“Sir, you have come in time. You are the lover of our dear miss. She is bad, very, very bad. Nay, my child, do not go like that.” For he suddenly grew pale and sat down in a chair almost fainting. “You are to help her. You can do more than any that live, and your courage is your best help.”
“What can I do?” asked Arthur hoarsely. “Tell me, and I shall do it. My life is hers, and I would give the last drop of blood in my body for her.”
The Professor has a strongly humorous side, and I could from old knowledge detect a trace of its origin in his answer.
“My young sir, I do not ask so much as that, not the last!”
“What shall I do?” There was fire in his eyes, and his open nostrils quivered with intent. Van Helsing slapped him on the shoulder.
“Come!” he said. “You are a man, and it is a man we want. You are better than me, better than my friend John.” Arthur looked bewildered, and the Professor went on by explaining in a kindly way.
“Young miss is bad, very bad. She wants blood, and blood she must have or die. My friend John and I have consulted, and we are about to perform what we call transfusion of blood, to transfer from full veins of one to the empty veins which pine for him. John was to give his blood, as he is the more young and strong than me.”—Here Arthur took my hand and wrung it hard in silence.—“But now you are here, you are more good than us, old or young, who toil much in the world of thought. Our nerves are not so calm and our blood so bright than yours!”
Arthur turned to him and said, “If you only knew how gladly I would die for her you would understand . . .” He stopped with a sort of choke in his voice.
“Good boy!” said Van Helsing. “In the not-so-far-off you will be happy that you have done all for her you love. Come now and be silent. You shall kiss her once before it is done, but then you must go, and you must leave at my sign. Say no word to Madame. You know how it is with her. There must be no shock, any knowledge of this would be one. Come!”
We all went up to Lucy’s room. Arthur by direction remained outside. Lucy turned her head and looked at us, but said nothing. She was not asleep, but she was simply too weak to make the effort. Her eyes spoke to us, that was all.
Van Helsing took some things from his bag and laid them on a little table out of sight. Then he mixed a narcotic, and coming over to the bed, said cheerily, “Now, little miss, here is your medicine. Drink it off, like a good child. See, I lift you so that to swallow is easy. Yes.” She had made the effort with success.
It astonished me how long the drug took to act. This, in fact, marked the extent of her weakness. The time seemed endless until sleep began to flicker in her eyelids. At last, however, the narcotic began to manifest its potency, and she fell into a deep sleep. When the Professor was satisfied, he called Arthur into the room, and bade him strip off his coat. Then he added, “You may take that one little kiss whiles I bring over the table. Friend John, help to me!” So neither of us looked whilst he bent over her.