CONFESSIONS OF MINA MURRAY
HERE begins that part of my true account of what took place in our late summer days and nights in Whitby, while awaiting word from Jonathan and watching my dearest Lucy fall into illness. In transcribing my diary to type, I included many inconsequent matters and withheld certain details. My motives came of modesty and uncertainty, which will become clear as I progress.
From whoever may read this excerpt, I beg forgiveness and understanding for its redaction. Many things I had left out, and many I transfigured into what I could bear to confess. Of this rendition, I dread that Jonathan might one day see it, or Dr Seward, or some soul unknown to me, and fear stern judgment for the tale it tells. But Professor Van Helsing assures me that the details in my memory are vital to our endeavour, and he promises to withhold this version from the official account. I trust that good gentleman. I feel that his heart comprehends a woman’s sensibilities.
I must make a point clear above all else. Much of those nine strange days remains unsure to me. Even now, I gaze back into the blur of memory and can’t grasp what happened, neither to Lucy nor to me. It’s like a masterwork painting, plain to the eye and yet fraught with subtleties. And as I notice these, they provoke awe in my heart. Much of it felt and still feels like some cruel vagary had seized my mind. I can’t be sure how much of it truly happened. Professor Van Helsing tells me: all of it. My doubt, he says, is but one of our enemy’s weapons to use against us. Here then, I parry the assault and riposte with bold truth, no matter what pain and shame my story brings. But I cringe as my typewriter’s keys bare the sins of my soul for the world to read. I beseech my fellow errant creatures for what mercy they can proffer.
Here then, at the professor’s insistence, is that memoir.
11 August—I awoke last night to find Lucy’s side of the bed empty. Looking for her, I found the doors to the garden open. A fog had rolled in from the sea, making the night air chill and damp. I took a shawl before setting out to find her.
I espied her through the mists, sprawled on the stone bench—what we’ve come to claim as our seat—in the churchyard. I also perceived some vague apparition, the semblance of a man, leaning over her. Red, horrid eyes seemed to leer into mine, conveying all the sins of the devil himself. I felt strange tumult in me, queer excitement like a passionate sea crashing on the dams of my virtue. I read hunger in those eyes. I felt their desire to consume me, which sent an electric tremor through my body. Before my conscious mind could regain its mastery over the cravings of the flesh, I welcomed it.
But this uncanny vision departed with a swirl of fog. I had seen only a will-o’-the-wisp or some other airy mirage. And I had mistaken moonlight glinting off the church windows for his frightening eyes. My sudden heat spent, and with it the peculiar jealousy I’d felt of Lucy. I love my dearest friend and confidante, my childhood playmate who’s so like a sister to me. Yet, I thought in that hallucinating moment that she had eclipsed me in some manner and hated her for it. What petty rivalry thrives between women!
The parting mist took my baser feelings with it, leaving me in the churchyard with Lucy and my worry for her. I clasped the shawl about her shoulders and led her inside. I fretted for dispelling her dream state, aware that it could be harmful. Still, she needed revival. Her extremities felt as ice, her lips were blue, and her teeth chattered. I sat her upright on the bed before securing the doors and windows. Then I rubbed life back into her trembling hands and feet. She wept from bewilderment, her half-wakened brain trying to comprehend her circumstances. Rocking her against my breast, I whispered soft nonsense like a mother comforting a child. I felt her tremors ebb as my own warmth filled her.
Lucy has not walked asleep since we were young. Grief had brought on the illness when her father and grandmother died in close sequence. I believe the ghostly arrival of that derelict ship has jarred awake these old memories of death in her. We’ve only laid the captain and his crew to rest yesterday. With her natural joie de vivre, she’s never adjusted well to deathly subjects.
And of course, she’d already been feeling anxious over Arthur Holmwood. I know how she struggled with his proposal, having to choose between him, Quincey, and Dr Seward. It came as some small blessing that rivalry didn’t rupture their fast friendships. I teased her, complaining how unfair it was that any woman should have three suitors! She joked that she would take them all, if only God would allow it. But now that she’s decided on Arthur, and in the shadow of that awful Russian schooner, her habit to sleepwalk returns. I can’t help but suppose these things relate to one another. I know that she has no mean spirit in her, yet the difficulty of disappointing two fine gentlemen has made her feel so. The sweet and delicate creature!
I unfastened the shawl and adjusted the nightdress, which had fallen loose about Lucy’s shoulders. Then I noticed wounds on her neck near where I had fixed the pin.
‘Poor Lucy, forgive me,’ I said. ‘I’m so clumsy.’ I kissed the site of her injury to ease its sting.
Lucy did a strange thing, then. She clutched me firmly against her throat as though she longed for me to kiss her there. She tilted back her head, sighing soft and deep as a woman savouring her lover’s attention is wont to do. I believe she suffered some momentary confusion, mistaking me for Arthur. I indulged her odd passion and held my lips on her tender wound. She brought my hand onto her breast for me to touch.
I drew back and peered into her half-closed eyes. They were glassy and entranced.
‘Lucy,’ I whispered, ‘it’s me, Mina.’
With a gentle smile, she replied, ‘My pretty Mina.’ Her mouth sought mine, and we kissed.
I can’t describe how I felt hearing Lucy call me pretty and conveying to me such desire through her lips. An alien warmth spread from my heart into my body and made my skin prickle with excitement. It was akin to my first kiss with Jonathan, and yet nothing at all similar. I felt pure and sinful at once, as though together we had discovered some wicked thing by accident. I gave her breast a light squeeze and thrilled to hear her sigh from it.
When our lips parted, the spell enthralling me dissipated. I sat bemused for having entertained carnality and withdrew my hand from Lucy’s bosom. Ashamed, I turned away my face, unable to meet her adoring eyes. I felt a need to cry.
Lucy grazed my cheek with her fingertips, but I wouldn’t face her. ‘Don’t, Mina,’ she soothed. ‘All living creatures know desire. There’s no shame in it.’
As my tears welled, I told her, ‘I can’t help but feel that I betray Jonathan.’
She pulled herself closer and pressed a gentle kiss on my bared neck. ‘Sweet Mina,’ she whispered, ‘can you share your passion with none but him?’
I could think of nothing to say. Nor could I return to her.
Lucy brought her arms about me and nuzzled. ‘We want something from each other,’ she purred. ‘You know this but fight the urge. I understand, though I should like to persuade you.’
I knew she spoke truth, as her every breath tickled my flesh. But I wouldn’t let myself yield to this bizarre appetite again. ‘I don’t think it good,’ I told her.
Lucy kissed my ear and said, ‘Let’s sleep now, Mina, and speak no more of this to-night.’ I felt her smile against my shoulder, which made my anxieties slacken. She guided my chin toward hers, and I thought that she meant to kiss again. But she only asked, ‘Will you hold me while I sleep?’
I feared to reawaken my wantonness, but I needed to trust our deep affection, also. Touching her soft umber hair, I replied, ‘Of course I will.’
We sank into the mattress and drew up the blankets. And there we lay together, arms entwined. I held her gaze a long while, and there was no mistaking the deep longing in those warm, brown eyes of hers.
I wondered for this newfound sensation in me, whence it had come and why. As girls, Lucy and I often practised kissing, each pretending the other to be the man for whom we pined. But I don’t believe I ever felt desire for her. Nor did I suppose such feelings transpired between women. Until this night, I hadn’t known that such a thing existed.
‘What happens between us, Lucy?’ I asked.
‘I can’t be sure,’ she admitted, ‘but I sense an overwhelming wonder about it.’ Unlike me, she delighted in this new and foreign alchemy between us.
‘Perhaps a fever steals upon us both,’ I surmised. ‘Perhaps I long overmuch to marry Jonathan, as do you with Arthur, and our hearts grow impatient.’
‘That’s not quite the matter, I think,’ Lucy replied, petting me. ‘It’s a daunting prospect: committing to husbands in our full bloom, with so many pleasures unexperienced. But life is finite, and a woman’s free breath between maidenhood and marriage is a short, shallow one. I want to feel the forbidden and do the shocking, if only to know what these things are. You sense all this as well and want the same.’
Her abrupt lewdness startled me, being so unlike her. But I knew that she was right. ‘For how long a time have you held these thoughts?’
‘I don’t know,’ she said. ‘I feel as if the words have just come to me, but they express a thing I’ve always known.’
‘This path can’t be good for either of us, Lucy,’ I whispered. ‘I fear it leads to the life of a slattern, which is abhorrent to me.’
Lucy gave me a good-night kiss and went to sleep.
While the phantom sense of her lips dwindled, I wondered how Arthur felt in loving her—not in the stoic manner he expressed, but in the secret sinews of his body. Did he dream of her, crave her, lust for her? Did I, but for two thin nightdresses, so casually fill the space of which our future Lord Godalming feverishly dreamt? How he must long to touch the graceful body I sleep beside each night!
These thoughts recalled a time when Jonathan kissed me fiercer than he ought to have done. I’d pushed him away, and he begged that I forgive his ungallantry. But his rough urgency stirred a hunger that years of Christian schooling had never purged. From that moment, I knew the primeval desire by which our first mother had cursed all mankind. I wanted to yield to the lure of sin.
