Arthur bent eagerly over to kiss her, but at that instant Van Helsing, who, like me, had been startled by her voice, swooped upon him, and catching him by the neck with both hands, dragged him back with a fury of strength which I never thought he could have possessed, and actually hurled him almost across the room.
“Not on your life!” he said, “not for your living soul and hers!” And he stood between them like a lion at bay.
Arthur was so taken aback that he did not for a moment know what to do or say, and before any impulse of violence could seize him he realized the place and the occasion, and stood silent, waiting.
I kept my eyes fixed on Lucy, as did Van Helsing, and we saw a spasm as of rage flit like a shadow over her face. The sharp teeth clamped together. Then her eyes closed, and she breathed heavily.
Very shortly after she opened her eyes in all their softness, and putting out her poor, pale, thin hand, took Van Helsing’s great brown one, drawing it close to her, she kissed it. “My true friend,” she said, in a faint voice, but with untellable pathos, “My true friend, and his! Oh, guard him, and give me peace!”
“I swear it!” he said solemnly, kneeling beside her and holding up his hand, as one who registers an oath. Then he turned to Arthur, and said to him, “Come, my child, take her hand in yours, and kiss her on the forehead, and only once.”
Their eyes met instead of their lips, and so they parted. Lucy’s eyes closed, and Van Helsing, who had been watching closely, took Arthur’s arm, and drew him away.
And then Lucy’s breathing became stertorous again, and all at once it ceased.
“It is all over,” said Van Helsing. “She is dead!”
I took Arthur by the arm, and led him away to the drawing room, where he sat down, and covered his face with his hands, sobbing in a way that nearly broke me down to see.
I went back to the room, and found Van Helsing looking at poor Lucy, and his face was sterner than ever. Some change had come over her body. Death had given back part of her beauty, for her brow and cheeks had recovered some of their flowing lines. Even the lips had lost their deadly pallor. It was as if the blood, no longer needed for the working of the heart, had gone to make the harshness of death as little rude as might be.
“We thought her dying whilst she slept, And sleeping when she died.”
I stood beside Van Helsing, and said, “Ah well, poor girl, there is peace for her at last. It is the end!”
He turned to me, and said with grave solemnity, “Not so, alas! Not so. It is only the beginning!”
When I asked him what he meant, he only shook his head and answered, “We can do nothing as yet. Wait and see.”
Dr. Seward’s diary—cont.
The funeral was arranged for the next succeeding day, so that Lucy and her mother might be buried together. I attended to all the ghastly formalities, and the urbane undertaker proved that his staff was afflicted, or blessed, with something of his own obsequious suavity. Even the woman who performed the last offices for the dead remarked to me, in a confidential, brother-professional way, when she had come out from the death chamber,