when the Magyars conquered the country in the eleventh century, they had found the Huns settled in it. He had read that every known superstition in the world was gathered into the horseshoe of the Carpathians, as if it were the centre of some imaginative whirlpool. He planned to ask the Count all about them.
Harker did not sleep well, though his bed was comfortable enough. He had all sorts of odd dreams. A dog was howling all night under his window, which may have had something to do with it. It may have been the paprika; he had drunk all the water in his carafe, and was still thirsty. Towards morning, he slept and was awakened by continuous knocking at his door. He guessed he must have been sleeping soundly then. For breakfast, he had more paprika, a porridge of maize flour which his server called “mamaliga,” and egg-plant stuffed with forcemeat, a very excellent dish called “impletata.” He had to hurry breakfast, because the train left a little before eight, or rather it ought to have done so. After rushing to the station at 7:30, he sat in the carriage for more than an hour before it began to move. It seemed that the further east he went the less punctual the trains were, and he wondered how late they would be in China.
All day long, the train dawdled through country full of beauty of every kind. He saw little towns and castles atop steep hills like the ones he’d seen in old prayer books. At times they ran by rivers and streams that seemed from the wide stony margins at the water’s edge to be subject to great floods that had eroded away their banks. At every station, there were people, sometimes crowds, in all sorts of attire. Some were just like English peasants, others like those Harker had seen coming through France and Germany, with short jackets, round hats, and home-made trousers. Others were very picturesque. The women looked pretty from a distance, but were mostly overweight. They wore full white sleeves, and most had big belts with strips fluttering from them like the dresses in a ballet, and petticoats under them. The strangest were the Slovaks, who were more barbarian than the rest, with their big cowboy hats, great baggy dirty white trousers, white linen shirts, and enormous heavy leather belts, nearly a foot wide, studded all over with brass nails. They wore high boots, with their trousers tucked into them, and had long black hair and heavy black moustaches. They were very picturesque, but unattractive. Harker had been told they were harmless.
The train arrived in Bistritz on the dark side of twilight. It was a very interesting old place. Being practically on the border—the Borgo Pass leads from it into Bukovina—it had had a very stormy existence, and it certainly showed marks of it. Fifty years ago a series of great fires had taken place, wrecking terrible havoc on five separate occasions. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, it fell under siege for three weeks and lost 13,000 people, the war proper being assisted by famine and disease.
Count Dracula had directed Harker to go to the Golden Krone Hotel, which he found, to his delight, to be thoroughly old-fashioned; he wanted to see all he could of the ways of the country. He was expected. As he approached the door, a cheerful elderly woman in the usual peasant dress—a white undergarment with a long, colourful double apron, front, and back, fitting almost too tightly for modesty. When he came close she bowed.
“The Herr Englishman?” she said.
“Yes,” he replied, “Jonathan Harker.”
She smiled, and said something to an elderly man in white shirt-sleeves, who had followed her to the door. He went and immediately returned with a letter for Harker.
Welcome to the Carpathians. I am anxiously expecting you. Sleep well tonight. At three tomorrow, the diligence will start for Bukovina; a place on it is kept for you. At the Borgo Pass, my carriage will await you and will bring you to me. I trust that your journey from London has been a happy one, and that you will enjoy your stay in my beautiful land.
Harker that his landlord had received a letter from the Count directing him to secure the best place on the coach for his guest. When he asked about it, the man seemed reticent, and pretended that he could not understand Harker’s German. This could not be true, because up to then he had understood it perfectly, or had answered Harker’s questions exactly as if he did. He and his wife, the old woman who had received Harker, exchanged frightened looks. He mumbled that the money had been sent in the letter, and that was all he knew. When I asked him if he knew Count Dracula, or could tell me anything of his castle, both the landlord and his wife crossed themselves, and, saying that they knew nothing at all, refused to speak further. It was so near the time to leave that Harker had no time to ask any one else. He found it very mysterious and not at all comforting.
Just as he was about to leave, the old woman came up to his room.
“Must you go?” she said hysterically. “Oh! young Herr, must you go?”
She was in such an excited state that she had lost her grip on what German she knew, and mixed it all up with some other language that Harker did not know. He was just able to follow her by asking many questions. He told her that he must go at once, and that he was engaged on important business.
“Do you know what day it is?” she asked him.
“It is the fourth of May” Harker replied.
“Oh, yes! I know that!” she said, shaking her head. “I know that, but do you know what day it is?”
“I don’t understand,” he replied.
“It is the eve of St. George’s Day,” she said. “Do you not know that tonight, when the clock strikes midnight, all the evil things in the world will have full sway? Do you know where you are going, and what you are going to?”
She was in such distress that Harker tried to comfort her. Finally she went down on her knees and implored him not to go, or at least to wait a day or two before starting. He found it ridiculous but was uncomfortable. However, there was business to be done, and he could allow nothing to interfere with it. He tried to raise her up.
She rose and dried her eyes, and taking a crucifix from her neck offered it to him. He did not know what to do, for, as an English Churchman, he had been taught to regard such things as idolatrous, and yet it seemed so ungracious to refuse an old women who meant so well and was in such a state of mind. She saw the doubt in his face and put the rosary round his neck.
“For your mother’s sake,” she said, and left the room.
Harker wrote in his diary while he waited for the coach, which was, of course, late. The crucifix was still round his neck. Whether it was the old woman’s fear, the many ghostly traditions of the place, or the crucifix itself, he did not know, but he was not feeling nearly as at ease as usual. Then the coach approached.
The grey of the morning had passed, and the sun was high over the distant horizon, which seemed jagged, but whether with trees or hills Harker didn’t know, for it was so far off that big things and little were mixed. He was not sleepy, and, as I am not to be called till I awake, naturally I write till sleep comes. There are many odd things to put down, and, lest who reads them may fancy that I dined too well before I left Bistritz, let me put down my dinner exactly. I dined on what they called “robber steak”—bits of bacon, onion, and beef, seasoned with red pepper, and strung on sticks and roasted over the fire, in the simple style of the London cat’s meat! The wine was Golden Mediasch, which produces a queer sting on the tongue, which is, however, not disagreeable. I had only a couple of glasses of this, and nothing else.
When Harker got into the coach, the driver had not taken his seat. Harker saw him talking with the landlady. They were evidently talking about him, for every now and then they looked at him. Some of the people sitting on the bench outside the door—called by a name meaning “word-bearer”—came and listened, and looked at him, most of them pityingly. He could hear a lot of words being repeated, odd words, for there were many nationalities in the crowd. He quietly took his polyglot dictionary from his bag and looked them up. They didn’t cheer to him. Among them were “Ordog”—Satan, “pokol”—hell, “stregoica”—witch, “vrolok” and “vlkoslak”—both of which mean the same thing, one being Slovak and the other Serbian for either werewolf or vampire. He made a note to ask the Count about these superstitions.
When the coach started off, the crowd around the inn door, which had by this time swelled, all made the sign of the cross and pointed two fingers towards Harker. With some difficulty, Harker got another passenger to tell him what this meant. The man would not answer at first, but on learning that Harker was English, explained that it was a charm to ward against the evil eye. Harker, just setting out for an unknown place to meet an unknown man, found this unpleasant, but every one seemed so kindhearted, sorrowful, and sympathetic that he couldn’t help being touched. He would never forget the last glimpse of the inn yard and the picturesque crowd, all crossing themselves as they stood around the wide archway, against a background of rich foliage of oleander and orange trees in green tubs clustered in the centre of the yard. The driver, whose wide linen drawers called “gotza” covered the entire front of the box seat, cracked his big whip over his four small horses, which ran abreast of eachother, and they set off on their journey.
Harker soon forgot his ghostly fears in the beauty of the scenery as they drove along, although if he had known the languages that his fellow-passengers were speaking, he might not have been able to throw them off so easily. Before the coach lay a green sloping land full of forests and woods, flanked here and there by steep hills, crowned with copses of trees or farmhouses, their blank gable ends to the road. Bewildering masses of fruit blossom were everywhere—apple, plum, pear, cherry. As they drove by, Harker saw the green grass under the trees spangled with fallen petals. The road ran in and out among these green hills of what they call here the “Mittel Land”, losing itself as it swept around a grassy curve, or was shut out from the sky by the straggling ends of pine woods, which here and there ran down the hillsides like tongues of flame. The road was rugged, but the coach flew over it with a feverish haste. Harker could not understand then what the hurry was, but the driver was evidently bent on losing no time in reaching Borgóprund. Harker had been told that this road was excellent in summertime, but it had not yet been put in order after the winter snows. In this respect it was different from most of the of roads in the Carpathians. It was an old tradition that they were not kept in too good order. The Hospadars did not repair them, lest the Turks should think that they were preparing to bring in foreign troops, and so hasten the war which was always at hand.
Beyond the green swelling hills of the Mittel Land, mighty slopes of forest rose up to the lofty slopes of the Carpathians themselves. Right and left of the coach they towered, with the afternoon sun falling fully upon them and bringing out all the glorious colours of the beautiful range, deep blue and purple in the shadows of the peaks, green and brown where grass and rock mingled. There was an endless perspective of jagged rock and pointed crags, til they were lost in the distance where the snowy peaks rose grandly. Here and there were mighty rifts in the mountains, through which, as the sun began to sink, Hark saw the white gleam of falling water. One of his companions touched his arm as they swept round the base of a hill and a lofty, snow-covered peak came into view, seeming, as they wound on their serpentine way, to be right in front of them.
“Look! Isten szek! God’s seat!” the man said, crossing himself reverently.
As the way wound on endlessly and the sun sank lower and lower behind them, the shadows of the evening began to creep around them. The snowy mountain top still held the sunset, and glowed a delicate cool pink. The sunset threw the ghost-like clouds that wound ceaselessly through the valleys among the Carpathians into strange relief, engendering odd thoughts and grim fancies. Here and there they passed Czechs and Slovaks in picturesque attire, and Harker noticed that goitre was painfully prevalent. Many crosses stood by the roadside, and as they swept by, his companions all crossed themselves. Here and there, a peasant man or woman knelt before a shrine, and did not even turn round as they approached, but seemed in the self surrender of devotion to have no eyes or ears for the outer world. Many things were new to Harker. There were haystacks among the trees, and beautiful masses of weeping birch, their white stems shining like silver through the delicate green of their leaves. Now and again they passed a peasant’s cart with its long, snake-like vertebra, calculated to suit the inequalities of the road, on which were seated groups of home coming peasants, the Cszeks in white, the Slovaks in coloured sheepskins, carrying long staves with axes at end like lances. As the evening fell, it began to get very cold, and the growing twilight merged into dark mistiness the gloom of the trees, oak, beech, and pine. In the valleys which ran deep between the spurs of the hills as they ascended through the pass, dark firs stood out here and there against the background of late lying snow. As the road cut through pine woods that seemed in the darkness to be closing in upon them, great masses of mist bestrewed the trees, producing a weird, solemn effect. Sometimes the hills were so steep that, despite the driver’s haste, the horses could only go slowly. Harker wanted to get down and walk up them, as he did at home, but the driver would not hear of it.
“No, no,” he said; “you must not walk here. The dogs are too fierce.”
He looked round to catch the approving smile of the rest of the passengers.
“You may have enough of such matters before you go to sleep,” he added, with what he evidently meant as a grim pleasantry.
He stopped for a moment to light his lamps. When it grew dark there was some excitement among the passengers, and they kept speaking to him, one after the other, as if urging him to further speed. He lashed the horses unmercifully with his long whip, and with wild cries of encouragement urged them to further exertions. Through the darkness, Harker saw a patch of grey light ahead of them, as though there was a cleft in the hills. The passengers became even more excited. The crazy coach rocked on its leather springs and swayed like a boat tossed on a stormy sea. Harker had to hold on. The road grew more level, and they flew along it. The mountains came nearer on either side and frowned down upon them. They were entering the Borgo Pass. One by one, several of the passengers offered Harker gifts, which they pressed upon him with an earnestness that would take no denial. They were odd and varied, but each was given in simple good faith with a kindly word and a blessing, and the same movements which he had seen outside the hotel at Bistritz—the sign of the cross and the ward against the evil eye. Then, as they flew along, the driver leaned forward, and on each side the passengers, craning over the edge of the coach, peered eagerly into the darkness. Something very exciting was either happening or expected, but though Harker asked each passenger, no one would give him any explanation. Their excitement kept up for some little time. At last they saw before them the pass opening up on the eastern side. Dark, rolling clouds loomed overhead, and the air held the heavy, oppressive sense of thunder. It seemed as though the mountain range had separated two atmospheres, and that now we had got into the thunderous one. Harker began looking out for the conveyance that was to take him to the Count. Each moment he expected to see the glare of lamps through the blackness, but all was dark. The only light was the flickering rays of their own lamps, in which the steam from the hard driven horses rose in a white cloud. He could see the sandy road lying white before them, but there was no sign of a vehicle on it. The other passengers drew back with a sigh of gladness, which seemed to mock his own disappointment. Harker was wondering what to do when the driver, looking at his watch, said to the others something that Harker could hardly hear, it was spoken so quietly and in so low a tone. He thought it was “an hour less than the time.” Then the driver turned to Harker.
“There is no carriage here,” he said in German worse than Harker’s own. “Herr is not expected after all. You will now come on to Bukovina, and return tomorrow or the next day. Better the next day.”
While the driver was speaking, the horses began to neigh and snort and plunge wildly, so that he had to pull them up. Then, among a chorus of screams from the other passengers, who all crossed themselves, a two wheeled carriage drawn by four horses came up behind the coach, overtook it, and drew up beside it. The coach’s lamps revealed that the horses were splendid coal black animals. They were driven by a tall man with a long brown beard and a large black hat, which hid his face. Harker could only see the gleam of very the man’s eyes, which seemed red in the lamplight, as he turned to them.
“You are early to-night, my friend,” he said to the driver,
“The English Herr was in a hurry,” the driver stammered in reply.
“That is why, I suppose, you wished him to go on to Bukovina,” the stranger replied. “You cannot deceive me, my friend. I know too much, and my horses are swift.”
He smiled, and the lamplight fell on his hard-looking mouth, very red lips, and sharp looking teeth, as white as ivory.
“Denn die Todten reiten schnell” whispered one of Harker’s fellow travellers to another.
He recognized the line from Burger’s “Lenore”: For the dead travel fast.
“Give me the Herr’s luggage,” said the stranger.
With exceeding alacrity, Harker’s bags were handed out and put in the carriage. He descended from the coach, as the carriage was close, its driver helping him, catching his arm in a grip of steel. The man’s strength must have been prodigious. Without a word he shook his reins, the horses turned, and they swept into the darkness of the Pass. Harker looked back and saw the shadows of his fellow travellers crossing themselves, projected against the steam from the coach’s horses by the light of its lamps. Then the coach’s driver cracked his whip and called to his horses, and off they swept on their way to Bukovina. As they sank into the darkness, Harker felt a strange chill, and a lonely feeling came over him. A cloak was thrown over his shoulders, and a rug across his knees.
“The night is chill, mein Herr, and my master the Count bade me take all care of you,” the driver said in excellent German. “There is a flask of slivovitz underneath the seat, if you should require it.”
Harker recognized slivovitz as the plum brandy of the country. He did not drink any, but it was a comfort to know it was there all the same. He felt a little strange, and not a little frightened. Had there been any alternative, he might have taken it, instead of undertaking the unknown night journey. The carriage went at a face pace along a straight stretch, then made a complete turn and went along another straight road. It seemed to Harker that they were simply going over the same ground. He took note of a landmark, and found that this was the case. He would have asked the driver what this meant, but feared any protest would have no effect if there was an intention to delay. Curious to know how time was passing, he struck a match and by its flame looked at his watch. It was a few minutes to midnight. This gave him a shock; general superstition about midnight was increased by his recent experiences. He waited with a sick feeling of suspense.
A dog began to howl somewhere in a farmhouse far down the road—a long, agonized wailing, as if from fear. The sound was taken up by another dog, and then another and another, til, borne on the wind that now sighed softly through the pass, wild howling came from all over the country through the gloom of the night. At the first howl the horses began to strain and rear, but the driver spoke to them soothingly, and they quieted down, shivering and sweating as though they had run away from sudden fright. Far off in the distance, from the mountains on each side of us, a louder and a sharper howling—that of wolves—began. This affected both the horses and Harker in the same way. He thought of jumping from the carriage and running, while they reared again and plunged madly, so that the driver had to use all his strength to keep them from bolting. In a few minutes, however, Harker grew accustomed to the sound, and the horses became so quiet that the driver was able to descend and stand before them. He petted and soothed them, whispering in their ears as Harker had heard horse-tamers did, with extraordinary effect, for under his caresses they became manageable again, though they still trembled. The driver retook his seat, shook his reins, and started off at a great pace. This time, after going to the far side of the pass, he turned down a narrow roadway which ran sharply to the right.
Soon, they were hemmed in by trees, which in places arched right over the roadway until it was as though they were passing through a tunnel. Great frowning rocks guarded the road on either side. Though the way was sheltered, Harker could hear the rising wind moaning and whistling through the rocks, and the branches of the trees crashed together as they swept along. It grew colder and colder, and fine, powdery snow began to fall, so that soon they and their surroundings were covered with a white blanket. The wind still carried the baying of dogs, though it grew fainter as they went on their way. The howling of the wolves sounded nearer and nearer, as though they were closing on us from every side. Harker grew dreadfully afraid, and the horses shared his fear. The driver, however, was not in the least disturbed. Harker kept turning his head to the left and the right, but could see nothing through the darkness.
Suddenly, away to the left, Harker saw a faint flickering blue flame. The driver saw it at the same moment, and at once reigned in the horses. Jumping to the ground, he disappeared into the darkness. Harker didn’t know what to do, and the howling of the wolves grew closer. The driver suddenly appeared again, and without a word took his seat, and they resumed their journey. This incident seemed to be repeated endlessly, like an awful nightmare. Once the flame appeared so near the road that even in the darkness around them, Harker could watch the driver’s motions. The man went rapidly to where the blue flame arose—it must have been very faint, for it did not seem to illuminate the place around it at all—and gathering a few stones, formed them into some device. Once, a strange optical effect appeared. When the driver stood between Harker and the flame, he did not obstruct it, and Harker could see its ghostly flicker all the same. This startled him, but as the effect was only momentary, he decided that his eyes had deceived him as they strained through the darkness. For a time there were no more blue flames, and they sped onward through the gloom, with the howling of the wolves around them, as though the beasts were following them in a moving circle.
There came a time when the driver went further afield than he had yet gone, and during his absence, the horses began to tremble worse than ever and to snort and scream with fright. Harker could not see any reason for it; the howling of the wolves had stopped altogether. Then the moon, sailing through the black clouds, appeared behind the jagged crest of a jutting, pine-clad rock, and by its light he saw a ring of wolves around the carriage, with white teeth, lolling red tongues, long, sinewy limbs, and shaggy hair. They were a hundred times more terrible in their grim silence than when they had howled. Harker felt paralyzed with fear.
The wolves began to howl, as though the moonlight had had some peculiar effect on them. The horses jumped and reared, and looked helplessly round with eyes that rolled terribly, but the living ring of terror surrounded them on every side, and they had to remain within it. Harker called to the coachman, thinking their only chance was to try to break through the ring to help the man approach. He shouted and beat the side of the carriage, hoping to scare the wolves from that side to give the man a chance of reaching the drivers seat. The he heard the driver’s voice give an imperious command, and looking towards the sound, saw the man standing in the roadway. He swept his long arms, as though brushing aside some impalpable obstacle, and the wolves fell back. Just then a heavy cloud passed across the face of the moon, so that they were once more in darkness.
When Harker could see again, the driver was climbing into the carriage, and the wolves had disappeared. This was so strange and uncanny that a dreadful fear came upon Harker, and he was afraid to speak or move. Time seemed interminable as they swept on their way, now in almost complete darkness, for the rolling clouds obscured the moon. They kept on ascending, with occasional periods of quick descent, but mainly always ascending. Suddenly, Harker realized that the driver was pulling the horses up in the courtyard of a vast ruined castle, from whose tall black windows came no ray of light, and whose broken battlements showed a jagged line against the moonlit sky.
Harker thought he must have been asleep, because if he had been fully awake he would have noticed such a remarkable place as they approach. In the gloom, the courtyard looked large, and as several dark ways led from it through great round arches, it might be even bigger, seen by daylight.
When the carriage stopped, the driver jumped down and held out his hand to assist Harker, who again noticed the man’s prodigious strength. His hand was like a steel vice that could have crushed Harker’s if he had chosen. He took out Harker’s luggage and placed it on the ground beside him, next to a great old door, studded with large iron nails and set in a massive projecting stone doorway. Even in the dim light, Harker could see that the stone had been carved, but the carving had been worn by time and the weather. The driver jumped back into his seat and shook the reins, the horses started forward, and the carriage disappeared down one of the dark openings.
Harker stood in silence, not knowing what to do. There was no bell or knocker, and it was unlikely that his voice could penetrate the frowning walls and darkened windows. He waited seemingly endlessly, and felt doubts and fears crowding in upon him. What sort of place had he come to, and among what kind of people? What grim adventure had he embarked upon? Was this a normal incident in the life of a lawyer’s clerk sent to explain the purchase of a London estate to a foreigner? Then Harker remembered just before leaving London, had got word that he had passed the bar, and was now a full blown lawyer. He began to rub his eyes and pinch himself to see if he was awake. It seemed like a horrible nightmare, and he expected to suddenly awaken and find himself at home, with the dawn struggling in through the windows, as he sometimes did in the morning after a day of overwork. But his flesh answered the pinching test, and his eyes were deceived. He was awake and among the Carpathians. All he could do was to be patient, and to wait for the coming of the morning.
Just as he had come to this conclusion, he heard heavy steps approaching behind the great door, and saw through the cracks a growing gleam of light. Chains rattled chains and a massive bolt was drawn back. A key turned with the loud grating of long disuse, and the great door swung back.
Within stood a tall old man, clean shaven save for a long white moustache, and clad in black from head to toe. There wasn’t a single speck of colour to him anywhere. He held an antique silver lamp in his hand in which a flame burned without a chimney or globe of any kind, throwing long quivering shadows as it flickered in the draft from the open door. The old man motioned Harker to enter with his right hand with a courtly gesture.
“Welcome to my house!” he said in excellent English, with a strange intonation. “Enter freely and of your own will!”
He made no move to step to meet Harker, but stood like a statue, as though his gesture of welcome had fixed him into stone. The instant that Harker stepped across the threshold, the man moved forward impulsively, and grasped Harker’s hand with a strength that made the Englishman wince. The old man’s hand seemed as cold as ice—more like the hand of a dead than a living man.
“Welcome to my house,” he repeated. “Come freely, go safely, and leave something of the happiness you bring!”
The strength of his handshake was so much like that of his driver, whose face Harker hadn’t seen, that for a moment Harker wondered if they might be the same person.
“Count Dracula?” Harker asked.
The man bowed in a courtly way.
“I am Dracula”, he replied, “and I bid you welcome, Mr. Harker, to my house. Come in. The night air is chilly, and you must need to eat and rest.”
As he was speaking, he put the lamp on a bracket on the wall, and stepping out, took Harker’s luggage. He had carried it in before Harker could protest.
“Sir, you are my guest,” said the Count. “It is late, and my people are not available. Let me see to your comfort myself.”
He insisted on carrying Harker’s cases along the passage, up a great winding stair, and along another great passage, on whose stone floor their steps rang heavily. At the end of it, he threw open a heavy door, and Harker rejoiced to see a well lit room in which a table was spread for supper, and on whose mighty hearth a great fire of freshly replenished logs flamed and flared.
The Count halted, putting down Harker’s bags, closed the door, and crossing the room, opened another door that led into a small octagonal room lit by a single lamp, and seemingly to be windowless. Passing through it, he opened another door, and motioned for Harker to enter. Beyond it was a welcome sight; a large bedroom, well lit and warmed by another log fire, also added to recently, for the top logs were fresh, which sent a hollow roar up the wide chimney. The Count himself left Harker’s luggage inside and withdrew.
“You will need, after your journey, to refresh yourself,” he said before he closed the door. “I trust you will find everything you need. When you are ready, come into the other room, where you will find your supper prepared.”
The light and warmth and the Count’s courteous welcome had dissipated all of Harker’s doubts and fears. He discovered that he was half famished with hunger. He cleaned up hastily, then went into the other room.
Supper was already laid out. His host, who stood on one side of the great fireplace, leaning against the stonework, gracefully wave of his hand to the table.
“I pray, be seated and eat as you please,” said the Count. “You will, I trust, excuse me if I do not join you. I have dined already.”
Harker handed the Count the sealed letter entrusted to him by Mr. Hawkins. The Count opened it and read it gravely. Then, with a charming smile, he handed it to Harker to read. One passage of it, at least, gave Harker a thrill of pleasure.
“I must regret that an attack of gout, a malady from which I am a constant sufferer, forbids absolutely any travelling on my part for some time to come, but I am happy to say I can send a sufficient substitute, one in whom I have every possible confidence. He is a young man, full of energy and talent, and of a very faithful disposition. He is discreet and silent, and has grown into manhood in my service. He shall be ready to attend on you when you will during his stay, and shall take your instructions in all matters.”
Then then Count himself came forward and removed the cover from the dish, and Harker dug in at once to an excellent roast chicken. This, with some cheese, a salad, and a bottle of old Tokay, of which he had two glasses, was his supper. As he was eating, the Count asked him many questions about his journey, and Harker told him everything he had experienced.
When he had finished his supper, at his host’s request he drew up a chair by the fire, and lit a cigar that the Count offered him, excusing himself because he did not smoke. Harker had an opportunity to observe the man, and found him very unusual looking.
His face was a strong—very strong—with an aquiline, high bridged, thin nose and peculiarly arched nostrils. He had a high domed forehead, and his hair grew scantily around his temples but profusely elsewhere. His eyebrows were massive, almost meeting over his nose, and so bushy that they curled profusely. His mouth, as far as Harker could see it under his heavy moustache, was fixed and rather cruel looking, with peculiarly sharp white teeth. These protruded over his lips, whose remarkable redness showed astonishing vitality in a man of his years. His ears were pale, and at the tops extremely pointed. His chin was broad and strong, and his cheeks firm though thin. He was extraordinarily pale.
Harker had noticed the backs of his hands as they lay on his knees in the firelight, and they had seemed rather white and fine. Close up, he noticed that they were rather coarse—broad, with squat fingers. Strangely, there were hairs in the centre the Count’s palms. His nails were long and fine, and cut to a sharp point. As the Count leaned over Harker and touched him, Harker could not repress a shudder. The Count’s breath was rank, and a horrible feeling of nausea came over Harker that he could not conceal. The Count, evidently noticing, drew back. With a grim smile, which showed even more of his protruding teeth, he sat down again on the other side of the fireplace. They were both silent for a while. As Harker looked towards the window, he saw the first dim streak of the coming dawn. There was a strange stillness over everything, but as he listened he heard the howling of many wolves from down below in the valley. The Count’s eyes gleamed.
“Listen to them—the children of the night,” he said. “What music they make! Ah, sir, you city dwellers cannot enter into the feelings of the hunter.”
Then the Count rose.
“But you must be tired,” he said. “Your bedroom is ready, and tomorrow you shall sleep as late as you wish. I will be away til the afternoon, so sleep well and dream well!”
With a courteous bow, he opened the door to the octagonal room for Harker, and the lawyer entered his bedroom. He was in a sea of wonders. His doubts and fears made him think strange things that he dared not confess to his own soul. He prayed to God to keep him, if only for the sake of those dear to him.
* * *
Harker slept until late in the day, and awoke of his own accord. When he had dressed, he went into the room where he had had supper, and found a cold breakfast laid out, with coffee kept hot by placing the pot on the hearth. There was a card on the table.
I have to be absent for a while. Do not wait for me.—D.
Harker set to and enjoyed the hearty meal. When he had done, he looked for a bell to let the servants know he had finished, but couldn’t find one. There were certainly odd deficiencies in the house, considering the extraordinary evidence of wealth around him. The table service was of gold, and so beautifully wrought that it must have been immensely valuable. The curtains and upholstery of the chairs and sofas and the hangings of his bed were of the costliest and most beautiful fabrics, and must have been fabulously valuable when they were made, but they were centuries old, though in excellent order. He seen something like them in Hampton Court, but those were worn, frayed, and moth eaten. None of the rooms had a mirror, not even a small one on his table, and he had to get the little shaving glass out of his bag to shave and brush his hair. He had not yet seen a servant anywhere, or heard a sound except the howling of wolves. Some time after he had finished his meal, which he had had between five and six o’clock, he began to look about for something to read. There was nothing in the room, neither books, newspaper, or even writing materials. He didn’t want to go about the castle until he had asked the Count’s permission, but decided to try the door opposite his; he found it locked. He then opened another door in the room and found a library.
In the library he found, to my great delight, a vast number of English books, whole shelves full of them, and bound volumes of magazines and newspapers. A table in the centre was littered with magazines and newspapers, though none of them were of very recent. The books were varied—history, geography, politics, political economy, botany, geology, law—all relating to England and English life, customs, and manners. There were even reference books like the London Directory, the Red and Blue books, Whitaker’s Almanac, the Army and Navy Lists, and—it gladdened his heart to see—the Law List.
Whilst Harker was looking at the books, the door opened, and the Count entered. He saluted Harker heartily.
“I hope you had a good night’s rest,” said the Count. “I am glad you found your way in here, for I am sure there is much that will interest you. These companions have been good friends to me, and for some years, ever since I had the idea of going to London, have given me hours and hours of pleasure. Through them I have come to know your great country, and to know her is to love her. I long to walk through the crowded streets of your mighty London, to be in the midst of the whirl and rush of humanity, to share its life, its changes, its death, and all that makes it what it is. Alas, as yet I only know your tongue through books. I look to you, my friend, to know it to speak.”
“But, Count,” Harker said, “you know and speak English thoroughly!”
The Count bowed gravely.
“I thank you, my friend, for your too flattering estimate, but I fear that I am but a little way on the road I would travel. True, I know the grammar and the words, but I do not know how to speak them.”
“Truly, you speak excellently,” said Harker.
“Not so,” the Count replied. “If I moved and spoke in your London, none there would not know me for a stranger. That is not enough for me. Here I am a noble; I am boyar. The common people know me, and I am master. But a stranger in a strange land is no one. Men do not know him—and to not know is to not care for. I am content to be like the rest, so that no man stops if he see me, or pauses if he hears my words, and thinks ‘Ha, ha! a stranger!’ I have been a master so long that I want to remain a master—or at least no one should be master of me. You do not come to me only as the agent of my friend Peter Hawkins, of Exeter, to tell me about my new estate in London. You will, I hope, stay here with me a while, so that by our talking I may learn the English intonation. I would like you to tell me when I make an error, even the smallest one, in my speaking. I am sorry that I had to be away so long today, but you will, I hope, forgive one who has so many important affairs in hand.”
“I am more than willing,” said Harker. “Might I come to this room when I choose?”
“Yes, certainly,” said the Count. “You may go anywhere you wish in the castle, except where the doors are locked, where of course you will not wish to go. There is reason that all things are as they are, and if you saw with my eyes and knew with my knowledge, you would understand.”
“I’m sure of this,” replied Harker.
“We are in Transylvania, and Transylvania is not England,” said the Count. “Our ways are not your ways, and there will be many things that are strange to you. From what you have told me of your experiences already, you know something of what strange things there may be.”
Since the Count wanted to talk, if only for talking’s sake, Harker asked him many questions about things that had already happened to him or that he had noticed. Sometimes the Count changed the subject, or turned the conversation by pretending not to understand him. Generally he answered what Harker asked very frankly. As time went on, Harker grew bolder, and asked the Count about some of the strange things that had happened the preceding night. He asked why the coachman went to the places where he had seen the blue flames.
“It is commonly believed that on a certain night of the year—last night, in fact, when all evil spirits are supposed to have unchecked sway—that a blue flame is seen over any place where treasure has been concealed,” the Count explained. “There is little doubt that treasure has been hidden in the region that you came through last night. It was ground fought over for centuries by the Wallachians, the Saxons, and the Turks. Why, there is hardly a foot of soil in this entire region that has not been enriched by the blood of men, either patriots or invaders. In the old days, there were stirring times when the Austrians and the Hungarians came up in hordes, and the patriots went out to meet them—men and women, the aged and the children too—and waited on the rocks above the passes to sweep destruction down on them with artificial avalanches. When the invader was triumphant, he found little, for whatever there was had been sheltered in the friendly soil.”
“But how,” said Harker, “can it have remained undiscovered so long, when there is a sure way to find it if men only take the trouble to look?”
The Count smiled, and as his lips ran back over his gums, his long, sharp, canine teeth showing strangely.
“Because a peasant is at heart a coward and a fool!” he answered. “The flames only appear on one night, and on that night, no man of this land will, if he can help it, stir outside his doors. Even if he did, he would not know what to do. Even the peasant that you tell me of who marked the locations of the flames would not know where to find them in daylight. Even you would not, I would guess, be able to find these places again?”
“There you are right,” Harker said. “I know no more where even to look for them than the dead.”
Then they drifted into other matters.
“Come,” said the Count at last, “tell me of London and the house that you have procured for me.”
With an apology for being remiss, Harker went to his room to get the papers from his bag. While he was putting them in order, he heard china and silver rattling in the next room. Upon returning, the table had been cleared and the lamp lit, for it was by this time very dark. The lamps were also lit in the library, and he found the Count lying on the sofa, reading an English Bradshaw’s Guide. When Harker came in, the Count cleared the books and papers from the table. Harker went into plans, deeds, and figures of all sorts with him. The Count was interested in everything, and asked Harker a myriad questions about the place and its surroundings. He had clearly studied all he could get on the subject of the neighbourhood beforehand, and in the end knew much more than Harker did.
“Well, but, my friend, is it not needful that I should?” asked the Count when Harker remarked on this. “When I go there I will be all alone, and my friend Harker Jonathan—pardon me, I fall into my country’s habit of putting your surname first—my friend Jonathan Harker will not be by my side to correct and help me. He will be in Exeter, miles away, probably working on legal papers with my other friend, Peter Hawkins.”
They went thoroughly into the business of the purchase of the estate at Purfleet. When Harker had told the Count the facts and got his signature on the necessary papers, and had written a letter ready to post with them to Mr. Hawkins, the Count began to ask him how he had come across so suitable a place. Harker the notes which he had made at the time to the Count.
“At Purfleet, on a by-road, I came across a place the seems to fit our client’s requirements, and there was a dilapidated notice displayed saying that the property was for sale. It is surrounded by a high and ancient wall built of heavy stones, and has not been repaired for many years. The closed gates are of heavy old oak and rust eaten iron. The estate is called Carfax, no doubt a corruption of the old Quatre Face, as the house is four-sided, aligned with the points of the compass. It is on twenty acres, surrounded by the solid stone wall mentioned above. There are many trees on the property, which make it gloomy in places, and there is a deep, dark-looking pond, evidently fed by some springs, as its water is clear and flows away in a fair-sized stream. The house is very large and appears to have been built in many periods going back to mediæval times, for one part is of immensely thick stone, with only a few windows high up that are heavily barred with iron. It looks like part of a keep, an old chapel or a church. I could not enter it, as I didn’t have the key to the door leading into it from the house, but I have taken views of it from various points with my Kodak. The house has been added to, but in a very straggling way, and I can only guess at the amount of ground it covers, which must be very great. There are few houses close at hand, one being a very large house only recently added to and turned into a private lunatic asylum. It is not, however, visible from the grounds.”
“I am glad that it is old and big,” said the Count when Harker had finished. “I myself am of an old family, and to live in a new house would kill me. A house cannot be made habitable in a day. After all, how few days go to make up a century. I rejoice also that there is a chapel from old times. We Transylvanian nobles love not to think that our bones may lie among the common dead. I do not seek fun or laughter, nor the bright voluptuousness of much sunshine and sparkling waters which please the young and free spirited. I am no longer young, and my heart, through weary years of mourning over the dead, is not attuned to laughter. Moreover, the walls of my castle are broken, the shadows are many, and the wind breathes cold through the broken battlements and casements. I love the shade and the shadows, and want to be alone with my thoughts when I wish.”
Somehow the Count’s words and his look did not seem to match, or the cast of his face made his smile look malignant and saturnine. Presently, with an excuse, he left Harker, asking the lawyer to put all his papers together. The Count was gone for a short time, and Harker began to look at some of the books around him. One was an atlas, which fell open naturally to the map of England, as if that map had been used a lot. Looking at it, he found little circles marking certain places, and noticed that one was near London on the east side where the Count’s new estate was situated. The other two were Exeter, and Whitby, on the Yorkshire coast. About an hour had passed when the Count returned.
“Aha!” he said, “still at your books? Good! But you must not always work. Come; I am told that your supper is ready.”
He took Harker’s arm, and they went into the next room, where Harker found an excellent supper laid out on the table. The Count again excused himself, saying he had dined out while away from home. He sat as he had previous night, and chatted while Harker ate. After supper, Harker smoked, as he had on the previous evening, and the Count stayed with him, chatting and asking questions on every conceivable subject, for hour after hour. Harker felt that it was getting very late, but did not say anything, because he felt obliged to meet his host’s wishes in every way. He was not sleepy, as his long sleep the day before had fortified him, but he could not help experiencing the chill that comes over one at the coming of the dawn, which is like the turn of the tide. They say that people who are near death often die at dawn or at the turn of the tide. Anyone who has, when tired and at his post, experienced this change in the atmosphere can well believe it. All at once, he heard a rooster crow with preternatural shrillness in the clear morning air. At this sound, Count Dracula jumped to his feet.
“Why, there is the morning again!” he said. “How remiss I am to let you stay up so long. You must make your stories of my dear new country of England less interesting, so that I don’t forget how time flies by us.”
With a courtly bow, he quickly left.
Harker went into his bedroom and drew the curtains, but there was little to see. His window opened into the courtyard, all he saw was the warm grey of the quickening sky. He pulled the curtains closed again, and sat down to write in his diary.
* * *
<<<8 May.—I began to fear as I wrote in this book that I was getting too diffuse; but now I am glad that I went into detail from the first, for there is something so strange about this place and all in it that I cannot but feel uneasy. I wish I were safe out of it, or that I had never come. It may be that this strange night-existence is telling on me; but would that that were all! If there were any one to talk to I could bear it, but there is no one. I have only the Count to speak with, and he!—I fear I am myself the only living soul within the place. Let me be prosaic so far as facts can be; it will help me to bear up, and imagination must not run riot with me. If it does I am lost. Let me say at once how I stand—or seem to.>>>
Harker only slept a few hours when he went to bed, and feeling that he could not sleep any more, got up. He had hung his shaving mirror by the window, and was just beginning to shave. Suddenly he felt a hand on his shoulder.
“Good-morning,” the Count’s said to him.
Harker started, for it amazed he that he had not seen the Count, since the whole room behind him was reflected in the mirror. In starting, he cut himself slightly, but did not notice it at the moment. Having answered the Count’s salutation, he turned to the mirror to see how he had been mistaken. This time there could be no mistake, for the Count was close to him, and Harker could see him over his shoulder. But there was no reflection of the Count in the mirror! The whole room behind Harker was visible, but there was no sign of a man in it, except for himself. This was startling, and, coming on the top of so many strange things, increased the vague feeling of uneasiness that Harker always had when the Count was near. At the instant, he saw that the cut had bled a little, and the blood was trickling down his chin. He put down the razor, turning half around as he did to look for some sticking plaster. When the Count saw Harker’s face, his eyes blazed with demonic fury, and he suddenly made a grab at the lawyer’s throat. Harker drew away, and his hand touched the string of beads which held the crucifix. It changed the Count instantly. His fury passed so quickly that Harker could hardly believe that it was ever there.
“Take care,” said the Count. “Take care how you cut yourself. It is more dangerous than you think in this country.”
He seized the shaving mirror.
“And this is the wretched thing that has done its mischief,” he said. “It is a foul bauble of man’s vanity. Away with it!”
Opening the heavy window with a wrench of his terrible hand, the Count threw the mirror out, and it shattered into a thousand pieces on the stones of the courtyard far below. Then he left without a word. Harker was very annoyed. He could not see how he could shave, unless he used his watch case or the bottom of his shaving pot, which was fortunately of metal.
When Harker went into the dining room, breakfast was prepared, but he could not find the Count anywhere. He breakfasted alone. It was strange that as yet he had never seen the Count eat or drink. After breakfast, Harker did a little exploring. He went out onto the stairs, and found a room that looked south. The view was magnificent. The castle was on the very edge of a terrible precipice. A stone dropped from the window would fall a thousand feet without touching anything. A sea of green tree tops stretched as far as the eye could see, occasionally riven by chasms. Here and there, silver threads of rivers wound in deep gorges through the forest.
When he had seen the view, Harker explored further. There were doors, doors, doors everywhere, but all were locked and bolted. Only the windows in the castle walls offered an available exit. The castle was a veritable prison, and Harker realized he was a prisoner!
When he found that he was a prisoner, a wild feeling came over Harker. He rushed up and down the stairs, trying every door and peering out of every window he could find. He went mad for a while, behaving like a rat in a trap. Finally, the conviction that he was helpless overpowered all other feelings and he sat down quietly—as quietly as he had ever done anything in his life—and began to think over what it was best to do. He was certain of only one thing; it was no use making his ideas known to the Count. The Count knows well that he did that Harker was imprisoned. As the Count was the one who had imprisoned Harker, and doubtless had his own motives for it, he would only deceive him if Harker trusted him with the facts. So far as Harker could see, his only plan was to keep his knowledge and his fears to himself, and keep his eyes open. He was either being deceived, like a baby, by his own fears, or was in desperate straits. If it was the latter, he would need all his intelligence to get through.
He had hardly come to this conclusion when he heard the great door below shut, and knew that the Count had returned. The Count did not come to the library immediately, so Harker went cautiously to his own room and found the Count making the bed. This was odd, but only confirmed what Harker had thought all along—that there were no servants in the house. Later, Harker peered through the chink of the hinges of the door and saw the Count laying the table in the dining room, and he was assured of it. If the Count himself did all these menial chorrs, surely it is proved that there was no one else to do them. This gave Harker a fright, for if there was no one else in the castle, it must have been the Count himself who drove the coach that brought Harker there. That was a terrible thought. What did it mean that the Count could control the wolves, as he did, by only holding up his hand in silence? Why did all the people in Bistritz and on the coach fear so terribly for Harker? What were the crucifix, garlic, wild rose, and mountain ash given to him? He bless the good, good woman who had hung the crucifix about his neck. It was a comfort and a strength to him whenever he touched it. It was odd that a thing that he had been taught to regard as idolatrous would, in a time of loneliness and trouble, be of help. He wondered if there was something in the essence of the thing itself, or whether it was a medium, a tangible help, in conveying memories of sympathy and comfort. He resolved, if able, to examine the matter and try to make up his mind about it. In the meantime, he set out to find out all he could about Count Dracula, hoping that the Count would talk of himself, if he turn the conversation that way. He would have to be very careful, however, not to awake the Count’s suspicion.
* * *
Harker had a long talk with the Count. He asked him a few questions on Transylvanian history, and the Count warmed up to the subject wonderfully. In speaking of things and people, and especially of battles, the Count spoke as if he had been present at them all. He explained this by saying that to a boyar, the equivalent of an English duke, the pride of his house and name is his own pride, that their glory is his glory, that their fate is his fate. Whenever the Count spoke of his house, he always said we, and spoke in the plural, like a king. Harker wished he could write down all the Count said exactly as he said it, because it was most fascinating, an entire history of the country. The Count grew excited as he spoke, and walked about the room pulling his great white moustache and grasping anything on which he laid his hands as though he would crush it by main strength. One thing he said, Harker later wrote down in his diary as nearly as he could. It told the story of the Count’s people.
“We Szekelys have a right to be proud, for in our veins flows the blood of many brave races who fought like lions for lordship. Here, in the whirlpool of Europe, the Ugric tribe brought down from Iceland the fighting spirit that Thor and Odin gave them, which their berserkers displayed with such evil intent on the seaboards of Europe, and of Asia and Africa too, til people thought that werewolves themselves had come. Here, when they came, they found the Huns, whose warlike fury had swept the earth like a living flame. Dying peoples held that in the Huns veins ran the blood of those old witches, who, expelled from Scythia had mated with devils in the desert. Fools, fools! What devil or witch was as great as Attila, whose blood rus in my veins? Is it a wonder that we were a conquering race, that we were proud, or that when the Magyars, the Lombards, the Avars, the Bulgars, or the Turks poured their thousands on our frontiers, we drove them back? Is it strange that when Arpad the Hungarian and his legions swept through the fatherland, he found us here when he reached the frontier, and that the conquest was completed there? When the Hungarian flood swept eastward, the Szekelys were claimed as kindred by the victorious Magyars. For centuries we were entrusted to guard the frontier of Turkey, and took on the endless duty of the frontier guard, for, as the Turks say, ‘water sleeps, but the enemy is sleepless.’ Who more gladly than we throughout the four nations received the ‘bloody sword,’ and at its warlike call flocked more quickly to the standard of the King? Who redeemed the great shame of my nation at the battle of Kosovo, when the flags of the Wallachs and the Magyars went down beneath the crescent flag of the Turks? One of my own family crossed the Danube as warlord and beat the Turks on their own ground. He was a Dracula indeed! His own unworthy brother, when he had fallen, sold his people to the Turks and brought the shame of slavery on them! But this Dracula inspired another of his race who in a later age brought his forces over the great river into Turkey. When he was beaten back, he came again, and again, and again, though he had to return alone from the bloody field where his troops were slaughtered, since he knew that he alone could ultimately triumph! They said that he thought only of himself. Bah! What good are peasants without a leader? How will the war end without a brain and heart to conduct it? When, after the battle of Mohács, we threw off the Hungarian yoke, we Draculas were among the leaders, for our spirit would not allow that we were not free. Ah, young sir, the Szekelys—and the Dracula clan as their heart’s blood, their brains, and their swords—can boast a record that fungal growths like the Hapsburgs and the Romanoffs will never reach. The warlike days are over. Blood is too precious a thing in these days of dishonourable peace, and the glories of the great races are just a tale that is told.”
By this time, morning was close, and they went to bed.
* * *
Harker had spent the next day wearily over books, and, simply to keep his mind occupied, had gone over some of the questions on the bar exam. That evening, when the Count came from his room, he began by asking Harker questions on legal matters and on certain kinds of business. There was a certain method to the Count’s inquiries.
First, he asked if in England a man could have two lawyers or more. Harker told the Count he could have a dozen if he wanted, but that it would not be wise to have more than one lawyer engaged in any one transaction, as only one could act at a time, and that to change lawyers would be against his interest. The Count seemed to understand thoroughly, and went on to ask if there would be any practical difficulty in having one man to attend to banking and another to look after shipping, in case local help were needed in a place far from the home of the lawyer dealing with banking. Harker asked the Count to explain more fully, so that he wouldn’t accidentally mislead him.
“I will illustrate,” said the Count. “Your friend and mine, Mr. Peter Hawkins, from the shadow of the beautiful cathedral at Exeter, which is far from London, buys for me through you my place in London. Good! Don’t think it strange that I sought the services of one so far from London instead of some one who lives there. My motive was that no local interest might be served save my wishes only. Since a Londoner might, perhaps, serve his or a friends to interests, I went afield to seek my agent, whose labours should be only in my interest. Now suppose I wish to ship goods to Newcastle, Durham, Harwich, or Dover. Wouldn’t it be easier to consign them to someone in these ports?”
“It would certainly be most easy,” said Harker, “but we lawyers have a system of agency, so that work can be done locally on instruction from any lawyer, and the client, simply placing himself in the hands of one man, can have his wishes carried out by him without further trouble.”
“But,” said the Count, “I am free to direct it myself. Is that not so?”
“Of course,” Harker replied “this is often done by businessmen who don’t want all of their affairs to be known by any one person.”
“Good!” said the Count.
He went on to ask about making consignments and the forms to be gone through, and the sorts of difficulties which might arise, but by forethought could be guarded against. Harker explained all these things to the Count to the best of his ability, and the Count gave Harker the impression that he would have made a wonderful lawyer, because there was nothing he didn’t think of or foresee. For a man who had never been in the country, and didn’t do much business, his knowledge and acumen were amazing. When the Count had satisfied himself that he had the answers he needed, and Harker had verified everything as well as he could with the books available, the Count suddenly stood up.
“Have you written to our friend Mr. Peter Hawkins since your first letter, or to any other?” he asked.
It was with some bitterness in his heart that Harker answered that he had not, and as yet had not seen any opportunity of sending letters to anybody.
“Then write them now, my young friend,” said the Count, laying a heavy hand on Harker’s shoulder. “Write to our friend and to any other you wish and say, if it pleases you, that you will stay with me until a month from now.”
“Do you wish me to stay so long?” Harker asked, his heart cold at the thought.
“I desire it very much. I will take no refusal. When your master, your employer, engaged you to come on his behalf, it was understood that only my needs were to be consulted. I have spared you nothing. Is this not so?”
What could Harker do but accept? He had to think of Mr. Hawkins’s interests, not his own. Besides, while Count Dracula was speaking, his eyes and in his bearing made Harker remember that he was a prisoner, and that if even if he wished to refuse, he had no choice. The Count saw his victory in Harker’s bow, and his mastery in Harker’s troubled face, and he began at once to use them, but in his own smooth, irresistible way.
“I pray, my good young friend, that you will not discuss things other than business in your letters. It will doubtless please your friends to know that you are well, and that you look forward to getting home to them. Is this not so?”
As he spoke, he handed Harker three sheets of note-paper and three envelopes. They were all of the thinnest paper, and looking at them, then at the Count, and noticing his quiet smile, with his sharp, canine teeth lying over his red lower lip, Harker understood as well as if the Count had said so that he should be careful what he wrote, for the Count would be able to read it. He decided to write only formal notes, but to write a full letter to Mr. Hawkins in secret, and also one to Mina, for to her he could write in shorthand, which would puzzle the Count, if he did look at it. When Harker had written his two letters, he sat quietly, reading a book, while the Count wrote several notes, referring as he wrote them to some books on his table. He then took up Harkers letters and placed them with his own, and put away his writing materials. The instant the door had closed behind him, Harker leaned over and looked at the letters, which were face down on the table. He felt no compunction in doing so, feeling that he should protect myself in every way he could.
