VARNEY, THE VAMPYRE,
THE FEAST OF BLOOD
James Malcolm Rymer
THE MORNING - THE CONSULTATION - THE FEARFUL SUGGESTION.
What wonderfully different impressions and feelings, with regard to the same circumstances, come across the mind in the broad, clear, and beautiful light of day to what haunt the imagination, and often render the judgment almost incapable of action, when the heavy shadow of night is upon all things.
There must be a downright physical reason for this effect -- it is so remarkable and so universal. It seems that the sun's rays so completely alter and modify the constitution of the atmosphere, that it produces, as we inhale it, a wonderfully different effect upon the nerves of the human subject.
We can account for this phenomenon in no other way. Perhaps never in his life had he, Henry Bannerworth, felt so strongly this transition of feeling as he now felt it, when the beautiful daylight gradually dawned upon him, as he kept his lonely watch by the bedside of his slumbering sister.
The watch had been a perfectly undisturbed one. Not the least sight or sound or any intrusion had reached his senses. All had been as still as the very grave.
And yet while the night lasted, and he was more indebted to the rays of the candle, which he had placed upon a shelf, for the power to distinguish objects than to light of the morning, a thousand uneasy and strange sensations had found a home in his agitated bosom.
He looked so many times at the portrait which was in the panel that at length he felt an undefined sensation of terror creep over him whenever he took his eyes off it.
He tried to keep himself from looking at it, but he found it vain, so he adopted what, perhaps, was certainly the wisest, best plan, namely, to look at it continually.
He shifted his chair so that he could gaze upon it without any effort, and he placed the candle so that a faint light was thrown upon it, and there he sat, a prey to many conflicting and uncomfortable feelings, until the daylight began to make the candle flame look dull and sickly.
Solution for the events of the night he could find none. He racked his imagination in vain to find some means, however vague, of endeavouring to account for what occurred, and still he was at fault. All was to him wrapped in the gloom of the most profound mystery.
And how strangely, too, the eyes of that portrait appeared to look upon him -- as if instinct with life, and as if the head to which they belonged was busy in endeavouring to find out the secret communings of his soul. It was wonderfully well executed that portrait; so life-like, that the very features seemed to move as you gazed upon them.
"It shall be removed," said Henry. "I would remove it now, but that it seems absolutely painted on the panel, and I should awake Flora in any attempt to do so."
He arose and ascertained that such was the case, and that it would require a workman, with proper tools adapted to the job, to remove the portrait.
"True," he said, "I might now destroy it, but it is a pity to obscure a work of such rare art as this is; I should blame myself if I were. It shall be removed to some other room of the house, however."
Then, all of a sudden, it struck Henry how foolish it would be to remove the portrait from the wall of a room which, in all likelihood, after that night, would be uninhabited; for it was not probable that Flora would choose again to inhabit a chamber in which she had gone through so much terror.
"It can be left where it is," he said, "and we can fasten up, if we please, even the very door of this room, so that no one need trouble themselves any further about it."
The morning was now coming fast, and just as Henry thought he would partially draw a blind across the window, in order to shield from the direct rays of the sun the eyes of Flora, she awoke.
"Help -- help!" she cried, and Henry was by her side in a moment.
"You are safe, Flora -- you are safe," he said.
"Where is it now?" she said.
"What -- what, dear Flora?"
"The dreadful apparition. Oh, what have I done to be made thus perpetually miserable?"
"Think no more of it, Flora."
"I must think. My brain is on fire! A million of strange eyes seem to be gazing on me."
"Great Heaven! she raves," said Henry.
"Hark -- hark -- hark! He comes on the wings of the storm. Oh, it is most horrible -- horrible!"
Henry rang the bell, but not sufficiently loudly to create any alarm. The sound reached the waking ear of the mother, who in a few moments was in the room.
"She has awakened," said Henry, "and has spoken, but she seems to me to wander in her discourse. For God's sake, soothe her, and try to bring her mind round to its usual state."
"I will, Henry -- I will."
"And I think mother, if you were to get her out of this room, and into some other chamber as far removed from this one as possible, it would tend to withdraw her mind from what has occurred."
"Yes; it shall be done. Oh, Henry, what was it -- what do you think it was?"
