Page 24 of Dracula

Font Size:  

I could find no means of ingress. Every window and door was fastenedand locked, and I returned baffled to the porch. As I did so, I heardthe rapid pit-pat of a swiftly driven horse's feet. They stopped at thegate, and a few seconds later I met Van Helsing running up the avenue.When he saw me, he gasped out:--

"Then it was you, and just arrived. How is she? Are we too late? Did younot get my telegram?"

I answered as quickly and coherently as I could that I had only got histelegram early in the morning and had not lost a minute in coming here,and that I could not make any one in the house hear me. He paused andraised his hat as he said solemnly:--

"Then I fear we are too late. God's will be done!" With his usualrecuperative energy, he went on: "Come. If there be no way open to getin, we must make one. Time is all in all to us now."

We went round to the back of the house, where there was a kitchenwindow. The Professor took a small surgical saw from his case, andhanding it to me, pointed to the iron bars which guarded the window.I attacked them at once and had very soon cut through three of them.Then with a long, thin knife we pushed back the fastening of the sashesand opened the window. I helped the Professor in and followed him.There was no one in the kitchen or in the servants' rooms, which wereclose at hand. We tried all the rooms as we went along, and in thedining-room, dimly lit by rays of light through the shutters, found fourservant-women lying on the floor. There was no need to think them dead,for their stertorous breathing and the acrid smell of laudanum in theroom left no doubt as to their condition. Van Helsing and I looked ateach other, and as we moved away he said: "We can attend to them later."Then we ascended to Lucy's room. For an instant or two we paused at thedoor to listen, but there was no sound that we could hear. With whitefaces and trembling hands, we opened the door gently, and entered theroom.

How shall I describe what we saw? On the bed lay two women, Lucy and hermother. The latter lay farthest in, and she was covered with a whitesheet, the edge of which had been blown back by the draught through thebroken window, showing the drawn, white face, with a look of terrorfixed upon it. By her side lay Lucy, with face white and still moredrawn. The flowers which had been round her neck we found upon hermother's bosom, and her throat was bare, showing the two little woundswhich we had noticed before, but looking horribly white and mangled.Without a word the Professor bent over the bed, his head almost touchingpoor Lucy's breast; then he gave a quick turn of his head, as of one wholistens, and leaping to his feet, he cried out to me:--

"It is not yet too late! Quick! quick! Bring the brandy!"

I flew downstairs and returned with it, taking care to smell andtaste it, lest it, too, were drugged like the decanter of sherrywhich I found on the table. The maids were still breathing, but morerestlessly, and I fancied that the narcotic was wearing off. I did notstay to make sure, but returned to Van Helsing. He rubbed the brandy,as on another occasion, on her lips and gums and on her wrists and thepalms of her hands. He said to me:--

"I can do this, all that can be at the present. You go wake thosemaids. Flick them in the face with a wet towel, and flick them hard.Make them get heat and fire and a warm bath. This poor soul is nearlyas cold as that beside her. She will need be heated before we can doanything more."

I went at once, and found little difficulty in waking three of thewomen. The fourth was only a young girl, and the drug had evidentlyaffected her more strongly, so I lifted her on the sofa and let hersleep. The others were dazed at first, but as remembrance came backto them they cried and sobbed in a hysterical manner. I was sternwith them, however, and would not let them talk. I told them thatone life was bad enough to lose, and that if they delayed they wouldsacrifice Miss Lucy. So, sobbing and crying, they went about their way,half-clad as they were, and prepared fire and water. Fortunately, thekitchen and boiler fires were still alive, and there was no lack ofhot water. We got a bath, and carried Lucy out as she was and placedher in it. Whilst we were busy chafing her limbs there was a knock onthe hall-door. One of the maids ran off, hurried on some more clothes,and opened it. Then she returned and whispered to us that there was agentleman who had come with a message from Mr. Holmwood. I bade hersimply tell him that he must wait, for we could see no one now. Shewent away with the message, and, engrossed with our work, I cleanforgot all about him.

