Chapter 15
For a while sheer anger mastered me. It was as if he had during her life struck
Lucy on the face. I smote the table hard and rose up as I said to him, "Dr. Van
Helsing, are you mad?"
He raised his head and looked at me, and somehow the tenderness of his face
calmed me at once. "Would I were!" he said. "Madness were easy to bear
compared with truth like this. Oh, my friend, whey, think you, did I go so far
round, why take so long to tell so simple a thing? Was it because I hate you and
have hated you all my life? Was it because I wished to give you pain? Was it that
I wanted, no so late, revenge for that time when you saved my life, and from a
fearful death? Ah no!"
"Forgive me," said I.
He went on, "My friend, it was because I wished to be gentle in the breaking to
you, for I know you have loved that so sweet lady. But even yet I do not expect
you to believe. It is so hard to accept at once any abstract truth, that we may
doubt such to be possible when we have always believed the `no' of it. It is more
hard still to accept so sad a concrete truth, and of such a one as Miss Lucy.
Tonight I go to prove it. Dare you come with me?"
This staggered me. A man does not like to prove such a truth, Byron excepted
from the catagory, jealousy.
"And prove the very truth he most abhorred."
He saw my hesitation, and spoke, "The logic is simple, no madman's logic this
time, jumping from tussock to tussock in a misty bog. If it not be true, then proof
will be relief. At worst it will not harm. If it be true! Ah, there is the dread. Yet
every dread should help my cause, for in it is some need of belief. Come, I tell
you what I propose. First, that we go off now and see that child in the hospital.
Dr. Vincent, of the North Hospital, where the papers say the child is, is a friend of
mine, and I think of yours since you were in class at Amsterdam. He will let two
scientists see his case, if he will not let two friends. We shall tell him nothing, but
only that we wish to learn. And then. . ."
"And then?"
He took a key from his pocket and held it up. "And then we spend the night, you
and I, in the churchyard where Lucy lies. This is the key that lock the tomb. I had
it from the coffin man to give to Arthur."
My heart sank within me, for I felt that there was some fearful ordeal before us. I
could do nothing, however, so I plucked up what heart I could and said that we
had better hasten, as the afternoon was passing.
We found the child awake. It had had a sleep and taken some food, and
altogether was going on well. Dr, Vincent took the bandage from its throat, and
showed us the punctures. There was no mistaking the similarity to those which
had been on Lucy's throat. They were smaller, and the edges looked fresher, that
was all. We asked Vincent to what he attributed them, and he replied that it must
have been a bite of some animal, perhaps a rat, but for his own part, he was