"I am lost in a sea of wild conjecture. I can form no conclusion; where is Mr. Marchdale?"
"I believe in his chamber."
"Then I will go and consult with him."
Henry proceeded at once to the chamber, which was, as he knew, occupied by Mr. Marchdale; and as he crossed the corridor, he could not but pause a moment to glance from a window at the face of nature.
As is often the case, the terrific storm of the preceding evening had cleared the air, and rendered it deliciously invigorating and lifelike. The weather had been dull, and there had been for some days a certain heaviness in the atmosphere, which was now entirely removed.
The morning sun was shining with uncommon brilliancy, birds were singing in every tree and on every bush; so pleasant, so spirit-stirring, health-giving a morning, seldom had he seen. And the effect upon his spirits was great, although not altogether what it might have been, had all gone on as it usually was in the habit of doing at that house. The ordinary little casualties of evil fortune had certainly from time to time, in the shape of illness, and one thing or another, attacked the family of the Bannerworths in common with every other family, but here suddenly had arisen a something at once terrible and inexplicable.
He found Mr. Marchdale up and dressed, and apparently in deep and anxious thought. The moment he saw Henry, he said, --
"Flora is awake, I presume?"
"Yes, but her mind appears to be much disturbed."
"From bodily weakness, I dare say."
"But why should she be bodily weak? she was strong and well, ay, as well as she could ever be in all her life. The glow of youth and health was on her cheeks. It is possible that, in the course of one night, she should become bodily weak to such an extent?"
"Henry," said Mr. Marchdale, sadly, "sit down. I am not, as you know, a superstitious man."
"You certainly are not."
"And yet, I never in all my life was so absolutely staggered as I have been by the occurrences of to-night."
"There is a frightful, a hideous solution for them; one which every consideration will tend to add strength to, one which I tremble to name now, although, yesterday, at this hour, I should have laughed it to scorn."
"Yes, it is so. Tell no one that which I am about to say to you. Let the dreadful suggestion remain with ourselves alone, Henry Bannerworth."
"I -- I am lost in wonder."
"You promise me?"
"That you will not repeat my opinion to any one."
"On your honour."
"On my honour, I promise."
Mr. Marchdale rose, and proceeding to the door, he looked out to see that there were no listeners near. Having ascertained then that they were quite alone, he returned, and drawing a chair close to that on which Henry sat, he said, --
"Henry, have you never heard of a strange and dreadful superstition which, in some countries, is extremely rife, by which is it supposed that there are beings who never die?"
"Never. In a word, Henry, have you never heard of-- of-- I dread to pronounce the word."
"Speak it. God of Heaven! let me hear it."
Henry sprung to his feet. His whole frame quivered with emotion; the drops of perspiration stood upon his brow, as, in a strange, hoarse voice, he repeated the words, --
"Even so; one who has to renew a dreadful existence by human blood-- one who eats not and drinks not as other men-- a vampyre."
Henry dropped into his seat, and uttered a deep groan of the most exquisite anguish.
"I could echo that groan," said Marchdale, "but that I am so thoroughly bewildered I know not what to think."
"Good God-- good God!"
"Do not too readily yield to belief in so dreadful a supposition, I pray you."
"Yield belief!" exclaimed Henry, as he rose, and lifted up one of his hands above his head. "No; by Heaven, and the great God of all, who there rules, I will not easily believe aught so awful and so monstrous."
"I applaud your sentiment, Henry; not willingly would I deliver up myself to so frightful a belief-- it is too horrible. I merely have told you of that which you saw was on my mind. You have surely before heard of such things."
"I have-- I have."
"I much marvel, then, that the supposition did not occur to you, Henry."
"It did not-- it did not, Marchdale. It-- it was too dreadful, I suppose, to find a home in my heart. Oh! Flora, Flora, if this horrible idea should once occur to you, reason cannot, I am quite sure, uphold you against it."
"Let no one presume to insinuate it to her, Henry. I would not have it mentioned to her for worlds."
"Nor I-- nor I. Good God! I shudder at the very thought-- the mere possibility; but there is no possibility, there can be none. I will not believe it."
"No; by Heaven's justice, goodness, grace and mercy, I will not believe it."
