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© Rootbook

A Rootbook Author
2012 - today
Published by: Rootbook

Chapter 204

“That’s fair enough,” broke in Morris.
After a pause Van Helsing went on, evidently with an effort:—
“Miss Lucy is dead; is it not so? Yes! Then there can be no wrong to her. But if she be not dead——”
Arthur jumped to his feet.
“Good God!” he cried. “What do you mean? Has there been any mistake; has she been buried alive?” He groaned in anguish that not even hope could soften.
“I did not say she was alive, my child; I did not think it. I go no further than to say that she might be Un-Dead.”
“Un-Dead! Not alive! What do you mean? Is this all a nightmare, or what is it?”
“There are mysteries which men can only guess at, which age by age they may solve only in part. Believe me, we are now on the verge of one. But I have not done. May I cut off the head of dead Miss Lucy?”
“Heavens and earth, no!” cried Arthur in a storm of passion. “Not for the wide world will I consent to any mutilation of her dead body. Dr. Van Helsing, you try me too far. What have I done to you that you should torture me so? What did that poor, sweet girl do that you should want to cast such dishonour on her grave? Are you mad that speak such things, or am I mad to listen to them? Don’t dare to think more of such a desecration; I shall not give my consent to anything you do. I have a duty to do in protecting her grave from outrage; and, by God, I shall do it!”
Van Helsing rose up from where he had all the time been seated, and said, gravely and sternly:—
“My Lord Godalming, I, too, have a duty to do, a duty to others, a duty to you, a duty to the dead; and, by God, I shall do it! All I ask you now is that you come with me, that you look and listen; and if when later I make the same request you do not be more eager for its fulfilment even than I am, then—then I shall do my duty, whatever it may seem to me. And then, to follow of your Lordship’s wishes I shall hold myself at your disposal to render an account to you, when and where you will.” His voice broke a little, and he went on with a voice full of pity:—
“But, I beseech you, do not go forth in anger with me. In a long life of acts which were often not pleasant to do, and which sometimes did wring my heart, I have never had so heavy a task as now. Believe me that if the time comes for you to change your mind towards me, one look from you will wipe away all this so sad hour, for I would do what a man can to save you from sorrow. Just think. For why should I give myself so much of labour and so much of sorrow? I have come here from my own land to do what I can of good; at the first to please my friend John, and then to help a sweet young lady, whom, too, I came to love. For her—I am ashamed to say so much, but I say it in kindness—I gave what you gave; the blood of my veins; I gave it, I, who was not, like you, her lover, but only her physician and her friend. I gave to her my nights and days—before death, after death; and if my death can do her good even now, when she is the dead Un-Dead, she shall have it freely.” He said this with a very grave, sweet pride, and Arthur was much affected by it. He took the old man’s hand and said in a broken voice:—
“Oh, it is hard to think of it, and I cannot understand; but at least I shall go with you and wait.”

DR. SEWARD’S DIARY—continued

IT was just a quarter before twelve o’clock when we got into the churchyard over the low wall. The night was dark with occasional gleams of moonlight between the rents of the heavy clouds that scudded across the sky. We all kept somehow close together, with Van Helsing slightly in front as he led the way. When we had come close to the tomb I looked well at Arthur, for I feared that the proximity to a place laden with so sorrowful a memory would upset him; but he bore himself well. I took it that the very mystery of the proceeding was in some way a counteractant to his grief. The Professor unlocked the door, and seeing a natural hesitation amongst us for various reasons, solved the difficulty by entering first himself. The rest of us followed, and he closed the door. He then lit a dark lantern and pointed to the coffin. Arthur stepped forward hesitatingly; Van Helsing said to me:—
“You were with me here yesterday. Was the body of Miss Lucy in that coffin?”
“It was.” The Professor turned to the rest saying:—
“You hear; and yet there is no one who does not believe with me.” He took his screwdriver and again took off the lid of the coffin. Arthur looked on, very pale but silent; when the lid was removed he stepped forward. He evidently did not know that there was a leaden coffin, or, at any rate, had not thought of it. When he saw the rent in the lead, the blood rushed to his face for an instant, but as quickly fell away again, so that he remained of a ghastly whiteness; he was still silent. Van Helsing forced back the leaden flange, and we all looked in and recoiled.
The coffin was empty!