One of the letters was addressed to Samuel F. Billington, No. 7, The Crescent, Whitby, another to Herr Leutner, Varna. The third was to Coutts & Co., London, and the fourth to Herren Klopstock & Billreuth, bankers, Budapest. The second and fourth were unsealed. Harker was just about to look at them when he saw the door handle turn. He sank back in my seat, having just had time to replace the letters where they had been, and resumed his book before the Count, holding still another letter in his hand, entered the room. The Count picked up the letters on the table and stamped them carefully, and then turned to Harker.
“I trust you will forgive me, but I have much work to do in private this evening. You will, I hope, find all things as you wish.”
At the door the Count turned, and paused for a moment.
“Let me advise you, my dear young friend,” he said. “No, let me warn you with all seriousness, that should you leave these rooms you must not by any chance go to sleep in any other part of the castle. It is old, and has many memories, and there are bad dreams for those who sleep unwisely. Be warned! Should sleep ever overcome you, or be likely to, make haste to your own chamber or to these rooms, for your rest will then be safe. But if you be not careful in this respect, then…”
The Count motioned with his hands as if he were washing them. Harker quite understood. His only doubt was whether any dream could be more terrible than the unnatural, horrible net of gloom and mystery which seemed closing around him.
* * *
When the Count left, Harker went to his room, thinking he would not be afraid to sleep in anywhere that the Count wasn’t. Harker had placed the crucifix over the head of his bed. He imagined that his rest was made freer from dreams, and decided it would remain there. After a little while, not hearing any sounds, he went out and up the stone stairs to where I could look out towards the south. There was a sense of freedom in the vast expanse, inaccessible though it was to him, compared with the narrow darkness of the courtyard. Looking out on it, he felt that he truly was in prison, and wanted a breath of fresh air, though it was night. He had begun to feel his nocturnal existence tell on him. It was destroying his nerve. He was starting at his own shadow, and was full of all sorts of horrible imaginings. God knew that there were grounds for his terrible fear in that accursed place. He looked out over the beautiful expanse, bathed in soft yellow moonlight that was almost as light as day. In the soft light, the distant hills melted, and the shadows in the valleys and gorges were a velvety black. Their simple beauty cheered him. There was peace and comfort in every breath he drew. As he leaned out of the window, his eye was caught by something moving a storey below him to his left, where he imagined that the windows of the Count’s own room would look out. The window at which Harker stood was tall and deep, with stone mullions separating the pains, and though weather worn, was still intact, but it was evidently years since the casing had been there. He drew back behind the stonework, and looked out carefully.
Harker saw the Count’s head emerge from the window below. He did not see the the Count’s face, but knew the man by his neck and the movement of his back and arms. Harker could not mistake the hands that he had had so many opportunities to study. He was at first interested and somewhat amused, but these feelings changed to repulsion and terror when he saw the Count slowly emerge from the window and begin to crawl down the castle wall over that dreadful abyss, face down, with his cloak spreading out around him like great wings. At first Harker could not believe his eyes. He thought it was some trick of the moonlight, some weird effect of shadow. He kept looking, and it could be no delusion. Hr saw the Count’s fingers and toes grasp the corners of the stones, worn clear of mortar by the stress of years, and using every projection, move downward quickly, like a lizard moves along a wall.
Harker wondered what manner of man the Count was, or what kind of creature in the semblance of a man. He felt the dread of the horrible place overpowering him. He was in fear—in awful fear—and there was no escape for him. He was surrounded by terrors that he dared not think about.
* * *
Three days later, Harker once again saw the Count go out in his lizard like fashion. The Count moved downwards and sideways, descending a hundred feet down, and moving to the left. He vanished into some hole or window. When the Count’s head had disappeared, Harker leaned out to try and see more, but it was no use—the distance was too great to allow a proper line of sight. But Harker now knew that the Count had left the castle, and decided to use the opportunity to explore more than he had previously dared to. He went back to his room for a lamp, and returned to retry all the doors. They were all locked, as he had expected, and the locks were fairly new. He went down the stone stairs to the hall where he had originally entered the castle. He found he could pull draw the bolts easily enough and unhook the great chains, but the front door was locked, and the key was not in the lock. It must be in the Count’s room. Harker resolved to watch for the Count’s door to be unlocked, so that he could get the key and escape. He thoroughly examined all the stairs and passages, and tried the doors that opened from them. Two small rooms near the hall were unlocked, but there was nothing in them except old furniture, dusty with age and moth-eaten. At last, he found a door at the top of the stairway that, though it seemed to be locked, gave a little under pressure. He pushed harder, and found that it was not really locked, but that its hinges had sagged, and the heavy door was resting on the floor. Knowing that he might not have the opportunity again, he exerted myself, and with much effort, forced it open so that he could enter. He was now in a wing of the castle to the right of the rooms he knew, and a storey lower down. From the windows, he could see that the suite of rooms lay along the south side of the castle, with the windows at the end room looking out both west and south. On both sides, there was a great precipice. The castle was built on the corner of a huge rock, so that on three sides it was quite impregnable, and large windows were placed here, where slings, arrows, or musket balls could not reach, and consequently light and comfort, impossible in a position which had to be guarded, were secured. To the west, there was a great valley, and, rising far away, massive jagged mountain fastnesses, rising peak upon peak, their sheer rock flanks studded with mountain ash and thorn whose roots clung in cracks, crevices, and crannies. This was clearly the portion of the castle occupied by the ladies in bygone days, because the furniture looked more comfortable than any Harker had seen. The windows were curtainless, and the yellow moonlight, flooding in through the diamond panes, even enabled him to see colours, while it softened the wealth of dust that lay over everything and disguised the ravages of time and moths. His lamp had little effect in the brilliant moonlight, but he was glad to have it with him, because there was a dreadful loneliness to the place that chilled his heart and made his nerves tremble. Still, it was better than living alone in the rooms that he had come to hate due to the presence of the Count, and trying to calm his nerves, he found a soft quietude come over him. He sat at a little oak table where in old times some fair lady might have sat to pen, with much thought and many blushes, her poorly spelled love letter, and writing in his diary in shorthand everything that had happened since he had last closed it. The practice reminded him that he was still in the nineteenth century, and yet, unless his senses deceived him, the old centuries had powers of their own which mere modernity could not kill.
When Harker had written in his diary and had replaced the book and pen in his pocket, he felt sleepy. The Count’s warning came into his mind, but he took pleasure in disobeying it. The feeling of sleep was upon him, and with it the obstinacy which sleep brings as its outrider. The soft moonlight soothed him, and the wide expanse outside gave him a refreshing sense of freedom. He decided not to return to his gloom haunted rooms, but to sleep in this room where, long ago, ladies had sat and sung and lived sweet lives whilst their gentle hearts were sad for their men, away in the midst of remorseless wars. He pulled a large couch out of its place it the corner, so that as he lay, he could look at the lovely view, and ignoring the dust, composed himself for sleep.
Moments later, Harker realized that he was not alone. The room was the same, unchanged since he had come into it. He could see, in the brilliant moonlight, where his own footsteps had disturbed the thick accumulation of dust on the floor. In the moonlight opposite him were three young women, noble ladies by their dress and manner. He thought that he must be dreaming when he saw them, because, though the moonlight was behind them, they cast no shadows on the floor. They came close to me, and looked at him for some time, and then whispered together. Two were dark, and had high aquiline noses, like the Count, and large, dark, piercing eyes that seemed almost red when contrasted with the pale yellow moon. The other was blonde, and as fair as could be, with great wavy masses of golden hair and eyes like pale sapphires. He seemed to know her face, know it in connection with some dreamy fear, but could not recollect how or where. All three had brilliant white teeth that shone like pearls against the ruby red of their voluptuous lips. There was something about them that made him uneasy, a longing and at the same time a deadly fear. He felt a wicked, burning desire for them to kiss him with those red lips. He hoped that Mina would never learn of this and be caused pain, but it was the truth. They whispered together, and all three laughed—silvery, musical laughter, but hard, as though the sound never came through the softness of human lips. It was like the intolerable, tingling sweetness of water glasses when played by a cunning hand. The blonde girl shook her head coquettishly, and the other two urged her on.
“Go on!” said one of the others. “You first, and we shall follow. You have the right to begin.”
“He is young and strong,” the other one one added, “and there are kisses for us all.”
Harker lay quiet, looking out under his eyelashes in an agony of delightful anticipation. The blonde girl advanced and bent over him til he could feel her breath on me. It was sweet in one sense, honey sweet, and sent the same tingling through his nerves as her voice, but with a bitterness underlying the sweetness, a bitter offensiveness, like the smell of blood.
He was afraid to raise his eyelids, but looked out and saw perfectly under his lashes. The girl went down on her knees, and bent over him, gloating. Her deliberate voluptuousness both thrilled and repulsed him, and as she arched her neck, she licked her lips like an animal, and in the moonlight he could see the moisture shining on her scarlet lips and red tongue as it lapped her white sharp teeth. Lower and lower went her head as her lips went below his mouth and chin and seemed about to fasten on his throat. Then she paused, and he could hear the sound of her tongue as she licked her teeth and lips, and felt her hot breath on his neck. The skin of his throat began to tingle as one’s flesh does when a hand that is about to tickle it approaches. He could feel the soft, shivering touch of her lips on the super-sensitive skin of his throat, and the hard dents of two sharp teeth, just touching and pausing there. He closed his eyes in weary ecstasy and waited—waited with beating heart.
A that instant, another sensation swept through his as quick as lightning. Harker became conscious of the presence of the Count, and of his being lapped in a storm of fury. Harker’s eyes opened involuntarily, and he saw the Count’s strong hand grasp the slender neck of the fair woman and with a giant’s power draw it back as her blue eyes transformed with fury, her white teeth gnashed with rage, and her fair cheeks blazed red with passion. But the Count! Never had Harker imagined such wrath and fury, even of the demons of the pit. The man’s eyes were positively blazing. The red light in them was lurid, as if the flames of hell-fire blazed behind them. His face was deathly pale, and the lines of it were like hard drawn wires. The thick eyebrows that met over his nose now seemed like a heaving bar of white-hot metal. With a fierce sweep of his arm, he hurled the woman from him, and then motioned to the others, as though he were beating them back. It was the same imperious gesture that Harker had seen the Count use with the wolves. His voice, though low, almost a whisper, see cut through the air of the room.
“How dare you touch him, any of you?” he said. “How dare you cast eyes on him when I had forbidden it? Back, I tell you! This man belongs to me! Beware how you meddle with him, or you’ll have to deal with me.”
The fair girl laugh lewdly.
“You never loved,” she said. “You never love!”
The other women joined, and mirthless, hard, soulless laughter rang through the room that almost made Harker faint; it seemed like the pleasure of fiends. Then the Count turned, after looking at Harker’s face attentively.
“I too can love,” he said in a soft whisper. “You yourselves know this from the past. Is it not so? I promise you that when I am done with him you shall kiss him as much as you wish. Now go! go! I must awaken him, for there is work to be done.”
“Are we to have nothing tonight?” said one of women, with a low laugh.
She pointed to the bag which the Count had thrown upon the floor, and which moved as though there was something alive in it. He nodded his head. One of the women jumped forward and opened it. If Harker’s ears did not deceive his, there was a gasp and a low wail, like that of a half smothered child. The women closed round, leaving Harker aghast with horror, but as he looked they disappeared along with the dreadful bag. There was no door near them, and they could not have passed him without his noticing. They simply faded into the rays of the moonlight and passed out through the window; he could see their dim, shadowy forms outside for a moment before they entirely faded away.
Then the horror overcame Harker, and he sank down unconscious.
The next morning, Harker awoke in his own bed. He thought he must have fallen asleep and had a nightmare. If it had not been a dream, the Count must have carried him there. He hoped he had dreamed it, but feared that what he had experienced was startlingly real. It had seemed so real that, sitting in the broad, full sunlight of the morning, he couldn’t fully believe that it was all a dream.
He tried to reach certainty, but could not. There was some evidence. His clothes were folded and laid out in a manner which was not his habit. His watch was unwound, and he rigorously wound it just before going to bed. There were other details. But these things were not proof. They might only be evidence that his mind was disturbed. For some reason or another, he had certainly been very upset. He resolved to look for proof. He was glad of one thing: if the Count had carried Harker there and undressed him, he must have been in a hurry, because Harker’s pockets were untouched. He was sure his diary would have been a mystery the Count would not have tolerated. He would have taken or destroyed it. As Harker looked round his room, although it had been so full of fear, it now seemed a sanctuary, for nothing could be more dreadful than those awful women, who were waiting to suck his blood.
He prayed to God preserve his sanity. Safety and the assurance of safety were things of the past. While he lived there was only one thing to hope for: that he would not go mad, if, indeed, he was not mad already. If he was sane, then it was maddening to think that of all the foul things that lurk in that hateful place that the Count was the least dreadful to him, and that to the Count alone he could look for safety, even though it was only while it served the Count’s purpose. He prayed for calm. He began to have new insights on certain things which had puzzled him. Until then, he had never quite knew what Shakespeare meant when he made Hamlet say “My tablets! quick, my tablets! ’Tis meet that I put it down,” but now, feeling like his brain was unhinged or the shock had come that would end in its undoing, he turned to his diary for comfort. The habit of accurately entering into it helped to soothe him.
* * *
Harker went down to look at the room in daylight, feeling he must know the truth. When he got to the doorway at the top of the stairs, he found it closed. It had been so forcefully driven against the jamb that part of the woodwork had splintered. The bolt of the lock had not been shot, but the door was fastened from the inside. He feared what had happened was no dream, and resolved to act on this assumption.
That night, the Count asked Harker in the suavest tones to write three letters, one saying that his work was nearly done, and that he would start for home within a few days, another that he was setting the next morning, and the third saying that he had left the castle and arrived at Bistritz. Harker would have refused, but felt that it would be madness to quarrel openly with the Count while he was so absolutely in the man’s power. To refuse would excite the Count’s suspicion and arouse his anger. The Count knew that Harker knew too much, and that he must not live, or he would be dangerous to him. Harker’s only chance was to prolong things and to look for his chance to escape. He saw in the Count’s eyes the gathering wrath that was manifest when he had hurled the fair woman from him. The Count explained to Harker that posts were few and uncertain, and that by Harker writing the letters now, he was ensuring peace of mind for his friends. The Count assured Harker that he would countermand the later letters, which would be held at Bistritz until their due times, should chance prolonging Harker’s stay. To oppose him would have created suspicion. Harker therefore pretended to agree, and asked the Count what dates he should put on the letters. The Count thought for a minute.
“The first should be June 12, the second June 19, and the third June 29,” he said.
Harker realized he now knew the span of his life.
* * *
Nine days later, Harker saw a chance of escape, or at least of being able to send a message home. A band of Szgany had come to the castle, and were encamped in the courtyard. The Szgany were gypsies; He had notes about them in his book. They were peculiar to that part of the world, though allied to gypsies all the world over. There were thousands of them in Hungary and Transylvania, and they were almost outside all law. As a rule, they attached themselves to some great noble, and called themselves by his name. They were fearless, without religion, save superstition, and spoke only their own dialect of Romani.
Harker decided to write some letters home and try to have the Szgany post them. He had already spoken to them through his window to begin getting acquainted. They took their hats off, bowed, and many signs. Harker could not understand these any more than he could their language.
He wrote a letter to Mina in shorthand, and simply asked Mr. Hawkins to communicate with her. To her he explained the situation, but without the horrors that he could only guess at. He though it would shock and frighten her to death if he were to tell her all his fears. Should the letters be intercepted, the Count would still not know Harker’s secret, or the extent of his knowledge.
Harker threw the letters through the bars of his window with a gold piece, and made what signs he could to indicate his wish to have them posted. The man who took them pressed them to his heart and bowed, and then put them in his cap. Harker could do no more. He stole back to the study, and began to read. When the Count did not come in, Harker wrote in his diary.
When the Count arrived, he sat down beside Harker, and opened the two letters.
“The Szgany have given me these. Though I don’t know where they came from, I shall, of course, take care of them,” he said in his smoothest voice. “ Look! One is from you, to my friend Peter Hawkins. The other…”
The Count looked at the strange symbols after he’d opened the envelope, and a dark look came into his face, and his eyes blazed wickedly.
“The other is a vile thing, an outrage upon friendship and hospitality!” he said. “It is not signed. Well! Then it cannot matter to us.”
The Count calmly held letter and envelope in the flame of the lamp until they were consumed.
“The letter to Hawkins I shall, of course, send on, since it is yours. Your letters are sacred to me. Your pardon, my friend. I unknowingly broke the seal. Will you cover it again?”
He held out the letter to Harker, and with a courteous bow handed him a clean envelope. Harker could only readdress it and hand it back to him in silence. When the Count left the room, Harker heard the key turn softly. A minute later, he went over and tried it, and the door was locked.
An hour or two after, the Count came into the room quietly. His arrival awakened Harker, who had fallen asleep on the sofa. The Count was very courteous and cheery. He saw that Harker had been sleeping.
“So, my friend, you are tired?” said the Count. “Get to bed. There is the surest rest. I may not have the pleasure of talking with you tonight, since there is much I must do. But sleep, I pray.”
Harker went to his room and to bed, and, strangely, slept without dreaming. Despair has its own calms.
* * *
In the morning when Harker woke, he looked for paper and envelopes in his bag to keep them in his pocket, in case he got an opportunity to write another letter, but to his surprise and shock, every scrap of paper was gone, and with it all of his notes and memos relating to railways and travel, his letter of credit, and anything that might be useful if he was outside the castle. He sat and pondered a while, and then a thought occurred to him, and he searched his suitcase and the wardrobe where he had put his clothes.
The suit which he had travelled in was gone, as well as his overcoat and lap blanket. He found no trace of them anywhere. It looked like some new scheme of villainy.
As he was sitting on the edge of his bed, wracking his brains, he heard the cracking of whips and the pounding and scraping of horses’ hooves on the rocky path beyond the courtyard. He joyfully hurried to the window, and saw two large wagons drive into the yard, each drawn by eight sturdy horses, with a Slovak at the head of each pair, with wide hats, great nail-studded belts, dirty sheepskins, and high boots. They had long staves in their hands. Harker ran to the door, intending to descend and join them through the main hall, thinking that the way might have been opened for them. He was shocked to find that his door was locked from the outside.
Harker ran to the window and cried to them. They looked up at him and pointed, but just then the head man of the Szgany came out, and seeing them pointing to his window, said something that made them laugh. After this, Harker’s piteous cries and agonized entreaties wouldn’t even make them look at him. They resolutely turned away. The wagons contained big, square boxes, with handles of thick rope that were evidently empty by the ease with which the Slovaks handled them, and how they resonated hollowly as they were handled roughly. When they were all unloaded and stacked in one corner of the yard, the Slovaks were paid by the Szgany, and spitting on it for luck, lazily went to their horses. Shortly afterwards, Harker heard the cracking of their whips die away in the distance.
A week later, the Count left Harker early and locked himself into his own room. As soon as Harker dared, he ran up the winding stair and looked out of the window that opened south. He watched for the Count, feeling there was something going on. The Szgany were quartered somewhere in the castle and were doing work of some kind. Now and then, he heard far-away muffled sounds of mattocks and spades, and wondered what villainy they were up to.
He had been at the window for less than half an hour when he saw something coming out of the Count’s window. He drew back and watched carefully, and saw the man emerge. Harker was shocked to see that the Count was wearing the suit of clothes Harker had worn while travelling, and the terrible bag that Harker had seen the women take away slung over his shoulder. This, then, was the Count’s evil scheme. He would allow others to think they had seen Harker, leaving evidence that he had been seen in the town, posting his own letters, and any wickedness done by the count would be attributed to Harker by the local people.
Harker raged to think that this could happen, while he was shut up, a prisoner, without that protection of the law which is even a criminal’s right and consolation.
He watched for the Count’s return, and sat doggedly at the windowfor a long time. He began to notice quaint little specks floating in the rays of moonlight. They were like tiny grains of dust, and they whirled around and gathered in nebulous clusters. He watched them, and a soothing calm stole over he. He leaned back in the embrasure in a more comfortable position to fully enjoy the aerial frolicking.
The low, piteous howling of dogs somewhere far below in the valley, hidden from his sight, startled him. It rang loudly in his ears, and the floating motes of dust took on new shapes as they danced in the moonlight. He struggled to wake to some call of his instincts. His very soul was struggling, and his half-remembered sensibilities striving to answer the call. He realized he was being hypnotised. The dust danced faster and faster. The moonbeams quivered in the gloom beyond. More and more dust gathered until it seemed to take on dim phantom shapes. Harker started, broad awake and in full possession of his senses, and ran screaming from the place. The phantom shapes, which gradually materialized from the moonbeams, were the three ghostly women to whom the Count had promised him. He fled, and felt somewhat safer in his own room, where there was no moonlight and the lamp was burning brightly.
A couple of hours had passed when Harker heard something stirring in the Count’s room, and something like a sharp wail was quickly suppressed. Then there was silence, deep, awful silence, that chilled him. His heart beating in his ears, he tried the door, but he was locked in his prison, and could do nothing. He sat down and simply cried.
As he sat, he heard a sound outside in the courtyard—the agonised cry of a woman. He rushed to the window and, throwing it open, peered out between the bars. There was a woman with dishevelled hair, holding her hands over her heart as though distressed with running. She leaned against a corner of the gateway. When she saw his face at the window, she threw herself forward.
“Monster, give me my child!” she shouted, in a voice laden with menace.
She threw herself on her knees, and raising up her hands, cried the same words in tones which wrung Harker’s heart. She tore her hair and beat her chest, abandoning herself to the violence of extravagant emotion. Finally, she threw herself forward, and, though he could not see her, he could hear her beating her naked hands against the door.
High overhead in the tower, Harker heard the Count calling in his harsh, metallic voice. His call was answered from far and wide by the howling of wolves. Minutes later, a pack of them poured, like water freed from a pent up dam, through the wide entrance into the courtyard.
The woman did not cry out, and the howling of the wolves was short. Before long they streamed away, licking their lips.
Harker could not pity her, because knew what had become of her child, and the woman was better off dead.
What should he do? What could he do? How could he escape from this dreadful creature of night and gloom and fear?
* * *
How dear to Harker’s heart and eye the morning was. When the sun rose so high that it struck the top of the great gateway opposite his window, the high spot that it touched seemed as if the dove from Noah’s ark had alighted there. His fear fell from him as if it had been a vaporous garment that dissolved in the warmth. He must take action of some sort whilst the courage of the day was upon him. The previous night, one of his post-dated letters had been sent, the first of the fatal series that was to blot out every trace of his existence from the earth.
It had always been at night that he had been molested, threatened, in danger, or afraid. Harker realized had never seen the Count in the daylight. He wondered whether the Count slept when others woke so that he could be awake while they slept. If only Harker could get into the Count’s room. There was no possible way. The door was always locked.
Yet there was a way, if one dared to take it. Where the Count had gone, another could go. Harker had seen the man crawl from his window. Could Harker could imitate the Count, and go in by his window? The risks were terriible, but Harker’s need was desperate. He decided to risk it. At worst, it would mean death. A man’s death is not a calf’s, and perhaps the hereafter was still open to him. He prayed to God to help him.
While his courage was fresh, Harker went straight to the window on the south side, and stepped out onto the narrow ledge of stone that ran around the building on that side. The stones were big and roughly cut, and the mortar between them had been washed away by time been. He took off his boots and ventured out on the desperate path. After looking down once to make sure that a sudden glimpse of the awful depth would not overcome him, he kept his eyes away from it. He knew the direction and distance to the Count’s window, and made for it as well as he could using the opportunities available. He did not feel dizzy—he suppose he was too excited—and the time seemed ridiculously short when he found himself standing on the window sill and trying to raise the sash. He became filled with agitation when he bent down and slid feet first in through the window. He looked around for the Count, but, with surprise and gladness, discovered that the room was empty! It was sparsely furnished with odd things that seemed never to have been used. The furniture was the same style as that in the south rooms, and was covered with dust. Harker looked for the key, but it was not in the lock, and he could not find it anywhere. The only thing he found was a great heap of gold in one corner—gold of all kinds, Roman, British, Austrian, Hungarian, Greek, and Turkish money, covered with a film of dust, as though it had been long buried. None of it was less than three hundred years old. There were also chains and ornaments, some jewelled, but all of them old and stained.
In one corner of the room was a heavy door. Harker tried it, since he could not find the key to the room or to the outer door, which was the main object of his search. It was open, and led through a stone passage to a circular stairway, which descended steeply. He went down it carefully, because the stairs were dark, lit by loopholes in the heavy masonry. At the bottom there was a dark, tunnel-like passage, up which came a deathly, sickly odour, the smell of old earth newly turned. As he went down the passage, the smell grew closer and heavier. At last he pulled open a heavy door that stood ajar, and found himself in an old, ruined chapel, which had evidently been used as a graveyard. The roof was broken, and in two places there were steps leading to vaults, but the ground had recently been dug up, and the earth placed in the great wooden boxes brought by the Slovaks. There was nobody around, and Harker searched for another way out, but there was none. He went over every inch of the ground while he had the chance, even down into the vaults, where the dim light struggled, although to do so filled his soul with dread. Into two of these, he saw nothing but fragments of old coffins and piles of dust. In the third, however, he made a discovery.
There, in one of the fifty great boxes, on a pile of newly turned earth, lay the Count! He was either dead or asleep, Harker could not say which. The Count’s eyes were open and stony, but without the glassiness of death, and his cheeks had the warmth of life through all their pallor. His lips were as red as ever. There was no sign of movement, no pulse, no breath, no heartbeat. Harker bent over him, and tried to in vain to find any sign of life. The Count could not have lain there long, because the earthy smell would have faded away in a few hours. Beside of the box was its cover, pierced with holes here and there. Harker thought the Couunt might have the keys on his person, but as he went to search he saw the Count’s dead eyes, and in them, dead though they were, there was such a look of hatred, though unconscious of Harker’s presence, that he fled from the place, leaving the Count’s room by the window, and crawled back up the castle wall. Regaining his room, he threw myself panting upon the bed and tried to think.
* * *
On the day of Harker’s last letter, the Count took steps to prove that it was genuine, because Harker again saw him leave the castle in Harker’s clothes. As the Count went down the wall, lizard fashion, Harker wished he had a gun with which to destroy him, but feared that no weapon wrought by man would have any effect on the Count. He dared not wait there for the Count’s return, fearing to see the weird sisters. He went back to the library, and read there til he fell asleep.
He was awakened by the Count, who looked at him as grimly as a man can look.
“Tomorrow, my friend, we must part,” he said. “You will return to your beautiful England, I to some work that may mean that we never meet again. Your letter home has been dispatched. Tomorrow I will not be here, but everything will be ready for your journey. In the morning, the Szgany, who have some chores of their own here, will come, as well as some Slovaks. Once they have gone, my carriage will come for you and carry you to the Borgo Pass to meet the coach from Bukovina to Bistritz. But I hope that I will see more of you at Castle Dracula.”
Harker suspected the Count, and determined to test his sincerity. Sincerity! It profaned the word to write it in connection with such a monster.
“Why may I not go to-night?” asked Harker.
“Because, dear sir, my coachman and horses are away on a mission,” said the Count.
“I would be happy to walk,” said Harker. “I want to get away at once.”
The Count smiled such a soft, smooth, diabolical smile that Harker knew there was some trick behind his smoothness.
“And your baggage?” he asked.
“I do not care about it,” said Harker. “I can send for it some other time.”
The Count stood up.
“You English have a saying that is close to my heart, for its spirit is that which rules our nobles,” he said, with sweet courtesy that made Harker rub his eyes, it seemed so real. “‘Welcome the coming and speed the parting guest.’ Come with me, my dear young friend. You will not wait an hour in my house against your will, though sad am I at your going, and that you so suddenly desire it. Come!”
With a stately gravity, the Count, with the lamp, preceded Harker down the stairs and along the hall. Suddenly he stopped.
“Listen!” he said.
Close at hand, Harker heard the howling of many wolves. It was almost as if the sound sprang up at the rising of the Count’s hand, just as the music of a great orchestra seems to leap under the baton of the conductor. After pausing a moment, he proceeded, in his stately way, to the door, drew back the ponderous bolts, unhooked the heavy chains, and began to draw it open.
To Harker’s intense astonishment, he saw that it was unlocked. Suspiciously, he looked around, but could see no key of any kind.
As the door began to open, the howling of the wolves outside grew louder and angrier. Their red jaws, gnashing teeth, and blunt clawed feet came in through the opening door as they leapt at it. Harker knew then that to struggle against the Count was useless at that moment. With allies like these at the Count’s command, Harker could do nothing. The door continued to slowly open, and only the Count’s body stood in the gap. Suddenly, it struck Harker that this might be the moment and means of his doom. He was to be given to the wolves at his own instigation. There was a diabolical wickedness in the idea that suited the Count.
“Shut the door! I’ll wait till morning!” Harker cried out.
Harker covered his face with his hands to hide his tears of bitter disappointment. With one sweep of his powerful arm, the Count slammed the door shut, and the great bolts clanged and echoed through the hall as he shot them back into place.
In silence, they returned to the library, and after a minute or two Harker went to his own room. The last he saw of Dracula, the Count was blowing him a kiss, the red light of triumph in his eyes and a smile that Judas in hell might be proud of.
When Harker was about to lie down, he thought he heard whispering at his door. He went to it softly and listened. Unless his ears deceived me, he heard the voice of the Count.
“Back, back, to your own place! Your time has not yet come. Wait! Have patience! Tonight is mine. Tomorrow night is yours!”
There was a low, sweet ripple of laughter, and in a rage, Harker threw open the door, and saw the three terrible women licking their lips. As I appeared, they laughed horribly and ran away.
Harker went back to his room and threw himself on his knees. Was it so near the end? Tomorrow! tomorrow! He prayed to the Lord to help him and those to whom he was dear.
* * *
He felt that subtle change in the air, and knew that morning had come. A cock crowed, and he felt that he was safe. With a glad heart, he opened his door and ran down to the hall. He had seen that the front door was unlocked, and now escape was possible. With hands that trembled with eagerness, he unhooked the chains and drew back the massive bolts.
The door would not move. Despair seized him. He pulled and pulled at the door, and shook it til, massive as it was, it rattled in its frame. He could see the bolt had been shot. It had been locked after he left the Count.
A wild desire took him to obtain the key at any cost, and he determined then and there to scale the wall again and reach the Count’s room. The Count might kill him, but death seemed the better choice of evils. Without pausing, he rushed up to the east window and scrambled down the wall and into the Count’s room. It was empty, but that was what Harker expected. He could not see a key anywhere, but the pile of gold remained. He went through the door in the corner, down the winding stairs, and along the dark passage to the old chapel. He knew where to find the monster he sought.
The great box was in the same place, close to the wall, but its lid was laid on it, not fastened down, but with the nails ready to be hammered home. Harker knew he must reach the Count’s body to get the key, so he raised the lid and laid it back against the wall. He saw something which filled his soul with horror. There lay the Count, but looking as if his youth had been half renewed. His white hair and moustache were now dark iron grey. His cheeks were fuller, and his white skin seemed ruby red underneath. His mouth was redder than ever, and there were drops of fresh blood on his lips, and it trickled from the corners of the mouth and ran over his chin and neck. Even his deep, burning eyes seemed set among swollen flesh. Their lids and the pouches under them were bloated. It seemed as if that whole awful creature was gorged with blood. He lay like a filthy leech, exhausted with his excess. Harker shuddered as he bent over to touch him, and every sense in him revolted at the contact. He had to search, or he was lost. The coming night might see his own body become a similar banquet to the horrid sisters. Harker felt all over the Count’s body, but found no sign of the key. He stopped and looked at the Count. There was a mocking smile on the bloated face that drove Harker mad. This was the creature he was helping to transfer to London, where for centuries to come he might, among its teeming millions, satiate his lust for blood, and create a new and ever-widening circle of demons to grow fat on the helpless. The very thought drove Harker mad. A terrible desire came upon him to rid the world of the monster. There was no lethal weapon at hand, but he seized a shovel that the workmen had been using to fill the cases, and lifting it high, struck, with the edge downward, at the Count’s hateful face. As he did, the Count’s head turned, and his eyes fell upon Harker with a blaze of basilisk horror. The sight paralyzed Harker, and the shovel turned in his hand and glanced off the Count’s face, merely giving hin a deep gash above the forehead. The shovel fell from Harker’s hand across the box, and as he pulled it away, the flange of the blade caught the edge of the lid, which fell over again, and hid the Count from his sight. The last glimpse he had was of the monstrous bloated face, blood stained and with a grin of malice that would have held its own in the nethermost hell.
Harker thought and thought what he should do next, but his brain seemed on fire, and he waited with growing despair. As he waited, he heard a gypsy song in the distance, sung by merry voices coming closer, and over the song the rolling of heavy wheels and the cracking of whips. The Szgany and the Slovaks who the Count had spoken of were coming. With a last look around and at the box that contained the vile body, Harker ran from the place to the Count’s room, determined to rush out the moment the door was opened. With straining ears, he listened, and heard the grinding of the key in the great lock downstairs and the heavy door falling back. There must have been some other means of entry, or some one had a key for one of the locked doors. The sound of many feet tramping and dying away in some passage sent up a clanging echo. He turned to run down towards the vault to find the new entrance. At the moment, a violent puff of wind blew the door to the winding stair to with a shock that set the dust flying from the lintels. When he ran to push it open, he found that it was hopelessly stuck. He was once more a prisoner, and the net of doom was closing around him more tightly.
In the passage below, Harker heard the sound of many tramping feet and the crash of weights being set down heavily, doubtless the boxes with their cargo of earth. There has the sound of hammering. It must be the box being nailed down. He heard heavy feet tramping along the hall, with many other idle feet coming behind them.
The door was shut, the chains rattled, and the key ground in the lock. He could hear the key being withdrawn, and then another door opened and shut. He heard the creaking of a lock and bolt.
In the courtyard and down the rocky way, he heard the roll of heavy wheels, the crack of whips, and the chorus of the Szgany as they passed into the distance.
He was alone in the castle with those awful women. They had nothing in common with a real woman like Mina. They were devils of the Pit!
Harker decided he would not remain alone with them. He would try to scale the castle wall farther than he had ever attempted. He would take some of the gold with him in case he needed it. He might yet find a way out of the dreadful place.
Then he would head for home! Away to the quickest and nearest train! Away from the cursed spot, from the cursed land, where the devil and his children still walk with earthly feet!
Chapter V – Mina and Lucy
Mina Murray had been simply overwhelmed with work. The life of an assistant schoolmistress was sometimes trying. She longed to be with Lucy at the seaside, where they could talk together freely and build their castles in the air. She had been working very hard lately because she wanted to keep up with Jonathan’s studies, and had been practising shorthand assiduously.
When they were married, Mina wanted to be useful to Jonathan, and if her stenography was good enough, she could take down what he wanted to say in this way and write it out for him on the typewriter, at which she was also practising very hard. Mina and Jonathan sometimes wrote letters in shorthand, and he was keeping a stenographic journal of his travels abroad.
When she was with Lucy, Mina decided she would keep a diary in the same way–not one of those two pages to the week with Sunday squeezed in a corner diaries, but the sort of journal in which she could write whenever she felt inclined. She doubted that there would be in it that would interest other people, but it wasn’t intended for them. She might show it to Jonathan some day if there was anything worth sharing, but it would really be an exercise book. She wanted to try to do what she see lady journalists do: interviewing, writing descriptions, and trying to remember conversations. She had heard that, with a little practice, one could remember all that went on or that one heard said during a day.
Mina opened the letter she’d been holding. It contained a few hurried lines from Jonathan from Transylvania. He was well, and would be returning in about a week. She longed to hear all his news. It must be so nice to see strange countries. She wonder if they would ever see them together.
Sighing, she put pen to paper to write to Lucy and tell her of her little plans. She asked Lucy to tell here all the news when she wrote. Lucy hadn’t not told Mina anything for a long time. She had heard rumours of a tall, handsome, curly-haired man, and asked Lucy about then. The bell rang ten o’clock, and she finished the letter.
* * *
Town was very pleasant just now, and Lucy Western had been visiting the galleries and going for walks and rides in the park. The tall, curly-haired man that Mina had heard about was the one who was with her at the last concert. Some one had evidently been telling tales. That was Mr. Holmwood. He often came to see her, and he and her mother got on very well together; they had so many things to talk about in common.
Some time ago, Lucy had met a man who would have been perfect for Mina, if she hadn’t already been engaged to Jonathan. He was an excellent match, being handsome, well off, and of good birth. He was a doctor and very clever. Though he was only twenty-nine, and he had an immense lunatic asylum under his care. Mr. Holmwood had introduced him to Lucy, and he too often called to see her. She thought he was one of the most determined men she had ever seen, and yet the most calm. He seemed absolutely imperturbable. She could imagine what wonderful power he must have over his patients. He had a curious habit of looking people straight in the face, as if trying to read their thoughts. He had tried this on her, but she flattered herself that he would find her a tough nut to crack. She knew this from her mirror. She had tried to read her own face, and found it a worthwhile study that gave her more trouble than she would have thought if she had never tried it. The doctor said that she afforded him a curious psychological study, and she humbly thought she did.
Lucy sat down to write Mina back. She thought about telling Mina about the latest styles, but she didn’t take sufficient interest in clothes to be able to describe the new fashions. Fashion was a bore. Mina wouldn’t approve of her slang, but never mind; Arthur said that every day. She realized that she loved him and, although she thought he loved her, he had not told her so in words.
She and Mina had told all their secrets to each other since they were children. They had slept together and eaten together, and laughed and cried together. It felt good to tell someone of her love. She wished she was with Mina, sitting by the fire undressing, as they used to sit. She would try to tell her what she felt. She did not know how she was writing about this, even to Mina. She was afraid to stop, in case she should tear up the letter, and she didn’t want to stop, because she wanted to tell Mina everything. She finished by begging to hear from Mina at once, and for her friend to tell her what she thought about it. After asking Mina to bless her in her prayers and pray for her happiness, Lucy signed the letter, then added a quick post script:
P.S.—I need not tell you this is a secret. Good-night.
* * *
Lucy had a caller, who came just before lunch. Dr. John Seward, the lunatic asylum man, had a strong jaw and a good forehead. He was very cool outwardly, but was nervous all the same. He had evidently been schooling himself as to all sorts of little things, and remembered them, but he almost managed to sit down on his silk hat, which men don’t generally do when they are cool, and then when he wanted to appear at ease he kept playing with a lancet in a way that made her nearly scream. He spoke to her very straightforwardly.
“You are very dear to me, Lucy,” he said, “though I have known you so little time. What my life would be with you to help and cheer me.”
She was sure he was going to tell her how unhappy he would be if she did not care for him, but then he saw that she was crying.
“I’m a brute,” he said. “I won’t add to your present trouble. But could you love me in time?”
She shook her head, his hands trembled, and he hesitated.
“Do you already care for someone else?” he asked. “I do not want to wring your confidence from you, but only to know, because if a woman’s heart is free, a man may have hope.”
Lucy felt a duty to tell him that there was some one. She only told him that much, and then he stood up, and looked very strong and very grave as he took both her hands in his.
“I hope you will be happy, and that if you ever want a friend, you must count me one of your best,” he said.
Being proposed to was very nice, but it wasn’t at all a happy thing when she had to see a poor man, whom she knew loved her honestly, going away looking all brokenhearted, and knowing that, no matter what he might say at the moment, she was passing out of his life.
* * *
A second caller came after lunch. He was a nice fellow, an American from Texas, and he looked so young and so fresh that it seemed almost impossible that he had been to so many places and had had such adventures. Lucy sympathized with poor Desdemona when she had such a dangerous stream of words poured in her ear, by a black man no less. She supposed that women were such cowards that they thought a man would save them from their fears, so they married them.
Mr. Quincey P. Morris found her alone. It seemed that a man always did find a girl alone. Arthur, on the other hand, had tried twice to make a chance, and she had helped him all she could, she was not ashamed to say. Quincy didn’t always use slang—he never did so with strangers or before them, for he was very well educated and had exquisite manners—but he found out that it amused Lucy to hear him use American slang, and whenever she was present, and there was no one to be shocked, he said such funny things. Quincy sat down beside her and looked as happy and jolly as he could, but she could see all the same that he was very nervous. He took her hand in his.
“Miss Lucy, I know I ain’t good enough to regulate the fixin’s of your little shoes, but I guess if you wait ‘til you find a man that is you will go join them seven young women with the lamps when you quit,” he said sweetly. “Won’t you just hitch up alongside of me and let us go down the long road together, driving in double harness?”
He looked so good humoured and so jolly that it didn’t seem half as hard to refuse him as it did poor Dr. Seward.
“I don’t know anything of hitching, and I’m not broken to harness at all yet,” she said, as lightly as she could.
“I’ve spoken in a light manner,” said Quincy. “I hoped that if I have made a mistake in doing so on so grave, so momentous, an occasion for me, you’ll forgive me.”
He looked really serious when he was saying it, and Lucy found herself feeling a bit serious too, though she couldn’t help also feeling exultation that he was number two in one day. And then, before she could say a word, he began pouring out a perfect torrent, professing his love, laying his very heart and soul at her feet. He looked so serious that she would never again think that just because a man was merry at times, he must always be playful and never earnest. She supposed he saw something in her face that checked him, for he suddenly stopped, and spoke with a manly fervour that she could have loved him if she had been free.
“Lucy, you are an honest hearted girl, I know,” he said. “I would not be here speaking to you as I am now if I did not believe you clean grit, right through to the very depths of your soul. Tell me, like one good fellow to another, is there any one else that you care for? And if there is I’ll never trouble you a hair’s breadth again, but will be, if you will let me, a very faithful friend.”
‘Why are men so noble when we women are so little worthy of them?’ Lucy thought. ‘Here was I almost making fun of this great-hearted, true gentleman.’
She burst into tears, and felt very badly, but though she was crying, she was able to look into Quincy’s brave eyes.
“Yes, there is some one I love,” she told him, “though he has not told me yet that he even loves me.”
She was right to speak to him so frankly, for a light came into his face, and he put out both his hands and took hers when she put them into his.
“That’s my brave girl,” he said heartily. “It’s worth more being late for a chance of winning you than being in time for any other girl in the world. Don’t cry, my dear. If it’s for me, I’m a hard nut to crack, and I take it standing up. If that other fellow doesn’t know his happiness, well, he’d better look for it soon, or he’ll have to deal with me. Little girl, your honesty and pluck have made me a friend, and that’s rarer than a lover; it’s more unselfish anyhow. My dear, I’m going to have a pretty lonely walk between now and Kingdom come. Won’t you give me one kiss? It’ll be something to keep back the darkness now and then. You can, you know, if you like, because that other good fellow—he must be a good fellow, my dear, and a fine fellow, or you could not love him—hasn’t spoken yet.”
That won her, for it was brave and sweet of him, and noble, too, to a rival, and he was so sad. She leaned over and kissed him. He stood up with her two hands in his, and looked down into her blushing face.
“Little girl, I hold your hand, and you’ve kissed me, and if these things don’t make us friends nothing ever will,” he said. “Thank you for your sweet honesty to me, and good-bye.”
Quincy kissed her hand and, taking up his hat, went straight out of the room without looking back, without a tear or a quiver or a pause. Meanwhile, Lucy was crying like a baby.
‘Oh, why must a man like that be made unhappy when there are lots of girls who would worship the very ground he trod on?’ she thought. ‘I know I would, if I were free—only I don’t want to be free.’
* * *
When Arthur arrived, it was all so confused. It seemed only a moment from his coming into the room before both his arms were around Lucy, and he was kissing her. She was very, very happy, and didn’t know what she had done to deserve it. She vowed to try in the future to show that she was not ungrateful to God for all His goodness to her in sending to her such a lover, such a husband, and such a friend.
* * *
When Arthur had gone, Lucy was in better spirits.
‘It never rains but it pours,’ she thought. ‘How true the old proverbs are.’
She would not be twenty until September, and yet she had never had a proposal until today−not a real proposal−and today she had had three. Three proposals in one day! It was awful! She felt sorry, really and truly sorry, for two of the poor fellows, yet she was so happy that she didn’t know what to do with herself. She hoped no one told any of the girls, or they would be getting all sorts of extravagant ideas and imagining themselves injured and slighted if in their very first day at home they did not get six at least. Some girls are so vain! Lucy who, like her friend Mina, was now engaged, would soon settle down soberly into an old married woman, could despise vanity.
She sat down to write to Mina and tell her about the day.
I can’t help crying. You must excuse this letter being all blotted.
I know now what I would do if I were a man and wanted to make a girl love me. No, I don’t, for there was Quincy Morris telling me his stories in his odd American slang, though I am afraid he has to have invented it all. And yet Arthur never told any. Oh, why can’t they let a girl marry three men, or as many as want her, and save all this trouble? But this is heresy, and I must not say it.
Well, I must tell you about the three callers I had today, but you must keep it a secret, dear, from every one, except, of course, Jonathan. You will tell him, because I would, if I were in your place, certainly tell Arthur. A woman ought to tell her husband everything—don’t you think so, dear?—and I must be fair. Men like women, certainly their wives, to be quite as fair as they are; and women, I am afraid, are not always quite as fair as they should be.
Lucy went on to tell her friend everything that had happened that day. Finally, she signed the letter:
Ever your loving
* * *
Mina was met by Lucy at the station. Her friend was looking sweeter and lovelier than ever, and they drove up to the house at the Crescent which rented rooms. It was a lovely place. The little river, the Esk, ran through a deep valley, which broadened out as it came near the harbour. A great viaduct ran across, with high piers, through which the view seemed somehow further away than it really was. The valley was beautifully green, and so steep that when you were on the high land on either side, you could look right across it, unless you were near enough to see down.
The houses of the old town—the side away from them—were all red roofed, and seem piled up one on the other, like the pictures they’d seen of Nuremberg. Right over the town was the ruin of Whitby Abbey, which was sacked by the Danes, and which was the scene of Sir Walter Scott’s “Marmion” where the girl was bricked up in the wall. It was a most noble ruin, of immense size, and full of beautiful and romantic bits. There was a legend that a white lady was sometimes seen in one of the windows.
Between the ruin and the town, there was another church, the parish one, around which was a big graveyard, full of tombstones. This, to Mina’s mind, was the nicest spot in Whitby, for it lay right over the town, and had a full view of the harbour and up the bay to where the headland called Kettleness stretched out into the sea. It descended so steeply over the harbour that part of the bank had fallen away, and some of the graves had been destroyed. In one place, part of the stonework of the graves stretched out over the sandy pathway far below. There were walks, with seats beside them, through the churchyard. People went and sat there all day long, looking at the beautiful view and enjoying the breeze.
Mina went to sit there and work. She wrote with her book on her knee, and listened to the talk of three old men who were sitting beside her. They seemed to do nothing all day but sit up there and talk. The harbour lay below her, with one long granite wall stretching out into the sea on the far side, with a curve outwards at the end of it, in the middle of which was a lighthouse. A heavy sea wall ran along outside of it. On the near side, the sea wall made an elbow, crooked inversely, and its end too had a lighthouse. Between the two piers there was a narrow opening into the harbour, which then suddenly widened.
It was nice at high tide, but when the tide was out, the harbour shoaled away to nothing, and there was merely the stream of the Esk, running between banks of sand, with rocks here and there. Outside the harbour on her side, a great reef rose for about half a mile, the sharp edge of which ran straight out from behind the south lighthouse. At the end of it, there was a buoy with a bell that swung in bad weather, sending a mournful sound on the wind. There was a legend that when a ship was lost, bells were heard out at sea. She decided she must ask the old man who was coming her way about this.
He was a funny old man. He must have been awfully old, for his face was gnarled and twisted like the bark of a tree. He’d told her that he was nearly a hundred, and that he had been a sailor in the Greenland fishing fleet when Waterloo was fought. He was, she was afraid, a very skeptical person, for when she asked him about the bells at sea and the white lady at the abbey, he spoke very brusquely.
“I wouldn’t worry myself about them, miss. Them things be all wore out. Mind, I don’t say that they never was, but I do say that they wasn’t in my time. They be all very well for newcomers and tourists, and the like, but not for a nice young lady like you. Them folks from York and Leeds that be always eating cured herring and drinking tea and looking out to buy cheap gemstones would believe anything. I wonder myself who’d be bothered telling lies to them—even the newspapers, which is full of foolish talk.”
Mina thought he would be a good person to learn interesting things from, so she asked him if he would mind telling her something about the whaling in the old days. He was just settling himself to begin when the clock struck six, upon which he laboured to get back up.
“I must be going towards home again now, miss,” he said. “My granddaughter doesn’t like to be kept waiting when the tea is ready, for it takes me time to scramble upon the stairs, for there be many of them. And, miss, I lack food sorely by this time.”
He hobbled away, and she could see him hurrying, as well as he could, down the steps. The steps were a great feature of the place. They lead from the town up to the church, and there were hundreds of them—she didn’t know how many—which wound upward in a delicate curve. The slope was so gentle that a horse could easily walk up and down them. She thought they must originally have had something to do with the abbey.
* * *
A week later, Mina came back with Lucy. They had a most interesting talk with her old friend and the two others who always came to join him. He was evidently the oracle of them, and she think he must have been, in his time, a most dictatorial person. He would not admit anything, and faced everybody down. If he couldn’t out argue them, he bullied them, and then took their silence for agreement with his views.
Lucy was looking sweetly pretty in her white lawn frock. She’d gotten beautiful colour since she had been there. Mina noticed that the old men did not lose any time in coming up and sitting near her when they sat down. Lucy was so sweet with old people. Mina thought they all fell in love with her on the spot. Even her old man succumbed and did not contradict Lucy, but gave Mina double share instead. She got him onto the subject of the legends, and he went off at once into a sort of sermon.
“It be all foolish talk, lock, stock, and barrel; that’s what it be, and nothing else. These curses and odours and ghosts and black dogs and hobgoblins and all like them is only fit to set children and dizzy women bellowing. They be nothing but air bubbles. They, and all omens and signs and warnings, be all invented by parsons and sickly bookworms and railway tramps to scare and disgust children, to get folks to do something that they don’t otherwise incline to. It makes me angry to think of them. Why, it’s them that, not content with printing lies on paper and preaching them out of pulpits, want to be cutting them on the tombstones. Look here all around you in what direction you will; all them stones, holding up their heads as well as they can out of their pride, is vacant—simply tumbling down with the weight of the lies wrote on them. ‘Here lies the body’ or ‘Sacred to the memory’ wrote on all of them, and yet in nigh half of them there aren’t no bodies at all. The memories of them aren’t cared a pinch of snuff about, much less sacred. Lies all of them, nothing but lies of one kind or another! My God, but it’ll be a queer scorching at the Day of Judgment when they come tumbling up in their death sheets, all splattered together and trying to drag their tombstones with them to prove how good they was. Some of them trembling and dithering, with their hands that numb and slippery from lying in the sea that they can’t even keep their grip with them.”
