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Authors: Barbara Hambly

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“Understand me, Dr. Seward. Mother and I have only Vixie’s good at heart. Goodness knows how

we’re to keep it quiet that there is insanity in the family long enough to find her a husband, even with a
year or two at a good Swiss boarding-school to straighten her out … the cost of which Mother and I are
quite prepared to shoulder. Once we locate them, of course, we have instructed Wormidge to begin
proceedings to re-claim Father’s trust funds, which Catherine has quite clearly misused.”

Seward said nothing. A parson’s son who had been raised on the edges of Society, he knew with
deadly exactness what op-tions lay open to a woman once control of her own money was taken out of
her hands.

“Neither Catherine nor Vivienne, as I have said, have com-municated with any member of the family
since Ryland was found wandering the streets of London in what can only be de scribed as confusion.”
Anger glinted in Lady Brough’s soft voice. “Their house in Nottingham was closed up, and when
Wormidge effected an entrance, he found their clothing missing, as if for a long stay elsewhere. Ryland’s
house in London has clearly not been re-opened, but he was a wealthy man even before he mar-ried
Catherine and helped himself to her inheritance. Because his solicitor, Mr. Lucius Bolton, dropped out of
sight at the same time, we suspect that Catherine and Vivienne are in hiding somewhere, and using Bolton
as a go-between. We intend to find them.”

The cold determination in her voice, and the self-righteous expression on Lady Clayburne’s face,
reminded Seward of the reminiscences Lucy had shared with him of her one nightmarish year in a French
finishing-school. She had begged her mother to at least let her return to England, to go to school with her

Lady Clayburne opened her tiny reticule of jet beads, with-drew a card-case. “A young lady’s future is
at stake, Dr. Seward,” she said, and laid a card on the desk. “Please do not make her life more difficult
than it will already be with an impossible tradesman-let alone a lunatic-for a father. When she comes
here-if she comes-please do what you can to urge Catherine to return to Mother and myself. In any case,
I expect to be noti-fied of her visit.”

She slid a second card across the desk at him. “This is Mr. Wormidge’s card-our solicitor, in Bedford
Row. If Ryland should make any reference to Catherine, or say anything that might indicate where
Catherine or Vivienne might be found, please contact either myself or Mr. Wormidge.”

Seward murmured, “Of course,” and slipped both her card and the solicitor Wormidge’s into his desk
drawer. It was his duty, as Superintendant, to keep Rushbrook House a paying proposition, entirely
apart from the fact that his usefulness to its patients depended on his remaining on good terms with their
families. At least Lady Brough and Lady Clayburne were not ob-viously insane themselves, as were the
relatives who had had Lord Alyn locked up.

He wondered if Vixie Renfield had begged her parents not to send her to “a good Swiss
boarding-school” to “straighten her out.” Had pleaded to be allowed to remain in England, with her


Letter, Miss Mina Murray to Miss Lucy Westenra

Dearest Lucy,

No time for more than a note, as this is the busiest time of year at the school. The weather has turned
hot here, and damp. How I envy you, walking along the cliffs and downs of Whitby!

It seems like a year, instead of only a month, until I join you. Tell your mother again how much I look
forward to it, and how grateful I am for the invitation.

One of the dearest aspects of true friendship is that, in all the years we’ve played together and worked
together over those dreadful samplers at Mrs. Druggett’s school, whenever one of us has been sorrowful
or afraid, the other has been able to cheer her up. Lucy, I am both sorrowful and afraid now. I have had
no letter from Jonathan since the middle of May-nearly two weeks now-and though I know perfectly well
that they do not have the penny post in far parts of the world, and that I cannot expect him to take time
from his work to write to me often, still I cannot rid myself of the fear that he is in some terrible trouble.

There! Now tell me I’m being a goose-as I know perfectly well that I am.

So good that your dear Arthur is in civilized parts (or as civ-ilized as Ireland ever gets!) and you can
get those daily notes you write of. They do, indeed, bring the sound of the voice, the sight of the face,
before our eyes-as your notes to me have done all this week.

Thank you, my dearest friend, for being my dearest friend. You know and I know that wherever he is,
Jonathan is just fine.

