29 September - night
A little before twelve o'clock
we three, Arthur, Quincey Morris, and myself, called for the Professor. It was
odd to notice that by common 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 to the graveyard by half-past one, and strolled about, keeping
out of official observation, so that when the gravediggers had completed their
task and the sexton, under the belief that every one had gone, had locked the
gate, we had the place all to ourselves. Van Helsing, instead of his little black
bag, had with him a long leather one, something like a cricketing bag. It was
manifestly of fair weight.
When we were alone and had heard the last of
the footsteps die out up the road, we silently, and as if by ordered intention,
followed the Professor to the tomb. He unlocked the door, and we entered, closing
it behind us. Then he took 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 that they might give light sufficient to work by. When he again lifted
the lid off Lucy's coffin we all looked, Arthur trembling like an aspen, and saw
that the corpse lay there in all its death beauty. But there was no love in my
own heart, nothing but loathing for the foul Thing which had taken Lucy's shape
without 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 demon in her
"It is her body, and yet not it. But wait a while, and
you shall see her as she was, and is."
She seemed like a nightmare
of Lucy as she lay there, the pointed teeth, the blood stained, voluptuous mouth,
which made one shudder to see, the whole carnal and unspirited appearance, seeming
like a devilish mockery of Lucy's sweet purity. Van Helsing, with his usual methodicalness,
began taking the various contents from his bag and placing them ready for use.
First he took out a soldering iron and some plumbing solder, and then small oil
lamp, which gave out, when lit in a corner of the tomb, gas which burned at a
fierce heat with a blue flame, then his operating knives, which he placed to hand,
and last a round wooden stake, some two and a half or three inches thick and about
three feet long. One end of it was hardened by charring in the fire, and was sharpened
to a fine point. With this stake came a heavy hammer, such as in households is
used in the coal cellar for breaking the lumps. To me, a doctor's preparations
for work of any kind are stimulating and bracing, but the effect of these things
on both Arthur and Quincey was to cause them a sort of consternation. They both,
however, kept their courage, and remained silent and quiet.
When all was
ready, Van Helsing said, "Before we do anything, let me tell you this. It
is out of the lore and experience of the ancients and of all those who have studied
the powers of the UnDead. When they become such, there comes with the change the
curse of immortality. They cannot die, but must go on age after age adding new
victims and multiplying the evils of the world. For all that die from the preying
of the Undead become themselves Undead, and prey on their kind. And so the circle
goes on ever widening, like as the ripples from a stone thrown in the water. Friend
Arthur, if you had met that kiss which you know of before poor Lucy die, or again,
last night when you open your 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 those Un-Deads that so have filled us with horror. The career of
this so unhappy dear lady is but just begun. Those children whose blood she sucked
are not as yet so much the worse, but if she lives on, UnDead, more and more they
lose their blood and by her power over them they come to her, and so she draw
their blood with that so wicked mouth. But if she die in truth, then all cease.
The tiny wounds of the throats disappear, and they go back to their play unknowing
ever of what has been. But of the most blessed of all, when this now UnDead be
made to rest as true dead, then the soul of the poor lady whom we love shall again
be free. Instead of working wickedness by night and growing more debased in the
assimilating of it by day, she shall take her place with the other Angels. So
that, my friend, it will be a blessed hand for her that shall strike the blow
that sets her free. To this I am willing, but is there none amongst us who has
a better right? Will it be no joy to think of hereafter in the silence of the
night when sleep is not, 'It was my hand that sent her to the stars. It was the
hand of him that loved her best, the hand that of all she would herself have chosen,
had it been to her to choose?' Tell me if there be such a one amongst us?"
all looked at Arthur. He saw too, what we all did, the infinite kindness which
suggested that his should be the hand which would restore Lucy to us as a holy,
and not an unholy, memory. He stepped forward and said bravely, though his hand
trembled, and his face was as pale as snow, "My true friend, from the bottom
of my broken heart I thank you. Tell me what I am to do, and I shall not falter!"