“Oh, Mr. Swales, you can’t be serious,” she said to keep him going. “Surely these tombstones are not all wrong?”
“Possibly! There may be a poorish few not wrong, saving where they make out the people too good. For there be folk that do think a chamber pot be like the sea, if only it be their own. The whole thing be only lies. Now look you here. You come here a stranger, and you see this kirk yard.”
Mina nodded, for she thought it better to assent, though she did not quite understand his dialect. She knew it had something to do with the church.
“And you imagine that all these stones be above folk that be buried here, smooth and snug?” he went on.
She assented again.
“Then that be just where the lie comes in. Why, there be scores of these graves that be empty as old Dun’s tobacco box on Friday night.”
He nudged one of his companions, and they all laughed.
“And my God! How could they be otherwise? Look at that one, the furthest back on the bier bank. Read it!”
She went over and read:
“Edward Spencelagh, master mariner,
murdered by pirates off the coast of Andres
April, 1854, aged 30.”
When she came back, Mr. Swales went on.
“Who brought him home, I wonder, to bury him here? Murdered off the coast of San Andres! And you imagine his body lies under? Why, I could name you a dozen whose bones lie in the Greenland seas above” he said, pointing northwards, “or where the currents may have drifted them. There be the stones around you. You can, with your young eyes, read the small print of the lies from here. Braithwaite Lowrey—I knew his father—lost in the Lively off Greenland in 1820. Or Andrew Woodhouse, drowned in the same seas in 1777. Or John Paxton, drowned off Cape Farewell a year later. Or old John Rawlings, whose grandfather sailed with me, drowned in the Gulf of Finland in 1850. Do you think that all these men will have to make a rush to Whitby when the trumpet sounds? I have me doubts about it! I tell you that when they got here they’d be jumbling and jostling one another so that it would be like a fight up on the ice in the old days, when we’d be at one another from daylight to dark, and trying to tie up our cuts by the light of the aurora borealis.”
This was evidently local pleasantry, for the old man cackled over it, and his cronies joined in with gusto.
“But,” Mina said, “surely you are not quite correct, for you start on the assumption that all the poor people, or their spirits, will have to take their tombstones with them on the Day of Judgment. Do you think that will be really necessary?”
“Well, what else be they tombstones for? Answer me that, miss!”
“To please their relatives, I suppose.”
“To please their relatives, you suppose!” he said with intense scorn. “How will it pleasure their relatives to know that lies is wrote over them, and that everybody in the place knows that they be lies?”
He pointed to a stone at their feet which had been laid down as a slab, on which the seat was rested, close to the edge of the cliff.
“Read the lies on that thruff stone,” he said.
The letters were upside down to Mina from where she sat, but Lucy was more opposite to them, so she leaned over and read.
“Sacred to the memory of George Canon, who died, in the hope of a glorious resurrection, on July, 29, 1873, falling from the rocks at Kettleness. This tomb was erected by his sorrowing mother to her dearly beloved son. ‘He was the only son of his mother, and she was a widow.’ Really, Mr. Swales, I don’t see anything very funny in that!” she said, very gravely and somewhat severely.
“You don’t see anything funny! Ha! ha! But that’s because you don’t know the sorrowing mother was a hell cat that hated him because he was crooked—a regular lame one he was—and he hated her so that he committed suicide in order that she mightn’t get an insurance she put on his life. He blew nearly the top of his head off with an old musket that they had for scaring the crows with. It wasn’t for crows then, for it brought the horseflies and the carrion birds to him. That’s the way he fell off the rocks. And, as to hopes of a glorious resurrection, I’ve often heard him say myself that he hoped he’d go to hell, for his mother was so pious that she’d be sure to go to heaven, and he didn’t want to idle where she was. Now isn’t that stone at any rate a pack of lies?” he said, hammering it with his stick as he spoke, “And won’t it make Gabriel cackle when Geordie comes panting up the steps with the tombstone balanced on his hump, and asks it to be took as evidence!”
I did not know what to say, but Lucy turned the conversation.
“Oh, why did you tell us of this?” she said, rising up. “It is my favourite seat, and I cannot leave it, and now I find I must go on sitting over the grave of a suicide.”
“That won’t harm you, my pretty. And it may make poor Geordie glad to have so trim a lass sitting on his lap. That won’t hurt you. Why, I’ve sat here off and on for nearly twenty years past, and it hasn’t done me no harm. Don’t you worry about them as lies under you, or that doesn’t lie there either! It’ll be time for you to be getting scared when you see the tombstones all run away with, and the place as bare as a stubble field. Oh, there’s the clock, and I must be going. My service to you, ladies!”
And off he hobbled.
Mina and Lucy sat awhile, and it was all so beautiful before them that they held hands as they sat. Lucy told Mina all over again about Arthur and their coming marriage. That made Mina just a little heart sick, for she hadn’t heard from Jonathan for a whole month.
* * *
Later the same day, Mina came up alone because she was very sad. There was no letter for her. She hoped there wasn’t anything the matter with Jonathan. The clock had just struck nine. She saw the lights scattered all over the town, sometimes in rows where the streets were, and sometimes singly. They run right up the Esk and died away in the curve of the valley. To her left, the view was cut off by the black line of the roof of the old house next to the abbey. The sheep and lambs were bleating in the fields away behind her, and there was the clatter of a donkey’s hooves up the paved road below. The band on the pier was playing a harsh waltz in good time, and further along the quay there was a Salvation Army band meeting in a back street. Neither of the bands heard the other, but up there Mina heard and saw them both. She wondered where Jonathan was and if he was thinking of her. She wished he was there.
Dr. Seward’s appetite had ebbed away. He could not eat, nor could he rest. Since his rebuff of yesterday, he had felt empty. Nothing in the world seemed of sufficient importance to be worth the doing. As he knew that the only cure for this sort of thing was work, he went down amongst his patients. He picked out one who had afforded him a study of much interest. The man was so quaint that Seward was determined to understand him as well as he could. Today he felt nearer than ever before to the heart of the mystery.
Seward questioned him more fully than he had ever done, with a view to making himself master of the facts of the patient’s delusion. In the way he did it there was, he would later see, some of cruelty. He seemed to subconciously wish to keep the man at the point of his madness, a thing which Seward usually avoided with the patients as he would the mouth of hell. He made a mental note to think about whether there was anything behind this instinct it would be valuable to trace afterwards,
R. M. Renfield was a man of 59, inclined to optimism, and of great physical strength. He was morbidly excitable, enduring periods of gloom that were rooted in some fixed idea which Seward could not make out. He presumed that the patient’s optimistic temperament itself and the disturbing influence woud end in a mentally accomplished goal. Renfield was possibly a dangerous man, and dangerously unselfish. In selfish men, caution was as secure an armour for their foes as for themselves. Seward thought that when the self was the fixed point, the centripetal force was balanced with the centrifugal. When duty or a cause was the fixed point, the latter force was paramount, and only accident or a series of accidents could balance it.
* * *
“We’ve told yarns by the camp-fire in the prairies,” said Quincy as the three friends sat in their old haunt, the Korea club, “and dressed one another’s wounds after trying a landing in the Marquesas. We’ve drunk eachothers health on the shore of Lake Titicaca. There are more yarns to be told, and other wounds to be healed, and another health to be drunk.”
He looked at Arthur.
“Glad you could join us at the camp fire tonight,” he said. “I had no hesitation in asking you, as I knew that a certain lady had agreed to go a certain dinner-party, and that you were free.”
They were joined by one other, their old pal, Jack Seward. He and Quincy both want to mingle their sorrows over a glass of wine, and to drink the health with all their hearts to the happiest man in all the wide world, who had won the noblest heart that God had made the best worth winning.
“I promised you a hearty welcome, and a loving greeting,” Quincy said to Arthur, “and a toast to your health as true as your own right hand. We shall both swear to leave you at here if you drink too deep to a certain pair of eyes. Come!”
They raised their glasses and drank.
“Count me in every time,” said Arthur, with a gleam in his eye. “I have news which will make both your ears tingle.”
* * *
The case of Renfield grew more interesting the more Seward got to understand the man. Renfield had certain qualities very largely developed: selfishness, secrecy, and purpose. Seward wished he could get at what the man’s goal was. He seemed to hav settled on some scheme of his own, but what it was Seward did not yet know. Renfield’s redeeming quality was a love of animals, though he had such curious turns in it that Seward sometimes imagine he was only abnormally cruel. His pets were of odd sorts. His current hobby was catching flies. He had such a quantity that Seward had to dissuade him. To his astonishment, Renfield did not break out into a fury, as he’d expected, but took the matter in simple seriousness. He thought for a moment.
“May I have three days?” he said. “I shall clear them away.”
“Of course,” said Seward.
He decided Renfield must be watched.
* * *
Two weeks later, Renfield had turned his mind to spiders, and had got several very big fellows in a box. He kept feeding them with his flies, and the number of the latter became sensibly diminished, although he had used half his food to attract more flies from outside to his room.
Soon his spiders had become as great a nuisance as his flies, and Seward told him that he must get rid of them. Renfield looked very sad at this, so Seward said that he must clear out some of them, at least. He cheerfully acquiesced to this, and Seward gave him the same time limit as before for their reduction. Renfield disgusted Seward, while with him, when a horrid blow fly, bloated with carrion, buzzed into the room, and the man caught it, held it exultantly for a few moments between his finger and thumb, and, before Seward knew what he was going to do, put it in his mouth and ate it. Seward scolded him for it.
“It was very good and very wholesome,” Renfield argued quietly. “It was life, strong life, and gave life to me.”
This gave Seward an idea, or the rudiment of one. He decided he must watch how Renfield got rid of his spiders. The man evidently had some deep problem in his mind, for he kept a little notebook in which he was always jotting down something. Whole pages of it were filled with masses of figures, generally single numbers added up in batches, and then the totals added in batches again, as though he were “focussing” some account, as the auditors put it.
Soon Seward saw there was a method in Renfields madness, and a rudimentary idea grew in the Doctor’s mind. It would be a whole idea soon, and then his unconscious cerebrationwould have to give the wall to its conscious brother. He kept away from his patient for a few days so that he could notice if there were any change. Things remained as they were except that Renfield had parted with some of his pets and got a new one. He had managed to get a sparrow, and had already partially tamed it. His means of taming was simple, for already the spiders had diminished. Those that did remain, however, were well fed, for he still brought in the flies by tempting them with his food.
* * *
A week later, Renfield had a whole colony of sparrows, and his flies and spiders were almost obliterated. When Seward came in, Renfield ran to him and said he wanted to ask him a great favour—a very, very great favour. As he spoke, he fawned on Seward like a dog. The Doctor asked him what it was.
“A kitten, a nice little, sleek playful kitten, that I can play with, and teach, and feed—and feed—and feed!” he said, with rapture in his voice and bearing.
Seward was not unprepared for this request, for he had noticed how Renfield’s pets went on increasing in size and vivacity, but he did not care for that fact that Renfield’s pretty family of tame sparrows would be wiped out in the same manner as the flies and the spiders.
“I will see about it,” said Seward. “Would you not rather have a cat than a kitten?”
His eagerness betrayed him as he answered.
“Oh, yes, I would like a cat! I only asked for a kitten lest you should refuse me a cat. No one would refuse me a kitten, would they?”
Seward shook his head.
“At present I fear it will not be possible, but I will see about it.”
Renfield’s face fell, and Seward could see a warning of danger in it, for there was a sudden fierce, sidelong look which meant killing. The man was an undeveloped homicidal maniac. Seward decided to test him with his present craving and see how it worked out. Then he would know more.
When the doctor visited Renfield again that evening, he found him sitting in a corner brooding. When Seward came in, Renfield threw himself on his knees before him.
“Let me have a cat,” he implored. “My salvation depends upon it.”
“You can not have it,” Seward told him firmly.
At this, Renfield went, without a word, back to the corner where Seward had found him, and sat down, gnawing his fingers.
* * *
Seward visited Renfield very early the next morning, before the attendant made his rounds. He found the man up and humming a tune. He was spreading out his sugar, which he had saved, in the window, and was manifestly beginning his fly catching again, and beginning it cheerfully and with good grace. Seward looked around for his birds, and did not see them.
“Where are your birds?” Seward asked him
“They have all flown away,” Renfield replied, without turning round.
There were a few feathers about the room and on his pillow a drop of blood. Seward said nothing, but went and told the keeper to report to him if there was anything odd about Renfield during the day.
At 11 AM, the attendant came to him to say that Renfield had been very sick and had disgorged a whole lot of feathers.
“My belief is, doctor,” he said, “that he has eaten his birds, and that he just took and ate them raw!”
* * *
That night, Seward gave Renfield a strong opiate, enough to make even him sleep, and took away his pocket book to look at it. The thought that had been buzzing about the Doctor’s brain lately was complete, and his theory proven. His homicidal maniac was of a peculiar kind. He had to invent a new classification for him, and decide to call him a zoöphagous (life eating) maniac. What Renfield desired was to absorb as many lives as he could, and he had set out to achieve it in a cumulative way. He gave many flies to one spider and many spiders to one bird, and then wanted a cat to eat the many birds. What would his next steps have been?
It would almost be worth while to complete the experiment. It might be done if there were only a sufficient cause. Men once sneered at vivisection, and yet look at its results! Why not advance science in its most difficult and vital aspect—the knowledge of the brain? If Seward had the secret of even one such mind—the key to the impulses of even one lunatic—he might advance his own branch of science to a point compared with which John Burdon-Sanderson’s contributions to physiology or David Ferrier’s to neurology would be nothing. If only there were a sufficient cause! Seward decided he must not think too much of this, or he might be tempted. A good cause might tip the scales with him, for he too had been gifted with an exceptional brain at birth.
How capably Renfield reasoned. Lunatics always did within their own scope. Seward wondered how many lives Renfield valued a man, or if only one. The man had closed his account most accurately, and today began a new record. How many men began a new record with each day of their lives?
It seems only yesterday that Seward’s whole life had ended, along with all his hopes, and that truly he had begun a new record. So it would be until the Great Recorder summed him up and closed his account with a balance, either profit or loss.
‘Oh, Lucy, Lucy,’ he thought. ‘I cannot be angry with you, nor can I be angry with my friend whose happiness is yours. I must only wait for the hopelessness to pass and work. Work! Work! If I only could have as strong a cause as my poor mad friend there—a good, unselfish cause to make me work—that would indeed be happiness.’
* * *
Mina was anxious, and unhappy about Lucy and about Jonathan. She had not heard from Jonathan for some time, and was very concerned. The previous day, dear Mr. Hawkins, who is always so kind, sent her a letter from Jonathan. She had written asking him if he had heard, and he said the letter had just been received. It was only a line, dated from Castle Dracula, and said that he is just starting for home. That was not like Jonathan. She didn’t understand it, and it made her uneasy.
Then, too, Lucy, although she was so well, had lately taken to her old habit of walking in her sleep. Her had mother spoken to Mina about it, and They decided that Mina would lock the door of their room every night. Mrs. Westenra had got the idea that sleep walkers always go out on the rooves of houses and along the edges of cliffs and then suddenly waken and fall over with a despairing cry that echoes all over the place. The poor dear was naturally anxious about Lucy, and told Mina that her husband, Lucy’s father, had had the same habit. He would get up in the night, dress himself, and go out, if he were not stopped.
Lucy was to be married in the fall, and she was already planning out her dresses and how her house was to be arranged. Mina sympathized with her, for she did the same, only she and Jonathan would start life in a very simple way, and would have to work to make both ends meet. Mr. Holmwood—the Honorable Arthur Holmwood, only son of Lord Godalming—was coming up to Whitby very soon—as soon as he could leave town, because his father was not very well. Mina thought dear Lucy was counting the moments until he came. She wanted to take him up to the seat on the churchyard cliff and show him the beauty of Whitby. Mina guessed it was the waiting that was disturbing Lucy, and that she would be all right when he arrived.
* * *
A week later, there was still no news from Jonathan. Mina was getting quite uneasy about him, though why she should she didn’t know. She wished that he would write, even if it were only a single line. Lucy was sleepwalking more than ever, and each night Mina was awakened by her moving about the room. Fortunately, the weather was so hot that she couldn’t get cold. Still, the anxiety and the stress of perpetually being wakened was beginning to tell on Mina, and she was getting nervous and wakeful herself. Thank God, Lucy’s health remained good. Mr. Holmwood had been suddenly called to Ring to see his father, who had become seriously ill. Lucy was fretting at the delay in seeing him, but it did not touch her looks. She had gained a tiny bit of weight, and her cheeks were a lovely rose pink. She had lost the anemic look that she had had. Mina prayed it would last.
After another week, there was still no news from Jonathan, not even from Mr. Hawkins, whom Mina had heard from. She hoped Jonathan was not ill. He surely would have written. She look again at that last letter of his, but somehow it did not satisfy her. It did not read like him, and yet it was his writing. There was no mistaking that.
Lucy had not walked much in her sleep the last week, but there was an odd concentration about her which Mina did not understand. Even in her sleep, Lucy seemed to be watching her. She would try the door and, finding it locked, go about the room searching for the key.
After three more days, there was still no news. This suspense was getting dreadful. If Mina only knew where to write to or where to go, she would feel easier, but no one had heard a word about Jonathan since his last letter. She prayed to God for patience.
Lucy was more excitable than ever, but was otherwise well.
The previous night, the weather had been very threatening, and the fishermen were saying that they were in for a storm. Mina decided she must try to watch it and learn the weather signs. It was a grey day, and the sun was hidden in thick clouds, high over the clifftop town of Kettleness. Everything was grey except the green grass, which seemed like emerald among it. Grey earthy rock was mirrored in grey clouds, tinged with the rays of the sun at their far edge, hanging over the grey sea, into which the sand bars stretched like grey fingers. The sea was tumbling in over the shallows and the sandy flats with a roar, muffled by the sea mists drifting inland. The horizon was lost in a grey mist. All was vastness. The clouds were piled up like giant rocks, and there was a deep murmering over the sea that sounded like some presage of doom. Dark figures walked on the beach here and there, sometimes half shrouded in the mist, and seemed “men like trees walking.” The fishing boats were racing for home, and rose and fell in the ground swell as they swept into the harbour, dipping to their scuppers.
Mina saw that old Mr. Swales was approaching. He ws making straight for her, and she could see, by the way he lifted his hat, that he wanted to talk. She had been quite touched by the change in the poor old man. He sat down beside her.
“I want to say something to you, miss.” he said very gently.
She could see he was not at ease, so she took his poor old wrinkled hand in hers
“Speak fully,” she said.
He left his hand in hers.
“I’m afraid, my deary, that I must have shocked you by all the wicked things I’ve been saying about the dead, and such like, for weeks past. But I didn’t mean them, and I want you to remember that when I’m gone. We old folks that be confused, and with one foot in the grave, don’t altogether like to think of it, and we don’t want to feel scared of it. And that’s why I’ve took to making light of it, so that I’d cheer up my own heart a bit. But, Lord love you, miss, I ain’t afraid of dying, not a bit. Only I don’t want to die if I can help it. My time must be near at hand now, for I be old, and a hundred years is too much for any man to expect. And I’m so near it that the Old Man is already whetting his scythe. You see, I can’t get out of the habit of complaiing about it all at once. The tongues will wag as they be used to. Some day soon the Angel of Death will sound his trumpet for me. But don’t you cry, my deary!” he said, seeing that she was crying, “if he should come this very night I’d not refuse to answer his call. For life be, after all, only a waiting for something else than what we’re doing. And death be all that we can rightly depend on. But I’m content, for it’s coming to me, my deary, and coming quick. It may be coming while we be looking and wondering. Maybe it’s in that wind out over the sea that’s bringing with it loss and wreck, and sore distress, and sad hearts.”
They sat quietly for a moment.
“Look! look!” he cried suddenly. “There’s something in that wind and in the host beyond that sounds, and looks, and tastes, and smells like death. It’s in the air. I feel it coming. Lord, make me answer cheerful when my call comes!”
He held up his arms devoutly, and raised his hat. His mouth moved as though he were praying. After a few minutes’ silence, he got up, shook hands with Mina, blessed her, said goodbye, and hobbled off. It all touched her, and upset her very much. She was glad when the coastguard came along, with his spy-glass under his arm. He stopped to talk with her, as he always did, but all the time kept looking at a strange ship.
“I can’t make her out,” he said. “She’s a Russian, by the look of her, but she’s knocking about in the oddest way. She doesn’t know her mind a bit. She seems to see the storm coming, but can’t decide whether to run up north in the open, or to put in here. Look there again! She is steered mighty strangely, for she doesn’t obey the hand on the wheel. Changes about with every puff of wind. We’ll hear more of her before this time to-morrow.”
On July sixth, the Demeter finished taking in cargo in Varna, silver sand and boxes of earth. At noon, they set sail. The East wind was fresh. She had a crew of five hands, with two mates, cook, all under captain Chekhov.
Five days later, at dawn, she entered the Bosphorus Straits. She was boarded by Turkish customs officers. With a small bribe, they found all to be correct, and the ship was under way by four PM.
The next day, they passed through Dardanelles. There were more customs officers and the flagship of a guarding squadron. More bribes were paid. The work of the officers was thorough, but quick. They wanted the Demeter off quickly. By dark, the ship had passed into the Greek archipelago.
A day later, they passed Cape Matapan, the southernmost point of the Greek isles. The crew seemed dissatisfied about something. They seemed scared, but would not speak out. By the next day, Chekhov had become somewhat anxious about them. The men were all steady fellows, who’d sailed with him before. The first mate could not make out what was wrong. The crew only told him there was something on the ship, and crossed themselves. The mate lost temper with one of the crew that day and struck him. Chekhov expected a fierce quarrel, but all was quiet.
On July sixteenth, the first mate reported in the morning that one of crew, Petrofsky, was missing. He could not account for it. Chekhov took the portside watch at eight bells that night. He was relieved by Abramoff, but did not go to his bunk. The men were more downcast than ever. All said they had expected something of the kind, but would not say more than there was something aboard. The first mate was getting very impatient with them, and feared some trouble ahead.
The next day, one of the men, Olgaren, came to the captain’s cabin.
“I think there is a strange man aboard the ship,” he said in an awestruck way. “On my watch, I had been sheltering behind the deck house, as there was a rain storm, when I saw a tall, thin man, who was not like any of the crew, come up the companionway, go forward along the deck, and disappear. I followed cautiously, but when I got to bow, I found no one, and the hatchways were all closed.”
Olgaren was in a panic of superstitious fear, and Chekhov was afraid his panic might spread. To allay it, he resolved to search the entire ship carefully from stem to stern. Later in the day, he assembled the entire crew.
“As you evidently think there is some one on the ship,” he said, “we will search it from stem to stern.”
“This is folly, and to yield to such foolish ideas will demoralize the men,” said the first mate angrily. “I will engage to keep them out of trouble with a crowbar.”
Chekhov shook his head. He let the mate take the helm, and the rest began a thorough search, all keeping abreast, with lanterns. They left no corner unsearched. As there were only the big wooden boxes in the hold, there were no odd corners where a man could hide. The men were much relieved when the search was over, and went back to work cheerfully. The first mate scowled, but said nothing.
There was rough weather for three days, and all hands were busy with the sails. There was no time to be frightened. The men seemed to have forgotten their dread. The mate was cheerful again, and all were on good terms. Chekhov praised the men for their work in the bad weather. They passed the rock of Gibraltar and out through straits. All seemed well.
* * *
There seemed to be some doom over the ship. Already a hand short, and entering the Bay of Biscay with wild weather ahead, another man was lost in the night—disappeared. Like the first, he came off his watch and was not seen again. The men were all panicked and fearful. Chekhov sent a note around, asking to have a double watch, as the men feared to be alone. This made his mate angry. Chekhov worried there would be trouble, as either the mate or the men would become violent, but there wasn’t.
After four days in hell, they were being knocked about in a maelstrom, and the wind was a tempest. There was no sleep for any one. The men were all worn out. They hardly knew how to set a watch, since no one was fit to go on. The second mate volunteered to steer and watch, and let the men snatch a few hours’ sleep. Finally, the wind abated. The seas were still terrifically high, but Chekhov felt them less, and the ship was steadier.
The next day brought another tragedy. They had a single man watch overnight, as the crew were too tired to double. When morning watch came on deck, he could find no one except the steersman. He raised an outcry, and all came on deck. After a thorough search, no one was found. They were now without the second mate, and the crew was in a panic. Chekhov and mate agreed to go armed from then on, and wait for any sign of a cause.
Chekhov rejoiced when they neared England. The weather was fine, and all sails were set. He retired to his cabin, worn out, and slept soundly. He was awakened by mate.
“Both the man on watch and the steersman are missing,” he said.
Only Chekhov, the mate, and two hands were left to work ship.
After two days of fog, not a sail had been sighted. Chekhov had hoped in the English Channel to be able to signal for help or make port somewhere. Not having enough manpower to work sails, they had had to run before the wind. They dared not lower them, as they could not raise them again. They seemed to be drifting to some terrible doom. The mate was even more demoralized than either of the other men. His stronger nature seems to have worked inwardly against himself. The others were beyond fear, working stolidly and patiently, with their minds made up for the worst. They were Russian, the mate Romanian.
On August second, at midnight, Chekhov woke up from few minutes sleep to a cry, seemingly outside his porthole. He could see nothing in the fog. He rushed on deck, and ran into the mate.
“I heard a cry and ran,” he told Chekhov, “but there’s no sign of the man on watch.”
One more was gone.
“Lord help us,” said Chekhov.
“We must be past Straits of Dover,” said the mate. “When the fog lifted for a moment, I saw the North Foreland, just after I heard the man cry out.”
If so, they were now in the North Sea, and only God could guide them in the fog, which seems to move with them; and God seemed to have deserted them.
At midnight. Chekhov went to relieve the man at the wheel, and when he got to it, found no one there. The wind was steady, and since the ship was runnig before it, there was no yawing. Chekhov dared not leave the wheel, so he shouted for the mate. After a few seconds, the man rushed up on deck in his flannels. He looked wild eyed and haggard, and Chekhov greatly feared the man’s reason had given way. He came close.
“It is here. I know it, now,” he whispered hoarsely, with his mouth to Chekhov’s ear, as though fearing the very air might hear. “On watch last night I saw It, like a man, tall and thin, and ghastly pale. It was on the bow, looking out. I crept up behind It, and gave It my knife, but the knife went through It, empty as the air.”
As he spoke, the mate took his knife and drove it savagely into space. Then he went on.
With a warning look and his finger on his lip, he went below. A choppy wind had sprung up, and Chekhov could not leave the helm. He saw the mate come out on deck again with a tool chest and a lantern and go down the forward hatchway. The man was mad, stark, raving mad, and it was no use trying to stop him. He couldn’t hurt the big boxes. They were invoiced as “clay,” and to pull them about was the most harmful thing he could do. So Chekhov stayed where he was, and minded the helm. He could only trust in God and wait until the fog cleared. Then, if he couldn’t steer to a harbour with what wind there was, he decided he would cut down the sails, let the ship drift, and signal for help.
Just as Chekhov was beginning to hope that the mate would come out calmer—he had heard him knocking away at something in the hold, and work was good for him—a sudden, startled scream came up the hatchway, making Chekhov’s blood run cold, and up onto the deck, as if shot from a gun, came the mate, raging like a madman, with his eyes rolling and his face convulsed with fear.
“Save me! save me!” he cried, looking around at the blanket of fog.
His horror turned to despair.
“You had better come too, captain, before it’s too late,” he said in a steady voice. “He is there. I know the secret now. The sea will save me from Him, and it is all that is left!”
Before Chekhov could say a word or move forward to seize him, the mate sprung up onto the bulwark and deliberately threw himself into the sea. Chekhov now knew the secret too. It was this madman who had gotten rid of the men, one by one, and had now followed them himself.
‘God help me!’ he thought. ‘How am I to account for all these horrors when I get to port? When I get to port! Will that ever be?’
The next morning, it was still foggy, and the sunrise could not pierce it. Chekhov knew there was a sunrise because he was a sailor, but how he didn’t know. He dared not go below. He dared not leave the helm. He had remained there all night, and in the dimness of the night, he had seen It—Him!
‘God forgive me, but the mate was right to jump overboard,’ thought Chekhov. ‘It is better to die like a man. No one can object to dying like a sailor. But I am the captain, and I must not leave my ship. I will baffle this fiend or monster, and will tie my hands to the wheel when my strength begins to fail, and along with them I shall tie that which He—It!—will not dare to touch. Then, come good wind or foul, I will save my soul, and my honour as a captain.’
Chekhov grew weaker as the night come on. If the fiend looked him in the face again, he might not have time to act. If they were wrecked, he hoped his log would be found, and those who found it might understand. If not, even if no one knew, he had been true to his trust. He prayed that God, the Blessed Virgin, and the saints would help a poor ignorant soul trying to do his duty.
* * *
In Whitby, the weather had been somewhat sultry, but not uncommonly so for the month of August. The previous evening had been fine, and masses of holiday makers set out to visit the Mulgrave Woods, Robin Hood’s Bay, Rig Mill, Runswick, Staithes, and various other points of interest the neighbourhood. The steamers Emma and Scarborough made trips up and down the coast, and there was an unusual amount of travel, both to and from Whitby.
The day remained unusually fine until the afternoon, when the gossips who frequent the east cliff churchyard and watch the wide sweep of sea visible to the north and east from that commanding eminence called attention to a sudden show of mares’ tails high in the sky to the northwest. A light breeze was blowing from the southwest. The coastguard on duty at once made a report, and one old fisherman, who for more than half a century has kept watch on weather signs from the east cliff, emphatically foretold the coming of a sudden storm.
The approach of sunset was very beautiful, with grand masses of splendidly coloured clouds. A large crowd formed on the walk along the cliff in the old churchyard to enjoy its beauty. Before the sun dipped below the black mass of Kettleness, which stood boldly across the western sky, its downward path was marked by myriad clouds of every sunset colour—flame, purple, pink, green, violet, and all the tints of gold. Here and there were masses that were not large, but were absolutely black, in all sorts of shapes, outlined as colossal silhouettes. The experience was not lost on the painters, and doubtless some of the sketches of the “Prelude to the Great Storm” would grace the gallery walls the next May.
More than one captain made up his mind then and there that his boat would remain in the harbour until the storm had passed. The wind fell away entirely during the evening, and there was a dead calm, a sultry heat, and the prevailing intensity that affects sensitive people on the approach of thunder. There were few lights in sight at sea, for even the coast hugging steamers kept well out to sea, and few fishing boats were in sight.
The only sail noticeable was a foreign schooner with all sails set, which was going west. The foolhardiness or ignorance of her officers was a prolific theme for comment while she remained in sight, and efforts were made to signal her to reduce sail in face of her danger. Before night fell, she was seen with sails idly flapping as she gently rolled on the undulating swell of the sea, as idle as a painted ship upon a painted ocean.
Shortly before ten o’clock, the stillness of the air grew oppressive, and the silence was so deep that the bleating of sheep inland and the barking of dogs in the town were distinct, and the band on the pier, with its lively French air, was discordant with the great harmony of nature’s silence. A little after midnight, a strange sound came over the sea, and high overhead the air carried a faint, hollow booming.
Without warning, the tempest broke. With incredible speed, all of nature convulsed at once. The waves rose in growing fury, each over-topped by the next, until in minutes, the once glassy sea was like a roaring, devouring monster. White crested waves beat madly on the level sands and rushed up the shelving cliffs. Others broke over the piers, and with their spume, swept the lanterns of the lighthouses that rose from the ends of the piers of Whitby Harbour. The wind roared like thunder, and blew with such force that even strong men had difficulty keeping their feet, and clung grimly to the iron stanchions.
A crowd of onlookers were cleared from the piers, or the fatalities of the night would have been increased many times. To add to the danger, masses of sea fog came drifting inland—white, wet clouds, which swept by in ghostly fashion, so dank, damp, and cold that with a little imagination, the spirits of those lost at sea were touching their living brethren with the clammy hands of death, and people shuddered as the wreaths of sea mist swept by. At times, the mist cleared and the sea could be seen for some distance in the glare of the lightning, which came thick and fast, followed by such sudden peals of thunder that the whole sky overhead trembled under the shock of the footsteps of the storm.
Some of the scenes revealed were of immeasurable grandeur. The sea, running as high as mountains, threw mighty masses of white foam skywards with each wave, which the tempest snatched at and whirl away into space. Here and there, a fishing boat, with a rag of sail, ran madly for shelter before the blast. Now and again, the white wings of a storm tossed sea bird were revealed. On the summit of the east cliff, the officers in charge of the new searchlight, which had never been tried, got it into working order, and through the gaps in the inrushing mist, swept the surface of the sea with it. Its was most effective. First, a fishing boat with its gunwale under water rushed into the harbour, and was able, with the guidance of the sheltering light, to avoid being dashed against the piers. As each subsequent boat reached the safety of the port, there was a shout of joy from the people on shore, which for a moment cleaved the gale before being swept away in its rush.
Before long, the searchlight discovered a schooner with all sails set, apparently the same vessel which had been seen earlier in the evening. By this time, the wind had backed to the east, and there was a shudder among the watchers on the cliff as they realized the terrible danger the ship was now in. Between her and the port the great flat reef lay, on which so many good ships had suffered. With the wind blowing from its present quarter, it would be impossible that she should reach the entrance of the harbour. The tide was nearly high, but the waves were so huge that in their troughs, the shallows of the shore were almost visible, and the schooner, with all sails set, was rushing with great speed.
“She must fetch up somewhere, if it was only in hell,” said one old salt.
Then another rush of sea fog arrived, greater than any before, a mass of dank mist, which closed on all things like a grey pall. Only hearing was left. The roar of the tempest, the crash of the thunder, and the booming of the mighty waves came through the damp oblivion even louder than before. The rays of the searchlight were fixed on the harbour mouth across the east pier, where the shock was expected, and men waited breathlessly. Then the wind suddenly shifted to the northeast, and the remnant of the seafog melted in the blast, and, by a miracle, between the piers, leaping from wave to wave as it rushed at headlong speed, the strange schooner was swept before the blast, all its sails set, and gained the safety of the harbour.
The searchlight followed her, and a shudder ran through all who saw her, because a corpse was lashed to the helm, its drooping head swinging horribly to and fro with each motion of the ship. No other could be seen on deck. Awe came on the onlookers as they realized that the ship, as if by a miracle, had found the harbour, steered by the hand of a dead man! The schooner didn’t paused, but rushing across the harbour, pitched herself on the accumulation of sand and gravel washed by many tides and many storms into the south-east corner of the pier jutting under the east cliff, the Tate Hill Pier.
There was a considerable concussion as the vessel drove up on the sand heap. Every spar, rope, and stay was strained, and part of the top hammer came crashing down. Strangest of all, the very instant the ship touched shore, an immense dog sprang up on deck from below, as if shot up by the concussion, and, running forward, jumped from the bow onto the sand. It made straight for the steep cliff where the churchyard hung over the laneway to the east pier so steeply that some of the flat tombstones—through-stones, as they were called in Whitby—actually projected over where the sustaining cliff had fallen away. The beast disappeared in the darkness, which intensified just beyond the focus of the searchlight.
There was no one on Tate Hill Pier, as all whose houses were close were either cowering in bed or were out on the heights above. The coastguard on duty on the eastern side of the harbour, who at once ran down to the little pier, was the first to climb on board the ship. The men working the searchlight, after scouring the entrance of the harbour without seeing anything, turned the light on the derelict and kept it there. The coastguard ran aft, and when he reached the wheel, bent over to examine it and recoiled at once under some sudden emotion. This piqued general curiosity, and people began to run towards the ship, assembling on the pier in a crowd. The coastguard and the police refused to allow them to come on board. Only a small group who the dead seaman while he was actually lashed to the wheel.
It was no wonder that the coastguard was surprised, or even awed, for not often would such a sight have been seen. The man was fastened by his hands, tied one over the other, to a spoke of the wheel. Between the palm of his right hand and the wood, there was a crucifix. The set of beads on which it hung were wrapped around both wrists and the wheel, and all kept fast by the binding cords. The poor man might have been seated at one time, but the flapping and buffeting of the sails had worked through the rudder of the wheel and dragged him to and fro, so that the cords that he was tied with had cut his flesh to the bone.
A surgeon, Doctor Caffyn, declared, after making an examination, that the man must have been dead for at least two days. In his pocket, there was a bottle, carefully corked, and empty save for a little roll of paper, which proved to be the addendum to the captains log. The coastguard decided the man must have tied his own hands, fastening the knots with his teeth. The fact that a coastguard was the first on board might have saved some complications, later on, in the Admiralty Court. Coastguards cannot claim the salvage which is the right of the first civilian entering a derelict.
Already the sudden storm was passing, and its fierceness abating. The crowds scattered homeward, and the sky began to redden over the Yorkshire wolds.
By the next day, legal tongues were wagging. One young law student loudly asserted that the rights of the ship’s owner were completely sacrificed, his property being held in contravention of the statutes of mortmain, since the tiller, as an emblem, if not proof, of delegated possession, was held in a dead hand. Needless to say, the dead steersman had been reverently removed from the place where he held his honourable watch and ward until death, and placed in the mortuary to await an inquest.
It turned out that the schooner was a Russian ship from Varna called the Demeter. She was almost entirely loaded with a ballast of silver sand, with only a small amount of cargo, a number of great wooden boxes filled with dirt. This cargo was consigned to a Whitby solicitor, Mr. S. F. Billington, who that morning went aboard and formally took possession of the goods consigned to him. The Russian consul, acting for the charter party, took formal possession of the ship, and paid all harbour dues. The officials of the Board of Trade determined that there was no cause for further complaint.
There was good deal of interest concerning the dog that had disembarked when the ship ran aground, and members of the SPCA in Whitby sought to befriend the animal. To their disappointment, it was not to be found. It seemed to have disappeared entirely from the town. There was speculation that, frightened, it had made its way on to the moors, where it was hiding in terror. Some looked with dread on such a possibility, lest it should later become a danger, for it was evidently a fierce brute. Early in the morning, a large dog, a mastiff belonging to a coal merchant close to Tate Hill Pier, was found dead in the roadway opposite its master’s yard. It had been fighting a savage opponent, and its throat was torn out, and its belly slit open as if with savage claws.
* * *
The Board of Trade inspector looked over the log book of the Demeter. It was in order prior to the last three days. It contained nothing of special interest except the facts of the missing men. Of greatest interest was the paper found in the bottle, which was produced at the coroner’s inquest. It almost seemed as though the captain had been seized with some kind of mania before he had got well into blue water, and that this had developed persistently throughout the voyage.
Of course the verdict was an open one. There was no evidence to present, and whether or not the man himself committed the murders, none could now say. The folk held almost universally that the captain was a hero, and he should be given a public funeral. It was arranged that his body would be taken with a train of boats up the Esk, then brought back to Tate Hill Pier and up the abbey steps, and that he was to be buried in the churchyard on the cliff. The owners of more than a hundred boats gave their names, wishing to follow his procession to the grave.
No trace was ever found of the great dog. At this there was much mourning. In the public’s opinion, he should have been adopted by the town.
The next day saw the funeral, ending one more mystery of the sea.
Billington nodded when he was told the last of the great wooden boxes had been loaded onto the train to London. He was happy to see the last of them. He took paper and pen and composed a letter to go with the invoice he had prepared for Carter, Paterson, and company.
Please receive my invoice for the goods sent by Great Northern Railway. They are to be delivered at Carfax, near Purfleet, immediately on their receipt at King’s Cross station. The house is presently empty, but I have also enclosed keys, all of which are labelled. Please deposit the boxes, fifty in number, which form the consignment, in the partially ruined building marked ‘A’ on the rough diagram I’ve also enclosed. Your agent should easily recognize the place, as it is the ancient chapel of the mansion.
The goods will leave by the train at 9:30 tonight, and are due at King’s Cross at 4:30 tomorrow afternoon. As our client wishes the delivery made as soon as possible, please have your teams ready at King’s Cross at that time and immediately convey the goods to their destination. In order to prevent any delay by routine requirements for payment to your departments, I enclose a cheque for ten pounds (£10). Please acknowledge its receipt. If the charge be less than this amount, you can return balance. If greater, I will at once send cheque for the difference on hearing from you.
Before you leave, please put the keys in the main hall of the house, where the proprietor can get them when he enters the house by means of his duplicate key. I hope I don’t exceed the bounds of business courtesy by pressing you to handle this a quickly as possible.
Samuel F. Billington
On the night of the great storm, Lucy was very restless, and Mina, too, could not sleep. The storm was fearful, and as it boomed loudly among the chimneys, making her shudder. When a sharp puff of wind came it, sounded like a distant gunshot. Strangely enough, Lucy did not wake. She got up twice and dressed herself. Fortunately, each time, Mina awoke in time and managed to undress her without waking her, and got her back to bed. It was a very strange thing, Lucy’s sleep walking, for as soon as her will was thwarted in any physical way, her intention, if there was any, disappeared, and she yielded herself almost exactly to the routine of her life.
Early in the morning, they both got up and went down to the harbour to see if anything had happened in the night. There were very few people about, and though the sun was bright, and the air clear and fresh, big, grim looking waves that seemed dark because the foam that topped them was like snow, forced themselves in through the narrow mouth of the harbour, like a bully going through a crowd. Somehow, Mina felt glad that Jonathan was not on the sea the previous night, but on land. But then, she realized she didn’t know whether he was on land or at sea. She had no idea where he was, and how. She was getting fearfully anxious about him. She wished she knew what to do, or could do anything!
The funeral of the poor sea captain the next day was most touching. It looked like every boat in the harbour was there, and the coffin was carried by captains all the way from Tate Hill Pier up to the churchyard. Lucy came with Mina, and they went early to their old seat, whilst the procession of boats went up the river to the viaduct, then came down again. They had a lovely view, and saw the procession nearly all the way. The poor fellow was laid to rest quite near their seat. They stood on it when the time came and saw everything.
Poor Lucy seemed very upset. She was restless and uneasy the whole time, and Mina could not help thinking that her dreaming at night was wearing on her. Oddly, Lucy would not admit to Mina that there was any cause for restlessness, or if there was, she did not understand it herself. There was, however, an additional cause, in that poor old Mr. Swales was found dead that morning on their seat with his neck broken. He had evidently, the doctor said, fallen back in the seat in fright, for there was a look of fear and horror on his face that the men said made them shudder. Poor dear old man! Perhaps he had seen Death with his dying eyes!
Lucy was so sweet and sensitive that she felt influences more acutely than other people do. She was quite upset by a little thing that Mina was hardly aware of, though she was very fond of animals. One of the men who came up there often to look at the boats was followed by his dog. The dog was always with him. They were both quiet, and she had never saw the man angry, nor heard the dog bark. During the service, the dog would not come to its master, who was on the seat with Mina and Lucy, but stayed a few yards off, barking and howling. Its master spoke to it gently, then harshly, and then angrily, but it would neither come nor cease to make a noise. It was in a fury, its eyes savage, and all its hair bristling out like a cat’s. Finally the man got angry, and jumped down and kicked the dog, then took it by the scruff of the neck and half dragged and half threw it onto the tombstone to which their seat was fixed. The moment it touched the stone, the poor thing became quiet and began to tremble. It did not try to get away, but crouched down, quivering and cowering, and was in such a pitiable state of terror that Mina tried, without effect, to comfort it. Lucy was full of pity, too, but she did not attempt to touch the dog, only looking at it in an agonized way. Mina greatly feared that her friend was too super-sensitive to go through life without trouble. She would be dreaming of the dog that night, Mina was sure. The whole agglomeration of things—the ship steered into port by a dead man; his attitude, tied to the wheel with a crucifix and beads; the touching funeral; the dog, first furious and now in terror—would all provide material for Lucy’s dreams.
Mina thought it would be best for Lucy to go to bed tired out physically, so she took her for a long walk by the cliffs to Robin Hood’s Bay. She hoped Lucy wouldn’t have much inclination for sleep walking when they’d returned. Lucy, after a while, was in gay spirits, owing, Mina thought, to some cows who came nosing towards them in a field close to the lighthouse, and frightened the wits out of them. They forgot everything in their fear, and it seemed to wipe the slate clean and give them a fresh start. They had an excellent and substantial tea at Robin Hood’s Bay in a sweet little old fashioned inn, with a bay window right over the seaweed covered rocks of the strand. Mina believed women would have been shocked with their appetites. Men were more tolerant, bless them! They walked home with many stops to rest, and their hearts full of constant dread of wild bulls.
When they got home, Lucy was very tired, and they intended to creep off to bed as soon as they could. The parish’s young curate had come over, however, and Mrs. Westenra asked him to stay for supper. Lucy and Mina were both fighting with the sandman. Mina knew it was a hard fight on her part, and she was quite heroic. She hoped that some day, the bishops would get together and see about breeding up a new class of curates who didn’t stay for supper, no matter how much they’re pressed to, and who knew when girls were tired.
After dinner, Lucy was soon asleep and breathing softly. She had more colour in her cheeks than usual, and looked very sweet. If Arthur fell in love with her seeing her only in the drawing room, Mina wondered what he would say if he saw her now. Feminist writers would doubtless some day promote the idea that men and women should be allowed to see each other asleep before proposing or accepting. She supposed feminists won’t condescend in future to accept; they would do the proposing themselves. And a nice job they would make of it, too! There was some consolation in that. She was so happy because dear Lucy seemed better. She really believed her friend has turned the corner, and her troubles with dreaming were over. Mina would be entirely happy if she only knew that Jonathan were safe. She prayed to God to bless and keep him.
At 3 AM, Mina suddenly awakened and sat up, with a horrible sense of fear upon her and of a feeling of emptiness around her. The room was dark, so she could not see Lucy’s bed. She stole across the room and felt for her. The bed was empty. Mina lit a match and found that Lucy was not in the room. The door was shut, but not locked as Mina had left it. She feared to wake Lucy’s mother, who has been more than usually ill lately, so she threw on some clothes and got ready to look for Lucy. As she was leaving the room, it struck her that the clothes Lucy wore might give her some clue to Lucy’s dreaming intention. A dressing gown would mean the house, a dress, outside. Lucy’s dressing gown and dress were both in their places.
“Thank God,” Mina said to herself. “She cannot be far. She is only in her nightdress.”
Mina ran downstairs and looked in the sitting room. Lucy was not there. She looked in all the other open rooms of the house, with an ever growing fear chilling her heart. Finally, she came to the hall and found the door open. It was not wide open, but the catch of the lock had not caught. Everyone in the house were careful to lock the door every night, so Mina feared that Lucy must have gone out as she was. There was no time to think of what might happen. A vague, overmastering fear obscured all details. Mina took a big, heavy shawl and ran out.
The town clock was striking one as she reached the crescent, and there was not a soul in sight. She ran along the north terrace, but could see no sign of the white figure that she expected. At the edge of the west cliff above the pier, she looked across the harbour to the east cliff, hoping or fearing—she didn’t know which—that she’d see Lucy in their favourite seat. There was a bright full moon, with heavy black, driving clouds that threw the whole scene into a fleeting diorama of light and darkness as they sailed across it. For a moment or two, Mina could see nothing, as the shadow of a cloud obscured St. Mary’s Church and everything around it. Then as the cloud passed and the ruins of the abbey came into view. As the edge of a narrow band of light as sharp as a sword cut moved along, the church and the churchyard became visible.
Mina was not disappointed, for there, on their favourite seat, the silver light of the moon struck a half reclining figure, snowy white. The cloud returned too quick for her to see much, because its shadow blocked the moonlight almost immediately. It seemed to her as though something dark stood behind the seat where the white figure shone, bent over it. What it was, whether man or beast, she could not tell. She didn’t wait to catch another glance, but flew down the steep steps to the pier and along past the fish market to the bridge, which was the only way to reach the east cliff. The town seemed dead; she didn’t see a soul. She rejoiced that it was so, because she wanted no witness to poor Lucy’s condition.
The time and distance seemed endless, and Mina’s knees trembled and her breath became laboured as she toiled up the endless steps to the abbey. She went quickly, yet it felt like her feet were weighted with lead, and every joint in her body was rusty. When she had almost reached to the top, she could see the seat and the white figure, because she was now close enough to distinguish it even through the shadows. There was undoubtedly something, long and black, bending over the half reclining white figure.
“Lucy! Lucy!” Mina called in fright.
The dark figure raised its head, and Mina saw a white face and red, gleaming eyes. Lucy did not answer, and Mina ran on to the entrance of the churchyard. As she entered, the church was between her and the seat, and for a minute she lost sight of Lucy. When she came in view again, the cloud had passed, and the moonlight wa so brilliant that she could see Lucy half reclined with her head lying over the back of the seat. She was quite alone, and there was no sign of any living thing about.
When Mina bent over her, she could see that Lucy was still asleep. Her lips were parted, and she was breathing, but not softly, as usual for her, but in long, heavy gasps, as though striving to fill her lungs with every breath. As Mina came close, Lucy put up her hand in her sleep and pulled the collar of her nightdress close around her throat. While she did so, a little shudder passed through her, as though she felt cold. Mina flung her warm shawl over Lucy, and drew the edges tight round her neck, for she dreaded lest Lucy should catch a deadly chill from the night air, unclad as she was. Mina feared to wake her all at once, so, in order to have her hands free that she might help Lucy, she fastened the shawl at Lucy’s throat with a big safety pin. She must have been clumsy in her anxiety and pinched or pricked Lucy with it, for in a moment, when her breathing became quieter, she put her hand to her throat again and moaned. When Mina had Lucy carefully wrapped up, she put her shoes on Lucy’s feet and began very gently to wake her.
At first Lucy didn’t respond, but gradually she became more and more uneasy in her sleep, moaning and sighing. As time was passing fast, Mina wanted to get her home at once, so she shook her more forcefully, until Lucy finally opened her eyes and awoke. She didn’t seem surprised to see Mina, as, of course, she didn’t realize where she was at once. Lucy always woke prettily, and even when her body must have been chilled with cold, and her mind appalled at waking unclad in a churchyard at night, she did not lose her grace. She trembled a little, and clung to Mina. When Mina told her to come at once to go home, Lucy rose without a word, with the obedience of a child. As they walked, the gravel hurt Mina’s feet, and Lucy noticed her wince. She stopped and tried to insist that Mina take back her shoes, but Mina would not. When rhey got to the pathway outside the churchyard, where there was a puddle of water remaining from the storm, Mina daubed her feet with mud so that as they walked home, no one they might meet would notice her bare feet.