All my love, Mina


R.M.R.’s notes

5 June

14 flies, 1 spider

I knew this would happen. Seward ordered me to “get rid of” my “pets” as he calls them, though I have
explained to him-or thought I explained-the critical importance of what I do. I ob-tained three days’
grace. What can one expect, when surrounded by the pettiness of ordinary minds?

Dr. Seward’s Journal (kept on phonograph)*

18 June

[Renfield] has turned his mind now to spiders, and has got sev-eral very big fellows in a box. He keeps
feeding them with his flies, and the number of the latter has become sensibly dimin-ished, although he has
used half his food in attracting more flies from outside to his room.

1 July

His spiders are now becoming as great a nuisance as his flies, and today I told him that he must get rid
of them. He looked very sad at this, so I said that he must clear out some of them, at all events. He
cheerfully acquiesced in this, and I gave him the same time as before for the reduction. He disgusted me
much while with him, for when a horrid blow-fly, bloated with some carrion food, buzzed into the room,
he caught it, held it exul-tantly for a few moments between his finger and thumb, and, be-fore I knew
what he was going to do, put it in his mouth and ate it. I scolded him for it, but he argued quietly that it
was very good and very wholesome; that it was life, strong life, and gave life to him …


Letter, R. M. Renfield to his wife

(undated-early July)

My dearest Catherine,

I trust that this letter finds you in the best of good health, and that you and Vixie are enjoying the
mellow beauty of this En-glish summer. It gives me daily comfort to picture your sweet faces. Though I
now realize how difficult it would be for you to visit, still I hope and pray that one day you and she may
find a way to do so without drawing undue attention to yourselves, for I miss you sorely.

My work proceeds apace, though unbelievably hampered by the stupidity of my colleagues here.
Seward is well-meaning, but beyond imbecilic. His mania for regulations has forced me to begin on the
next stage of my efforts prematurely. I pray that no ill will come of it, knowing how much depends upon
its suc-cessful progress. His colleague, Hennessey, is not only venal, but dangerous. Only yesterday, in
Dr. Seward’s absence, he entered my room with three young gentlemen from one of the London
colleges-not medical students, but simply young rakes who paid him half-a-crown apiece “to see the
loonies,” as they put it. When I was moved to protest, he threatened me with the Swing, a most appalling
“treatment” that “calms” through nausea and dizziness. Valuable in dealing with the truly mad, of course,
but as horrifying to a normal man as the rigors of the Spanish In-quisition.

So I am reduced to accomplishing what I can, with what I have. You know that I would do, quite
literally, anything, in or-der to assure your safety; that there are no lengths to which I would not go to
protect our beautiful daughter from harm.

Your loving husband, forever,



R.M.R.’s notes

3 July

10 flies, 2 spiders, 1 sparrow

-7 flies ? spiders

-5 spiders ? sparrow

6 July

9 flies, 2 spiders, 1 sparrow

-6 flies ? spiders

-4 spiders ? sparrows

Seward in Town again today. Hennessey admitted a pair of young gentlemen who wanted to “observe”
the lunatics, in particular, they said, the women, and did any of them rip off their clothing in their fits? I
thought Langmore would object, but he said noth-ing. I have noted that Langmore frequently seems the
worse for opium, whose symptoms became tediously familiar to me in my years of dealing, not only with
the native Indians and coolie Chinese, but with the colonial clerks and wives as well. I have also
frequently overheard Hardy and Simmons speak of Lang-more’s abstractions of chloral hydrate from the
dispensary. If they know of this, Hennessey certainly must.

Oh, to be attempting such a work as mine, and to be sur-rounded by such human detritus!

9 July

8 flies, 3 spiders, 1 sparrow

-9 flies ? spiders

-12 spiders ? sparrows

l0 July

10 flies, 6 spiders, 2 sparrows

-9 flies ? spiders

-6 spiders ? sparrows


Letter, R. M. Renfield to his wife

11 July

My dearest Catherine,

A line in haste. This afternoon from my window I observed the execrable Hennessey walking along the
tree-lined avenue that leads to the high road, a most unaccustomed exercise for a man who raises sloth to
an art form. Following him with my gaze, I saw him stand talking by the high-road gate to a short, stout
gentleman in a green coat, who even at that distance was clearly recognizable as Lady Brough’s solicitor
Wormidge. Though the trees on the avenue prevented my seeing clearly, I thought they talked for some
little time, and that something-papers? money? letters?-was passed from hand to hand.

