I thought that this style of conversation might not be pleasant to Mrs. Harker, any
more than it was to me, so I joined in, "How did you know I wanted to marry
His reply was simply contemptuous, given in a pause in which he turned his eyes
from Mrs. Harker to me, instantly turning them back again, "What an asinine
"I don't see that at all, Mr. Renfield," said Mrs. Harker, at once championing me.
He replied to her with as much courtesy and respect as he had shown contempt
to me, "You will, of course, understand, Mrs. Harker, that when a man is so loved
and honored as our host is, everything regarding him is of interest in our little
community. Dr. Seward is loved not only by his household and his friends, but
even by his patients, who, being some of them hardly in mental equilibrium, are
apt to distort causes and effects. Since I myself have been an inmate of a lunatic
asylum, I cannot but notice that the sophistic tendencies of some of its inmates
lean towards the errors of non causa and ignoratio elenche."
I positively opened my eyes at this new development. Here was my own pet
lunatic, the most pronounced of his type that I had ever met with, talking
elemental philosophy, and with the manner of a polished gentleman. I wonder if it
was Mrs. Harker's presence which had touched some chord in his memory. If this
new phase was spontaneous, or in any way due to her unconscious influence,
she must have some rare gift or power.
We continued to talk for some time, and seeing that he was seemingly quite
reasonable, she ventured, looking at me questioningly as she began, to lead him
to his favorite topic. I was again astonished, for he addressed himself to the
question with the impartiality of the completest sanity. He even took himself as an
example when he mentioned certain things.
"Why, I myself am an instance of a man who had a strange belief. Indeed, it was
no wonder that my friends were alarmed, and insisted on my being put under
control. I used to fancy that life was a positive and perpetual entity, and that by
consuming a multitude of live things, no matter how low in the scale of creation,
one might indefinitely prolong life. At times I held the belief so strongly that I
actually tried to take human life. The doctor here will bear me out that on one
occasion I tried to kill him for the purpose of strengthening my vital powers by the
assimilation with my own body of his life through the medium of his blood, relying
of course, upon the Scriptural phrase, `For the blood is the life.' Though, indeed,
the vendor of a certain nostrum has vulgarized the truism to the very point of
contempt. Isn't that true, doctor?"
I nodded assent, for I was so amazed that I hardly knew what to either think or
say, it was hard to imagine that I had seen him eat up his spiders and flies not
five minutes before. Looking at my watch, I saw that I should go to the station to
meet Van Helsing, so I told Mrs. Harker that it was time to leave.
She came at once, after saying pleasantly to Mr. Renfield, "Goodbye, and I hope
I may see you often, under auspices pleasanter to yourself."
To which, to my astonishment, he replied, "Goodbye, my dear. I pray God I may
never see your sweet face again. May He bless and keep you!"