"Well, when I left her, or rather when she left me," I answered.
"Come, let us see," he said. And together we went into the room.
The blind was down, and I went over to raise it gently, whilst VanHelsing stepped, with his soft, cat-like tread, over to the bed.
As I raised the blind, and the morning sunlight flooded the room, Iheard the Professor's low hiss of inspiration, and knowing its rarity, adeadly fear shot through my heart. As I passed over he moved back, andhis exclamation of horror, "Gott in Himmel!" needed no enforcement fromhis agonised face. He raised his hand and pointed to the bed, and hisiron face was drawn and ashen white. I felt my knees begin to tremble.
There on the bed, seemingly in a swoon, lay poor Lucy, more horriblywhite and wan-looking than ever. Even the lips were white, and the gumsseemed to have shrunken back from the teeth, as we sometimes see in acorpse after a prolonged illness. Van Helsing raised his foot to stampin anger, but the instinct of his life and all the long years of habitstood to him, and he put it down again softly. "Quick!" he said. "Bringthe brandy." I flew to the dining-room, and returned with the decanter.He wetted the poor white lips with it, and together we rubbed palm andwrist and heart. He felt her heart, and after a few moments of agonisingsuspense said:--
"It is not too late. It beats, though but feebly. All our work isundone; we must begin again. There is no young Arthur here now; I haveto call on you yourself this time, friend John." As he spoke, he wasdipping into his bag and producing the instruments for transfusion;I had taken off my coat and rolled up my shirt-sleeve. There was nopossibility of an opiate just at present, and no need of one; and so,without a moment's delay, we began the operation. After a time--it didnot seem a short time either, for the draining away of one's blood, nomatter how willingly it be given, is a terrible feeling--Van Helsingheld up a warning finger. "Do not stir," he said, "but I fear that withgrowing strength she may wake; and that would make danger, oh, so muchdanger. But I shall precaution take. I shall give hypodermic injectionof morphia." He proceeded then, swiftly and deftly, to carry out hisintent. The effect on Lucy was not bad, for the faint seemed to mergesubtly into the narcotic sleep. It was with a feeling of personal pridethat I could see a faint tinge of colour steal back into the pallidcheeks and lips. No man knows till he experiences it, what it is to feelhis own life-blood drawn away into the veins of the woman he loves.
The Professor watched me critically. "That will do," he said. "Already?"I remonstrated. "You took a great deal more from Art." To which hesmiled a sad sort of smile as he replied:--
"He is her lover, her _fiance_. You have work, much work, to do for herand for others; and the present will suffice."
When we stopped the operation, he attended to Lucy, whilst I applieddigital pressure to my own incision. I lay down, whilst I waited hisleisure to attend to me, for I felt faint and a little sick. By-and-byhe bound up my wound, and sent me downstairs to get a glass of winefor myself. As I was leaving the room, he came after me, and halfwhispered:--
"Mind, nothing must be said of this. If our young lover should turn upunexpected, as before, no word to him. It would at once frighten him andenjealous him, too. There must be none. So!"
When I came back he looked at me carefully, and then said:--
"You are not much the worse. Go into the room, and lie on your sofa, andrest awhile; then have much breakfast, and come here to me."
I followed out his orders, for I knew how right and wise they were. Ihad done my part, and now my next duty was to keep up my strength. Ifelt very weak, and in the weakness lost something of the amazementat what had occurred. I fell asleep on the sofa, however, wonderingover and over again how Lucy had made such a retrograde movement, andhow she could have been drained of so much blood with no sign anywhereto show for it. I think I must have continued my wonder in my dreams,for sleeping and waking, my thoughts always came back to the littlepunctures in her throat and the ragged, exhausted appearance of theiredges--tiny though they were.
Lucy slept well into the day; and when she woke she was fairly well andstrong, though not nearly so much as the day before. When Van Helsinghad seen her, he went out for a walk, leaving me in charge, with strictinjunctions that I was not to leave her for a moment. I could hear hisvoice in the hall, asking the way to the nearest telegraph office.
