"What is that which you are using?" This time the question was byArthur. Van Helsing reverently lifted his hat as he answered:--
"The Host. I brought it from Amsterdam. I have an Indulgence." It was ananswer that appalled the most sceptical of us, and we felt individuallythat in the presence of such earnest purpose as the Professor's, apurpose which could thus use the to him most sacred of things, itwas impossible to distrust. In respectful silence we took the placesassigned to us close round the tomb, but hidden from the sight of anyone approaching. I pitied the others, especially Arthur. I had myselfbeen apprenticed by my former visits to this watching horror; and yetI, who had up to an hour ago repudiated the proofs, felt my heart sinkwithin me. Never did tombs look so ghastly white; never did cypress,or yew, or juniper so seem the embodiment of funereal gloom; never didtree or grass wave or rustle so ominously; never did bough creak somysteriously; and never did the far-away howling of dogs send such awoeful presage through the night.
There was a long spell of silence, a big, aching void, and then fromthe Professor a keen "S-s-s-s!" He pointed; and far down the avenueof yews we saw a white figure advance--a dim white figure, which heldsomething dark at its breast. The figure stopped, and at the moment aray of moonlight fell between the masses of driving clouds and showed instartling prominence a dark-haired woman, dressed in the cerements ofthe grave. We could not see the face, for it was bent down over what wesaw to be a fair-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 anddreams. We were starting forward, but the Professor's warning hand, seenby us as he stood behind a yew-tree, kept us back; and then as we lookedthe white figure moved forwards again. It was now near enough for us tosee clearly, and the moonlight still held. My own heart grew cold asice, and I could hear the gasp of Arthur, as we recognised the featuresof Lucy Westenra. Lucy Westenra, but yet how changed. The sweetness wasturned to adamantine, heartless cruelty, and the purity to voluptuouswantonness. Van Helsing stepped out, and, obedient to his gesture, weall advanced too; the four of us ranged in a line before the door ofthe tomb. Van Helsing raised his lantern and drew the slide; by theconcentrated light that fell on Lucy's face we could see that the lipswere crimson with fresh blood, and that the stream had trickled over herchin and stained the purity of her lawn death-robe.
We shuddered with horror. I could see by the tremulous light that evenVan Helsing's iron nerve had failed. Arthur was next to me, and if I hadnot seized his arm and held him up, he would have fallen.
When Lucy--I call the thing that was before us Lucy because it bore hershape--saw us she drew back with an angry snarl, such as a cat giveswhen taken unawares; then her eyes ranged over us. Lucy's eyes in formand colour; but Lucy's eyes unclean and full of hell-fire, instead ofthe pure, gentle orbs we knew. At that moment the remnant of my lovepassed into hate and loathing; had she then to be killed, I could havedone it with savage delight. As she looked, her eyes blazed with unholylight, and the face became wreathed with a voluptuous smile. Oh, God,how it made me shudder to see it! With a careless motion, she flungto the ground, callous as a devil, the child that up to now she hadclutched strenuously to her breast, growling over it as a dog growlsover a bone. The child gave a sharp cry, and lay there
moaning. Therewas a cold-bloodedness in the act which wrung a groan from Arthur; whenshe advanced to him with outstretched arms and a wanton smile, he fellback and hid his face in his hands.
She still advanced, however, and with a languorous, voluptuous grace,said:--
"Come to me, Arthur. Leave these others and come to me. My arms arehungry for you. Come, and we can rest together. Come, my husband, come!"
There was something diabolically sweet in her tones--something of thetingling of glass when struck--which rang through the brains even of uswho heard the words addressed to another. As for Arthur, he seemed undera spell; moving his hands from his face, he opened wide his arms. Shewas leaping for them, when Van Helsing sprang forward and held betweenthem his little golden crucifix. She recoiled from it, and, with asuddenly distorted face, full of rage, dashed past him as if to enterthe tomb.
When within a foot or two of the door, however, she stopped as ifarrested by some irresistible force. Then she turned, and her face wasshown in the clear burst of moonlight and by the lamp, which had nowno quiver from Van Helsing's iron nerves. Never did I see such baffledmalice on a face; and never, I trust, shall such ever be seen againby mortal eyes. The beautiful colour became livid, the eyes seemed tothrow out sparks of hell-fire, the brows were wrinkled as though thefolds of the flesh were the coils of Medusa's snakes, and the lovely,blood-stained mouth grew to an open square, as in the passion masks ofthe Greeks and Japanese. If ever a face meant death--if looks couldkill--we saw it at that moment.
And so for full half a minute, which seemed an eternity, she remainedbetween the lifted crucifix and the sacred closing of her means ofentry. Van Helsing broke the silence by asking Arthur:--
"Answer me, oh my friend! Am I to proceed in my work?"
Arthur threw himself on his knees, and hid his face in his hands, as heanswered:--
"Do as you will, friend; do as you will. There can be no horrorlike this ever any more!" and he groaned in spirit. Quincey and Isimultaneously moved towards him, and took his arms. We could hearthe click of the closing lantern as Van Helsing held it down; comingclose to the tomb, he began to remove from the chinks some of thesacred emblem which he had placed there. We all looked on in horrifiedamazement as we saw, when he stood back, the woman, with a corporealbody as real at the moment as our own, pass in through the intersticewhere scarce a knife-blade could have gone. We all felt a glad sense ofrelief when we saw the Professor calmly restoring the strings of puttyto the edges of the door.
