It was just a quarter before twelve o'clock when we got into the churchyar_ver the low wall. The night was dark with occasional gleams of moonligh_etween the dents of the heavy clouds that scudded across the sky. We all kep_omehow 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 th_roximity to a place laden with so sorrowful a memory would upset him, but h_ore himself well. I took it that the very mystery of the proceeding was i_ome way a counteractant to his grief. The Professor unlocked the door, an_eeing a natural hesitation amongst us for various reasons, solved th_ifficulty by entering first himself. The rest of us followed, and he close_he door. He then lit a dark lantern and pointed to a coffin. Arthur steppe_orward hesitatingly. Van Helsing said to me, "You were with me her_esterday. Was the body of Miss Lucy in that coffin?"
The Professor turned to the rest saying, "You hear, and yet there is no on_ho does not believe with me.'
He took his screwdriver and again took off the lid of the coffin. Arthu_ooked 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, ha_ot thought of it. When he saw the rent in the lead, the blood rushed to hi_ace for an instant, but as quickly fell away again, so that he remained of _hastly whiteness. He was still silent. Van Helsing forced back the leade_lange, and we all looked in and recoiled.
The coffin was empty!
For several minutes no one spoke a word. The silence was broken by Quince_orris, "Professor, I answered for you. Your word is all I want. I wouldn'_sk such a thing ordinarily, I wouldn't so dishonor you as to imply a doubt, but this is a mystery that goes beyond any honor or dishonor. Is this you_oing?"
"I swear to you by all that I hold sacred that I have not removed or touche_er. What happened was this. Two nights ago my friend Seward and I came here, with good purpose, believe me. I opened that coffin, which was then sealed up, and we found it as now, empty. We then waited, and saw something white com_hrough the trees. The next day we came here in daytime and she lay there. Di_he not, friend John?
"That night we were just in time. One more so small child was missing, and w_ind it, thank God,unharmed amongst the graves. Yesterday I came here befor_undown, for at sundown the Un-Dead can move. I waited here all night till th_un rose, but I saw nothing. It was most probable that it was because I ha_aid over the clamps of those doors garlic, which the Un-Dead cannot bear, an_ther things which they shun. Last night there was no exodus, so tonigh_efore the sundown I took away my garlic and other things. And so it is w_ind this coffin empty. But bear with me. So far there is much that i_trange. Wait you with me outside, unseen and unheard, and things muc_tranger are yet to be. So," here he shut the dark slide of his lantern,"no_o the outside." He opened the door, and we filed out, he coming last an_ocking the door behind him.
Oh! But it seemed fresh and pure in the night air after the terror of tha_ault. How sweet it was to see the clouds race by, and the passing gleams o_he moonlight between the scudding clouds crossing and passing, like th_ladness and sorrow of a man's life. How sweet it was to breathe the fres_ir, that had no taint of death and decay. How humanizing to see the re_ighting of the sky beyond the hill, and to hear far away the muffled roa_hat marks the life of a great city. Each in his own way was solemn an_vercome. Arthur was silent, and was, I could see, striving to grasp th_urpose and the inner meaning of the mystery. I was myself tolerably patient, and half inclined again to throw aside doubt and to accept Van Helsing'_onclusions. Quincey Morris was phlegmatic in the way of a man who accepts al_hings, and accepts them in the spirit of cool bravery, with hazard of all h_as at stake. Not being able to smoke, he cut himself a good-sized plug o_obacco and began to chew. As to Van Helsing, he was employed in a definit_ay. First he took from his bag a mass of what looked like thin, wafer-lik_iscuit, which was carefully rolled up in a white napkin. Next he took out _ouble handful of some whitish stuff, like dough or putty. He crumbled th_afer up fine and worked it into the mass between his hands. This he the_ook, and rolling it into thin strips, began to lay them into the crevice_etween the door and its setting in the tomb. I was somewhat puzzled at this, and being close, asked him what it was that he was doing. Arthur and Quince_rew near also, as they too were curious.
He answered, "I am closing the tomb so that the Un-Dead may not enter."
"And is that stuff you have there going to do it?"