"'Tis well sworn, Henry; and now, discarding the supposition that Flora has been visited by a vampyre, let us seriously set about endeavouring, if we can, to account for what has happened in this house."
"I-- I cannot now."
"Nay, let us examine the matter; if we can find any natural explanation, let us cling to it, Henry, as the sheet-anchor of our very souls."
"Do you think. You are fertile in expedients. Do you think, Marchdale; and, for Heaven's sake, and for the sake of our worn peace, find out some other way of accounting for what has happened, than the hideous one you have suggested."
"And yet my pistol bullets hurt him not; and he has left the tokens of his presence on the neck of Flora."
"Peace, oh! peace. Do not, I pray you, accumulate reasons why I should receive such a dismal, awful superstition. Oh, do not, Marchdale, as you love me!"
"You know my attachment to you," said Marchdale, "is sincere; and yet, Heaven help us!"
His voice was broken by grief as he spoke, and he turned aside his head to hide the bursting tears that would, despite all his efforts, show themselves in his eyes.
"Marchdale," added Henry, after a pause of some moments' duration, "I will sit up to-night with my sister."
"Think you there is a chance it may come again?"
"I cannot-- I dare not speculate upon the coming of so dreadful a visitor, Henry; but I will hold watch with you most willingly."
"You will, Marchdale?"
"My hand upon it. Come what dangers may, I will share them with you, Henry."
"A thousand thanks. Say nothing, then, to George of what we have been talking about. He is of a highly susceptible nature and the very idea of such a thing would kill him."
"I will; be mute. Remove your sister to some other chamber, let me beg of you, Henry; the one she now inhabits will always be suggestive of horrible thoughts."
"I will; and that dreadful-looking portrait, with its perfect likeness to him who came last night."
"Perfect indeed. Do you intend to remove it?"
"I do not. I thought of doing so; but it is actually on the panel in the wall, and I would not willingly destroy it, and it may as well remain where it is in that chamber, which I can readily now believe will become henceforward a deserted one in this house."
"It may well become such."
"Who comes here? I hear a step."
There was a tap at the door at this moment, and George made his appearance in answer to the summons to come in. He looked pale and ill; his face betrayed how much he had mentally suffered during the night, and almost directly he got into the bed-chamber he said, --
"I shall, I am sure, be censured by you both for what I am going to say; but I cannot help saying it, nevertheless, for to keep it to myself would destroy me."
"Good God, George! what is it?" said Mr. Marchdale.
"Speak it out!" said Henry.
"I have been thinking of what has occurred here, and the result of that thought has been one of the wildest suppositions that ever I thought I should have to entertain. Have you never heard of a vampyre?"
Henry sighed deeply, and Marchdale was silent.
"I say a vampyre," added George, with much excitement in his manner. "It is a fearful, a horrible supposition; but our poor, dear Flora has been visited by a vampyre, and I shall go completely mad!"
He sat down, and covering his face with his hands, he wept bitterly and abundantly.
"George," said Henry, when he saw that the frantic grief had in somemeasure abated -- "be calm, George, and endeavour to listen to me."
"I hear, Henry."
"Well, then, do not suppose that you are the only one in this house to whom so dreadful a superstition has occurred."
"Not the only one?"
"No; it has occurred to Mr. Marchdale also."
"He mentioned it to me; but we have both agreed to repudiate it with horror."
"To-- repudiate-- it?"
"And yet-- and yet--"
"Hush, hush! I know what you would say. You would tell us that our repudiation of it cannot affect the fact. Of that we are aware; but yet will we disbelieve that which a belief in would be enough to drive us mad."
"What do you intend to do?"
"To keep this supposition to ourselves, in the first place; to guard it most zealously from the ears of Flora."
"Do you think she has never heard of vampyres?"
"I never heard her mention that in all her reading she had gathered even a hint of such a fearful superstition. If she has, we must be guided by circumstances, and do the best we can."
"Pray Heaven she may not!"
"Amen to that prayer, George," said Henry. "Mr. Marchdale and I intend to keep watch over Flora to-night."
"May not I join you?"
"Your health, dear George, will not permit you to engage in such matters. Do you seek your natural repose, and leave it to us to do the best we can in this most fearful and terrible emergency."
