"My friends, we are going into a terrible danger, and we need arms of many
kinds. Our enemy is not merely spiritual. Remember that he has the strength of
twenty men, and that, though our necks or our windpipes are of the common
kind, and therefore breakable or crushable, his are not amenable to mere
strength. A stronger man, or a body of men more strong in all than him, can at
certain times hold him, but they cannot hurt him as we can be hurt by him. We
must, therefore, guard ourselves from his touch. Keep this near your heart." As
he spoke he lifted a little silver crucifix and held it out to me, I being nearest to
him, "put these flowers round your neck," here he handed to me a wreath of
withered garlic blossoms, "for other enemies more mundane, this revolver and
this knife, and for aid in all, these so small electric lamps, which you can fasten to
your breast, and for all, and above all at the last, this, which we must not
desecrate needless."
This was a portion of Sacred Wafer, which he put in an envelope and handed to
me. Each of the others was similarly equipped.
"Now," he said, "friend John, where are the skeleton keys? If so that we can open
the door, we need not break house by the window, as before at Miss Lucy's."
Dr. Seward tried one or two skeleton keys, his mechanical dexterity as a surgeon
standing him in good stead. Presently he got one to suit, after a little play back
and forward the bolt yielded, and with a rusty clang, shot back. We pressed on
the door, the rusty hinges creaked, and it slowly opened. It was startlingly like the
image conveyed to me in Dr. Seward's diary of the opening of Miss Westenra's
tomb, I fancy that the same idea seemed to strike the others, for with one accord
they shrank back. The Professor was the first to move forward, and stepped into
the open door.
"In manus tuas, Domine!"he said, crossing himself as he passed over the
threshold. We closed the door behind us, lest when we should have lit our lamps
we should possibly attract attention from the road. The Professor carefully tried
the lock, lest we might not be able to open it from within should we be in a hurry
making our exit. Then we all lit our lamps and proceeded on our search.
The light from the tiny lamps fell in all sorts of odd forms, as the rays crossed
each other, or the opacity of our bodies threw great shadows. I could not for my
life get away from the feeling that there was someone else amongst us. I
suppose it was the recollection, so powerfully brought home to me by the grim
surroundings, of that terrible experience in Transylvania. I think the feeling was
common to us all, for I noticed that the others kept looking over their shoulders at
every sound and every new shadow, just as I felt myself doing.
The whole place was thick with dust. The floor was seemingly inches deep,
except where there were recent footsteps, in which on holding down my lamp I
could see marks of hobnails where the dust was cracked. The walls were fluffy
and heavy with dust, and in the corners were masses of spider's webs, whereon
the dust had gathered till they looked like old tattered rags as the weight had torn
them partly down. On a table in the hall was a great bunch of keys, with a time-
yellowed label on each. They had been used several times, for on the table were
several similar rents in the blanket of dust, similar to that exposed when the
Professor lifted them.