An odd fantasy for Lucy to kiss me in such manner flitted through my drowsed mind. And to this conjuring, I added my warm surrender to that kiss. I dwelt on the temptations lying inches away from me, afraid to imagine the unchastity to which they could lead.
My warding angels must have exorcised the demon tormenting me. I slipped into sleep with my base appetites unexplored.
I’ve awakened first and attended to my toilet before Lucy has roused. I fight to suppress my curious desires which sleep has abated but little. I catch myself adoring her delightful face, framed in tousled, chocolate locks—sweeping lashes, snowy brow, gentle nose of a subtle angle begging for the attentions of a kiss! Without meaning to do, I admire her contours under the nightdress. I don’t want to awaken her.
As much for distraction as recollection, I busy myself with my diary until she wakes.
Same day, later—Lucy arose in delightful spirits. She’s unperturbed, even in learning of her sleepwalk and consequent wounding. I’m unsure if she’s forgotten anything else from the small hours and skirt the matter. She seems affectionate with me even more than is her wont, but I might only be more sensitive to it. I feel short of rest and not a little uneasy with her.
We planned to picnic in Mulgrave Woods this afternoon with Lucy’s mother. Preparation for it served to preoccupy my mind. I wanted to dwell as little as possible on my unseemly appetites. It helped to think of Jonathan brokering estate sales with his mysterious Transylvanian nobleman. But my gaiety turned to gloom when I began fretting for his safety. I wonder why he’s not sent word to me for so long a time, as he’d promised to do. Both Lucy and Mrs Westenra worked to comfort me, and I tried—likely without success—to keep from spoiling our outing. I do hate making a spectacle of myself.
12 August—Last evening, we took Lucy’s mother to the Casino Terrace to hear the band play. The three of us take great delight in music, though we each have our separate tastes. The band played works by A. C. Mackenzie (Mrs Westenra’s favourite) and Louis Spohr (one of mine). Lucy appreciates both, but her own favourite—Gilbert & Sullivan—wasn’t on the bill of fare. Still, our entertainment on the Terrace proved grand, and lifted my sunken spirits.
The night’s enchantment almost put away my concerns. But toward evening’s end, Lucy drew me from the bandstand. She said she had some urgent, private thing to convey to me and led me between the garden trees. I hesitated to let her pull me into such seclusion, but Lucy proved more determined than I was.
We stood alone together in the moonlight. The hundred or so attendees seemed far away and forgotten. She gathered my hands in hers and held them close. Our noses near to touching, she whispered, ‘Mina, fault your beloved Spohr, but this music has put a sensuous mood in me. Let me share with you a thing I’ve learned.’
Feeling reserved, I asked, ‘Whatever do you mean, Lucy?’
She slipped her hands about my waist and nape, which quite immobilised me. ‘You would scarce imagine it,’ was all she said.
I thought she meant to kiss, but Lucy descended past my lips to my throat. There, her mouth performed upon my tender skin something like a kiss, yet it was more. Down my neck and up again, I felt her lips gnawing, her teeth nipping, her tongue tasting my flesh. I thought she wanted to devour me. I grew warm in my bosom and moist between my legs. I tried pushing her away, but her clutch held me fast. I was both her lover and her prey, and it excited me. Any of the people about might have discovered us, but that fear only intensified the moment.
I cradled her head against me and in my barest whisper, managed, ‘Oh, Lucy!’ I wanted those firm, unyielding hands of hers to pull apart my dress and caress my most private of places.
The music reached its crescendo finish, and applause filled the Terrace.
Lucy glided up my neck to nuzzle with me, her lips so near mine. We panted for the fire she had stoked in us both, so that we seemed to share the same sweet breaths.
‘Release me, Lucy,’ I begged, near to fainting. ‘We oughtn’t be this way.’
She made a harsh smile, evincing thoughts both seductive and wicked. ‘Give yourself to me, Mina,’ she whispered like a hiss. ‘We can be together just as we are now, for ever. You need only yield to me, and it will happen.’
Lucy’s gibberish broke the spell she had cast on me, bringing to my mind her illness. I thought then of Jonathan and Arthur, of Mrs Westenra, of all our acquaintances. What remonstrance from them our behaviour would invite! Self-loathing overwhelmed me. I began to cry as I fought to get free of her hard embrace. This time, she let go of me.
I found my handkerchief to stanch my brimming eyes before they could spill over. Once I’d regained my countenance and turned about again, Lucy had gone.
I trembled—I’m unsure for how long—while Lucy and her mother met with our neighbours. I felt so closeted, shut in by my own fearful desires, estranged from the people surrounding me. Might I be so alone among them, alone with an appetite I can neither indulge nor ignore? Do they, in their solitary moments, struggle as I struggle, with no release?
Odd, but in our cab-ride back to the house, Lucy acted as though nothing peculiar had passed between us. Right on to bedtime, she seemed mindless of what she had done to me on the Terrace. She kissed me but once and fell swiftly into sleep. This relieved me of dread for what might otherwise have transpired, but injured me, too. I felt like she’d spurned me. I can’t explain the conflicting humours perturbing my heart last night—only that it felt like the work of some dungeon device.
I wept myself to sleep I think, but I know not why.
13 August—Lucy woke me twice in the night, trying to get out of doors I had locked. I’d done this, and then bound the key to my wrist, to keep her from roaming. Both times, she returned to bed frustrated and seemed angry with me. Despite her fine health and liveliness by day, it’s clear that her sleepwalking worsens.
I suspect that her nightly urge to wander relates in some way to her odd carnal expressions. I feel sure that these are only curious forms of her sleepwalking—behaviours under trance, that she can’t control or recollect. Perhaps I did Lucy some injury by refusing her advances, but what else might I have done? I cannot distinguish her awake mind from the other.
The evil fantasies I’ve indulged perturb me most. I conjure excuses—worries for Lucy, Jonathan, and marriage—but I can’t find peace of mind. The truth is that I crave to do great wickedness.
I bore my guilt past lunch and tea-time. Lucy and I enjoyed a long afternoon walk through the shops, but I took care to avoid lonely places. I considered confessing my sins to the vicar but refused the idea. I dare not utter such shameful things, even to the Almighty.
So heavily did the weight on my heart press that I could not attend to Lucy’s chattering, lively and witty as ever. She carried on as though she hadn’t seduced me the night before. Of course, I couldn’t be so exuberant.
Evening was coming on when we turned homeward. Lucy seemed eager to reach the house before nightfall. She was cheerful, more so than I was, which for a sudden moment in our stroll provoked me to irritation.
‘Lucy, how can you be so vivacious?’ I scolded. ‘Do you pretend nothing of any import has occurred between us?’ My own ruinous mood made me sound more accusatory than I meant.
I saw her spirit dwindle. ‘Whatever do you mean, Mina?’
I took her hands in mine and pulled her toward me. ‘Do you remember nothing of yesterday?’
She read the seriousness in my face and tone, but her own eyes held only wonder at my gravity, with no hint of guile. ‘You’ve told me that I walked in my sleep,’ she answered, ‘but I’ve since been sound.’
‘No, Lucy, you haven’t.’ I told her then of the previous night and her many attempts to escape the house.
She clutched her throat as though the punctures there pained her. Her gaiety vanished, and she grew worried. ‘I’m sorry, Mina. I remember nothing of it. I fear I grow quite ill.’
I regretted speaking, for I had crushed Lucy’s demeanour. I ought to have borne mine own burdens and left her carefree. She was suddenly morose and clung to my arm more for surety than companionship. As with her sleepwalking, she recalled nothing of our first sincere kiss or what she had done to me on the Terrace. She was ill, so whatever wickedness happened between us was mine alone. This only deepened my sense of selfishness and guilt. Nothing of my lechery had been of her making.
‘Lucy, forgive me,’ I begged.
She reaffirmed our clasp and replied, ‘It’s for you to forgive me, Mina. I thought my sleepwalking was only a passing anxiousness. I didn’t know my old sickness had come back.’
Her trembling lip furrowed, and the tears flooding her eyes spilled over. Oh, what had I done to my dearest friend! My heart broke for this, the product of my own sin! Trembling and tearful, I drew Lucy to our seat nearby and urged her down onto it. We sat together while darkness gathered about us.
Dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief, I whispered, ‘Don’t cry, dearest Lucy. This has been my fault. I’ve done a horrific thing, for which my guilt haunts me. It turns me cruel, even to those I most love. Your tears are my punishment.’ I brought my arm about her trembling shoulders and held her close.
Lucy calmed a bit at a time, and her eyes finally dried. Summoning her voice, she sniffled, ‘What have you done, Mina, that distresses you so?’
‘I can’t say,’ I told her. ‘Shame forbids me even to utter it.’
She drew me toward her. ‘Poor Mina,’ she soothed. She swept back some of my askew locks and caressed my pale cheek. ‘What thing has put you so out of yourself? Tell me of it, and it’ll lose its hold on you. Tell your Lucy everything. I promise that you can have done nothing I would condemn.’
