I Defy You To Your Teeth, Sir: Varney the Vampire (Finally) Heats Up

Previously on: we met Admiral Bell and his associate Jack Pringle, to general dismay and regret; Flora and Charles dithered; Varney showed up at the Hall again, apparently bent on freaking Flora out sufficiently to make the Bannerworths move so he can get their house (or possibly just to be a dick, which he likes doing). It is not clear why he wants the house, but boy does he ever, as we’ll see.

Charles has just escorted Flora indoors while she continued to complain about the vampyre, the vampyre, and returns to find Henry, George, Marchdale, and Varney heading for the Hall to get out of the rain. Social awkwardness ensues:

Charles felt himself compelled to behave with courtesy, although his mind was so full of conflicting feelings as regarded Varney; but there was no avoiding, without such brutal rudeness as was inconsistent with all his pursuits and habits, replying in something like the same strain to the extreme courtly politeness of the supposed vampyre.

"I will watch him closely," thought Charles. "I can do no more than watch him closely."

Sir Francis Varney seemed to be a man of the most general and discursive information. He talked fluently and pleasantly upon all sorts of topics, and notwithstanding he could not but have heard what Flora had said of him, he asked no questions whatever upon that subject.

This silence as regarded a matter which would at once have induced some sort of inquiry from any other man, Charles felt told much against him, and he trembled to believe for a moment that, after all, it really might be true.

"Is he a vampyre?" he asked himself. "Are there vampyres, and is this man of fashion—this courtly, talented, educated gentleman one?" It was a perfectly hideous question.

Henry is like “wait, didn’t I tell you not to come over here?” and Varney says he’s super curious about this portrait that he’s supposed to resemble:

"Did you hear, sir," added Henry, "that my sister was alarmed at your likeness to that portrait?"

"No, really."

Nah, she just screams and faints like that all the time for no reason.

"I pray you walk in, and we will talk more at large upon that matter."

"With great pleasure. One leads a monotonous life in the country, when compared with the brilliancy of a court existence. Just now I have no particular engagement. As we are near neighbours I see no reason why we should not be good friends, and often interchange such civilities as make up the amenities of existence, and which, in the country, more particularly, are valuable."

Henry grits his teeth and lies that yes, that sounds wonderful, and Varney apparently realizes he hasn’t been sufficiently creepy during the course of the conversation and takes steps to correct this:

"Oh, yes, of course—certainly. My time is very much occupied, and my sister and mother see no company."

"Oh, now, how wrong."

"Wrong, sir?"

"Yes, surely. If anything more than another tends to harmonize individuals, it is the society of that fairer half of the creation which we love for their very foibles. I am much attached to the softer sex—to young persons full of health. I like to see the rosy cheeks, where the warm blood mantles in the superficial veins, and all is loveliness and life."

Charles shrank back, and the word "Demon" unconsciously escaped his lips.

EWWW

We haven’t had a Let’s State the Obvious session for a little while, so Rymer/Prest provide us with one of the best so far:

"Do you know, sir, that Miss Bannerworth declares the vampyre she fancies to have visited this chamber to be, in features, the exact counterpart of this portrait?"

"Does she indeed?"

"She does, indeed."

"And perhaps, then, that accounts for her thinking that I am the vampyre, because I bear a strong resemblance to the portrait."

"I should not be surprised," said Charles.

"How very odd."

"Very."

"And yet entertaining. I am rather amused than otherwise. The idea of being a vampyre. Ha! ha! If ever I go to a masquerade again, I shall certainly assume the character of a vampyre."

"You would do it well."

"I dare say, now, I should make quite a sensation."

"I am certain you would. Do you not think, gentlemen, that Sir Francis Varney would enact the character to the very life? By Heavens, he would do it so well that one might, without much difficulty, really imagine him a vampyre."

"Bravo—bravo," said Varney, as he gently folded his hands together, with that genteel applause that may even be indulged in in a box at the opera itself. "Bravo. I like to see young persons enthusiastic; it looks as if they had some of the real fire of genius in their composition. Bravo—bravo."

Very occasionally Varney can approach Havelock Vetinari levels of ambiguous irony. This isn’t on the order of “do not let me detain you” or “I think it is quite possible that I will never forget you said that” but it’s close. I like to see young persons enthusiastic; it looks as if they had some of the real fire of genius in their composition, DAMN.

