Chapter 12
18 September.--I drove at once to Hillingham and arrived early. Keeping my cab
at the gate, I went up the avenue alone. I knocked gently and rang as quietly as
possible, for I feared to disturb Lucy or her mother, and hoped to only bring a
servant to the door. After a while, finding no response, I knocked and rang again,
still no answer. I cursed the laziness of the servants that they should lie abed at
such an hour, for it was now ten o'clock, and so rang and knocked again, but
more impatiently, but still without response. Hitherto I had blamed only the
servants, but now a terrible fear began to assail me. Was this desolation but
another link in the chain of doom which seemed drawing tight round us? Was it
indeed a house of death to which I had come, too late? I know that minutes, even
seconds of delay, might mean hours of danger to Lucy, if she had had again one
of those frightful relapses, and I went round the house to try if I could find by
chance an entry anywhere.
I could find no means of ingress. Every window and door was fastened and
locked, and I returned baffled to the porch. As I did so, I heard the rapid pit-pat of
a swiftly driven horse's feet. They stopped at the gate, and a few seconds later I
met Van Helsing running up the avenue. When he saw me, he gasped out, "Then
it was you, and just arrived. How is she? Are we too late? Did you not get my
I answered as quickly and coherently as I could that I had only got his telegram
early in the morning, and had not a minute in coming here, and that I could not
make any one in the house hear me. He paused and raised his hat as he said
solemnly, "Then I fear we are too late. God's will be done!"
With his usual recuperative energy, he went on, "Come. If there be no way open
to get in, we must make one. Time is all in all to us now."
We went round to the back of the house, where there was a kitchen window. The
Professor took a small surgical saw from his case, and handing it to me, pointed
to the iron bars which guarded the window. I attacked them at once and had very
soon cut through three of them. Then with a long, thin knife we pushed back the
fastening of the sashes and opened the window. I helped the Professor in, and
followed him. There was no one in the kitchen or in the servants' rooms, which
were close at hand. We tried all the rooms as we went along, and in the dining
room, dimly lit by rays of light through the shutters, found four servant women
lying on the floor. There was no need to think them dead, for their stertorous
breathing and the acrid smell of laudanum in the room left no doubt as to their
Van Helsing and I looked at each other, and as we moved away he said, "We
can attend to them later."Then we ascended to Lucy's room. For an instant or
two we paused at the door to listen, but there was no sound that we could hear.
With white faces and trembling hands, we opened the door gently, and entered
the room.