So, I did—hesitant at first, but bolder as my disclosure worked its way out like a toxin. ‘Two nights ago, as we lay together, we kissed. You were yet entranced. But I fancied you kissing me again, Lucy—and not of a fashion to which we’re both accustomed to share. The kiss I wished was more as Arthur might give you; or Jonathan, me. Dare I say that I wanted from you a kiss of desire, of terrible carnality. And since, I’ve been stricken with guilt…’
Lucy’s gloved fingertip pressed my lips to silence before I could finish my confession. She leaned close, bathing me in the warmth of her dazzling eyes.
My heart fluttered, seeing my own lust mirrored in her gaze. Was this her illness once again? Or did she truly want me too, in the same wicked spirit?
Her sweet lips found mine, tendering to me a kiss firm and moist, and encouraging. She pressed into me and clutched my hair.
I felt fire in my blood and between my legs. My heart pounded, and a frantic tickle spread into my every extremity. I welcomed her tongue and gave her mine, thrilling to feel her hands caress my breast and back. I grazed her cheek, telling her in that simple gesture how much I wanted her.
The ponderous weight burdening my heart grew lighter, became weightless, then dissipated into nothing. Lucy’s bold affection, with my acceptance of it, destroyed my sense of shame. I felt in this moment that desires are wonderful, and not a cause for scorn.
Our kiss broke, and I panted for the feelings I no longer wanted to suppress.
She hovered before me, beautiful and inviting. ‘You’ve no need for fear or guilt, Mina,’ she whispered. ‘You needed only to tell me these things. Now you know that I yearn for you no less. And there’s no evil in that.’ She made for me a gentle smile fashioned from both fondness and appetite.
She released my hair and settled again onto the seat beside me. Our impulsive, impassioned moment seemed to fade away as though it hadn’t happened. It felt to me now like a normal, common gesture between us. Sitting quietly together, we watched the full moon rise in all her serene majesty above the gathering mists, to the gentle pulse of distant ocean waves. We were again as we had been, two friends sharing secrets and innocent affections.
‘You make me feel so much better, Lucy,’ I told her. ‘But I worry that this is some terrible sin to indulge. We both will be brides soon and, God willing, mothers as well. Our mutual desire is unnatural.’
She sighed. ‘Still you agonise? You know that I adore you, Mina, but you try my patience.’
I showed her the shy, flirtatious smile I saved for Jonathan. ‘No, I have no strength left to deny this thing between us. And I no longer want to do so. But shouldn’t I? This is what new thing troubles me.’
Lucy nuzzled close, kissed my neck, and whispered, ‘I want you, Mina. And I know that you want me. What sins have we indulged to make this so? We’re but two ladies who have found passion in each other. Who dares call it unnatural?’
Gazing into her face—that sweet, seraphic face!—I replied, ‘We may come to our wants innocently enough. But we mayn’t ever pursue them. You know this as well as I do. Think of the scandal to our husbands, saying nothing of our families.’
‘We have no husbands, Mina,’ she observed. ‘To this world, we’re but two unsullied maidens. It would be sad, I think, to pass by this chance without discovering the possibilities. We should at least know what we leave behind, instead of supposing it.’
‘What are you saying, Lucy?’
She gathered my hands in hers and held them in her lap. ‘We want to be lovers. We both know this. Why should we eschew these desires, Mina? There are things beyond propriety that we ought to experience, if only to know what they are. It could be that your love is the finest pleasure I might ever know. Why then should I refuse to know that pleasure? Should it be for the sake of them who know nothing of our wants? Who are they to withhold their approbation like a coveted thing?’
Lucy noted that dusk was turning into night, and she advised that we ought to reach home before the full fall of darkness. She pulled me up by my hands, and we walked home together.
Torment followed me into bed that night. Lucy cuddled close while her warm, affectionate eyes adored me.
I felt a longing for her that surpassed any other safekept in my heart, even for Jonathan. I felt both exhilarated and base that I should want anyone of my own sex, let alone she who had been my surrogate sister. I couldn’t even imagine how women might make love, but I craved it nonetheless.
She kissed me good-night. And this came not in the soft affections of friendship, but in the fierce purposes of desire.
I trembled as our lips met, pressing once, then twice. But I pulled back from her, not yet ready to feed my hunger or knowing how to do so. My breath came shallow and quick, so exhausted was my body from tussling with my mind.
‘Why do you fight me, Mina?’ Lucy asked. ‘Why do you fight yourself?’
For an instant, I grasped the essence of my struggle to put it into words. ‘If I follow my appetites, I might discover some wonderful experience—one that, after marriage, I can never have again. But if I refuse these appetites, I’ll never know for certain what I’ve left behind me. I must choose between a lifetime of doubt and a lifetime of regret. I’m unsure that doubt isn’t the sounder choice. Is there reason in this, or do I speak nonsense?’
Lucy touched my face, expressing sympathy for my agony. ‘Poor, sweet Mina,’ she whispered. ‘One lifetime isn’t enough, is it? What you want is an eternity.’ She nestled into my bosom and did nothing more to perturb me.
I held her close and shut my eyes, praying that eternal sleep would end my temptations ere I made them sins of flesh. I felt certain that a merciful God would surely heed such entreaty. But in lieu of this, I prayed for a peaceful night.
14 August—God and Jonathan forgive me, but I must write the truth.
What I dreamt last night would burn me with hellfire meant for the gravest of sinners. My waking mind recalls only darting figments, but these have left awful impressions in my mind.
I had perceived a curtain, and beyond it a dreadful spirit, like a shadow without shape. Lucy—my sweet Lucy!—tried to part the veil and let in that malevolent soul. I went to her, wanting to lead her away from peril, but drew back the curtain instead. I delivered my dearest friend unto the devil. But worse, I felt elated for it, as though I had helped her toward some sublime consummation.
I watched—I know not what—as Lucy surrendered herself to this vile thing. It enveloped her in blackness, but I could still see her writhing within it. I heard her gasping and moaning, in neither fear nor ecstasy but in some rare admixture of them. I sensed the geist taking from and giving to her, that they might become one. It drained her of life while imbuing her with something I couldn’t comprehend. But the exchange delighted her, and she was grateful that I’d allowed it to happen. I watched, feeling horrified, and overjoyed, and jealous at once. But Lucy’s life ebbed, involving with that incarnate evil.
I awoke trembling, with the first rays of morning already pouring through the windows. I saw Lucy open her eyes and give me a wan smile before slipping back into sleep. Under the blankets, I felt peculiar warmth. Our nightdresses had wriggled upward, so that our naked bodies lay pressed together. This realisation brought another: arousal hardening my nipples and moistening my womanhood. I climbed out of the bed and Lucy’s arms, afraid that she might sense my dream-induced passions. My nightdress dropped back down to hide my fancies from discovery, like a curtain closing on a stage.
I found my way to the bath, there to splash my face and wash the ooze of iniquity from my body. I started to cry. How had such evil come to pass? Could Satan make a goodly woman his whore at her most vulnerable moment? I felt that such had befallen me. An incubus had perverted me while my inexorable conscience slept, tempting my bestial wants. I’d lain prey all night of the demon and his wiles, betrayed by my body’s appetites—a good woman turned bad against her will. How had my angels let that beast slip past their vigil? My heart broke to think of my beloved Jonathan and the wound this would have caused him.
Once refreshed, I felt a touch better. I told myself that it had been only a nightmare, and that we can’t control what we dream. How could I want harm to befall Lucy? And less still, how could I delight in it? Just a cruel and ghastly haunting, it had been. Tea and breakfast, and perhaps a morning walk, would rid me of its clinging cobwebs.
I returned once more to the bedroom, where I changed into my daywear. Naked, I had only slipped into my drawers when I sensed eyes on me.
Lucy was awake and watching. She gave me a sunny smile, although she wore a slight pallor.
‘Are you quite well, Lucy?’ I asked.
‘I feel lovely,’ she replied.
‘Are you certain? You look somewhat underslept.’
‘So do you,’ she observed. ‘Perhaps it’s you who’s unwell.’
Climbing into my skirts, I told her, ‘I suffered a bad dream last night.’
‘I would have shared mine with you,’ she murmured. ‘It was wonderful! Should I tell you of it?’
‘Let’s talk of it later,’ I said. ‘I should like to breakfast, first.’
I ate and took morning tea with Mrs Westenra.
Lucy came down a half-hour later, still pale but looking fresher than she had. Her mother inquired of her health, of which Lucy was quite dismissive. She ate but little and groused of a slight headache.
‘We should stroll through Whitby again to-day,’ I offered. ‘Some exercise would do us both good, before the day grows too warm.’
‘Perhaps the thing to mend your headache, Lucy,’ said Mrs Westenra.
Lucy agreed, though I sensed her mood didn’t lean much toward the endeavour.
Shortly, we left to take our walk. Lucy’s mother, complaining that she felt too poorly for exercise, refused our invitations. But she wished that we enjoy our outing without her. Perhaps our adventures to Mulgrave Woods and the Casino Terrace had taxed her vigour. She assured us that she felt in no wise ill, but only that she hadn’t the strength to keep our youthful pace.
Lucy and I walked arm-in-arm as we always do, tarrying little in the shops. We had already seen their wares the day before. We made a lovely day of it; chatting with neighbours, watching children play, admiring lush flowerbeds, listening to the songbirds. By midday, we’d ambled down to the quay to feel the sea spray and watch the gulls.