Back to business: the actual plot is addressed, to wit, Varney really really really wants this house:

"You seem anxious to possess the Hall," remarked Mr. Marchdale, to Varney.

"I am."

"Is it new to you?"

"Not quite. I have some boyish recollections connected with this neighbourhood, among which Bannerworth Hall stands sufficiently prominent."

"May I ask how long ago that was?" said Charles Howard, rather abruptly.

"I do not recollect, my enthusiastic young friend," said Varney. "How old are you?"

"Just about twenty-one."

"You are, then, for your age, quite a model of discretion."

Again with the irony. They press Varney to a glass of wine, which he accepts but doesn’t actually partake of, and note that he appears to have a bandage on his arm underneath his coat: evidence of the wound he received when Flora shot him the other night in a fit of uncharacteristic badassery. At this point our heroes can take no more (I sympathize) and address the vampyre in the room:

"Will you drink it?"

"Not at any man's bidding, most certainly. If the fair Flora Bannerworth would grace the board with her sweet presence, methinks I could then drink on, on, on."

EWWWWWWWWWW

"Hark you, sir," cried Charles, "I can bear no more of this. We have had in this house most horrible and damning evidence that there are such things as vampyres."

"Have you really? I suppose you eat raw pork at supper, and so had the nightmare?"

"A jest is welcome in its place, but pray hear me out, sir, if it suit your lofty courtesy to do so."

"Oh, certainly."

"Then I say we believe, as far as human judgment has a right to go, that a vampyre has been here."

"Go on, it's interesting. I always was a lover of the wild and the wonderful."

"We have, too," continued Charles, "some reason to believe that you are the man."

Varney tapped his forehead as he glanced at Henry, and said,—

"Oh, dear, I did not know. You should have told me he was a little wrong about the brain; I might have quarreled with the lad. Dear me, how lamentable for his poor mother."

"This will not do, Sir Francis Varney alias Bannerworth."

"Oh—oh! Be calm—be calm."

"I defy you to your teeth, sir! No, God, no! Your teeth!"

At this point Varney has spent the past forty-five minutes deliberately antagonizing the fuck out of these people, relying on their manners and sense of propriety to stop them from retaliating; when Henry and Charles snap he gets all huffy about it:

Sir Francis Varney drew himself up to his full height, and that was immense, as he said to Henry,—

"I pray you, Mr. Bannerworth, since I am thus grievously insulted beneath your roof, to tell me if your friend here be mad or sane?"

"He's not mad."

"Then—"

"Hold, sir! The quarrel shall be mine. In the name of my persecuted sister—in the name of Heaven. Sir Francis Varney, I defy you."

Sir Francis, in spite of his impenetrable calmness, appeared somewhat moved, as he said,—

"I have already endured insult sufficient—I will endure no more. If there are weapons at hand—"

"My young friend," interrupted Mr. Marchdale, stepping between the excited men, "is carried away by his feelings, and knows not what he says. You will look upon it in that light, Sir Francis."

"We need no interference," exclaimed Varney, his hitherto bland voice changing to one of fury. "The hot-blooded fool wishes to fight, and he shall—to the death—to the death."

Now, the case can be made that he’s doing this deliberately in order to put Henry in a position where he, Varney, can dispatch him and take the Hall through fair means or foul, but — having read this thing before, and knowing a little more about Varney’s character and tendencies — I think it’s more along the lines of he can’t stop himself from needling people until they snap. I’ve seen this in humans, too: it’s a function of wanting attention and not knowing how to get it and not liking the kind of attention it ends up being. Varney is not a well-adjusted sanguivore, news at eleven.

Anyway, he stalks off with his nose in the air, and Marchdale follows him, at which point there is a mad banging upon the door and George answers it to discover Admiral Bell and Jack Pringle, at your service. The admiral has some decent lines, in particular

"Come along, then; yet, stop a bit. I say, young fellow, just before we go any further, tell us if he has maimed the vampyre?"

