Page 68 of Dracula

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Instinctively, with the dawn coming, I turned to Madam Mina, intendingto hypnotise her; but she lay in a deep and sudden sleep, from whichI could not wake her. I tried to hypnotise through her sleep, but shemade no response, none at all; and the day broke. I fear yet to stir. Ihave made my fire and have seen the horses; they are all dead. To-day Ihave much to do here, and I keep waiting till the sun is up high; forthere may be places where I must go, where that sunlight, though snowand mist obscure it, will be to me a safety.

I will strengthen me with breakfast, and then I will to my terriblework. Madam Mina still sleeps; and, God be thanked! she is calm in hersleep....

_Jonathan Harker's Journal._

_4 November, evening._--The accident to the launch has been a terriblething for us. Only for it we should have overtaken the boat long ago;and by now my dear Mina would have been free. I fear to think of her,off on the wolds near that horrid place. We have got horses, and wefollow on the track. I note this whilst Godalming is getting ready. Wehave our arms. The Szgany must look out if they mean to fight. Oh, ifonly Morris and Seward were with us. We must only hope! If I write nomore, Good-bye, Mina! God bless and keep you.

_Dr. Seward's Diary._

_5 November._--With the dawn we saw the body of Szgany before usdashing away from the river with their leiter-waggon. They surroundedit in a cluster, and hurried along as though beset. The snow is fallinglightly and there is a strange excitement in the air. It may be ourown excited feelings, but the depression is strange. Far off I hearthe howling of wolves; the snow brings them down from the mountains,and there are dangers to all of us, and from all sides. The horses arenearly ready, and we are soon off. We ride to death of some one. Godalone knows who, or where, or what, or when, or how it may be....

_Dr. Van Helsing's Memorandum._

_5 November, afternoon._--I am at least sane. Thank God for thatmercy at all events, though the proving it has been dreadful. When Ileft Madam Mina sleeping within the Holy circle, I took my way to thecastle. The blacksmith hammer which I took in the carriage from Verestiwas useful; though the doors were all open I broke them off the rustyhinges, lest some ill-intent or ill-chance should close them, so thatbeing entered I might not get out. Jonathan's bitter experience servedme here. By memory of his diary I found my way to the old chapel, forI knew that here my work lay. The air was oppressive; it seemed as ifthere was some sulphurous fume, which at times made me dizzy. Eitherthere was a roaring in my ears or I heard afar off the howl of wolves.Then I bethought me of my dear Madam Mina, and I was in terribleplight. The dilemma had me between his horns. Her, I had not dare totake into this place, but left safe from the Vampire in that Holycircle; and yet even there would be the wolf! I resolve me that my worklay here, and that as to the wolves we must submit, if it were God'sWill. At any rate it was only death and freedom beyond. So did I choosefor her. Had it but been for myself the choice had been easy; the mawof the wolf were better to rest in than the grave of the Vampire! So Imake my choice to go on with my work.

I knew that there were at least three graves to find--graves that areinhabit; so I search, and search, and I find one of them. She lay inher Vampire sleep, so full of life and voluptuous beauty that I shudderas though I have come to do murder. Ah, I doubt not that in old time,when such things were, many a man who set forth to do such a task asmine, found at the last his heart fail him, and then his nerve. So hedelay, and delay, and delay, till the mere beauty and the fascinationof the wanton Un-Dead have hypnotise him; and he remain on, and on,till sunset come, and the Vampire sleep be over. Then the beautifuleyes of the fair woman open and look love, and the voluptuous mouthpresent to a kiss--and man is weak. And there remain one more victim inthe Vampire fold; one more to swell the grim and grisly ranks of theUn-Dead!...

There is some fascination, surely, when I am moved by the mere presenceof such an one, even lying as she lay in a tomb fretted with age andheavy with the dust of centuries, though there be that horrid odoursuch as the lairs of the Count have had. Yes, I was moved--I, VanHelsing, with all my purpose and with my motive for hate--I was movedto a yearning for delay which seemed to paralyse my faculties and toclog my very soul. It may have been that the need of natural sleep,and the strange oppression of the air were beginning to overcome me.Certain it was that I was lapsing into sleep, the open-eyed sleep ofone who yields to a sweet fascination, when there came through thesnow-stilled air a long, low wail, so full of woe and pity that it wokeme like the sound of a clarion. For it was the voice of my dear MadamMina that I heard.