While there, we watched the coast guard dig the Demeter free of the beach and tow it out to sea. A chatty official from the Board of Trade told us that the Russian consulate had claimed rightful possession at last. The Tsar’s navy could now return it to its proper port in the Black Sea. It was a very solemn occasion, recalling the widows and orphans Demeter’s brave men had untimely left. That schooner had sailed far to bring a cargo of death to us.
We left the harbor and crossed the river bridge, heading home. But as we neared St Mary’s Church, Lucy balked.
‘Not this time, Mina,’ she said. ‘I have no desire to make that climb to-day.’ She meant the one-hundred-ninety-eight steps up the cliff to the church and abbey. (We had counted them once, to our exhaustion.)
‘How would you rather go, then?’ I asked.
‘Let’s take The Green Lane home.’
This country road wends the hillside and is little more than a cow-path in some places. It’s familiar to few townsfolk but us. It’s quite secluded, rarely causing a strolling soul to meet another.
Humouring Lucy, I led our steps to the outskirts of Whitby and the sward where The Green Lane began. We would be home for afternoon tea, but we would have to forego lunch.
The day had been beautiful, with bright skies and tame breezes. I had quite forgotten my nightmare until Lucy brought it forward.
‘Let me tell you of my dream now, Mina. Its telling needs privacy, and I’m bursting with it!’
I hid my reluctance and replied, ‘Tell me, then.’
‘A man came to me,’ she began, with an ardour that only her closest friend might not find shocking. ‘He watched me bathe. And I knew he was there, but I allowed his indulgence. All modesty fled me. I felt his fierce need for me, and his eyes devouring my body. Then after I went to bed, he approached me. He stood over me, naked and unashamed, and…perfect.’
I sought to distract her from continuing. ‘Was he Arthur?’
‘Arthur?’ She giggled, nearly with scorn. ‘Oh no, he wasn’t Arthur at all. More like Apollo, he seemed. Except that Apollo is god of the sun. This man dwelt in darkness—dark hair and eyes, and deepest shadows. His pale skin was like polished marble in starlight, smooth and cold, and hard. I’d never countenanced such a man. And yet, he seemed familiar to me.’
‘He sounds frightening.’
Lucy continued, ‘He took me by the throat with one hand; and with the other, pulled up my nightdress. He laid his body on top of mine and spread my legs with his. Then he kissed me, but not courtly and discreet as Arthur does. His kiss came hard and harsh, as though he strove to suck out my soul through my mouth. He bit me and yanked my hair. He molested me in ways my betrothed would never contemplate, and only a slattern would allow. My hands weren’t bound, but they might have been for all the resistance they gave. I didn’t fight him because I wanted him to ravish me…’
‘Please stop, Lucy!’ I cried.
Surprised by my outburst, she halted and pulled me close. ‘Why, Mina!’ she soothed, caressing my arms. ‘I believe you’re jealous!’
I wanted to explain why her story upset me so, but I couldn’t summon the courage. Nodding at her misconstruction, I replied, ‘Yes, I’m jealous.’
‘Of a fancy?’ She laughed, but then kissed away the tear slipping down my cheek. ‘I’m sorry, my dear. Can you bear to hear the end of my story?’
‘When I awoke and saw you naked in the morning light, I felt a tremulous thrill throughout my body.’ She pressed my hand below her bodice and added, ‘Especially here.’
My lips tingled where she kissed me.
We resumed our walk home, but recalling my nightmare darkened my mood.
I want to recreate the intricacies of my dream, but they slip further into my unconscious the more I try to grasp them. Perhaps they hadn’t been as awful as the impressions they left behind. If only I could remember with the same clarity as Lucy, I could know for certain.
15 August—These are only things I recall in my waking hours. But if I owned the skill to write from within dreams, this memoir would read even more shockingly. If what I dreamt last night came of my true appetites, then I’m a whore to my soul—the basest of women, unfit for any decent man. For while reflections drub me now with self-rebuke, what I dreamt as I dreamt it brought me unimaginable delight.
I’m sure that Lucy’s account of her dream yesterday is at least partly to blame.
Last night, I conjured her seducer as well. He was a firm-formed man indeed, with not a hair on his body. He seemed more a sculpted work than a being, with an aura of mystery and other-worldliness about him. He stood half-cast in the deep violet of night, so that I couldn’t make his full features at once. His black hair hung long like a woman’s, obscuring his face. I couldn’t see more than his aquiline nose and intent brow. He spoke to Lucy with words she thrilled to hear but I couldn’t perceive, like some muffled sound heard under water. And all the while, he tugged her nightdress upward, baring her body inches at a time. She writhed and squirmed to ease his efforts.
I lay beside them on the bed, enthralled by my own fascination. I watched them make love as two unreserved heathens might. And throughout it, I wished it were me under him.
Lucy’s Apollo descended onto her neck, kissing her in the way she had kissed me on the Terrace. She seemed to be feeding him, and he to feed on her, in this act. For hours, his hums of gluttonous satisfaction matched her ecstatic moans. His powerful hands kneaded her breasts and shoulders with a kind of savage tenderness, while her legs wrapped tight about his hips. He flexed his buttocks, though he hadn’t yet invaded her. This was external, to stimulate the relevant members for what followed.
He rose onto his knees to reveal the severe crease of his sternum, the flat of his stomach, and the vibrancy of his manhood. Hard muscles rippled beneath taut skin like those on a Greek statue. Lucy had rightly described him as a god, for no mortal man could boast these perfections. His tremendous organ stood erect and resolute, poised to enter her.
Never had I envied Lucy as I did then.
She took hold of it and guided his manhood into herself, penetrating her most intimate cavity. She let out a deep, mournful sigh as it sank deeper, ever deeper within her. When he was fully inside, he guided her legs up onto his shoulders, seized hold of her hips, and began.
How can I explain how I felt, watching Lucy toss her head in sensuous agony and groan like a beast afflicted? Did I feel lust, wonder, jealousy, or all of them at once? I don’t know. For of what is vicarious passion made? I realised only that I wanted to feel what she was feeling. And I feared that I never would—not from Jonathan, or any other living man. This kind of euphoria transcended mortality.
The incubus sped his rhythm, causing the bed to rock and sway, and Lucy to grip the bedframe. His aggressions made her calves clench tighter about his neck. When he’d turned her moans into shrieks, he lunged to drop onto her and clamp her throat in his mouth.
Lucy clutched him hard and buried her fingernails into his back. Wild convulsions wracked her body. Each spasm forced a throaty scream through her gnashing teeth. She experienced some extreme moment I couldn’t comprehend, and it lasted…how long? Her rapture seemed to go on for ever.
Lucy’s fits subsided at last. Her breathy gasps grew easier, and her limbs went limp.
Her Apollo arose, withdrawing his still-rigid member from her. Despite this, he seemed sated. He leaned forward to cradle her neck and lift her to him, meeting her mouth in an ardent farewell kiss. Then he lowered her to the pillow, stroked the length of her body, and disappeared into dark nothingness.
Lucy closed her eyes, savouring the phaenomenal experience and her fading twitches. Her breaths diminished to those of a deep, comfortable sleep.
I watched her for a long, delirious moment. Then I awoke.
I hurried to find my diary and wrote these words before the memories could fade.
Same day, later—I’ve slept quite late this morning, much later than usual. Even so, Lucy slept longer. She appears paler and rather weak to me, like at the onset of some severe illness. But she insists that she feels nothing worse than restlessness. I asked if she dreamt again, but she made no reply.
Jack Seward called upon us this afternoon, at our request. He chose to summer this year in Whitby—I believe to be near Lucy, the poor man. His first business was attending to Lucy’s mother, who’s feeling more listless than usual. This lethargy, he said, comes of no foreign illness, but only her natural anxiousness. Jack prescribed her a sedative and rest.
From this examination, I was let into a secret kept between them: Mrs Westenra will be at death’s door soon. Her deteriorating heart makes her vulnerable to shock, and it’s her constant worry that leaves her so nervous and tired. She begged me to keep this awful news from Lucy. You poor old dear! I thought, but I made my promise. This dread knowledge breaks the heart. It’s well that I haven’t told her of Lucy’s sleepwalking.
Before he left, I asked Dr Seward to examine Lucy, as well. He still adores her, despite her preference for Arthur over him. He’s a gentle, thoughtful man. He’s a bit old for Lucy I think, and too professional for romance, but he deserves better than the heartache he suffers. He bears up quite well, never showing sign of his anguish to Lucy.
After examining her alone in the parlour, he spoke with me.
‘Her pulse comes quite weak, and she’s fatigued,’ he said. ‘She’s showing symptoms of anaemia, but her blood looks normal. I can find little wrong with her, except for two odd blemishes on her throat.’
‘I gave her those, by accident.’ I then told him of Lucy sleepwalking, and some of her other strange behaviours. ‘What ought we do, then?’
He suggested, ‘A bit of exercise will do her no harm, but don’t overtire her.’
‘We often go out.’
‘Then continue it, weather permitting,’ he replied. ‘The trance-state is mysterious, and often comes of mental stress. It’s like a temporary psychosis; a sudden dissociation from reality. I’ve seen this in some of my patients. Physical exercise often eases it—or at least, the worst of it.’
I felt anxious for my dear Lucy. ‘Jack, you make it sound like she’s losing her mind!’