Fortune favoured them, and they got home without meeting a soul. Once they saw a man, who seemed not quite sober, passing along a street in front of them, but they hid in a doorway until he had disappeared up a narrow little side street. Mina’s heart beat so loudly the whole time that she thought she would faint. She was filled with anxiety about Lucy, not only for her health, in case she might suffer from the exposure, but for her reputation, in case the story should get out. When they had got home, washed their feet, and said a prayer of thankfulness together, Mina tucked Lucy into bed. Before falling asleep Lucy implored Mina not to say a word to anyone, even her mother, about her sleep walking adventure. Mina hesitated to promise at first; but after thinking of the state of Lucy’s mother’s health, and how the knowledge of such a thing would upset her, and thinking, too, of how such a story might become distorted—infallibly would—if it should leak out, she thought it wiser to do so. She hoped she was right. She had locked the door and tied the key to her wrist, so she hoped she would not be disturbed again. Lucy was sleeping soundly. The light of the dawn was high and far over the sea.
Lucy slept until Mina woke her at noon, and seemed not to have even turned over. The adventure of the night did not seem to have harmed her. On the contrary, it had benefited her, for she looked better that morning than she had done for weeks. Mina was sorry to notice that her clumsiness with the safety-pin had hurt Lucy. It could have been serious. The skin of her throat was pierced. Mina must have pinched a piece of loose skin and transfixed it, because there were two little red points like pin pricks, and a drop of blood on the band of her nightdress. When Mina apologized, concerned about it, Lucy laughed and patted her, and said she did not even feel it. Fortunately it cannot leave a scar, as it was so tiny.
They passed a happy day. The air was clear, and the sun bright, and there was a cool breeze. They took their lunch to the Mulgrave Woods, Mrs. Westenra driving there by the road and Lucy and Mina walking by the cliff path and joining her at the gate. Mina felt a little sad, because she could not but feel how absolutely happy it would have been had Jonathan been with her. But she must be patient. In the evening, they strolled on the Casino Terrace, heard some good violin music by Ludewig Spohr, and went to bed early. Lucy seemed more restful than she has been for some time, and fell asleep at once. Mina locked the door and secured the key as she had before, though she didn’t expect any trouble in the night.
Mina’s expectations were wrong. Twice during the night she was wakened by Lucy trying to get out. She seemed, even in her sleep, to be a little impatient at finding the door shut, and went back to bed under protest. Mina woke with the dawn, and heard the birds chirping outside of the window. Lucy woke, too, and, Mina was glad to see, looked even better than on the previous morning. Her old happy manner had returned, and she came and snuggled in beside Mina and told her all about Arthur. Mina told Lucy how anxious she was about Jonathan, and Lucy tried to comfort her. She succeeded somewhat, for, though sympathy can’t alter facts, it helped to make them more bearable.
The next day was another quiet one, and Mina went to bed with the key on her wrist as before. Again she awoke in the night, and found Lucy sitting up in bed, still asleep, pointing to the window. Mina got up quietly, pulled aside the blind, looked out. The moonlight was brilliant, and the soft effect of the light over the sea and sky, merged together in one great, silent mystery, was beautiful beyond words. Between Mina and the moon a great bat flitted, coming and going in great whirling circles. Once or twice, it came quite close, but was, she supposed, frightened at seeing her, and flitted away across the harbour towards the abbey. When Mina came back from the window, Lucy had layed down again, and was sleeping peacefully. She did not stir again all night.
* * *
On the fourteenth of August, Mina spent all day on the east cliff, reading and writing. Lucy seemed to have fallen as much in love with the spot as Mina had, and it was hard to get her away from it when it was time to go home for lunch, tea, or dinner. That afternoon, Lucy made a funny remark. They were going home for dinner, and had come to the top of the steps up from the west pier and stopped to look at the view, as they usally did. The setting sun was low down in the sky, just dropping behind Kettleness, and its red light was thrown onto the east cliff and the old abbey, bathing everything in a beautiful rosy glow. They were silent for a while, and suddenly Lucy murmured as if to herself.
“His red eyes again!” she said. “They are just the same.”
It was such an odd thing to say, coming out of nowhere, that it startled Mina. She twisted round a little, to see Lucy well without staring at her, and saw that she was in a half-dreamy state, with an odd look on her face that Mina could not quite make out. She said nothing, but followed Lucy’s eyes. She appeared to be looking over at their own seat, on which a dark figure was seated alone. Mina was a little startled, for it seemed for an instant as if the stranger had huge eyes like burning flames, but a second look dispelled the illusion. The red sunlight was shining on the windows of St. Mary’s Church behind the seat, and as the sun dipped, there was just sufficient change in the refraction and reflection to make it appear as if the light moved. Mina called Lucy’s attention to the peculiar effect, and she became herself with a start, but looked sad all the same. Perhaps she was thinking of that terrible night up there. They never refered to it, so Mina said nothing, and they went home to dinner.
Lucy had a headache and went to bed early. Mina made sure she was asleep, then went out for a little stroll herself. She walked along the cliffs to the west, and was full of sweet sadness, because she was thinking of Jonathan. Coming home—the moonlight was then bright, so bright that, though the front of their part of the Crescent was in shadow, everything could be seen well—Mina glanced up at their window, and saw Lucy leaning out. Mina thought that perhaps Lucy was looking out for her, so she opened her handkerchief and waved it. Lucy didn’t notice or move at all. Just then, the moon crept around an angle of the building, and its light fell on the window. Lucy’s head was lying against the side of the window sill and her eyes were shut. She was fast asleep, and next to her, seated on the window sill, was something that looked like a large bird. Mina was afraid that Lucy might get a chill, so she ran upstairs, but as I came into the room, Lucy was moving back to her bed, fast asleep, breathing heavily. She was holding her hand to her throat, as though to protect it from cold.
Mina did not wake Lucy, but tucked her in warmly. She took care that the door was locked and the window securely fastened. Lucy looked so sweet as she slept, but she was paler than usual, and there is a drawn, haggard look under her eyes that Mina did not like. She feared Lucy was fretting about something, and wished she could find out what it was.
The next day, Mina rose later than usual. Lucy was languid and tired, and slept on after they had been called. Thet had a happy surprise at breakfast. Arthur’s father was better, and wanted the marriage to happen soon. Lucy was full of quiet joy, and her mother was glad and sorry at the same time. Later on in the day she told Mina why. She was sad to lose Lucy as her very own, but she rejoiced that Lucy would soon to have some one to protect her. Poor dear, sweet lady! She confided to Mina that she her illness was terminal. She had not told Lucy, and made Mina promise secrecy. Her doctor had told her that within a few months, at most, she would die, because her heart was weakening. At any time, a sudden shock would be almost sure to kill her. Mina had been wise to keep the dreadful night of Lucy’s sleep walking from her.
* * *
Over the next two days, a shadowy pall seemed to be coming over their happiness. There was no news from Jonathan, and Lucy seemed to be growing weaker, while her mother’s hours were numbering to a close. Mina do not understand why Lucy was fading away. She was eating and sleeping well, and enjoys the fresh air. But the whole time, the roses in her cheeks were fading, and she got weaker and more tired day by day. At night, Mina heard her gasping as if for air. She kept the key of their door fastened to her wrist at night, but Lucy got up, walked about the room, and sat at the open window. The night before, Mina had found her leaning out when she woke up, and when she tried to wake Lucy, she could not. Lucy had fainted.
When Mina had managed to restore her, Lucy was as weak as water, and cried silently between long, painful struggles for breath. When Mina asked her how she had come to be at the window she had shaken her head and turned away. Mina hoped Lucy’s illeness was not be from the unlucky prick of the safety-pin. She looked at Lucy’s throat as she lay asleep, and the tiny wounds seemed not to have healed. They were still open, and, if anything, larger than before, and the edges of them were faintly white. They were like little white dots with red centres. Unless they healed within a day or two, Mina decide she would insist that the doctor saw them.
The next day, Mina was as she sat writing on the seat in the churchyard. Lucy was ever so much better. The previous night she slept well all night, and did not disturb Mina once. The roses seemed to be coming back to her cheeks, though she was still sadly pale and wan looking. If she were in any way anemic, Mina could have understood it, but she was not. She was in good spirits and full of life and cheerfulness. All the morbid reticence seemed to have passed from her, and she had just reminded Mina, as if she needed any reminding, of the night when, on this very seat, she had found Lucy asleep. As she told Mina, she tapped playfully with the heel of her boot on the stone slab.
“My poor little feet didn’t make much noise then!” she said. “I daresay poor old Mr. Swales would have told me that it was because I didn’t want to wake up Geordie.”
“Did you dream at all that night?” Mina asked.
Before Lucy answered, a sweet, puckered look came to her forehead, a look which Arthur said he loved. Indeed, Mina wasn’t surprised that he did. Then she went on in a half-dreaming kind of way, as if trying to recall it to herself.
“I didn’t quite dream; it all seemed to be real. I only wanted to be here in this spot. I don’t know why, because I was afraid of something. I don’t know what. I remember, though I suppose I was asleep, passing through the streets and over the bridge. A fish leapt as I went by, and I leaned over to look at it, and I heard a lot of dogs howling. The whole town seemed full of dogs all howling at once as I went up the steps. I have a vague memory of something long and dark with red eyes, just like we saw in the sunset, and something very sweet and very bitter around me all at once. Then I seemed sinking into deep green water, and there was a singing in my ears, as I have heard there is to drowning men. Everything seemed passing away from me. My soul seemed to leave my body and float about the air. I seem to remember that the west lighthouse was right under me, and then there was an agonizing feeling, as if I were in an earthquake, and I came back and found you shaking my body. I saw you do it before I felt you.”
Lucy began to laugh. It seemed a little uncanny to Mina, who listened to her breathlessly. She didn’t like it, and thought it better not to keep Lucy’s mind on the subject, so they drifted on to other subjects, and Lucy was her old self again. When they got home the fresh breeze had braced her up, and her pale cheeks were more rosy. Her mother rejoiced when she saw her, and they spent a very happy evening together.
* * *
There was a strange and sudden change in Renfield on night the night of August eighteenth. At about eight o’clock, he began to get excited and sniff about as a dog does when hunting. The attendant was struck by his manner, and knowing Seward’s interest in him, encouraged Renfield to talk. He was usually respectful to the attendant and at times servile, but that night, the attendant told Seward, Renfield was quite haughty, and would not condescend to talk with him at all.
“I don’t want to talk to you,” he said. “You don’t count now. The Master is at hand.”
The attendant thought some sudden form of religious mania had seized the man. If so, Seward must look out for squalls, for a strong man with both homicidal and religious manias might be dangerous. The combination was a dreadful one. At nine o’clock, Seward visited Renfield himself. Renfield’s attitude to Seward was the same as that to the attendant. In his sublime narcissism, the difference between Seward and the attendant seemed to be nothing. It looked like religious mania, and Renfield would soon think that he himself was God. These infinitesimal distinctions between one man and another were too paltry for an omnipotent being. How these madmen gave themselves away! The real God took heed if a sparrow fell, but the god created from human vanity sees no difference between an eagle and a sparrow. If men only knew!
For half an hour or more, Renfield kept getting more and more excited. Seward did not pretend to be watching him, but kept him under strict observation all the same. All at once, a shifty look came into Renfield’s eyes which Seward always saw when a madman has seized on an idea, and with it, shifty movements of the head and back which asylum attendants came to know so well. He became quite quiet, and went and sat on the edge of his bed resignedly, looking into space with lack lustre eyes. Seward thought he would find out if Renfield’s apathy were real or only assumed, and tried to lead him to talk of his pets, a theme which had never failed to excite Renfield’s attention. At first he made no reply.
“Bother them all!” he eventually said, testily. “I don’t care a pin about them.”
“What?” Seward said. “You don’t mean to tell me you don’t care about spiders?”
Spiders were presently Renfield’s hobby and his notebook was filling up with columns of small figures.
“The bridesmaids bring joy to eyes that await the coming of the bride,” he answered enigmatically, “but when the bride draws near, then the maids do not shine to eyes that are filled.”
He would not explain himself, but remained obstinately seated on his bed the whole time Seward remained with him.
Seward was weary and low in spirits. He couldn’t help thinking of Lucy, and how different things might have been. If he couldn’t sleep at once, he would take trichloroethanal, the modern Morpheus, though he knew he must be careful not to let it grow into a habit. He decided he woudn’t take it. H had thought of Lucy, and did not want to dishonour her memory by mixing the two. If need be, tonight would be sleepless.
* * *
Later, Seward was glad he’d made that resolution, and gladder that he’d kept to it. He had lain tossing about, and had heard the clock strike only twice, when the night watchman came to him, sent up from the ward, to say that Renfield had escaped. He threw on his clothes and ran down at once. His patient was too dangerous a person to be roaming about. His ideas might work out dangerously with strangers. The attendant was waiting for Seward. He said he had seen Renfield not ten minutes earlier, seemingly asleep in his bed, when he had looked through the observation trap in the door. His attention was caught by the sound of a window being wrenched out. He ran back and saw Renfield’s feet disappear through the window, and had at once sent for Seward.
Renfield was only in his nightwear, and couldn’t be far off. The attendant had thought it would be more useful to watch where Refield went than to follow him, as he might lose sight of Renfield while getting out of the building by the door. He was a bulky man, and couldn’t get through the window. Seward was thin, so, with the aid of the attendant, got out feet first, and, as they were only a few feet above ground, landed unhurt. The attendant told him that the patient had gone to the left, and had taken a straight line, so Seward ran as quickly as he could. As he got through the belt of trees, he saw a white figure scaling the high wall which separated the sanitarium’s grounds from those of a deserted house.
Seward ran back at once, told the watchman to get three or four men immediately and follow him into the grounds of Carfax, in case their patient was be dangerous. Seward got a ladder himself and crossing the wall, dropping down on the other side. He saw Renfield just disappearing around the corner of the house, and ran after him. On the far side, of the house Seward found Renfield pressed close against the old iron-bound oak door of the chapel. He was talking to some one, but Seward was afraid to get close enough to hear what he was saying, in case he might frightened Renfield, and the man ran off. Chasing an errant swarm of bees was nothing to following a naked lunatic, when the fit of escaping was upon him! After a few minutes, Seward could see that Renfield was unaware of anything around him, and so draw nearer to Renfield as his men, who had now crossed the wall, were closing him in.
“I am here to do your bidding, Master,” Renfield said. “I am your slave, and you will reward me, for I shall be faithful. I have worshipped you long and from far off. Now that you are near, I await your commands, and you will not pass me by, will you, dear Master, in your distribution of good things?”
Renfield was, after all, a selfish old beggar. He thought of the loaves and fishes even when he believed he was in a real presence. His manias made a startling combination. When they closed in on him, he fought like a tiger. Renfield was immensely strong. He was more like a wild beast than a man. Seward had never seen a lunatic in such a paroxysm of rage before, and he hoped he never would again. It was a mercy that they had found out his strength and his danger in time. With strength and determination like his, he might have gone on wild rampage before he was caged.
When he was finally captured, he was safely secured. Houdini himself couldn’t have got free from the straitjacket that kept him restrained. They brought him back to the asylum and chained him to the wall in the padded room. His cries were at times awful, but the silences that follow was more deadly still, for he meant murder in every turn and movement.
“I shall be patient, Master,” he said, his first coherent words after his capture. “It is coming—coming—coming!”
Seward took the hint, and went to bed. He was too excited to sleep. Writing in his diary quieted him, and he felt he might get some sleep.
Chapter IX – Mina and Jonathan
Mina opened the big envelope from Jonathan’s employer, Mr. Hawkins, with anticipation. His letter first to her that he was forwarding a letter to her that had news of Jonathan. She took out the enclosed letter immediately, removed it from its own envelope, and read.
Dear Miss Murray,
I write by desire of Mr. Jonathan Harker, who is himself not strong enough to write, though progressing well, thanks to God and St. Joseph and Ste. Mary. He has been under our care for nearly six weeks, suffering from a violent brain fever. He wishes me to convey his love, and to say that by this post I write for him to Mr. Peter Hawkins, Exeter, with his dutiful respects, he is sorry for his delay, and that all of his work is completed. He will require a few weeks’ rest in our sanatorium in the hills, but will then return. He wishes me to say that he does not have sufficient money with him, and that he would like to pay for his stay here, so that others who need shall not be wanting for help.
My patient being asleep, I will let you know something more. He has told me all about you, and that you are shortly to be his wife. All blessings to you both! He has had a fearful shock—so says our doctor—and in his delirium his ravings have been dreadful, of wolves, poison, blood, ghosts, and demons. Be careful that nothing like this excites him for a long time to come. The traces of such an illness as his do not lightly die away. We should have written long ago, but we knew nothing of his friends, and there was nothing on his person that any one could understand.
He came on the train from Klausenburg, and the guard was told by the station master there that he rushed into the station shouting for a ticket for home. Seeing from his violent demeanour that he was English, they gave him a ticket for the furthest station on the way there that the train reached.
Be assured that he is well cared for. He has won all our hearts with his sweetness and gentleness. He is truly getting on well, and I have no doubt that in a few weeks he will be himself. But be careful of him for safety’s sake. There are, I pray God and St. Joseph and Ste. Mary, many, many, happy years for you both.
Yours, with sympathy and all blessings,
Hospital of St. Joseph and Ste. Mary
Mina was nearly filled with joy, although not all was joyful. At last, she had news of Jonathan. He had been ill. That is why he had not written. She was not afraid to think it or say it, now that she know. Mina cried over the good Sister’s letter, then tucked it away. She could feel it wet against her breast where it lay. It was of Jonathan, and must be next her heart, for he was in her heart. She then turned back to Mr. Hawkins letter.
Mr. Hawkins suggested that she leave in the morning and go to Jonathan, help nurse him if necessary, and to bring him home. He said it would not be a bad thing if they were married out there. She mapped out her journey and got her luggage ready. She decided to take only one change of dress. Lucy would bring her trunk to London and keep it until she sent for it. The letter that Jonathan had seen and touched must comfort her until they met.
* * *
Mina and Lucy parted at the railway station at Whitby. When Mina arrived at Hull, she caught the boat to Hamburg, and then the train to Budapest. Afterwards, she can hardly recall anything of the journey, except that she knew she was coming to Jonathan, and, that as she would have to do some nursing, she had better get all the sleep she could.
She found Jonathan so thin and pale and weak looking. All the resolution had gone out of his dear eyes, and that quiet dignity in his face has vanished. He was only a wreck of himself, and he did not remember anything that had happened to him for a long time. At least he wants her to believe so, and she decided she would never ask. He had had some terrible shock, and she feared it might tax his poor brain if he were to try to recall it.
Sister Agatha, a good creature and a born nurse, came to join her.
“He raved of dreadful things whilst he was off his head,” she told Mina.
“What were they?” Mina asked.
The nun crossed herself.
“I will never tell,” she said. “The ravings of the sick are the secrets of God, and if a nurse through her vocation hears them, she must respect her trust.”
She was a sweet, good soul, and when she saw that Mina was troubled, she opened up the subject again, and after saying that she could never mention what Mina’s poor dear had raved about.
“I can tell you this much, my dear,” she said. “It was not about anything which he had done wrong himself. You, as his wife to be, have no cause to be concerned. He has not forgotten you or what he owes to you. His fears were of great and terrible things, which no mortal can deal with.”
Mina realized that the dear soul thought she might be jealous in case her poor dear had fallen in love with another girl. The idea of her being jealous about Jonathan! And yet she felt a thrill of joy through me when she knew that no other woman was a cause of his trouble. She sat by his bedside, where she can see his face while he slept.
When Jonathan woke, he asked Mina for his coat, as he wanted to get something from the pocket. Mina asked Sister Agatha, and she brought all his things. Mina saw that amongs them was his notebook, and was going to ask him to let her look at it because she knew then that she might find some clue to his trouble there, but he must have seen the wish in her eyes, because he sent her over to the window, saying he wanted to be alone for a moment. When he called me back, she saw he had his hand over the notebook.
“Wilhelmina,” he said to me very solemnly, and she knew then that he was in deadly earnest, for he had never called me by that name since he asked her to marry him. “You know, dear, my ideas of the trust between husband and wife. There should be no secrets, no concealment. I have had a great shock, and when I try to think what it is, I feel my head spin round, and I do not know if it was all real or the dreams of a madman. You know I have had brain fever, and that is to be mad. The secret is here, and I do not want to know it. I want to take up my life here, with our marriage.”
They had decided to be married as soon as the formalities were complete.
“Are you willing, Wilhelmina, to share my ignorance?” he asked her. “Here is the book. Take it and keep it, read it if you must, but never let me know, unless some solemn duty should come upon me to go back to those bitter hours, asleep or awake, sane or mad, recorded here.”
He fell back exhausted, and she put the book under his pillow, and kissed him.
Mina asked Sister Agatha to beg the Superior to let their wedding be that afternoon. Agatha left and Mina waited for her reply. When Agatha returned, she told Mina that the chaplain of the English mission church had been sent for. They were to be married in an hour, or as soon as Jonathan awoke.
* * *
When Jonathan woke a little after the hour, Mina feel very solemn, but very, very happy. All was ready, and he sat up in bed, propped up with pillows.
“I do,” he answered when the time came, firmly and strongly.
Mina could hardly speak. Her heart was so full that even those words seemed to choke her. The dear sisters were so kind that she would never, never forget them, nor the grave and sweet responsibilities she have taken upon herself. When the chaplain and the sisters had left her alone with her husband, she took the book from under his pillow, wrapped it up in white paper, tied it with a little bit of pale blue ribbon that was round her neck, and sealed the knot with sealing wax, using her wedding ring as the seal. Then she kissed it and showed it to her husband, and told him that she would keep it so, and that it would be an outward and visible sign for them all their lives that that trusted each other. She would never open it unless it were for his own dear sake or for the sake of some stern duty.
Jonathan took her hand in his, the first time he had taken his wife’s hand, and said that it was the dearest thing in all the wide world, and that he would go through all the past again to win her, if need be. The poor dear could not think of time yet, and Mina would not wonder if at first he mixed up not only the month, but the year. She told him that she was the happiest woman in the world, and that she had nothing to give him except herself, her life, and her trust, and that with these went her love and duty for all the days of her life. When he kissed her, and drew her to him with his poor weak hands, it was like a very solemn pledge between them.
When Johnathon had gone back to sleep, Mina wrote to Lucy here all about their wedding. She did so not only because it was all sweet to her, but because Lucy had been, and was, very dear to her. It had been Mina’s privilege to be Lucy’s friend and guide when she came from the schoolroom to prepare for adult life. She wanted Lucy to see through the eyes of a very happy wife where duty had led her, so that in Lucy’s own married life she too might be all happy as Mina was. Jonathan showed signs of waking, so she finished the letter:
My dear, I pray to Almighty God that your life may be all it promises: a long day of sunshine, with no harsh wind, no forgetting duty, and no distrust. I do not wish you no pain, for that can never be, but I do hope you will always be as happy as I am now. Good-bye, my dear. I shall post this at once, and, perhaps, write you very soon again. I must stop, for Jonathan is waking—I must attend to my husband!
* * *
The case of Renfield grew even more interesting. He had quieted so much that there were spells where his passion seemed entirely gone. For the first week after his attack, he had been perpetually violent. Then one night, just as the moon rose, he had grown quiet.
“Now I can wait; now I can wait,” he kept murmuring to himself.
The attendant went to tell Jack, who ran down at once to have a look at the patient. Renfield was still in the straitjacket in the padded room, but the emotional look had gone from his face, and his eyes had something of their old pleading—Jack might almost say, “cringing”—softness. He was satisfied with Renfield’s present condition, and directed him to be released. The attendants hesitated, but finally carried out Jack’s wishes without protest. Strangely the patient had enough mindfulness to see their distrust. He came close to Jack.
“They think I could hurt you!” he said in a whisper, all the while looking furtively at the orderlies. “Imagine me hurting you! The fools!”
Jack’s feelings were soothed, to find himself dissociated from his staff in the mind of this poor madman. All the same, he did not understand Renfield’s thinking. Did Renfield think Jack had something in common with him, so that they were to stand together? Did Renfield stand to gain some good so stupendous that he needed Jack? He must find out later on. Tonight, Renfield would not speak to him. Even the offer of a kitten or even a full grown cat would not tempt him.
“I don’t put any stock in cats,” Renfield said. “I have more to think about now, and I can wait. I can wait.”
After a while, Jack left him. The attendant told him that Renfield was quiet until just before dawn, and that then he began to get uneasy, and then violent, until finally he fell into a seizure that exhausted him, and he fainted into unconsciousness.
For three nights, the same thing happened. Renfield ws violent all day, then quiet from moonrise to sunrise. Jack wished he could find some clue as to the cause. It almost seemed as if there was some influence that came and went. Then Jack had a thought. That night, he would match sane wits against mad ones. Renfield had escaped before without help. Tonight, Renfield allowed to escape. Jack would give him the chance to do so, and have the men ready to follow in case they were required.
But when the time came, the unexpected happened. Their bird, when he found the cage open, would not fly, so all Jack’s subtle arrangements were for nothing. At least they proved one thing, Renfield’s quiet spells lasted a reasonable time. They would be able to ease his bonds for a few hours each day. Jack gave orders to the night attendant to merely shut him in the padded room, once he was quiet, until an hour before sunrise. The poor soul’s body would enjoy the relief even if his mind couldn’t appreciate it.
The next night, the unexpected happened again! Jack was called because the patient had once more escaped. Renfield had artfully waited until the attendant was entering the room to inspect him. He then dashed out past the man and fled down the passage. Jack sent word for the attendants to follow. Again, Renfield went onto the grounds of the deserted house, and they found him in the same place, pressed against the old chapel door. When he saw Jack, he became furious, and if the attendants hadn’t seized him in time, Renfield would have tried to kill him. As they were holding him a strange thing happened. Renfield suddenly redoubled his efforts, and then just as suddenly grew calm. Jack looked round instinctively, but could see nothing. He caught the patient’s eye and followed it, but could see nothing in the moonlit sky except a big bat, which was flapping its silent and ghostly way to the west. Bats usually wheel and flit about, but this one flew straight, as if it knew where it was bound or had some intention of its own. The patient grew calmer every second.
“You needn’t tie me,” he said. “I shall go quietly!”
They returned to the sanitarium without trouble. Jack found something ominous in Renfield’s calm, and would not forget that night.
* * *
Lucy felt quite restored. She had an appetite like a sea gull,was full of life, and slept well. She had stopped walking in her sleep, and had not stirred out of her bed for a week, once got into it at night.
Arthur, who was with her, said that she was getting fat. They went for walks, drives, rides, rowing, tennis, and fishing together. She loved him more than ever. He told her that he loved her more, but she doubt that, for at first he had told her that he couldn’t love her more than he did then.
A letter from Mina, who was in Budapest, cheered Lucy further. She hoped Mina would soon be in her own home with her husband. She wished they could come home soon enough to stay with them in Whitby. The strong air would soon restore Jonathan.
* * *
After returning to London, Lucy wished Mina was with her again, because she felt so unhappy. The previous night, she had seemed to be dreaming again just as she was at Whitby. Perhaps it was the change of air, or getting home again. It was all dark and horrid to her. She could remember nothing, but was full of vague fear, and felt weak and worn out.
When Arthur came to lunch he looked quite grieved when he saw her, and she didn’t have the spirit to try to be cheerful. She wondered if she could sleep in mother’s room that night. She decided to make an excuse and try.
Her mother did not take to my proposal. She was not too well herself, and doubtless fears to worry Lucy. Lucy tried to keep awake, and succeeded for a while; but when the clock struck twelve, it woke her from a doze, so she must have been falling asleep. There was a scratching or flapping at the window, but she did not mind it.
As she remembered no more, Lucy supposed she must then have fallen asleep. She’d had more bad dreams. She wished she could remember them. In the morning, she was horribly weak. Her face is ghastly pale, and her throat pained her. There must be something wrong with her lungs, because she couldn’t seem to get enough air. She vowed to try to cheer up when Arthur came. Otherwise, she knew he would be miserable to see her so.
* * *
After seeing Lucy, Arthur, returned home. Lucy was ill. Though she had no specific disease, but she looked awful, and was getting worse every day. Arthur had asked her if there was any cause. He didn’t dare to ask her mother, for to disturb the poor lady’s mind about her daughter in her present state of health could be fatal. Mrs. Westenra had confided to him that her illness, heart disease, was terminal, though poor Lucy did not know it yet.
Arthur was sure that there was something preying on the dear girl’s mind. He was almost distracted when he thought of her. To look at her gave him a pang. He had told her he would ask his old friend Jack Seward to see her, and though she demurred at first, she finally consented. He sat down and quickly wrote to his friend to asking for this favour. It would be a painful task for Jack, he knew, but it is for her sake, and he could not hesitate to ask.
He asked Jack to come to lunch at Hillingham the next day at two o’clock, so as not to arouse any suspicion in Mrs. Westenra, and after lunch Lucy would make an opportunity to be alone with him. Arthur would come in for tea, and they would leave together.
Arthur was filled with anxiety, and wanted to consult with Jack alone as soon as he could after he had seen Lucy. He sealed and stamped the letter, then rushed off to post it.
* * *
The next day, Arthur was glad he had. He had been summoned to see his father, who was worse. Before leaving for Ring, he sent Jack Seward a telegram, asking him to send his findings to Arthur fully by that night’s post to Ring, and wire him if necessary.
* * *
When Jack arrived, Lucy was seemingly in good spirits. Her mother was present, and in a few seconds, Jack made up his mind that Lucy was trying all she knew to mislead her mother and prevent her from being anxious. He had no doubt that Lucy guessed, if she does not know, what need of caution there was. The three lunched alone, and as they all exerted themselves to be cheerful, and got, as a reward for their labours, some real cheerfulness among them. Then Mrs. Westenra went to lie down, and Lucy was left with Jack.
They went into Lucy’s boudoir, and until they got there, her happy facade remained, because the servants were coming and going. As soon as the door was closed, however, the mask fell from her face, and she sank down into a chair with a great sigh, and hid her eyes with her hand. When Jack saw that her high spirits had failed, he at once took advantage of her reaction to make a diagnosis.
“I cannot tell you how I loathe talking about myself,” she said to him sweetly.
She caught his meaning at once, and settled the matter in a word.
“Tell Arthur everything you choose. I do not care for myself, but only for him!”
Jack could easily see that she was somewhat bloodless, but did not see the usual signs of anemia. As Lucy was opening a window which was stiff, a cord gave way, and she cut her hand slightly on the broken glass. It was a slight matter in itself, but it gave Jack the chance to secured a few drops of the blood. In other physical matters Jack was quite satisfied that there is no need for anxiety, but as there must be a cause somewhere, he came to the conclusion that it must be something mental.
“I’ve been having difficulty in breathing satisfactorily at times,” said Lucy, “and I’m sleeping very heavily, with dreams that frighten me, but I can never remember. As a child, I used to walk in my sleep. When we were in Whitby, that habit came back. Once she walked out in the night and went to the east cliff, and Mina–Miss Murray–found me there. But lately, that habit has not returned.”
Having examined Lucy, Jack couldn’t find any functional disturbance or any malady that he knew of. At the same time, he was not by any means satisfied with her appearance. She was woefully different from what she was when he had last seen her. He said his goodbyes.
On the way back to his lodgings, he had the blood analyzed. When he received it, the qualitative analysis gave a quite normal condition, and showed, he inferred, that she was vigorously healthy. He was in doubt, so he did the best thing he could think of. He written to his old friend and mentor, Professor Van Helsing, of Amsterdam, who knew as much about obscure diseases as any one in the world. Jack asked him to come over, and as Arthur had told him that all things were to be at his expense, mentioned him and his relationship to Miss Westenra to the Professor.
Van Helsing would, Jack knew, do anything for him for personal reasons, so, no matter on what ground he came, they must accept his wishes. He was a seemingly arbitrary man, but that was because he knew what he was talking about better than any one else. He was a philosopher and a metaphysician, and one of the most advanced scientists of his day, and had, Jack believed, an absolutely open mind. This, with iron nerves, the temper of an icy brook, indomitable resolution, self command, tolerance exalted from virtues to blessings, and the kindliest and truest heart that beats, equipped him for the noble work that he is doing for mankind, work both in theory and practice, for his views were as wide as his all-embracing sympathy. Jack begged him to come at once.
He had planned to see Lucy again the next day. She was to meet me at the stores, so that he wouldn’t alarm her mother by repeating his call too early a repetition. He quickly wrote another letter, explaining all that he had learned and done to Arthur, then went to post both letters.
* * *
When Van Helsing received Jack’s letter, by good fortune he could leave immediately, without wronging any of those who trusted him. Were it otherwise, it would have been bad for them, because regardless, he would have gone to his friend when Jack called him to aid those he held dear. The time that Jack had so swiftly sucked the poison of gangrene from his wound from the knife that their other friend, too nervous, let slip, Jack had done more for Arthur when he wanted Van Helsing’s aid than the entire Holmwood fortune could do.
He wrote Jack, asking him to book rooms at the Great Eastern Hotel, so that he could be close at hand, and to arrange that they might see the young lady not too late on the next day, for it was likely that I may have to return to Austria that night. He assured Jack that if need be, he could come again in three days, and stay longer if he must.
* * *
Van Helsing came with Jack to Hillingham. By Lucy’s discretion, her mother was out for lunch, so that they were alone with her. Lucy was more cheerful than on the day Jack had last seen her, and certainly looked better. She had lost something of the ghastly look that so upset Arthur, and her breathing was normal. She was very sweet to the professor (as she always was), and tried to make him feel at ease, though Jack could see that the poor girl was struggling hard to do so. Van Helsing saw it, too, because Jack saw a quick look under his bushy brows that he knew so well. The Professor then began to chat about everything except themselves and diseases, with such geniality that Jack could see poor Lucy’s pretense of animation become reality. Then, without any seeming change, Van Helsing brought the conversation gently round to his visit.
“My dear young miss, I have such great pleasure because you are so beloved,” he said suavely. “That is much, my dear, ever were there that which I do not see. They told me you were down in the spirit, and that you were of a ghastly pale. To them I say ‘Poof!’”
He snapped his fingers at Jack.
“But you and I shall show them how wrong they are. How can he know anything of a young ladies?” he continued, pointing at Jack with the same look and gesture that he had once used in his classroom. “He has his old ladies to play with, and bring back to happiness, and to those who love them. It is hard work, but there are rewards in bestowing such happiness. But young ladies? He has no wife or daughter, and the young do not explain themselves to the young, but to the old, like me, who have known many sorrows and the causes of them. So, my dear, we will send him away to smoke a cigarette in the garden, while you and I have a little talk all by ourselves.”
Jack took the hint, and strolled about, and presently the professor came to the window and called him in. Van Helsing looked grave.
“I have made a careful examination, but found no functional cause,” he said. “I agree with you that there has been much blood lost. It has been, but is not. She is in no way anemic. I have asked Miss Lucy to send her maid to me, so that I may ask just her one or two question, that so I may not by chance miss anything. I know what she will say. And yet there is cause. There is always cause for everything. I must go back home and think. You must send to me a telegram every day, and if there is cause I shall come again. The disease—for not to be all well is a disease—interests me, and the sweet young dear, she interests me too. She charms me, and for her, if not for you or the disease, I will come.”
When they got back to town, they sat down for a cup of tea before Van Helsing started on his return to Amsterdam.
“Arthur and I are great friends,” said Jack. “He has given me great trust in the matter.”
“You must tell him all you think,” said Van Helsing. “Tell him what I think, if you can guess it, and you want to. I’m not joking. This is no jest, but life and death, perhaps more.”
“What do you mean by that?” Jack asked.
Van Helsing would not give Jack any further clue, but his very reticence meant that all his brains were working for Lucy’s good. He would speak plainly enough when the time came, Jack was sure.
“I will simply write an account of our visit,” Jack said, “just as if I were writing an article for The Daily Telegraph.”
“The London papers are not quite so bad as they used to be when I was a student here,” said Van Helsing. “You will get my report to-morrow if I can possibly make it. In any case you will have a letter.”
Van Helsing would not say a word more. When he was gone, Jack sat down to write to Arthur, telling him everything he knew. He promised to keep stern watch. He hoped Arthur’s poor father was rallying. It must be a terrible thing to be placed in such a position between two people who are both so dear to you. He knew of Arthur’s duty to his father, and admired him for sticking to it. He promised, if need be, to shall send Arthur word to come at once to Lucy.
* * *
Renfield had an outburst at an unusual time. Just before the stroke of noon, he began to grow restless. The attendant knew the symptoms, and at once summoned aid. Fortunately the men came at a run, and were just in time, because at the stroke of noon, he became so violent that it took all their strength to hold him. After about five minutes, he began to get more and more quiet, and finally sank into melancholy, a state in which he remained.
The attendant told Jack that Renfield’s screams during his seizure were appalling. Jack had his hands full attending to some of the other patients who were frightened by Renfield. He could understand this, because the sounds disturbed even him, though he was some distance away. After the asylum’s dinner hour, Renfield sat in a corner brooding, with a dull, sullen, woe-begone look on his face, which seems to indicate something that Jack could not quite understand.
At five o’clock, Jack looked in on him and found Renfield seemingly as happy and contented as he used to be. He was catching flies and eating them, and was keeping track of his captures by making nail marks on the edge of the door between the ridges of padding. When he saw Jack, he came over and apologized for his bad conduct, and asked Jack in a very humble, cringing way to be led back to his own room and to have his note-book again. Jack thought it best to humour him, and had him taken back to his room and left with the window open.
Renfield had the sugar from his tea spread out on the window sill, and was reaping quite a harvest of flies. He was no longer eating them, but was putting them into a box, as of old, and was already examining the corners of his room to find a spider. Jack tried to get him to talk about the past few days, for any clue to his thoughts would be of immense help, but Renfield would not answer. For a moment or two, he looked very sad
“All over! all over!” he said to himself in a far away voice, “He has deserted me. No hope for me now unless I do it for myself!”
He suddenly turned to Jack.
“Doctor, won’t you be very good to me and let me have a little more sugar?” he said. “I think it would be good for me.”
“And the flies?” I said.
“Yes! The flies like it, too, and I like the flies; therefore I like it.”
There were people who knew so little as to think that madmen do not argue. Jack procured Renfield a double supply, and left him as happy a man as any in the world. Jack wished he could fathom the man’s mind.
* * *
Jack had been to see Lucy, who he found much better, and had just returned, and was standing at the asylum gate looking at the sunset, when he once more heard Renfield yelling. As his room was on that side of the house, Jack could hear him better than he had in the morning. It was a shock to Jack to turn from the wonderful smoky beauty of sunset over London, with its lurid lights and inky shadows and all the marvellous tints that come on foul clouds even as on foul water, and to realize the grim sternness of his own cold stone building, with its wealth of breathing misery, and his own desolate heart to endure it all.
Jack reached Renfield just as the sun was going down, and from his window, saw its red disc sink. As it sank, Renfield became less and less frenzied. Just as it dipped below the horizon, he slid from the hands that held him, an inert mass on the floor. It was wonderful, however, what intellectual recuperative power lunatics had, because within a few minutes, he stood up quite calmly and looked around him. Jack signalled to the attendants not to hold Renfield, because he was anxious to see what the man would do. Renfield went straight over to the window and brushed off the crumbs of sugar. He then took his box of flies and emptied it outside, and threw away the box. Then he shut the window, and crossing the room, sat down on his bed. All this surprised Jack.
“Are you not going to keep flies any more?” he asked Renfield.
“No,” said Renfield. “I am sick of all that rubbish!”
He certainly was a wonderfully interesting study. Jack wished he could get some glimpse of Renfield’s mind or of the cause of his sudden passion. Then he realized there may be a clue after all, if he could find why today his seizures came on at high noon and at sunset. Could it be that there was a malign influence of the sun at these times which affected certain natures, as at times the moon did others? He would see.
For the next two days, Lucy’s health improved. Jack kept Professor Van Helsing updated by telegram. On the third day, she had a terrible change for the worse. Jack begged Van Helsing to come at once.
There was one good thing that had happened. Mrs. Westenra was naturally anxious concerning Lucy, and consulted Jack professionally about her. He took advantage of the opportunity, and told her that his old mentor, Van Helsing, the great specialist, was coming to stay with him, and that he would put her in the Professor’s charge conjointly with his own. Now they could come and go without alarming her unduly, for a shock to her could mean sudden death, and this, in Lucy’s weak condition, might be disastrous to her. They were hedged in with difficulties, all of them. Jack prayed to God that they would come through them all right.
Chapter X – Van Helsing
Jack met Van Helsing at Liverpool Street.
“Have you said anything to our young friend the lover of Lucy?” Van Helsing asked.
“No,” said Jack. “I wanted to wait until I had seen you, as I said in my telegram. I wrote him a letter simply telling him that you were coming, as Lucy was unwell, and that I would let him know if needed.”
“Right, my friend,” said Van Helsing, “quite right! Better he not know as yet. Perhaps he shall never know. I pray so. But if it’s needed, then he shall know all. And, my good friend Jack, let me caution you. You deal with madmen. All men are mad in some way or the other. In as much as you deal discreetly with your madmen, so the rest of the world deal with God’s madmen. You do not tell your madmen what you are doing nor why you do it. You don’t tell them what you think. Doing so, you keep knowledge in its place, where it may rest, gather its kind around it, and breed. You and I shall keep as yet what we know here, and here.”
He touched Jack on the heart and on the forehead, and then touched himself the same way.
“I will keep my thoughts to myself at the present,” the Professor continued. “Later I shall unfold them to you.”
“Why not now?” Jack asked. “It may do some good. We may arrive at some decision.”
Van Helsing stopped and looked at Jack.
“My friend, when the corn is grown, even before it has ripened, while the milk of mother earth is in it, and the sunshine has not yet begun to paint it with his gold, the farmer pulls the ear and rubs it between his rough hands, and blow away the green chaff, and says to you ‘Look! It’s good corn. It will make a good crop when the time comes.’”
“I don’t see how that applies,” Jack told him.
Van Helsing replied by reaching over and taking Jack’s ear in his hand and pulling it playfully, as he used to long ago at lectures.
“The good farmer tells you this then because he knows, but not until then,” he said. “But you do not see the good farmer dig up his planted corn to see if it grows. That is for children who play at farming, and not for those who make it their life’s work. Do you see now, Jack? I have sown my corn, and nature has work to do in making it sprout. If it sprouts at all, there’s some promise. I wait till the ear begins to swell.”
He broke off, seeing that Jack understood.
“You were always a careful student, and your case book was ever more full than the rest,” he went on, very gravely. “You were only a student then. Now you are master, and I trust that good habits have not failed. Remember, my friend, that knowledge is stronger than memory, and we should not trust the weaker. Even if you have not kept good practise, let me tell you that this case of our dear miss Lucy is one that may be—mind you, I say may be—of such interest to us and others that all the rest may not tip the scales of our interest. Take then notes. Nothing is too small. Record even your doubts and guesses. Later it may interest you to see how correctly you guessed. We learn from failure, not from success!”
“Lucy’s symptoms are the same as before, but infinitely more marked,” said Jack.
Van Helsing looked very grave, but said nothing. He carried a bag full instruments and drugs, ‘the ghastly paraphernalia of our beneficial trade,’ as he once called them in one of his lectures, the equipment of a professor of the healing craft.
When they were shown in, Mrs. Westenra met them. She was alarmed, but not nearly so much as Jack had expected to find her. Nature in one of her beneficent moods ordained that even death had some antidote to its own terrors. Here, in a case where any shock might prove fatal, for some reason, things that were not personal—even the terrible change in her daughter to whom she was so attached—do not seem to reach her. It was something like the way the body gathered an envelope of insensitive tissue around a foreign body that protected it from the harm that would otherwise be done by contact. If this was an instinctive selfishness, then Jack would pause before condemning anyone as egotistical, for there might be deeper cause for it than he had knowledge of.
Jack used my knowledge of this phase of spiritual pathology, and laid down a rule that Mrs. Westenra should not be present with Lucy or think about her illness any more than was absolutely required. She assented readily, so readily that Jack again saw the hand of nature fighting for her life. Van Helsing and Jack were shown up to Lucy’s room.
If Jack was shocked when he had seen her the day before, he was horrified when he saw her today. She was ghastly, chalkily pale. The red had gone even from her lips and gums, and the bones of her face stood out prominently. Her breathing was painful to see and hear. Van Helsing’s face seemed as hard as marble, and his eyebrows converged until they almost touched over his nose. Lucy lay motionless, and did not seem strong enough to speak, so for a while they were all silent. Van Helsing beckoned to Jack, and they went quietly out of the room. The instant they had closed the door, Van Helsing stepped quickly along the passage to the next door, which was open. He pulled Jack quickly in with him and closed the door.
“My God!” he said; “this is dreadful. There is no time to be lost. She will die for sheer want of blood to keep her heart’s beating. There must be transfusion of blood at once. Will it be you or me?”
“I am younger and stronger, Professor,” said Jack. “It must be me.”
“Then get ready at once. I will bring up my bag. I am prepared.”
Jack went downstairs with him, and as they were going there was a knock at the hall door. When they reached the hall, the maid had just opened the door, and Arthur was coming in. He rushed up to Jack.
“Jack, I was so anxious,” he said in an eager whisper. “I read between the lines of your letter, and have been in an agony. Dad was better, so I ran down here to see for myself. Is this gentleman Dr. Van Helsing? I am so thankful to you, sir, for coming.”
When the Professor’s eye had first lit upon Arthur, he had been angry at his interruption at such a time. Now, as he took in Arthur’s stalwart proportions and recognized the strong young manhood that emanated from him, Van Helsing’s eyes gleamed. Without a pause he gravely held out his hand.
“Sir, you have come in time,” he said. “You are the lover of our dear miss. She is bad, very, very bad.”
Arthur suddenly grew pale and sat down in a chair, almost fainting.
“No, my friend, do not go like that,” said Van Helsing. “You need to help her. You can do more than any that live, and your courage is your best help.”
“What can I do?” asked Arthur hoarsely. “Tell me, and I shall do it. My life is hers, and I would give the last drop of blood in my body for her.”
The Professor had a strongly humorous side, and Jack could detect a trace of it in his answer.
“My young sir, I do not ask so much as that—not the last!”
“What shall I do?” demanded Arthur.
There was fire in his eyes, and his open nostrils quivered with intent. Van Helsing slapped him on the shoulder.
“Come!” he said. “You are a man, and it is a man we want. You are better than me, better than my friend Jack.”
Arthur looked bewildered, and the Professor went on by explaining in a kindly way.
“The young lady is ill, very ill. She needs blood, and blood she must have or die. My friend Jack and I have consulted. We are about to perform a blood transfusion—to transfer it from full veins of one to the empty veins that pine for it. John was going to give his blood, as he is younger and stronger than me, but now you are here, you are better than us, old or young, who toil so much in the world of thought. Our nerves are not as calm and our blood not so bright than yours!”
“If you only knew how gladly I would die for her you would understand——” said Arthur.
He stopped, his voice choking up.
“Good boy!” said Van Helsing. “In the not so far future, you will be glad that you have done all you can for her. Come now and be silent. You shall kiss her once before it is done, but then you must go; you must leave at my sign. Say no word to Madame. You know how it is with her! There must be no shock. Any knowledge of this would be one. Come!”
We all went up to Lucy’s room. At Van Helsing’s direction, Arthur stayed outside. Lucy turned her head and looked at us, but said nothing. She was not asleep, but she was simply too weak to make the effort. Her eyes spoke to us; that was all. Van Helsing took some things from his bag and laid them on a little table out of sight. Then he mixed a narcotic, and came over to the bed.
“Now, little miss, here is your medicine,” he said cheerily. “Drink it, like a good child. I will lift you so that swallowing is easy. Yes.”
She made the effort with success. It astonished Jack how long it took for the drug to act. This marked the extent of her weakness. The time seemed endless until sleep began to flicker in her eyelids. At last, however, the narcotic began to show its potency, and she fell into a deep sleep. When the Professor was satisfied, he called Arthur into the room, and had him strip off his coat.
“You may take that one little kiss whiles I bring over the table,” he added. “Jack, help me!”
Neither of them looked as Arthur bent over Lucy. Van Helsing turned to Jack.
“He is so young and strong and his blood so pure that we need not defibrinate it.” he said.
Then, swiftness but absolutely methodically, Van Helsing performed the operation. As the transfusion went on, something like life came back to poor Lucy’s cheeks, and despite Arthur’s growing pallor, the joy absolutely shone in his face. After a bit, Jack began to grow anxious, for the loss of blood was telling on Arthur, as strong man as he was. It gave Jack an idea of what a terrible strain Lucy’s system must have undergone that what weakened Arthur only partially restored her. But the Professor’s face was set, and he stood watch in hand, with his eyes fixed now on the patient and now on Arthur. Jack could hear my own heart beating.
“Do not wait an instant,” Van Helsing said in a soft voice. “It is enough. You attend him; I will look to her.”
When it was over, Jack could see how much Arthur was weakened. He dressed Arthur’s incision, and took his arm to lead him away, when Van Helsing spoke without turning round. The man seemed to have eyes in the back of his head.
“The brave lover, I think, deserves another kiss, which he shall have presently,” he said.
As he finished his operation, he adjusted the pillow under Lucy’s head. As he did so, the narrow black velvet band that she always wore around her throat, buckled with an old diamond buckle which her lover had given her, was dragged up a little, revealing a red mark on her throat. Arthur did not notice it, but Jack heard the deep hiss of indrawn breath that betrayed Van Helsing’s emotion. He said nothing, but turned to Arthur.
“Now take our brave young lover down, give him a glass of port, and let him lie down for a while,” he said. “He must then go home and rest, sleep, and eat, so that he may restore what he has so given to his love. He must not stay here. Hold on a moment. I take it, sir, that you are anxious of result. Then leave knowing that in all ways the operation was a success. You have saved her life this time, and you can go home and rest easy knowing that all that can be is. I will tell her everything when she is well. She will love you none the less for what you have done. Good-bye.”
