Page 45 of Dracula

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"Did you hit it?" asked Dr. Van Helsing.

"I don't know; I fancy not, for it flew away into the wood." Withoutsaying any more he took his seat, and the Professor began to resume hisstatement:--

"We must trace each of these boxes; and when we are ready, we musteither capture or kill this monster in his lair; or we must, so tospeak, sterilise the earth, so that no more he can seek safety in it.Thus in the end we may find him in his form of man between the hours ofnoon and sunset, and so engage with him when he is at his most weak.

"And now for you, Madam Mina, this night is the end until all be well.You are too precious to us to have such risk. When we part to-night,you no more must question. We shall tell you all in good time. We aremen, and are able to bear; but you must be our star and our hope, and weshall act all the more free that you are not in the danger, such as weare."

All the men, even Jonathan, seemed relieved; but it did not seem tome good that they should brave danger and, perhaps, lessen theirsafety--strength being the best safety--through care of me; but theirminds were made up, and, though it was a bitter pill for me to swallow,I could say nothing, save to accept their chivalrous care of me.

Mr. Morris resumed the discussion:--

"As there is no time to lose, I vote we have a look at his house rightnow. Time is everything with him; and swift action on our part may saveanother victim."

I own that my heart began to fail me when the time for action came soclose, but I did not say anything, for I had a greater fear that if Iappeared as a drag or a hindrance to their work, they might even leaveme out of their counsels altogether. They have now gone off to Carfax,with means to get into the house.

Manlike, they have told me to go to bed and sleep; as if a woman cansleep when those she loves are in danger! I shall lie down and pretendto sleep, lest Jonathan have added anxiety about me when he returns.

_Dr. Seward's Diary_

_1 October, 4 a.m._--Just as we were about to leave the house, an urgentmessage was brought to me from Renfield to know if I would see him atonce, as he had something of the utmost importance to say to me. I toldthe messenger to say that I would attend to his wishes in the morning; Iwas busy just at the moment. The attendant added:--

"He seems very importunate, sir. I have never seen him so eager. Idon't know but what, if you don't see him soon, he will have one of hisviolent fits." I knew the man would not have said this without somecause, so I said: "All right; I'll go now;" and I asked the others towait a few minutes for me, as I had to go and see my "patient."

"Take me with you, friend John," said the Professor. "His case in yourdiary interested me much, and it had bearing, too,

now and again on_our_ case. I should much like to see him, and especially when his mindis disturbed."

"May I come also?" asked Lord Godalming.

"Me too?" said Quincey Morris. I nodded, and we all went down thepassage together.

We found him in a state of considerable excitement, but far morerational in his speech and manner than I had ever seen him. There wasan unusual understanding of himself, which was unlike anything I hadever met with in a lunatic; and he took it for granted that his reasonswould prevail with others entirely sane. We all four went into the room,but none of the others at first said anything. His request was that Iwould at once release him from the asylum and send him home. This hebacked up with arguments regarding his complete recovery, and adducedhis own existing sanity. "I appeal to your friends," he said; "theywill, perhaps, not mind sitting in judgment on my case. By the way, youhave not introduced me." I was so much astonished, that the oddnessof introducing a madman in an asylum did not strike me at the moment;and, besides, there was a certain dignity in the man's manner, so muchof the habit of equality, that I at once made the introduction: "LordGodalming; Professor Van Helsing; Mr. Quincey Morris, of Texas; Mr.Renfield." He shook hands with each of them, saying in turn:--

"Lord Godalming, I had the honour of seconding your father at theWindham; I grieve to know, by your holding the title, that he is nomore. He was a man loved and honoured by all who knew him; and inhis youth was, I have heard, the inventor of a burnt rum punch, muchpatronised on Derby night. Mr. Morris, you should be proud of your greatstate. Its reception into the Union was a precedent which may havefar-reaching effects hereafter, when the Pole and the Tropics may holdallegiance to the Stars and Stripes. The power of Treaty may yet provea vast engine of enlargement, when the Monroe doctrine takes its trueplace as a political fable. What shall any man say of his pleasure atmeeting Van Helsing? Sir, I make no apology for dropping all forms ofconventional prefix. When an individual has revolutionised therapeuticsby his discovery of the continuous evolution of brain-matter,conventional forms are unfitting, since they would seem to limit himto one of a class. You gentlemen, who by nationality, by heredity, orby the possession of natural gifts, are fitted to hold your respectiveplaces in the moving world, I take to witness that I am as sane as atleast the majority of men who are in full possession of their liberties.And I am sure that you, Dr. Seward, humanitarian and medico-jurist aswell as scientist, will deem it a moral duty to deal with me as one tobe considered as under exceptional circumstances." He made this lastappeal with a courtly air of conviction which was not without its owncharm.