‘I wouldn’t leap to that, yet,’ he assured me. ‘I drew some blood from her and will run some tests. I want to exhaust the bodily possibilities first, before analysing her mind. Still, it would help to keep close watch over her, and take note of any irregularities. Make sure she eats and gets her rest. And if she behaves in ways that you know aren’t like herself, humour her until she rouses. Sudden shock into reality can harm a vulnerable mind.’
Dr Seward left, and I felt relieved. Since I had humoured Lucy’s behaviours, my indulgences with her hadn’t caused injury.
After her examination, I helped Lucy dress for bed, telling her that Dr Seward advised rest. With her napping, and Mrs Westenra sedated downstairs, I decided to draw a bath for myself.
I sank into the warm water, made frothy with soap smelling of lilacs. At once, I became aware of my tensions as they fled me. Worry for Lucy, longing for Jonathan, even my concerns for Mrs Westenra, lessened. I closed my eyes and let the bath disperse my troubles.
My mind drifted through a jumble of childhood memories, and ones more recent. I remembered salty waves splashing against the quay, and screeching seagulls on the wing. I recalled playing hide-and-seek among tombstones with Lucy when we were little. I relived meeting Jonathan at theatre. How clumsy he’d been, seeking my acquaintance! I had to chase after him when my coy giggles embarrassed him away. I remembered Lucy with three suitors at hand and begging my advice. I’d asked her, ‘Whom, if you were never to see him again, would you most miss?’ She never said, but I believe it was this question that led her to choosing Arthur. She’d quite surprised me, choosing prestige over passion. I thought she would have preferred the rugged, handsome boy from Texas. Even now, I wonder if the prospect of becoming Lady Godalming hadn’t weighted her decision against her own fancies.
My thoughts wandered to Lucy’s dream, then to mine of the night subsequent. I remembered the man’s pristine form, his imperceptible features, and the incredible power he evinced. I recalled his every movement in seducing Lucy, and how she responded to each. Without meaning to—and ignoring Dr Kellogg’s warnings against onanism—I started to touch myself. I didn’t care that I committed an affront to God. I wanted to escape our rigid, dispassionate world, and to discover one without inhibitions. I delighted in this small, rebellious act, defying both Heaven and Earth. For that moment, I thrilled to be a slattern.
I imagined our incubus doing to me what he had done to Lucy. He inched up my nightdress and traced my naked body with his fingertips. He opened my legs and pressed his weight onto me. I felt him pulling back on my hair, exposing my throat, gnawing on my neck, biting…
I felt eyes on me. I started, flush with embarrassment and sense of intrusion. Lucy stood in the door.
Approaching, she said, ‘Don’t stop for me, Mina.’
My ears and cheeks throbbed with shame. Nearing tears, I could find no words.
Lucy knelt beside my bath. She gave a soft laugh at my discomfort and chided, ‘You can be such a prude sometimes, Mina. A woman has a right to pleasure herself, even a lady.’ She laid her hand on my knee and, gliding it up my thigh, said, ‘Should I do it for you?’
I caught her wrist and said, ‘Don’t, Lucy.’
She withdrew her hand, showed me a sad face, and sighed. ‘Help me to understand you, Mina. You crave pleasure, yet you deny yourself of it. You seem to think it’s your desires torturing you, but they aren’t. Desire’s natural to the human animal. It’s austerity, imposed from without, that’s unnatural. And it’s the source of all your suffering.’
Still feeling restrained and shy, I murmured, ‘I fear that indulgence will make me into a woman I dread becoming.’
She put her arm about me and kissed my shoulder. ‘You fear too much, Mina,’ she whispered. Closer to my neck, she kissed me again. ‘You think too much.’ Then nearer my throat, she left a third kiss. ‘And you suffer too much.’
She drew my chin toward her, our lips coming close. She brushed my cheek with the edge of her hand before resting it on my collarbone.
‘Put your hand on top of mine,’ she instructed.
I did this.
‘Now, I’m going to kiss you,’ she continued. ‘And while we kiss, I want you to lead my hand where you want it to be.’
Our mouths met, then our tongues, and all the discomfiture I felt melted away. Before long, I guided her hand onto my breast.
Her fingers cupped me, massaging my flesh, her thumb teasing my nipple. Clever Lucy! She somehow knew this was the means to urge me past my reticence.
When I could resist no longer, I moved her hand down my belly and between my thighs.
Oh, the sheer joy borne of that sensation! I told Lucy, through my kisses and caresses, how delighted she was making me feel. My sighs grew louder, and my tongue frenetic. Stimulation of my womanhood radiated through my extremities. I laboured to breathe through my kisses and felt faint.
Lucy pulled on my hair, tilting back my head, and closed her lips on my bared throat. I was by then moaning aloud and gasping her name.
A tremor like an electric spasm seized me. I made a little shriek. Quite on their own, my knees clenched together and jerked toward my body. Lucy withdrew her hand, giving my place of intimacy its wanted solitude. But my tremors continued like ripples on a pond, making my limbs tremble and my breaths come in pulses.
Lucy held me while the effects of this beautiful thing she had done to me faded. When I caught my breath again, I thanked her with a heartfelt kiss.
16 August—I felt rather awkward climbing into bed with Lucy last night. I think this must be as a new bride feels when she comes to realise she’s lost her privacy. Except that a bride also gains a husband and a vow. I have neither to comfort me.
Lucy petted me and asked, ‘Why do you look troubled, Mina? Do you regret?’
‘No, it was wonderful,’ I told her. ‘But it’s left me puzzled. I feel changed—neither sinful nor pure, but different. Still, I wouldn’t have it otherwise.’
She smiled, as delighted as I for my newfound liberty. ‘We should make love, Mina,’ she whispered. ‘Would you like that?’
‘I don’t know how to go about it.’
She laughed. ‘You know something of it. No fear, I know how it’s done. Let me teach you.’ When I didn’t respond, and she sensed my reluctance, she added, ‘It need not be to-night, sweet Mina. But would you consider it for to-morrow?’
I hesitated, but only for a breath. Then, I nodded. ‘Yes.’
Same day, night—It has been rainy and gloomy all day—quite depressing. I can enjoy a handsome spell of rain, and I’m often terrified by the thunderstorms that excite Lucy. But drizzles are to me like the funerals of children—most dreary, mournful affairs. I think they’re a sign of God’s disregard, denying us both the delight of His sunshine and the drama of His rage. We played cylinders on the gramophone and watched trawlers struggle with the Lord’s indifference.
Mrs Westenra seemed to appreciate our company to-day, which made me feel a bit guilty. I should not be taking up so much of her little time left with Lucy. Her impending departure gives me a strange feeling, as though death is an odious person whose presence we’re made to endure.
17 August—Last night didn’t start auspiciously. I had secondary thoughts about the adventure to which I had committed. By the time we retired, I was reluctant to pursue what I had been blithe to decide yesternight. But Lucy was sensitive to my vacillations and knew how to outmanoeuvre them.
We readied for lovemaking, I more nervous than she. We were in our nightdresses, with our hair down and brushed. The gibbous moon still poured her retiring gleams through the window, gently lending us her loving reflections. Feeling timid, I sat on the edge of our bed while Lucy knelt beside me.
She took my hand in hers and stroked my back with the other. Kissing my brow, she whispered, ‘We’ll go as slow as you wish, and we’ll do nothing you don’t like.’
‘I’m frightened, Lucy’.
‘I know,’ she replied, so soft and gentle. ‘I sense it. But that will pass when you come to understand that passion transcends mortality and judgment. We’ll transfigure into new, resplendent beings. Trust me, Mina—we’ll be eternal and beautiful. We’ll become what we’re meant to be.’ She kissed my shoulder, and her lips began to gnaw my flesh.
Something in her demeanour reminded me of our phantom seducer. I shut my eyes and let her stoke my heat. Her hand went to my waist, and mine enmeshed her hair. Our breasts pressed together, and I tasted the delicate skin of her shoulder. I recalled the experience in my bath yesterday and wanted something like it again. Trusting her to grasp my meaning, I whispered ‘Yes’ in her ear as affirmation of the yes I had given her last night.
‘Do what I do,’ Lucy whispered back.
I kissed and licked her neck, reflecting all what she did to me. I untied her nightdress as she undid mine; I bared her to the waist as she did to me; I cupped her breasts as she cupped mine. Our tongues touched, our breaths mingled, our hearts raced while we felt each other.
Lucy’s lips forsook my mouth for my breasts.
I panted as she kissed and sucked my teats. I cuddled her, stroking her hair and cheek, and sighed for how excited she made me. I whimpered her name like a mantra as my womanhood grew warm and damp. Her eager devotion aroused me further.
She raised herself up, offering her breasts to me. They were fuller than mine, plump and firm, adorned with exquisite nipples.
I did for her what she had done. I kissed, I fondled, I licked, I sucked, with all the ardour I felt. And I thrilled to hear her cry ‘Oh, Mina!’, knowing that I did what she liked.
As I stimulated her, Lucy pulled up her nightdress to slip a hand between her legs. She performed on herself what she had done to me in the bath. I could hear the wetness between her fingers and the place of her delight.
