Dracula by Bram Stoker
20 JONATHAN HARKER'S JOURNAL
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.