Van Helsing was looking at her fixedly as she spoke, and said, suddenly but
quietly, "But dear Madam Mina, are you not afraid. Not for yourself, but for others
from yourself, after what has happened?"
Her face grew set in its lines, but her eyes shone with the devotion of a martyr as
she answered, "Ah no! For my mind is made up!"
"To what?" he asked gently, whilst we were all very still, for each in our own way
we had a sort of vague idea of what she meant.
Her answer came with direct simplicity, as though she was simply stating a fact,
"Because if I find in myself, and I shall watch keenly for it, a sign of harm to any
that I love, I shall die!"
"You would not kill yourself?" he asked, hoarsely.
"I would. If there were no friend who loved me, who would save me such a pain,
and so desperate an effort!" She looked at him meaningly as she spoke.
He was sitting down, but now he rose and came close to her and put his hand on
her head as he said solemnly. "My child, there is such an one if it were for your
good. For myself I could hold it in my account with God to find such an
euthanasia for you, even at this moment if it were best. Nay, were it safe! But my
child. . ."
For a moment he seemed choked, and a great sob rose in his throat. He gulped
it down and went on, "There are here some who would stand between you and
death. You must not die. You must not die by any hand, but least of all your own.
Until the other, who has fouled your sweet life, is true dead you must not die. For
if he is still with the quick Undead, your death would make you even as he is. No,
you must live! You must struggle and strive to live, though death would seem a
boon unspeakable. You must fight Death himself, though he come to you in pain
or in joy. By the day, or the night, in safety or in peril! On your living soul I charge
you that you do not die. Nay, nor think of death, till this great evil be past."
The poor dear grew white as death, and shook and shivered, as I have seen a
quicksand shake and shiver at the incoming of the tide. We were all silent. We
could do nothing. At length she grew more calm and turning to him said sweetly,
but oh so sorrowfully, as she held out her hand, "I promise you, my dear friend,
that if God will let me live, I shall strive to do so. Till, if it may be in His good time,
this horror may have passed away from me."
She was so good and brave that we all felt that our hearts were strengthened to
work and endure for her, and we began to discuss what we were to do. I told her
that she was to have all the papers in the safe, and all the papers or diaries and
phonographs we might hereafter use, and was to keep the record as she had
done before. She was pleased with the prospect of anything to do, if "pleased"
could be used in connection with so grim an interest.
As usual Van Helsing had thought ahead of everyone else, and was prepared
with an exact ordering of our work.
"It is perhaps well," he said, "that at our meeting after our visit to Carfax we
decided not to do anything with the earth boxes that lay there. Had we done so,
the Count must have guessed our purpose, and would doubtless have taken
measures in advance to frustrate such an effort with regard to the others. But
now he does not know our intentions. Nay, more, in all probability, he does not