Page 52 of Dracula

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"If I were not sure already, I should know from them." For an instanthis eyes closed--not with pain or sleep but voluntarily, as though hewere bringing all his faculties to bear; when he opened them he said,hurriedly, and with more energy than he had yet displayed:--

"Quick, Doctor, quick. I am dying! I feel that I have but a few minutes;and then I must go back to death--or worse! Wet my lips with brandyagain. I have something that I must say before I die; or before mypoor crushed brain dies anyhow. Thank you! It was that night after youleft me, when I implored you to let me go away. I couldn't speak then,for I felt my tongue was tied; but I was as sane then, except in thatway, as I a

m now. I was in an agony of despair for a long time afteryou left me; it seemed hours. Then there came a sudden peace to me. Mybrain seemed to become cool again, and I realized where I was. I heardthe dogs bark behind our house, but not where He was!" As he spokeVan Helsing's eyes never blinked, but his hand came out and met mineand gripped it hard. He did not, however, betray himself; he noddedslightly, and said: "Go on," in a low voice. Renfield proceeded:--

"He came up to the window in the mist, as I had seen him often before;but he was solid then--not a ghost, and his eyes were fierce like aman's when angry. He was laughing with his red mouth; the sharp whiteteeth glinted in the moonlight when He turned to look back over the beltof trees, to where the dogs were barking. I wouldn't ask him to come inat first, though I knew he wanted to--just as he had wanted all along.Then he began promising me things--not in words but by doing them." Hewas interrupted by a word from the Professor:--


"By making them happen; just as he used to send in the flies when thesun was shining. Great big fat ones with steel and sapphire on theirwings; and big moths, in the night, with skull and cross-bones on theirbacks." Van Helsing nodded to him as he whispered to me unconsciously:--

"The _Acberontia atropos of the Sphinges_--what you call the'Death's-head moth!'" The patient went on without stopping.

"Then he began to whisper: 'Rats, rats, rats! Hundreds, thousands,millions of them, and every one a life; and dogs to eat them, and catstoo. All lives! all red blood, with years of life in it; and not merelybuzzing flies!' I laughed at him, for I wanted to see what he coulddo. Then the dogs howled, away beyond the dark trees in His house. Hebeckoned me to the window. I got up and looked out, and He raised hishands, and seemed to call out without using any words. A dark massspread over the grass, coming on like the shape of a flame of fire;and then He moved the mist to the right and left, and I could see thatthere were thousands of rats with their eyes blazing red--like His,only smaller. He held up his hand, and they all stopped; and I thoughtHe seemed to be saying: 'All these lives will I give you, ay, and manymore and greater, through countless ages, if you will fall down andworship me!' And then a red cloud, like the colour of blood, seemed toclose over my eyes; and before I knew what I was doing, I found myselfopening the sash and saying to Him: 'Come in, Lord and Master!' The ratswere all gone, but He slid into the room through the sash, though itwas only open an inch wide--just as the Moon herself has often come inthrough the tiniest crack, and has stood before me in all her size andsplendour."

His voice was weaker, so I moistened his lips with the brandy again, andhe continued; but it seemed as though his memory had gone on working inthe interval, for his story was further advanced. I was about to callhim back to the point, but Van Helsing whispered to me: "Let him go on.Do not interrupt him; he cannot go back, and maybe could not proceed atall if once he lost the thread of his thought." He proceeded:--

"All day I waited to hear from him, but he did not send me anything, noteven a blow-fly, and when the moon got up I was pretty angry with him.When he slid in through the window, though it was shut, and did not evenknock, I got mad with him. He sneered at me, and his white face lookedout of the mist with his red eyes gleaming, and he went on as though heowned the whole place, and I was no one. He didn't even smell the sameas he went by me. I couldn't hold him. I thought that, somehow, Mrs.Harker had come into the room."