On an impulse, I moved my hand to help with that endeavour. I found her so wet! Knowing what bliss brings a woman’s moisture, it delighted me to elicit the same from her.
Lucy beamed down at me, a bit surprised. ‘You grow bold, Mina.’ She took hold of my fingertips and tried to guide one inside her.
Shocked, I pulled away my hand. ‘Lucy, I mustn’t! What of your innocence?’
She descended for a light kiss on my nose. ‘I did away with that nuisance a short while ago,’ she confessed.
I gasped. ‘You didn’t! What will Arthur do with you, Lucy? There must be blood on your wedding-night.’
Amused to see me appalled, Lucy gave a gentle laugh. ‘There will be,’ she promised. ‘You needn’t worry for my maidenhood, Mina.’ She returned my hand to its former place and pushed my finger into her. She guided me to the spot she most liked and showed me how she wanted it touched.
I encircled Lucy’s waist to fondle her sweet bottom. Then, with our fingers working in concert, we sought her gratification together.
Lucy straddled my lap to face me. Holding me close with her free hand, she started thrusting her hips forward to meet my finger’s duties. Her panting breaths, coming throaty and deep, filled the narrow gap between us. She clutched my hair as the divine moment neared, her anxious mouth dancing with mine. Her wetness dampened my own thighs.
Lucy’s knees clinched tight against my lap, her back arched, and she pulled me hard against her body. Her contractions tried to force my finger out, but she grasped my hand to keep it inside throughout. Her hips and body jerked while her breaths burst out in gentle gasps. She convulsed again and again, each time less animate, as her ecstasy ebbed.
Lucy fell to trembling at her conclusion, collapsing against me with an almost pain-filled moan. She held my face to give me a long, passionate kiss of gratitude.
I withdrew my finger from her. I was astounded; my whole hand to the wrist glistened.
We lay back onto the bed for her to recover.
Only in dreams had I imagined such throes. I wondered whether I might experience something like them, or if they were peculiar to Lucy alone. I doubted that either Jonathan or Arthur could elicit such furore.
Lucy slipped out of her nightdress and hung it over the footboard. Leaning over me, she made a happy sigh and said, ‘That was wonderful, Mina. What moments our long enslavement to chastity has squandered for us!’ She kissed me in all sweetness. But then, she looked down and gasped. ‘Is that of me? Oh, Mina, I fear I’ve ruined your nightdress!’
I turned up my knees to look. The damp spot on my lap was prodigious.
She giggled with me. Then she eased the soiled garment down my hips and laid it atop hers. After sidling close, she caressed my belly with her fingertips.
‘I wish you would let me pleasure you in kind,’ she cooed.
‘Don’t invade me, Lucy.’
‘You save yourself for Jonathan, I know.’ Her fingers slid downward, combing through my hair and unto my intimate place. With a smile, she observed, ‘You’re so wet, Mina. What a slattern you are.’ Her mouth found my nipple and began to gnaw at it.
I sighed and closed my eyes, savouring her expert touch. As my excitement spread, I began to jut my hips upward in time with her strokes. In truth, I wanted to feel her explore me inside, to experience what she’d just experienced. But I couldn’t allow her this. Fear of Jonathan renouncing me for an unchaste woman held back my lust.
As my heat and the peculiar sense of pressure grew, Lucy changed position. On her knees, she manoeuvred between my legs and held them apart. She then rubbed her womanhood against mine.
Oh, the delight found in wickedness! I moaned blasphemies aloud, and the foul wordings of gutter-urchins, and especially Lucy’s name. Our wetness intermingled and spread. I felt it creep to my thighs and derriere, and even to my belly.
Lucy pushed against me harder, faster, making my body move with hers. She paused then, but only to seek a new position. She relinquished my leg to bring hers over it. When she resumed her gyrations, our contact was even closer, firmer. Her aggression should have worried me, but I was then too ecstatic to regard my virginity.
Anticipating imminent release, I continued to urge her with vulgarities and closed my thighs about her leg. With a shrill groan and a little convulsion, I reached the completion of our intercourse.
Lucy stopped, allowing me to bask in those delicious quivers coursing through my body. For many minutes, I trembled with them. Then, as the last of these faded and my breaths returned, she slipped her finger along my private crevice.
I squealed with surprise and watched her put this finger into her mouth.
I gasped. ‘Lucy!’ After a long, shocked silence, I asked, ‘Isn’t it distasteful to you?’
She shook her head. ‘Quite the opposite.’
I didn’t feel at all repulsed. Rather, I felt exhilarated.
Lucy drew up the blankets, cuddled beside me, and kissed my ear. ‘But we must save something for another time,’ she whispered. ‘Let’s go to sleep now, sweet Mina.’
I kissed her button nose. Then we did as she bade and fell to sleep.
18 August— Lucy slept unwell last night, and I advised Mrs Westenra to let her rise nearer to midday. I also lied, telling her that Lucy and I had stayed up late to gossip and make wedding plans. I hated doing this, but the truth of Lucy’s affliction would have upset her.
I had awakened in the small hours to find Lucy at the open window, naked and slumped over the sill in a faint. She refused to revive for a long while. When she did, she fell into an asthmatic fit, as though it pained her to breathe. By the time I got her dressed, calmed, and into healthy sleep, morning was nearly breaking.
The punctures on her neck aren’t healing well. I worry that my mishap has introduced her to some infection. I’m taking especial note of these wounds, now. If they don’t improve by to-morrow, I’ll call for Dr Seward again.
When noon approached, I went to Lucy’s bedside to rouse her. I didn’t want Mrs Westenra to see her daughter’s pallor. She looked quite wan, but her eyes sparkled when she smiled.
‘I can still feel your essence upon me, Mina,’ she said, rubbing her thighs.
I blushed, but with a coquettish smile. ‘You shame me,’ I said.
She sat up to kiss my shoulder. ‘Not for the world.’
I touched her bedraggled hair. ‘You should wash and dress, then come down for lunch. I think you need a bite of food to put colour back in your cheeks.’
‘Lunch? Is it so late as that? Why did you let me sleep so long, Mina?’
Lucy didn’t remember the early morning, and I felt reluctant to tell her about it. ‘You seemed to need your rest, and Doctor Seward recommended it,’ was all I said.
‘I’ll be down, but not soon,’ she promised.
An hour later, Lucy descended. She looked pale, but she tried to hide it. She must have pinched her cheeks to make them pink. Mrs Westenra made no mention of her daughter’s sickly visage. Perhaps she chose not to comment on it, or my lie had assuaged her apprehensions.
Lucy didn’t want to visit in Whitby to-day. We spent our afternoon playing backgammon and hearts with her mother, and chatting of light, cheerful matters. The day was calm and lovely, with scudding clouds, midsummer breezes, and gentle laughter. In the afternoon, we had scones with marmalade and honey with our tea.
Mrs Westenra talked at length about Lucy and Arthur, and their impending marriage. She made it seem of maternal interest, but I know she feels anxious that her daughter will be alone soon. She wants reassurance that someone will be there to care for Lucy when she’s gone.
We ate a fine supper—a bit prematurely, because Lucy’s mother said she felt a need to retire early. Lucy and I measured her sedative and helped her to bed. Then we relaxed in the parlour, where we shared a snifter of brandy. I know Mrs Westenra won’t begrudge the liquor, even of young ladies drinking alone. Lucy means to test all bounds of propriety, and even defy them. And I confess that a sense of liberation accompanies our licence. We sat together on the settee, trading sips and savouring our wickedness.
With a delighted smile, Lucy observed, ‘What perfect sluts we are, Mina.’
I made a contented sigh. ‘Whatever will we do next? Smoke cigars? Read Fanny Hill?’
‘Or we could enact it?’
‘Where could we even find a print of it?’ I asked. ‘Not here in Whitby. We would have to go to London. And ladies aren’t allowed in those sections of the bookstores.’
‘I would do it,’ she boasted. ‘And I wouldn’t even disguise as a man, either. In my best dress and gloves, I would say to the clerk, ‘My good sir, kindly direct me to the smutty literature!’’
I giggled. ‘I believe you would, Lucy!’ I envisioned her doing as she described and thought her brazen enough to do it in fact.
We reached the last sip of spirit in the glass. It was Lucy’s turn, but she offered, ‘Let’s share it.’ She took it into her mouth and kissed me. The brandy made the burn of her lips, the sting of her tongue, the heat of her breath, extra intoxicating. Suddenly, I felt giddy. We maintained that kiss well after the liquor evaporated.
When our lips parted, I felt my heart pounding and warmth spreading to my private places.
With a mysterious smile, she told me, ‘I have a surprise for you.’
‘What is it?’
Lucy set down the empty snifter and arose. She took my hand and led me upstairs, but not to our bedroom. Instead, she pulled me into our bath.
She closed the door and began to hike up her skirts. Holding them aloft, she showed me a naughty leer and said, ‘Pull down my drawers, Mina.’
I grew suspicious, but I knelt to do as she said.
I gasped to find the hair of her womanhood trimmed and shaved into a small, dark triangle. ‘Lucy, what have you done?’
‘I did this to-day before coming down. Do you like it?’
I stared at this unusual, unexpected aesthetic. Finally, I decided, ‘I do. But why?’
‘Because you like it,’ she purred.
