Chapter 26
29 October.--This is written in the train from Varna to Galatz. Last night we all
assembled a little before the time of sunset. Each of us had done his work as
well as he could, so far as thought, and endeavor, and opportunity go, we are
prepared for the whole of our journey, and for our work when we get to Galatz.
When the usual time came round Mrs. Harker prepared herself for her hypnotic
effort, and after a longer and more serious effort on the part of Van Helsing than
has been usually necessary, she sank into the trance. Usually she speaks on a
hint, but this time the Professor had to ask her questions, and to ask them pretty
resolutely, before we could learn anything. At last her answer came.
"I can see nothing. We are still. There are no waves lapping, but only a steady
swirl of water softly running against the hawser. I can hear men's voices calling,
near and far, and the roll and creak of oars in the rowlocks. A gun is fired
somewhere, the echo of it seems far away. There is tramping of feet overhead,
and ropes and chains are dragged along. What is this? There is a gleam of light.
I can feel the air blowing upon me."
Here she stopped. She had risen, as if impulsively, from where she lay on the
sofa, and raised both her hands, palms upwards, as if lifting a weight. Van
Helsing and I looked at each other with understanding. Quincey raised his
eyebrows slightly and looked at her intently, whilst Harker's hand instinctively
closed round the hilt of his Kukri. There was a long pause. We all knew that the
time when she could speak was passing, but we felt that it was useless to say
Suddenly she sat up, and as she opened her eyes said sweetly, "Would none of
you like a cup of tea? You must all be so tired!"
We could only make her happy, and so acqueisced. She bustled off to get tea.
When she had gone Van Helsing said, "You see, my friends. He is close to land.
He has left his earth chest. But he has yet to get on shore. In the night he may lie
hidden somewhere, but if he be not carried on shore, or if the ship do not touch it,
he cannot achieve the land. In such case he can, if it be in the night, change his
form and jump or fly on shore, then, unless he be carried he cannot escape. And
if he be carried, then the customs men may discover what the box contain. Thus,
in fine, if he escape not on shore tonight, or before dawn, there will be the whole
day lost to him. We may then arrive in time. For if he escape not at night we shall
come on him in daytime, boxed up and at our mercy. For he dare not be his true
self, awake and visible, lest he be discovered."
There was no more to be said, so we waited in patience until the dawn, at which
time we might learn more from Mrs. Harker.
Early this morning we listened, with breathless anxiety, for her response in her
trance. The hypnotic stage was even longer in coming than before, and when it
came the time remaining until full sunrise was so short that we began to despair.
Van Helsing seemed to throw his whole soul into the effort. At last, in obedience
to his will she made reply.