Just in passing, you know, like you do, has he maimed the vampyre yet? Cause if not, we can totally do that on the way to pick up a couple things at the convenience store this afternoon. George plays dumb and refuses to answer any more questions; the admiral spies the distant figures of Varney and Marchdale just in time for the former to deck the latter and leg it with all speed, which is a fine place to pause in my opinion. :D

Oh Honey No, You Can't Write Dickens, Plus the Summerhouse of Foreshadowing: Varney the Vampire, cont'd

Previously on: we met Sir Francis Varney face to peculiar face for the very first time; it’s Charles’s turn to shoot him; and Weird Shit Might be Going On With the Ominous Portrait, But Probably Isn’t.

Chapter 15 is painful. I will be kind and spare you the spectacle of Rymer/Prest (I think of them as a sort of portmanteau of failure, rather than two discrete fails) attempting to do Dickens pastiche, to wit: Highly Voice-y Supporting Characters with Vocal Tics & Clearly Classist Caricature.

What happens is this: Since the Bannerworths and their staff cannot fucking shut up about their vampyre (The vampyre! The vampyre!) it’s turned into a kind of local phenomenon, and vampyre enthusiasts are flocking to the region and driving up business for inns and restaurants.

But nowhere was gossiping carried on upon the subject with more systematic fervour than at an inn called the Nelson's Arms, which was in the high street of the nearest market town to the Hall.

There, it seemed as if the lovers of the horrible made a point of holding their headquarters, and so thirsty did the numerous discussions make the guests, that the landlord was heard to declare that he, from his heart, really considered a vampyre as very nearly equal to a contested election.

We are introduced to three new characters over the course of the chapter. The first two arrive at the Nelson’s Arms and right away we are encouraged to entertain conjecture that they might, at some point, potentially have had acquaintance with the sea. We are encouraged strongly and repeatedly. I’m afraid I must show you a brief sample, to communicate this theme:

As the chaise drove up to the door of the inn, this man made an observation to the other to the following effect,—

"A-hoy!"

"Well, you lubber, what now?" cried the other.

"They call this the Nelson's Arms; and you know, shiver me, that for the best half of his life he had but one."

"D—n you!" was the only rejoinder he got for this observation; but, with that, he seemed very well satisfied.

"Heave to!" he then shouted to the postilion, who was about to drive the chaise into the yard. "Heave to, you lubberly son of a gun! we don't want to go into dock."

"Ah!" said the old man, "let's get out, Jack. This is the port; and, do you hear, and be cursed to you, let's have no swearing, d—n you, nor bad language, you lazy swab."

"Aye, aye," cried Jack; "I've not been ashore now a matter o' ten years, and not larnt a little shore-going politeness, admiral, I ain't been your walley de sham without larning a little about land reckonings. Nobody would take me for a sailor now, I'm thinking, admiral."

"Hold your noise!"

"Aye, aye, sir."

I said I was sorry. The old man, Admiral Bell, turns out to be the uncle of Charles “Sad Feelings” Holland, which we learn in due course, and has traveled to the area in response to a mysterious letter sent to him:

The admiral opened the letter, and read:—

"If you stop at the Nelson's Aims at Uxotter, you will hear of me, and I can be sent for, when I will tell you more.

"Yours, very obediently and humbly,

"JOSIAH CRINKLES."

It is shortly revealed that there is a great deal more to the letter than this, which we are not allowed to see for several thousand more words. There is some byplay in which Bell is informed that Crinkles, whom I am not making up, is a lawyer, and responds with stentorian disapproval of the legal profession, but eventually tells the landlord to send for the bastard anyway so he can explain why the admiral has had to travel 170 miles to talk to a d___d lawyer.

Crinkles, in due course, appears, and is made to read the whole of the letter:

"To Admiral Bell.

"Admiral,—Being, from various circumstances, aware that you take a warm and a praiseworthy interest in your nephew, Charles Holland, I venture to write to you concerning a matter in which your immediate and active co-operation with others may rescue him from a condition which will prove, if allowed to continue, very much to his detriment, and ultimate unhappiness.

"You are, then, hereby informed, that he, Charles Holland, has, much earlier than he ought to have done, returned to England, and that the object of his return is to contract a marriage into a family in every way objectionable, and with a girl who is highly objectionable.

"You, admiral, are his nearest and almost his only relative in the world; you are the guardian of his property, and, therefore, it becomes a duty on your part to interfere to save him from the ruinous consequences of a marriage, which is sure to bring ruin and distress upon himself and all who take an interest in his welfare.