I think we were all staggered. For my own part, I was under theconviction, despite my knowledge of the man's character and history,that his reason had been restored; and I felt under a strong impulseto tell him that I was satisfied as to his sanity, and would see aboutthe necessary formalities for his release in the morning. I thought itbetter to wait, however, before making so grave a statement, for of oldI knew the sudden changes to which this particular patient was liable.So I contented myself with making a general statement that he appearedto be improving very rapidly; that I would have a longer chat with himin the morning, and would then see what I could do in the directionof meeting his wishes. This did not at all satisfy him, for he saidquickly:--

"But I fear, Dr. Seward, that you hardly apprehend my wish. I desireto go at once--here--now--this very hour--this very moment, if I may.Time presses, and in our implied agreement with the old scytheman itis of the essence of the contract. I am sure it is only necessary toput before so admirable a practitioner as Dr. Seward so simple, yet somomentous a wish, to ensure its fulfilment." He looked at me keenly, andseeing the negative in my face, turned to the others, and scrutinisedthem closely. Not meeting any sufficient response, he went on:--

"Is it possible that I have erred in my supposition?"

"You have," I said frankly, but at the same time, as I felt, brutally.There was a considerable pause, and then he said slowly:--

"Then I suppose I must only shift my ground of request. Let me askfor this concession--boon, privilege, what you will. I am content toimplore in such a case, not on personal grounds, but for the sake ofothers. I am not at liberty to give you the whole of my reasons; butyou may, I assure you, take it from me that they are good ones, soundand unselfish, and springing from the highest sense of duty. Could youlook, sir, into my heart, you would approve to the full the sentimentswhich animate me. Nay, more, you would count me amongst the best andtruest of your friends." Again he looked at us all keenly. I had agrowing conviction that this sudden change of his entire intellectualmethod was but yet another form or phase of his madness, and sodetermined to let him go on a little longer, knowing from experiencethat he would, like all lunatics, give himself away in the end. VanHelsing was gazing at him with a look of the utmost intensity, his bushyeyebrows almost meeting with the fixed concentration of his look. Hesaid to Renfield in a tone which did not surprise me at the time, butonly when I thought of it afterwards--for it was as of one addressing anequal:--

"Can you not tell frankly your real reason for wishing to be freeto-night? I will undertake that if you will satisfy even me--a stranger,without prejudice, and with the habit of keeping an open mind--Dr.Seward will give you, at his own risk and on his own responsibility,the privilege you seek." He shook his head sadly, and with a look ofpoignant regret on his face. The Professor went on:--

"Come sir, bethink yourself. You claim the privilege of reason inthe highest degree, since you seek to impress us with your completereasonableness. You do this, whose sanity we have reason to doubt, sinceyou are not yet released from medical treatment for this very defect. Ifyou will not help us in our effort to choose the wisest course, how canwe perform the duty which you yourself put upon us? Be wise, and helpus; and if we can we shall aid you to achieve your wish." He still shookhis head as he said:--

"Dr. Van Helsing, I have nothing to say. Your argument is complete, andif I were free to speak I should not hesitate a moment; but I am notmy own master in the matter. I can only ask you to trust me. If I amrefused, the responsibility does not rest with me." I thought it was nowtime to end the scene, which was becoming too comically grave, so I wenttowards the door, simply saying:--

"Come, my friends, we have work to do. Good-night."

As, however, I got near the door, a new change came over the patient.He moved towards me so quickly that for the moment I feared that hewas about to make another homicidal attack. My fears, however, weregroundless, for he held up his two hands imploringly, and made hispetition in a moving manner. As he saw that the very excess of hisemotion was militating against him, by restoring us more to our oldrelations, he became still more demonstrative. I glanced at Van Helsing,and saw my conviction reflected in his eyes; so I became a little morefixed in my manner, if not more stern, and motioned to him that hisefforts were unavailing. I had previously seen something of the sameconstantly growing excitement in him when he had to make some requestof which at the time he had thought much, such, for instance, as whenhe wanted a cat; and I was prepared to see the collapse into the samesullen acquiescence on this occasion. My expectation was not realised,for, when he found that his appeal would not be successful, he got intoquite a frantic condition. He threw himself on his knees, and held uphis hands, wringing them in plaintive supplication, and poured fortha torrent of entreaty, with the tears rolling down his cheeks and hiswhole face and form expressive of the deepest emotion:--

"Let me entreat you, Dr. Seward, oh, let me implore you, to let meout of this house at once. Send me away how you will and where youwill; send keepers with me with whips and chains; let them take me ina strait-waistcoat, manacled and leg-ironed, even to a gaol; but letme go out of this. You don't know what you do by keeping me here. I amspeaking from the depths of my heart--of my very soul. You don't knowwhom you wrong, or how; and I may not tell. Woe is me! I may not tell.By all you hold sacred--by all you hold dear--by your love that islost--by your hope that lives--for the s

ake of the Almighty, take meout of this and save my soul from guilt! Can't you hear me, man? Can'tyou understand? Will you never learn? Don't you know that I am sane andearnest now; that I am no lunatic in a mad fit, but a sane man fightingfor his soul? Oh, hear me! hear me! Let me go! let me go! let me go!"

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