"What is that which you are using?" This time the question was by Arthur. Va_elsing reverently lifted his hat as he answered.
"The Host. I brought it from Amsterdam. I have an Indulgence."
It was an answer that appalled the most sceptical of us, and we fel_ndividually that in the presence of such earnest purpose as the Professor's, a purpose which could thus use the to him most sacred of things, it wa_mpossible to distrust. In respectful silence we took the places assigned t_s close round the tomb, but hidden from the sight of any one approaching. _itied the others, especially Arthur. I had myself been apprenticed by m_ormer visits to this watching horror, and yet I, who had up to an hour ag_epudiated the proofs, felt my heart sink within me. Never did tombs look s_hastly white. Never did cypress, or yew, or juniper so seem the embodiment o_uneral gloom. Never did tree or grass wave or rustle so ominously. Never di_ough creak so mysteriously, and never did the far-away howling of dogs sen_uch a woeful presage through the night.
There was a long spell of silence, big, aching, void, and then from th_rofessor a keen "S-s-s-s!" He pointed, and far down the avenue of yews we sa_ white figure advance, a dim white figure, which held something dark at it_reast. The figure stopped, and at the moment a ray of moonlight fell upon th_asses of driving clouds, and showed in startling prominence a dark-haire_oman, dressed in the cerements of the grave. We could not see the face, fo_t was bent down over what we saw to be a fair-haired child. There was a paus_nd a sharp little cry, such as a child gives in sleep, or a dog as it lie_efore the fire and dreams. We were starting forward, but the Professor'_arning hand, seen by us as he stood behind a yew tree, kept us back. And the_s we looked the white figure moved forwards again. It was now near enough fo_s to see clearly, and the moonlight still held. My own heart grew cold a_ce, and I could hear the gasp of Arthur, as we recognized the features o_ucy Westenra. Lucy Westenra, but yet how changed. The sweetness was turned t_damantine, heartless cruelty, and the purity to voluptuous wantonness.
Van Helsing stepped out, and obedient to his gesture, we all advanced too. Th_our of us ranged in a line before the door of the tomb. Van Helsing raise_is lantern and drew the slide. By the concentrated light that fell on Lucy'_ace we could see that the lips were crimson with fresh blood, and that th_tream had trickled over her chin and stained the purity of her lawn deat_obe.
We shuddered with horror. I could see by the tremulous light that even Va_elsing's iron nerve had failed. Arthur was next to me, and if I had no_eized his arm and held him up, he would have fallen.
When Lucy, I call the thing that was before us Lucy because it bore her shape, saw us she drew back with an angry snarl, such as a cat gives when take_nawares, then her eyes ranged over us. Lucy's eyes in form and color, bu_ucy's eyes unclean and full of hell fire, instead of the pure, gentle orbs w_new. At that moment the remnant of my love passed into hate and loathing. Ha_he then to be killed, I could have done it with savage delight. As sh_ooked, her eyes blazed with unholy light, and the face became wreathed with _oluptuous smile. Oh, God, how it made me shudder to see it! With a careles_otion, she flung to the ground, callous as a devil, the child that up to no_he had clutched strenuously to her breast, growling over it as a dog growl_ver a bone. The child gave a sharp cry, and lay there moaning. There was _old-bloodedness in the act which wrung a groan from Arthur. When she advance_o him with outstretched arms and a wanton smile he fell back and hid his fac_n his hands.
She still advanced, however, and with a languorous, voluptuous grace, said,
"Come to me, Arthur. Leave these others and come to me. My arms are hungry fo_ou. Come, and we can rest together. Come, my husband, come!"
There was something diabolically sweet in her tones, something of the tinklin_f glass when struck, which rang through the brains even of us who heard th_ords addressed to another.
As for Arthur, he seemed under a spell, moving his hands from his face, h_pened wide his arms. She was leaping for them, when Van Helsing spran_orward and held between them his little golden crucifix. She recoiled fro_t, and, with a suddenly distorted face, full of rage, dashed past him as i_o enter the tomb.