"As you please, brother, and as you please, Mr. Marchdale. I know I am a frail reed, and my belief is that this affair will kill me quite. The truth is, I am horrified-- utterly and frightfully horrified. Like my poor, dear sister, I do not believe I shall ever sleep again."
"Do not fancy that, George," said Marchdale. "You very much add to the uneasiness which must be you poor mother's portion, by allowing this circumstance to so much affect you. You will know her affection for you all, and let me therefore, as a very old friend of hers, entreat you to wear as cheerful an aspect as you can in her presence."
"For once in my life," said George, sadly, "I will, to my dear mother, endeavour to play the hypocrite."
"Do so," said Henry. "The motive will sanction any such deceit as that, George, be assured."
The day wore on, and Poor Flora remained in a very precarious situation. It was not until mid-day that Henry made up his mind he would call in a medical gentleman to her, and then rode to the neighbouring market-town, where he knew an extremely intelligent practitioner resided. This gentleman Henry resolved upon, under a promise of secrecy, making a confidant of; but, long before he reached him, he found he might well dispense with the promise of secrecy.
He had never thought, so engaged had he been with other matters, that the servants were cognizant of the whole affair, and that from them he had no expectation of being able to keep the whole story in all its details. Of course such an opportunity for tale-bearing and gossiping was not likely to be lost; and while Henry was thinking over how he had better act in the matter, the news that Flora Bannerworth had been visited in the night by a vampyre -- for the servants named the visitation such at once -- was spreading all over the county.
As he rode along, Henry met a gentleman on horseback who belonged to the county, and who, reining in his steed, said to him,
"Good morning, Mr. Bannerworth."
"Good morning," responded Henry, and he would have ridden on, but the gentleman added, --
"Excuse me for interrupting you, sir; but what is the strange story that is in everybody's mouth about a vampyre?"
Henry nearly fell off his horse, he was so much astonished, and, wheeling the animal around, he said, --
"In everybody's mouth!"
"Yes; I have heard it from at least a dozen persons."
"You surprise me."
"Is it untrue? Of course I am not so absurd as really to believe about the vampyre; but is there no foundation at all to it? We generally find that at the bottom of these common reports there is a something around which, as a nucleus, the whole has formed."
"My sister is unwell."
"Ah, and that's all. It really is too bad, now."
"We had a visitor last night."
"A thief, I suppose?"
"Yes, yes-- I believe a thief. I do believe it was a thief, and she was terrified."
"Of course, and upon such a thing is grafted a story of a vampyre, and the marks of his teeth being upon her neck, and all the circumstantial particulars."
"Good morning, Mr. Bannerworth."
Henry bade the gentleman good morning, and much vexed at the publicity which the affair had already obtained, he set spurs to his horse, determined that he would speak to no one else upon so uncomfortable a theme. Several attempts were made to stop him, but he only waved his hand and trotted on, nor did he pause in his speed till he reached the door of Mr. Chillingworth, the medical man whom he intended to consult.
Henry knew that at such a time he would be at home, which was the case, and he was soon closeted with the man of drugs. Henry begged his patient hearing, which being accorded, he related to him at full length what had happened, not omitting, to the best of his remembrance, any one particular. When he had concluded his narration the doctor shifted his position several times, and then said, --
"Yes-- and enough too."
"More than enough, I should say, my young friend. You astonish me."
"Can you form any supposition, sir, on the subject?"
"Not just now. What is your own idea?"
"I cannot be said to have one about it. It is too absurd to tell you that my brother George is impressed with a belief a vampyre has visited the house."
"I never in all my life heard a more circumstantial narrative in favour of so hideous a superstition."
"Well, but you cannot believe--"
"That the dead can come to life again, and by such a process keep up vitality."
"Do you take me for a fool?"
"Then why do you ask me such questions?"
"But the glaring facts of the case?"
"I don't care if they were ten times more glaring, I won't believe it. I would rather believe you were all mad, the whole family of you-- that at the full of the moon you all were a little cracked."
"And so would I."
"You go home now, and I will call and see your sister in the course of two hours. Something may turn up yet, to throw some new light on this strange subject."