When Arthur had gone, Jack returned to the room. Lucy was sleeping gently, but her breathing was stronger. He could see the bedspread moving as her chest heaved. Van Helsing sat by her bedside, looking at her intently. The velvet band once again covered the red mark.
“What do you make of that mark on her throat?” Jack asked the Professor in a whisper.
“What do you make of it?”
“I have not examined it yet,” Jack answered.
He loosened the band. Just over her jugular, there were two punctures, not large, but not wholesome-looking. There was no sign of disease, but the edges were white and worn-looking, as if by trituration. It immediately occurred to Jack that this wound, whatever it was, might be the means of her loss of blood. He abandoned the idea as soon as formed, for such a thing could not be. The whole bed would have been drenched scarlet with the blood which the girl must have lost to leave a pallor like the one she’d had before the transfusion.
“Well?” said Van Helsing.
“Well,” said Jack, “I can make nothing of it.”
The Professor stood up.
“I must go back to Amsterdam tonight,” he said. “There are books and things there that I want. You must remain here all the night, and you must not let her out of your sight.”
“Shall I call a nurse?” Jack asked.
“We are the best nurses, you and I. Keep watch all night. See that she is well fed, and that nothing disturbs her. You must not sleep all night. Later on we can sleep, you and I. I will be back as soon as I can. Then we may begin.”
“May begin?” said Jack. “What on earth do you mean?”
“We shall see!” Van Helsing answered.
“Remember, she is your charge. If you leave her, and harm befalls her, you shall not sleep easily thereafter!”
* * *
Jack sat up all night with Lucy. The opiate wore off towards dusk, and she woke naturally. She looked a different being from what she had been before the operation. Her spirits were good, and she was full of a happy vivacity, but Jack could see evidences of the absolute physical exhaustion which she had experienced. When Jack told Mrs. Westenra that Dr. Van Helsing had directed that he should sit up with Lucy, she almost pooh-poohed the idea, pointing out her daughter’s renewed strength and excellent spirits. Jack was firm, however, and made preparations for his long vigil.
When Lucy’s maid had prepared her for the night, he came in, having in the meantime had supper, and took a seat by her bedside. She did not object, but looked at him gratefully when he caught her eye. After a long while, she seemed to be sinking off to sleep, but with an effort, pulled herself together and shook it off. She did this several times, with greater effort and with shorter pauses between as time moved on. It was clear that she did not want to sleep.
“You do not want to go to sleep?” asked Jack.
“No,” Lucy replied. “I’m afraid.”
“Afraid to go to sleep! Why so? It is the boon we all crave for.”
“Ah, not if you are like me. Sleep portends horror!”
“Horror? What on earth do you mean?”
“I don’t know. Oh, I don’t know. And that is what is so terrible. All this weakness comes to me in sleep, until I dread the very thought.”
“My dear girl, you may sleep tonight. I am here watching you, and I can promise that nothing will happen.”
“Ah, I can trust you!”
“I promise you that if I see any evidence of bad dreams, I will wake you at once.”
“You will? Oh, will you really? How good you are to me. Then I will sleep!”
Almost at that word, she gave a deep sigh of relief, and sank back, asleep.
All night long, Jack watched her. She never stirred, but slept on and on in a deep, tranquil, life giving, health giving sleep. Her lips were slightly parted, and her chest rose and fell with the regularity of a pendulum. There was a smile on her face, and it was evident that no bad dreams had come to disturb her peace of mind.
In the early morning, her maid came in, and Jack left Lucy in her care and returned home, because he was anxious about many things. He sent a short wire to Van Helsing and to Arthur, telling them of the excellent results of the operation. His own work, with its many unfinished duties, took him all day to finish off. It was dark when he was able to inquire about his zoöphagous patient. The report was good. Renfield had been quite quiet for the past day and night. A telegram came from Van Helsing from Amsterdam while Jack was at dinner, suggesting that he should return to Hillingham tonight, as it would be good to be at hand, and stating that Van Helsing was leaving pm the night mail boat and would join Jack early in the morning.
Jack was pretty tired and worn out when he got to Hillingham. For two nights he had hardly had a wink of sleep, and his brain was beginning to feel the numbness thay marks cerebral exhaustion. Lucy was up and in cheerful spirits. When she shook hands with him she looked him sharply in the face.
“No sitting up tonight for you. You are worn out. I am quite well again; indeed, I am. If there is to be any sitting up, it is I who will sit up with you.”
Jack did not argue the point, but went and had his supper. Lucy came with him, and, enlivened by her charming presence, he had an excellent meal, and a couple of glasses of more than excellent port. Then Lucy took him upstairs, and showed him a room next her own, where a cozy fire was burning.
“Now,” she said, “you must stay here. I will leave this door open and my door too. You can lie on the sofa, because I know that nothing will induce a doctor to go to bed while there is a patient anywhere near him. If I want anything I will call out, and you can come to me at once.”
Jack agreed to this because he was dog tired, and could not have sat up if he’d tried. She renewed her promise to call him if she wanted anything, and he lay on the sofa, and forgot about everything.
* * *
Lucy felt so happy. She had been so miserably weak that to be able to think and move about was like feeling sunshine after a long spell of east wind out of a steel sky. Somehow Arthur felt very, very close to me. She seemed to feel his presence like a warmth about her. She supposed that sickness and weakness were selfish things that turn the inner eye and sympathy on oneself, while health and strength give love rein to wander where it willed in thought and feeling.
She knew where her thoughts were. If Arthur only knew! His dear ears must tingle as he sleeps, as her did on waking. Oh, the blissful rest of last night! How she slept, with dear, good Arthur watching her. Tonight, she did not fear to sleep, since he was close at hand and within call. She thank everyone for being so good her, thanked God, and mentally wished Arthur goodnight.
* * *
Jack was conscious of the Professor’s hand on his head, and started awake in a second. That was one of the things that he had learned in the asylum, at any rate.
“How is our patient?” Van Helsing asked.
“She was well when I left her, or rather when she left me,” Jack answered.
“Come, let us see,” said Van Helsing.
Together, they went into Lucy’s room. The blind was down, and Jack went over to raise it gently, while Van Helsing stepped, with his soft, catlike tread, over to the bed. As Jack raised the blind and the morning sunlight flooded the room, he heard the Professor draw beath with a low hiss, and a deadly fear shot through Jack’s heart. As he came over, Van Helsing stepped back.
“Gott in Himmel!” and his exclamation of horror.
With an agonized look, he raised his hand and pointed at the bed, his iron face was drawn and ashen white. Jack felt his knees begin to tremble.
There on the bed, seeming to have fainted, lay poor Lucy, more horribly white and wan looking than ever. Even her lips were white, and her gums had shrunken back from her teeth, as was sometimes seem in a corpse after a prolonged illness. Van Helsing raised his foot to stamp in anger, but the instincts of his life and all the long years of habit stopped to him, and he put it down again softly.
“Quick!” he said. “Bring the brandy.”
Jack flew to the dining room, and returned with the decanter. Van Helsing wetted her poor white lips with it, and together they rubbed her palms, wrists, and heart. Van Helsing felt her heart, and there were a few moments of agonizing suspense.
As he spoke, he was dipping into his bag and producing the instruments for transfusion. Jack took off his coat and rolled up his shirt sleeve. There was no possibility of an opiate at present, and no need for one. Without a moment’s delay, they began the operation. After a time—it did not seem a short time either, for the draining away of one’s blood, no matter how willingly it was given, was a terrible feeling—Van Helsing held up a warning finger.
“Do not stir,” he said. “I fear that with growing strength she may wake, and that would create danger, oh, so much danger. But I shall take a precaution. I shall give her a hypodermic injection of morphine.”
He proceeded, swiftly and deftly, to carry out his intent. The effect on Lucy was not bad. Her faint merged subtly into narcotic sleep. With a feeling of personal pride, Jack saw a faint tinge of colour steal back into her pallid cheeks and lips. No man knows, till he experiences it, what it is to feel his own life blood drawn away into the veins of the woman he loves. The Professor watched him critically.
“That will do,” he said.
“Already?” Jack remonstrated. “You took a great deal more from Arthur.”
Van Helsing smiled a sad smile.
“He is her lover, her fiancé. You have work, much work, to do for her and for others. At present, this will suffice.”
They stopped the transfusion, and Van Helsing attended to Lucy, while Jack applied pressure to his own incision. He lay down and waited for Van Helsing to be free to attend to him, feeling faint and a little sick. Soon enough, the Professor bound up his wound, and sent him downstairs to get a glass of wine for himself. As Jack was leaving the room, Van Helsing came after him.
“Mind, nothing must be said of this,” he half whispered. “If our young lover should turn up unexpectedly, as before, say nothing to him. It would at once frighten him and make him jeaslous, too. There must be none of either.”
When Jack came back up, Van Helsing looked at him carefully.
“You are not much the worse,” he said. “Go into that room, lie on the sofa, and rest awhile. Then have a big breakfast, and come back here to me.”
Jack followed his orders, knowing how right and wise they were. Jack had done his part, and his next duty was to keep up his strength. He felt very weak, and in the weakness lost something of the amazement at what had occurred. He fell asleep on the sofa wondering over and over again how Lucy had had such a terrible relapse, and how she could have been drained of so much blood with no sign of it anywhere. He must have continued to wonder in his dreams, for, sleeping and waking, his thoughts always came back to the little punctures in her throat and the ragged, exhausted appearance of their edges, tiny though they were.
Lucy slept well into the day, and when she woke, she was fairly well and strong, though not nearly as much so as the day before. When Van Helsing had seen her, he went out for a walk, leaving Jack in charge, with strict injunctions that he was not to leave Lucy even for a moment. Jack could hear Van Helsing’s voice in the hall, asking the way to the nearest telegraph office.
Lucy chatted with Jack freely, and seemed quite unconscious that anything had happened. He tried to keep her amused and interested. When her mother came up to see her, the woman did not seem to notice any change whatsoever.
“We owe you so much, Dr. Seward, for all you have done, but you really must now take care not to overwork yourself,” she said gratefully. “You are looking pale yourself. You need a wife to nurse and look after you a bit, you do!”
As her mother spoke, Lucy turned crimson, though it was only momentarily, for her poor wasted veins could not stand for long such an involuntary drain of blood to the head. Her body reacted with excessive pallor, and she turned imploring eyes on Jack. He smiled and nodded, and laid my finger on his lips. With a sigh, she sank back into her pillows.
Van Helsing returned in a couple of hours.
“Now you must go home, and eat alot and drink enough,” he said to Jack. “Make yourself strong. I’ll stay here tonight, and sit up with little miss myself. You and I must keep watch, and we must let no one else know. I have grave reasons. No, do not ask them. Think what you will. Do not fear to think even the most improbable. Good night.”
In the hall, two of the maids came to Jack, and asked if either of them might not sit up with Miss Lucy. They implored him to let them. When Jack said it was Dr. Van Helsing’s wish that either he or Jack should sit up, they asked Jack quite piteously to intercede with the ‘foreign gentleman.’ Jack was touched by their kindness. Perhaps it was because he was weak at present, and perhaps because it was that their devotion to Lucy was manifest. Over and over again, he had seen similar instances of women’s kindness.
* * *
The next afternoon, Jack went over back Hillingham. He found Van Helsing in excellent spirits, and Lucy much better. Shortly after he arrived, a big parcel from abroad came for the Professor. Van Helsing opened it and showed them a great bundle of white flowers.
“These are for you, Miss Lucy,” he said.
“For me? Oh, Dr. Van Helsing!”
“Yes, my dear, but not for you to play with. These are medicinal,” he said.
Lucy made a wry face.
“But they are not to take in a concoction or in nauseous form, so you need not snub that so charming nose, or I shall point out to my friend Arthur what woes he may have to endure in seeing the beauty that he loves so distorted. Ah, my pretty miss, that brings your nice nose straight again. This is medicinal, but you do not know how. I put it in your window, I make pretty wreath, and hang it round your neck, so that you sleep well. Oh yes! They, like the lotus flower, make you forget your troubles. They smell like the waters of Lethe, and of the fountain of youth that the Conquistadors sought for in Florida.”
While he was speaking, Lucy had been examining the flowers and smelling them. Now she threw them down.
“Oh, Professor, I believe you are pulling a joke on me,” she said, half laughing, and half in disgust. “Why, these flowers are only common garlic.”
To Jack’s surprise, Van Helsing rose up with his iron jaw set and his bushy eyebrows meeting.
“No trifling with me!” he said sternly. “I never jest! There is grim purpose in all I do, and I warn you not to thwart me. Take care, for the sake of others if not for your own.”
Then seeing that poor Lucy was scared, as she might well be, he went on more gently.
“Oh, little miss, my dear, do not fear me. I only do what is good for you. There is much virtue in those common flowers. I will place them myself in your room. I myself will make the wreath that you are to wear. But hush! No telling others who ask inquisitive questions. You must obey, and silence is part of this obedience, and obedience will make you strong and well and deliver you into the loving arms that wait for you. Now sit still awhile. Come with me, Jack, and help me deck the room with my garlic, which is all the way from Haarlem in Holland, where my friend Vanderpool raises herbs in his greenhouses all year round. I had to telegraph yesterday, or they would not have been here.”
They went into the room, taking the flowers with them. The Professor’s actions were certainly odd and not to be found in any pharmacopoeia that Jack had ever heard of. First, Van Helsing closed the windows and latched them securely. Next, taking a handful of the flowers, he rubbed them all over the sashes, as though to ensure that every whiff of air that might get in would be laden with the smell of garlic. Then, with the wisps, he rubbed the jamb of the door, above, below, and on each side, and round the fireplace in the same way. It all seemed grotesque to Jack.
“Well, Professor, I know you always have a reason for what you do, but this certainly puzzles me,” he said. “It is a good thing we have no sceptics here, or they would say that you were working some spell to keep out an evil spirit.”
“Perhaps I am!” Van Helsing answered quietly.
He began to make the wreath that Lucy was to wear round her neck. They waited while Lucy got ready for bed, and when she was in bed, Van Helsing himself fixed the wreath of garlic round her neck.
“Take care you do not disturb it,” he told her, “and even if the room feels close, do not open the window or the door tonight.”
“I promise,” said Lucy, “and thank you both a thousand times for all your kindness to me! What have I done to be blessed with such friends?”
As they left the house in Jack’s coach, which was waiting.
“Tonight I can sleep in peace, and sleep I want,” Van Helsing said. “Two nights of travel, much reading in the day in between, much anxiety on the day that followed, and a night of sitting up without to wink. Tomorrow morning, call for me early, and we will come together to see our pretty miss, so much stronger for the ‘spell’ I have worked. Ho! ho!”
He seemed so confident that Jack, remembering his own confidence two nights before and the awful result, felt awe and vague terror. It must have been his weakness that made him hesitate to tell his friend about it, but he felt it even more, like unshed tears.
Chapter XI – Lucy’s Fate
They were all so good to her. Lucy loved that dear Dr. Van Helsing. She wondered why he was so anxious about the flowers. He positively frightened her, he was so fierce. And yet he must have been right, for she felt comfort from them already. Somehow, she did not dread being alone in the night, and could go to sleep without fear. She would not mind any flapping outside the window. Oh, the terrible struggle that she had had against sleep so often of late. The pain of sleeplessness, or the pain of the fear of sleep, with such unknown horrors as it had for her! How blessed people whose lives have no fears and no dreads are. To them, sleep is a blessing that comes nightly, and brings nothing but sweet dreams. Well, there was Lucy, hoping for sleep, and lying like Ophelia in the play, with ‘virgin wreaths and strewn flowers.’ She had never liked garlic before, but tonight it was delightful! There was peace in its smell. She felr sleep coming already.
* * *
In the morning, Jack called at the Berkeley and found Van Helsing, as usual, up in time. The carriage ordered from the hotel was waiting. The Professor took his bag, which he always brought with him now.
Van Helsing and Jack arrived at Hillingham at eight o’clock. It was a lovely morning. The bright sunshine and the freshness of early autumn seemed like the completion of nature’s annual work. The leaves were turning all kinds of beautiful colours, but had not yet begun to drop from the trees. When they entered, they met Mrs. Westenra coming out of the morning room. She was always an early riser. She greeted us warmly.
“You will be glad to know that Lucy is better,” she said. “The dear child is still asleep. I looked into her room and saw her, but did not go in, in case I would disturb her.”
“Aha! I thought I had diagnosed the case,” he said. “My treatment is working.”
“You must not take all the credit to yourself, doctor,” she replied. “Lucy’s state this morning is due in part to me.”
“How you do mean, ma’am?” asked the Professor.
“Well, I was anxious about the dear child in the night, and went into her room. She was sleeping soundly that even my coming in did not wake her. But the room was awfully stuffy. There were a lot of those horrible, strong smelling flowers about everywhere, and she had actually a bunch of them round her neck. I feared that the heavy odour would be too much for the dear child in her weak state, so I took them all away and opened a bit of the window to let in a little fresh air. You will be pleased with her, I am sure.”
She moved off into her boudoir, where she usually breakfasted early. As she had spoken, Jack had watched the Professor’s face, and saw it turn ashen grey. He had been able to retain his self command while the poor lady was present, because he knew her state and how dangerous a shock would be. He actually smiled at her as he held open the door for her to pass into her room. But the instant she had disappeared he pulled Jack, suddenly and forcefully, into the dining room and closed the door.
Then, for the first time in Jack’s life, he saw Van Helsing break down. The Professor raised his hands over his head in mute despair, and then beat his palms together helplessly. Finally, he sat down on a chair, and putting his hands over his face, began to sob, with loud, dry sobs that seemed to come from the very racking of his heart. Then he raised his arms again, as though appealing to the whole universe.
“God! God! God!” he said. “What have we done, what has this poor thing done, that we are so sorely beset? Is there fate among us still, sent down from the pagan world of old, that things must be like this? This poor mother, unknowing, and for the best as she thinks, does the thing that will take her daughter’s body and soul, and we must not tell her, we must not even warn her, or she will die, and then both will die. Oh, how we are beset! All the powers of the devils are against us!”
Suddenly he jumped to his feet.
“Come,” he said, “come, we must see and act. Devils or no devils, or all the devils at once, it doesn’t matter. We must fight him all the same.”
He went to the hall door for his bag, and together they went up to Lucy’s room. Once again, Jack drew up the blind, while Van Helsing went towards the bed. This time he did not start as he looked on the poor face with the same awful, waxen pallor as before. He wore a look of stern sadness and infinite pity.
“As I expected,” he murmured.
Without a word he went and locked the door, and then began to set out on the little table the instruments for yet another blood transfusion. Jack had already recognized the necessity, and began to take off his coat, but Van Helsing stopped him with a warning hand.
“No!” he said. “Today you must operate. I shall provide. You are weakened already.”
As he spoke he took off his coat and rolled up his shirt sleeve. Again they transfused her. Again they gave her morphine. Again some colour returned to her ashy cheeks, and her chest rose and fell with the regular breathing of healthy sleep. This time Jack watched while Van Helsing recovered himself and rested.
He took the opportunity to tell Mrs. Westenra that she must not remove anything from Lucy’s room without consulting him, that the flowers were of medicinal value, and that the breathing of their odour was a part of his system of cure. Then he took over Lucy’s care himself, saying that he would watch this night and the next and would send Jack word when to come.
After another hour Lucy woke from her sleep, fresh and bright and seemingly not much the worse for her terrible ordeal. What did it all mean? Jack was beginning to wonder if his time spent among the insane was beginning to tell upon his own brain.
* * *
After four days and nights of peace, Lucy was getting so strong again that she hardly knew herself. It was as if she had passed through a long nightmare, and had just awakened to see the beautiful sunshine and feel the fresh air of the morning around her. She had a dim memory of long, anxious times of waiting and fearing, and darkness in which there was not even the pain of hope to make present distress more bearable. Then, after long spells of oblivion, she had risen back to life like a diver coming up through a great press of water.
Since Dr. Van Helsing had been with her, all her bad dreams seemed to have passed away. The noises that used to frighten her out of my wits—the flapping against the windows, the distant voices that seemed so close to her, the harsh sounds that came from she knew not where and commanded her to do she knew not what—had all ceased. She now went to bed without any fear of sleep. She did not even try to stay awake. I had grown quite fond of the garlic, and a boxfull arrived for her every day from Haarlem.
That night, Dr. Van Helsing would be going away, as he has to spend a day in Amsterdam. But she did not need to be watched. She was well enough to be left alone. Thank God for her mother’s sake, and dear Arthur’s, and for all their friends who had been so kind! She would not even feel the change, for last night Dr. Van Helsing had slept in his chair much of the time. She had found him asleep twice when she woke, but did not fear to go to sleep again, although branches or bats or something had rapped almost angrily against the window panes.
* * *
The wolf they called Berserker was one of three grey wolves that came from Norway and were bought by the London Zoological Gardens four years ago. He was a nice, well behaved wolf, that never gave any trouble to speak of.
About two hours after feeding, keeper Thomas Bilder first heard a disturbance. He was making up a litter in the monkey house for a young puma that was ill, but when he heard the yelping and howling, he went straight away. There was Berserker tearing like a mad thing at the bars as if he wanted to get out. There weren’t many people about that day, and nearby there was only one man, a tall, thin chap, with a hooked nose and a pointed beard with a few white hairs running through it. He had a hard, cold look and red eyes, and Bilder took a dislike to him, for it seemed as if it was he that the wolves were irritated by. He had white kid gloves on his hands, and he pointed at the animals.
“Keeper, these wolves seem upset at something,” he said.
“Maybe it’s you,” says Bilder.
He didn’t like the airs the man had about himself. The stranger didn’t get angry, as Bilder had hoped he would, but he smiled a kind of insolent smile, with a mouth full of white, sharp teeth.
“Oh no, they wouldn’t like me,” he said.
“Oh yes, they would,” said Bilder, imitating him. “They always like a bone or two to clean their teeth on about tea time, of which you have a bagful.”
It was an odd thing, but when the animals saw them talking, they lay down, and when Bilder went over to Berserker, the wolf let him stroke his ears the same as ever. The man came over, and blessed put in his hand and stroke the old wolf’s ears too!
“Take care,” said Bilder. “Berserker is quick.”
“Never mind,” the man said. “I’m used to them!”
“Are you in the business yourself?” Bilder asked.
He took off his hat, for a man what traded in wolves was a good friend to keepers.
“No” said the man, “not exactly in the business, but I have made pets of several.”
With that he lifted his hat as polite as a lord, and walked away. Old Berserker kept looking after him until he was out of sight, and then went and lay down in a corner and wouldn’t come out the whole evening.
As soon as the moon was up, the wolves all began howling. There wasn’t anything for them to howl at. There wasn’t anyone near, except someone who was calling a dog somewhere behind the gardens on the park road. Once or twice, Bilder went out to see that all was right, and it was, and then the howling stopped. Just before twelve o’clock, Bilder took a look round before turning in, and when he came opposite to old Berserker’s cage, he saw the bars were broken and twisted and the cage empty.
He made the escape of the wolf known, and they spent most of the night hunting the Park for Berserker, As they were searching, one of the gardeners said that he remembered seeing something.
“I was coming home at about twelve from a harmony, when I saw a big grey dog coming out through the garden’s edge,” he said. “He was galloping northward faster than a horse could go.”
Bilder wondered wheher the harmony had gone to the man’s head. Wolves didn’t gallop any more than dogs did. They weren’t built that way. Wolves were fine things in storybooks. When they hunted in packs and attacked something that was more scared than they were, they could make a devil of a noise and rip it up. But in real life, a lone wolf was a low creature, not half so clever or bold as a good dog, with a quarter as much fight in him.
My opinion is this: that ’ere wolf is a-’idin’ of, somewheres.
Berseker wasn’t used to fighting or to providing for himself. More than likely, he was somewhere around the park, hiding and shivering and wondering where he would get his breakfast from. If he couldn’t get food, he’d be bound to look for it. Maybe he would chance on a butcher’s shop in time. If he didn’t, and some nursemaid went walking off with a soldier, leaving an infant in a perambulator, well, then the census might have one less baby.
Bilder was sitting in his cottage the next evening when something came bobbing up against the window, and his face doubled its natural length in surprise.
“God bless me!” he said. “If it isn’t old Berserker come back by himself!”
He went to the door and opened it, because neither Bilder nor his wife thought any more of the wolf than another would of a dog. The animal was as peaceful and as well behaved. The wicked wolf that for half a day had paralyzed London and set all the children in the town shivering in their shoes, was there in a penitent mood, and was received and petted like a vulpine prodigal son. Bilder examined him all over with most tender solicitude.
“There, I knew the poor old chap would get into some kind of trouble,” he said when he had finished. “Didn’t I say it all along? His head all cut and full of broken glass. He’s been climbing over some blooming wall or other. It’s a shame that people are allowed to top their walls with broken bottles. This is what comes of it. Come on, Berserker.”
He took the wolf and locked him up in a cage, with a piece of meat that satisfied, in quantity at any rate, the elementary conditions of the fatted calf. Bilder left him and went off to report.
* * *
Jack was busy after dinner in his study updating his books, which, through the press of other work and his many visits to Lucy, had fallen sadly into arrears. Suddenly, the door was burst open, and in rushed Renfield, his face distorted with passion. Jack was thunderstruck. A patient getting of his own accord into the Superintendent’s study was almost unknown. Without an instant’s pause, Renfield came straight at him. The man had a dinner knife in his hand, and Jack saw he was dangerous. He tried to keep the table between them. Renfield was too quick and too strong for Jack, and before Jack could get his balance, Renfield had struck at him and cut his left wrist severely. Before Renfield could strike again, Jack got in a right, and Renfield was sprawled on his back on the floor.
Jacks wrist was bleeding freely, and quite a pool formed on to the carpet. He saw that Renfield was not intent on further attack, and occupied himself binding up his wrist, keeping a wary eye on the prostrate patient the whole time. When the attendants rushed in, and Jack turned his attention to Renfield, what he saw sickened him. Renfield was lying on his belly on the floor, licking up, like a dog, the blood which had fallen from Jack’s wounded wrist. He was easily secured, and, to Jack’s surprise, went with the attendants quite placidly.
“The blood is the life! The blood is the life!” he kept repeating over and over again.
Jack could not afford to lose blood at present. He had lost too much of late for his physical good, and the prolonged strain of Lucy’s illness and its horrible phases was telling on him. He was over excited and weary, and needed rest, rest, rest. Happily Van Helsing had not summoned him, so he wouldn’t have to forego his sleep. Tonight, he could not do well without it.
* * *
The next day, Jack received a telegram from Van Helsing that had been delayed by twenty-four hours. He read it with fear.
Do not fail to be at Hillingham tonight. If you aren’t watching Luct all the time frequently, visit and see that flowers are as placed; very important; do not fail. Shall be with you as soon as possible after arrival.
As soon as he’d read it, he rushed to catch the train to London. The arrival of Van Helsing’s telegram filled him with dismay. A whole night had been lost, and he know by bitter experience what could happen in a night. It was possible that all would be well, but what might have happened? There was some horrible doom hanging over them, and every possible accident thwarted everything they tried to do.
* * *
The night before Jack received Van Helsing’s late telegram, Lucy went to bed as usual, taking care that the flowers were placed as Dr. Van Helsing directed, and soon fell asleep.
She was wakened by flapping at the window, which had begun after she had sleep-walked on the cliff at Whitby, when Mina saved me, and which she now knew so well. She was not afraid, but she did wish that Jack was in the next room, as Dr. Van Helsing said he would be, so that she could call him. She tried to go back to sleep, but could not. Her old fear of sleep returned, and she decided to stay awake. Perversely, sleep then tried to come when she did not want it. Fearing to be alone, she opened her door.
“Is there anybody there?” she called out.
There was no answer. She was afraid to wake her mother, and so she closed her door again. Outside, in the shrubbery, she heard a howl like a dog’s, but fiercer and deeper. She went to the window and looked out, but could see nothing except a big bat, which had evidently been buffeting its wings against her window. She went back to bed again, but determined not to go to sleep. Presently the door opened, and her mother looked in. Seeing by Lucy’s movement that she was not asleep, her mother came in, and sat beside her.
“I was uneasy about you, darling, and came in to see that you were all right.” she said to Lucy even more sweetly and softly than usual.
Lucy worried her mother might catch cold sitting there, and asked her to get into bed and sleep with her, so she did, and lay down next to Lucy. She didn’t take off her dressing gown, because she said she would only stay a while and then go back to her own bed. As her mother lay there in her arms, and Lucy in hers, the flapping and buffeting came to the window again. Her mother was startled and a little frightened.
“What is that?” she cried out.
Lucy tried to pacify her, and at last succeeded, and she lay quiet, but Lucy could hear her poor dear heart still beating terribly. After a while there was another low howl again out in the shrubbery, and shortly after that, something crash into the window, and broken glass was hurled to the floor. The window blind blew back as the wind rushed in, and in a hole in the broken panes, she saw the head of a great, gaunt, grey wolf. Her mother cried out in fright, struggled up into a sitting position, and clutched wildly at anything that would help her. Among other things, she clutched the wreath of flowers that Van Helsing had insisted on Lucy wearing round her neck, and tore it away from her. For a second or two, she sat up, pointing at the wolf, a strange and horrible gurgling in her throat.
Then her mother fell over as if struck with lightning, and her head hit Lucy’s forehead, making Lucy dizzy for a moment or two. The room seemed to spin around her. She kept my eyes fixed on the window. The wolf drew his head back, and a whole myriad of little specks came blowing in through the broken glass, wheeling and circling round like a dust devil. Lucy tried to stir, but there was a spell on her, and her dear mother’s poor body, which had grow cold already—for her dear heart had ceased to beat—weighed her down, and she remembered no more for a while.
After a time that did not seem long, but was very, very awful, Lucy returned to consciousness again. Somewhere nearby, a bell was tolling. All the dogs in the neighbourhood were howling. In their shrubbery, seemingly just outside, a nightingale was singing. Lucy was dazed and stupid with pain and terror and weakness, but the sound of the nightingale seemed like the voice of her dead mother, come back to comfort her.
The sounds had awakened the maids, too. Lucy could hear their bare feet pattering outside her door. She called to them, and they came in. When they saw what had happened, and what lay over Lucy on the bed, they screamed. The wind rushed in through the broken window, and the door slammed shut. They lifted the body of Lucy’s dear mother, and laid her, covered with a sheet, on the bed after Lucy had got up. They were so frightened and nervous that Lucy sent them to the dining-room to each have a glass of wine. The door flew open for an instant, then closed again. The maids shrieked, and then went in a group to the dining-room. Lucy laid what flowers she had on her dear mother’s breast. When they were there, she remembered what Dr. Van Helsing had told her, but didn’t want to remove them, and, besides, she would have some of the servants sit up with her now. She was surprised when the maids did not come back. She called them, but got no answer, so she went to the dining-room to look for them.
Her heart sank when she saw what had happened. All four lay helpless on the floor, breathing heavily. The decanter of sherry was on the table half full, but there was a queer, acrid smell in the air. Lucy was suspicious, and examined the decanter. It smelled of laudanum, and looking on the sideboard, she found that the bottle which mother’s doctor used for her was empty. What was she to do? She went back in the room with her mother. Lucy could not leave her, and she was alone, save for the sleeping servants, whom someone had drugged. Alone with the dead! She dared not go out, because could hear the low howl of the wolf coming through the broken window.
The air seemed full of specks, floating and circling in the draft from the window, and the lights burned blue and dim. What was she to do? She prayed to God to shield her from harm. Her dear mother was gone! She thought it soon be time that she would be gone too. She wished that if she were not to survive the night, she could have said goodbye to dear Arthur. She prayed to God to keep him, and to help her. While she had the strength, she wrote a note to Arthur, trying to leave an exact record of what had taken place that night. She felt like she was dying of weakness, and barely had strength to write, but it must be done even if she died doing it. She left it where it would be seen in hopes that no one else would get into trouble through her.
Chapter XII – Lucy’s Fate
Jack drove to Hillingham at once and arrived early. Keeping his cab at the gate, he went up the driveway alone. He knocked gently and rang as quietly as possible, fearing to disturb Lucy or her mother, and hoping to bring a servant to the door. After a while, getting no response, he knocked and rang again. There was still no answer. Jack cursed the laziness of the servants that they should be in bed at such an hour. It was ten o’clock, He rang and knocked again, more impatiently, but still without response. He had blamed only the servants, but now a terrible fear began to assail him. Was this desolation another link in the chain of doom that seemed to be drawing tight around them? Was it a house of death to which he had come too late? He knew that minutes, even seconds of delay, might mean hours of danger to Lucy, if she had had one of her frightful relapses.
Jack went round the house to see if he could find an entry anywhere. He could find no way in. Every window and door was fastened and locked, and Jack returned baffled to the porch. As he did so, he heard the rapid pitter patter of a swiftly driven horse’s feet. It stopped at the gate, and a few seconds later he met Van Helsing running up the driveway. When he saw Jack, he gasped.
“Then it was you, and just arrived,” Van Helsing said. “How is she? Are we too late? Didn’t you get my telegram?”
“I only got your telegram early this morning, and didn’t lose a minute in coming here,” said Jack, “but I could not make any one in the house hear me.”
Van Helsing paused and raised his hat.
“Then I fear we are too late,” he said solemnly. “God’s will be done! Come. If there is no way open to get in, we must make one. Time is everything to us now.”
They went round to the back of the house to the kitchen window. The Professor took a small surgical saw from his case, and handing it to Jack, pointed to the iron bars which guarded the window. Jack attacked them at once and had soon cut through three of them. With a long, thin knife, Van Helsing pushed back the latch on the sashes and opened the window. Jack helped the Professor in, and followed him.
There was no one in the kitchen or in the servants’ rooms, which were close at hand. They tried all the rooms as they went along, and in the dining-room, dimly lit by rays of light through the shutters, found four servant women lying on the floor. There was no need to think them dead, for their loud breathing and the acrid smell of laudanum in the room left no doubt to their condition. Van Helsing and Jack looked at each other.
“We can attend to them later,” said Van Helsing.
They ascended to Lucy’s room. For an instant, they paused at the door to listen, but there was no sound. With white faces and trembling hands, they opened the door gently, and entered the room.
On the bed lay two women, Lucy and her mother. Lucy’s mother lay farthest in, and she was covered with a white sheet, the edge of which had been blown back by the draft through the broken window, showing her drawn, white face, a look of terror fixed upon it. By her side lay Lucy, her face white and even more drawn. The flowers that had been round her neck lay upon her mother’s bosom, and her throat was bare, showing the two little wounds that they had noticed before, which looked horribly white and mangled. Without a word, the Professor bent over the bed, his head almost touching poor Lucy’s chest. He gave a quick turn of his head, as if listening, then leapt to his feet.
“It is not yet too late!” he cried. “Quick! quick! Bring the brandy!”
Jack flew downstairs and returned with it, taking care to smell and taste it, in case it, too, were drugged like the decanter of sherry that he found on the table. The maids were still breathing, but restlessly, and he guessed that the narcotic was wearing off. He did not stay to make sure, but returned to Van Helsing. The professor rubbed the brandy on Lucy’s lips and gums, her wrists, and the palms of her hands.
“This is all I can do at present,” he said. “You go wake the maids. Flick them in the face with a wet towel, and flick them hard. Make them stoke the fire and ready a warm bath. This poor soul is nearly as cold as the one beside her. She will need be warmed up before we can do anything more.”
Jack went at once, and had little difficulty in waking three of the women. The fourth was only a young girl, and the drug had evidently affected her more strongly, so he lifted her onto the sofa and let her sleep. The others were dazed at first, but as memory returned to them, they cried and sobbed hysterically. Jack was stern with them and would not let them talk. He told them that one life was bad enough to lose, and that if they delayed they would sacrifice Miss Lucy. So, sobbing and crying, they went, half clad as they were, and prepared fire and water. Fortunately, the kitchen and boiler fires were still alive, and there was no lack of hot water. They prepared a bath and carried Lucy and placed her in it. While they were busy chafing her limbs, there was a knock at the hall door. One of the maids ran off. She returned and whispered to Jack that a man had come with a message from Mr. Holmwood. He asked her to tell the man that he must wait; they couldn’t see anyone now. She went away with the message, and, engrossed with their work, Jack forgot all about him.
Jack had never seen the Professor work in such deadly earnest. He knew—as the professor did—that this was a stand-up fight with death, and in a pause, Jack told him so. Van Helsing answered him with the sternest look that his face could wear.
“If that were all, I would stop here where we are now, and let her fade away into peace, for I see no light in life over her horizon,” he said.
He went on with his work with, if possible, renewed and more frenzied vigour. Presently Jack began to see that the heat was beginning to be of some effect. Lucy’s heart beat a trifle more audibly to the stethoscope, and her lungs moved perceptibly. Van Helsing’s face almost beamed, and they lifted her from the bath and rolled her in a hot sheet to dry.
“The first gain is ours!” said Van Helsing. “Check to the king!”
They took Lucy into a room that the maids had prepared, laid her in bed, and forced a few drops of brandy down her throat. Jack noticed that Van Helsing had tied a soft silk handkerchief around her throat. She was still unconscious, and was quite as bad as, if not worse than, they had ever seen her.
“We must consult as to what is to be done,” Van Helsing said.
They descended the stairs. In the hall, the Professor opened the dining-room door, they went in, and he closed the door carefully behind him. The shutters had been opened, but the blinds were already down, with the obedience to the etiquette of death that British woman of the lower classes always rigidly observed. The room was, therefore, dimly lit. It was, however, light enough for their purposes. Van Helsing’s sternness was somewhat relieved by a perplexed look. He was evidently torturing his mind about something, so Jack waited for a moment.
“What are we to do now?” said Van Helsing. “Where are we to turn for help? We must give Lucy another blood transfusion, and soon, or the poor girl’s life won’t be worth an hour’s purchase. You are exhausted already. I am exhausted too. I fear to trust these women, even if they have the courage to submit. What are we to do for some one who will open his veins for her?”
“What’s the matter with me?” said a voice coming from the sofa across the room.
Its tones brought relief and joy to Jack’s heart, for they were those of Quincey Morris. Van Helsing started angrily at the sound.
“Quincey Morris!” Jack shouted, rushed towards his friend with outstretched hands.
Van Helsing’s face softened and a glad look came into his eyes.
“What brought you here?” Jack cried as their hands met.
“Arthur did,” said Quincey. “He hadn’t heard from you in three days, and was terribly anxious. He couldn’t leave; his father is still in same condition. He wants me to send him word of how Lucy is. I think I came just in the nick of time. You know you only have to tell me what to do.”
Van Helsing strode forward, took Quincey’s hand, and looked him straight in the eye.
“A brave man’s blood is the best thing on this earth when a woman is in trouble,” he said. “You’re a man and no mistake. Well, the devil may work against us for all he’s worth, but God sends us men when we need them.”
Once again they transfused Lucy. She had had a terrible shock, and it affected her more than before, because though plenty of blood went into her veins, her body did not respond to the treatment as well as it had. Her struggle back to life was frightful to see and hear. Her heartbeat and breathing improved, and Van Helsing made a subcutaneous injection of morphine with good effect. Her unconciousness became a profound slumber. The Professor stayed to watched her while Jack went downstairs with Quincey and sent one of the maids to pay one of the cabmen who were waiting.
Jack left Quincey lying down after he’d had a glass of wine, and told the cook to get ready a good breakfast. Then a thought struck him, and he went back to the room Lucy was in. Jack came in softly, and found Van Helsing with a sheet of note-paper in his hand. He had evidently read it, and was thinking it over as he sat with his hand to his brow. There was a look of grim satisfaction in his face, like one who has had a doubt solved. He handed Jack the paper.
“A note from Lucy,” said the Professeor. “I found it when we carried her to the bath.”
When Jack had read it, he stood looking at the Professor.
“In God’s name, what does it all mean?” he said. “Was she, or is she, mad? What kind of horrible danger is it?”
Jack was so bewildered that he didn’t know what more to say. Van Helsing put out his hand and took the paper.
“Do not worry about it now,” he said. “Forget about it for the moment. You will understand it all in good time, but that will be later. What is it that you came to me to say?”
This brought Jack back to reality, and he was himself again.
“I came to talk about the death certificate. If we don’t act properly and wisely, there may be an inquest, and that paper would have to be produced. I hope that we don’t need an inquest; it would surely kill poor Lucy, if nothing else did. You and I and the other doctor who attended her know that Mrs. Westenra had heart disease, and we can certify that she died of it. Let us fill in the certificate at once, and I will take it to the registrar and go on to the undertaker.”
“Good, my friend! Well thought of! Truly Miss Lucy, if she is saddened by the foes that beset her, will at least be happy with the friends that love her. One, two, three, all open their veins for her, besides one old man. Ah yes, I know, Jack. I am not blind! I love you all the more for it! Now go.”
In the hall, Jack met Quincey, who had a telegram for Arthur telling him that Mrs. Westenra was dead, that Lucy also had been ill, but was now getting better, and that Van Helsing and Jack were with her. Jack told him where he was going, and Quincy hurried him out.
“When you come back, Jack, may I have two words with you to ourselves?” he asked.
Jack nodded in reply and went out. He had no difficulty registering the death certificate, and arranged with the local undertaker to come up in the evening to measure the coffin and make burial arrangements.
When he got back, Quincey was waiting for him. Jack told him he would see him as soon as he had seen Lucy, and went up to her room. She was still sleeping, and the Professor seemed not to have moved from his seat at her side. He put his finger to his lips, and Jack gathered that Van Helsing expected her to wake before long and was afraid of forestalling nature. Jack went back down to Quincey and took him into the breakfast-room, where the blinds were drawn up, which was a little more cheerful, or rather less cheerless, than the other rooms.
“Jack, I don’t want to shove myself in anywhere where I’ve no right to be,” Quincey said, “but this is no ordinary case. You know I loved that girl and wanted to marry her. Although that’s all past and gone, I can’t help feeling anxious about her all the same. What’s wrong with her? The Dutchman—and a fine old fellow he is, I can see that—said when you two came into the room that you must perform another blood transfusion, and that both you and he were exhausted. Now I know that you medical men were speaking in private, and that I shouldn’t expect to know what you were consulting about. But this is no common matter, and, whatever it is, I have done my part. Isn’t that right?”
“That’s true,” Jack said.
“I take it that both you and Van Helsing have already already what I did today. Is not that so?”
“Then I guess Arthur was involved too. When I saw him four days ago at his place he looked odd. I haven’t seen anything pulled down so quickly since I was on the Pampas and had a mare that I was fond of die in the night. One of those big bats that they call vampires had gotten to her, and between his gorging and the vein left open, there wasn’t enough blood in her to let her stand up, and I had to put a bullet in her as she lay. Jack, if you can tell me without betraying confidence, Arthur was the first, isn’t that so?”
As he spoke, Quincey looked terribly anxious. He was tortured with suspense regarding the woman he loved, and his utter ignorance of the terrible mystery that surrounded her intensified his pain. It looked like his heart was bleeding, and it took all the manhood in him to keep him from breaking down. Jack paused before answering, because he felt that he must not betray anything that the Professor wanted kept secret. But Quincey already knew so much, and guessed so much, that there could be no reason for not answering.
“It’s so,” Jack replied
“How long has this been going on?”
“About ten days.”
“Ten days! Then I guess, Jack, that that poor pretty creature that we all love has had put into her veins within that time the blood of four strong men. Man alive, her whole body wouldn’t hold it.”
Quincey came close to Jack.
“What took it out of her?” he asked in a fierce half whisper:
Jack shook my head.
“That,” he said, “is the crux. Van Helsing is simply frantic about it, and I am at my wits’ end. I can’t even hazard a guess. There have been a series of circumstances that have thrown out all our plans to keep Lucy properly watched. But these will not occur again. We’ll stay until all is well.”
Quincey held out his hand.
“Count me in,” he said. “You and the Dutchman tell me what to do, and I’ll do it.”
When she woke late in the afternoon, Lucy’s eyes lit on Van Helsing and on Jack too, and gladdened. Then she looked around the room, and seeing where she was, shuddered. She gave a loud cry, and covered her pale face with her poor thin hands. They both understood what that meant—that she had remembered her mother’s death; so we tried what we could to comfort her. Doubtless sympathy eased her somewhat, but she was very low in mind and spirit, and wept silently and weakly for a long time. They told her that either or both of them would now remain with her at all times, and that comforted her.
Towards dusk, she fell into a doze, and a very odd thing happened. While still asleep, she took the note she had written and tore it in two. Van Helsing stepped over and took the pieces from her. She went on with the action of tearing, as though the material were still in her hands. Finally, she lifted her hands and opened them as though scattering the fragments. Van Helsing seemed surprised, and his brows gathered as if in thought, but he said nothing.
All night, she slept fitfully, always afraid to sleep, and seemed weaker when she woke from it. The Professor and Jack took turns watching her, and never left her unattended for a moment. Quincey said nothing about his intentions, but Jack knew that all night long he was patrolling round and round the house.
When the day came, its light showed the ravages of poor Lucy’s strength. She was hardly able to turn her head, and the little nourishment that she could take seemed to do her no good. At times she slept, and both Van Helsing and Jack noticed the difference in her between sleeping and waking. While asleep, she looked stronger, although more haggard, and her breathing was softer. Her open mouth showed pale gums drawn back from her teeth, which therefore looked positively longer and sharper than usual. When she woke, the softness of her eyes changed her, and she looked her own self, although a dying one. In the afternoon she asked for Arthur, and Jack telegraphed for him. Quincey went off to meet him at the station.
When Arthur arrived, it was nearly six o’clock, the sun was setting full and warm, and the red light streamed in through the window and gave more colour to Lucy’s pale cheeks. When he saw her, Arthur was choked with emotion, and none of them could speak. In the hours that had passed, her fits of sleep, or the comatose condition that passed for it, grew more frequent, so that the pauses when conversation was possible were shortened. Arthur’s presence seemed to act as a stimulant. Lucy rallied a little, and spoke to him more brightly than she had done since they arrived. Arthur pulled himself together and spoke as cheerily as he could, making the best of everything.
Just before one o’clock, Arthur and Van Helsing were sitting with her. Jack wA to relieve them in a quarter of an hour. Until six o’clock, they would try to rest. Jack feared that tomorrow would end their watching, for the shock had been too great. The poor child would not rally. ‘God help us all,’ he thought.
* * *
Lucy and Jonathan arrived at Exeter, and there was a carriage waiting for them, and in it, though he had an attack of gout, was Mr. Hawkins. He took them to his house, where there were nice and comfortable rooms for them, and they dined together.
“My fiends, I want to drink to your health and prosperity, and may every blessing attend you both,” said Mr. Hawkins after dinner. “I’ve known you both since you were children, and have, with love and pride, seen you grow up. Now I want you to make your home here with me. I have left to me neither wife nor child. All are gone, and in my will I have left you everything.”
Mina cried as Jonathan and the old man clasped hands. Their evening was a very, very happy one.
From both her bedroom and the drawing room in the beautiful old house, Mina could see the great elms of the cathedral nearby, and their massive black trunks stood out against the old yellow stone of the cathedral. She could hear rooks overhead cawing, chattering, and gossiping all day. She was busy, I need arranging things and housekeeping. Jonathan and Mr. Hawkins were busy all day, for now that Jonathan was a partner, Mr. Hawkins wanted to tell him all about their clients.
Jonathan still needed looking after. He was beginning to put some flesh on his bones again, but he was terribly weakened by his long illness. He would sometimes start out of his sleep suddenly and awaken all trembling until she could coax him back to his usual placidity. However, thank God, these occasions grow less frequent as the days went on, and they would in time pass away altogether, she hoped.
Mina wondered how Lucy’s mother was getting on. She would have run up to town for a day or two to see her friend, but she dared not go yet, with so much on her shoulders. When would Lucy be married, and where, and who is to perform the ceremony, and what would she wear, and would it be a public or a private wedding? Mina wanted to know everything, so she sat down to write Lucy a letter. Jonathan asked her to send his ‘respectful duty,’ but she didn’t think that was good enough from the junior partner of the important firm of Hawkins and Harker, so she simply wished Lucy their love instead.
* * *
was worried about their patient Renfield. He had had another outbreak, which might have ended dreadfully, but which, as it fortunately happened, was unattended with any unhappy results. This afternoon
Patrick Hennessey, who Jack Seward had left in charge of the asylum, watched as a carrier’s cart with two men made a call at the empty house whose grounds abut on those of the asylum. This was the same house to which their patient Renfield had twice ran away. The men stopped at the asylum gate to ask the porter their way, as they were strangers. Patrick was looking out of the study window, having a smoke after dinner, and saw one of them come up to the house. As he passed the window of Renfield’s room, the patient began to berate him, calling him all the foul names he could lay his tongue to.
“Shut up you foul-mouthed beggar,” said the man, who seemed a decent enough fellow.
“You thief,” said Renfield. “I’ll kill you. I’ll stop you if I hang for it.”
Patrick opened the window and signaled to the man ignore him, so he contented himself in looking the place over and making up his mind as to what kind of a place he had got to.
“Lord bless you, sir, I wouldn’t mind what was said to me in a blooming madhouse. I pity you for having to live in a house with a wild beast like that.”
The man asked his way civilly enough, and Patrick told him where the gate of the empty house was. He went on his way, followed by threats and curses from Renfield. Patrick went down to see if he could determine any cause for Renfield’s anger, since he was usually such a well behaved man, and except for his violent fits, nothing of this kind had ever occurred. To his amazement, Patrick found Renfield quite composed and most genial. He tried to get Renfield to talk about the incident, but he blandly asked Patrick what he meant, and led him to believe that he was completely oblivious of the affair.
It was, however, only another instance of Renfield’s cunning, for within half an hour Patrick heard that he had broken out through the window of his room, and was running down the avenue. Patrick called to the attendants to follow him, and ran after Renfield, fearing he was intent on mischief. Patrick’s fear was justified when he saw the same cart that had passed before coming down the road, loaded with great wooden boxes. The men on it were wiping their foreheads, and were flushed as if with violent exercise.
Before Patrick could catch up to Renfield, the patient had rushed at them and, pulling one of them off the cart, began to smash his head into the ground. If Patrick hadn’t seized Renfield at the moment, he believed the patient would have killed the man there and then. The driver jumped down and struck Renfield over the head with the butt end of his heavy whip. It was a terrible blow, but Renfield did not seem to mind it. He seized the driver as well, and struggled with all three of them, pulling them to and fro like they were kittens. Patrick was no light weight, and the others were both burly men. At first Renfield fought silently, but as they began to master him, and the attendants to put a straitjacket on him, he began to shout.