"The family he wishes to marry into is named Bannerworth, and the young lady's name is Flora Bannerworth. When, however, I inform you that a vampyre is in that family, and that if he marries into it, he marries a vampyre, and will have vampyres for children, I trust I have said enough to warn you upon the subject, and to induce you to lose no time in repairing to the spot.

"If you stop at the Nelson's Arms at Uxotter, you will hear of me. I can be sent for, when I will tell you more.

"Yours, very obediently and humbly,

"JOSIAH CRINKLES."

"P.S. I enclose you Dr. Johnson's definition of a vampyre, which is as follows:

"VAMPYRE (a German blood-sucker)—by which you perceive how many vampyres, from time immemorial, must have been well entertained at the expense of John Bull, at the court of St. James, where no thing hardly is to be met with but German blood-suckers."

Crinkles then explains that he’s never seen the letter before in his life, which causes marvel and consternation, and then they decide to talk this thing over:

"Well—well, never mind; it has brought me here, that's something, so I won't grumble much at it. I didn't know my nephew was in England, and I dare say he didn't know I was; but here we both are, and I won't rest till I've seen him, and ascertained how the what's-its-name—"

"The vampyre."

"Ah! the vampyre."

"Shiver my timbers!" said Jack Pringle, who now brought in some wine much against the remonstrances of the waiters of the establishment, who considered that he was treading upon their vested interests by so doing.—"Shiver my timbers, if I knows what a wamphigher is, unless he's some distant relation to Davy Jones!"

See what I mean about the Dickens pastiche? Rymer/Prest is trying so hard, and it’s so not working. The jolly sailors and the lawyer discuss the nature of the beast and Charles’s predicament with regards to his chewed-upon fiancée:

"And she might herself actually, when after death she became a vampyre, come and feed on her own children."

"Become a vampyre! What, is she going to be a vampyre too?"

"My dear sir, don't you know that it is a remarkable fact, as regards the physiology of vampyres, that whoever is bitten by one of those dreadful beings, becomes a vampyre?"

"The devil!"

"It is a fact, sir."

"Whew!" whistled Jack; "she might bite us all, and we should be a whole ship's crew o' wamphighers. There would be a confounded go!"

They agree that the situation is sub-optimal, and requires adjustment, and Crinkles departs, leaving Bell and Jack to assail the reader with more naval terminology:

"Do! What shall we do? Why, go at once and find out Charles, our nevy, and ask him all about it, and see the young lady, too, and lay hold o' the wamphigher if we can, as well, and go at the whole affair broadside to broadside, till we make a prize of all the particulars, after which we can turn it over in our minds agin, and see what's to be done."

"Jack, you are right. Come along."

"I knows I am. Do you know now which way to steer?"

"Of course not. I never was in this latitude before, and the channel looks intricate. We will hail a pilot, Jack, and then we shall be all right, and if we strike it will be his fault."

"Which is a mighty great consolation," said Jack. "Come along."

Note that Jack refers to Charles as “our” nephew, which raises some interesting questions about the nature of his relationship to Bell, but further speculation does not seem tremendously worthwhile.

At this point, thank fuck, we rejoin our core cast members at the Hall. Charles and Flora are in the summerhouse, having the same conversation over and over and over and over again, viz. “I love you but I am hideously corrupt and will turn into a monster and we should probably not have kids,” “No, I love you anyway, marry me,” rinse & repeat. It’s a little like the yes! yes! yes! no! no! no! bit in The Dancing Cavalier:

“I then implore you, Charles, finding me what I am, to leave me to the fate which it has pleased Heaven to cast upon me. I do not ask you, Charles, not to love me."

"'Tis well. Go on, Flora."

"Because I should like to think that, although I might never see you more, you loved me still. But you must think seldom of me, and you must endeavour to be happy with some other—"

"You cannot, Flora, pursue the picture you yourself would draw. These words come not from your heart."

"Yes—yes—yes."

"Did you ever love me?"

"Charles, Charles, why will you add another pang to those you know must already rend my heart?"

And so on. He’s managed to make some headway with her when there is an almighty crack of thunder which Flora takes to be the voice of the Almighty saying “NOPE,” but shortly thereafter a breach in the clouds sends a crepuscular ray down to bathe Flora in heavenly light, so she decides it’s okay after all, when OH NO GUESS WHAT

GO ON, GUESS

A shriek burst from Flora's lips—a shriek so wild and shrill that it awakened echoes far and near. Charles staggered back a step, as if shot, and then in such agonised accents as he was long indeed in banishing the remembrance of, she cried,—

"The vampyre! the vampyre!"