Then I braced myself again to my horrid task, and found by wrenchingaway tomb-tops one other of the sisters, the other dark one. I darednot pause to look on her as I had on her sister, lest once more Ishould begin to be enthral; but I go on searching until, presently, Ifind in a high great tomb as if made to one much beloved that otherfair sister which, like Jonathan I had seen to gather herself outof the atoms of the mist. She was so fair to look on, so radiantlybeautiful, so exquisitely voluptuous, that the very instinct of man inme, which calls some of my sex to love and to protect one of hers, mademy head whirl with new emotion. But God be thanked, that soul-wail ofmy dear Madam Mina had not died out of my ears; and, before the spellcould be wrought further upon me, I had nerved myself to my wild work.By this time I had searched all the tombs in the chapel, so far as Icould tell; and as there had been only three of these Un-Dead phantomsaround us in the night, I took it that there were no more of activeUn-Dead existent. There was one great tomb more lordly than all therest; huge it was, and nobly proportioned. On it was but one word


This then was the Un-Dead home of the King-Vampire, to whom so manymore were due. Its emptiness spoke eloquent to make certain what Iknew. Before I began to restore these women to their dead selvesthrough my awful work, I laid in Dracula's tomb some of the Wafer, andso banished him from it, Un-Dead, for ever.

Then began my terrible task, and I dreaded it. Had it been but one,it had been easy, comparative. But three! To begin twice more afterI had been through a deed of horror; for if it was terrible with thesweet Miss Lucy, what would it not be with these strange ones whohad survived through centuries, and who had been strengthened by thepassing of the years; who would, if they could, have fought for theirfoul lives?...

Oh, my friend John, but it was butcher work; had I not been nerved bythoughts of other dead, and of the living over whom hung such a pall offear, I could not have gone on. I tremble and tremble even yet, thoughtill all was over, God be thanked, my nerve did stand. Had I not seenthe repose in the first face, and the gladness that stole over it justere the final dissolution came, as realisation that the soul had beenwon, I could not have gone further with my butchery. I could not haveendured t

he horrid screeching as the stake drove home; the plunging ofwrithing form, and lips of bloody foam. I should have fled in terrorand left my work undone. But it is over! And the poor souls, I can pitythem now and weep, as I think of them placid each in her full sleep ofdeath, for a short moment ere fading. For, friend John, hardly had myknife severed the head of each, before the whole body began to meltaway and crumble into its native dust, as though the death that shouldhave come centuries agone had at last assert himself and say at onceand loud "I am here!"

Before I left the castle I so fixed its entrances that never more canthe Count enter there Un-Dead.

When I stepped into the circle where Madam Mina slept, she woke fromher sleep, and seeing me, cried out in pain that I had endured too much.

"Come!" she said, "come away from this awful place! Let us go to meetmy husband, who is, I know, coming towards us." She was looking thinand pale and weak; but her eyes were pure and glowed with fervour. Iwas glad to see her paleness and her illness, for my mind was full ofthe fresh horror of that ruddy Vampire sleep.

And so with trust and hope, and yet full of fear, we go eastward tomeet our friends--and _him_--whom Madam Mina tell me that she _know_are coming to meet us.

_Mina Harker's Journal._

_6 November._--It was late in the afternoon when the Professor and Itook our way towards the east whence I knew Jonathan was coming. Wedid not go fast, though the way was steeply downhill, for we had totake heavy rugs and wraps with us; we dared not face the possibility ofbeing left without warmth in the cold and the snow. We had to take someof our provisions too, for we were in a perfect desolation, and, sofar as we could see through the snow-fall, there was not even the signof a habitation. When we had gone about a mile, I was tired with theheavy walking and sat down to rest. Then we looked back and saw wherethe clear line of Dracula's castle cut the sky; for we were so deepunder the hill whereon it was set that the angle of perspective of theCarpathian mountains was far below it. We saw it in all its grandeur,perched a thousand feet on the summit of a sheer precipice, and withseemingly a great gap between it and the steep of the adjacent mountainon any side. There was something wild and uncanny about the place. Wecould hear the distant howling of wolves. They were far off, but thesound, even though coming muffled through the deadening snowfall, wasfull of terror. I knew from the way Dr. Van Helsing was searching aboutthat he was trying to seek some strategic point, where we would be lessexposed in case of attack. The rough roadway still led downwards; wecould trace it through the drifted snow.

