We then waited whilst Lucy made her toilet for the night, and when shewas in bed he came and himself fixed the wreath of garlic round herneck. The last words he said to her were:--
"Take care you do not disturb it; and even if the room feel close, donot to-night open the window or the door."
"I promise," said Lucy, "and thank you both a thousand times for allyour kindness to me! Oh, what have I done to be blessed with suchfriends?"
As we left the house in my fly, which was waiting, Van Helsing said:--
"To-night I can sleep in peace, and sleep I want--two nights of travel,much reading in the day between, and much anxiety on the day to follow,and a night to sit up, without to wink. To-morrow in the morning earlyyou call for me, and we come together to see our pretty miss, so muchmore strong for my 'spell' which I have work. Ho! ho!"
He seemed so confident that I, remembering my own confidence two nightsbefore and with the baneful result, felt awe and vague terror. It musthave been my weakness that made me hesitate to tell it to my friend, butI felt it all the more, like unshed tears.
/Lucy Westenra's Diary./
_12 September._--How good they all are to me! I quite love that dearDr. Van Helsing. I wonder why he was so anxious about these flowers. Hepositively frightened me, he was so fierce. And yet he must have beenright, for I feel comfort from them already. Somehow, I do not dreadbeing alone tonight, and I can go to sleep without fear. I shall notmind any flapping outside the window. Oh, the terrible struggle that Ihave had against sleep so often of late; the pain of the sleeplessness,or the pain of the fear of sleep, with such unknown horrors as it hasfor me! How blessed are some people, whose lives have no fears, nodreads; to whom sleep is a blessing that comes nightly, and bringsnothing but sweet dreams. Well, here I am to-night, hoping for sleep,and lying like Ophelia in the play, with "virgin crants and maidenstrewments." I never liked garlic before, but to-night it is delightful!There is peace in its smell; I feel sleep coming already. Good-nighteverybody.
_Dr. Seward's Diary._
_13 September._--Called at the Berkeley and found Van Helsing, asusual, up to time. The carriage ordered from the hotel was waiting. TheProfessor took his bag, which he always brings with him now.
Let all be put down exactly. Van Helsing and I arrived at Hillingham ateight o'clock. It was a lovely morning; the bright sunshine and all thefresh feeling of early autumn seemed like the completion of nature'sannual work. The leaves were turning to all kinds of beautiful colours,but had not yet begun to drop from the trees. When we entered we metMrs. Westenra coming out of the morning room. She is always an earlyriser. She greeted us warmly and said:--
"You will be glad to know that Lucy is better. The dear child is stillasleep. I looked into her room and saw her, but did not go in, lest Ishould disturb her." The Professor smiled, and looked quite jubilant. Herubbed his hands together, and said:--
"Aha! I thought I had diagnosed the case. My treatment is working," towhich she answered:--
"You must not take all the credit to yourself, doctor. Lucy's state thismorning is due in part to me."
"How do you mean, ma'am?" asked the Professor.
"Well, I was anxious about the dear child in the night, and went intoher room. She was sleeping soundly--so soundly that even my coming didnot wake her. But the room was awfully stuffy. There were a lot of thosehorrible, strong-smelling flowers about everywhere, and she had actuallya bunch of them round her neck. I feared that the heavy odour would betoo much for the dear child in her weak state, so I took them all awayand opened a bit of the window to let in a little fresh air. You will bepleased with her, I am sure."
She moved off into her boudoir, where she usually breakfasted early. Asshe had spoken, I watched the Professor's face, and saw it turn ashengrey. He had been able to retain his self-command whilst the poor ladywas present, for he knew her state and how mischievous a shock would be;he actually smiled on her as he held open the door for her to pass intoher room. But the instant she had disappeared he pulled me, suddenly andforcibly, into the dining-room and closed the door.
Then, for the first time in my life, I saw Van Helsing break down. Heraised his hands over his head in a sort of mute despair, and then beathis palms together in a helpless way; finally he sat down on a chair,and putting his hands before his face, began to sob, with loud, dry sobsthat seemed to come from the very racking of his heart. Then he raisedhis arms again, as though appealing to the whole universe. "God! God!God!" he said. "What have we done, what has this poor thing done, thatwe are so sore beset? Is there fate amongst us still, sent down from thepagan world of old, that such things must be, and in such a way? Thispoor mother, all unknowing, and all for the best as she think, does suchthing as lose her daughter body and soul; and we must not tell her, wemust not even warn her, or she die, and then both die. Oh, how we arebeset! How are all the powers of the devils against us!" Suddenly hejumped to his feet. "Come," he said, "come, we must see and act. Devilsor no devils, or all the devils at once, it matters not; we fight himall the same." He went to the hall-door for his bag; and together wewent up to Lucy's room.
Once again I drew up the blind, whilst Van Helsing went towards thebed. This time he did not start as he looked on the poor face with thesame awful, waxen pallor as before. He wore a look of stern sadness andinfinite pity.
"As I expected," he murmured, with that hissing inspiration of hiswhich meant so much. Without a word he went and locked the door, andthen began to set out on the little table the instruments for yetanother operation of transfusion of blood. I had long ago recognisedthe necessity, and begun to take off my coat, but he stopped me with awarning hand. "No!" he said. "To-day you must operate. I shall provide.You are weakened already." As he spoke he took off his coat and rolledup his shirt-sleeve.
Again the operation; again the narcotic; again some return of colour tothe ashy cheeks, and the regular breathing of healthy sleep. This time Iwatched whilst Van Helsing recruited himself and rested.
Presently he took an opportunity of telling Mrs. Westenra that she mustnot remove anything from Lucy's room without consulting him; that theflowers were of medicinal value, and that the breathing of their odourwas a part of the system of cure. Then he took over the care of the casehimself, saying that he would watch this night and the next and wouldsend me word when to come.
After another hour Lucy waked from her sleep, fresh and bright, andseemingly not much the worse from her terrible ordeal.
What does it all mean? I am beginning to wonder if my long habit of lifeamongst the insane is beginning to tell upon my own brain.
_Lucy Westenra's Diary._
_17 September._--Four days and nights of peace. I am getting so strongagain that I hardly know myself. It is as if I had passed throughsome long nightmare, and had just awakened to see the beautifulsunshine and feel the fresh air of the morning around me. I have a dimhalf-remembrance of long, anxious times of waiting and fearing; darknessin which there was not even the pain of hope to make present distressmore poignant; and then long spells of oblivion, and the rising backto life as a diver coming up through a great press of water. Since,however, Dr. Van Helsing has been with me, all this bad dreaming seemsto have passed away; the noises that used to frighten me out of mywits--the flapping against the windows, the distant voices which seemedso close to me, the harsh sounds that came from I know not where andcommanded me to do I know not what--have all ceased. I go to bed nowwithout any fear of sleep. I do not even try to keep awake. I have grownquite fond of the garlic, and a boxful arrives for me every day fromHaarlem. To-night Dr. Van Helsing is going away, as he has to be for aday in Amsterdam. But I need not be watched; I am well enough to be leftalone. Thank God for mother's sake, and dear Arthur's, and for all ourfriends who have been so kind! I shall not even feel the change, forlast night Dr. Van Helsing slept in his chair a lot of the time. I foundhim asleep twice when I awoke; but I did not fear to go to sleep again,although the boughs or bats or something flapped almost angrily againstthe window-panes.
"_The Pall Mall Gazette_," _18 September._
THE ESCAPED WOLF.
/Perilous Adventure of our Interviewer./