Varney is leaning in the doorway like “sup, I’m just waiting out this thunderstorm, keep making out, don’t mind me,” and Flora is broken-record-ing “THE VAMPYRE,” and Varney is all super smooth about it:

Mechanically, then, he turned his eyes towards the door of the summer-house, and there he saw a tall, thin man, rather elegantly dressed, whose countenance certainly, in its wonderful resemblance to the portrait on the panel, might well appal any one.

The stranger stood in the irresolute attitude on the threshold of the summer-house of one who did not wish to intrude, but who found it as awkward, if not more so now, to retreat than to advance.

Before Charles Holland could summon any words to his aid, or think of freeing himself from the clinging grasp of Flora, which was wound around him, the stranger made a very low and courtly bow, after which he said, in winning accents,—

"I very much fear that I am an intruder here. Allow me to offer my warmest apologies, and to assure you, sir, and you, madam, that I had no idea any one was in the arbour. You perceive the rain is falling smartly, and I made towards here, seeing it was likely to shelter me from the shower."

These words were spoken in such a plausible and courtly tone of voice, that they might well have become any drawing-room in the kingdom.

Flora kept her eyes fixed upon him during the utterance of these words; and as she convulsively clutched the arm of Charles, she kept on whispering,—

"The vampyre! the vampyre!"

"I much fear," added the stranger, in the same bland tones, "that I have been the cause of some alarm to the young lady!"

Oh, Varney, you’re having way too much fun with this.

"Release me," whispered Charles to Flora. "Release me; I will follow him at once."

"No, no—do not leave me—do not leave me. The vampyre—the dreadful vampyre!"

"But, Flora—"

"Hush—hush—hush! It speaks again."

"Perhaps I ought to account for my appearance in the garden at all," added the insinuating stranger. "The fact is, I came on a visit—"

Flora shuddered.

"To Mr. Henry Bannerworth," continued the stranger; "and finding the garden-gate open, I came in without troubling the servants, which I much regret, as I can perceive I have alarmed and annoyed the lady. Madam, pray accept of my apologies."

"In the name of God, who are you?" said Charles.

"My name is Varney."

"Oh, yes. You are the Sir Francis Varney, residing close by, who bears so fearful a resemblance to—"

"Pray go on, sir. I am all attention."

"To a portrait here."

"Indeed! Now I reflect a moment, Mr. Henry Bannerworth did incidentally mention something of the sort. It's a most singular coincidence."

He does blasé to an almost risible extent; it’s kind of impressive. The others arrive, summoned by the screaming, and find themselves in a bizarre social situation:

Varney bowed to the newcomers, and was altogether as much at his ease as everybody else seemed quite the contrary. Even Charles Holland found the difficulty of going up to such a well-bred, gentlemanly man, and saying, "Sir, we believe you to be a vampyre"—to be almost, if not insurmountable.

"I cannot do it," he thought, "but I will watch him."

"Take me away," whispered Flora. "'Tis he—'tis he. Oh, take me away, Charles."

"Hush, Flora, hush. You are in some error; the accidental resemblance should not make us be rude to this gentleman."

"The vampyre!—it is the vampyre!"

Aaaand Varney goes over the edge from amusing to creeptastic, a habit of his:

"The young lady, I fear, is very much indisposed," remarked Sir Francis Varney, in a sympathetic tone of voice. "If she will accept of my arm, I shall esteem it a great honour."

"No—no—no!—God! no," cried Flora.

"Madam, I will not press you."

He bowed, and Charles led Flora from the summer-house towards the hall.

The constant repetition in this text is partially an artifact of it having been initially released in serial form, so that the audience needs their memory of previous episodes sharpened, but it is also partially an artifact of Rymer/Prest being super not all that great at this. Once more, with feeling:

"Flora," he said, "I am bewildered—I know not what to think. That man most certainly has been fashioned after the portrait which is on the panel in the room you formerly occupied; or it has been painted from him."

"He is my midnight visitor!" exclaimed Flora. "He is the vampyre;—this Sir Francis Varney is the vampyre."