‘And if I hadn’t?’
‘I knew that you would.’ She helped me to my feet and pulled me close. ‘I like it, too,’ she whispered.
‘Should I shear myself for you?’
With a smile, she said, ‘No, let me do it.’
As we undressed, I asked, ‘What will I tell Jonathan on our wedding-night when he finds me cropped?’
‘Ask him how he came to know the look of a woman’s natural state,’ she said with a laugh. ‘Or tell him it’s the current fashion. He ought not to know otherwise.’
Naked, I waited on our bathing stool while Lucy gathered a scissors and razor. Then she began whipping up a lather in the basin.
Worried, I murmured, ‘I hope the brandy hasn’t unsteadied your hands, Lucy.’
‘No fear, my pretty Mina,’ she replied. She opened my legs wide and went about her task.
Her scissors gave me odd sensations—a stretching and cutting of hairs unaccustomed to grooming. And the cold, sharp edges of the blades on my tenderest skin shot tremors up my backbone. The razor felt even more peculiar, with its keen scrape-scrape across my vulnerable flesh. I dreaded making the slightest twitch, but the urge seemed irrepressible.
Lucy noticed my consternation and gave me a reassuring smile. ‘I’m almost finished,’ she told me. ‘Only a little more, and you’ll be perfect.’ Her smile turned mischievous as she recited a childhood singsong. ‘I love little pussy, her coat is so warm, and if I don’t hurt her, she’ll do me no harm. So, I’ll not pull her tail nor drive her away. But pussy and I very gently will play.’
‘Dear Lucy!’ I cried, laughing as much as I dared. ‘That’s an innocent rhyme, and you profane it.’
‘Must innocence and profanity always be strangers?’ She continued, ‘She shall sit by my side and I’ll give her some food; and pussy will love me because I am good. I’ll pat pretty pussy, and then she will purr; and thus, show her thanks for my kindness to her.’ She set down the razor, rinsed me with the sponge, and beamed. ‘Mina, you should see yourself from my viewpoint. It’s so beautiful!’ She leaned forward and kissed it.
I started. ‘Lucy! You mustn’t kiss me there!’
She showed me her wicked smile with half-closed eyes. ‘Mustn’t I?’ She took my hands to draw me up with her. Then putting her arms about my waist, she finished her recitation. ‘I’ll not pinch her ears, nor tread on her paw, lest I should provoke her to use her sharp claw. I never will vex her nor make her displeased; for pussy shan’t like to be worried and teased.’
‘Such a wanton you are, Lucy,’ I chided.
She beamed again and kissed me. Then she led me into our bedroom, leaving our clothing and bathing things disarrayed.
We lay together on the bed, kissing and fondling, caressing and cooing. We whispered each other’s names, entranced. A tingling spread through my body to stiffen my nipples and make me moist. On impulse, I slid a hand between my legs and began to delight myself.
‘I feel so different down there now,’ I told her. My pleasure seemed more intense than it had before, and I derived an odd titillation from her watching me.
Lucy rose onto her knees to hover over me. She brought her lips to my belly while I massaged. Her slow kisses inched down my torso past my umbilicus, to where she’d shaved me.
I cupped my flowing cavity and closed my legs. ‘No, Lucy,’ I said.
She paused before bringing her face above mine. ‘If you truly don’t want it, Mina, then I shan’t do it. But I think you might. You liked it when I kissed you there in the bath.’
‘I did. It’s only…’ I couldn’t grasp the words I meant to say.
But Lucy could. ‘You don’t want me to do it because you’re not ready to do the same to me. You don’t wish to be a selfish lover, and I adore you for that. But this isn’t a quid pro quo, and there’s no room for guilt between us. I love to pleasure you, Mina. Let me do this thing, and I promise we’ll both be gratified.’
‘Are you certain?’
‘Yes,’ she replied, and with such firm finality that I couldn’t doubt her earnest.
‘Very well then, dearest Lucy,’ I said, still hesitant. ‘If you’re so determined, I would like you to do it.’
She kissed me and smiled. ‘You won’t regret this, sweet Mina,’ she whispered. ‘You should close your eyes and conjure a fantasy while I work. You’ll enjoy it better that way.’
Her hand replaced mine between my legs. As she rubbed my womanhood, she kissed my belly again. Only this time, her tongue touched my flesh and glided down to my shorn crevice.
Kneeling alongside me, inverted, Lucy held my legs open, splaying them into a most vulgar position. Her elbows braced them behind the knee, and her mouth sank onto my most intimate place. Her hungry lips and tongue went to work on me.
I clutched her hair and stroked her back, telling her in these gestures what delight she brought me. I followed the arch of her back around to her buttocks, seeking out her own wet womanhood. In reaching it, I began to play with her.
But oh! Her kisses! I tried to imagine some fantasy, as she’d told me to do. But I could think of nothing to stir my blood more than my own sweet Lucy and the delirious act she was doing! With a groan, I whimpered, ‘Eat me, Lucy!’ as though I wanted her to devour me. For at some profound depth, I did.
I came to my delectable conclusion, almost trapping Lucy’s face in my thighs. Shivering, I cherished each tremulous pulse gamboling about in my body. I moaned as the last of these tremors faded.
Lucy watched my ecstasy, smiling all the while. It thrilled her that she had brought me to this delicious state. Covering me in our blanket, she then gathered me in her arms and planted soft kisses on my face and lips. She returned her tongue as I gave her mine.
I paused in our kissing to whisper, ‘One day, Lucy, I swear I’ll do as much for you.’
She whispered back, ‘I’ll want it when you do, Mina.’
Same day, night—I arose late this morning, but feeling exuberant. I kissed my darling Lucy, still asleep beside me, thanking her beyond all gratitude. What bliss she had given me last night! I think I did her a little good, as well. She hadn’t walked in her sleep, and some of her old colour returns. Even her wounds appear better than they had yesterday.
After breakfast, we walked the East Cliff together. The breeze proved a little cool, but not to our discomfort. Lucy sounded vibrant and cheerful, which only heightened my exultant mood. I love to see her so jubilant, so healthy. Almost, I felt like we were carefree girls again, playing hide-and-seek among the gravestones.
With hands clasped, we sat together at our seat to share a discreet kiss. Lucy then told me of a strange memory she had from the night I’d rescued her in the churchyard. She spoke of floating aloft like a spirit, seeing all Whitby below her, and feeling a simultaneous joy and fear. She heard a hundred dogs howling. Sweet and bitter tastes had come into her mouth. And throughout, she had a welcome sense of drowning, which she knew to be the peace of death.
These dread fixations were so very unlike her! I thought her reverie macabre, but it reminded me that she wasn’t yet well. I kept my misgivings to myself, but I resolved to tell Dr Seward about it on his next visit.
Just then, Lucy brightened. ‘Look, Mina!’ she exclaimed and jumped up from our seat to bolt into the cemetery. I ran after her. She stopped at a headstone, and a pair of blood-pink flowers growing alongside it.
‘Do you know these?’ she asked as I caught up to her. Before I could answer, she said, ‘They’re called naked ladies. Florists call them this because they bloom without their foliage. But do you know why I think they bear the name?’ She reached to touch one.
‘Don’t, Lucy,’ I warned. ‘They have poisons in them!’
‘Not in the petals, Mina.’ She compressed a flower between her fingers until it resembled a woman’s bared crevice.
‘Lucy, that can’t be the reason!’ I giggled aloud.
She joined my laughter. Then taking my hands in hers, she gazed down at the modest little flowers.
‘They’re us, Mina,’ she said. ‘Two naked ladies, separate but alike. Bright pink blossoms blooming not too late among the fading grey grasses.’
Something in our moment reminded me of Keats. ‘A thing of beauty is a joy for ever. Its loveliness increases. It will never pass into nothingness; but still will keep a bower quiet for us, and a sleep full of sweet dreams, and health, and quiet breathing.’
In a peculiar, haunted voice, she added, ‘Yes, in spite of all, some shape of beauty moves away the pall.’
We traded smiles. Then we turned about and walked home.
Mrs Westenra was delighted on our return. How robust Lucy looked! The sea breezes had restored roses to her cheeks and sparkle to her eyes. But she still looked less than healthy to me. I didn’t want to discourage her mother, but I thought she harboured excessive optimism. One vigourous afternoon doesn’t lessen my worry. My concern will end when Lucy’s last symptom is gone.
19 August—My hands so tremble that I hold the pen with difficulty. I want to leap forward and describe my dream before it escapes me, but I must restrain myself. I must record everything in its proper order to ensure I overlook nothing.
We made an early night of it. I didn’t want to gamble with Lucy’s seeming recovery by overtaxing her strength. After helping Mrs Westenra to bed, we ascended to ours and undressed. But as I reached into the wardrobe for our nightdresses, Lucy stopped me.
‘To-night, we’re naked ladies,’ she declared. She took me in her arms and held me close.
‘I think we shouldn’t make love to-night, my dear,’ I told her. ‘Your health has so improved to-day that I don’t want to risk relapse.’
‘I do feel better,’ she replied. ‘And we needn’t make love, Mina. I only want to feel your body beside me while I sleep.’
I brought my arms about Lucy’s neck and kissed her. The key dangling from my wrist irritated her shoulder. She tried to relieve me of it, but I didn’t allow her.
