It was two o'clock before we found a
suitable opportunity for our attempt. The funeral held at noon was all completed,
and the last stragglers of the mourners had taken themselves lazily away, when,
looking carefully from behind a clump of alder trees, we saw the sexton lock the
gate after him. We knew that we were safe till morning did we desire it, but the
Professor told me that we should not want more than an hour at most. Again I felt
that horrid sense of the reality of things, in which any effort of imagination
seemed out of place, and I realized distinctly the perils of the law which we
were incurring in our unhallowed work. Besides, I felt it was all so useless.
Outrageous as it was to open a leaden coffin, to see if a woman dead nearly a
week were really dead, it now seemed the height of folly to open the tomb again,
when we knew, from the evidence of our own eyesight, that the coffin was empty.
I shrugged my shoulders, however, and rested silent, for Van Helsing had a way
of going on his own road, no matter who remonstrated. He took the key, opened
the vault, and again courteously motioned me to precede. The place was not so
gruesome as last night, but oh, how unutterably mean looking when the sunshine
streamed in. Van Helsing walked over to Lucy's coffin, and I followed. He bent
over and again forced back the leaden flange, and a shock of surprise and dismay
shot through me.
There lay Lucy, seemingly just as we had seen her the night
before her funeral. She was, if possible, more radiantly beautiful than ever,
and I could not believe that she was dead. The lips were red, nay redder than
before, and on the cheeks was a delicate bloom.
"Is this a juggle?"
I said to him.
"Are you convinced now?" said the Professor, in
response, and as he spoke he put over his hand, and in a way that made me shudder,
pulled back the dead lips and showed the white teeth. "See," he went
on, "they are even sharper than before. With this and this," and he
touched one of the canine teeth and that below it, "the little children can
be bitten. Are you of belief now, friend John?"
Once more argumentative
hostility woke within me. I could not accept such an overwhelming idea as he suggested.
So, with an attempt to argue of which I was even at the moment ashamed, I said,
"She may have been placed here since last night."
That is so, and by whom?"
"I do not know. Someone has done it."
yet she has been dead one week. Most peoples in that time would not look so."
had no answer for this, so was silent. Van Helsing did not seem to notice my silence.
At any rate, he showed neither chagrin nor triumph. He was looking intently at
the face of the dead woman, raising the eyelids and looking at the eyes, and once
more opening the lips and examining the teeth. Then he turned to me and said,
there is one thing which is different from all recorded. Here is some dual life
that is not as the common. She was bitten by the vampire when she was in a trance,
sleep-walking, oh, you start. You do not know that, friend John, but you shall
know it later, and in trance could he best come to take more blood. In trance
she dies, and in trance she is UnDead, too. So it is that she differ from all
other. Usually when the UnDead sleep at home," as he spoke he made a comprehensive
sweep of his arm to designate what to a vampire was 'home', "their face show
what they are, but this so sweet that was when she not UnDead she go back to the
nothings of the common dead. There is no malign there, see, and so it make hard
that I must kill her in her sleep."
This turned my blood cold, and
it began to dawn upon me that I was accepting Van Helsing's theories. But if she
were really dead, what was there of terror in the idea of killing her?
looked up at me, and evidently saw the change in my face, for he said almost joyously,
"Ah, you believe now?"
I answered, "Do not press me too hard
all at once. I am willing to accept. How will you do this bloody work?"
shall cut off her head and fill her mouth with garlic, and I shall drive a stake
through her body."
It made me shudder to think of so mutilating the
body of the woman whom I had loved. And yet the feeling was not so strong as I
had expected. I was, in fact, beginning to shudder at the presence of this being,
this UnDead, as Van Helsing called it, and to loathe it. Is it possible that love
is all subjective, or all objective?
I waited a considerable time for Van
Helsing to begin, but he stood as if wrapped in thought. Presently he closed the
catch of his bag with a snap, and said,
"I have been thinking, and
have made up my mind as to what is best. If I did simply follow my inclining I
would do now, at this moment, what is to be done. But there are other things to
follow, and things that are thousand times more difficult in that them we do not
know. This is simple. She have yet no life taken, though that is of time, and
to act now would be to take danger from her forever. But then we may have to want
Arthur, and how shall we tell him of this? If you, who saw the wounds on Lucy's
throat, and saw the wounds so similar on the child's at the hospital, if you,
who saw the coffin empty last night and full today with a woman who have not change
only to be more rose and more beautiful in a whole week, after she die, if you
know of this and know of the white figure last night that brought the child to
the churchyard, and yet of your own senses you did not believe, how then, can
I expect Arthur, who know none of those things, to believe?
me when I took him from her kiss when she was dying. I know he has forgiven me
because in some mistaken idea I have done things that prevent him say goodbye
as he ought, and he may think that in some more mistaken idea this woman was buried
alive, and that in most mistake of all we have killed her. He will then argue
back that it is we, mistaken ones, that have killed her by our ideas, and so he
will be much unhappy always. Yet he never can be sure, and that is the worst of
all. And he will sometimes think that she he loved was buried alive, and that
will paint his dreams with horrors of what she must have suffered, and again,
he will think that we may be right, and that his so beloved was, after all, an
UnDead. No! I told him once, and since then I learn much. Now, since I know it
is all true, a hundred thousand times more do I know that he must pass through
the bitter waters to reach the sweet. He, poor fellow, must have one hour that
will make the very face of heaven grow black to him, then we can act for good
all round and send him peace. My mind is made up. Let us go. You return home for
tonight to your asylum, and see that all be well. As for me, I shall spend the
night here in this churchyard in my own way. Tomorrow night you will come to me
to the Berkeley Hotel at ten of the clock. I shall send for Arthur to come too,
and also that so fine young man of America that gave his blood. Later we shall
all have work to do. I come with you so far as Piccadilly and there dine, for
I must be back here before the sun set."
So we locked the tomb and
came away, and got over the wall of the churchyard, which was not much of a task,
and drove back to Piccadilly.