Got that, everyone? I think we may be able to come to some form of conclusion here regarding the identity of the vampyre and its relation to the identity of their neighbor, but I could be mistaken. Next time, our heroes have to put up with more of Varney being a Grade-A dick, plus Admiral “I’m Naval” Bell and his unspeakable comrade arrive at the Hall.

Charles Holland's Sad Feelings, Plus More Gunfire: Varney the Vampire, cont'd

Previously on: The gang has discovered Sir Marmagate Runnerworth’s mortal remains do not reside in that gentleman’s coffin; Dr. Chillingworth is the only sane person; Varney the Vamp(y)re has now been shot at four times, once at point-blank range by Flora; Charles Holland has returned from the wilds of Weak Plot Device Country and is now having the angst because Flora doesn’t want to marry him because she might turn into a vampyre and it would be weird.

He is angsting in the room where the Ominous Portrait hangs, and notices something weird about the frame, like it might hide a secret passageway, and that it might have been broken recently in an attempt to remove it. At this point something mysterious starts knocking on the door, but when he opens it, no one is there although he hears a creepy sigh in the hallway.

Charles is understandably creeped out and says “who’s there” loud enough to get Henry’s attention in his own room down the hall. He comes to join Charles and together they try to get the Ominous Portrait off the wall, but discover there’s no cool secret passageway behind it. There is, however, a vampyre at the window, and because Charles is the guest it is his turn to shoot at it.

(If you’re keeping track, that’s five times.)

Marchdale takes the opportunity to tell Henry to leave the Hall and Charles not to marry Flora because vampyre, and Charles is like fuck you, dude, and Marchdale says he’s leaving and never coming back, which — okay? I think they just got sick of writing him. An investigation turns up no vampyre, dead or otherwise, except one thing:

The party made a strict search through every nook and corner of the garden, but it proved to be a fruitless one: not the least trace of any one could be found. There was only one circumstance, which was pondered over deeply by them all, and that was that, beneath the window of the room in which Flora and her mother sat while the brothers were on their visit to the vault of their ancestors, were visible marks of blood to a considerable extent.

It will be remembered that Flora had fired a pistol at the spectral appearance, and that immediately upon that it had disappeared, after uttering a sound which might well be construed into a cry of pain from a wound.

That a wound then had been inflicted upon some one, the blood beneath the window now abundantly testified; and when it was discovered, Henry and Charles made a very close examination indeed of the garden, to discover what direction the wounded figure, be it man or vampyre, had taken.

See that? Everybody else except the mother and Chillingworth have shot at Varney, either through a window or from a distance, and the only one that’s made him bleed is Flora. You go, lady.

In the morning, another of the servants quits, and Henry gets another letter from his weird neighbor:

Dear Sir,—"As a neighbour, by purchase of an estate contiguous to your own, I am quite sure you have excused, and taken in good part, the cordial offer I made to you of friendship and service some short time since; but now, in addressing to you a distinct proposition, I trust I shall meet with an indulgent consideration, whether such proposition be accordant with your views or not.

"What I have heard from common report induces me to believe that Bannerworth Hall cannot be a desirable residence for yourself, or your amiable sister. If I am right in that conjecture, and you have any serious thought of leaving the place, I would earnestly recommend you, as one having some experience in such descriptions of property, to sell it at once.

"Now, the proposition with which I conclude this letter is, I know, of a character to make you doubt the disinterestedness of such advice; but that it is disinterested, nevertheless, is a fact of which I can assure my own heart, and of which I beg to assure you. I propose, then, should you, upon consideration, decide upon such a course of proceeding, to purchase of you the Hall. I do not ask for a bargain on account of any extraneous circumstances which may at the present time depreciate the value of the property, but I am willing to give a fair price for it. Under these circumstances, I trust, sir, that you will give a kindly consideration to my offer, and even if you reject it, I hope that, as neighbours, we may live long in peace and amity, and in the interchange of those good offices which should subsist between us. Awaiting your reply,

"Believe me to be, dear sir,

    "Your very obedient servant,

"FRANCIS VARNEY.

"To Henry Bannerworth, Esq."

Henry, who is not as dim as George but fairly slow on the uptake, realizes something.