The sight filled me with rage and despair. Not so much that I fear your discovery-indeed, the fact that
your mother seeks to trace you through me here reassures me that she has no clue con-cerning the false
identities and alternate bank accounts we es-tablished for your concealment-but because I understand
that it will be that much more difficult for you to contact me, much less see me.

Still I remain, as Shakespeare says, “rich in hope.” Watch and wait, my darling-my darlings-and all
things will be made well.

Forever your loving husband,

R. M. R.


Dr. Seward’s Diary (phonograph)*

19 July

We are progressing. My friend has now a whole colony of spar-rows, and his flies and spiders are
almost obliterated. When I came in, he ran to me and said he wanted to ask me a great favor . . . “A
kitten, a nice little, sleek playful kitten, that I can play with and teach, and feed-and feed-and feed!” I was
not unprepared for this request, for I had noticed how his pets went on increasing in size and vivacity, but
I did not care that his pretty family of tame sparrows should be wiped out in the same manner as the flies
and the spiders …

10 p.m.-I have visited him again today and found him sit-ting in a corner brooding. When I came in, he
threw himself on his knees before me and implored me to let him have a cat; that his salvation depended
upon it. I was firm, however, and told him he could not have it.

20 July

Visited Renfield very early, before the attendant went his rounds. Found him up and humming a tune.
He was spreading out his sugar, which he had saved, in the window, and was manifestly beginning his
fly-catching again … I looked around for his birds, and not seeing them, asked him where they were. He
replied, without turning round, that they had all flown away. There were a few feathers about the room
and on his pillow a drop of blood.

11 a.m.-The attendant has just been to me to say that Ren-field has been very sick and has disgorged a
whole lot of feath-ers. “My belief is, Doctor,” he said, “that he has eaten his birds, and that he just took
and ate them raw!”

11 p.m.-I gave Renfield a strong opiate tonight, enough to make even him sleep …


R.M.R.’s notes

21 July



Letter, R. M. Renfield to his wife

21 July

My darling Catherine,

Something has happened which alters everything! How well I remember when you used to chide me
for my attitude of materialism-so strange in one who espouses the romantic ideals of Wagner, you said.
And I, in my blind superiority, would reply that romanticism, while all very well to inspire the heart and
the spirit, cannot put bread and butter on the table. Blind, blind, foolish and blind, to say those very

Yet the gods hear even the maunderings of fools. And some-times, their eternal hearts are moved to
compassion by the very blind stubbornness of those who deny them.

Oh, my beloved, forgive me for the blindness that continued my work, my mission, in the selfsame
narrow crevice of scien-tific methodology for which I so scorned my poor benighted colleagues here!
That I continued it stubbornly, seeing nothing beyond what I thought was “truth,” while all the while a
greater truth was approaching, like the inexorable descent of thunder-clouds from the Simla hills to the

He is coming, and we all of us-you, me, Vixie-will be saved!


Dreams of blood. Dreams of life, like specks of flame, coursing and sparkling through his veins. Deep
in opiated sleep, it seemed to Renfield that he was yet awake, aware of each separate life in the world,
like individuated atoms of searing light.

When he had taken opium in India, he had had such a vision. He had felt himself separately conscious
of every beetle, every monstrous roach, every solitary white ant in the swarms that dwelt beneath his
bungalow, every bird in the trees and every snake in the weeds, aII of them: a seething mass of life
soul-shaking and wonderful in its hugeness.

Even in this thin chilly climate, he was aware. Flies, spiders, sparrows … the brilliant dots of their
individual lives glittered and danced in his veins. The kitchen cat he’d seen through the window the other
day, who had fired him with such wild hopes, so cruelly and unnecessarily dashed. Fools, all of them … !
From the window he’d seen her looking at him, gazing across the space between them with round golden

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