When this was done, he lifted the child and said:--
"Come now, my friends; we can do no more till to-morrow. There is afuneral at noon, so here we shall all come before long after that. Thefriends of the dead will all be gone by two, and when the sexton lockthe gate we shall remain. Then there is more to do; but not like this ofto-night. As for this little one, he is not much harm, and by to-morrownight he shall be well. We shall leave him where the police will findhim, as on the other night; and then to home." Coming close to Arthur,he said:--
"My friend Arthur, you have had sore trial; but after, when you willlook back, you will see how it was necessary. You are now in thebitter waters, my child. By this time tomorrow, you will, please God,have passed them, and have drunk of the sweet waters; so do not mournovermuch. Till then I shall not ask you to forgive me."
Arthur and Quincey came home with me, and we tried to cheer each otheron the way. We had left the child in safety, and were tired; so we allslept with more or less reality of sleep.
_29 September, night._--A little before twelve o'clock we three--Arthur,Quincey Morris, and myself--called for the Professor. It was odd tonotice that by common consent we had all put on black clothes. Ofcourse, Arthur wore black, for he was in deep mourning, but the rest ofus wore it by instinct. We got to the churchyard by half-past one, andstrolled about, keeping out of official observation, so that when thegravediggers had completed their task, and the sexton, under the beliefthat everyone had gone, had locked the gate, we had the place all toourselves. Van Helsing, instead of his little black bag, had with him along leather one, something like a cricketing bag; it was manifestly offair weight.
When we were alone and had heard the last of the footsteps die out upthe road, we silently, and as if by ordered intention, followed theProfessor to the tomb. He unlocked the door, and we entered, closingit behind us. Then he took from his bag the lantern, which he lit, andalso two wax candles, which, when lighted, he stuck, by melting theirown ends, on other coffins, so that they might give light sufficientto work by. When he again lifted the lid off Lucy's coffin we alllooked--Arthur trembling like an aspen--and saw that the body lay therein all its death-beauty. But there was no love in my own heart, nothingbut loathing for the foul Thing which had taken Lucy's shape without hersoul. I could see even Arthur's face grow hard as he looked. Presentlyhe said to Van Helsing:--
"Is this really Lucy's body, or only a demon in her shape?"
"It is her body, and yet not it. But wait a while, and you shall see heras she was, and is."
She seemed like a nightmare of Lucy as she lay there; the pointedteeth, the bloodstained, voluptuous mouth--which it made one shudderto see--the whole carnal and unspiritual appearance, seeming likea devilish mockery of Lucy's sweet purity. Van Helsing, in hismethodicalness, began taking the various contents from his bag andplacing them ready for use. First he took out a soldering iron and someplumbing solder, and then a small oil-lamp, which gave out, when lit ina corner of the tomb, gas which burned at fierce heat with a blue flame;then his operating knives, which he placed to hand; and last a roundwooden stake, some two and a half or three inches thick and about threefeet long. One end of it was hardened by charring in the fire, and wassharpened to a fine point. With this stake came a heavy hammer, suchas in households is used in the coal-cellar for breaking the lumps. Tome, a doctor's preparations for work of any kind are stimulating andbracing, but the effect of these things on both Arthur and Quincey wasto cause them a sort of consternation. They both, however, kept theircourage, and remained silent and quiet.
When all was ready, Van Helsing said:--
"Before we do anything, let me tell you this; it is out of the lore andexperience of the ancients and of all those who have studied the powersof the Un-Dead. When they become such, there comes with the change thecurse of immortality; they cannot die, but must go on age after ageadding new victims and multiplying the evils of the world; for all thatdie from the preying of the Un-Dead become themselves Un-Dead, and preyon their kind. And so the circle goes on ever widening, like as theripples from a stone thrown in the water. Friend Arthur, if you hadmet that kiss which you know of before poor Lucy die; or again, lastnight when you open your arms to her, you would in time, when you haddied, have become _nosferatu_, as they call it in Eastern Europe, andwould all time make more of those Un-Deads that so have fill us withhorror. The career of this so unhappy dear lady is but just begun.Those children whose blood she suck are not as yet so much the worse;but if she live on, Un-Dead, more and more they lose their blood, andby her power over them they come to her; and so she draw their bloodwith that so wicked mouth. But if she die in truth, then all cease; thetiny wounds of the throats disappear, and they go back to their playsunknowing ever of what has been. But of the most blessed of all, whenthis now Un-Dead be made to rest as true dead, then the soul of the poorlady whom we love shall again be free. Instead of working wickedness bynight and growing more debased in the assimilation of it by day, sheshall take her place with the other Angels. So that, my friend, it willbe a blessed hand for her that shall strike the blow that sets her free.To this I am willing; but is there none amongst us who has a betterright? Will it be no joy to think of hereafter in the silence of thenight when sleep is not: 'It was my hand that sent her to the stars; itwas the hand of him that loved her best; the hand that of all she wouldherself have chosen, had it been to her to choose'? Tell me if there besuch a one amongst us."
We all looked at Arthur. He saw, too, what we all did,
the infinitekindness which suggested that his should be the hand which would restoreLucy to us as a holy, and not an unholy, memory; he stepped forward andsaid bravely, though his hand trembled, and his face was as pale assnow:--
"My true friend, from the bottom of my broken heart I thank you. Tell mewhat I am to do, and I shall not falter!" Van Helsing laid a hand on hisshoulder, and said:--
"Brave lad! A moment's courage, and it is done. This stake must bedriven through her. It will be a fearful ordeal--be not deceived inthat--but it will be only a short time, and you will then rejoice morethan your pain was great; from this grim tomb you will emerge as thoughyou tread on air. But you must not falter when once you have begun. Onlythink that we, your true friends, are round you, and that we pray foryou all the time."