‘This will stay with me while you’re still prone to roam,’ I said. ‘You might sleepwalk over the cliffs, or tumble down those endless church steps. What horror that would be!’
‘The true agony of dying would be the long, lonely wait for my pretty Mina to join me in that afterlife.’ Then she sighed. ‘Very well, keep your old key. Only, I don’t want it to gouge me in my sleep.’
We climbed into bed and snuggled under the coverlets. We shared a good-night kiss—loving, but not what might ignite our passions.
Sleep must have stolen quickly upon me then, because I was still kissing her in my dream. My wakened mind cannot identify when reality became imagination. They seem to blur, one into the other, at a moment that was both.
Our imaginary seducer was there on top of Lucy, kissing her neck. With her limbs clung tight about him, she stared into my eyes with an almost narcotic euphoria. Her warm sighs washed over my face as our mouths played. I felt delighted for her, and envious, and touched that she should want me to take part in this. Like in some dream before, I knew that I had brought him to her, and she was grateful for it.
Our incubus raised himself from her, and I sensed his attention on me. I got to my knees and regarded him. He looked as shadowy as before. I couldn’t see his face, even staring at it. But two red points glowed in the dark wells of his eyes.
He raised his hand to make a forcipial posture, and I understood. I crawled toward him on my knees to lay my throat into his palm. I didn’t know which was the greater: my excitement, or my terror.
His fingers squeezed, and I felt immense strength in that grip. He held a tyrant’s power over me. Then he pulled me into the shadows of his face, and his mouth coupled with mine. I found his breath rank and his mouth bittersweet. My tongue met his teeth, like stilettos, behind cold, unpliant lips. I couldn’t feel life in him, nor anything but eternal appetite.
I cringed at his touch. And yet, my womanhood quivered, anticipating him.
He released me from his clutch, but not from his glare. As with a serpent, I couldn’t look away. He took hold of Lucy’s thighs, spreading them wide and forward, and I knew what he wanted of me. I grasped his alabastrine organ in one hand and with the other, felt between Lucy’s legs. I found her crevice, soaked and eager.
I parted her lips, stretching them open and guided him into her.
Lucy tossed and writhed as her Apollo eased his manhood into her. His gaze turned back to her, letting go of me. Her body began to rock and shake with his strong, unrelenting thrusts.
On my knees, I walked back and looked down at Lucy, alongside me, in her ecstasy. I couldn’t resist pressing a hungry, upside-down kiss on her mouth. I licked her lips and neck, her chest and teats, as though to taste in them something of her overwhelming pleasure.
Lucy got a hand between my legs, and her clever fingers played with me. She drew me closer, and closer again, until I was above her. I settled onto her mouth, and she devoured me with the eagerness of a nursing fawn. She gripped my bottom while I kneaded her breasts.
I churned my hips in concert with their rhythms. But again, my eyes met his, and I came under his mastery. He wanted something new from me. Obeying his unvoiced command, I reached to take hold of Lucy’s calves and bent them toward me.
This did something within her, for Lucy’s contortions grew wilder, and her cries shriller. She tried to convey her heightening raptures to me. Her labouring tongue made me shriek, and long to have her experience.
Lucy and I reached our divine moments at the same time. Perhaps her spasms and screams made me finish. I fell on top of her, trembling and convulsing as she did. We seemed conjoined in a spiritual way, and for once I thought I’d felt some measure of her supreme delight.
Lucy’s Apollo withdrew from her. I could see his erect organ, so near my eyes, glistening with her moisture. By some carnal impulse, I lunged forth and took it into my mouth. I sucked on it to savour the basting Lucy’s satisfaction had bestowed. It didn’t taste as I might have imagined but came as a special and delicious flavour to my tongue.
Our incubus drew me up by the chin to appraise my nakedness. Only then did I hear him speak, and in a voice like that of Lucifer: ‘She will be your first. And as you belong to me, so shall she belong to you.’ I couldn’t know whether he spoke to Lucy or to me, nor could I comprehend his meaning. But then, he loomed close to me and murmured, ‘I shall let you remember.’
I fell into a faint, collapsing beside Lucy on the bed. The sinister geist had left, absorbed into the shadows of which he was part.
Lucy was still panting from her escapade. But her breaths grew heavier, more strained and difficult. Not until her harsh, scraping gasps awoke me did I realise she was suffering some affliction.
I opened my eyes to sunshine pouring through the windows. Lucy lay convulsing beside me, struggling for breath as though she fought a strangler. I helped her to sit up, but this only turned her lightheaded, making her collapse again on her back. There seemed nothing I could do to ease the attack.
I wrapped my arms about her stricken body. In my helplessness, I began to weep. Through my tears, and I hoped through her insensate state, I cried, ‘Don’t die, sweet Lucy! Don’t die! I’ll send for Doctor Seward at once. Please, don’t die!’
I cradled her in my arms, that this might somehow revive her. But her head hung limp, lolling from side to side like one dead.
Same day, later—Sweet Jesus be praised! Suddenly, this day sweeps aside my anxieties. I can’t but suppose that this comes of an agency higher than worldly men. I’ve been such a sinful, lecherous woman! Yet, God’s shown me His abiding mercy. What had I done to warrant His benevolence? I’m ashamed of my own unworthiness.
First, I’m assured that Lucy won’t die—my dear, sweet, precious Lucy, whom I would see safe from all harm! At my urgent call, Dr Seward has flown to her bedside to attend her ailment. She’s quite ill he tells me, but not so near to the grave as I’d feared. She’ll be bedridden for some days while Jack nurses her back to health. Arthur and Quincey have come as well, all the way from Godalming, and their devotion will boost her flagging spirit.
Mrs Westenra frets for her daughter of course, and Dr Seward takes care to watch her, as well. It’s difficult goings with the dear lady. Her anxieties worsen whether she’s made aware of Lucy’s condition or not.
Second, Dr Seward has sent for his mentor, Abraham Van Helsing. This man is a Dutch physician skilled in treating infirmities of the blood, such as Lucy’s. I’m told that he’s quite famous in Europe, but I confess that I’ve not heard his name before to-day. If anyone can cure Lucy, Jack promises me, it’s this man. Arthur will pay all the expenses for this and pledges his last shilling to Lucy’s recovery.
So! After a frantic and frightening morning, I’m reassured that Lucy will be on the mend soon.
Third, I’ve heard from Jonathan! Or at least, I’ve heard of him. His employer, Mr Hawkins, sent word to me around noon. It seems that Jonathan fell ill in Transylvania, and he’s now laid up in a convent hospital in Buda-Pesth. Mr Hawkins’s message included the letter he received from Sister Agatha, Jonathan’s attending nurse. He had suffered some shock to the brain but has been resting in her care for six weeks. She predicts that he’ll be quite himself in a few more. This solves the mystery of Jonathan’s long silence. And while I yet worry for his health, I’m still much relieved.
Mr Hawkins offered to pay for my travel, should I wish to be at Jonathan’s bedside. Of course, I leapt at the suggestion! It’s his idea—that is, Mr Hawkins’s—that Jonathan and I should wed whilst abroad. This would mean marriage by a Catholic priest, which might not be permissible. If it isn’t, we’ll have difficulty finding an Anglican vicar out there! I’ll discuss the matter with Sister Agatha when I meet her.
I leave for Hull to-morrow morning. From there, I take a steamship to Hamburg, then on to Buda-Pesth by train. I’m packing light to speed my travels.
Same day, night—There’s only to sleep, then I’m off to Jonathan in the morning. I should be in delighted spirits to-night, but I’m not. I’m sleeping downstairs to avoid disturbing Lucy in the small hours, when I must leave.
I brought Lucy her tea at the appropriate hour, and spent some time chatting. She’s so pale and waif-like! I pray that Dr Seward and his specialist friend can find what’s wrong with her and remedy it. She says she suffers no discomfort, but I can’t believe that. She intrigues to spare us worry.
I told her of my news, and that I leave for Buda-Pesth in the morning. When next she saw me, I would be Mrs Mina Harker. Only after saying it did I realise what this meant.
Lucy smiled and clasped my hands. ‘Missus Mina Harker! I’m so happy for you, pretty Mina! My one wish is to see you getting married. Alas, I can’t.’
I moved closer, until we sat within intimacy. I wanted to say something, but I couldn’t conjure the words. I could only gaze into her adoring, adorable eyes. Then a sudden and cruel remorse overwhelmed me. My eyes sprang tears, and I fell to sobbing.
Lucy pulled me to her, holding me against her breast and soothing me. She let me cry as I needed, until the onrush of my sadness had faded.
When my tears subsided, I said, ‘I’m going to miss you so much, Lucy.’
‘I’ll see you again in London when you come back,’ she replied.
‘That’s not my meaning.’ I craned my neck to look in her eyes again. ‘I will miss you.’
She smiled again. ‘I know. And I’ll miss you, too. But memories are better than dreams. They’re made of the joys of living, and not the vacuous remorse of what might have been. We sought desire together, and ecstasies, and all delightful experiences. In that way, we’ll always be with each other, dear Mina.’ She caressed my cheek.
I leaned upward to press my trembling lips on hers. We kissed for the last time.