It was towards noon when I was awakened
by the Professor walking into my room. He was more jolly and cheerful than usual,
and it is quite evident that last night's work has helped to take some of the
brooding weight off his mind.
After going over the adventure of the night
he suddenly said, "Your patient interests me much. May it be that with you
I visit him this morning? Or if that you are too occupy, I can go alone if it
may be. It is a new experience to me to find a lunatic who talk philosophy, and
reason so sound."
I had some work to do which pressed, so I told him
that if he would go alone I would be glad, as then I should not have to keep him
waiting, so I called an attendant and gave him the necessary instructions. Before
the Professor left the room I cautioned him against getting any false impression
from my patient.
"But," he answered, "I want him to talk
of himself and of his delusion as to consuming live things. He said to Madam Mina,
as I see in your diary of yesterday, that he had once had such a belief. Why do
you smile, friend John?"
"Excuse me," I said, "but the
answer is here." I laid my hand on the typewritten matter. "When our
sane and learned lunatic made that very statement of how he used to consume life,
his mouth was actually nauseous with the flies and spiders which he had eaten
just before Mrs. Harker entered the room."
Van Helsing smiled in turn.
"Good!" he said. "Your memory is true, friend John. I should have
remembered. And yet it is this very obliquity of thought and memory which makes
mental disease such a fascinating study. Perhaps I may gain more knowledge out
of the folly of this madman than I shall from the teaching of the most wise. Who
I went on with my work, and before long was through that in
hand. It seemed that the time had been very short indeed, but there was Van Helsing
back in the study.
"Do I interrupt?" he asked politely as he stood
at the door.
"Not at all," I answered. "Come in. My work
is finished, and I am free. I can go with you now, if you like."
is needless, I have seen him!"
that he does not appraise me at much. Our interview was short. When I entered
his room he was sitting on a stool in the centre, with his elbows on his knees,
and his face was the picture of sullen discontent. I spoke to him as cheerfully
as I could, and with such a measure of respect as I could assume. He made no reply
whatever. 'Don't you know me?' I asked. His answer was not reassuring: 'I know
you well enough; you are the old fool Van Helsing. I wish you would take yourself
and your idiotic brain theories somewhere else. Damn all thick-headed Dutchmen!'
Not a word more would he say, but sat in his implacable sullenness as indifferent
to me as though I had not been in the room at all. Thus departed for this time
my chance of much learning from this so clever lunatic, so I shall go, if I may,
and cheer myself with a few happy words with that sweet soul Madam Mina. Friend
John, it does rejoice me unspeakable that she is no more to be pained, no more
to be worried with our terrible things. Though we shall much miss her help, it
is better so."
"I agree with you with all my heart," I answered
earnestly, for I did not want him to weaken in this matter. "Mrs. Harker
is better out of it. Things are quite bad enough for us, all men of the world,
and who have been in many tight places in our time, but it is no place for a woman,
and if she had remained in touch with the affair, it would in time infallibly
have wrecked her."
So Van Helsing has gone to confer with Mrs. Harker
and Harker, Quincey and Art are all out following up the clues as to the earth
boxes. I shall finish my round of work and we shall meet tonight.