With this understanding Henry went home, and he took care to ride as fast as before, in order to avoid questions, so that he got back to his old ancestral home without going through the disagreeable ordeal of having to explain to any one what had disturbed the peace of it.
When Henry reached his home, he found that the evening was rapidly coming on, and before he could permit himself to think upon any other subject, he inquired how his terrified sister had passed the hours during his absence.
He found that but little improvement had taken place in her, and that she had occasionally slept, but to awaken and speak incoherently, as if the shock she had received had had some serious effect upon her nerves. He repaired at once to her room, and finding that she was awake, he leaned over her, and spoke tenderly to her.
"Flora," he said, "dear Flora, you are better now?"
"Harry, is that you?"
"Oh, tell me what has happened?"
"Have you not a recollection, Flora?"
"Yes, yes, Henry; but what was it? They none of them will tell me what it was, Henry."
"Be calm, dear. No doubt some attempt to rob the house."
"Think you so?"
"Yes; the bay window was particularly adapted for such a purpose; but now that you are removed here to this room, you will be able to rest in peace."
"I shall die of terror, Henry. Even now those eyes are glaring on me so hideously. Oh, it is fearful-- it is very fearful, Henry. Do you not pity me, and no one will promise to remain with me at night."
"Indeed, Flora, you are mistaken, for I intend to sit by your bedside armed, and so preserve you from all harm."
She clutched his hand eagerly, as she said, --
"You will, Henry. You will, and not think it too much trouble, dear Henry."
"It can be no trouble, Flora."
"Then I shall rest in peace, for I know that the dreadful vampyre cannot come to me when you are by."
"The what, Flora?"
"The vampyre, Henry. It was a vampyre."
"Good God, who told you so?"
"No one. I have read of them in the book of travels in Norway, which Mr. Marchdale lent us all."
"Alas, alas!" groaned Henry. "Discard, I pray you, such a thought from your mind."
"Can we discard thoughts. What power have we but from the mind, which is ourselves?"
"Hark, what noise is that? I thought I heard a noise. Henry, when you go, ring for some one first. Was there not a noise?"
"The accidental shutting of some door, dear."
"Was it that?"
"Then I am relieved. Henry, I sometimes fancy I am in the tomb, and that some one is feasting on my flesh. They do say, too, that those who in life have been bled by a vampyre, become themselves vampyres, and have the same horrible taste for blood as those before them. Is it not horrible?"
"You only vex yourself with such thoughts, Flora. Mr. Chillingworth is coming to see you."
"Can he minister to a mind diseased?"
"But yours is not, Flora. Your mind is healthful, and so, although his power extends not so far, we will thank Heaven, dear Flora, that you need it not."
She sighed deeply, and she said, --
"Heaven help me! I know not, Henry. The dreadful being held on to my hair. I must have it all taken off. I tried to get away, but it dragged me back-- a brutal thing it was. Oh, then at that moment, Henry I felt as if something strange took place in my brain, and that I was going mad! I saw those glazed eyes close to mine-- I felt a hot, pestiferous breath upon my face-- help-- help!"
"Hush! my Flora, hush! Look at me."
"I am calm again. It fixed its teeth in my throat. Did I faint away?"
"You did, dear; but let me pray you to refer all this to imagination; or at least the greater part of it."
"But you saw it."
"All saw it."
"We all saw some man-- a housebreaker-- it must have been some housebreaker. What more easy, you know, dear Flora, than to assume some such disguise?"
"Was anything stolen?"
"Not that I know of; but there was an alarm, you know."
Flora shook her head, as she said, in a low voice, --
"That which came here was more than mortal. Oh, Henry, if it had but killed me, now I had been happy; but I cannot live-- I hear it breathing now."
"Talk of something else, dear Flora," said the much distressed Henry; "you will make yourself much worse, if you indulge yourself in these strange fancies."
"Oh, that they were but fancies!"
"They are, believe me."
"There is a strange confusion in my brain, and sleep comes over me suddenly, when I least expect it. Henry, Henry, what I was, I shall never, never be again."
"Say not so. All this will pass away like a dream, and leave so faint a trace upon your memory, that the time will come when you will wonder it ever made so deep an impression on your mind."
"You utter these words, Henry, " she said, "but they do not come from your heart. Ah, no, no, no! Who comes?"
