The first step was to restore confidence, so I asked him, speaking pretty loud so that he would hear me through his closed ears, “Would you like some sugar to get your flies around again?”
He seemed to wake up all at once, and shook his head. With a laugh he replied, “Not much! Flies are poor things, after all!” After a pause he added, “But I don’t want their souls buzzing round me, all the same.”
“Or spiders?” I went on.
“Blow spiders! What’s the use of spiders? There isn’t anything in them to eat or…” He stopped suddenly as though reminded of a forbidden topic.
“So, so!” I thought to myself, “this is the second time he has suddenly stopped at the word `drink’. What does it mean?”
Renfield seemed himself aware of having made a lapse, for he hurried on, as though to distract my attention from it, “I don’t take any stock at all in such matters. `Rats and mice and such small deer,’ as Shakespeare has it, `chicken feed of the larder’ they might be called. I’m past all that sort of nonsense. You might as well ask a man to eat molecules with a pair of chopsticks, as to try to interest me about the less carnivora, when I know of what is before me.”
“I see,” I said.“You want big things that you can make your teeth meet in? How would you like to breakfast on an elephant?”
“What ridiculous nonsense you are talking?” He was getting too wide awake, so I thought I would press him hard.
“I wonder,” I said reflectively, “what an elephant’s soul is like!”
The effect I desired was obtained, for he at once fell from his high-horse and became a child again.
“I don’t want an elephant’s soul, or any soul at all!” he said. For a few moments he sat despondently. Suddenly he jumped to his feet, with his eyes blazing and all the signs of intense cerebral excitement. “To hell with you and your souls!” he shouted. “Why do you plague me about souls? Haven’t I got enough to worry, and pain, to distract me already, without thinking of souls?”
He looked so hostile that I thought he was in for another homicidal fit, so I blew my whistle.
The instant, however, that I did so he became calm, and said apologetically, “Forgive me, Doctor. I forgot myself. You do not need any help. I am so worried in my mind that I am apt to be irritable. If you only knew the problem I have to face, and that I am working out, you would pity, and tolerate, and pardon me. Pray do not put me in a strait waistcoat. I want to think and I cannot think freely when my body is confined. I am sure you will understand!”
He had evidently self-control, so when the attendants came I told them not to mind, and they withdrew. Renfield watched them go. When the door was closed he said with considerable dignity and sweetness, “Dr. Seward, you have been very considerate towards me. Believe me that I am very, very grateful to you!”
I thought it well to leave him in this mood, and so I came away. There is certainly something to ponder over in this man’s state. Several points seem to make what the American interviewer calls “a story,” if one could only get them in proper order. Here they are:
Will not mention “drinking.”
Fears the thought of being burdened with the “soul” of anything.
Has no dread of wanting “life” in the future.
Despises the meaner forms of life altogether, though he dreads being haunted by their souls.
Logically all these things point one way! He has assurance of some kind that he will acquire some higher life.
He dreads the consequence, the burden of a soul. Then it is a human life he looks to!
And the assurance…?
Merciful God! The Count has been to him, and there is some new scheme of terror afoot!
Later.—I went after my round to Van Helsing and told him my suspicion. He grew very grave, and after thinking the matter over for a while asked me to take him to Renfield. I did so. As we came to the door we heard the lunatic within singing gaily, as he used to do in the time which now seems so long ago.
When we entered we saw with amazement that he had spread out his sugar as of old. The flies, lethargic with the autumn, were beginning to buzz into the room. We tried to make him talk of the subject of our previous conversation, but he would not attend. He went on with his singing, just as though we had not been present. He had got a scrap of paper and was folding it into a notebook. We had to come away as ignorant as we went in.
His is a curious case indeed. We must watch him tonight.
LETTER, MITCHELL, SONS & CANDY TO LORD GODALMING.
“We are at all times only too happy to meet your wishes. We beg, with regard to the desire of your Lordship, expressed by Mr. Harker on your behalf, to supply the following information concerning the sale and purchase of No. 347, Piccadilly. The original vendors are the executors of the late Mr. Archibald Winter-Suffield. The purchaser is a foreign nobleman, Count de Ville, who effected the purchase himself paying the purchase money in notes `over the counter,’ if your Lordship will pardon us using so vulgar an expression. Beyond this we know nothing whatever of him.
“We are, my Lord,
“Your Lordship’s humble servants,
“MITCHELL, SONS & CANDY.”
DR. SEWARD’S DIARY
2 October.—I placed a man in the corridor last night, and told him to make an accurate note of any sound he might hear from Renfield’s room, and gave him instructions that if there should be anything strange he was to call me. After dinner, when we had all gathered round the fire in the study, Mrs. Harker having gone to bed, we discussed the attempts and discoveries of the day. Harker was the only one who had any result, and we are in great hopes that his clue may be an important one.
Before going to bed I went round to the patient’s room and looked in through the observation trap. He was sleeping soundly, his heart rose and fell with regular respiration.
This morning the man on duty reported to me that a little after midnight he was restless and kept saying his prayers somewhat loudly. I asked him if that was all. He replied that it was all he heard. There was something about his manner, so suspicious that I asked him point blank if he had been asleep. He denied sleep, but admitted to having “dozed” for a while. It is too bad that men cannot be trusted unless they are watched.
Today Harker is out following up his clue, and Art and Quincey are looking after horses. Godalming thinks that it will be well to have horses always in readiness, for when we get the information which we seek there will be no time to lose. We must sterilize all the imported earth between sunrise and sunset. We shall thus catch the Count at his weakest, and without a refuge to fly to. Van Helsing is off to the British Museum looking up some authorities on ancient medicine. The old physicians took account of things which their followers do not accept, and the Professor is searching for witch and demon cures which may be useful to us later.
I sometimes think we must be all mad and that we shall wake to sanity in strait waistcoats.
Later.—We have met again. We seem at last to be on the track, and our work of tomorrow may be the beginning of the end. I wonder if Renfield’s quiet has anything to do with this. His moods have so followed the doings of the Count, that the coming destruction of the monster may be carried to him some subtle way. If we could only get some hint as to what passed in his mind, between the time of my argument with him today and his resumption of fly-catching, it might afford us a valuable clue. He is now seemingly quiet for a spell… Is he? That wild yell seemed to come from his room…
The attendant came bursting into my room and told me that Renfield had somehow met with some accident. He had heard him yell, and when he went to him found him lying on his face on the floor, all covered with blood. I must go at once…
DR. SEWARD’S DIARY
3 October.—Let me put down with exactness all that happened, as well as I can remember, since last I made an entry. Not a detail that I can recall must be forgotten. In all calmness I must proceed.
Page: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47 48 49 50 51 52 53 54 55 56 57 58 59 60 61 62 63 64 65 66 67 68 69 70 71 72 73 74 75 76 77 78 79 80 81 82 83 84 85 86 87 88 89 90 91 92 93 94 95 96 97 98 99 100 101 102