Regaining his feet, the patient looked Seward straight in the eye. “Lives,” he said simply. “It all comes down to that. I need lives for the Master.”
The doctor blinked. This was new. “What ‘master’? Do you mean Professor Van Helsing?”
The lunatic’s scorn and contempt were enormous. “No! The Master! He will come.”
“Here? To the asylum?”
“Here to your cell?”
“He has promised to make me immortal!”
Somehow this simple question was the one that probed too close to the nerve. With a strangled cry Renfield lurched forward, his powerful hands groping for a grip. The pair of attendants in the corridor had not relaxed their vigilance, and they rushed in at once to interfere; still they were a shade too late, and both of the madman’s fists were clamped on Seward’s collar. Renfield’s jaws that had chewed files and spiders were now ravening for a bite at Seward’s throat.
Gasps and curses. Three men against one, in a swaying struggle. Other patients in other cells, aware of violence in progress, set up an eerie clamoring.
Seward, far from a weakling himself, was gripping Renfield’s wrists with all his strength, trying to tear the choking hands away—but to no avail. The madman’s arms seemed carved from stone. Seward’s lungs were bursting, and the world was turning red and gray before the doctor’s eyes.
Renfield was screaming maniacally now: “The blood is the life. The blood is the life!”
One of the keepers had the patient around the neck from behind, keeping him from biting; the other had him by a shoulder and an arm. But even with odds of three to one, mere wrestling was not going to save Dr. Seward from being throttled. Now clubs rose and fell. But still, one keeper had a broken arm before the lunatic was finally subdued.
It was morning again in the Carpathians, gray early daylight on a day of spring rain that came spattering and lashing intermittently at the high windows of the apartment which had become Harker’s refuge, overlooking the still-deserted courtyard of Dracula’s castle.
Harker had awakened in his usual room within the castle, in his usual bed, and for one blessed moment before his eyelids opened he had been able to persuade himself that his experience with the three women had been only a dream.
For one moment only—then, despite all the improbability and nightmarish horror of what had happened, he was soon utterly convinced that their embraces had been as real as any other experience he had ever had.
His shredded clothing testified to the reality of that particular nightmare, as did certain painless, seemingly harmless, but terrifying marks—suggesting the action of fine, sharp teeth—in at least three places on his body. His private parts, his very manhood, had not been spared.
To have yielded to temptation with a woman, or women, in the normal way would have been bad enough for an engaged man. Especially, as it seemed to Harker, for any man whom Mina loved. But this…!
Overcome by shame, by the helpless certainty of unnatural guilt, Harker sat for some time on the edge of his bed, face buried in his hands. He was struggling not only with his guilt, but against the memory of great delight.
At length, pulling himself together, he made a new resolve to face his difficulties, however great they might be, and overcome them. From now on he must, he would, maintain his self-respect, live in a manner worthy of the great love that Mina bore him in her innocence.
It must have been the count himself, he decided at length, who had carried him back to bed in this room and undressed him. A number of small details, even apart from the torn clothing and the wounds, testified that Harker’s nightly routine had not gone as usual; his pocket watch, for one thing, was unwound, and he was rigorously accustomed to wind it before retiring. But the contents of his pockets, in particular his journal, seemed undisturbed—for which he breathed a small prayer of thankfulness. He felt sure that if Dracula had noticed the small book, he would have stolen or destroyed it. Perhaps the count for some reason had been hurried in his task.
Slowly Harker bathed—once deprived of his mirror, he had abandoned all attempts to shave—and dressed himself in untorn garments from his trunk. He was perfectly certain, long before he looked, that this morning as usual there would be a breakfast laid out for him in the next room, decent food on golden plates or perhaps on silver, even coffee warming on the hearth. Evidently his usefulness, as language teacher and adviser on the ways of England, was not yet over.
But today he was not hungry.
For some time after getting dressed, he occupied the chair at the writing desk in his sitting room, making an entry in his journal. Harker considered this record a necessary part of his determined effort to keep a grip upon his sanity. He even noted down, as clearly and objectively as possible, despite the chance that Mina might someday read his words, what he remembered of his experience with the three women.
Then, startled by hearing unaccustomed noises outside in the courtyard—raucous human shouts and the rumble of wagons—he hastily replaced the small volume in an inner pocket of his coat and went to the window to look out.
To his amazement Harker saw that the place was deserted no longer. As he watched he observed that a sizable work party composed of Gypsies, the Szgany as Harker had learned they were called in this country, were undertaking a considerable task, that of loading great coffin-sized boxes, obviously heavy, aboard several sturdy leiter wagons, the wagons hitched to teams of four to six horses each. There were three boxes, four—another and another. Soon Harker realized, from the number of wagons, that there might be dozens of these containers, all the same size and shape, each emblazoned with Dracula’s coat of arms. They were being carried out, one by one, into the open courtyard from somewhere inside the castle. The location of Harker’s window kept him from seeing exactly where the source might be.
The Szgany were going cheerfully and noisily about their task of loading the strange cargo. Shortly after discovering their presence, Harker took a position in full view in his window, quietly trying to signal to some of the men below. His hope was to get one of them to post a truthful letter to England, a message that would alert his employer to the fact that he was being held here as a prisoner. But only a few workers took any notice of the man in the window, and these only jeered at him, even ignoring the coins he held up in an effort to arouse their interest.
After that, trembling with fear and anger, he lurked near the window, continuing to observe the unaccustomed activity in the courtyard, as much as possible without being observed himself.
The visible boxes multiplied; as soon as a wagon was fully loaded, it was driven away and out, and an empty vehicle pulled up to take its place. When one of the large boxes slipped just as it was being hoisted aboard a wagon and broke open with the force of its impact on the stone paving, Harker saw moldy, greenish, foul-looking earth spill out, ugly stuff that at once began to turn to mud in the persistent drizzle.
The accident had a sobering effect upon the laborers. Their merry songs and laughter ceased abruptly, and they cast frequent glances over their shoulders, and up at the high windows of the castle. Clearly they dreaded their employer’s wrath. Not only the Szgany but even the horses, as it seemed to Harker, were frightened at the spillage. The men made haste to repair the damage, finding somewhere fresh boards with which to rebuild the box, replaced the contents as thoroughly as they could, and got on with their work.
Shortly after that Harker drew back from the window. That a shipment of moldy earth was being made from Castle Dracula was puzzling, but there were more urgent problems to be faced.
Obviously he dared hope for no help from the Gypsies, who were laboring faithfully on their mysterious task for the castle’s master. Therefore, as it seemed to him, he had two choices. First, he could wait in his rooms, or visit the library again, or employ himself in other useless ways, until cloudy daylight should give way to night.
Then, when night had fallen, the three women—Harker was as sure of it as if they had promised him in so many words—would come to his door. Now that they had established a relationship with him, they would inevitably come, to laugh and whisper just outside, promising renewed delight, tempting him unbearably, until he should yield and come out to them… and he knew that he would yield.