The door was opened by Mrs. Bannerworth, who said, --
"It is only me, my dear. Henry, here is Dr. Chillingworth in the dining-room."
Henry turned to Flora, saying, --
"You will see him, dear Flora? You know Mr. Chillingworth well."
"Yes, Henry, yes, I will see him, or who-ever you please."
"Shew Mr. Chillingworth up," said Henry to the servant.
In a few moments the medical man was in the room, and he at once approached the bedside to speak to Flora, upon whose pale countenance he looked with evident interest, while at the same time it seemed mingled with a painful feeling -- at least so his own face indicated.
"Well, Miss Bannerworth," he said, "what is all this I hear about an ugly dream you have had?"
"A dream?" said Flora, as she fixed her beautiful eyes on his face.
"Yes, as I understand."
She shuddered and was silent.
"Was it not a dream, then?" added Mr. Chillingworth.
She wrung her hands, and in a voice of extreme anguish and pathos, said,
"Would it were a dream-- would it were a dream! Oh, if any one could but convince me it was a dream!"
"Well, will you tell me what it was?"
"Yes, sir, it was a vampyre."
Mr. Chillingworth glanced at Henry, as he said, in reply to Flora's words, --
"I suppose that is, after all, another name, Flora, for the nightmare?"
"No-- no-- no!"
"Do you really, then, persist in believing anything so absurd, Miss Bannerworth?"
"What can I say to the evidence of my own senses?" she replied. "I saw it, Henry saw it, George saw, Mr. Marchdale, my mother-- all saw it. We could not all be at the same time the victims of the same delusion."
"How faintly you speak."
"I am very faint and ill."
"Indeed. What wound is that on your neck?"
A wild expression came over the face of Flora; a spasmodic action of the muscles, accompanied with a shuddering, as if a sudden chill had come over the whole mass of blood took place, and she said, --
"It is the mark left by the teeth of the vampyre."
The smile was a forced one upon the face of Mr. Chillingworth.
"Draw up the blind of the window, Mr. Henry," he said, "and let me examine this puncture to which your sister attaches so extraordinary a meaning."
The blind was drawn up, and a strong light was thrown into the room. For full two minutes Mr. Chillingworth attentively examined the two small wounds in the neck of Flora. He took a powerful magnifying glass from his pocket, and looked at them through it, and after his examination was concluded, he said, --
"They are very trifling wounds, indeed."
"But how inflicted?" said Henry.
"By some insect, I should say, which probably-- it being the season for many insects-- has flown in at the window."
"I know the motive," said Flora, "which prompts all these suggestions: it is a kind one, and I ought to be the last to quarrel with it; but what I have seen, nothing can make me believe I saw not, unless I am, as once or twice I have thought myself, really mad."
"How do you now feel in general health?"
"Far from well; and a strange drowsiness at times creeps over me. Even now I feel it."
She sunk back on the pillows as she spoke, and closed her eyes with a deep sigh.
Mr. Chillingworth beckoned Henry to come with him from the room, but the latter had promised that he would remain with Flora; and as Mrs. Bannerworth had left the chamber because she was unable to control her feelings, he rang the bell, and requested that his mother would come.
She did so, and then Henry went down stairs along with the medical man, whose opinion he was certainly eager to be now made acquainted with.
As soon as they were alone in the old-fashioned room which was called the oak closet, Henry turned to Mr. Chillingworth, and said, --
"What, now, is your candid opinion, sir? You have seen my sister, and those strange indubitable evidences of something wrong."
"I have; and to tell you candidly the truth, Mr. Henry, I am sorely perplexed."
"I thought you would be."
"It is not often that a medical man likes to say so much, nor is it, indeed, often prudent that he should do so, but in this case I own I am much puzzled. It is contrary to all my notions upon all such subjects."
"Those wounds, what do you think of them?"
"I know not what to think. I am completely puzzled as regards them."
"But, but do they not really bear the appearance of being bites?"
"They really do."
"And so far, then, they are actually in favour of the dreadful supposition which poor Flora entertains."