"How strange," he muttered. "It seems that every circumstance combines to induce me to leave my old ancestral home. It appears as if everything now that happened had that direct tendency. What can be the meaning of all this? 'Tis very strange—amazingly strange. Here arise circumstances which are enough to induce any man to leave a particular place. Then a friend, in whose single-mindedness and judgment I know I can rely, advises the step, and immediately upon the back of that comes a fair and candid offer."

Naturally, he can’t actually take it because then the book would be over, but he asks Marchdale for advice. Marchdale says “why don’t you offer to let it to him for a year and go somewhere else, and see if the vampire comes with or stays at the Hall,” and everyone else agrees, so Henry finally, finally, finally sets off to meet Sir Francis Varney face to face.

It does not go well:

"My master, gentlemen, is not very well; but he begs me to present his best compliments, and to say he is much gratified with your visit, and will be happy to see you in his study."

Henry and Marchdale followed the man up a flight of stone stairs, and then they were conducted through a large apartment into a smaller one. There was very little light in this small room; but at the moment of their entrance a tall man, who was seated, rose, and, touching the spring of a blind that was to the window, it was up in a moment, admitting a broad glare of light. A cry of surprise, mingled with terror, came from Henry Bannerworth's lip. The original of the portrait on the panel stood before him! There was the lofty stature, the long, sallow face, the slightly projecting teeth, the dark, lustrous, although somewhat sombre eyes; the expression of the features—all were alike.

"Are you unwell, sir?" said Sir Francis Varney, in soft, mellow accents, as he handed a chair to the bewildered Henry.

"God of Heaven!" said Henry; "how like!"

"You seem surprised, sir. Have you ever seen me before?"

Sir Francis drew himself up to his full height, and cast a strange glance upon Henry, whose eyes were rivetted upon his face, as if with a species of fascination which he could not resist.

"Marchdale," Henry gasped; "Marchdale, my friend, Marchdale. I—I am surely mad."

"Hush! be calm," whispered Marchdale.

"Calm—calm—can you not see? Marchdale, is this a dream? Look—look—oh! look."

"For God's sake, Henry, compose yourself."

"Is your friend often thus?" said Sir Francis Varney, with the same mellifluous tone which seemed habitual to him.

"No, sir, he is not; but recent circumstances have shattered his nerves; and, to tell the truth, you bear so strong a resemblance to an old portrait, in his house, that I do not wonder so much as I otherwise should at his agitation."

"Indeed."

"A resemblance!" said Henry; "a resemblance! God of Heaven! it is the face itself."

"You much surprise me," said Sir Francis.

Varney is enjoying the hell out of this, even if he is mildly indisposed. Henry continues to be uncivil and Varney continues to be suave (NB: he isn’t often all that suave, so enjoy it while you can):

"You know, from common report, that we have had a fearful visitor at our house."

"A vampyre, I have heard," said Sir Francis Varney, with a bland, and almost beautiful smile, which displayed his white glistening teeth to perfection.

"Yes; a vampyre, and—and—"

"I pray you go on, sir; you surely are far above the vulgar superstition of believing in such matters?"

"My judgment is assailed in too many ways and shapes for it to hold out probably as it ought to do against so hideous a belief, but never was it so much bewildered as now."

"Why so?"

"Because—"

"Nay, Henry," whispered Mr. Marchdale, "it is scarcely civil to tell Sir Francis to his face, that he resembles a vampyre."

"I must, I must."

"Pray, sir," interrupted Varney to Marchdale, "permit Mr. Bannerworth to speak here freely. There is nothing in the whole world I so much admire as candour."

"Then you so much resemble the vampyre," added Henry, "that—that I know not what to think."

"Is it possible?" said Varney.

"It is a damning fact."

Varney basically goes “huh,” and then winces, and admits he has hurt himself “in a slight fall,” which obviously Henry and Marchdale are like O RLY, especially when they then go into the I do not drink…vine scene. Henry is like “omg fuck I’M STANDING IN A ROOM WITH A VAMPYRE AAAHH,” and Varney completes the vampire stereotype by creeping on Henry’s sister:

"How very unkind. I understand you have a charming sister, young, beautiful, and accomplished. Shall I confess, now, that I had hopes of making myself agreeable to her?"

"You make yourself agreeable to her? The sight of you would blast her for ever, and drive her to madness."

"Am I so hideous?"

"No, but—you are—"

"What am I?"

