he grow. That is for the children who play at husbandry, and not for those who
take it as of the work of their life. See you now, friend John? I have sown my
corn, and Nature has her work to do in making it sprout, if he sprout at all, there's
some promise, and I wait till the ear begins to swell." He broke off, for he
evidently saw that I understood. Then he went on gravely, "You were always a
careful student, and your case book was ever more full than the rest. And I trust
that good habit have not fail. Remember, my friend, that knowledge is stronger
than memory, and we should not trust the weaker. Even if you have not kept the
good practice, let me tell you that this case of our dear miss is one that may be,
mind, I say may be, of such interest to us and others that all the rest may not
make him kick the beam, as your people say. Take then good note of it. Nothing
is too small. I counsel you, put down in record even your doubts and surmises.
Hereafter it may be of interest to you to see how true you guess. We learn from
failure, not from success!"
When I described Lucy's symptoms, the same as before, but infinitely more
marked, he looked very grave, but said nothing. He took with him a bag in which
were many instruments and drugs, "the ghastly paraphernalia of our beneficial
trade," as he once called, in one of his lectures, the equipment of a professor of
the healing craft.
When we were shown in, Mrs. Westenra met us. She was alarmed, but not
nearly so much as I expected to find her. Nature in one of her beneficient moods
has ordained that even death has some antidote to its own terrors. Here, in a
case where any shock may prove fatal, matters are so ordered that, from some
cause or other, the things not personal, even the terrible change in her daughter
to whom she is so attached, do not seem to reach her. It is something like the
way dame Nature gathers round a foreign body an envelope of some insensitive
tissue which can protect from evil that which it would otherwise harm by contact.
If this be an ordered selfishness, then we should pause before we condemn any
one for the vice of egoism, for there may be deeper root for its causes than we
have knowledge of.
I used my knowledge of this phase of spiritual pathology, and set down a rule
that she should not be present with Lucy, or think of her illness more than was
absolutely required. She assented readily, so readily that I saw again the hand of
Nature fighting for life. Van Helsing and I were shown up to Lucy's room. If I was
shocked when I saw her yesterday, I was horrified when I saw her today.
She was ghastly, chalkily pale. The red seemed to have gone even from her lips
and gums, and the bones of her face stood out prominently. Her breathing was
painful to see or hear. Van Helsing's face grew set as marble, and his eyebrows
converged till they almost touched over his nose. Lucy lay motionless, and did
not seem to have strength to speak, so for a while we were all silent. Then Van
Helsing beckoned to me, and we went gently out of the room. The instant we had
closed the door he stepped quickly along the passage to the next door, which
was open. Then he pulled me quickly in with him and closed the door. "My god!"
he said. "This is dreadful. There is not time to be lost. She will die for sheer want
of blood to keep the heart's action as it should be. There must be a transfusion of
blood at once. Is it you or me?"