“I’ll stop you! You won’t rob me! You won’t murder me by inches! I’ll fight for my lord and master!”
Renfield continued to rave incoherently. With considerable difficulty, they got him back to the asylum and locked him in the padded room. One of the attendants, Hardy, had a broken finger. Patrick set it for him.
The two carters at first loudly threatened to sue for damages, and promised to rain all the penalties of the law on them. Their threats were, however, mingled with an indirect apology for their defeat by a feeble madman. They said that if their strength had not been spent in lifting and carrying the heavy boxes to the cart, they would have made short work of him. They also claimed that their defeat was due to the extraordinary thirst they had been left in by the dusty nature of their work and the terrible distance from the site of their labours to any place of public entertainment. Patrick understood their drift, and after a few stiff glasses of grog, and each with a sovereign in hand, they made light of the attack.
“I swear I’d meet a worse madman any day for the pleasure of meeting so blooming good a bloke as yourself, sir,” said the driver.
* * *
In a sad blow, Mr. Hawkins died very suddenly. Some might not think it so sad for Mina, but she and Jonathan had both come to love the man so much that it really seemed as though they had lost a father. She never knew either her father or mother, so the dear old man’s death was a real blow to her. Jonathan was greatly distressed. Not only did he feel sorrow, deep sorrow, for the dear, good man who had befriended him all his life, and at the end, treated him like his own son and left him a fortune which to people of their modest upbringing was beyond their wildest dreams of avarice; Jonathan feels it on another account. The amount of responsibility that it put on him made him nervous. He had begun to doubt himself. Mina tried to cheer him up, and her belief in him helped him to believe in himself.
But it was here that the grave shock that he had experienced told upon him the most. It was too hard that a sweet, simple, noble, strong nature such as his—a nature that had enabled him by their dear, good friend’s aid to rise from clerk to master in a few years—should be so injured that the very essence of his strength was gone. The strain of keeping up a brave and cheerful appearance for Jonathan tried Mina, and she had no one there that she could confide in. She dreaded going to London, as they must do the day after tomorrow, because poor Mr. Hawkins asked in his will that he be buried with his father. As he had no relations at all, Jonathan would have to be chief mourner. At least Mina would be able to run over to see Lucy, if only for a few minutes.
* * *
Jack duly relieved Van Helsing from his watch over Lucy. They wanted Arthur to rest as well, but he refused at first. It was only when Jack told him that they would need his help during the day, and that they must not all break down for lack of rest, in case Lucy would suffer, that he agreed to go. Van Helsing was very kind to him.
“Come, my boy,” said the Professor. “Come with me. You’re sick and weak, and have had too much sorrow and mental pain, as well as the tax on your strength that we know. You must not be alone. To be alone is to be full of fear and alarm. Come to the drawing room, where there’s a big fire, and two sofas. You shall lie on one, and I on the other, and our sympathy will comfort each other, even if we do not speak, and even if we sleep.”
Arthur went with him, casting a longing look back at Lucy’s face, which lay on her pillow, almost whiter than the sheets. She lay quite still, and Jack looked around the room to see that all was as it should be. He could see that the Professor had prepared this room, as he had the other, using garlic. The window sashes reeked of it, and round Lucy’s neck, over the silk handkerchief that Van Helsing made them keep on, was a rough chaplet of the same odorous flowers. Lucy was breathing somewhat harshly, and her face was at its worst, because her open mouth showed her pale gums. Her teeth, in the dim, uncertain light, seemed longer and sharper than they had been in the morning. In particular, by some trick of the light, her canine teeth looked longer and sharper than the rest.
Jack sat down by her, and presently she stirred uneasily. At the same moment, Jack heard a dull flapping or buffeting at the window. He went over to it softly, and peeped out past the corner of the blind. By the light of the full moon, he could see that the noise was made by a large bat, which wheeled round, doubtless attracted by the light, although its was dim, and every now and again struck the window with its wings. When Jack returned to his seat, he found that Lucy had moved slightly, and had torn the garlic flowers away from her throat. He replaced them as well as he could, and sat watching her.
Presently she woke, and he gave her food, as Van Helsing had prescribed. She took only a little, and that tiredly. She seemed to have lost the unconscious struggle for life and strength that had previously marked her illness. Jack found it curious that the moment she became conscious, she pressed the garlic flowers close to her. It was certainly odd that whenever she got into a lethargic state with gasping breath, she pushed the flowers away from her, but that when she woke she clutched them close. It was unmistakable, because in the long hours that followed, she had many spells of sleeping and waking and repeated both actions many times.
At six o’clock, Van Helsing came to relieve Jack. Arthur had fallen into a doze, and the professor had mercifully let him sleep on. When Van Helsing saw Lucy’s face, Jack heard the hiss as he drew breath.
“Draw up the blind,” he said in a sharp whisper. “I want light!”
Then he bent down with his face almost touching Lucy’s, and examined her carefully. He removed the flowers and lifted the silk handkerchief from her throat. As he did so he started back.
“Mein Gott!” he exclaimed.
Jack bent over and looked, and as he noticed what Van Helsing had seen, a queer chill came over me. The wounds on her throat had completely disappeared.
For fully five minutes Van Helsing stood looking at her, with his face at its sternest. Then he turned to Jack
“She is dying,” he said calmly. “It will not be long now. It will be much different, mind you, depending on whether she dies while conscious or in her sleep. Wake poor Arthur, and let him come and see her for the last time. He trusts us, and we have promised him.”
Jack went to the dining room and woke Arthyr. He was dazed for a moment, but when he saw the sunlight streaming in around the edges of the shutters, he thought he was late, and expressed his fear. Jack assured him that Lucy was still asleep, but told Arthur as gently as he could that both he and Van Helsing feared that the end was near. Arthyr covered his face with his hands, and slid to knees next to the sofa, where he remained for a minute, with his head buried, praying, while his shoulders shook with grief. Jack took him by the hand and raised him up.
“Come,” he said, “my dear friend, summon all your fortitude. It will be best and the easiest for her.”
When we came into Lucy’s room Jack could see that Van Helsing had, with his usual forethought, been putting matters straight and making everything look as pleasing as possible. He had even brushed Lucy’s hair, so that it lay on the pillow in its usual sunny ripples. When they came into the room, she opened her eyes.
“Arthur,” she whispered softly. “Oh, my love, I am so glad you have come!”
He was stooping to kiss her, when Van Helsing motioned him back.
“No,” the professor whispered, “not yet! Hold her hand. It will comfort her more.”
Arthur took Lucy’s hand and knelt beside her, and she looked her best, with all her soft lines matching the angelic beauty of her eyes. Then gradually her eyes closed, and she sank to sleep. For a little bit her chest rose softly, and her breath came and went like a tired child’s. Then, the strange change which Jack had noticed in the night came over her. Her breathing grew harsh, her mouth opened, and her pale, drawn back gums made her teeth look longer and sharper than ever. As if waking from sleep, she opened her eyes in an oddly unconscious way. They were now dull and hard at once.
“Arthur!” she said in a soft, voluptuous voice, unlike any Jack had ever heard from her lips. “Oh, my love, I am so glad you have come! Kiss me!”
Arthur bent eagerly over to kiss her, but at that instant Van Helsing, who, like Jack, had been startled by her voice, caught him by the neck with both hands, and dragged him back with a furious strength that Jack would never have thought the old man could have possessed, and almost hurled him across the room.
“Not for your life!” he said. “Not for your living soul and hers!”
He stood between them like a lion at bay. Arthur was so taken aback that for a moment he didn’t know what to do or say. Before any impulse to violence could seize him, he realized the place and the occasion, and stood silent, waiting. Jack kept his eyes fixed on Lucy, as did Van Helsing, and they saw a spasm as of rage flit like a shadow over her face. The sharp teeth gnashed together. Then her eyes closed, and she breathed heavily.
Very shortly after this, she opened her eyes in all their softness, and putting out her poor, pale, thin hand, took Van Helsing’s large brown one. Drawing it to her, she kissed it.
“I swear it!” Van Helsing said solemnly, kneeling beside her and holding up his hand, like one making an oath. Then he turned to Arthur.
“Come, my boy,” he said. “Take her hand in yours, and kiss her on the forehead, though only once.”
Their eyes met instead of their lips, and so they parted. Lucy’s eyes closed, and Van Helsing, who had been watching closely, took Arthur’s arm, and drew him away. Lucy’s breathing became harsh again, and then all at once it ceased.
“It is over,” said Van Helsing. “She is dead!”
Jack took Arthur by the arm, and led him away to the drawing room, where he sat down, covered his face with his hands, and sobbed in a way that nearly broke Jack down to see.
Jack went back up to the room, and found Van Helsing looking at poor Lucy. His face was sterner than ever. Some change had come over her body. Death had given back part of her beauty, because her brow and cheeks had recovered some of their flowing lines. Even her lips had lost their deathly pallor. It was as if the blood, no longer needed by her beating heart, had gone to make the harshness of death as mild as might be.
“Ah, well, poor girl, there is peace for her at last,” said Jack. “It is the end!”
Van Helsing turned to him.
“Not so, alas! not so,” he said with grave solemnity. “It is only the beginning!”
“What do you mean?” asked Jack.
Van Helsing shook his head.
Chapter XIII – The Funeral
The funeral was arranged for the next day so that Lucy and her mother could be buried together. Jack attended to all the ghastly formalities, and the polite undertaker proved that his staff were afflicted—or blessed—with some of his own fawning suaveness, even the woman who performed the last rights for the dead.
“She makes a very beautiful corpse, sir,” she remarked to Jack, in a confidential, conspiratorial way, when she came out of the preparation room. “It’s quite a privilege to attend on her. It’s not too much to say that she will do credit to our establishment!”
Jack noticed that Van Helsing was never far away. This was possible because of the disordered state of things in the household. There were no relatives around, and as Arthur had to return the next day to attend his father’s funeral, they were unable to notify anyone else who should have been. Under the circumstances, Van Helsing and Jack took it upon themselves to examine the families legal papers. Van Helsing insisted on looking over Lucy’s papers himself. Jack asked him why, because he worried that Van Helsing, being a foreigner, might not be aware of all the English legal requirements, and so might in ignorance make some unnecessary mistake.
“I know, I know,” Van Helsing answered. “You forget that I am a lawyer as well as a doctor. But this is not altogether because of the law. You knew that, when you avoided the coroner. I want to avoid more than him. There may be more papers—such as this.”
He took Lucy’s note, which she had torn in her sleep, from his wallet.
“When you find out who he late Mrs. Westenra’s solicitor is, seal all her papers, and write him tonight. I will watch here in this room and in Miss Lucy’s old room all night, and search for what may be there. It is not right that her private thoughts go into the hands of strangers.”
Jack went on with my part of the work, and in another half hour had found the name and address of Mrs. Westenra’s solicitor and written to him. All the poor lady’s papers were in order. Explicit directions regarding her burial place were given. He had just sealed the letter, when, to his surprise, Van Helsing walked into the room.
“Can I help you, Jack?” he asked. “I am free, and if you need me, my service is yours.”
“Have you got what you looked for?” Jack asked.
“I did not look for any specific thing,” Van Helsing replied. “I only hoped to find, and find I have, all that there was. There were only some letters, a few notes, and a newly started diary. But I have them here, and we shall for the present say nothing of them. I shall see poor Arthur tomorrow evening, and, with his blessing, I shall use some.”
They finished the work in hand.
“Now, Jack, I think we should go to bed,” said Van Helsing. “We need sleep, both you and I, and rest to recuperate. Tomorrow we will have a lot to do, but for tonight, there is no need of us. Alas!”
Before turning in, they went to look at poor Lucy. The undertaker had certainly done his work well, for the room was turned into a small chapel where she lay in state. There was a wilderness of beautiful white flowers, and death was made the least repulsive that it could be. The end of her burial shroud was laid over her face. When the Professor bent over and turned it gently back, they both started at the beauty before them, the tall wax candles casting sufficient light to show it well. All Lucy’s loveliness had come back to her in death, and the hours that had passed, rather than leaving traces of decay’s effacing fingers, had instead restored the beauty of life, until Jack could hardly believe that he was looking at a corpse.
The Professor looked sternly grave. He had not loved her as Jack had, and there was no need for tears in his eyes.
“Remain here until I return,” he said to Jack.
Van Helsing left the room. He came back with a handful of wild garlic from the box in the hall that had not been opened, and placed the flowers among the others on and around the bed. He then took a little gold crucifix from around his neck, inside his collar, and placed it over her mouth. He restored the sheet to its place, and they left her.
Jack was undressing in hes room, when, with a tap at the door, Van Helsing entered.
“Tomorrow, I want you to bring me a set of post mortem instruments before nightfall,” he said.
“Must we perform an autopsy?” Jack asked.
“Yes and no,” said Van Helsing. “I want to operate, but not as you think. Let me tell you now, but don’t say a word to anyone. I want to cut off her head and take out her heart. Ah! You, a surgeon, so shocked! You, who I have seen perform life and death operations without trembling hands or heart that make others shudder. But I must not forget, my dear Jack, that you loved her, and I have not forgotten it, because I will operate, and you will only assist. I would like to do it tonight, but for Arthur’s sake, I must not. He will be free after his father’s funeral tomorrow, and will want to see her—to see it. Then, when her coffin is ready for burial the next day, you and I shall come when everyone is asleep. We’ll unscrew the coffin lid, and perform our operation, and then replace all, so that none know, save we alone.”
“But why do it at all?” asked Jack. “Lucy is dead. Why needlessly mutilate her poor body? If there’s no need for a post mortem and nothing to gain by it—no good to her, to us, to science, to human knowledge—why do it? Without a reason, it’s monstrous.”
Van Helsing put his hand on Jack’s shoulder.
“Jack, I pity your poor bleeding heart,” he said, with infinite tenderness, “and I love you more because it does bleed. If I could, I would take the burden that you do bear on myself. But there are things that you don’t know yet that you will, and you’ll bless me for knowing, though they are not pleasant things. Jack, you have been my friend for many years. Did you ever know me to do any without good cause? I may make mistakes—I’m only human. But I believe in everything I do. Wasn’t this why you sent for me when these great troubles came? Yes! Were you not amazed, but horrified, when I would not let Arthur kiss his love—though she was dying—and snatched him away with all my strength? Yes! And yet you saw how she thanked me, with her beautiful dying eyes, and her voice, so weak, and she kissed my rough old hand and blessed me? Yes! And did you not hear me promise to her, that so she closed her eyes grateful? Yes! Well, I have good reasons now for all I want to do. You’ve trusted me for many years. You have believed in me in the past weeks, when there were things so strange that you might well have doubted. Believe me for a little longer, Jack. If you don’t trust me, then I must tell what I think, and that might not be good. And if I do my work, as I must, without my friend’s trust in me, I will work with heavy heart and feel so lonely when I need all the help and courage that I can get! Jack, there are strange and terrible days before us. Let us not be two, but one, that so that we work to a good end. Will you not have faith in me?”
Jack took Van Helsing’s hand, and promised him he would. He held his door open as Van Helsing left, and watched him go to his own room and close the door. As Jack stood unmoving, he saw one of the maids pass silently along the passage. She had her back toward him, and so did not see him. She went into the room where Lucy lay. The sight touched him. Devotion is so rare, and he was so grateful to those who showed it unasked to those he loved. The poor girl was putting aside the terror that she naturally had of death to sit alone by the bier of her mistress whom she loved, so that Lucy’s poor body might not be lonely until it was laid to eternal rest.
* * *
Jack must have slept long and soundly, because it was broad daylight when Van Helsing woke him by coming into his room. The professor came over to his bedside.
“You need not trouble with the knives,” he said. “We shall not do it.”
“Why not?” Jack asked, because Van Helsing’s solemnity of the night before had greatly impressed him.
“Because,” the professor said sternly, “it is too late, or too early. See!”
He held up the little golden crucifix.
“This was stolen in the night,” he said.
“Stolen?” Jack asked in wonder. “How, since you have it now?”
“Because I got it back from the worthless wretch who stole it, from the woman who robbed the dead and the living. Her punishment will surely come, but not through me. She didn’t altogether know what she did and so, unknowing, she only stole. Now we must wait.”
He went away with that word, leaving Jack with a new mystery to think about, a new puzzle to grapple with.
The late morning was a dreary time, but at noon the solicitor, Mr. Marquand, of Wholeman, Sons, Marquand and Lidderdale, came. He was very genial and appreciative of what they had done, and took the care of all of the details off their hands. During lunch, he told them the details of the estate.
“Mrs. Westenra had for some time expected sudden death from her heart, and put her affairs in absolute order. With the exception of a certain entailed property of her late husband’s that now, without a direct heir, will go back to a distant branch of his family, the whole estate, real and personal, is left completely to Arthur Holmwood,” said Marquand. “We did our best to prevent such a testamentary disposition, and pointed out certain contingencies that might leave her daughter either penniless or not as free as she should be to act regarding her marriage. We pressed the matter so far that we almost came into conflict, for she asked us whether or not we were prepared to carry out her wishes. Of course, we had no alternative but to accept. We were right in principle, and ninety-nine times out of a hundred we would have proved, by the logic of events, the accuracy of our judgment. Frankly, however, I must admit that in this case, any other form of disposition would have rendered it impossible to carry out of her wishes. Since she died before her daughter, the latter would have come into possession of the property, and, even had she only survived her mother by five minutes, her death would, if there was no will—and a will was a practical impossibility in such a case—have been treated as under intestate. In that case, Lord Godalming, though a dear friend, would have had no claim in the world, and the inheritors, being remote relatives, would not be likely to abandon their just rights for sentimental reasons for a complete stranger. I assure you, my dear sirs, I rejoice at the result, absolutely rejoice.”
Marquand was a good fellow, but his rejoicing at the one little part in which he was officially interested of so great a tragedy was an object lesson in the limitations of sympathetic understanding. He did not remain long, but said he would look in later in the day and see Lord Godalming. His coming, however, had been a comfort to Jack and Van Helsing, since it assured them that they would not be criticized for any of their acts.
Arthur was expected at five o’clock, so a little before that then, they visited Lucy’s death chamber. Now, both mother and daughter lay in it. The undertaker, true to his craft, had made the best display he could of his goods, and there was a mortuary air about the place that lowered their spirits at once. Van Helsing ordered the arrangement to be restored, explaining that Arthur was coming very soon, and it would be less harrowing to his feelings to see what was left of his fiancée quite alone. The undertaker seemed shocked at his own stupidity, and exerted himself to restore things to the way the had been the night before, so that when Arthur came, such shocks to his feelings as could be avoided would be.
When Arthur arrived, the poor fellow looked desperately sad and broken. Even his stalwart manhood was weakened by the strain of his strained emotions. Arthur had, Jack knew, been very genuinely and devotedly attached to his father. To lose the man at such a time was a bitter blow to him. With Jack, Arthur was warm as ever, and was sweetly courteous to Van Helsing. Jack couldn’t help seeing that something was constraining him. The Professor noticed it too, and motioned to Jack to bring Arthur upstairs. Jack did so, and left Arthur at the door of the room, as he felt his friend would like to be quite alone with Lucy, but Arthur took his arm and led him in.
“You loved her too, my friend,” he said. “She told me all about it, and no friend had a closer place in her heart than you. I don’t know how to thank you for all you have done for her. I can’t think yet.”
He suddenly broke down, threw his arms around Jack’s shoulders, and laid his head on Jack’s chest, crying.
“Oh, Jack! Jack! What shall I do! My whole of life seems gone all at once, and there is nothing left in the world to live for.”
Jack comforted Arthur as well as he could. In such cases men do not need much. A grip of the hand, the tightening of an arm over a shoulder, a sob in unison, are expressions of sympathy dear to a man’s heart. Jack stood still and silent until Arthur’s sobs died away.
“Come and look at her,” he said softly to Arthur.
Together they moved over to the bed, and Jack lifted the sheet from her face. God! how beautiful she was. Every hour enhanced her loveliness. It frightened and amazed him somewhat. As for Arthur, he began trembling, and finally was as shaken with doubt as with a fever.
“Jack, is she really dead?” he asked in a faint whisper.
Jack assured Arthur sadly that it was so, and went on to suggest—for he felt that such a horrible doubt should not remain for a moment longer than he could help—that it often happened that after death, faces became softened and even resolved into their youthful beauty, and that this was especially so when death had been preceded by acute or prolonged suffering. This did away with any doubt, and, after kneeling beside the couch for a while and looking at her lovingly and long, Arthur turned aside. Jack told him that this must be goodbye, as the coffin had to be prepared. Arthur went back and took her dead hand in his and kissed it, and bent over and kissed her forehead. He came away, fondly looking back over his shoulder at her as he came.
Jack left him in the drawing room, and told Van Helsing that Arthur had said goodbye. The professor went to the kitchen to tell the undertaker’s men to proceed with the preparations and to seal the coffin. When he came out of the room again, Jack told him of Arthur’s question.
“I am not surprised,” Van Helsing replied. “Just now, I doubted it for a moment myself!”
They all dined together, and Jack could see that poor Arthur was trying to make the best of things. Van Helsing was silent throughout dinner. Afterwards, the three lit cigars.
“Lord,” Van Helsing began.
“No, no, not that, for God’s sake!” Arthur interrupted him. “Not yet at any rate. Forgive me, sir. I did not mean to speak offensively. It is only because my loss is so recent.”
“I only used that name because I was in doubt,” the professor said. “I must not call you mister, and I have grown to love you—yes, my dear boy, to love you—as Arthur.”
Arthur held out his hand, and took the old man’s warmly.
“Call me what you will,” he said. “I hope I may always have the title of friend. And let me say that I am at a loss for words to thank you for your goodness to my poor dear Lucy.”
Arthur paused a moment, then went on.
“I know that she understood your goodness even better than I do. If I was rude or in any way wanting that time you acted so—you remember—you must forgive me.”
“I know it was hard for you to trust me then, for to trust such violence requires understanding,” Van Helsing answered with a grave kindness. “I take it that you do not—that you cannot—trust me now, for you do not yet understand. There may be more times when I will want you to trust me when you cannot—and may not—and must not yet understand. But the time will come when your trust will be whole and complete in me, and when you will understand as though the sunlight itself shone through. Then you will bless me from first to last for your own sake, for the sake of others, and for the sake of dear Lucy, who I swore to protect.”
The Professor cleared his throat a couple of times, as though about to speak.
“May I ask you something now?” he said finally.
“Do you know that Mrs. Westenra left you all her property?”
“No, poor dear. I never thought of it.”
“And as it is all yours, you have a right to deal with it as you wish. I want you to give me permission to read all Miss Lucy’s papers and letters. Believe me, it is not out of idle curiosity. I have a motive of which, be sure, she would have approved. I have them all here. I took them before we knew that it was all yours, so that no strange hand might touch them, and no strange eye look through the words into her soul. I shall keep them, if I may. Even you may not see them yet, but I shall keep them safe. No word shall be lost, and in good time I will give them back to you. It’s a hard thing I ask, but you will do it, will you not, for Lucy’s sake?”
“Dr. Van Helsing, you may do what you will,” said Arthur heartily, sounding like his old self. “I feel that in saying this I am doing what my dear one would have wanted. I will not trouble you with questions until the time comes.”
The old Professor stood up.
“You are right,” he said solemnly. “There will be pain for us all, but it will not be all pain, nor will this pain be the last. We and you too—you most of all, my dear boy—will have to pass through bitter water before we reach the sweet. But we must be brave and unselfish, and do our duty, and all will be well!”
Jack slept on a sofa in Arthur’s room that night. Van Helsing did not go to bed at all. He paced back and forth, as if patrolling the house, and was never out of sight of the room where Lucy lay in her coffin, strewn with the wild garlic flowers, which overpowered the odour of lily and rose, sending a heavy, pungent smell into the night.
* * *
Mr. Hawkins’s service was very simple and very solemn. It was attended only by Jonathan, Mina, and the servants, one or two old friends of Hawkins from Exeter, his London agent, and a gentleman representing Sir John Paxton, the President of the Law Society. Jonathan and Mina stood hand in hand, and they felt that their best and dearest friend was gone from them.
They came back to town quietly, taking a bus to Hyde Park Corner. Jonathan thought it would interest Mina to go into the park for a while, so they sat down, but there were very few people there, and it was sad looking and desolate to see so many empty chairs. It made them think of the empty chair at home, so they got up and walked down Piccadilly. Jonathan was holding Mina by the arm, the way he used to in old days before she went to school. She felt very improper, for one couldn’t spend years teaching etiquette and decorum to other girls without the pedantry of it rubbing of onto oneself a bit. But it was Jonathan, and he was her husband, and they didn’t know anybody who saw them—and they didn’t care if they did—so on they walked. Mina was looking at a very beautiful girl in a big cart-wheel hat, sitting in a victoria carriage outside Guiliano’s, when she felt Jonathan clutch her arm so tightly that it hurt.
“My God!” he said under his breath.
Mina was always anxious about Jonathan, fearing that some nervous fit may upset him again, so she turned to him quickly and asked what had disturbed him. He was very pale, and his eyes seemed bulging out as, half in terror and half in amazement. He was looking at a tall, thin man, with a beaky nose and black moustache and pointed beard, who was also observing the pretty girl. The man was looking at her so hard that he did not notice Jonathan and Mina, so Mina had a good view of him. His face was not a good face. It was hard, cruel, and sensual, and his big white teeth, which looked even whiter because his lips were so red, were pointed like an animal’s. Jonathan kept staring at him, until Mina was afraid the man would notice. She feared he might take it badly, and he looked so fierce and nasty.
“Why are you disturbed?” she asked Jonathan.
“Do you see who it is?” he answered, evidently thinking that she knew as much about the man as he did.
“No, dear,” she said. “I don’t know him. Who is it?”
“It is the man himself!”
The poor dear was evidently terrified of something, very greatly terrified. Mina believed that if he had not had her to lean on and to support him, he would have sunk down. He kept staring. A man came out of the shop with a small parcel, and gave it to the lady, who then drove off. The dark man kept his eyes fixed on her, and when the carriage moved up Piccadilly, he followed in the same direction, and hailed a hansom. Jonathan kept staring after him.
“I believe it is the Count, but he has grown young,” he said, as if to himself. “My God, if this is so! Oh, my God! My God! If I only knew! if I only knew!”
Jonathan was distressing himself so much that Mina feared to keep his mind on the subject by asking him any questions, so she remained silent. She drew him away quietly, and he, holding her arm, came easily. They walked a little further, then went in and sat for a while in the Green Park. It was a hot day for autumn, and there was a comfortable seat in a shady place. After a few minutes’ staring at nothing, Jonathan’s eyes closed, and he went quietly to sleep, with his head on Mina’s shoulder. She thought it was best for him, and so did not disturb him. In about twenty minutes, he woke up.
“Why, Mina, have I been asleep?” he said to her quite cheerfully. “Forgive me for being so rude. Come, let’s have a cup of tea somewhere.”
Jonathan had evidently forgotten all about the dark stranger, as when, in his illness, he had forgotten about everything that this episode had reminded him of. Mina didn’t like this lapsing into forgetfulness. It might make or continue some injury to his brain. She decided she must not ask him, for fear she would do more harm than good, but she must somehow learn the facts of his journey abroad. The time had come, she feared, when she must open the parcel and know what was written. She hoped Jonathan would forgive her if she did wrong, but it is for his own dear sake.
Jonathan fell asleep on the train back to Exeter. It seems only yesterday that Mina had been in Whitby with all the world before her, Jonathan away and no news of him. Now, she was married to Jonathan, who was a solicitor, a partner, rich, and master of his business. Mr. Hawkins was dead and buried. She worried that Jonathan’s attack may have harmed him.
It was a sad homecoming in every way. The house empty of the dear soul who was so good to them. Jonathan was still pale and dizzy, and seemed to be having a slight relapse of his malady. On top of that, Mina found a telegram from Van Helsing, whoever he might be.
You will be grieved to hear that Mrs. Westenra died five days ago, and that Lucy died the day before yesterday. They were both buried today.
Oh, what a wealth of sorrow in a few words! Poor Mrs. Westenra! Poor Lucy! Gone, gone, never to return to them! And poor, poor Arthur, to have lost such sweetness out of his life! God help them all to bear their troubles.
* * *
Jack feared that the strain of the past week had broken down even the professor’s iron strength. During the burial he was, Jack could see, putting some terrible restraint on himself. When it was all over, they were standing beside Arthur, who was talking about when his blood had been transfused into Lucy’s veins. Jack saw Van Helsing’s face grow white and purple by turns. Arthur was saying that he felt since then as if they two had been really married and that she was his wife in the sight of God. None of the others said a word about the other operations, and none of them ever would. Arthur and Quincey went away together to the station, and Van Helsing and I came on here.
The moment Jack and Van Helsing were alone in the carriage, the professor gave way to a fit of hysterics. He laughed until he cried, and Jack had to pull down the blinds in case any one should see them and misjudge them. Then Van Helsing cried until he laughed again, and laughed and cried together, just like a woman. Jack tried to be stern with him, as he would be to a woman under the circumstances, but it had no effect. Men and women are so different in their manifestations of nervous strength or weakness! When Van Helsing’s face had grown grave and stern again, Jack asked him why he was laughing at such a time. His reply was characteristic of him, logical and forceful and mysterious.
He has denied to me since that it was hysterics, and insisted that it was only his sense of humour asserting itself under very terrible conditions.
“Ah, you don’t understand, Jack. Do not think that I am not sad because I laugh. See, I have cried even when my laughter choked me. But neither think that I am completely sorry when I cry, for the laughter comes just the same. Always remember that the laughter who knock at your door and says, ‘May I come in?’ is not true laughter. True laughter is like a king, and comes when and how it likes. It asks no person and chooses no suitable time. It says, ‘I am here.’ I grieve my heart out for that sweet young girl. I gave my blood for her, though I am old and worn. I give my time, my skill, my sleep. I let my other sufferer want that so she might have everything. And yet I can laugh at her very grave, laugh when the clay from the spade of the sexton drops upon her coffin, saying ‘thud! thud!’ to my heart until it sends back the blood from my cheeks. My heart bleeds for that poor boy—that dear boy, the age my own boy would have been if I had been so blessed that he lived, with the same hair and eyes. There, you know now why I love him so much. And yet when he says things that touch my heart to the quick, and make it bleed for him more than any other—even than you, Jack, for we are more equals in experience than father and son—even at such a moment, laughter can come to me and shout and bellow in my ear, ‘here I am! here I am!’ until the blood comes dancing back and brings some of the sunshine that it carries to my cheeks. Oh, Jack, it is a strange, sad world, a world full of miseries, woes, and troubles. And yet, when laughter comes, it can make us all dance to the tune it plays. Bleeding hearts, dry bones in the churchyard, and tears that burn as they fall—all dance together to the music that it makes with its unsmiling mouth. And believe me, friend Jack, that it is good of it to come, and kind. Men and women are like ropes drawn tight with strain that pulls us different ways. Then tears come; and, like rain on the ropes, they tighten us up, until perhaps the strain become too great, and we break. But laughter comes like the sunshine, and eases the strain again, and we can bear to go on with our labour, whatever it may be.”
Jack didn’t want to wound him by pretending not to see his idea, but he still didn’t understand the cause of Van Helsing’s laughter.
“What made you laugh?” he asked the professor.
Van Helsing’s face grew stern.
“It was the grim irony of it all,” he said in quite a different tone. “This lovely lady garlanded with flowers, looked as fair as life, until one by one we wondered if she were truly dead. She lies in such fine marble house, in a lonely churchyard, where so many of her kin rest, laid there with the mother who loved her, and whom she loved. The sacred bell tolls so sadly and slowly. The holy men, with the white garments of the angels, pretend to read books, and yet all the time their eyes never touch the page. All of us stand with the bowed heads. And all for what? She is dead. Is it not so?”
“Well, for the life of me, professor,” Jack said, “I can’t see anything to laugh at in all that. Why, your explanation makes it harder to understand than before. Even if the burial service was comic, what about poor Arthur and his sorrow? Why, his heart was simply breaking.”
“Just so. Did he not say that the transfusion of his blood to her veins had truly made her his bride?”
“Yes, and it was a sweet and comforting idea to him.”
“Quite so. But there was a difficulty, friend Jack. If so that, then what about us? Then this sweet maid was a polyandrist, and me, with my poor wife dead to me, but alive by the Church’s law, though her wits are all gone; I, who am a faithful husband to this now non-wife, am bigamist.”
“I don’t see where the joke comes in there either!” Jack said.
He did not feel particularly pleased with Van Helsing for saying such things. The professor laid his hand on Jack’s arm.
“Jack, forgive me if I give you pain. I didn’t show my feelings to others when it would hurt them; only to you, my old friend, who I can trust. If you could have looked into my heart when I wanted to laugh; if you could have done so when the laugh arrived; if you could do so now, when laughter has pack up and gone far, far away from me, for a long, long time—maybe you would perhaps pity me the most of all.”
Jack was touched by the tenderness of his tone.
“Why,” he asked.
“Because I know!” the professor replied.
* * *
It was all over. Arthur had gone back to Ring, and had taken Quincey with him. What a fine fellow Quincey was! Jack believed in his heart of hearts that he had suffered as much from Lucy’s death as any of them, but he bore himself through it like a moral Viking. If America could go on breeding men like that, she would be a power in the world indeed. Van Helsing was lying down, having a rest before his journey. He was going over to Amsterdam that night, but said he would return tomorrow night. He only wanted to make some arrangements that could only be made personally. He would to stop with Jack when he returned, if he could. He said he had work to do in London that might take him some time.
Later, once the professor had left, they were all scattered. For many long days, loneliness would sit over their roofs with brooding wings. Lucy lay in the tomb of her kin, a lordly mausoleum in a lonely churchyard, away from teeming London, where the air was fresh, the sun rose over Hampstead Hill, and wild flowers grew of their own accord.
* * *
The neighbourhood of Hampstead experienced a series of events that seemed to run on lines parallel to those of what was known as “The Kensington Horror,” or “The Stabbing Woman,” or “The Woman in Black.” Over three days, several cases occurred of young children straying from home or neglecting to return from playing on the Heath. In all cases the children were too young to give any properly intelligible account of themselves, but their consensus was that they had been with a “bloofer lady.” It was always late in the evening when they were missed, and on two occasions the children had not been found until early in the following morning.
It was generally supposed in the neighbourhood that, since the first child missed gave as his reason for being away that a “bloofer lady” had asked him to come for a walk, the others had picked up the phrase and used it as well. This seemed more than natural, as the favourite game of the little ones at present was luring each other away by wiles, pretending to be the “bloofer lady”.
There was a serious side to the question, for some of the children, indeed all who had been missed at night, had been slightly wounded in the throat. The wounds seem like they might have been made by a rat or a small dog, and although of not much importance individually, showed that whatever animal inflicted them had a system or method of its own. The police of the division had been instructed to keep a sharp lookout for stray children, especially the very young, in and around Hampstead Heath, and for any stray dogs which might be about.
The next night, another child went missing, and was only discovered late in the morning under a gorse bush on Shooter’s Hill, on the side of Hampstead Heath, which is less frequented than the other parts. The child had the same tiny wounds in the throat that were noticed in other cases. She was terribly weak, and looked quite emaciated. When partially restored, she told the same story of being lured away by the “bloofer lady.”
Chapter XIV – Van Helsing Learns the Truth
Jonathan was better after a bad night. Mina was so glad that he had plenty of work to do, because that kept his mind off terrible things. She rejoiced that he was not weighed down by the responsibilities of his new position. She knew he would be true to himself, and was now proud to see my Jonathan rising to the challenge of his advancement and keeping pace in every way with the duties that had become his. He would be away all day until late, because he could not have lunch at home. Mina’s household work was done, so she decided to take his foreign journal, lock herself in her room, and read it.
The terrible record of Jonathan’s trip upset Mina horribly. Poor dear! How he must have suffered, whether it was true or only imagination. She wondered if there was any truth in it at all. Was he infected by his brain fever before he wrote all those terrible things, or had there been some other cause for it all? She suppose she would never know, because she dared not ask him. And yet Jonathan had seemed so certain of the man they had see in London! She supposed the funeral had upset him and sent his mind back on some train of thought. He believed it all himself. She remember how on their wedding day he had said “Unless some solemn duty comes upon me to go back to the bitter hours, asleep or awake, mad or sane.”
There seemed to be some thread of continuity through it all. The fearful Count was coming to London. If it was true, and he had come to London, with its teeming millions, they might have a solemn duty, and if it came, they must not shrink from it. Mina decided she would be prepared. She would sit at her typewriter this very hour and begin transcribing. Then Jonathan’s tale would be ready for other eyes if required, and if it was then perhaps if she was ready, poor Jonathan might not be upset, because she could speak for him and not let him be troubled or worried by it at all. If Jonathan ever got over his nervousness, he might want to tell her about it all, and she could ask him questions, find things out, and see how she could comfort him.
24 September (in confidence)
I ask you to pardon my writing, in that I am a friend in so much as that I sent you sad the news of Miss Lucy Westenra’s death. By the kindness of Lord Godalming, I am empowered to read her letters and papers, because I am deeply concerned about certain matters of vital importance. Among them, I found some letters from you that show what great friends you were and how you loved her. Madam Mina, by that love, I implore you to help me. It is for the good of others that I ask, to redress great wrong and lift many terrible troubles that may greater than you can know. May I see you? You can trust me. I am friend of Dr. Jack Seward and of Lord Godalming (Miss Lucy’s Arthur). I must keep this private for the present from everyone. I would come to Exeter to see you at once if you will tell me I have the privilege of coming, and when. I beg your pardon, madam, but I have read your letters to poor Lucy, and know how good you are and how your husband has suffered. So I beg you, if possible, not to tell him of this, in case it might harm him. Again, I beg your pardon, and forgive me.
That afternoon, Mina sent Van Helsing a telegram inviting him to come the next day on the ten fifteen train if he could catch it, and telling him that she see him any time he called.
* * *
The next day, Mina couldn’t help feeling terribly excited as the time drew near for Dr. Van Helsing’s visit, for she somehow expected that it would throw some light upon Jonathan’s sad experience. As Van Helsing had attended poor dear Lucy in her last illness, the man could can tell Mina all about her. That was the reason for his coming. It concerned Lucy and her sleep walking, and not Jonathan. She would never know the real truth of that! She would be silly to expect otherwise. That awful journal had gotten hold of her imagination and tinged everything with something of its own colour.
Of course Van Helsing’s visit was about Lucy. The habit that had come back to her poor friend, and that awful night on the cliff, must have been what made her ill. Mina had almost forgotten due to her own troubles how ill Lucy had been afterwards. She must have told Van Helsing of her sleep walking adventure on the cliff, and that Mina knew all about it, and now he wanted Mina to tell him what she knew, so that he could understand. She hoped she had done right in not saying anything abut it to Mrs. Westenra, Mina would never forgive herself if any act of hers, even an omission, had brought harm on poor dear Lucy. She hoped, too, that Dr. Van Helsing would not blame her. She had had so much trouble and anxiety of late that she felt she couldn’t bear any more.
Mina found herself crying. Crying did good at times, clearing the air like rain did. Perhaps it was reading the journal yesterday that upset her, and then Jonathan going away in morning to stay away from her a whole day and night for the first time since their marriage. She hoped that he would take care of himself, and that nothing would occur to upset him. It was two o’clock, and the doctor will be there soon now. She resolved to say nothing of Jonathan’s journal unless Van Helsing asked her. She was so glad she had type written her own journal, so that, in case he asked about Lucy, she could hand it to him. It would save much questioning.
* * *
Later.—He has come and gone. Oh, what a strange meeting, and how it all makes my head whirl round! I feel like one in a dream. Can it be all possible, or even a part of it? If I had not read Jonathan’s journal first, I should never have accepted even a possibility. Poor, poor, dear Jonathan! How he must have suffered. Please the good God, all this may not upset him again. I shall try to save him from it; but it may be even a consolation and a help to him—terrible though it be and awful in its consequences—to know for certain that his eyes and ears and brain did not deceive him, and that it is all true. It may be that it is the doubt which haunts him; that when the doubt is removed, no matter which—waking or dreaming—may prove the truth, he will be more satisfied and better able to bear the shock. Dr. Van Helsing must be a good man as well as a clever one if he is Arthur’s friend and Dr. Seward’s, and if they brought him all the way from Holland to look after Lucy. I feel from having seen him that he is good and kind and of a noble nature. When he comes to-morrow I shall ask him about Jonathan; and then, please God, all this sorrow and anxiety may lead to a good end. I used to think I would like to practise interviewing; Jonathan’s friend on “The Exeter News” told him that memory was everything in such work—that you must be able to put down exactly almost every word spoken, even if you had to refine some of it afterwards. Here was a rare interview; I shall try to record it verbatim.
It was half-past two o’clock when the knock came. Mina plucked up her courage and waited. In a few minutes Mary opened the door, and announced Dr. Van Helsing. Mina rose and bowed, and he came towards her.
Van Helsing was a man of medium weight, strongly built, with shoulders set back over a broad, deep chest and his neck as well balanced on his trunk as his head was on his neck. The poise of his head struck her at once as indicative of thought and power. His head was noble, well sized, broad, and large behind the ears. His face, clean shaven, had a hard, square chin, a large, resolute, mobile mouth, a good sized nose, rather straight, but with quick, sensitive nostrils that seem to broaden as his big, bushy brows came down and his mouth tightened. His forehead was broad and fine, rising at first almost straight, then sloping back above two ridges set wide apart. It was such a forehead that his reddish hair could not possibly tumble over it, but fell naturally back and to the sides. His big, dark blue eyes were set widely apart, and were quick and tender or stern with the man’s moods.
“Mrs. Harker, is it not?” he asked.
She bowed in assent.
“Then, it was Miss Mina Murray?”
Again she agreed.
“The Mina Murray that I come to see that was friend of that poor dear child Lucy Westenra. Madam Mina, it is on account of the dead I come.”
“Sir,” Mina said, “you could have no better claim on me than that you were a friend and helper of Lucy Westenra.”
She held out her hand and he took it.
“Oh, Madam Mina,” Van Helsing said tenderly. “I knew that the friend of that poor girl must be good, but I had yet to learn it.”
He finished his speech with a courtly bow.
“What was it that you wanted to see me about?” Mina asked.
“I have read your letters to Miss Lucy,” he said. “Forgive me, but I had to begin to inquire somewhere, and there was noone to ask. I know that you were with her at Whitby. She sometimes kept a diary—you need not look surprised, Madam Mina. It was begun after you left, in imitation of you—and in that diary she traces by inference certain events back to a time when she was sleep walking and you saved her. In great perplexity, then, I come to you, and ask you out of you kindness to tell me all of it that you can remember.”
“Ah, then you have good memory for facts, for details? It is not always so with young ladies.”
“No, doctor, but I wrote it all down at the time. I can show it to you if you like.”
“Oh, Madam Mina, I would be grateful. You will do me a huge favour.”
Mina could not resist the temptation of mystifying him a bit, so she handed him the shorthand diary. He took it with a grateful bow.
“May I read it?” he asked.
“If you wish,” she answered as demurely as she could.
He opened it, and for an instant his face fell. Then he stood up and bowed.
“Oh, you are a clever woman!” he said. “I knew that Mr. Jonathan was a man with much to be thankful for. But look, his wife has all good qualities. Will you help me by reading it for me? Alas, I do not know shorthand.”
By this time, Mina’s little joke was over, and she was almost ashamed. She took the typewritten copy from her workbasket and handed it to him.
“Forgive me,” she said. “I could not help it. I thought that it was of dear Lucy that you wished to ask, and that you might not have time to wait—not on my account, but because I know your time must be precious—so I wrote it out on the typewriter for you.”
He took it and his eyes glistened.
“You are so good,” he said. “May I read it now? I may want to ask you some things when I have read it.”
“By all means,” Mina said. “Read it over while I order lunch. Then you can ask me questions while we eat.”
He bowed and settled himself in a chair with his back to the light, and became absorbed in the papers, while Mina went to see to lunch, mainly so that he would not be disturbed. When she came back, she found him pacing hurriedly up and down the room, his face ablaze with excitement. He rushed up to her and took her by both hands.
“Oh, Madam Mina,” he said, “how can I say what I owe to you? This paper is like sunshine. It opens the gate for me. I am dazed, I am dazzled, with so much light, and yet clouds roll in behind the light every time. You do not, cannot, comprehend, but I am grateful to you, you clever woman. Madam, if ever Abraham Van Helsing can do anything for you or yours, I trust you will let me know. It will be pleasure and delight if I may serve you as a friend. As a friend, all I have ever learned, and all I can ever do, shall be for you and those you love. There are darknesses in life, and there are lights. You are one of the lights. You will have a good and happy life, and your husband is blessed with you.”
“Doctor, you praise me too much, and—and you do not know me.”
“Not know you? I, who am old, and who have studied men and women all my life. I, who have made my specialty the brain and all that belongs to it and all that follow from it! I have read your diary that you have so kindly written for me, which breathes out truth in every line. I have read your sweet letters to poor Lucy telling her of your marriage and your trust. How could I not know you! Oh, Madam Mina, good women tell all their lives, every day, hour, and minute, such things that angels can read. We men who wish to know have in us something of angels’s eyes. Your husband is noble in nature, and you are noble too, for you trust, and there cannot be trust where there is a mean nature. Your husband—tell me of him. Is he well? Is his fever gone, and is he strong and hearty?”
Mina saw here an opening to ask him about Jonathan.
“He was almost recovered, but he has been greatly upset by Mr. Hawkins’s death,” she said.
“Oh, yes, I know, I know,” he interrupted. “I have read your last two letters.”
“I suppose this upset him, because when we were in town last Thursday, he had a shock.”
“A shock, so soon after a brain fever! That is not good. What kind of a shock was it?”
“He thought he saw some one who made him recall something terrible, something which led to his brain fever.”
Here, the whole thing overwhelmed Mina in a rush. Her pity for Jonathan, the horror which he experienced, the whole fearful mystery of his diary, and the fear that had been brooding over her ever since, all came in a tumult. She supposed she was hysterical, because she threw myself on her knees and held up her hands to him, and implored him to make her husband well again. He took her hands, raised her up, sat her on the sofa, and sat beside her. He held my hand in his.
“My life is a barren and lonely one, and so full of work that I have not had much time for friendships,” he said to her with infinite sweetness. “But since I have been summoned here by my friend Jack Seward, I have known so many good people and seen such nobility that I feel more than ever—and it has grown with my advancing years—the loneliness of my life. Believe, me, I come here full of respect for you, and you have given me hope—hope not for what I am seeking, but that there are good women still left to make life happy—good women, whose lives and whose truths may make good lessons for the children that are yet to be. I am glad, glad, that I may be of some use to you. If your husband suffers, he suffers within the range of my study and experience. I promise you that I will gladly do all that I can for him to make his life strong and manly, and your life a happy one. Now you must eat. You are overwrought and perhaps over anxious. Your husband Jonathan would not like to see you so pale. To worry about the one he loves would not be good for him. Therefore for, his sake, you must eat and smile. You have told me all about Lucy, and now we shall not speak of it, in case it distresses you. I will stay in Exeter tonight, because I want to think over what you have told me, and when I have thought, I will ask you more questions, if I may. And then, too, you can tell me of your husband Jonathan’s troubles, as far as you can, but not yet. You must eat now. Afterwards you can tell me everything.”
After lunch, when they went back to the drawing room.
“Now tell me all about him,” Van Helsing said.
When it came to speaking to this great learned man, Mina began to fear that he would think her a weak fool, and Jonathan a madman—the journal was all so strange—and she hesitated to go on. But he was so sweet and kind, and he had promised to help, and she decided to trust him.
“Dr. Van Helsing, what I have to tell you is so weird that you must not laugh at me or at my husband. Since yesterday, I have been in a fever of doubt. You must be kind to me, and not think me foolish that I have even half believed some very strange things.”
“Oh, my dear, if you only knew how strange the matter regarding which I am here is, it is you who would laugh,” Van Helsing said reassuringly. “I have learned not to think little of any one’s beliefs, no matter how strange they are. I try to keep an open mind. It is not the ordinary things of life that can close it, but the strange things, the extraordinary things, the things that make one doubt if they are mad or sane.”
“Thank you, thank you, a thousand times! You have taken a weight off my mind. If you will let me, I will give you another paper to read. It is long, but I have typewritten it out. It will tell you of my trouble and Jonathan’s. It is a copy of the journal he kept while abroad, and all that happened. I dare not say anything of it. You must read it for yourself and judge. And then, when I see you, perhaps you will be very kind and tell me what you think.”
“I promise,” Van Helsing said as Mina gave him the papers. “I shall return in the morning, as soon as I can, and come to see you and your husband, if I may.”
“Jonathan will be here at half-past eleven. You must come to lunch with us and see him. Then you can catch the quick 3:34 train, which will get you to Paddington station before eight.”
Van Helsing was surprised at Mina’s off-hand knowledge of the trains, not knowing that she had made up a schedule of all the trains to and from Exeter to help Jonathan in case he was in a hurry. He took the papers with him and went away, and she sat there thinking—thinking she didn’t know what.
At six o’clock, she received a letter from Van Helsing.
I have read your husband’s wonderful diary. You may sleep without doubt. Strange and terrible as it is, it is true! I would pledge my life on it. It may be worse for others, but for him and you there is nothing to dread. He is a noble fellow. Let me tell you from my experience of men, that one who would do as he did in going down that wall to that room, and going a second time, is not one to who would be permanently injured by a shock. His brain and his heart are all right. Of this, I swear, before I have even seen him. So rest easy. I shall have much to ask him of other things. I am blessed that today I came to see you, for I have learned so much all at once that again I am dazzled—dazzled more than ever, and I must think.
Yours most faithfully,
Abraham Van Helsing.
Lucy was so thankful for his letter, which had taken a great weight off her mind. And yet, if it was true, what terrible things there were in the world, and what an awful thing it was if that man, that monster, was really in London! She feared to think it. Having had a wire from Jonathan saying that he would leave by the 6:25 that night from Launceston and be home at 10:18, she would have no fear tonight. She wrote Van Helsing back asking that, instead of lunching with them, he come to breakfast at eight o’clock, if this was not too early for him, and if she did not hear from him, she would assume he would come.
* * *
When Jonathan got home, Mina had supper ready, and when they had eaten, she told him about Van Helsing’s visit, and that she had given him copies of their two diaries, and of how anxious she has been about him. She showed him the doctor’s letter saying that all Jonathan had written down was true. This seemed to make a new man of Jonathan. It was doubt as to the reality of the whole thing that had knocked him over. He’d felt impotent, in the dark, and distrustful. But now that he knew, he was not afraid, even of the Count. His plan to move to London had succeeded, and it was he who Jonathan had seen. He had grown younger, but how? Van Helsing was the man to unmask the Count and hunt him out, if he was anything like Mina had said.