Lucy chatted with me freely, and seemed quite unconscious that anythinghad happened. I tried to keep her amused and interested. When her mothercame up to see her, she did not seem to notice any change whatever, butsaid to me gratefully:--
"We owe you so much, Dr. Seward, for all you have done, but you reallymust now take care not to overwork yourself. You are looking paleyourself. You want a wife to nurse and look after you a bit; that youdo!" As she spoke Lucy turned crimson, though it was only momentarily,for her poor wasted veins could not stand for long such an unwonteddrain to the head. The reaction came in excessive pallor as she turnedimploring eyes on me. I smiled and nodded, and laid my finger on mylips; with a sigh, she sank back amid her pillows.
Van Helsing returned in a couple of hours, and presently said to me:"Now you go home, and eat much and drink enough. Make yourself strong. Istay here to-night, and I shall sit up with little miss myself. You andI must watch the case, and we must have none other to know. I have gravereasons. No, do not ask them; think what you will. Do not fear to thinkeven the most not-probable. Good-night."
In the hall two of the maids
came to me, and asked if they or either ofthem might not sit up with Miss Lucy. They implored me to let them; andwhen I said it was Dr. Van Helsing's wish that either he or I shouldsit up, they asked me quite piteously to intercede with the "foreigngentleman." I was much touched by their kindness. Perhaps it is becauseI am weak at present, and perhaps it was on Lucy's account that theirdevotion was manifested; for over and over again have I seen similarinstances of woman's kindness. I got back here in time for a latedinner; went my rounds--all well; and set this down whilst waiting forsleep. It is coming.
_11 September._--This afternoon I went over to Hillingham. Found VanHelsing in excellent spirits, and Lucy much better. Shortly after I hadarrived, a big parcel from abroad came for the Professor. He opened itwith much impressment--assumed, of course--and showed a great bundle ofwhite 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 medicines." HereLucy made a wry face. "Nay, but they are not to take in a decoction orin nauseous form, so you need not snub that so charming nose, or I shallpoint out to my friend Arthur what woes he may have to endure in seeingso much beauty that he so loves so much distort. Aha, my pretty miss,that bring the so nice nose all straight again. This is medicinal, butyou do not know how. I put him in your window, I make pretty wreath, andhang him round your neck, so that you sleep well. Oh yes! they, like thelotus flower, make your trouble forgotten. It smell so like the watersof Lethe, and of that fountain of youth that the Conquistadores soughtfor in the Floridas, and find him all too late."
Whilst he was speaking, Lucy had been examining the flowers andsmelling them. Now she threw them down, saying, with half-laughter andhalf-disgust:--
"Oh, Professor, I believe you are only putting up a joke on me. Why,these flowers are only common garlic."
To my surprise, Van Helsing rose up and said with all his sternness, hisiron jaw set and his bushy eyebrows meeting:--
"No trifling with me! I never jest! There is grim purpose in all I do;and I warn you that you do not thwart me. Take care, for the sake ofothers if not for your own." Then seeing poor Lucy scared, as she mightwell be, he went on more gently: "Oh, little miss, my dear, do not fearme. I only do for your good; but there is much virtue to you in those socommon flower. See, I place them myself in your room. I make myself thewreath that you are to wear. But hush! no telling to others that make soinquisitive questions. We must obey, and silence is a part of obedience;and obedience is to bring you strong and well into loving arms that waitfor you. Now sit still awhile. Come with me, friend John, and you shallhelp me deck the room with my garlic, which is all the way from Haarlem,where my friend Vanderpool raise herb in his glass-houses all the year.I had to telegraph yesterday, or they would not have been here."
We went into the room, taking the flowers with us. The Professor'sactions were certainly odd, and not to be found in any pharmacop[oe]iathat I ever heard of. First, he fastened up the windows and latched themsecurely; next, taking a handful of the flowers, he rubbed them all overthe sashes, as though to ensure that every whiff of air that might getin would be laden with the garlic smell. Then with the wisp he rubbedall over the jamb of the door, above, below, and at each side, andround the fireplace in the same way. It all seemed grotesque to me, andpresently I said:--
"Well, Professor, I know you always have a reason for what you do, butthis certainly puzzles me. It is well we have no sceptic here, or hewould say that you were working some spell to keep out an evil spirit."
"Perhaps I am!" he answered quietly as he began to make the wreath whichLucy was to wear round her neck.