When within a foot or two of the door, however,she stopped, as if arrested b_ome irresistible force. Then she turned, and her face was shown in the clea_urst of moonlight and by the lamp, which had now no quiver from Van Helsing'_erves. Never did I see such baffled malice on a face, and never, I trust, shall such ever be seen again by mortal eyes. The beautiful color becam_ivid, the eyes seemed to throw out sparks of hell fire, the brows wer_rinkled as though the folds of flesh were the coils of Medusa's snakes, an_he lovely, blood-stained mouth grew to an open square, as in the passio_asks of the Greeks and Japanese. If ever a face meant death, if looks coul_ill, we saw it at that moment.
And so for full half a minute, which seemed an eternity, se remained betwee_he lifted crucifix and the sacred closing of her means of entry.
Van Helsing broke the silence by asking Arthur, "Answer me, oh my friend! Am _o proceed in my work?"
"Do as you will, friend. Do as you will. There can be no horror like this eve_ny more." And he groaned in spirit.
Quincey and I simultaneously moved towards him, and took his arms. We coul_ear the click of the closing lantern as Van Helsing held it down. Comin_lose to the tomb, he began to remove from the chinks some of the sacre_mblem which he had placed there. We all looked on with horrified amazement a_e saw, when he stood back, the woman, with a corporeal body as real at tha_oment as our own, pass through the interstice where scarce a knife blad_ould have gone. We all felt a glad sense of relief when we saw the Professo_almly restoring the strings of putty to the edges of the door.
When this was done, he lifted the child and said, "Come now, my friends. W_an do no more till tomorrow. There is a funeral at noon, so here we shall al_ome before long after that. The friends of the dead will all be gone by two, and when the sexton locks the gate we shall remain. Then there is more to do, but not like this of tonight. As for this little one, he is not much harmed, and by tomorrow night he shall be well. We shall leave him where the polic_ill find him, as on the other night, and then to home."
Coming close to Arthur, he said, "My friend Arthur, you have had a sore trial, but after, when you look back, you will see how it was necessary. You are no_n the bitter waters, my child. By this time tomorrow you will, please God, have passed them, and have drunk of the sweet waters. So do not mourn over- much. Till then I shall not ask you to forgive me."
Arthur and Quincey came home with me, and we tried to cheer each other on th_ay. We had left behind the child in safety, and were tired. So we all slep_ith more or less reality of sleep.
29 September, night.—A little before twelve o'clock we three, Arthur, Quince_orris, and myself, called for the Professor. It was odd to notice that b_ommon consent we had all put on black clothes. Of course, Arthur wore black, for he was in deep mourning, but the rest of us wore it by instinct. We got t_he graveyard by half-past one, and strolled about, keeping out of officia_bservation, so that when the gravediggers had completed their task and th_exton under the belief that every one had gone, had locked the gate, we ha_he place all to ourselves. Van Helsing, instead of his little black bag, ha_ith him a long leather one,something like a cricketing bag. It was manifestl_f fair weight.
When we were alone and had heard the last of the footsteps die out up th_oad, we silently, and as if by ordered intention, followed the Professor t_he tomb. He unlocked the door, and we entered, closing it behind us. Then h_ook from his bag the lantern, which he lit, and also two wax candles, which, when lighted, he stuck by melting their own ends, on other coffins, so tha_hey might give light sufficient to work by. When he again lifted the lid of_ucy's coffin we all looked, Arthur trembling like an aspen, and saw that th_orpse lay there in all its death beauty. But there was no love in my ow_eart, nothing but loathing for the foul Thing which had taken Lucy's shap_ithout her soul. I could see even Arthur's face grow hard as he looked.
Presently he said to Van Helsing, "Is this really Lucy's body, or only a demo_n her shape?"
"It is her body, and yet not it. But wait a while, and you shall see her a_he was, and is."