The two men sitting on the bed stood up and came over, standing behindhim so that he could not see them, but where they could hear better.They were both silent, but the Professor started and quivered; hisface, however, grew grimmer and sterner still. Renfield went on withoutnoticing:--

"When Mrs. Harker came in to see me this afternoon she wasn't the same;it was like tea after the teapot had been watered." Here we all moved,but no one said a word; he went on:--

"I didn't know that she was here till she spoke; and she didn't look thesame. I don't care for the pale people; I like them with lots of bloodin them, and hers had all seemed to have run out. I didn't think of itat the time; but when she went away I began to think, and it made me madto know that He had been taking the life out of her." I could feel thatthe rest quivered, as I did; but we remained otherwise still. "So whenHe came to-night I was ready for Him. I saw the mist stealing in, and Igrabbed it tight. I had heard that madmen have unnatural strength; andas I knew I was a madman--at times anyhow--I resolved to use my power.Ay, and He felt it too, for He had to come out of the mist to strugglewith me. I held tight; and I thought I was going to win, for I didn'tmean Him to take any more of her life, till I saw His eyes. They burnedinto me, and my strength became like water. He slipped through it, andwhen I tried to cling to Him, He raised me up and flung me down. Therewas a red cloud before me, and a noise like thunder, and the mist seemedto steal away under the door." His voice was becoming fainter and hisbreath more stertorous. Van Helsing stood up instinctively.

"We know the worst now," he said. "He is here, and we know his purpose.It may not be too late. Let us be armed--the same as we were the othernight, but lose no time; there is not an instant to spare." There was noneed to put our fear, nay our conviction, into words--we shared them incommon. We all hurried and took from our rooms the same things that wehad when we entered the Count's house. The Professor had his ready andas we met in the corridor he pointed to them significantly as he said:--

"They never leave me; and they shall not till this unhappy business isover. Be wise also, my friends. It is no common enemy that we deal with.Alas! alas! that the dear Madam Mina should suffer." He stopped; hisvoice was breaking, and I do not know if rage or terror predominated inmy own heart.

Outside the Harkers' door we paused. Art and Quincey held back, and thelatter said:--

"Should we disturb her?"

"We must," said Van Helsing grimly. "If the door be locked, I shallbreak it in."

"May it not frighten her terribly? It is unusual to break into a lady'sroom!" Van Helsing said solemnly:--

"You are always right; but this is life and death. All chambers arealike to the doctor; and even were they not they are all as one to meto-night. Friend John, when I turn the handle, if the door does notopen, do you put your shoulder down and shove; and you too, my friends.Now!"

He turned the handle as he spoke, but the door did not yield. We threwourselves against it; with a crash it burst open, and we almost fellheadlong into the room. The Professor did actually fall, and I sawacross him as he gathered himself up from hands and knees. What I sawappalled me. I felt my hair rise like bristles on the back of my neck,and my heart seemed to stand still.

The moonlight was so bright that through the thick yellow blind theroom was light enough to see. On the bed beside the window lay JonathanHarker, his face flushed, and breathing heavily as though in a stupor.Kneeling on the near edge of the bed facing outwards was the white-cladfigure of his wife. By her side stood a tall, thin man, clad in black.His face was turned from us, but the instant we saw it we all recognisedthe Count--in every way, even to the scar on his forehead. With his lefthand he held both Mrs. Harker's hands, keeping them away with her armsat full tension; his right hand gripped her by the back of the neck,forcing her face down on his bosom. Her white nightdress was smearedwith blood, and a thin stream trickled down the man's bare breast whichwas shown by his torn-open dress. The attitude of the two had a terribleresemblance to a child forcing a kitten's nose into a saucer of milkto compel it to drink. As we burst into the room, the Count turned hisface, and the hellish look that I had heard described seemed to leapinto it. His eyes flamed red with devilish passion; the great nostrilsof the white aquiline nose opened wide and quivered at the edge; and thewhite sharp teeth, behind the full lips of the blood-dripping mouth,champed together like those of a wild beast. With a wrench, which threwhis victim back upon the bed as though hurled from a height, he turnedand sprang at us. But by this time the Professor had gained his feet,and was holding towards him the envelope which contained the SacredWafer. The Count suddenly s