Helsing laid a hand on his shoulder, and said, "Brave lad! A moment's courage,
and it is done. This stake must be driven through her. It well be a fearful ordeal,
be not deceived in that, but it will be only a short time, and you will then rejoice
more than your pain was great. From this grim tomb you will emerge as though you
tread on air. But you must not falter when once you have begun. Only think that
we, your true friends, are round you, and that we pray for you all the time."
on," said Arthur hoarsely. "Tell me what I am to do."
this stake in your left hand, ready to place to the point over the heart, and
the hammer in your right. Then when we begin our prayer for the dead, 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 and that the UnDead pass away."
took the stake and the hammer, and when once 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 as well as we could.
Arthur placed the point
over the heart, and as I looked I could see its dint in the white flesh. Then
he struck with all his might.
The thing in the coffin writhed, and a hideous,
blood-curdling screech came from the opened red lips. The body shook and quivered
and twisted in wild contortions. The sharp white teeth champed together till the
lips were cut, and the mouth was smeared with a crimson foam. But Arthur never
faltered. He looked like a figure of Thor as his untrembling arm rose and fell,
driving deeper and deeper the mercy-bearing stake, whilst the blood from the pierced
heart welled and spurted up around it. His face was set, and high duty seemed
to shine through it. The sight of it gave us courage so that our voices seemed
to ring through the little vault.
And then the writhing and quivering of
the body became less, and the teeth seemed to champ, and the face to quiver. Finally
it lay still. The terrible task was over.
The hammer fell from Arthur's
hand. He reeled and would have fallen had we not caught him. The great drops of
sweat sprang from his forehead, and his breath came in broken gasps. It had indeed
been an awful strain on him, and had he not been forced to his task by more than
human considerations he could never have gone through with it. For a few minutes
we were so taken up with him that we did not look towards the coffin. When we
did, however, a murmur of startled surprise ran from one to the other of us. We
gazed so eagerly that Arthur rose, for he had been seated on the ground, and came
and looked too, and then a glad strange light broke over his face and dispelled
altogether the gloom of horror that lay upon it.
There, in the coffin lay
no longer the foul Thing that we had so dreaded and grown to hate that the work
of her destruction was yielded as a privilege to the one best entitled to it,
but Lucy as we had seen her in life, with her face of unequalled sweetness and
purity. True that there were there, as we had seen them in life, the traces of
care and pain and waste. But these were all dear to us, for they marked her truth
to what we knew. One and all we felt that the holy calm that lay like sunshine
over the wasted face and form was only 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, "And now, Arthur my friend, dear lad, am I not
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 you that you have given my dear one her soul again, and me peace."
He put his hands on the Professor's shoulder, and laying his head on his breast,
cried for a while silently, whilst we stood unmoving.
When he raised his
head Van Helsing said to him, "And now, my child, you may kiss her. Kiss
her dead lips if you will, as she would have you to, if for her to choose. For
she is not a grinning devil now, not any more a foul Thing for all eternity. No
longer she is the devil's UnDead. She is God's true dead, whose soul is with Him!"
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 in the body. Then we
cut off the head and filled the mouth with garlic. We soldered up the leaden coffin,
screwed on the coffin lid, and gathering up our belongings, came away. When the
Professor locked the door he gave the key to Arthur.
Outside the air was
sweet, the sun shone, and the birds sang, and it seemed as if all nature were
tuned to a different pitch. There was gladness and mirth and peace everywhere,
for we were at rest ourselves on one account, and we were glad, though it was
with a tempered joy.
Before we moved away Van Helsing said, "Now, my
friends, one step of our work is done, one the most harrowing to ourselves. But
there remains a greater task: to find out the author of all this our sorrow and
to stamp him out. I have 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 have learned to believe, all of us, is it not so? And since so, do we not see
our duty? Yes! And do we not promise to go on to the bitter end?"
in turn, we took his hand, and the promise was made. Then said the Professor as
we moved off, "Two nights hence you shall meet with me and dine together
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 and our plans unfold.
Friend John, you come with me home, for I have much to consult you about, and
you can help me. Tonight I leave for Amsterdam, but shall return tomorrow night.
And then begins our great quest. But first I shall have much to say, so that you
may know what to do and to dread. Then our promise shall be made to each other
anew. For there is a terrible task before us, and once our feet are on the ploughshare
we must not draw back."