Truly there is no such thing as finality.
Not a week since I said "Finis," and yet here I am starting fresh again,
or rather going on with the record. Until this afternoon I had no cause to think
of what is done. Renfield had become, to all intents, as sane as he ever was.
He was already well ahead with his fly business, and he had just started in the
spider line also, so he had not been of any trouble to me. I had a letter from
Arthur, written on Sunday, and from it I gather that he is bearing up wonderfully
well. Quincey Morris is with him, and that is much of a help, for he himself is
a bubbling well of good spirits. Quincey wrote me a line too, and from him I hear
that Arthur is beginning to recover something of his old buoyancy, so as to them
all my mind is at rest. As for myself, I was settling down to my work with the
enthusiasm which I used to have for it, so that I might fairly have said that
the wound which poor Lucy left on me was becoming cicatrised.
is, however, now reopened, and what is to be the end God only knows. I have an
idea that Van Helsing thinks he knows, too, but he will only let out enough at
a time to whet curiosity. He went to Exeter yesterday, and stayed there all night.
Today he came back, and almost bounded into the room at about half-past five o'clock,
and thrust last night's "Westminster Gazette" into my hand.
do you think of that?" he asked as he stood back and folded his arms.
looked over the paper, for I really did not know what he meant, but he took it
from me and pointed out a paragraph about children being decoyed away at Hampstead.
It did not convey much to me, until I reached a passage where it described small
puncture wounds on their throats. An idea struck me, and I looked up.
"It is like poor Lucy's."
"And what do you
make of it?"
"Simply that there is some cause in common. Whatever
it was that injured her has injured them." I did not quite understand his
"That is true indirectly, but not directly."
do you mean, Professor?" I asked. I was a little inclined to take his seriousness
lightly, for, after all, four days of rest and freedom from burning, harrowing,
anxiety does help to restore one's spirits, but when I saw his face, it sobered
me. Never, even in the midst of our despair about poor Lucy, had he looked more
"Tell me!" I said. "I can hazard no opinion. I do
not know what to think, and I have no data on which to found a conjecture."
you mean to tell me, friend John, that you have no suspicion as to what poor Lucy
died of, not after all the hints given, not only by events, but by me?"
nervous prostration following a great loss or waste of blood."
how was the blood lost or wasted?" I shook my head.
He stepped over
and sat down beside me, and went on, "You are a clever man, friend John.
You reason well, and your wit is bold, but you are too prejudiced. You do not
let your eyes see nor your ears hear, and that which is outside your daily life
is not of account to you. Do you not think that there are things which you cannot
understand, and yet which are, that some people see things that others cannot?
But there are things old and new which must not be contemplated by men's eyes,
because they know, or think they know, some things which other men have told them.
Ah, it is the fault of our science that it wants to explain all, and if it explain
not, then it says there is nothing to explain. But yet we see around us every
day the growth of new beliefs, which think themselves new, and which are yet but
the old, which pretend to be young, like the fine ladies at the opera. I suppose
now you do not believe in corporeal transference. No? Nor in materialization.
No? Nor in astral bodies. No? Nor in the reading of thought. No? Nor in hypnotism
. . ."
"Yes," I said. "Charcot has proved that pretty
He smiled as he went on, "Then you are satisfied as to
it. Yes? And of course then you understand how it act, and can follow the mind
of the great Charcot, alas that he is no more, into the very soul of the patient
that he influence. No? Then, friend John, am I to take it that you simply accept
fact, and are satisfied to let from premise to conclusion be a blank? No? Then
tell me, for I am a student of the brain, how you accept hypnotism and reject
the thought reading. Let me tell you, my friend, that there are things done today
in electrical science which would have been deemed unholy by the very man who
discovered electricity, who would themselves not so long before been burned as
wizards. There are always mysteries in life. Why was it that Methuselah lived
nine hundred years, and 'Old Parr' one hundred and sixty-nine, and yet that poor
Lucy, with four men's blood in her poor veins, could not live even one day? For,
had she live one more day, we could save her. Do you know all the mystery of life
and death? Do you know the altogether of comparative anatomy and can say wherefore
the qualities of brutes are in some men, and not in others? Can you tell me why,
when other spiders die small and soon, that one great spider lived for centuries
in the tower of the old Spanish church and grew and grew, till, on descending,
he could drink the oil of all the church lamps? Can you tell me why in the Pampas,
ay and elsewhere, there are bats that come out at night and open the veins of
cattle and horses and suck dry their veins, how in some islands of the Western
seas there are bats which hang on the trees all day, and those who have seen describe
as like giant nuts or pods, and that when the sailors sleep on the deck, because
that it is hot, flit down on them and then, and then in the morning are found
dead men, white as even Miss Lucy was?"
"Good God, Professor!"
I said, starting up. "Do you mean to tell me that Lucy was bitten by such
a bat, and that such a thing is here in London in the nineteenth century?"
waved his hand for silence, and went on, "Can you tell me why the tortoise
lives more long than generations of men, why the elephant goes on and on till
he have sees dynasties, and why the parrot never die only of bite of cat of dog
or other complaint? Can you tell me why men believe in all ages and places that
there are men and women who cannot die? We all know, because science has vouched
for the fact, that there have been toads shut up in rocks for thousands of years,
shut in one so small hole that only hold him since the youth of the world. Can
you tell me how the Indian fakir can make himself to die and have been buried,
and his grave sealed and corn sowed on it, and the corn reaped and be cut and
sown and reaped and cut again, and then men come and take away the unbroken seal
and that there lie the Indian fakir, not dead, but that rise up and walk amongst
them as before?"
Here I interrupted him. I was getting bewildered.
He so crowded on my mind his list of nature's eccentricities and possible impossibilities
that my imagination was getting fired. I had a dim idea that he was teaching me
some lesson, as long ago he used to do in his study at Amsterdam. But he used
them to tell me the thing, so that I could have the object of thought in mind
all the time. But now I was without his help, yet I wanted to follow him, so I
"Professor, let me be your pet student again. Tell me the thesis,
so that I may apply your knowledge as you go on. At present I am going in my mind
from point to point as a madman, and not a sane one, follows an idea. I feel like
a novice lumbering through a bog in a midst, jumping from one tussock to another
in the mere blind effort to move on without knowing where I am going."
is a good image," he said. "Well, I shall tell you. My thesis is this,
I want you to believe."
"To believe what?"
believe in things that you cannot. Let me illustrate. I heard once of an American
who so defined faith, 'that faculty which enables us to believe things which we
know to be untrue.' For one, I follow that man. He meant that we shall have an
open mind, and not let a little bit of truth check the rush of the big truth,
like a small rock does a railway truck. We get the small truth first. Good! We
keep him, and we value him, but all the same we must not let him think himself
all the truth in the universe."
"Then you want me not to let some
previous conviction inure the receptivity of my mind with regard to some strange
matter. Do I read your lesson aright?"
"Ah, you are my favourite
pupil still. It is worth to teach you. Now that you are willing to understand,
you have taken the first step to understand. You think then that those so small
holes in the children's throats were made by the same that made the holes in Miss
"I suppose so."
He stood up and said solemnly,
"Then you are wrong. Oh, would it were so! But alas! No. It is worse, far,
"In God's name, Professor Van Helsing, what do you
mean?" I cried.
He threw himself with a despairing gesture into a chair,
and placed his elbows on the table, covering his face with his hands as he spoke.
were made by Miss Lucy!"