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Dracula

by: Bram Stoker

Chapters XV–XVIII

Summary: Chapter XV

Seward is appalled by Van Helsing’s suggestion that Lucy is in some way responsible for the rash of wounded children. However, due to his respect for the elder doctor, he accompanies Van Helsing on his investigation. The two men visit one of the wounded children and find that the marks on the child’s neck are identical to Lucy’s. That night, Seward and Van Helsing proceed to Lucy’s tomb, open the coffin, and find it empty. Seward suggests that a grave robber might have taken the corpse, but Van Helsing instructs him to keep watch at one side of the churchyard.

Near dawn, Seward witnesses a “white streak” moving between the trees. He and Van Helsing approach and find a child lying nearby, but Seward still refuses to believe that Lucy is responsible for any wrongdoing. Only after they return to Lucy’s tomb, finding her restored to her coffin and “radiantly beautiful,” does Seward feel the “horrid sense of the reality of things.” Van Helsing explains that Lucy belongs to the “Un-Dead” and insists that she must be decapitated, her mouth filled with garlic, and a stake driven through her heart. The two men meet with Arthur Holmwood and Quincey Morris, and Van Helsing explains what must be done. Holmwood is opposed to mutilating his fiancée’s corpse, but finally agrees to accompany them to the graveyard.

Summary: Chapter XVI

That night, the four men go to Lucy’s grave and find it empty. Van Helsing seals the door of the tomb with Communion wafers to prevent the vampire Lucy from reentering. The men then hide in wait. Eventually, a figure appears, dressed entirely in white and carrying a child. It is Lucy—or rather, a monster that looks like Lucy, with eyes “unclean and full of hell-fire” and a mouth stained with fresh blood. As the men surround her, she drops the child and calls out passionately to Holmwood, telling him to come to her. Holmwood begins to move, but Van Helsing leaps between the couple and brandishes a crucifix. Lucy recoils. Van Helsing quickly removes the Communion wafers, and the vampire slips through the door of her tomb.

Having witnessed this horror, Holmwood concurs that the necessary rites must be performed, and the following evening, he returns to hammer a stake through Lucy’s heart. As Lucy returns to a state of beauty, Van Helsing reassures Holmwood that he has saved Lucy’s soul from eternal darkness and has given her peace at last. Before leaving the tomb, Van Helsing makes plans to reunite with the men two nights later, so that they may discuss the “terrible task” before them.

Summary: Chapter XVII

At Van Helsing’s urging, Jonathan and Mina Harker come to stay with Seward at the asylum. Mina transcribes Seward’s diary with the typewriter and notes its account of Lucy’s death. Meanwhile, Seward reads the Harkers’ journals, realizing for the first time that Dracula may well be his next-door neighbor and that there may be a connection between the vampire’s proximity and Renfield’s behavior. The lunatic Renfield is calm at the moment, and Seward wonders what this tranquility indicates about Dracula’s whereabouts.

Meanwhile, Jonathan researches the boxes of earth that were shipped from Transylvania to England. He discovers that all fifty were delivered to the chapel at Carfax, but worries that some might have been moved elsewhere in recent weeks. Mina notes that Harker seems to have fully recovered from his ordeal in Transylvania. Holmwood and Morris arrive at the asylum, and, clearly, Holmwood is still terribly shaken by Lucy’s death.