Chapter 25
11 October, Evening.--Jonathan Harker has asked me to note this, as he says he
is hardly equal to the task, and he wants an exact record kept.
I think that none of us were surprised when we were asked to see Mrs. Harker a
little before the time of sunset. We have of late come to understand that sunrise
and sunset are to her times of peculiar freedom. When her old self can be
manifest without any controlling force subduing or restraining her, or inciting her
to action. This mood or condition begins some half hour or more before actual
sunrise or sunset, and lasts till either the sun is high, or whilst the clouds are still
aglow with the rays streaming above the horizon. At first there is a sort of
negative condition, as if some tie were loosened, and then the absolute freedom
quickly follows. When, however, the freedom ceases the change back or relapse
comes quickly, preceeded only by a spell of warning silence.
Tonight, when we met, she was somewhat constrained, and bore all the signs of
an internal struggle. I put it down myself to her making a violent effort at the
earliest instant she could do so.
A very few minutes, however, gave her complete control of herself. Then,
motioning her husband to sit beside her on the sofa where she was half reclining,
she made the rest of us bring chairs up close.
Taking her husband's hand in hers, she began, "We are all here together in
freedom, for perhaps the last time! I know that you will always be with me to the
end." This was to her husband whose hand had, as we could see, tightened upon
her. "In the morning we go out upon our task, and God alone knows what may be
in store for any of us. You are going to be so good to me to take me with you. I
know that all that brave earnest men can do for a poor weak woman, whose soul
perhaps is lost, no, no, not yet, but is at any rate at stake, you will do. But you
must remember that I am not as you are. There is a poison in my blood, in my
soul, which may destroy me, which must destroy me, unless some relief comes
to us. Oh, my friends, you know as well as I do, that my soul is at stake. And
though I know there is one way out for me, you must not and I must not take it!"
She looked appealingly to us all in turn, beginning and ending with her husband.
"What is that way?" asked Van Helsing in a hoarse voice. "What is that way,
which we must not, may not, take?"
"That I may die now, either by my own hand or that of another, before the greater
evil is entirely wrought. I know, and you know, that were I once dead you could
and would set free my immortal spirit, even as you did my poor Lucy's. Were
death, or the fear of death, the only thing that stood in the way I would not shrink
to die here now, amidst the friends who love me. But death is not all. I cannot
believe that to die in such a case, when there is hope before us and a bitter task
to be done, is God's will. Therefore, I on my part, give up here the certainty of
eternal rest, and go out into the dark where may be the blackest things that the
world or the nether world holds!"