They sat up late and talked it all over. Then, while Mina is dressing, Jonathan went to call at the hotel and bring Van Helsing over.
Van Helsing seemed surprised to see Jonathan. When Jonathan entered Van Helsing’s room and introduced himself, the man took him by the shoulder, turned his face round to the light, and sharply scrutinized him.
“Madam Mina told me you were ill, that you had had a shock,” he said.
It was so funny to Jonathan to hear his wife called “Madam Mina” by this kindly, strong faced old man. He smiled.
“I was ill, and I have had a shock,” he said, “but you have cured me already.”
“By your letter to Mina last night. I was in doubt, and everything took a hue of unreality, and I did not know what to trust, even the evidence of my own senses. Not knowing what to trust, I did not know what to do, and could only to keep on working in what had been the groove of my life. The groove ceased to help me, and I mistrusted myself. Doctor, you don’t know what it is to doubt everything, even yourself. No, you don’t; you couldn’t with eyebrows like yours.”
Van Helsing seemed pleased, and laughed.
“So! You are able to judge a man’s character from his appearance,” he said. “I learn more here with each hour. I will with great pleasure join you for breakfast. And, oh, sir, you will pardon praise from an old man, you are blessed in your wife.”
Jonathan would listen to Van Helsing praising Mina for a day, so he simply nodded and stood silent.
“She is one of God’s women, fashioned by His own hand to show us men and other women that there is a heaven that we can enter, and that its light can be here on earth. So true, so sweet, so noble, so humble—and that, let me tell you, is rare in this skeptical and selfish age. I have read all her letters to poor Miss Lucy, and some of them speak of you, so I have known you for several days by the opinions of others. But I have seen your true self since last night. You will give me your hand, will you not? Let us be friends for all our lives.”
They shook hands, and Van Helsing was so earnest and kind that Jonathan found himself choking up.
“And now,” Van Helsing said, “may I ask you for some more help? I have a great task to do, and at the beginning it learning. You can help me here. Can you tell me what happened before you went to Transylvania? Later on I may ask more help, and of a different kind, but at first this will do.”
“Does what you have to do concern the Count?” Jonathan asked.
“It does,” Van Helsing said solemnly.
“Then I am with you heart and soul. If you must go by the 10:30 train, you will not have time to read them, but I shall get the bundle of his papers. You can take them with you and read them on the train.”
After breakfast, Jonathan saw Van Helsing to the station.
“Perhaps you will come to town if I send to you, and bring Madam Mina too,” he said as they were parting.
“We shall both come when you wish,” Jonathan said.
Jonathan had got Van Helsing the morning newspaper and the London paper from the previous night, and while they were talking at the carriage window, waiting for the train to start, Van Helsing was turning them over. His eyes suddenly caught something in one of them, ‘The Westminster Gazette’—Jonathan knew it by the colour—and the professor went quite white. He read something intently, groaning to himself.
“Mein Gott! Mein Gott! So soon! so soon!” he said.
Jonathan didn’t think Van Helsing remembered him at that moment. Just then the whistle blew, and the train moved off. He recalled himself, and leaned out of the window and waved his hand.
“Love to Madam Mina,” he called out. “I shall write so soon as I can.”
* * *
Renfield had become, by all the evidence, as sane as he ever was. He was already well ahead with his fly catching, and had just started on spiders as well. He had not been any trouble to Jack.
Jack had a letter from Arthur, written on Sunday, and from it he gathered that his friend was bearing up well. Quincey Morris was with him, and that was a huge help, because Quincey was a bubbling well of good spirits. Quincey wrote Jonathan a line too, saying that Arthur was beginning to recover something of his old buoyancy, so about them, Jack’s mind was at rest. As for Jack, he was settling down to his work with the enthusiasm that he used to have for it. He could truly say that the wound that poor Lucy had given him was becoming a scar.
Van Helsing had gone to Exeter the day before, and stayed there all night. At about five thirty, he came to visit, almost bounded into the room, and thrust last night’s ‘Westminster Gazette’ into Jack’s hand.
“What do you think of that?” he asked.
Van Helsing stood back and folded his arms. Jack looked over the paper, not really knowing what the professor meant. Van Helsing took it from him and pointed out a paragraph about children being lured away in Hampstead. It didn’t mean much to Jack until he reached the paragraph where it described small puncture wounds in the children’s throats. An idea struck him, and he looked up.
“Well?” said Van Helsing. “What do you make of it?”
Jack have an idea that Van Helsing thought he knew, but he would only let out enough at a time to whet Jack’s curiosity.
“The wounds are like poor Lucy’s. There must be a common cause. Whatever injured Lucy injured these children.”
“What do you mean, Professor?” Jack asked.
Jack didn’t understand his answer. He was inclined to take Van Helsing’s seriousness lightly—after all, four days of rest and freedom from burning, harrowing anxiety had helped to restore his spirits—but when he saw Van Helsing’s face, it sobered him. Never, even in the midst of their despair over poor Lucy, had the professor looked more stern.
“Tell me!” Jack said. “I can’t even guess what this means. I do not know what to think, and I have no data on which to found a conjecture.”
“Do you mean to tell me, friend Jack, that you have no suspicion of what poor Lucy died of? Even after all the hints given, not only by events, but by me?”
“She died of nervous prostration following on great loss of blood,” Jack said.
“And how was the blood lost?” asked Van Helsing.
Jack shook his head. Van Helsing stepped over and sat down beside him.
“You are clever man, Jack. You reason well, and your wits are bold, but you are too prejudiced. You don’t let your eyes see nor your ears hear, and everything outside your daily life is of no of account to you. Don’t you think that there are things that you cannot understand, and yet which are? Some people see things that others cannot. There are things old and new that are not be contemplated by men, because they know—or think they know—things that other men have told them. It is a fault in science that it wants to explain everything. Of anything it can’t explain, it says there is nothing to explain. But we see around us, every day, the growth of new beliefs whose holders think are new, but are merely the old pretending to be young, like fine ladies at the opera. I would guess you do not believe in corporeal transference. No? What about paranormal materialization? Astral projection? Telepathy? Hypnotism?”
“Well, hypnotism, yes” Jack said. “Jean-Martin Charcot has proved that pretty well.”
Van Helsing smiled.
“Then you are satisfied as to its reality,” he went on. “And of course then you understand how it acts, and can follow the mind of the great Charcot—alas that he is no more!—into the very soul of the patient that he influences. No? Then, Jack, am I to take it that you simply accept it as fact, and are satisfied to let the argument from premise to conclusion be a blank? No? Then tell me—for I am student of the brain—how you accept hypnotism and reject telepathy. Let me tell you, my friend, that there are things done today in electrobiology that would have been deemed unholy by the very men who discovered electricity, who would themselves not so long before have been burned as wizards. There are always mysteries in life. Why was it that Methuselah lived nine hundred years, and Old Tom Parr to one hundred and sixty-nine, and yet poor Lucy, with four men’s blood in her veins, could not live even one day? If she had lived one more day, we could have saved her. Do you know all the mysteries of life and death? Do you know everything about comparative anatomy so that you can say why some men are brutes, and not others? Can you tell me why, when most spiders die small and quickly, that one great spider lived for centuries in the tower of an old Spanish church and grew and grew, until, on descending, it could drink the oil of all the church lamps? Can you tell me why in the pampas and elsewhere, there are bats that come at night and open the veins of cattle and horses and suck their veins dry? How, in some islands of the Western seas, there are bats which hang on the trees all day, so that those who have seen them describe them as looking like giant nuts or pods, and that when sailors sleep on the deck because it is hot, they flit down on them, and in the morning the men are found dead, as white as Miss Lucy was?”
“Good God, Professor!” Jack said, starting up. “Do you mean to tell me that Lucy was bitten by such a bat, and that thing is here in London in the nineteenth century?”
Van Helsing waved his hand for silence.
“Can you tell me why the tortoise lives longer than a man? Why the elephant goes on and on until he has seen human dynasties come and go? And why a parrot never dies except at the bite of cat or dog, or other such injury? Can you tell me why men believe in all ages and places that there are some who live forever if they are allowed to? That there are men and women who cannot die? We all know—because science has vouched for the fact—that there have been toads shut up in rocks for thousands of years. Can you tell me how the Indian yogi can make himself die, be buried, have his grave sealed and corn sown on it, the corn reaped and cut and sown and reaped and cut again, and then men come and remove the unbroken seal and that there lies the yogi, not dead, rising up to walk among them as before?”
Jack was getting bewildered. Van Helsing had so crowded his mind with this list of nature’s eccentricities and possible impossibilities that his imagination was firing. He had a dim idea that the professor was teaching him a lesson, as he used to do long ago in his study at Amsterdam. But then he used to first tell Jack the thing, so that he could have the object of thought in mind all the time. But now, Jack was without this help, yet he wanted to follow him.
“Professor, let me be your pet student again,” he said. “Tell me your thesis, so that I may apply your knowledge as you go. At present, my mind is going from point to point like a mad man, not a sane one. I feel like a novice lumbering through a bog in the mist, jumping from one tussock to another in a blind effort to move on without knowing where I am going.”
“That is a good image,” said Van Helsing. “Well, I shall tell you. My thesis is this: I want you to believe.”
“To believe what?”
“To believe in things that you cannot. Let me illustrate. I heard once of an American who defined faith as that faculty which enables us to believe things which we know to be untrue. I, for one, agree with that man. He meant that we should have an open mind, and not let a little bit of truth check the rush of a big truth, like a small rock does a railway car. We get the small truth first. Good! We keep it, and we value it. But all the same, we must not let it think itself all the truth in the universe.”
“Then you want me not to let some previous conviction prevent the receptivity of my mind with regard to some strange matter,” said Jack. “Do I read your lesson right?”
“Ah, you are my favourite pupil still. It is worth teaching you. Now that you are willing to understand, you have taken the first step to understanding. You think then that the small holes in the children’s throats were made by the same thing that made the hole in Miss Lucy?”
“I suppose so.”
Van Helsing stood up.
“Then you are wrong,” he said solemnly. “Oh, if only it were so! but alas! no. The truth is worse, far, far worse.”
“In God’s name, Professor Van Helsing, what do you mean?” Jack cried.
Van Helsing threw himself with a despairing gesture into a chair, placed his elbows on the table, and covered his face with his hands.
Chapter XV – Night in the Cemetery
For a moment, Jack was full of sheer anger. It was as if Van Helsing had, during her life, struck Lucy in the face. Jack pounded the table hard and rose up.
“Dr. Van Helsing, are you mad?” he said.
Van Helsing raised his head and looked at Jack, and somehow the tenderness of the professor’s face calmed him at once.
“If only I were!” he said. “Madness would be easy to bear compared with truth like this. Oh, my friend, why do you think I went such a long way round? Why take so long to tell you so simple a thing? Was it because I hate you and have hated you all my life? Was it because I want to cause you pain? Was it that I wanted, after all this time, revenge for the time that you saved my life from a fearful death? Ah no!”
“Forgive me,” said Jack.
“My friend, it was because I wanted to be gentle in breaking it to you, because I know that you loved that sweet lady. But even now, I do not expect you to believe me. It is so hard to accept an abstract truth when you doubt it to be possible because you have always believed it false. It is harder still to accept so sad a concrete truth, and of one such as Miss Lucy. Tonight, I go to prove it. Dare you come with me?”
This staggered Jack. He wasn’t certain he wanted to prove such a truth.
Van Helsing saw his hesitation.
“The logic is simple. No madman’s logic this time, jumping from tussock to tussock in a misty bog. If it is not true, then proof will be relief, and at worst it will not harm. If it is true! Ah, there is the dread. Yet that very dread should help my cause, for in it is some need of belief. Come, I will tell you what I propose: first, that we go off now and see that child in the hospital. Dr. Vincent, of the North Hospital, where the papers say the child is, is friend of mine, and I think of yours since you were in classes togehter in Amsterdam. He will let two scientists see his patient, if he will not let two friends. We shall tell him nothing, only that we wish to learn.”
“And then?” asked Jack.
Van Helsing took a key from his pocket and held it up.
“And then we spend the night, you and I, in the churchyard where Lucy lies. This is the key that unlocks her tomb. I got it from the undertaker to give to Arthur.”
Jack’s heart sank within me, because he felt that there was some fearful ordeal before them. He could do nothing, however, so he plucked up what heart he could and said that they had better hurry, as the afternoon was passing.
They found the child awake. She had slept and eaten some food, and was doing well. Dr. Vincent took the bandage from her throat, and showed us the puncture wounds. There was no mistaking the similarity to those that had been on Lucy’s throat. They were smaller, and the edges looked fresher, but that was all.
“To what do you attributed these,” Jack asked Vincent.
“It must have been a bite of some animal, perhaps a rat,” he replied. “I’m inclined to think that it was one of the bats which are so numerous in the northern heights of London. Out of so many harmless ones, there may be a wild specimen from the south seas of a more malignant species. Perhaps a sailor brought one home, and it managed to escape. A young one may have gotten loose from the Zoölogical Gardens, or one that was bred there from a vampire bat. These things do occur, you know. Only ten days ago, a wolf got out, and was, I believe, tracked up in this direction. For a week after, the children were playing nothing but Red Riding Hood on the heath and in every alley in the place until this ‘bloofer lady’ scare came along, which has since been quite a game with them. Even this poor little mite, when she woke up today, asked the nurse if she might leave. When the asked her why she wanted to go, she said she wanted to play with the ‘bloofer lady.’ ”
“I hope,” said Van Helsing, “that when you send the child home you will caution her parents to keep strict watch over her. These impulses to stray are most dangerous. If the child were to remain out another night, it would probably be fatal. But in any case, I suppose you will not release her for some days?”
“Certainly not, not for a week at least, and longer if the wound is not healed.”
Their visit to the hospital took more time than they had planned on, and the sun had set before they left.
“There is no hurry,” said Van Helsing when he saw how dark it was. “It is later than I thought. Come, let us find somewhere that we can eat, and then we’ll go on our way.”
They dined at ‘Jack Straw’s Castle’ along with a small crowd of bicyclists and others who were genially noisy. At about ten o’clock, they left from the inn. It was then very dark, and the scattered lamps made the darkness greater when they were outside their illumination. The Professor had evidently noted the road they were to take, because he went unhesitatingly. As for Jack, he was quite mixed up as to their locality. As they went further, they met fewer and fewer people, until at last they were somewhat surprised to meet even the patrolling horse police making their usual suburban rounds.
At last they reached the wall of the churchyard, which they climbed over. With some difficulty, because it was very dark, and the whole place seemed strange to them, we found the Westenra mausoleum. The professor took the key, opened the creaky door, and, standing back, politely, but quite unconsciously, motioned Jack to precede him. There was a delicious irony in the offer, in the courtliness of giving preference on such a ghastly occasion. Van Helsing followed Jack quickly, and cautiously drew the door shut, after carefully ascertaining that the lock was a falling, and not a spring loaded, one. In the latter case they would have been in a bad plight. Then the professor fumbled in his bag, took out a matchbox and a candle, and proceeded to make a light.
The tomb in the daylight, wreathed with fresh flowers, had looked grim and gruesome enough. Now, some days afterwards, the flowers hung lank and dead, their whites turning to rust and their greens to browns. The spiders and the beetles had resumed their accustomed dominance. Time discoloured stone, dust encrusted mortar, rusty, dank iron, tarnished brass, and clouded silver plating gave back the feeble glimmer of a candle. The effect was more miserable and sordid than could have been imagined. It conveyed the irresistible idea that life—animal life—was not the only thing that could pass away.
Van Helsing went about his work systematically. Holding the candle so that he could read the coffin plates, so that wax dropped in white patches that congealed as they touched the metal, he made sure he had Lucy’s coffin. Another search in his bag, and he took out a screwdriver.
“What are you going to do?” Jack asked.
“Open the coffin,” said Van Helsing. “You will yet be convinced.”
Right away, he began taking out the screws, and finally lifted off the lid, showing the lead casing beneath it. The sight was almost too much for Jack. It was as much an affront to the dead as it would have been to have stripped off her clothing in her sleep while living. Jack actually took hold of Van Helsing’s hand to stop him.
“You shall see,” he only said.
Fumbling in his bag, took out a tiny hacksaw. Punching the screwdriver through the lead with a swift downward stab, which made Jack wince, Van Helsing made a small hole just big enough to admit the point of the saw. Jack had expected a rush of gas from the week old corpse. Doctors, who have had to study anatomy, become accustomed to such things, and Jack drew back towards the door. But the professor never stopped for a moment. He sawed down a couple of feet along one side of the lead coffin, and then across, and down the other side. Taking the edge of the loose flange, he bent it back towards the foot of the coffin, and holding up the candle over the aperture, motioned to Jack to look.
He drew near and looked. The coffin was empty.
It was certainly a surprise to Jack, and gave him a considerable shock, but Van Helsing was unmoved. He was now more sure than ever of his ground, and emboldened to proceed with his task.
“Are you satisfied now, Jack?” he asked.
Jack felt all the dogged argumentativeness of my nature awake within him.
“I am satisfied that Lucy’s body is not in that coffin,” Jack answered him. “But that only proves one thing.”
“And what is that, Jack?”
“That it is not there.”
“That is good logic,” said Van Helsing, “as far as it goes. But how do you account for its not being there?”
“Perhaps a body snatcher,” Jack suggested. “Some of the undertaker’s employees may have stolen it.”
He felt that he was speaking foolishly, yet it was the only real cause that he could suggest. The Professor sighed.
“Ah well!” he said, “we must have more proof. Come with me.”
He put the lid on the coffin again, gathered up all his tools and placed them in the bag, blew out the candle, and put it in the bag too. They opened the door and went out. Behind them, Van Helsing closed the door and locked it. He handed Jack the key.
“Will you keep it?” he said. “You had better be assured.”
Jack laughed, though it was not a very cheerful laugh, and motioned him to keep it.
“A key is nothing,” he said. “There may be duplicates, and it is not difficult to pick a lock of that kind.”
Van Helsing said nothing, but put the key in his pocket. He told Jack to watch at one side of the churchyard while he watched at the other. Jack took up a place behind a yew tree, and saw Van Helsing’s dark figure moving until the intervening headstones and trees hid it from his sight.
It was a lonely vigil. Just after Jack had taken his place, he heard a distant clock strike twelve, and in time, one and two. He was chilled and unnerved, and angry with the professor for taking him on such an errand and with himself for coming. He was too cold and sleepy to be keenly observant, but not sleepy enough to betray his trust, so he had a dreary, miserable time.
Suddenly, as he turned round, Jack thought he saw something like a white streak, moving between two dark yew trees at the side of the churchyard farthest from the tomb. At the same time a dark mass moved from the Professor’s side of the grounds and hurried towards it. Jack also moved, but he had to go around headstones and railed-off tombs, and he stumbled over graves. The sky was overcast, and somewhere far off, an early rooster crowed. A little way off, beyond a line of scattered junipers that marked the pathway to the church, a dim, white figure flitted in the direction of the tomb. The tomb itself was hidden by trees, and Jack could not see where the figure disappeared. He heard the rustle of actual movement where he had seen the white figure, and coming over, found the professor holding a tiny child in his arms. When he saw Jack, he held the child out to him.
“Are you satisfied now?” he asked.
“No,” Jack said aggressively.
“Do you not see the child?”
“Yes, he is a child, but who brought him here? And is he wounded?” Jack asked.
“We shall see,” said the professor.
They made their way out of the churchyard, Van Helsing carrying the sleeping child. When they had gone some small distance away, they went into a clump of trees, struck a match, and looked at the child’s throat. It was without a scratch or scar of any kind.
“Was I right?” Jack asked triumphantly.
“We were just in time,” said the Professor thankfully.
They had to decide what to do with the child. If they took him to a police station, they would have to account for their movements during the night. At least they would have had to make a statement as to how they had found him. They had decided that we would take him to the Heath, and, when they heard a policeman coming, leave him where he could not fail to be found. They would then make their way home as quickly as they could. Everything went well. At the edge of Hampstead Heath, they heard a policeman’s heavy tramp, layed the child on the pathway, and waited and watched until he saw the boy as he flashed his lantern to and fro. They heard the man’s exclamation of astonishment, then moved away silently. By good luck, they got a cab near the ‘Spaniards,’ and drove back to town.
When Van Helsing had left in the cab, Jack could not sleep, but he must try to get a few hours’ sleep, as Van Helsing was to call for him at noon. The professor insisted that Jack must go with him on another expedition.
* * *
It was two o’clock before they found a suitable opportunity for their next attempt. The funeral held at noon was completed, and the last stragglers of the mourners had taken themselves lazily away. Watching carefully from behind a clump of alders, Jack and Van Helsing saw the sexton lock the gate behind him. They knew then that they were safe until morning if they need.
“We should not need more than an hour at most,” the Professor told Jack.
Once more, Jack felt that horrid sense of the reality of things, in which any effort of imagination seemed out of place. He realized the clear peril of the law that they were incurring in their unhallowed work. He also felt it was useless. Outrageous as it was to open a lead coffin to see if a woman dead nearly a week were really dead, it now seemed the height of idiocy to open the tomb again, when they knew, from the evidence of their own eyes, that the coffin was empty. Jack shrugged my shoulders and waited silently, because he knew Van Helsing would take his own road, no matter who protested. The professor took the key, opened the vault, and again courteously motioned Jack to precede him. The place was not as gruesome as it had been the night before, but was unutterably cheap looking when the sunlight streamed in. Van Helsing walked over to Lucy’s coffin, and Jack followed. The professor bent over and once again forced back the leaden flange. A shock of surprise and dismay shot through Jack.
There lay Lucy, looking just as they had seen her the night before her funeral. She was, if possible, more radiantly beautiful than ever. Jack could not believe that she was dead. Her lips were red, redder than before, and her cheeks had a delicate bloom.
“Is this a joke?” Jack said to Van Helsing.
“Are you convinced now?” the Professor asked in response.
As he spoke, he put out his hand, in a way that made Jack shudder, and pulled back her dead lips and showed her white teeth.
Once more, argumentative hostility woke within Jack. He could not accept the overwhelming idea that Van Helsing suggested.
“She may have been placed here since last night,” Jack said i an attempt to argue that he was ashamed of the moment he had said it.
“Indeed? If that is so, them by who?”
“I do not know. Some one has done it.”
“And yet she has been dead one week. Most people in that time would not look so good.”
Jack had no answer for this, and so remained silent. Van Helsing did not seem to notice his silence. He showed neither chagrin nor triumph. He was looking intently at the face of the dead woman, raising her eyelids and looking at her eyes, and once more opening her lips and examining her teeth. Then he turned to Jack.
“This is something that is different from everything recorded by science,” he said. “It is some dual life that is not common. She was bitten by the vampire when she was in a trance, sleepwalking. Oh, you’re surprised. You didn’t know this, Jack, but you will know it all later. In a trance, he could best come back to take more blood. She died in a trance, and she is in a trance while undead, too. But in this, she differs from all others: usually, when the undead sleep, their faces show what they are, but this one was so sweet when she was not undead that she goes back to the appearance of the common dead. There is no malignance there, and so it makes it hard that I must kill her in her sleep.”
This turned Jack’s blood cold, and it began to dawn upon him that he was accepting Van Helsing’s theory. But, if she were really dead, what was the terror in the idea of killing her? Van Helsing looked up at Jack, and evidently saw the change in his face.
“Ah, you believe now?” he said, almost joyously.
“Do not press me too hard all at once,” Jack answered. “I am willing to accept. How will you do this bloody work?”
“I will cut off her head, fill her mouth with garlic, and drive a stake through her body.”
It made Jack shudder to think of mutilating the body of the woman who he had loved. And yet, the feeling was not so strong as he had expected. He was, in fact, beginning to shudder at the presence of this being, this undead, as Van Helsing called it, and to loathe it. Was it possible that love is all subjective, or all objective?
Jack waited a considerable time for Van Helsing to begin, but the professor stood as if wrapped in thought. Finally, he closed the catch of his bag with a snap.
“I have been thinking, and have made up my mind as to what is best,” he said. “If I simply followed my inclination, I would do now, at this moment, what needs to be done. But there are other things to come, things that will be thousand times more difficult. This is simple. She has not yet taken a life, though it’s only a matter of time. To act now would be take away the danger of her for ever. But in future, we may need Arthur, and how could we tell him of this? If you, who saw the wounds on Lucy’s throat, and saw the similar wounds on the child in the hospital; if you, who saw the coffin empty last night and full today with a woman who has only become more rosy and more beautiful in the week since she died; if you know of this and saw the white figure last night that brought the child to the churchyard, and yet you do not believe your own senses, how, then, can I expect Arthur, who knows none of these things, to believe? He doubted me when I stopped him from kissing her when she was dying. I know he has forgiven me because he thinks I prevented him from saying goodbye as he ought by mistake. He may get the even more mistaken idea Lucy was buried alive, and that in the greatest mistake of all we have killed her. He will then argue that it is we, mistaken ones, that have killed her with our ideas. Then he will be unhappy forever. Yet he will never be sure, and that is the worst of all. Je will sometimes think that she he loved was buried alive, and that will paint his dreams with horrors of what she must have suffered. At other times, he will think that we may be right, and that his beloved was, after all, undead. I told him once, and since then I’ve learned much. Now, since I know it is all true, I am a hundred thousand times more sure that he must pass through the bitter waters to reach the sweet. He, poor man, must have one hour that will make the very face of heaven grow black to him. Then we can act for good and give him peace. My mind is made up. Let us go. Return home for tonight to your asylum, and see that all is well. As for me, I will spend the night here in this churchyard on my own. Tomorrow night, come to me at the Berkeley Hotel at ten o’clock. I will send for Arthur too, and also that fine young man from America that also gave his blood. Later, we shall all have work to do. I come with you as far as Piccadilly and dine there, because I must be return here before the sun sets.”
They locked the tomb and left, climbed over the wall of the churchyard, which was not much of a task, and drove back to Piccadilly.
* * *
Van Helsing went alone to watch in the churchyard. He wanted to prevent the undead Lucy from leaving so that the next day, she would be more eager. He fixed things she would not like—garlic and a crucifix—to seal up the door of the tomb. She was young as an undead, and would heed them. Moreover, they were only to prevent her coming out. They might not prevail her wanting to get in, for then the undead were desperate, and must find the line of least resistance, whatever it may be. He intended to stay all night, from sunset until after sunrise, and if there anything that could be learned, he would learn it.
Van Helsing had no fear for Lucy or of her, but the other, the one who was the reason she was undead, he now had the power to seek her tomb and find shelter. He was cunning, as Van Helsing knew from Jonathan and from the way that all along he had fooled them when he fought with them for Lucy’s life, and they lost. In many ways the undead were strong. He would have the strength of twenty men. All four who gave strength to Lucy gave it all to him. He could summon a wolf and Van Helsing didn’t know what else. So if he came there that night, he would find Van Helsing, but no one else would until it was too late. But hopefully he would not come to the place. There was no reason why he should. His hunting ground was more full of game than the churchyard where the undead woman slept, and the one old man watched.
Just in case, Van Helsing had left a note for Jack, along with the diaries of Jonathan and the Mina and Lucy’s letters. If he did not return, he hope that when Jack had read them, he would find this great undead creature, and cut off its head and burn its heart or drive a stake through it, so that the world might be saved from it.
* * *
It was wonderful what a good night’s sleep would do. The previous day, Jack had almost been willing to accept Van Helsing’s monstrous ideas. Now they seem lurid outrages against common sense. Jack had no doubt that Van Helsing believed it all. He wondered if the professor’s mind had become unhinged. Surely there must be some rational explanation for all these mysterious things. Was it possible that Van Helsing could have done it himself? He was so abnormally clever that if he lost his mind, he could carry out his intent with regard to some fixed idea in a wonderful way. Jack was loath to think it, and it would be almost as great a marvel as the alternative to find that Van Helsing was mad. He resolved to watch the professor carefully. He might get some insight into the mystery.
* * *
At a little before ten o’clock, Arthur and Quincey came into Van Helsing’s room. The professor told them all what he wanted them to do, especially addressing himself to Arthur, as all their wills were centred in his.
“I hoped you will all come with me. There is a grave duty to be done,” Van Helsing began, before turning to Arthur. “You were doubtless surprised at my letter?”
“I was. It upset me for a bit,” said Arthur. “There has been so much trouble in my life lately that I could do without any more. I have been curious, too, as to what you mean. Quincey and I talked it over, but the more we talked, the more puzzled we got, until now I can say for myself that I’m unsure as to what you mean about anything.”
“Me too,” said Quincey laconically.
“You are nearer the beginning, both of you, than Jack here,” said the Professor, “who had to go a long way back before he could even get so far as to begin.”
It was evident that Van Helsing had recognized Jack’s return to doubt without his saying a word. Turning to the other two, he spoke with intense gravity.
“I want your permission to do what I think good this night. It is, I know, a lot to ask. When you know what I propose to do, you will know, and only then, how much. Therefore, may I ask that you promise me without knowing, so that afterwards, though you may be angry with me for a time—I will not hide that that may be—you will not blame yourselves for anything.”
“That’s frank at least,” broke in Quincey. “I’ll speak for the professor. I don’t quite see his drift, but I swear he’s honest, and that’s good enough for me.”
“I thank you, sir,” said Van Helsing proudly. “I have done myself the honour of counting you a trusted friend, and such endorsement is dear to me.”
He held out a hand, which Quincey took.
“Dr. Van Helsing, I don’t like to ‘buy a pig in a poke,’ as they say in Scotland, and if anything would violate my honour as a gentleman or my faith as a Christian, I cannot make such a promise,” said Arthur. “If you can assure me that what you intend does not violate either of these, then I give my consent at once, though for the life of me, I cannot understand what you are driving at.”
“I accept your limitation,” said Van Helsing, “and all I ask of you is that if you feel it necessary to condemn any act of mine, you first consider it well and be satisfied that it does not violate your reservations.”
“Agreed!” said Arthur. “That is only fair. And now that the negotiations are over, may I ask what we are doing?”
“I want you to come with me, and to come in secret, to the churchyard at Kingstead.”
Arthur’s face fell.
“Where poor Lucy is buried?” he asked, amazed.
The Professor bowed.
“And when there?” Arthur asked.
“We will enter the tomb!” said Van Helsing.
Arthur stood up.
“Professor, are you in earnest, or this some monstrous joke? Pardon me, I see that you are in earnest.”
Arthur sat down again, but Jack could see that he sat firmly and proudly, as one who is keeping his dignity.
“And when in the tomb?” he asked.
“We will open the coffin.”
“This is too much!” Arthur said, angrily rising again. “I am willing to be patient in all things that are reasonable. But in this—this desecration of the grave—of one who——”
He choked with indignation. The Professor looked pityingly at him.
“If I could spare you one pang, my friend,” he said, “God knows I would. But tonight, our feet must tread thorny paths. Otherwise later, and forever, the feet of the one you love must walk in paths of flame!”
“Would it not be best to hear what I have to say?” said Van Helsing. “Then you will at least know the limits of my purpose. Shall I go on?”
“That’s fair enough,” broke in Morris.
After a pause Van Helsing went on, evidently with an effort.
“Lucy is dead. Is that not so? Then there can be no wrong to her. But if she is not dead…”
Arthur jumped to his feet.
“Good God!” he cried. “What do you mean? Has there been a mistake? Has she been buried alive?”
He groaned in anguish that not even hope could soften.
“I did not say she was alive. I did not think it. I go no further than to say that she might be undead.”
“Undead! Not alive! What do you mean? Is this a nightmare, or what is it?”
“There are mysteries which men can only guess at, which age by age they may solve only partially. Believe me, we are now on the verge of one. But I am not done. May I cut off the head of dead Miss Lucy?”
“Heavens and earth, no!” cried Arthur in a storm of passion. “Not for the world would I consent to any mutilation of her dead body. Dr. Van Helsing, you push me too far. What have I done to you that you should torture me so? What did that poor, sweet girl do that you should want to cast such dishonour on her grave? Are you mad that you speak such things, or am I mad to listen to them? Don’t dare to think any more of such a desecration. I will not give my consent to anything you do. I have a duty to do in protecting her grave from outrage, and, by God, I shall do it!”
Van Helsing rose up from where he had been seated the entire time.
“Lord Godalming, I, too, have a duty; a duty to others, a duty to you, and a duty to the dead,” he said, gravely and sternly, “and, by God, I shall do it! All I ask you now is that you come with me, that you look and listen. If when, later, I make the same request, if you are not be more eager for its fulfillment even than I am, then—then I shall do my duty, whatever it may seem to me. And then, to follow of your Lordship’s wishes, I will hold myself at your disposal to render an account to you, when and where you will.”
His voice broke a little, then he went on with a voice full of pity.
“I beseech you, do not go forth in anger with me. In a long life of acts which were often unpleasant to do, and which sometimes wrung my heart, I have never had so heavy a task as now. Believe me that if the time comes for you to change your mind towards me, one look from you will wipe away this sad hour, for I would do whatever a man can to save you from sorrow. Just think. Why should I give myself so much labour and sorrow? I have come here from my own country to do what I can for good, at the first to please my friend Jack, and then to help a sweet young lady, whom, too, I came to love. For her—I am ashamed to say this, but I say it in kindness—I gave what you gave: the blood of my veins. I gave it, I, who was not, like you, her lover, but only her physician and her friend. I gave her my nights and days—before death, and after death. And if my death can do her good even now, when she is undead, she shall have it freely.”
He said this with a very grave, sweet pride, and Arthur was much affected by it. He took the old man’s hand.
It was a quarter to twelve when they climbed into the churchyard over the low wall. The night was dark, lit by occasional gleams of moonlight through the rents in the heavy clouds that scudded across the sky. They all kept close together, with Van Helsing slightly in front as he led the way. When they were close to the tomb, Jack looked at Arthur, because worried that the proximity to a place so laden with sorrowful memories would upset him, but he bore himself well. Jack thought that the very mystery of the proceeding was in some way counteracting his grief. The professor unlocked the door, and seeing a natural hesitation among the others, entered first himself. The rest of them followed, and he closed the door. He then lit a dark lantern and pointed to the coffin. Arthur stepped forward hesitantly.
“You were with me here yesterday,” Van Helsing said to Jack. “Was the body of Miss Lucy in that coffin?”
“It was,” said Jack.
The Professor turned to the others.
“You heard. And yet there is no one who believes with me.”
He took his screwdriver and once more removed the lid from the coffin. Arthur looked on, very pale but silent. When the lid was removed, he stepped forward. He evidently did not know that there was a lead coffin inside, or had not thought of it. When he saw the tear in the lead, the blood rushed to his face for an instant, but as quickly fell away again, so that he remained ghastly white. He was still silent. Van Helsing forced back the leaden flange, and they all looked in and recoiled.
The coffin was empty!
For several minutes no one spoke a word.
“Professor, I answered for you,” said Quincey. “Your word is all I need. I wouldn’t ask such a thing ordinarily. I wouldn’t so dishonour you as to imply a doubt. But this is a mystery that goes beyond any honour or dishonour. Is this your doing?”
“I swear to you by all that I hold sacred that I have not removed nor touched her,” said Van Helsing. “What happened was this: Two nights ago, Jack and I came here, with good intentions, believe me. I opened the coffin, which was then sealed up, and we found it, as now, empty. We then waited, and saw something white come through the trees. The next day we came here in day time, and Lucy lay there. Did she not, Jack?”
“Yes,” said Jack.
“That night we were just in time. One more small child was missing, and we found it, thank God, unharmed among the graves. Yesterday I came here before sundown, for at sundown the undead can move. I waited here all night until the sun rose, but I saw nothing. It was most likely because I had laid garlic over the clamps of those doors, which the undead cannot bear, and other things which they shun. Last night there was no exodus, so tonight before sundown I took away my garlic and other things. And so it is we find this coffin empty. But bear with me. So far there is much that is strange. Wait with me outside, unseen and unheard, and you will see stranger things yet. Now to the outside.”
Van Helsing shut the slide on his lamp, opened the door, and they filed out, the professor coming last and locking the door behind him.
It seemed fresh and pure in the night air after the terror of that vault. How sweet it was to see the clouds race by, and the passing gleams of the moonlight between the scudding clouds crossing and passing. It was like the gladness and sorrow of a man’s life. How sweet it was to breathe fresh air that had no taint of death and decay. How humanizing to see the red lightening of the sky beyond the hill, and to hear the far away muffled roar of the life of the great city. Each of them in his own way was solemn and overcome. Arthur was silent, and was, Jack could see, striving to grasp the purpose and the inner meaning of the mystery. Jack was tolerably patient, and half inclined to throw aside doubt and to accept Van Helsing’s conclusions once more. Quincey was phlegmatic in the way of a man who accepts all things with a spirit of cool bravery, hazarding all he has to stake. Not being able to smoke, he cut himself a good sized plug of tobacco and began to chew. As to Van Helsing, he was busy. First he took from his bag a mass of thin, wafer like biscuit, which was carefully rolled up in a white napkin. Next he took out a double handful of some whitish dough or putty. He crumbled the wafer up finely and worked it into the mass between his hands. He then took it and, rolling it into thin strips, began to lay them into the crevices between the door and its setting in the tomb. Jack was somewhat puzzled at this, and being close, asked him what it was that he was doing. Arthur and Quincey drew near also, as they too were curious.
“I am closing the tomb, so that the undead may not enter,” Van Helsing answered.
“And is that stuff you have put there going to do that?” asked Quincey. “Great Scott! Is this a game?”
“What is it that you are using?” asked Arthur.
Van Helsing reverently lifted his hat.
“The Host. I brought it from Amsterdam. I have an Indulgence.”
It was an answer that appalled the most skeptical of them. In the presence of such earnest purpose as the professor’s, a purpose which could use what to him was the most sacred of things, it was impossible to distrust. In respectful silence, they took the places assigned to them around the tomb, but hidden from the view of any one approaching. Jack pitied the others, especially Arthur. Jack had already experienced this watching horror, and yet he, who had up to an hour ago repudiated the proofs, felt his heart sink within him. Never did tombs look so ghastly white. Never did cypress, yew, or juniper so seem to embody funereal gloom. Never did tree or grass wave or rustle so ominously. Never did a bough creak so mysteriously. And never did the far away howling of dogs sound like such a woeful omen in the night.f
There was a long spell of silence, a big, aching void. The the professor hissed and pointed. Far down the avenue of yews, they saw a white figure advance, a dim white figure that held something dark at its breast. The figure stopped, and at the moment a ray of moonlight peirced the masses of driving clouds and showed in startling prominence a dark haired woman, dressed in the cerements of the grave. They could not see her face, for it was bent down over what they saw to be a blonde haired child. There was a pause and a sharp little cry, such as a child gives in sleep, or a dog as it lies before the fire and dreams.
They were starting forward, but the [rofessor’s warning hand, seen by us as he stood behind a yew, kept them back. Then, as they looked on, the white figure moved forward again. It was now near enough for them to see clearly, and the moonlight still held. Jacks heart grew cold as ice, and he could hear Arthur gasp as he recognized the features of Lucy. Lucy, but yet how changed. Her sweetness was turned to adamantine, heartless cruelty, and her purity to voluptuous wantonness. Van Helsing stepped out, and, obedient to his gesture, the others advanced too. The four of them formed a line in front of the door of the tomb. Van Helsing raised his lantern and drew the slide. By the concentrated light that fell on Lucy’s face, they could see that her lips were crimson with fresh blood, and that a stream of it had trickled over her chin and stained the purity of her death robe.
Jack shuddered with horror. He could see by the tremulous light that even Van Helsing’s iron nerves had failed. Arthur was next to Jack, and if he had not seized his arm and held him up, he would have fallen.
When Lucy—or the thing that was before them that bore her shape—saw them, she drew back with an angry snarl, like the one a cat gives when taken unaware. Her eyes ranged over us. They were Lucy’s eyes in form and colour. but Lucy’s eyes unclean and full of hell fire, instead of the pure, gentle orbs the men knew. At that moment, the remnant of Jack’s love passed into hate and loathing. If she had to be killed, he could do it with savage delight. As she looked at them, her eyes blazed with unholy light, and jer face became wreathed with a voluptuous smile. It made Jack shudder to see it! With a careless motion, she flung the child that up until then she had clutched strenuously to her breast to the ground, callous as a devil, growling over it as a dog growls over a bone. The child gave a sharp cry, and lay there moaning. There was a cold bloodedness in the act that wrung a groan from Arthur. When she advanced toward him with outstretched arms and a wanton smile, he fell back and hid his face in his hands. She still advanced, however.
“Come to me, Arthur,” she said with languorous, voluptuous grace. “Leave these others and come to me. My arms are hungry for you. Come, and we can rest together. Come, my husband, come!”
There was something diabolically sweet in her tone—something of the ringing of a glass when struck—that rang even through the brains of the others. As for Arthur, he seemed under a spell. Removing his hands from his face, he opened his arms wide. She was leaping for them when Van Helsing sprang forward and held up his little golden crucifix between them. She recoiled from it, and, with a suddenly distorted face, full of rage, dashed past him as if to enter the tomb.
When within a foot of the door, she stopped, as if arrested by an irresistible force. Then she turned, and her face was shown in a clear burst of moonlight and by the lamp, which was now steady under Van Helsing’s iron nerves. Jack had never seen such baffled malice on a face, and hoped he never would again. Her beautiful colour became livid, her eyes threw out sparks of hell fire, her brows were creased as though the folds of her flesh were the coils of Medusa’s serpents, and her lovely, blood stained mouth gaped open wide. If ever a face meant death—if looks could kill—they saw it at that moment.
For full half a minute, which seemed an eternity, she remained between the raised crucifix and the sealed doors of her mausoleum.
“Answer me, my friend!” Van Helsing said to Arthur. “Am I to proceed in my work?”
Arthur threw himself on his knees, and hid his face in his hands.
“Do as you will, friend, do as you will,” he answered. “There can be no horror like this ever any more.”
He groaned. Quincey and Jack simultaneously moved towards him and took his arms. They heard the click of the lantern closing as Van Helsing put it down. Approaching the tomb, he began to pull the sacred wafer from the chinks around the door. They all looked on in horrified amazement as they saw, when Van Helsing stood back, Lucy, who’s corporeal body was as real at that moment as their own, pass in through a crack where a knife blade could scarcely have gone. They all felt a sense of relief when they saw the Professor calmly restoring the strips of putty around the edges of the door. When this was done, he picked up the child.
“Come now, my friends,” he said. “We can do no more until tomorrow. There is a funeral at noon, but we shall return not long after that. The friends of the dead will all be gone by two, and when the sexton locks the gate, we shall remain. Then there is more to do, but not like what we have done tonight. As for this little one, he has not been harmed much, and by tomorrow night, he shall be well. We will leave him where the police will find him, as we did the other night, and then return home.”
Van Helsing came close to Arthur.
“My friend Arthur, you have had a sore trial,” he said. “But in future, when you look back, you will see how this was necessary. You are now in the bitter waters, my child. By this time tomorrow you will, if it pleases God, have passed them, and have drunk the sweet waters, so do not mourn too much. Until then, I will not ask you to forgive me.”
Arthur and Quincey went home with Jack, and they tried to cheer each other on the way. They had left the child in safety, and were tired. They all went to sleep, more or less.
* * *
A little before twelve o’clock, the three—Arthur, Quincey, and Jack—called on the Professor. It was odd to notice that by common consent they had all put on black clothes. Of course Arthur wore black, for he was in deep mourning, but the rest of them wore it by instinct. They got to the churchyard by half-past one, and strolled about, avoiding official observation, so that when the gravediggers had completed their task and the sexton, under the belief that every one had gone, had locked the gate, they had the place all to themselves. Van Helsing, instead of his little black bag, carried a long leather one, something like a cricket bag. It was obviously fairly heavy.
When they were alone and had heard the last of the footsteps die out up the road, they silently, as if by ordered intention, followed the Professor to the tomb. He unlocked the door, and they entered, closing it behind them. Van Helsing took the lantern from his bag and lit it, and also lit two wax candles, which he stuck, by melting their own ends, on other coffins, so that they would give sufficient light to work by. When he once more lifted the lid off Lucy’s coffin, they all looked—Arthur trembling like an aspen—and saw that her body lay there in all its deathly beauty. There was no love in Jack’s heart, nothing but loathing for the foul thing that had taken Lucy’s shape without her soul. Jack saw even Arthur’s face grew hard as he looked.
“Is this really Lucy’s body, or only a demon in her shape?” Arthur asked Van Helsing.
“It is her body, and yet not it. But wait a while, and you will see her as she was, and is.”
She seemed like a nightmare of Lucy as she lay there. Her pointed teeth, her bloodstained, voluptuous mouth that it made Jack shudder to see, and her whole carnal and unspiritual appearance, seemed like a devilish mockery of Lucy’s sweet purity. Van Helsing, with his usual methodicalness, began taking out the contents of his bag and placing them ready to use. First he took out a soldering iron and some plumbing solder, and then a small oil lamp, which gave out, when lit in a corner of the tomb, gas which burned with fierce heat and a blue flame. Next, his operating knives, which he placed to hand. And last a round wooden stake, three inches thick and about three feet long. One end of it had been hardened by charring it in a fire, and was sharpened to a sharp point. With this stake came a heavy hammer, such as is used in the coal cellar to breaking the lumps of coal. To Jack, a doctor’s preparations for work of any kind were stimulating and bracing, but they caused consternation to both Arthur and Quincey. They both kept their courage, and remained silent and quiet.
“Before we do anything, let me tell you,” said Van Helsing when all was ready, “so of what I have learned from the lore and experience of the ancients and those who have studied the powers of the undead. The transition from living to undead brings with it the curse of immortality. They cannot die, but must go on age after age, adding new victims and multiplying the evils of the world. All who die by the predation of the undead become themselves undead, and prey on humankind. The circle goes on ever widening, like the ripples from a stone thrown into the water. Arthur, if you had met that kiss that you remember before poor Lucy died, or last night when you opened your arms to her, you would, in time, when you had died, have become one of the nosferatu, as they call them in Eastern Europe, and would continue to make more of the undead that so fill us with horror. The career of this so unhappy lady has just begun. Those children whose blood she sucks are not yet much the worse, but if she lived on, undead, more and more, they would lose their blood and by her power over them, come to her. She would draw their blood with that wicked mouth. But if she dies in truth, then all of this ends. The tiny wounds on their throats disappear, and they go back to their playing, forgetting what has happened. But most blessed of all, when Lucy is given true death, then the soul of the poor woman who we love shall once again be free. Instead of working wickedness by night and growing more debased by day, she will take her place among the angels. It will be a blessed hand that strikes the blow that sets her free. I am willing to do this, but is there none among us who has a better right? Will it be no comfort to think in the silence of the night when sleep does not come, ‘it was my hand that sent her to the stars. It was the hand of he that loved her best, the hand that she would herself have chosen, had it been to hers to choose?’ Tell me if there be such a one among us?”
We all looked at Arthur. He saw what we all did: the infinite kindness that suggested that his should be the hand which would restore Lucy as a holy, and not an unholy, memory. He stepped forward, though his hand trembled, and his face was as pale as snow.
“My true friend, from the bottom of my broken heart I thank you,” he said bravely “Tell me what I am to do, and I shall not falter!”
Van Helsing laid a hand on his shoulder.
“Brave lad!” he said. “A moment’s courage, and it will be done. This stake must be driven through her. It will be a fearful ordeal—do not be deceived in that—but it will only take a short time, and you will then rejoice more than you suffered. From this grim tomb, you will emerge as though you tread on air. But you must not falter when once you have begun. Remember that we, your true friends, are round you, and we will pray for you all the time.”
“Go on,” said Arthur hoarsely. “Tell me what I am to do.”
“Take this stake in your left hand, ready to place the point over the heart, and hold the hammer in your right. Then when, we will begin our prayer for the dead. I will read it. I have the book, and the others will follow. Strike in God’s name, that so all may be well with the dead one that we love and the undead will pass away.”
Arthur took the stake and the hammer, and once his mind was set on action. his hands never trembled nor even quivered. Van Helsing opened his missal and began to read, and Quincey and Jack followed as well as they could. Arthur placed the point over Lucy’s heart, and as Jack looked, je could see it dent jer white flesh. Then Arthur struck with all his might.
The thing in the coffin writhed. A hideous, blood curdling screech came from its opened red lips. The body shook and quivered and twisted in wild contortions. The sharp white teeth gnashed together until the lips were cut and the mouth was smeared with crimson foam. Arthur never faltered. He looked like a figure of Thor as his untrembling arm rose and fell, driving the mercy bearing stake deeper and deeper, while the blood from her pierced heart welled and spurted up around it. Arhur’s face was set, and high duty shone through it. The sight gave the others courage and their voices rang through the little vault.
The hammer fell from Arthur’s hand. He reeled and would have fallen had they not caught him. Great drops of sweat sprang from his forehead, and his breath came in broken gasps. It had been an awful strain on him, and had he not been forced to his task by more than human considerations, he could never have gone through with it. For a few minutes, they were so taken up with him that we did not look towards the coffin. When they did, a murmur of startled surprise ran from one to the other. They gazed so eagerly that Arthur rose, for he had been seated on the ground, and came and looked too. A glad, strange light broke over his face and dispelled the gloom of horror that lay upon it.
There, in the coffin, the foul thing that they had so dreaded and grown to hate no longer lay, Her destruction had yielded to the one best entitled to it, Lucy as we had seen her in life, her face of unequalled sweetness and purity. There were, as there had been in life, traces of care and pain and waste. But these were all dear to them, because they marked her true to what they knew. One and all, they felt that the holy calm that lay like sunshine over the wasted face and form was an earthly token and symbol of the calm that was to reign for ever.
Van Helsing came and laid his hand on Arthur’s shoulder.
“And now, Arthur my friend, dear bay, am I forgiven?”
Arthur took the old man’s hand in his and, raising it to his lips, pressed them to it.
“Forgiven!” he said. “God bless you for giving my dear one her soul again, and me peace.”
He put his hands on the Professor’s shoulders, and laying his head on his chest, cried for a while silently, while Jack and Quincey stood unmoving. Then Arthur raised his head.
“And now, my child, you may kiss her,” Van Helsing said to him. “Kiss her dead lips if you will, as she would have you, if it was for her to choose. She is not a grinning devil now, no longer a foul thing for all eternity. No longer she is the devil’s undead. She is God’s true dead, whose soul is with Him!”
