Page 53 of Dracula

Font Size:  

"And now, Dr. Seward, tell me all about it. Too well I know the broadfact; tell me all that has been." I told him exactly what had happened,and he listened with seeming impassiveness; but his nostrils twitchedand his eyes blazed as I told how the ruthless hands of the Count hadheld his wife in that terrible and horrid position, with her mouth tothe open wound in his breast. It interested me, even at that moment, tosee that whilst the face of white set passion worked convulsively overthe bowed head, the hands tenderly and lovingly stroked the ruffledhair. Just as I had finished, Quincey and Godalming knocked at thedoor. They entered in obedience to our summons. Van Helsing looked atme questioningly. I understood him to mean if we were to take advantageof their coming to divert if possible the thoughts of the unhappyhusband and wife from each other and from themselves; so on my noddingacquiescence to him he asked them what they had seen or done. To whichLord Godalming answered:--

"I could not see him anywhere in the passage, or in any of our rooms. Ilooked in the study, but, though he had been there, he had gone. He had,however----" He stopped suddenly, looking at the poor drooping figure onthe bed. Van Helsing said gravely:--

"Go on friend Arthur. We want no more concealments. Our hope now is inknowing all. Tell freely!" So Art went on:--

"He had been there, and though it could only have been for a fewseconds, he made rare hay of the place. All the manuscript had beenburned, and the blue flames were flickering amongst the white ashes;the cylinders of your phonograph too were thrown on the fire, and thewax had helped the flames." Here I interrupted. "Thank God there is theother copy in the safe!" His face lit for a moment, but fell again as hewent on: "I ran downstairs then, but could see no sign of him. I lookedinto Renfield's room; but there was no trace there except----!" Againhe paused. "Go on," said Harker hoarsely; so he bowed his head, andmoistening his lips with his tongue, added: "except that the poor fellowis dead." Mrs. Harker raised her head, looking from one to the other ofus as she said solemnly:--

"God's will be done!" I could not but feel that Art was keeping backsomething; but, as I took it that it was with a purpose, I said nothing.Van Helsing turned to Morris and asked:--

"And you, friend Quincey, have you any to tell?"

"A little," he answered. "It may be much eventually, but at present Ican't say. I thought it well to know if possible where the Count wouldgo when he left the house. I did not see him; but I saw a bat rise fromRenfield's window, and flap westward. I expected to see him in someshape go back to Carfax; but he evidently sought some other lair. Hewill not be back to-night; for the sky is reddening in the east, and thedawn is close. We must work to-morrow!"

He said the latter words through his shut teeth. For a space of perhapsa couple of minutes there was silence, and I could fancy that I couldhear the sound of our hearts beating; then Van Helsing said, placing hishand very tenderly on Mrs. Harker's head:--

"And now, Madam Mina--poor, dear, dear Madam Mina--tell us exactly whathappened. God knows that I do not want that you be pained; but it isneed that we know all. For now more than ever has all work to be donequick and sharp, and in deadly earnest. The day is close to us that mustend all, if it may so be; and now is the chance that we may live andlearn."

The poor, dear lady shivered, and I could see the tension of her nervesas she cl

asped her husband closer to her and bent her head lower andlower still on his breast. Then she raised her head proudly, and heldout one hand to Van Helsing, who took it in his, and, after stooping andkissing it reverently, held it fast. The other hand was locked in thatof her husband, who held his other arm thrown round her protectingly.After a pause in which she was evidently ordering her thoughts, shebegan:--

"I took the sleeping draught which you had so kindly given me, butfor a long time it did not act. I seemed to become more wakeful, andmyriads of horrible fancies began to crowd in upon my mind--all of themconnected with death, and vampires; with blood, and pain, and trouble."Her husband involuntarily groaned as she turned to him and saidlovingly: "Do not fret, dear. You must be brave and strong, and help methrough the horrible task. If you only knew what an effort it is to meto tell of this fearful thing at all, you would understand how much Ineed your help. Well, I saw I must try to help the medicine do its workwith my will, if it was to do me any good, so I resolutely set myself tosleep. Sure enough sleep must soon have come to me, for I remembered nomore. Jonathan coming in had not waked me, for he lay by my side whennext I remember. There was in the room the same thin white mist thatI had before noticed. But I forget now if you know of this; you willfind it in my diary which I shall show you later. I felt the same vagueterror which had come to me before, and the same sense of some presence.I turned to wake Jonathan, but found that he slept so soundly that itseemed as if it was he who had taken the sleeping draught and not I. Itried, but could not wake him. This caused me a great fear, and I lookedaround terrified. Then indeed, my heart sank within me: beside the bed,as if he had stepped out of the mist--or rather as if the mist hadturned into his figure, for it had entirely disappeared--stood a tall,thin man, all in black. I knew him at once from the descriptions of theothers. The waxen face; the high aquiline nose, on which the light fellin a thin white line; the parted red lips, with the sharp white teethshowing between; and the red eyes that I had seemed to see in the sunseton the windows of St. Mary's Church at Whitby. I knew, too, the red scaron his forehead where Jonathan had struck him. For an instant my heartstood still, and I would have screamed out, only that I was paralysed.In the pause he spoke in a sort of keen, cutting whisper, pointing as hespoke to Jonathan:--

"'Silence! If you make a sound I shall take him and dash his brains outbefore your very eyes.' I was appalled and was too bewildered to do orsay anything. With a mocking smile, he placed one hand upon my shoulderand, holding me tight, bared my throat with the other, saying as he didso: 'First, a little refreshment to reward my exertions. You may as wellbe quiet; it is not the first time, or the second, that your veins haveappeased my thirst!' I was bewildered, and, strangely enough, I did notwant to hinder him. I suppose it is a part of the horrible curse thatsuch is, when his touch is on his victim. And oh, my God, my God, pityme! He placed his reeking lips upon my throat!" Her husband groanedagain. She clasped his hand harder, and looked at him pityingly, as ifhe were the injured one, and went on:--

