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"My friends, we are going into a terrible danger, and we need arms of many kinds. Our
enemy is not merely spiritual. Remember that he has the strength of twenty men, and
that, though our necks or our windpipes are of the common kind, and therefore
breakable or crushable, his are not amenable to mere strength. A stronger man, or a
body of men more strong in all than him, can at certain times hold him, but they cannot
hurt him as we can be hurt by him. We must, therefore, guard ourselves from his touch.
Keep this near your heart." As he spoke he lifted a little silver crucifix and held it out to
me, I being nearest to him, "put these flowers round your neck," here he handed to me
a wreath of withered garlic blossoms, "for other enemies more mundane, this revolver
and this knife, and for aid in all, these so small electric lamps, which you can fasten to
your breast, and for all, and above all at the last, this, which we must not desecrate
needless."
This was a portion of Sacred Wafer, which he put in an envelope and handed to me.
Each of the others was similarly equipped.
"Now," he said, "friend John, where are the skeleton keys? If so that we can open the
door, we need not break house by the window, as before at Miss Lucy's." Dr. Seward
tried one or two skeleton keys, his mechanical dexterity as a surgeon standing him in
good stead. Presently he got one to suit, after a little play back and forward the bolt
yielded, and with a rusty clang, shot back. We pressed on the door, the rusty hinges
creaked, and it slowly opened. It was startlingly like the image conveyed to me in Dr.
Seward's diary of the opening of Miss Westenra's tomb, I fancy that the same idea
seemed to strike the others, for with one accord they shrank back. The Professor was
the first to move forward, and stepped into the open door.
"In manus tuas, Domine!"he said, crossing himself as he passed over the threshold.
We closed the door behind us, lest when we should have lit our lamps we should
possibly attract attention from the road. The Professor carefully tried the lock, lest we
might not be able to open it from within should we be in a hurry making our exit. Then
we all lit our lamps and proceeded on our search. The light from the tiny lamps fell in all
sorts of odd forms, as the rays crossed each other, or the opacity of our bodies threw
great shadows. I could not for my life get away from the feeling that there was someone
else amongst us. I suppose it was the recollection, so powerfully brought home to me by
the grim surroundings, of that terrible experience in Transylvania. I think the feeling was
common to us all, for I noticed that the others kept looking over their shoulders at every
sound and every new shadow, just as I felt myself doing.
The whole place was thick with dust. The floor was seemingly inches deep, except
where there were recent footsteps, in which on holding down my lamp I could see
marks of hobnails where the dust was cracked. The walls were fluffy and heavy with
dust, and in the corners were masses of spider's webs, whereon the dust had gathered
till they looked like old tattered rags as the weight had torn them partly down. On a table
in the hall was a great bunch of keys, with a timeyellowed label on each. They had been
used several times, for on the table were several similar rents in the blanket of dust,
similar to that exposed when the Professor lifted them.
He turned to me and said, "You know this place, Jonathan. You have copied maps of it,
and you know it at least more than we do. Which is the way to the chapel?"