Arthur bent and kissed her, and then we sent him and Quincey out of the tomb. The Professor and Jack sawed the top off the stake, leaving the point of it in her body. Then they cut off her head and filled the mouth with garlic. We soldered up the leaden coffin, screwed on the coffin lid, gathered up their tools, and came away. After the Professor locked the door, he gave the key to Arthur.
Outside the air was sweet, the sun shone, the birds sang, and it seemed as if all nature were tuned to a different pitch. There was gladness, mirth, and peace everywhere, because they were at rest themselves and glad, though with a tempered joy.
“Now, my friends, the first step of our work is done, the one most harrowing to ourselves,” said Van Helsing before they moved away. “But there remains a greater task: to find out the author of all this sorrow and to stamp him out. I have clues that we can follow. but it will be a long task, and a difficult one, and there is danger in it, and pain. Will you all help me? We have learned to believe, all of us, is that not so? And since it is so, do we not see our duty? Yes! And do we not promise to go on to the bitter end?”
Each in turn, the others took his hand, and made a promise.
“Two nights from now, we will meet and dine together at seven o’clock with Jack,” the Professor said as they moved off. “I will entreat two others, two that you don’t know as yet, to join us. I will be ready to show all our work and unfold our plans. Jack, come home with me. I have much to consult about, and you can help me. Tonight I leave for Amsterdam, but shall return tomorrow night. Then our great quest will begin. But first I will have much to say, so that you all know what to do and to dread. Then we will make our promise to each other anew. There is a terrible task before us, and once our feet are on the path, we must not draw back.”
Chapter XVII – Preparations
When they arrived at the Berkeley Hotel, Van Helsing found a telegram waiting for him. Mina Harker was coming by train, though Jonathan was not, but had gone to Whitby. She said she had important news.
“Ah, the wonderful Madam Mina,” the Professor said with delight, “pearl among women! She will arrive, but I cannot stay. She must go to your house, Jack. You must meet her at the station. Send her a telegram on the way, so that she is prepared.”
When the wire was dispatched, Van Helsing had a cup of tea. Over it he told Jack about the diary kept by Jonathan Harker while abroad, and gave him a typewritten copy of it, as well as of Mina Harker’s diary from Whitby.
“Take these,” he said, “and study them well. When I have returned you will be a master of all the facts, and we can then better enter on our inquiry. Keep them safe, for there is great treasure in them You will need all your faith, even having had our experience today. What is told here may be the beginning of the end of you, me, and many others. On the other hand, it may sound a death knell for the undead who walk the earth. Read it all, I beg you, with an open mind. If you can add in any way to the story, do so. It is all important. You have kept a diary of all these strange things, haven’t you? Yes! Then we shall go through all of these together when we meet.”
Van Helsing then made ready to depart, and shortly after, drove off to Liverpool Street station. Jack made his way to Paddington, where he arrived about fifteen minutes before Mina’s train came in.
The crowd melted away, in the bustle common to arrival platforms. Jack was beginning to feel uneasy, in case he might have missed his guest, when a sweet faced, dainty looking girl stepped up to him, and gave him a quick glance.
“Dr. Seward, isn’t it?” she said.
“And you are Mrs. Harker!” he answered at once.
“I knew you by poor dear Lucy’s description; but…”
She stopped suddenly, and a quick blush spread over her face. The blush that rose to Jack’s own cheeks somehow set them both at ease. It was a tacit answer to her own. He got her luggage, which included a typewriter, and they took the underground to Fenchurch Street, after Jack had sent a telegram to his housekeeper to have a sitting room and bedroom prepared at once for Mrs. Harker.
In due time, they arrived. Mina knew, of course, that the place was a lunatic asylum, but Jack could see that she was unable to repress a shudder when they entered.
She told Jack that, if she might, she would presently join him in his study, as she had much to say. Jack hadn’t had the chance of looking at the papers that Van Helsing left with me. He opened them in front of him. He must get Mina interested in something, so that he would have an opportunity to read them. She did not know how precious time was, or what a task they had ahead of them. He must be careful not to frighten her.
* * *
After Mina had tidied herself, she went down to Dr. Seward’s study. At the door, she paused a moment, because she thought she heard him talking with someone. Since he had pressed her to be quick, she knocked at the door.
“Come in,” he called out.
Mina entered. To her intense surprise, there was no one with him. He was quite alone, and on the table opposite him was what she knew at once from the description to be a phonograph. She had never seen one, and was very interested.
“I hope I didn’t keep you waiting,” she said. “I waited at the door because I heard you talking, and thought there was some one with you.”
“Oh,” he replied with a smile, “I was only making a entry in my diary.”
“Your diary?” she asked him in surprise.
“Yes,” he answered. “I keep it on this.”
As he spoke he laid his hand on the phonograph. She felt quite excited about it.
“Why, this beats even shorthand!” she blurted out. “May I hear it say something?”
“Certainly,” he replied.
“The fact is,” he began awkwardly, “I only keep my diary with it and as it is entirely—almost entirely—about my cases, it may be awkward—that is, I mean…”
He stopped, and Mina tried to help him out of his embarrassment.
“You helped by attending dear Lucy at the end. Let me hear how she died. For all that I know of her, I shall be very grateful. She was very, very dear to me.”
To her surprise, he was horrorstruck.
“Tell you of her death? Not for the world!”
“Why not?” she asked.
A grave, terrible feeling was came over her. Again, he paused, and Mina could see that he was trying to invent an excuse.
“You see, I do not know how to pick out any particular entry in the diary,” he stammered out.
Even while he was speaking an idea dawned upon him.
“That’s quite true, upon my honour. Honestly!” he said with unconscious simplicity, in a different voice, and with the naivety of a child.
Mina couldn’t help smiling, at which he grimaced.
“I gave myself away that time!” he said. “But do you know that, although I have kept the diary for months, it never once struck me how I was going to find any particular part of it in case I wanted to look it up?”
By this time, Mina’s mind was made up that the diary of the doctor who had attended Lucy might have something to add to the sum of their knowledge of that terrible being.
“Then, Dr. Seward, you had better let me copy it out for you on my typewriter,” she said boldly.
He grew positively deathly pail.
“No! No! No!” he said. “For all the world, I wouldn’t let you know that terrible story!”
Then it was terrible. Mina’s intuition was right! She thought for a moment, and as she looked around the room for something or some opportunity to help her, she saw a large batch of typewritten pages on the table. His eyes caught the look in hers, and, without thinking, followed their direction. Seeing the parcel, he realized her meaning.
“You do not know me,” Mina said. “When you have read those papers—my own diary and my husband’s, which I transcribed—you will know me better. I have not faltered in giving every thought of my own in this cause. But, of course, you do not know me yet, and I must not expect you to trust me so far.”
He was certainly a man of noble nature. Poor dear Lucy was right about him. He stood up and opened a large drawer that contained a number of hollow metal cylinders covered with dark wax.
“You are quite right,” he said. “I didn’t trust you because I didn’t know you. But I know you now, and let me say that I should have known you long ago. I know that Lucy told you about me. She told me about you too. May I make the only atonement in my power? Take these cylinders and listen to them. The first half-dozen of them are personal, and they will not horrify you. Then you will know me better. By then, dinner will be ready. In the meantime, I’ll read over some of these documents, and will be better able to understand certain things.”
He carried the phonograph up to Mina’s sitting room and adjusted it for her. Now she would learn something pleasant, she was sure. It would tell her the other side of a true love story on side of which she knew already.
* * *
Jack was so absorbed in Jonathan Harker’s diary that he let time pass without thinking. Mrs. Harker had not come down when the maid came to announce dinner.
“She may be tired,” said Jack. “Let dinner wait an hour.”
He went on with his work. He had just finished reading Mrs. Harker’s diary when she came in. She looked sweetly pretty, but very sad, and her eyes were teary from crying. This somehow moved Jack. God knew he had had cause for tears, lately, but their relief was denied to him. Now the sight of those sweet eyes, brightened with recent tears, went straight to his heart.
“I greatly fear I have distressed you,” he said as gently as he could.
“Oh, no, I am not distressed,” she replied, “but I have been more touched than I can say by your grief. That is a wonderful machine, but it is cruelly true. It told me, in its very tones, the anguish of your heart. It was like a soul crying out to Almighty God. No one must hear them ever again! I have tried to be useful. I have copied out your words on my typewriter, and no other needs now hear your heart, as I did.”
“No one need ever know, shall ever know,” Jack said in a low voice.
Mina laid her hand on his.
“Ah, but they must!” she said very gravely.
“Must? But why?” Jack asked.
“Because it is part of the terrible story, part of poor dear Lucy’s death and all that led to it. In the struggle that we have before us to rid the earth of this terrible monster, we must have all the knowledge and all the help that we can get. I think that the cylinders you gave me contained more than you intended me to know. I can see that your recordings contain many lights to this dark mystery. You will let me help, won’t you? I know everything up to a certain point, and I see already, though your diary only took me to September seventh, how poor Lucy was beset, and how her terrible doom was being wrought. Jonathan and I have been working day and night since Professor Van Helsing saw us. Jonathon is in Whitby to get more information, and he will be here tomorrow to help us. We need have no secrets among us. Working together with absolute trust, we will surely be stronger than if some of us are in the dark.”
She looked at Jack so appealingly, and at the same time manifested such courage and resolution, that he gave in at once to her wishes.
“You shall,” he said, “do as you like in the matter. God forgive me if I’m doing the wrong thing! There are terrible things you have yet to learn of, but you have travelled so far on the road to poor Lucy’s death, you will not be content to remain in the dark. The end—the very end—may even give you a gleam of peace. Come, here is dinner. We must keep one another strong for what lies before us. We face a cruel and dreadful task. When you have eaten, you can learn the rest, and I will answer any questions you have, if there is anything you don’t understand that was apparent to those were present.”
* * *
After dinner, Mina went with Dr. Seward to his study. He brought back the phonograph from her room, and she took her typewriter. He placed her in a comfortable chair, arranged the phonograph so that she could touch it without getting up, and showed her how to stop if she wanted to pause. Then he very thoughtfully took a chair with his back to her so that she would be as free as possible, and began to read. She put the speaker to her ear and listened.
When the terrible story of Lucy’s death and all that followed was done, Mina lay back in her chair powerless. Fortunately, she was not prone to fainting. When Dr. Seward saw her, he jumped up with a horrified exclamation, quickly took a case-bottle from a cupboard, and gave her some brandy, which in a few minutes restored her a bit. Her brain was in a whirl, and the only thing that came through the multitude of horrors, the holy ray of light that her dear, dear Lucy was at last at peace, allowed Mina to bear it without hysteria. It was so wild, mysterious, and strange that if she had not known of Jonathan’s experience in Transylvania, she would not have believed it. As it was, she didn’t know what to believe. She got out of her difficulty by focusing on something else. She took the cover off her typewriter.
“Let me type this all up now,” she said to Dr. Seward. “We must be ready for Dr. Van Helsing when he returns. I’ve sent a telegram to Jonathan to come here when he arrives in London from Whitby. The dates are important. I think that if we get all our material ready, and have everything in chronological order, we will have done a lot. You tell me that Lord Godalming and Mr. Morris are coming too? Let us be able to tell them when they come.”
He set the phonograph to play more slowly, and Mina began to transcribe from the beginning of the seventh cylinder. She used carbon paper, and so made three copies of the diary, just as she had done with the others. It was late when she finished, but Dr. Seward went on his rounds of the patients. When he had finished, he came back and sat near Mina, reading, so that she did not feel too lonely while she worked. How good and thoughtful he was. The world seemed full of good men, even if there were monsters in it.
Before she left Dr. Seward, she remembered that Jonathan had said that the Professor’s had been upset at reading something in an evening paper at the station in Exeter. Seeing that the doctor kept his newspapers, she borrowed his files of ‘The Westminster Gazette’ and ‘The Pall Mall Gazette,’ and took them to her room. She remembered how much ‘The Dailygraph’ and ‘The Whitby Gazette,’ from which she had made cuttings, had helped her to understand the terrible events at Whitby when Count Dracula landed, so she decided to look through the evening papers since then, and perhaps to shed some new light on things. She was not sleepy, and the work would help to keep her quiet.
* * *
When Jonathan had received Mr. Billington’s courteous message that he would give him any information in his power, he thought it best to go to Whitby and make inquiries. He planned to trace the Count’s horrid cargo to its place in London. Later, they might be able to deal with it. Billington junior, a nice lad, met Jonathan at the station, and brought him to his father’s house, where they had decided that he should stay the night. They were hospitable, with true Yorkshire hospitality, giving him everything he needed, and leaving him free to do as he liked.
They knew that Jonathan was busy and that his stay would be short, and Mr. Billington had all the papers concerning the consignment of boxes ready in his office. It almost gave Jonathan a turn to see one of the letters that he had seen on the Count’s table before he knew of his diabolical plans. Everything had been carefully thought out, and done systematically and with precision. The Count seemed to have been prepared for every obstacle which might be placed by accident in the way of his intentions being carried out. He had taken no chances, and the absolute accuracy with which his instructions were fulfilled was simply the logical result of his care.
Jonathan saw the invoice, and took note of it: “Fifty cases of common earth, to be used for experimental purposes.” Also the copy of letter to Carter Paterson, and their reply. He got copies of both. This was all the information Mr. Billington could give him, so he went down to the port and saw the coastguards, the customs officers and the harbour master. They all had something to say about the strange entry of the ship, which was already taking its place in local tradition, but no one could add to the simple description “fifty cases of common earth.”
Jonathan then saw the station master, who kindly put him in contact with the men who had actually received the boxes. Their tally matched the list exactly, and they had nothing to add except that the boxes were ‘mortally heavy,’ and that shifting them had been dry work. One of them added that it was too bad that there hadn’t been any gentleman such as Jonathan to show some appreciation of their efforts in liquid form. Another added that the thirst the work had generated was such that all the time that had passed had not completely allayed it. Jonathan took care before leaving to lift, for ever and adequately, this source of reproach.
* * *
The station master at Whitby was good enough to give Jonathan a note to his old friend, the station master of King’s Cross, so that when he arrived there the next morning, he was able to ask the man about the arrival of the boxes. He put Jonathan in touch with the proper officials, and he saw that their tally the same as the original invoice.
From there, Jonathan went on to Carter Paterson’s central office, where he was met with the utmost courtesy. They looked up the transaction in their day book and letter book, and at once telephoned their King’s Cross office for more details. By good fortune, the men who did the carting were waiting for work, and the official at once sent them over, along with the way bill and all the papers connected with the delivery of the boxes to Carfax. Here again, Jonathan found the tally agreeing exactly. The carriers’ men were able to supplement the terse written record with a few details. These were, Jonathan shortly found, connected almost solely with the dusty nature of the job, and of the consequent thirst engendered by the operators. Jonathan gave them enough money to later have the opportunity to allay it, and they became more forthcoming.
“That there house, governor, is the oddest I ever was in. Blimey! It ain’t been touched in a hundred years. There was dust that thick in the place that you might have slept on it without hurting your bones. And the place was that neglected that you might have smelled old Jerusalem in it. But the old chapel—that took the cake, that did! Me and my mate, we thought we wouldn’t never get out quick enough. Lord, I wouldn’t take less than a quid a moment to stay there after dark.”
Having been in the house, Jonathan could well believe him. If the knew what Jonathan knew, he would, he thought, have raised his terms. Of one thing Jonathan was now satisfied. All the boxes that arrived in Whitby from Varna on the Demeter had been safely deposited in the old chapel at Carfax.
* * *
Jonathan arrived at the asylum at nine o’clock. He had received his wife’s telegram to do so just before leaving Whitby. He was uncommonly clever, judging from his face, and full of energy. If his journal was true—and judging by Jack’s own wonderful experiences, it must be—he was also a man of great nerve. Going down to the vault a second time was a remarkable piece of daring. After reading his account of it, Jack was prepared to meet a true, but hardly the quiet, businesslike gentleman who arrived.
After lunch, Jonathan and Mina went back to their own room, and as Jack passed the door, he heard the clicking of the typewriter. They were hard at work. Mina said that they were knitting together in chronological order every scrap of evidence they had. Harker had the letters between the consignee of the boxes at Whitby and the carriers in London who took charge of them. He was now reading his wife’s typescript of Jack’s diary. Jack wondered what they made of it.
* * *
It was strange that it never struck Jack that the house next to the asylum might be the Count’s hiding-place! Goodness knew that he had had enough clues from Renfield’s behaviour! If they had had the bundle of letters relating to the purchase of the house earlier, they might have saved poor Lucy! But thinking about that would lead to madness! Jonathan had gone back, and was again collating the material. He said that by dinner-time, they would have a complete connected narrative. He thought that in the meantime, Jack should see Renfield, as previously, the man had been an index to the comings and goings of the Count. Jack hardly saw this yet, but when he got the dates, he supposed he would. What a good thing that Mina put my cylinders into type! They would never have found the dates otherwise.
Jack found Renfield sitting placidly in his room with his hands folded, smiling benignly. He seemed as sane as any one Jack had ever seen. Jack sat down and talked with him about a lot of subjects, all of which Renfield treated naturally. He then, of his own accord, spoke of going home, a subject he had never mentioned to Jack’s knowledge during his time here. In fact, he spoke quite confidently of being discharged at once. Jack believed that, had he not had the chat with Jonathan and read the letters and the dates of Renfield’s outbursts, he would have been prepared to sign for the man after a brief time of observation. As it was, he was darkly suspicious. All Renfield’s breakouts were in some way linked with the proximity of the Count.
What did it mean? Could it be that Renfield’s instinct was satisfied as to the vampire’s ultimate triumph? He himself was zoöphagous, and in his wild ravings outside the chapel door of the deserted house he always spoke of his ‘master.’ This all seemed to confirm the idea. After a while Jack left him. Renfield was a little too sane to make it safe to probe him too deeply with questions. He might begin to think. Jack mistrusted Renfield’s quiet moods. He asked the attendant to look closely after Renfield, and to have a straitjacket ready in case it was needed.
* * *
Mina was so glad that she hardly know how to contain herself. It was a reaction to the haunting fear that she had had, that this terrible situation and the reopening of his old wound might hurt Jonathan. She had watched him leave for Whitby with as brave a face as she could, but she’d been sick with apprehension. The trip had done him good. He had never been so resolute, strong, and full of volcanic energy. It was just as dear, good Professor Van Helsing said. Jonathan was true grit, and he improved under strain that would kill a weaker man.
Jonathan had come back full of life and hope and determination. Having read Jack Seward’s diary, he planned to try to see the carters who taken away the boxes from Carfax when Renfield attacked them. By following up that clue they might learn a good deal. He and Mina worked all day, and put all the papers into order. She felt wild with excitement. She supposed she ought to pity anything so hunted as is the Count. But that was just it: the thing was not human, not even a beast. Reading Dr. Seward’s account of poor Lucy’s death and what followed was enough to dry up the springs of pity in her heart.
Later, Lord Godalming and Mr. Morris arrived earlier than expected. Dr. Seward was out on business, and had taken Jonathan with him, so Mina had to see them. It was a painful meeting, because it brought back all poor dear Lucy’s hopes of only a few months ago. Of course they had heard Lucy speak of Mina, and it seemed that Dr. Van Helsing, too, has been blowing her horn, as Mr. Morris expressed it. Neither of the poor men were aware that she know all about the proposals they made to Lucy. They did not quite know what to say or do, as they were ignorant about how much she knew, so they kept the conversation to neutral subjects.
Mina thought the matter over, and came to the conclusion that the best thing she could do would be to bring them right up to date. She knew from Dr. Seward’s diary that they had been at Lucy’s death—her real death—and that she didn’t need to worry about betraying any secrets too soon. She told them, as well as she could, that she had read all the papers and diaries, and that she and Jonathan, having typewritten them, had just finished putting them in order. She gave them each a copy to read in the library. When Lord Godalming got his, he turned it over. It did make a pretty good pile.
“Did you type all this, Mrs. Harker?” he asked.
“I don’t quite see the drift of it,” he said, “but you people are all so good and kind, and have been working so earnestly and so energetically, that all I can do is accept your ideas blindfold and try to help you. I have had one lesson already in accepting facts that should make a man humble to the last hour of his life. Besides, I know you loved my poor Lucy”
He turned away and covered his face with his hands. Mina could hear the tears in his voice. Mr. Morris, with instinctive delicacy, laid a hand on his shoulder for a moment, then walked quietly out of the room. Mina supposed there was something that made a man free to break down before a woman and express his feelings on the tender or emotional side without feeling it hurt his manhood. When Lord Godalming found himself alone with her, he sat down on the sofa and gave way utterly and openly. She sat down beside him and took his hand. She hoped he didn’t think it forward of her, and that if he ever thought of it afterwards he would never have such a thought. She could see that his heart was breaking.
“I loved dear Lucy, and I know what she was to you, and what you were to her,” said Mina. “She and I were like sisters. Now she’s gone, will you let me be like a sister to you in your trouble? I know what sorrow you have had, though I cannot measure its depth. If sympathy and pity can help you, let me be of some little service, for Lucy’s sake.”
In an instant the poor man was overwhelmed with grief. All that he had been suffering in silence found a vent at once. He grew hysterical, and raising his open hands, beat his palms together in a perfect agony of grief. He stood up, then sat down again, and tears rolled down his cheeks. She felt an infinite pity for him, and opened her arms unthinkingly. With a sob, he laid his head on her shoulder and cried like a tired child, shaking with emotion.
Women have something of the great mother in them that makes them rise above smaller matters when her spirit is invoked. Mina felt the man’s sorrowing head resting on her as though it were that of the baby that some day might lie on her bosom, and she stroked his hair as though he were her own child. She never thought at the time how strange it was.
After a little bit his sobs ceased, and he rose with an apology, though he made effort to disguise his emotions. He told Mina that for many weary days and sleepless nights, he had been unable to speak with anyone, as a man must do in his time of sorrow. There was no woman whose sympathy could be given to him, or with whom, owing to the terrible circumstances that surrounded his sorrow, he could speak freely.
“I know now how I suffered,” he said, as he dried his eyes, “but I do not know even yet, and no one can ever know, how much your sweet sympathy has meant to me today. I shall know better in time, and believe me that my gratitude will grow with my understanding. Let me be like a brother, won’t you, for the rest of our lives, for dear Lucy’s sake?”
“For Lucy’s sake,” Mina said as they clasped hands.
“Yes, and for your own sake,” he added, “for if a man’s esteem and gratitude are ever worth winning, you have won mine today. If you ever need a man’s help, believe me, you will not call in vain. God grant that no such time may ever come to you and break the sunshine of your life, but if it should ever come, promise me that you will let me know.”
He was so earnest, and his sorrow was so fresh, that Mina felt it would comfort him.
“I promise,” she said.
Mina left Arthur. As she came along the corridor, she found Mr. Morris looking out a window. He turned as he heard her footsteps.
“How is Arthur?” he said, then noticed her red eyes before going on. “Ah, I see you have been comforting him. Poor fellow! He needs it. No one but a woman can help a man when he has a troubled heart, and he had no one to comfort him.”
Quincey bore his own trouble so bravely that Mina’s heart bled for him. She saw the manuscript in his hand, and knew that when he read it he would realize how much she knew.
“I wish I could comfort all who suffer at heart,” she said to him. Will you let me be your friend, and come to me for comfort if you need it? You will know, later on, why I say this.”
He saw that she was in earnest, took her hand, and raising it to his lips, kissed it. It seemed poor comfort to such a brave and unselfish a soul, and she impulsively bent over and kissed him. The tears rose in his eyes, and he momentarily choked up.
“Little girl, you will never regret that true hearted kindness, so long as ever you live!” he said quite calmly.
Jack got home at five o’clock, and found that Arthur and Quincey had not only arrived, but had already studied the transcript of the various diaries and letters that Jonathan and his wonderful wife Mina had made and arranged. Jonathan had gone to visit to the carriers’ men, who Dr. Hennessey had written to Jack about. Mina gave them all a cup of tea, and Jack could honestly say that, for the first time since he had lived in it, the old house seemed like home.
“Dr. Seward, may I ask a favour?” said Mina when they had finished. “I want to see your patient, Mr. Renfield. Please let me see him. What you have said about him in your diary interests me so much!”
She looked so appealing and so pretty that Jack could not refuse her, and there was no possible reason why he should, so he took her with him. When he went into Renfield’s room, he told the man that a lady would like to see him.
“Why?” Renfield asked him simply.
“She is going through the house, and wants to see every one in it,” Jack answered.
“Oh, very well,” Renfield said. “Let her come in, by all means. Just wait a minute until I tidy up the place.”
His method of tidying was peculiar: he simply swallowed all the flies and spiders in his boxes before Jack could stop him. It was evident that he feared, or was jealous of, interference.
“Let the lady come in,” he said cheerfully when he had finished his disgusting task.
He sat down on the edge of his bed with his head down, but with his eyelids raised so that he could see her as she entered. For a moment, Jack thought that he might have some homicidal inten. He remembered how quiet Renfield had been just before he attacked Jack in his study, and he took care to stand where he could seize the man at once if he attempted to spring at Mina. She came into the room with an easy grace which would at once command the respect of any lunatic. Ease was one of the qualities the mad most respected. She walked over to him, smiling pleasantly, and held out her hand.
“Good evening, Mr. Renfield,” said she. “You see, I know you, for Dr. Seward has told me of you.”
“You’re not the girl the doctor wanted to marry, are you?” he said, to Jack’s intense astonishment. “You can’t be, you know, for she’s dead.”
Mina smiled sweetly.
“Oh no! I have a husband of my own, to whom I was married before I ever saw Dr. Seward, or he me,” she replied. “I am Mrs. Harker.”
“Then what are you doing here?”
“My husband and I are visiting Dr. Seward.”
“Then don’t stay.”
Jack thought that this conversation might not be pleasant to Mina, any more than it was to him, so he joined in.
“How did you know I wanted to marry anyone?” he asked.
Renfield’s reply was contemptuous, given in a pause in which he turned his eyes from Mina to Jack, before instantly turning them back again.
“What an asinine question!”
“I don’t see that at all, Mr. Renfield,” said Mine, at once championing Jack.
He replied to her with as much courtesy and respect as he had shown contempt to Jack.
“You will, of course, understand, Mrs. Harker, that when a man is so loved and honoured as my host is, everything regarding him is of interest in our little community. Dr. Seward is loved not only by his household and his friends, but even by his patients, who, being hardly in mental equilibrium, are apt to distort causes and effects. Since I myself have been an inmate of this lunatic asylum, I cannot help notice that the sophistic reasoning of some of its inmates leans towards causal fallacies and irrelevant conclusions.”
Jack opened his eyes wide at this new development. His own pet lunatic, the most pronounced of his type that Jack had ever met, was talking elemental philosophy in the manner of a polished gentleman. He wondered if Mrs. Harker’s presence had touched some chord in Refield’s memory. If this new phase was spontaneous, or in any way due to her unconscious influence, she must have some rare gift or power.
They continued to talk for some time, and, seeing that he was quite reasonable, she ventured, looking at Jack questioningly as she began, to lead Renfield to his favourite topic. Jack was again astonished, because Renfield addressed the question with the impartiality of complete sanity. He even gave himself as an example when he mentioned certain things.
“Why, I myself am a man who holds strange beliefs. It is no wonder that my friends were alarmed, and insisted on my being committed. I used to believe that life was a positive and perpetual energy, and that by consuming a multitude of living things, no matter how low on the scale of creation, one might indefinitely prolong life. At times I held this belief so strongly that I actually tried to take human life. The doctor here will corroborate me. On one occasion I tried to kill him to strengthen my vital powers by assimilating his life into my own body through the medium of his blood—relying, of course, upon the Scriptural phrase, ‘for the blood is the life.’ Though, indeed, the vendor of a certain remedy has vulgarized the truism to the point of contempt. Isn’t that true, doctor?”
Jack nodded assent. He was so amazed that he hardly knew what to think or say. It was hard to imagine that he had seen Renfield eating spiders and flies not five minutes before. Looking at his watch, Jack saw that he should go to the station to meet Van Helsing.
“It’s time to leave,” he told Mina.
“Goodbye, and I hope I may see you often, in circumstances pleasanter to yourself,” she said pleasantly to Renfield.
“Goodbye, my dear, I pray to God that I never see your sweet face again. May He bless and keep you!” he replied, to Jack’s astonishment.
When Jack went to the station to meet Van Helsing, he left the boys behind. Arthur seemed more cheerful than he’d been since Lucy had first taken ill, and Quincey was more like his own bright self than he had been for a long time.
Van Helsing stepped from the carriage with the eager nimbleness of a boy. He saw Jack at once, and rushed up to him.
“Ah, Jack, how is everything going? Well?” he asked. “So! I have been busy, because I come here ready to stay if needed. All my affairs are settled, and I have much to tell you. Is Mina with you? Yes. And her fine husband? And Arthur and my friend Quincey, are they with you, too? Good!”
As Jack drove to the house, he told Van Helsing what had happened, and how his own diary become useful through Mina’s suggestion.
“Ah, that wonderful Madam Mina!” the professor interrupted. “She has a man’s mind—the mind of a greatly gifted man—and a woman’s heart. God fashioned her for a purpose, believe me, when He made such a good combination. Jack, up until now, luck has given us her help. After tonight, she must not be involved in this terrible affair. It is not good that she runs so great a risk. We men are determined, even pledged, to destroy this monster. but this fight is no place for a woman. Even if she is not harmed, her heart may fail her with so much and so many horrors. Afterwards, she may suffer both in waking, from her nerves, and in sleep, from dreams. Besides, she is a young woman and not long married; there may be other things to think of some time, if not now. You tell me she has written it all, so she must consult with us, but tomorrow she say goodbye to this work, and we must go on alone.”
Jack agreed heartily with Van Helsing, and told him what they had found in his absence: that the house that Dracula had bought was the one next door to the asylum. He was amazed, and became greatly concerned.
“If only we had known this before!” he said, “Then we might have reached him in time to save poor Lucy. However, it’s no use crying over spilled milk, as you say. We shall not think of this, but keep on our way to the end.”
Van Helsing fell into a silence that lasted until they entered the asylum gate. They went to prepare for dinner,
“I am told, Madam Mina,” said Van Helsing, “that you and your husband have put in exact order all things that have been, up to this moment.”
“Not up to this moment, Professor,” she said impulsively, “but up to this morning.”
“But why not up to now? We have already seen what a difference all the little things have made. We have told our secrets, and yet no one who has told is the worse for it.”
Mina began to blush, and took some papers from her pocket.
“Dr. Van Helsing, will you read this, and tell me if it must go in? It’s my record of today. I too have seen the need of recording everything, however trivial, but there is little in this except what’s personal. Must it go in?”
The Professor read it over gravely, and handed it back.
“It need not go in if you do not wish it,” he said, “but I hope that it does. It can only make your husband love you more, and all us, your friends, honour you, as well as esteem and love you.”
She took it back with another blush and a bright smile.
After dinner, Mina made all the records complete and in order up to the hour. The Professor took away a copy to study after dinner before their meeting, which was fixed for nine o’clock. The rest of them had already read everything, so when they met in the study they would all have all the facts, and could arrange their plan of battle with their terrible and mysterious enemy.
* * *
They met in Jack’s study two hours after dinner, which had been at six o’clock, and unconsciously formed a committee. Professor Van Helsing took the head of the table, which Jack motioned him to do as he came into the room. He made Mina sit next to him on his right, and asked her to act as secretary. Jonathan sat next to her. Opposite them were Arthur, Jack, and Quincey. Arthur sat next the Professor, and Jack in the centre.
“I take it that we are all acquainted with the facts that are in these papers?” asked Van Helsing.
They all expressed assent.
“Then I think it’s best that I tell you something of the enemy we are dealing with. I’ll tell you the history of this man, as much as I’ve been able to ascertain. Then, we can discuss what to do. First, there are beings called vampires. Most of us have seen evidence that they exist. Even if we didn’t have the proof of our own unhappy experiences, the teachings and the records of the past give proof enough for sane people. I admit that at first, I was skeptical. If it weren’t for the long years I have trained myself to keep an open mind, I would not have believed until the facts thundered in my ears: ‘see! see! I prove. I prove.’ Had I known at first what I know now, or even guessed at it, a precious life might have been spared for the many who loved her. But that is done, and we must work so that other poor souls that we can save don’t perish. The nosferatu do not die like the bee when it stings. They only grow stronger, and being stronger, have even more power to work evil. This vampire living among us has the strength of twenty men. Its cunning is more than mortal, because it has grown over ages. It has the aid of necromancy, the art of divination by the dead, and all the dead that it comes near are its to command. It is brutal, and more than brutal. It is as callous as the devil, heartless. It can, with limitations, appear at will whenever and wherever it wants, in any of the forms that belong to it. Within its range, It can, direct the elements: storms, fog, and thunder. It can command rats, owls, bats, moths, foxes, and wolves. It can grow or become small. At times, it will vanish. How are we to begin to destroy it? How will we find where it is, and having found it, how can we destroy it? My friends, this is a terrible task that we undertake, and there may be consequences that make the brave shudder. If we fail, it will surely win. Life is nothing; I don’t care if I die. But to fail here is not to merely die. If we fail, we become like it. We become foul creatures of the night, without hearts or consciences, preying on the bodies and souls of those we love. The gates of heaven would be forever shut to us, for who would open them to us again? We would spend eternity hated by all, a blot on the face of God’s sunshine, and an arrow in the side of the one who died for all men. But we are face to face with duty. Can we shrink from it? I cannot, but I am old, and life, with its sunshine, fair places, birdsong, music and love, lies behind me. You are young. You have seen sorrow, but you have fair days yet in store. What do you say?”
While the Professor was speaking, Jonathan had taken Mina’s hand. She had worried so much that the appalling nature of their danger was overcoming him when she saw his hand stretch out, but it was life to her to feel its touch—so strong, so self-reliant, so resolute. A brave man’s hand could speak for itself. It did not even need a woman’s love to hear its music.
When the Professor had done speaking, Jonathan looked in her eyes, and she in his. There was no need for speach between them.
“I answer for Mina and myself,” he said.
“Count me in, Professor,” said Quincey, concise as usual.
“I am with you,” said Arthur, “for Lucy’s sake, if for no other reason.”
Jack simply nodded. The Professor stood up and, after laying his golden crucifix on the table, held out his hands to either side. Mina took his right hand, and Arthur his left. Jonathan held Mina’s right with his left and stretched across to Quincey. As they all took hands, a solemn compact was made. Lucy felt her heart icy cold, but it did not occur to her to draw back. They resumed our places, and Dr. Van Helsing went on with a cheerfulness that showed that the serious work had begun. It was to be taken as gravely, and in as businesslike a way, as any other transaction in life.
“You know what we must contend with, but we, too, are not without strength. We have on our side power of cooperation—a power denied to vampire kind. We have the resources of science. We are free to act and think, and the hours of both day and night are ours equally. In fact, as far as our powers extend, they are unfettered, and we are free to use them. We have devotion to a cause, and an end to achieve that is not a selfish one. These are not small things. Let us see how far the powers arrayed against us are restricted. What are the limitations of vampires in general, and of this one in particular? All we have to go on are traditions and superstitions. At first, these don’t appear to help much, when the matter is one of more than either life or death. Yet must we be satisfied, in the first place because we have to be, we have no alternative, and secondly, because these traditions and superstitions are everything. Belief in vampires rests on them—for others, not for us. A year ago, which of us would have conceived of such a possibility, in the midst of our scientific, skeptical, matter of fact nineteenth century? We even doubted what we saw with our own eyes. Take it, then, that vampires, their limitations and their destruction, all rest on the same beliefs. Vampires are known everywhere that men have been: in ancient Greece, in old Rome, all over Germany, in France, in India, even in China, so far from us in all ways. Even there, peoples fear them to this day. They followed the wake of the Vikings, the devil begotten Huns, the Slavs, the Saxons, and the Magyars. Many of these beliefs are justified by what we have seen in our own unhappy experience. Vampires do not die by the mere passage of the time, They flourish when they can fatten themselves on the blood of the living. We have seen that they can even grow younger; that their vital faculties grow stronger, and seem to refresh themselves when their prey is plentiful. They cannot flourish without this diet. They cannot eat as we do. Even Jonathan, who lived with the vampire for weeks, never saw him eat, never! He threw no shadow, and is not reflected by mirrors, as Jonathan observed. He has the strength of many men, as when he shut the door against the wolves, and helped Jonathan from the carriage. He can transform himself to wolf, as he did when the ship arrived in Whitby, when he tore open the dog. He can be a bat, as Mina saw on the window sill in Whitby, and Jack saw fly from the house next door, and Quincey saw at Lucy’s window. He can create a mist, as the captain of the Demeter proved. From what we know, the area over which he can make this mist is limited, and it can only be around himself. He can travel on moonlit rays as elemental dust, as Jonathan saw the weird sisters do in the castle of Dracula. He can become tiny. We ourselves saw Lucy, before she was at peace, slip through a hairbreadth crack around her tomb door. He can, when once he finds his way, get out of anything or into anything, no matter how closely it is bound or even fused with solder. He can see in the dark, which is no small power in a world where one half is cut off from the light. He can do all these things, but he is not free. He is even more of prisoner than a galley slave, or a madman in his cell. He cannot go where he wants. Though he is unnatural, he has to obey some of nature’s laws—why we don’t know. He may not enter anywhere unless some one of the household first bids him to come in, though afterwards he can come as he pleases. His power ceases, as does that of all evil things, at the coming of the day. He has limited freedom only at certain times. If he is not at the place where he is bound, he can only change himself at noon or exactly at sunrise or sunset. These are the tales that are told, and our own record proves them by inference. He can do as he wants within his limits, when he has his earthly home, his coffin, or an unhallowed place, as we saw when he went to the grave of the suicide at Whitby. At other times he can only change when the time comes. It is said that he can only pass running water at low or high tide. There are things that so afflict him that he is powerless, like garlic, and sacred things like this symbol, my crucifix. In their presence, he take a place far off and silent with respect. There are others, too, that I will tell you about, in case we need them. A branch of wild rose on his coffin will keep him from moving from it. A sacred bullet fired into the coffin can kill him so that he is truly dead. We already know that driving a stake through him will end him, as will cutting off his head. We have seen this with our eyes. When we find the resting place of this creature, we can confine him to his coffin and destroy him, if we use what we know. But he is clever. I have asked my friend Arminius, of Budapest University, to learn the vampire’s history and use all means to tell me of what he has done. He may be Voivode Dracula, who won his name fighting the Turks, over the great river on the frontier of Turkey. If this is so, then was he no common man. At that time, and for centuries after, he was said to be the cleverest and the most cunning, as well as the bravest of the sons of the land beyond the forest. That mighty brain and iron resolution may not have gone with him to his grave, and may even now be arrayed against us. The Draculas were, according to Arminius, a great and noble race, though now and again there were scions who were held by their contemporaries to have had dealings with the devil. They learned Satan’s secrets in the Scholomance school of black magic, in the mountains over Lake Hermanstadt, where the evil one claimed every tenth scholar as his due. The legends use words such as ‘stregoica’, meaning witch, ‘ordog’ Satan, and ‘pokol’ hell. In one manuscript, Dracula himself is referred to as a ‘wampyr’. Dracula had many great descendants, and their graves sanctify the earth where alone this foul creature can dwell. It is not the least of its terrors that this evil thing is rooted deep in all that is good. It cannot rest in soil that is barren of holy memories.”
While Van Helsing was talking, Quincey was looking steadily at the window, and he now got up quietly and went out of the room. After a short pause, the Professor went on.
“We must decide what to do. We have a lot of data, and we must now lay our plans. We know from Jonathan’s inquiries that fifty boxes of earth came from the castle to Whitby, all of which were delivered here to Carfax. We also know that at least some of these boxes have been removed. It seems to me that our first step should be to determine whether all the rest remain in the house behind that wall, or whether any more have been removed. If the latter, we must trace”
They were interrupted in a startling way. Outside the house, they heard a pistol firing, and the glass of the window was shattered by a bullet, which ricochetted off the top of the window frame and struck the far wall of the room. Mina cried out. The men all jumped to their feet. Arthur ran over to the window and threw up the sash. As he did, the heard Quincey’s voice outside.
“Sorry! I’m afraid I’ve alarmed you. I’ll come in and tell you about it.”
A minute later he came in.
“That was an idiotic thing of me to do, and I ask your pardon, Mrs. Harker, most sincerely,” he said. “I think I must have frightened you terribly. But the fact is that while the Professor was talking, a big bat came and sat on the window sill. I have got such a terror of the damned things from recent events that I cannot stand them, and I went out to take a shot a it, as I have been doing of late in the evening whenever I see one. You used to laugh at me for it, Arthur.”
“Did you hit it?” asked Dr. Van Helsing.
“I don’t know,” said Quincey. “I’d guess not. It flew away into the wood.”
Without saying any more he took his seat, and the Professor resumed talking.
“We must trace each of these boxes. When we are ready, we must either capture or kill the monster in his lair, or sterilize the earth, so that he can no longer seek safety in it, and in the end, find him in human form between the noon and sunset, and engage him when he is at his most weak. For you, Madam Mina, this night is the end of your involvement until all is well. You are too precious to us to risk. When we part tonight, you must ask no more questions. We will tell you all in good time. We are men and are able to bear this. You must be our star and our hope, and we shall act more freely if you are not in the danger that as we are.”
All the men, even Jonathan, seemed relieved. It didn’t seem right to Mina that they would face danger and, perhaps, lessen their safety—strength in numbers being the best safety—by excluding her. But their minds were made up, and, though it was a bitter pill for her to swallow, she said nothing, save to accept their chivalrous care of her.
“As there is no time to lose, I vote we have a look at his house right now,” said Quincey. “Time is everything with him, and swift action on our part may save another victim.”
Mina’s heart began to fail her when she realized the time for action was so close, but she did not say anything. She feared that if she appeared as a drag or a hindrance to their work, they might leave her out of their counsels altogether.
The men left for Carfax with the means to get into the house. They told Mina to go to bed and sleep, as if she could sleep when those she loved were in danger! She did, however, lie down and pretended to sleep so Jonathan wouldn’t have added anxiety about her when he returned.
* * *
Just as they were about to leave the house, one of his staff brought Jack an urgent message from Renfield. The man wanted Jack to see him at once, saying he had something of the utmost importance to say to him. Jack told the messenger to say that he would attend to Renfield in the morning; he was busy at the moment.
“He seems very persistent, sir,”said the attendant. “I’ve never seen him so eager. I expect that if you don’t see him soon, he will have one of his violent fits.”
Jack knew the man would not have said this without some cause.
“All right; I’ll go now,” he said, and turned to his companions. “Will you wait a few minutes for me? I must go and see my patient.”
“Take me with you, Jack,” said the Professor. “His case in your diary interests me much, and it has bearing on our endeavour. I should much like to see him, and especial when his mind is disturbed.”
“May I come as well?” asked Arthur.
“Me too?” said Quincey.
“May I come?” said Harker.
Jack nodded, and they all went down the passage together.
They found Renfield excited, but far more rational than Jack had ever seen him. He had an unusual understanding of himself, unlike anything Jack had seen in a lunatic. He looked as though he took it for granted that his reasons would prevail with others who were entirely sane. The four companions went into the room.
“Doctor, I request that release me from the asylum at once and send me home,” said Renfield. “I have completely recovered, and am sane. I appeal to your friends. They will, perhaps, not mind sitting in judgment on my case. By the way, you have not introduced me.”
Jack was so astonished that the oddness of introducing a madman in an asylum did not strike him at the moment. There was a certain dignity in the man’s manner, and such a habit of equality, that Jack at once made the introduction.
“Lord Godalming, Professor Van Helsing, Mr. Quincey Morris, of Texas, this is Mr. Renfield.”
Renfield shook hands with each of them.
“Lord Godalming,” he said, “I had the honour of seconding your father for membership in the Windham club. I grieve to know that, by your holding the title, he is no more. He was loved and honoured by all who knew him, and in his youth was, I have heard, the inventor of a burnt rum punch much patronized on Derby night. Mr. Morris, you should be proud of your great state. Its reception into the Union was a precedent which may have far reaching effects in future, when regions from the pole to the tropics may make alliances with the stars and stripes. The power of treaty may yet prove a vast engine of enlargement, when the Monroe doctrine takes its true place as a political fable. What can any man say of his pleasure at meeting Van Helsing? Sir, I make no apology for dropping all forms of conventional address. When an individual has revolutionized therapy via his discovery of the continuous evolution of brain matter, conventional forms are unfitting, since they would seem to limit him to being one of a class. You, gentlemen, who by nationality, heredity, or the possession of natural gifts, are fitted to hold your respective places in the moving world, I ask to witness that I am as sane as at least the majority of men who are in full possession of their freedom. And I am sure that you, Dr. Seward, as a humanitarian and medico-jurist as well as scientist, will deem it a moral duty to deal with me as one to be considered under exceptional circumstances.”
Renfield made this last appeal with a courtly air of conviction which was not without its own charm. Jack was staggered. He was convinced, despite his knowledge of the man’s character and history, that his reason had been restored. Jack felt a strong impulse to tell Renfield that he was satisfied as to his sanity, and would see about the necessary formalities for his release in the morning. He thought it better to wait, however, before making so grave a statement, because he knew the sudden changes to which this particular patient was liable. He contented himself with making the general statement that Renfield appeared to be improving very rapidly, that he would have a longer chat with him in the morning, and would then see what he could do about meeting his wishes. This did not at all satisfy Renfield.
“I fear, Dr. Seward, that you fail to understand my wish,” he said quickly. “I desire to go at once—here—now—this very hour—this very moment, if I may. Time presses, and in our implied agreement with the grim reaper, it is the essence of the contract. I am sure it is only necessary to put before so admirable a practitioner as Dr. Seward so simple, yet so momentous a wish, to ensure its fulfillment.”
He looked at Jack keenly, and seeing the negative in his face, turned to the others, and scrutinized them closely. Not meeting sufficient response, he went on.
“Is it possible that I have erred in my supposition?” he asked.
“You have,” Jack said frankly, but at the same time, he felt, brutally.
There was a considerable pause.
“Then I suppose I must alter my request,” Renfield said slowly. “Let me ask for this concession—boon, privilege, whatever you wish to call it. I am content to implore you, not on personal grounds, but for the sake of others. I am not at liberty to give you all of my reasons, but you may, I assure you, take it from me that they are good ones, sound and unselfish, and spring from the highest sense of duty. If you could look, sir, into my heart, you would fully approve of the sentiments that animate me. You would count me among the best and truest of your friends.”
Again he looked at them all keenly. Jack had a growing conviction that this sudden change of Renfield’s entire intellectual method was yet another form or phase of his madness, and decided to let him go on a little longer, knowing from experience that he would, like all lunatics, give himself away in the end. Van Helsing was gazing at Renfield with a look of utmost intensity, his bushy eyebrows almost meeting with the fixed concentration of his look.
“Can you not tell frankly your real reason for wishing to be free to-night?” he said to Renfield in a tone that did not surprise Jack at the time, but only when he thought of it afterwards, because it was as if Van Helsing was addressing an equal. “I will promise that if you will satisfy even me, a stranger, without prejudice, and with the habit of keeping an open mind, Dr. Seward will give you, at his own risk and on his own responsibility, the privilege you seek.”
Renfield shook his head sadly, and with a look of poignant regret on his face.
“Come, sir, think,” the Professor said. “You claim the privilege of reason in the highest degree, since you seek to impress us with your complete reasonableness. We have reason to doubt your sanity, since you have not yet been released from medical treatment for this very defect. If you will not help to choose the wisest course, how can we perform the duty which you yourself put upon us? Be wise, and help us, and if we can we shall aid you to achieve your wish.”
Renfield still shook his head
“Dr. Van Helsing, I have nothing to say,” he said. “Your argument is sound, and if I was free to speak, I would not hesitate for a moment, but I am not my own master in the matter. I can only ask you to trust me. If I am refused, responsibility for the consequences does not rest with me.”
Jack thought it was time to end the discussion, which was becoming comically grave, so he moved towards the door.
“Come, my friends, we have work to do,” he said. “Good-night, Renfield.”
As Jack got near the door, a new change came over the patient. Renfield moved toward him so quickly that for the moment, Jack feared another homicidal attack. His fears were groundless. Renfield held up his hands imploringly, and made his petition in a moving manner. As he saw that the very excess of his emotion was militating against him, by restoring us more to our old relations, he became even more demonstrative. Jack glanced at Van Helsing, and saw his own conviction reflected in the professor’s eyes, so he became a little more stern, and motioned to Renfield that his efforts were unavailing. Jack had previously seen the same constantly growing excitement in Renfield when he had made a request of which at the time he had thought much, such, for instance, as when he had wanted a cat. Jack was prepared to see Renfield collapse into the same sullen acquiescence on this occasion. His expectation was not realized. When Renfield found that his appeal was unsuccessful, he became frantic. He threw himself on his knees, held up his hands, wringing them in plaintive supplication, and poured forth a torrent of entreaty, with the tears rolling down his cheeks, and his whole face and form wracked with the deepest emotion.
“I entreat you, Dr. Seward,” he said. “I implore you. Let me out of this house at once. Send me away any way that you want and wherever you want. Send keepers with me with whips and chains. Let them take me in a straitjacket, manacles, and leg irons, even to a jail. But let me go. You don’t know what you do by keeping me here. I am speaking from the depths of my heart—of my very soul. You don’t know who you will wrong, or how, and I may not tell. By all you hold sacred—by all you hold dear—by your love that is lost—by your hope that lives—for the sake of the Almighty, take me out of here and save my soul from guilt! Can’t you hear me, man? Can’t you understand? Will you never learn? Don’t you know that I am sane and earnest now, that I am no lunatic in a mad fit, but a sane man fighting for his soul? Oh, hear me! hear me! Let me go! let me go! let me go!”
Jack thought that the longer this went on. the wilder Renfield would get, and it would bring on a fit. He took his patient by the hand and raised him up.
“Come,” Jack said sternly, “no more of this; we have had quite enough already. Get to your bed and try to behave more discreetly.”
Renfield suddenly stopped and looked at Jack intently for several moments. Then, without a word, he rose, moved over, and sat down on the side of the bed. Hus collapse had come, as it had on former occasions, just as Jack had expected.
More to come…
In act 2, the story moved to England and the pace slowed. Stoker slowly brings it back to the boil.
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