"I felt my strength fading away, and I was in a half swoon. How longthis horrible thing lasted I know not; but it seemed that a long timemust have passed before he took his foul, awful sneering mouth away. Isaw it drip with the fresh blood!" The remembrance seemed for a whileto overpower her, and she drooped and would have sunk down but for herhusband's sustaining arm. With a great effort she recovered herself andwent on:--

"Then he spoke to me mockingly: 'And so you, like the others, wouldplay your brains against mine. You would help these men to hunt meand frustrate me in my designs! You know now, and they know in partalready, and will know in full before long, what it is to cross my path.They should have kept their energies for use closer to home. Whilstthey played wits against me--against me who commanded nations, andintrigued for them, and fought for them, hundreds of years before theywere born--I was countermining them. And you, their best beloved one,are now to me flesh of my flesh; blood of my blood; kin of my kin; mybountiful wine-press for a while; and shall be later on my companion andmy helper. You shall be avenged in turn; for not one of them but shallminister to your needs. But as yet you are to be punished for what youhave done. You have aided in thwarting me; now you shall come to mycall. When my brain says "Come!" to you, you shall cross land or seato do my bidding; and to that end this!' With that he pulled open hisshirt, and with his long sharp nails opened a vein in his breast. Whenthe blood began to spurt out, he took my hands in one of his, holdingthem tight, and with the other seized my neck and pressed my mouth tothe wound, so that I must either suffocate or swallow some of the--Oh,my God! my God! what have I done? What have I done to deserve such afate, I who have tried to walk in meekness and righteousness all mydays? God pity me! Look down on a poor soul in worse than mortal peril;and in mercy pity those to whom she is dear!" Then she began to rub herlips as though to cleanse them from pollution.

As she was telling her terrible story, the eastern sky began to quicken,and everything became more and more clear. Harker was still and quiet;but over his face, as the awful narrative went on, came a grey lookwhich deepened and deepened in the morning light, till when the firstred streak of the coming dawn shot up, the flesh stood darkly outagainst the whitening hair.

We have arranged that one of us is to stay within call of the unhappypair till we can meet together and arrange about taking action.

Of this I am sure: the sun rises to-day on no more miserable house inall the great round of its daily course.


/Jonathan Harker's Journal./

_3 October._--As I must do something or go mad, I write this diary. Itis now six o'clock, and we are to meet in the study in half an hour andtake something to eat; for Dr. Van Helsing and Dr. Seward are agreedthat if we do not eat we cannot work our best. Our best will be, Godknows, required to-day. I must keep writing at every chance, for I darenot stop to think. All, big and little, must go down; perhaps at the endthe little things may teach us most. The teaching, big or little, couldnot have landed Mina or me anywhere worse than we are to-day. However,we must trust and hope. Poor Mina told me just now, with the tearsrunning down her dear cheeks, that it is in trouble and trial that ourfaith is tested--that we must keep on trusting; and that God will aid usup to the end. The end! oh, my God! what end?... To work! To work!

When Dr. Van Helsing and Dr. Seward had come back from seeing poorRenfield, we went gravely into what was to be done. First, Dr. Sewardtold us that when he and Dr. Van Helsing had gone down to the room belowthey had found Renfield lying on the floor, all in a heap. His face wasall bruised and crushed in, and the bones of the neck were broken.

Dr. Seward asked the attendant who was on duty in the passage if he hadheard anything. He said that he had been sitting down--he confessed tohalf dozing--when he heard loud voices in the room, and then Renfieldhad called out loudly several times, "God! God! God!" After that therewas a sound of falling, and when he entered the room he found him lyingon the floor, face down, just as the doctors had seen him. Van Helsingasked if he had heard "voices" or "a voice," and he said he could notsay; that at first it had seemed to him as if there were two, but asthere was no one in the room it could have been only one. He could swearto it, if required, that the word "God" was spoken by the patient. Dr.Seward said to us, when we were alone, that he did not wish to go intothe matter; the question of an inquest had to be considered, and itwould never do to put forward the truth, as no one would believe it.As it was, he thought that on the attendant's evidence he could give acertificate of death by misadventure in falling from bed. In case thecoroner should demand it, there would be a formal inquest, necessarilyto the same result.

When the question began to be discussed as to what should be our nextstep, the very first thing we decided was that Mina should be in fullconfidence; that nothing of any sort--no matter how painful--should bekept from her. She herself agreed as to its wisdom, and it was pitifulto see her so brave and yet so sorrowful, and in such a depth ofdespair. "There must be no more concealment," she said. "Alas! we havehad too much already. And besides there is nothing in all the world thatcan give me more pain than I have already endured--than I suffer now!Whatever may happen, it must be of new hope or of new courage to me!"Van Helsing was looking at her fixedly as she spoke, and said, suddenlybut quietly:--

"But, dear Madam Mina are you not afraid; not for yourself, but forothers from yourself, after what has happened?" Her face grew set inits lines, but her eyes shone with the devotion of a martyr as sheanswered:--

"Ah no! for my mind is made up!"

"To what?" he asked gently, whilst we were all very still; for each inour own way we had a sort of vague idea of what she meant. Her answercame with direct simplicity, as though she were simply stating a fact:--

"Because if I find in myself--and I shall watch keenly for it--a sign ofharm to any that I love, I shall die!"

"You would not kill yourself?" he asked hoarsely.

"I would; if there were no friend who loved me, who would save me sucha pain, and so desperate an effort!" She looked at him meaningly as shespoke. He was sitting down; but now he rose and came close to her andput his hand on her head as he said solemnly:--

Articles you may like