I never saw in all my experience the Professor work in such deadlyearnest. I knew--as he knew--that it was a stand-up fight with death,and in a pause told him so. He answered me in a way that I did notunderstand, but with the sternest look that his face could wear:--

"If that were all, I would stop here where we are now, and let her fadeaway into peace, for I see no light in life over her horizon." He wenton with his work with, if possible, renewed and more frenzied vigour.

Presently we both began to be conscious that the heat was beginningto be of some effect. Lucy's heart beat a trifle more audibly to thestethoscope, and her lungs had a perceptible movement. Van Helsing'sface almost beamed, and as we lifted her from the bath and rolled her ina hot sheet to dry her he said to me:--

"The first gain is ours! Check to the King!"

We took Lucy into another room, which had by now been prepared, and laidher in bed and forced a few drops of brandy down her throat. I noticedthat Van Helsing tied a soft silk handkerchief round her throat. She wasstill unconscious, and was quite as bad as, if not worse than, we hadever seen her.

Van Helsing called in one of the women, and told her to stay with herand not to take her eyes off her till we returned, and then beckoned meout of the room.

"We must consult as to what is to be done," he said as we descended thestairs. In the hall he opened the dining-room door, and we passed in,he closing the door carefully behind him. The shutters had been opened,but the blinds were already down, with that obedience to the etiquetteof death which the British woman of the lower classes always rigidlyobserves. The room was, therefore, dimly dark. It was, however, lightenough for our purposes. Van Helsing's sternness was somewhat relievedby a look of perplexity. He was evidently torturing his mind aboutsomething, so I waited for an instant, and he spoke:--

"What are we to do now? Where are we to turn for help? We must haveanother transfusion of blood, and that soon, or that poor girl's lifewon't be worth an hour's purchase. You are exhausted already; I amexhausted too. I fear to trust those women, even if they would havecourage to submit. What are we to do for some one who will open hisveins for her?"

"What's the matter with me, anyhow?"

The voice came from the sofa across the room, and its tones broughtrelief and joy to my heart, for they were those of Quincey Morris. VanHelsing started angrily at the first sound, but his face softened anda glad look came into his eyes as I cried out: "Quincey Morris!" andrushed towards him with outstretched hands.

"What brought you here?" I cried as our hands met.

"I guess Art is the cause."

He handed me a telegram:--

"Have not heard from Seward for three days, and am terribly anxious.Cannot leave. Father still in same con

dition. Send me word how Lucy is.Do not delay.--/Holmwood./"

"I think I came just in the nick of time. You know you have only to tellme what to do."

Van Helsing strode forward and took his hand, looking him straight inthe eyes as he said:--

"A brave man's blood is the best thing on this earth when a woman is introuble. You're a man, and no mistake. Well, the devil may work againstus for all he's worth, but God sends us men when we want them."

Once again we went through that ghastly operation. I have not the heartto go through with the details. Lucy had got a terrible shock, and ittold on her more than before, for though plenty of blood went into herveins, her body did not respond to the treatment as well as on the otheroccasions. Her struggle back into life was something frightful to seeand hear. However, the action of both heart and lungs improved, and VanHelsing made a subcutaneous injection of morphia, as before, and withgood effect. Her faint became a profound slumber. The Professor watchedwhilst I went downstairs with Quincey Morris, and sent one of the maidsto pay off one of the cabmen who were waiting. I left Quincey lying downafter having a glass of wine, and told the cook to get ready a goodbreakfast. Then a thought struck me, and I went back to the room whereLucy now was. When I came softly in, I found Van Helsing with a sheetor two of note-paper in his hand. He had evidently read it, and wasthinking it over as he sat with his hand to his brow. There was a lookof grim satisfaction in his face, as of one who has had a doubt solved.He handed me the paper, saying only: "It dropped from Lucy's breast whenwe carried her to the bath."

When I had read it, I stood looking at the Professor, and after a pauseasked him: "In God's name, what does it all mean? Was she, or is she,mad; or what sort of horrible danger is it?" I was so bewildered that Idid not know what to say more. Van Helsing put out his hand and took thepaper, saying:--

Articles you may like