In a little while the Professor signalled to me, so I got up and joinedhim. He had found a wonderful spot, a sort of natural hollow in arock, with an entrance like a doorway between two boulders. He tookme by the hand and drew me in: "See!" he said, "here you will be inshelter; and if the wolves do come I can meet them one by one." Hebrought in our furs, and made a snug nest for me, and got out someprovisions and forced them upon me. But I could not eat; to even try todo so was repulsive to me, and, much as I would have liked to pleasehim, I could not bring myself to the attempt. He looked very sad, butdid not reproach me. Taking his field-glasses from the case, he stoodon the top of the rock, and began to search the horizon. Suddenly hecalled out:--

"Look! Madam Mina, look! look!" I sprang up and stood beside him on therock; he handed me his glasses and pointed. The snow was now fallingmore heavily, and swirled about fiercely, for a high wind was beginningto blow. However, there were times when there were pauses between thesnow flurries, and I could see a long way round. From the height wherewe were it was possible to see a great distance; and far off, beyondthe white waste of snow, I could see the river lying like a blackribbon in kinks and curls as it wound its way. Straight in front of usand not far off--in fact so near that I wondered we had not noticedbefore--came a group of mounted men hurrying along. In the midst ofthem was a cart, a long leiter-waggon, which swept from side to side,like a dog's tail wagging, with each stern inequality of the road.Outlined against the snow as they were, I could see from the men'sclothes that they were peasants or gipsies of some kind.

On the cart was a great square chest. My heart leaped as I saw it, forI felt that the end was coming. The evening was now drawing close, andwell I knew that at sunset the Thing, which was till then imprisonedthere, would take new freedom and could in any of many forms eludeall pursuit. In fear I turned to the Professor; to my consternation,however, he was not there. An instant later, I saw him below me. Roundthe rock he had drawn a circle, such as we had found shelter in lastnight. When he had completed it he stood beside me again, saying:--

"At least you shall be safe here from _him_!" He took the glasses fromme, and at the next lull of the snow swept the whole space below us."See," he said, "they come quickly; they are flogging the horses,and galloping as hard as they can." He paused and went on in a hollowvoice:--

"They are racing for the sunset. We may be too late. God's will bedone!" Down came another blinding rush of driving snow, and the wholelandscape was blotted out. It soon passed, however, and once more hisglasses were fixed on the plain. Then came a sudden cry:--

"Look! Look! Look! See, two horsemen follow fast, coming up from thesouth. It must be Quincey and John. Take the glass. Look, before thesnow blots it all out!" I took it and looked. The two men might be Dr.Seward and Mr. Morris. I knew at all events that neither of them wasJonathan. At the same time I _knew_ that Jonathan was not far off;looking around I saw on the north side of the coming party two othermen, riding at break-neck speed. One of them I knew was Jonathan,and the other I took, of course, to be Lord Godalming. They, too,were pursuing the party with the cart. When I told the Professor heshouted in glee like a schoolboy, and, after looking intently till asnowfall made sight impossible, he laid his Winchester rifle ready foruse against the boulder at the opening of our shelter. "They are allconverging," he said. "When the time comes we shall have the gipsieson all sides." I got out my revolver ready to hand, for whilst wewere speaking the howling of wolves came louder and closer. When thesnowstorm abated a moment we looked again. It was strange to see thesnow falling in such heavy flakes close to us, and beyond, the sunshining more and more brightly as it sank down towards the far mountaintops. Sweeping the glass all around us I could see here and there dotsmoving singly and in twos and threes and larger numbers--the wolveswere gathering for their prey.

Every instant seemed an age whilst we waited. The wind came now infierce bursts, and the snow was driven with fury as it swept upon usin circling eddies. At times we could not see an arm's length beforeus; but at others as the hollow-sounding wind swept by us, it seemed toclear the air-space around us so that we could see afar off. We had oflate been so accustomed to watch for sunrise and sunset, that we knewwith fair accuracy when it would be; and we knew that before long thesun would set.

It was hard to believe that by our watches it was less than an hourthat we waited in that rocky shelter before the various bodies began toconverge close upon us. The wind came now with fiercer and more bittersweeps, and more steadily from the north. It seemingly had driventhe snow-clouds from us, for, with only occasional bursts, the snowfell. We could distinguish clearly the individuals of each party, thepursued and the pursuers. Strangely enough those pursued did not seemto realize, or at least to care, that they were pursued; they seemed,however, to hasten with redoubled speed as the sun dropped lower andlower on the mountain tops.

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