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I thought that this style of conversation might not be pleasant to Mrs. Harker, any more
than it was to me, so I joined in, "How did you know I wanted to marry anyone?"
His reply was simply contemptuous, given in a pause in which he turned his eyes from
Mrs. Harker to me, instantly turning them back again, "What an asinine question!"
"I don't see that at all, Mr. Renfield," said Mrs. Harker, at once championing me. He
replied to her with as much courtesy and respect as he had shown contempt to me,
"You will, of course, understand, Mrs. Harker, that when a man is so loved and honored
as our host is, everything regarding him is of interest in our little community. Dr. Seward
is loved not only by his household and his friends, but even by his patients, who, being
some of them hardly in mental equilibrium, are apt to distort causes and effects. Since I
myself have been an inmate of a lunatic asylum, I cannot but notice that the sophistic
tendencies of some of its inmates lean towards the errors of non causa and ignoratio
elenche."
I positively opened my eyes at this new development. Here was my own pet lunatic, the
most pronounced of his type that I had ever met with, talking elemental philosophy, and
with the manner of a polished gentleman. I wonder if it was Mrs. Harker's presence
which had touched some chord in his memory. If this new phase was spontaneous, or in
any way due to her unconscious influence, she must have some rare gift or power.
We continued to talk for some time, and seeing that he was seemingly quite
reasonable, she ventured, looking at me questioningly as she began, to lead him to his
favorite topic. I was again astonished, for he addressed himself to the question with the
impartiality of the completest sanity. He even took himself as an example when he
mentioned certain things.
"Why, I myself am an instance of a man who had a strange belief. Indeed, it was no
wonder that my friends were alarmed, and insisted on my being put under control. I
used to fancy that life was a positive and perpetual entity, and that by consuming a
multitude of live things, no matter how low in the scale of creation, one might indefinitely
prolong life. At times I held the belief so strongly that I actually tried to take human life.
The doctor here will bear me out that on one occasion I tried to kill him for the purpose
of strengthening my vital powers by the assimilation with my own body of his life through
the medium of his blood, relying of course, upon the Scriptural phrase, `For the blood is
the life.' Though, indeed, the vendor of a certain nostrum has vulgarized the truism to
the very point of contempt. Isn't that true, doctor?"
I nodded assent, for I was so amazed that I hardly knew what to either think or say, it
was hard to imagine that I had seen him eat up his spiders and flies not five minutes
before. Looking at my watch, I saw that I should go to the station to meet Van Helsing,
so I told Mrs. Harker that it was time to leave.
She came at once, after saying pleasantly to Mr. Renfield, "Goodbye, and I hope I may
see you often, under auspices pleasanter to yourself."
To which, to my astonishment, he replied, "Goodbye, my dear. I pray God I may never
see your sweet face again. May He bless and keep you!"