"So far they certainly are. I have no doubt in the world of their being bites; but we must not jump to a conclusion that the teeth which inflicted them were human. It is a strange case, and one which I feel assured must give you all much uneasiness, as, indeed, it gave me; but, as I said before, I will not let my judgment give in to the fearful and degrading superstition which all the circumstances connected with this strange story would seem to justify."
"It is a degrading superstition."
"To my mind your sister seems to be labouring under the effect of some narcotic."
"Yes; unless she really has lost a quantity of blood, which loss has decreased the heart's action sufficiently to produce the languor under which she now evidently labours."
"Oh, that I could believe the former supposition, but I am confident she has taken no narcotic; she could not even do so by mistake, for there is no drug of the sort in the house. Besides, she is not heedless by any means. I am quite convinced that she has not done so."
"Then I am fairly puzzled, my young friend, and I can only say that I would freely have given half of what I am worth to see that figure you saw last night."
"What would you have done?"
"I would not have lost sight of it for the world's wealth."
"You would have felt your blood freeze with horror. The face was terrible."
"And yet let it lead me where it liked I would have followed."
"I wish you had been here."
"I wish to Heaven I had. If I thought there was the least chance of another visit I would come and wait with patience every night for a month."
"I cannot say," replied Henry. "I am going to sit up to-night with my sister, and, I believe, our friend Mr. Marchdale will share my watch with me."
Mr. Chillingworth appeared to be for a few moments lost in thought, and then, suddenly rousing himself, as if he found it either impossible to come to any rational conclusion upon the subject, or had arrived at one which he chose to keep to himself, he said, --
"Well, well, we must leave the matter at present as it stands. Time may accomplish something towards its development; but at present so palpable a mystery I never came across, or a matter in which human calculation was so completely foiled."
"Nor I-- nor I."
"I will send you some medicines, such as I think will be of service to Flora, and depend upon seeing me by ten o'clock to-morrow morning."
"You have, of course, heard something," said Henry to the doctor, as he was pulling on his gloves, "about vampyres."
"I certainly have, and I understand that in some countries, particularly Norway and Sweden, the superstition is a very common one."
"And in the Levant."
"Yes. The ghouls of the Mahometans are of the same description of beings. All that I have heard of the European vampyre has made it a being which can be killed, but is restored to life again by the rays of a full moon falling on the body."
"Yes, yes, I have heard as much."
"And that the hideous repast of blood has to be taken very frequently, and that if the vampyre gets it not he wastes away, presenting the appearance of one in the last stage of a consumption, and visibly, so to speak, dying."
"That is what I have understood.""To-night, do you know, Mr. Bannerworth, is the full of the moon."
"If now you had succeeded in killing --. Pshaw, what am I saying. I believe I am getting foolish, and that the horrible superstition is beginning to fasten itself upon me as well as upon all of you. How strangely the fancy will wage war with the judgment in such a way as this."
"The full of the moon," repeated Henry, as he glanced towards the window, "and the night is near at hand."
"Banish these thoughts from your mind," said the doctor, "or else, my young friend, you will make yourself decidedly ill. Good evening to you, for it is evening. I shall see you to-morrow morning."
Mr. Chillingworth appeared now to be anxious to go, and Henry no longer opposed his departure; but when he was gone a sense of great loneliness came over him.
"To-night," he repeated, "is the full of the moon. How strange that this dreadful adventure should have taken place just the night before. 'Tis very strange. Let me see-- let me see."
He took from the shelves of a book-case the work which Flora had mentioned, entitled, "Travels in Norway," in which work he found some account of the popular belief in vampyres.
He opened the work at random, and then some of the leaves turned over of themselves to a particular place, as the leaves will frequently do when it has been kept open a length of time at that part, and the binding stretched there more than anywhere else. There was a note at the bottom of one of the pages at this part of the book, and Henry read as follows: --
"With regard to these vampyres, it is believed by those who are inclined to give credence to so dreadful a superstition, that they always endeavour to make their feast of blood, for the revival of their bodily powers, on some evening immediately preceding a full moon, because if any accident befall them, such as being shot, or otherwise killed or wounded, they can recover by lying down somewhere where the full moon's rays will fall on them."
Henry let the book drop from his hands with a groan and a shudder.
The Fearful Adventure
VARNEY, THE VAMPYRE,
THE FEAST OF BLOOD
James Malcolm Rymer