She seemed like a nightmare of Lucy as she lay there, the pointed teeth, th_lood stained, voluptuous mouth, which made one shudder to see, the whol_arnal and unspirited appearance, seeming like a devilish mockery of Lucy'_weet purity. Van Helsing, with his usual methodicalness, began taking th_arious contents from his bag and placing them ready for use. First he too_ut a soldering iron and some plumbing solder, and then small oil lamp, whic_ave out, when lit in a corner of the tomb, gas which burned at a fierce hea_ith a blue flame, then his operating knives, which he placed to hand, an_ast a round wooden stake, some two and a half or three inches thick and abou_hree feet long. One end of it was hardened by charring in the fire, and wa_harpened to a fine point. With this stake came a heavy hammer, such as i_ouseholds is used in the coal cellar for breaking the lumps. To me, _octor's preperations for work of any kind are stimulating and bracing, bu_he effect of these things on both Arthur and Quincey was to cause them a sor_f consternation. They both, however, kept their courage, and remained silen_nd quiet.
When all was ready, Van Helsing said,"Before we do anything, let me tell yo_his. It is out of the lore and experience of the ancients and of all thos_ho have studied the powers of the Un-Dead. When they become such, there come_ith the change the curse of immortality. They cannot die, but must go on ag_fter age adding new victims and multiplying the evils of the world. For al_hat die from the preying of the Un-dead become themselves Un-dead, and pre_n their kind. And so the circle goes on ever widening, like as the ripple_rom a stone thrown in the water. Friend Arthur, if you had met that kis_hich you know of before poor Lucy die, or again, last night when you ope_our arms to her, you would in time, when you had died, have become nosferatu, as they call it in Eastern europe, and would for all time make more of thos_n-Deads that so have filled us with horror. The career of this so unhapp_ear lady is but just begun. Those children whose blood she sucked are not a_et so much the worse, but if she lives on, Un-Dead, more and more they los_heir blood and by her power over them they come to her, and so she draw thei_lood with that so wicked mouth. But if she die in truth, then all cease. Th_iny wounds of the throats disappear, and they go back to their play unknowin_ver of what has been. But of the most blessed of all, when this now Un-Dea_e made to rest as true dead, then the soul of the poor lady whom we lov_hall again be free. Instead of working wickedness by night and growing mor_ebased in the assimilating of it by day, she shall take her place with th_ther Angels. So that, my friend, it will be a blessed hand for her that shal_trike the blow that sets her free. To this I am willing, but is there non_mongst us who has a better right? Will it be no joy to think of hereafter i_he silence of the night when sleep is not, `It was my hand that sent her t_he stars. It was the hand of him that loved her best, the hand that of al_he would herself have chosen, had it been to her to choose?' Tell me if ther_e such a one amongst us?"
We all looked at Arthur. He saw too, what we all did, the infinite kindnes_hich suggested that his should be the hand which would restore Lucy to us a_ holy, and not an unholy, memory. He stepped forward and said bravely, thoug_is hand trembled, and his face was as pale as snow, "My true friend, from th_ottom of my broken heart I thank you. Tell me what I am to do, and I shal_ot falter!"
Van Helsing laid a hand on his shoulder, and said,"Brave lad! A moment'_ourage, and it is done. This stake must be driven through her. It well be _earful ordeal, be not deceived in that, but it will be only a short time, an_ou will then rejoice more than your pain was great. From this grim tomb yo_ill emerge as though you tread on air. But you must not falter when once yo_ave begun. Only think that we, your true friends, are round you, and that w_ray for you all the time."
"Go on,"said Arthur hoarsely."Tell me what I am to do."
"Take this stake in your left hand, ready to place to the point over th_eart, and the hammer in your right. Then when we begin our prayer for th_ead, I shall read him, I have here the book, and the others shall follow, strike in God's name, that so all may be well with the dead that we love an_hat the Un-Dead pass away." Arthur took the stake and the hammer, and whe_nce his mind was set on action his hands never trembled nor even quivered.
Van Helsing opened his missal and began to read, and Quincey and I followed a_ell as we could.
Arthur placed the point over the heart, and as I looked I could see its din_n the white flesh. Then he struck with all his might.
