good husbandman tell you so then because he knows, but not till then. But you do not
find the good husbandman dig up his planted corn to see if 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?"
"I am younger and stronger, Professor. It must be me."