topped, just as poor Lucy had done outsidethe tomb, and cowered back. Further and further back he cowered, as we,lifting our crucifixes, advanced. The moonlight suddenly failed, as agreat black cloud sailed across the sky; and when the gaslight sprang upunder Quincey's match, we saw nothing but a faint vapour. This, as welooked, trailed under the door, which with the recoil from its burstingopen had swung back to its old position. Van Helsing, Art and I movedforward to Mrs. Harker, who by this time had drawn her breath and withit had given a scream so wild, so ear-piercing, so despairing that itseems to me now that it will ring in my ears till my dying day. For afew seconds she lay in her helpless attitude and disarray. Her face wasghastly, with a pallor which was accentuated by the blood which smearedher lips and cheeks and chin; from her throat trickled a thin stream ofblood. Her eyes were mad with terror. Then she put before her face herpoor crushed hands, which bore on their whiteness the red mark of theCount's terrible grip, and from behind them came a low desolate wailwhich made the terrible scream seem only the quick expression of anendless grief. Van Helsing stepped forward and drew the coverlet gentlyover her body, whilst Art, after looking at her face for an instantdespairingly, ran out of the room. Van Helsing whispered to me:--

"Jonathan is in a stupor such as we know the Vampire can produce.We can do nothing with poor Madam Mina for a few moments till sherecovers herself; I must wake him!" He dipped the end of a towel incold water and with it began to flick him on the face, his wife allthe while holding her face between her hands and sobbing in a way thatwas heart-breaking to hear. I raised the blind, and looked out of thewindow. There was much moonshine; and as I looked I could see QuinceyMorris run across the lawn and hide himself in the shadow of a great yewtree. It puzzled me to think why he was doing this; but at the instantI heard Harker's quick exclamation as he woke to partial consciousness,and turned to the bed. On his face, as there might well be, was a lookof wild amazement. He seemed dazed for a few seconds, and then fullconsciousness seemed to burst upon him all at once, and he started up.His wife was aroused by the quick movement, and turned to him with herarms stretched out, as though to embrace him; instantly, however, shedrew them in again, and putting her elbows together, held her handsbefore her face, and shuddered till the bed beneath her shook.

"In God's name what does this mean?" Harker cried out. "Dr. Seward, Dr.Van Helsing, what is it? What has happened? What is wrong? Mina, dear,what is it? What does that blood mean? My God, my God! has it come tothis!" and, raising himself to his knees, he beat his hands wildlytogether. "Good God help us! help her! oh, help her!" With a quickmovement he jumped from the bed, and began to pull on his clothes--allthe man in him awake at the need for instant exertion. "What hashappened? Tell me all about it!" he cried without pausing. "Dr. VanHelsing, you love Mina, I know. Oh, do something to save her. It cannothave gone too far yet. Guard her while I look for _him_!" His wife,through her terror and horror and distress, saw some sure danger to him;instantly forgetting her own grief, she seized hold of him and criedout:--

"No! no! Jonathan, you must not leave me. I have suffered enoughto-night, God knows, without the dread of his harming you. You muststay with me. Stay with these friends who will watch over you!" Herexpression became frantic as she spoke; and, he yielding to her, shepulled him down sitting on the bedside, and clung to him fiercely.

Van Helsing and I tried to calm them both. The Professor held up hislittle golden crucifix, and said with wonderful calmness:--

"Do not fear, my dear. We are here; and whilst this is close to youno foul thing can approach. You are safe for to-night; and we must becalm and take counsel together." She shuddered and was silent, holdingdown her head on her husband's breast. When she raised it, his whitenight-robe was stained with blood where her lips had touched, and wherethe thin open wound in her neck had sent forth drops. The instant shesaw it she drew back, with a low wail, and whispered, amidst chokingsobs:--

"Unclean, unclean! I must touch him or kiss him no more. Oh, that itshould be that it is I who am now his worst enemy, and whom he may havemost cause to fear." To this he spoke out resolutely:--

"Nonsense, Mina. It is a shame to me to hear such a word. I would nothear it of you; and I shall not hear it from you. May God judge me by mydeserts, and punish me with more bitter suffering than even this hour,if by any act or will of mine anything ever come between us!" He put outhis arms and folded her to his breast; and for a while she lay theresobbing. He looked at us over her bowed head, with eyes that blinkeddamply above his quivering nostrils; his mouth was set as steel. Aftera while her sobs became less frequent and more faint, and then he saidto me, speaking with a studied calmness which I felt tried his nervouspower to the utmost:--

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