"I write this in case anything should happen. I go alone to watch inthat churchyard. It pleases me that the Un-Dead, Miss Lucy, shallnot leave to-night, that so on the morrow night she may be moreeager. Therefore I shall fix some things she like not--garlic and acrucifix--and so seal up the door of the tomb. She is young as Un-Dead,and will heed. Moreover, these are only to prevent her coming out;they may not prevail on her wanting to get in; for then the Un-Dead isdesperate, and must find the line of least resistance, whatsoever it maybe. I shall be at hand all the night from sunset till after the sunrise,and if there be aught that may be learned I shall learn it. For MissLucy, or from her, I have no fear: but that other to whom is there thatshe is Un-Dead, he have now the power to seek her tomb and find shelter.He is cunning, as I know from Mr. Jonathan and from the way that allalong he have fooled us when he played with us for Miss Lucy's life, andwe lost; and in many ways the Un-Dead are strong. He have always thestrength in his hand of twenty men; even we four who gave our strengthto Miss Lucy it also is all to him. Besides, he can summon his wolfand I know not what. So if it be that he come thither on this night heshall find me; but none other shall--until it be too late. But it may bethat he will not attempt the place. There is no reason why he should;his hunting ground is more full of game than the churchyard where theUn-Dead woman sleep, and one old man watch.
"Therefore I write this in case.... Take the papers that are with this,the diaries of Harker and the rest, and read them, and then find thisgreat Un-Dead, and cut off his head and burn his heart or drive a stakethough it, so that the world may rest from him.
"If it be so, farewell.
_Dr. Seward's Diary._
_28 September._--It is wonderful what a good night's sleep will do forone. Yesterday I was almost willing to accept Van Helsing's monstrousideas; but now they seem to start out lurid before me as outrages oncommon sense. I have no doubt that he believes it all. I wonder if hismind can have become in any way unhinged. Surely there must be _some_rational explanation of all these mysterious things. Is it possible thatthe Professor can have done it himself? He is so abnormally clever thatif he went off his head he would carry out his intent with regard tosome fixed idea in a wonderful way. I am loath to think it, and indeedit would be almost as great a marvel as the other to find that VanHelsing was mad; but anyhow I shall watch him carefully. I may get somelight on the mystery.
_29 September, morning_.... Last night, at a little before ten o'clock,Arthur and Quincey came into Van Helsing's room; he told us all what hewanted us to do, but especially addressing himself to Arthur, as if allour wills were centred in his. He began by saying that he hoped we wouldall come with him too, "for," he said, "there is a grave duty to bedone there. You were doubtless surprised at my letter?" This query wasdirectly addressed to Lord Godalming.
"I was. It rather upset me for a bit. There has been so much troublearound my house of late that I could do without any more. I have beencurious, too, as to what you mean. Quincey and I talked it over; but themore we talked, the more puzzled we got, till now I can say for myselfthat I'm about up a tree as to any meaning about anything."
"Me, too," said Quincey Morris laconically.
"Oh," said the Professor, "then you are nearer the beginning, both ofyou, than friend John here, who has to go a long way back before he caneven get so far as to begin."
It was evident that he recognised my return to my old doubting frame ofmind without my saying a word. Then, turning to the other two, he saidwith intense gravity:--
"I want your permission to do what I think good this night. It is, Iknow, much to ask; and when you know what it is I propose to do you willknow, and only then, how much. Therefore may I ask that you promise mein the dark, so that afterwards, though you may be angry with me fora time--I must not disguise from myself the possibility that such maybe--you shall not blame yourselves for anything."
"That's frank anyhow," broke in Quincey. "I'll answer for the Professor.I don't quite see his drift, but I swear he's honest; and that's goodenough for me."
"I thank you, sir," said Van Helsing proudly. "I have done myself thehonour of counting you one trusting friend, and such endorsement is dearto me." He held out a hand, which Quincey took.
Then Arthur spoke out:--
"Dr. Van Helsing, I don't quite like to 'buy a pig in a poke,' as theysay in Scotland, and if it be anything in which my honour as a gentlemanor my faith as a Christian is concerned, I cannot make such a promise.If you can assure me that what you intend does not violate either ofthese two, then I give my consent at once; though, for the life of me, Icannot understand what you are driving at."
"I accept your limitation," said Van Helsing, "and all I ask of youis that if you feel it necessary to condemn any act of mine, you willfirst consider it well and be satisfied that it does not violate yourreservations."
"Agreed!" said Arthur; "that is only fair. And now that the_pourparlers_ are over, may I ask what it is we are to do?"
"I want you to come with me, and to come in secret, to the churchyard atKingstead."
Arthur's face fell as he said in an amazed sort of way:--
"Where poor Lucy is buried?" The Professor bowed. Arthur went on: "Andwhen there?"
"To enter the tomb!" Arthur stood up.
"Professor, are you in earnest; or is it some monstrous joke? Pardonme, I see that you are in earnest." He sat down again, but I could seethat he sat
firmly and proudly, as one who is on his dignity. There wassilence until he asked again:--
"And when in the tomb?"
"To open the coffin."
"This is too much!" he said, angrily rising again. "I am willingto be patient in all things that are reasonable; but in this--thisdesecration of the grave--of one who----" He fairly choked withindignation. The Professor looked pityingly at him.
"If I could spare you one pang, my poor friend," he said, "God knows Iwould. But this night our feet must tread in thorny paths; or later,and for ever, the feet you love must walk in paths of flame!"
Arthur looked up with set, white face and said:--