“That’s frank anyhow,” broke in Quincey. “I’ll answer for the Professor. I don’t quite see his drift, but I swear he’s honest, and that’s good enough for me.”
“I thank you, Sir,” said Van Helsing proudly. “I have done myself the honour of counting you one trusting friend, and such endorsement is dear to me.” He held out a hand, which Quincey took.
Then Arthur spoke out, “Dr. Van Helsing, I don’t quite like to ’buy a pig in a poke’, as they say in Scotland, and if it be anything in which my honour as a gentleman or my faith as a Christian is concerned, I cannot make such a promise. If you can assure me that what you intend does not violate either of these two, then I give my consent at once, though for the life of me, I cannot understand what you are driving at.”
“I accept your limitation,” said Van Helsing, “and all I ask of you is that if you feel it necessary to condemn any act of mine, you will first consider it well and be satisfied that it does not violate your reservations.”
“Agreed!” said Arthur. “That is only fair. And now that the pourparlers are over, may I ask what it is we are to do?”
“I want you to come with me, and to come in secret, to the churchyard at Kingstead.”
Arthur’s face fell as he said in an amazed sort of way,
“Where poor Lucy is buried?”
The Professor bowed.
Arthur went on, “And when there?”
“To enter the tomb!”
Arthur stood up. “Professor, are you in earnest, or is it some monstrous joke? Pardon me, I see that you are in earnest.” He sat down again, but I could see that he sat firmly and proudly, as one who is on his dignity. There was silence until he asked again, “And when in the tomb?”
“To open the coffin.”
“This is too much!” he said, angrily rising again. “I am willing to be patient in all things that are reasonable, but in this, this desecration of the grave, of one who . . .” He fairly choked with indignation.
The Professor looked pityingly at him. “If I could spare you one pang, my poor friend,” he said, “God knows I would. But this night our feet must tread in thorny paths, or later, and for ever, the feet you love must walk in paths of flame!”
Arthur looked up with set white face and said, “Take care, sir, take care!”
“Would it not be well to hear what I have to say?” said Van Helsing. “And then you will at least know the limit of my purpose. Shall I go on?”
“That’s fair enough,” broke in Morris.
After a pause Van Helsing went on, evidently with an effort, “Miss Lucy is dead, is it not so? Yes! Then there can be no wrong to her. But if she be not dead . . .”
Arthur jumped to his feet, “Good God!” he cried. “What do you mean? Has there been any mistake, has she been buried alive?” He groaned in anguish that not even hope could soften.