The thing in the coffin writhed, and a hideous, bloodcurdling screech cam_rom the opened red lips. The body shook and quivered and twisted in wil_ontortions. The sharp white champed together till the lips were cut, and th_outh was smeared with a crimson foam. But Arthur never faltered. He looke_ike a figure of Thor as his untrembling arm rose and fell, driving deeper an_eeper the mercybearing stake, whilst the blood from the pierced heart welle_nd spurted up around it. His face was set, and high duty seemed to shin_hrough it. The sight of it gave us courage so that our voices seemed to rin_hrough the little vault.
And then the writhing and quivering of the body became less, and the teet_eemed to champ, and the face to quiver. Finally it lay still. The terribl_ask was over.
The hammer fell from Arthur's hand. He reeled and would have fallen had we no_aught him. The great drops of sweat sprang from his forehead, and his breat_ame in broken gasps. It had indeed been an awful strain on him, and had h_ot been forced to his task by more than human considerations he could neve_ave gone through with it. For a few minutes we were so taken up with him tha_e did not look towards the coffin. When we did, however, a murmur of startle_urprise ran from one to the other of us. We gazed so eagerly that Arthu_ose, for he had been seated on the ground, and came and looked too, and the_ glad strange light broke over his face and dispelled altogether the gloom o_orror that lay upon it.
There, in the coffin lay no longer the foul Thing that we has so dreaded an_rown to hate that the work of her destruction was yielded as a privilege t_he one best entitled to it, but Lucy as we had seen her in life, with he_ace of unequalled sweetness and purity. True that there were there, as we ha_een them in life, the traces of care and pain and waste. But these were al_ear to us, for they marked her truth to what we knew. One and all we fel_hat the holy calm that lay like sunshine over the wasted face and form wa_nly an earthly token and symbol of the calm that was to reign for ever.
Van Helsing came and laid his hand on Arthur's shoulder, and said to him, "An_ow, Arthur my friend, dear lad, am I not forgiven?"
The reaction of the terrible strain came as he took the old man's hand in his, and raising it to his lips, pressed it, and said, "Forgiven! God bless yo_hat you have given my dear one her soul again, and me peace." He put hi_ands on the Professor's shoulder, and laying his head on his breast, crie_or a while silently, whilst we stood unmoving.
When he raised his head Van Helsing said to him, "And now, my child, you ma_iss her. Kiss her dead lips if you will, as she would have you to, if for he_o choose. For she is not a grinning devil now, not any more a foul Thing fo_ll eternity. No longer she is the devil's Un-Dead. She is God's true dead, whose soul is with Him!"
Arthur bent and kissed her, and then we sent him and Quincey out of the tomb.
The Professor and I sawed the top off the stake, leaving the point of it i_he body. Then we cut off the head and filled the mouth with garlic. W_oldered up the leaden coffin, screwed on the coffin lid, and gathering up ou_elongings, came away. When the Professor locked the door he gave the key t_rthur.
Outside the air was sweet, the sun shone, and the birds sang, and it seemed a_f all nature were tuned to a different pitch. There was gladness and mirt_nd peace everywhere, for we were at rest ourselves on one account, and w_ere glad, though it was with a tempered joy.
Before we moved away Van Helsing said,"Now, my friends, one step or our wor_s done, one the most harrowing to ourselves. But there remains a greate_ask, to find out the author of all this or sorrow and to stamp him out. _ave clues which we can follow, but it is a long task, and a difficult one, and there is danger in it, and pain. Shall you not all help me? We hav_earned to believe, all of us, is it not so? And since so, do we not see ou_uty? Yes! And do we not promise to go on to the bitter end?"
Each in turn, we took his hand, and the promise was made. Then said th_rofessor as we moved off, "Two nights hence you shall meet with me and din_ogether at seven of the clock with friend John. I shall entreat two others, two that you know not as yet, and I shall be ready to all our work show an_ur plans unfold. Friend John, you come with me home, for I have much t_onsult you about, and you can help me. Tonight I leave for Amsterdam, bu_hall return tomorrow night. And then begins our great quest. But first _hall have much to say, so that you may know what to do and to dread. Then ou_romise shall be made to each other anew. For there is a terrible task befor_s, and once our feet are on the ploughshare we must not draw back."