Okay there, Edward Cullen. They leave, with a promise that Henry will consider his offer for the Hall, and Henry proceeds to have hysterics:

"Adieu," said Sir Francis Varney, and he made one of the most elegant bows in the world, while there came over his face a peculiarity of expression that was strange, if not painful, to contemplate. In another minute Henry and Marchdale were clear of the house, and with feelings of bewilderment and horror, which beggar all description, poor Henry allowed himself to be led by the arm by Marchdale to some distance, without uttering a word. When he did speak, he said,—

"Marchdale, it would be charity of some one to kill me."

"To kill you!"

"Yes, for I am certain otherwise that I must go mad."

"Nay, nay; rouse yourself."

"This man, Varney, is a vampyre."

ONCE MORE FOR THE PEOPLE IN THE BACK, HENRY

"I tell you, Marchdale," cried Henry, in a wild, excited manner, "he is a vampyre. He is the dreadful being who visited Flora at the still hour of midnight, and drained the life-blood from her veins. He is a vampyre. There are such things. I cannot doubt now.”

And neither can we, my dude. Neither can we. Stay tuned for more.

Varney the Vampire Gets Shot Some More, Also There Is Breaking and Entering

With varying effects!

Last time we left our heroes preparing for their vigil, and it seems that they are to be rewarded, because Henry freaks out at hearing footsteps underneath the window and proposes to riddle the shrubbery with bullets:

"Hold!" said a voice from below; "don't do any such thing, I beg of you."

"Why, that is Mr. Chillingworth's voice," cried Henry.

"Yes, and it's Mr. Chillingworth's person, too," said the doctor, as he emerged from among some laurel bushes.

I love Chillingworth. He’s come to stab him some vampire with his kickass sword-cane, and Marchdale and Henry are packing, so they go off to investigate mysterious sounds outside the park. From the top of the wall they spy what looks like a dead body lying some distance away, except…

As the moonbeams, in consequence of the luminary rising higher and higher in the heavens, came to touch this figure that lay extended on the rising ground, a perceptible movement took place in it. The limbs appeared to tremble, and although it did not rise up, the whole body gave signs of vitality.

"The vampyre—the vampyre!" said Mr. Marchdale. "I cannot doubt it now. We must have hit him last night with the pistol bullets, and the moonbeams are now restoring him to a new life."

So they shoot him again.

Mr. Marchdale levelled the pistol—he took a sure and deliberate aim, and then, just as the figure seemed to be struggling to its feet, he fired, and, with a sudden bound, it fell again.

"You have hit it," said Henry.

"You have indeed," exclaimed the doctor. "I think we can go now."

"Hush!" said Marchdale—"Hush! Does it not seem to you that, hit it as often as you will, the moonbeams will recover it?"

"Yes—yes," said Henry, "they will—they will."

"I can endure this no longer," said Mr. Chillingworth, as he sprung from the wall. 

You and me both, Chillingworth. Varney gets up again and makes for the relative safety of the woods, and they shoot him yet again, but apparently miss, and stand around discussing what they just saw. Chillingworth has the best lines, as usual:

"There are more things," said Marchdale, solemnly, "in Heaven, and on earth, than are dreamed of in our philosophy."

"There are indeed, it appears," said Mr. Chillingworth.

"And are you a convert?" said Henry, turning to him.

"A convert to what?"

"To a belief in—in—these vampyres?"

"I? No, indeed; if you were to shut me up in a room full of vampyres, I would tell them all to their teeth that I defied them."

"But after what we have seen to-night?"

"What have we seen?"

"You are yourself a witness."

"True; I saw a man lying down, and then I saw a man get up; he seemed then to be shot, but whether he was or not he only knows; and then I saw him walk off in a desperate hurry. Beyond that, I saw nothing."

I love scientists. Marchdale suggests they go dig up Sir Runnagate Bannerworth and see if he’s properly dead or not, to set Henry’s feverish mind at rest, and they determine to follow this course of action. Time for an entire chapter of infodump regarding the history of the Bannerworth family and introducing Flora’s absent fiance Charles Holland!

Essentially, the Bannerworths used to have a bunch of money but a series of wastrel heads-of-family burned up all the cash, including Henry’s deceased father, and they are basically right on their uppers, but don’t want to sell the Hall. Henry’s received a good offer for it, and has been asked to let it, and both times he’s refused — partly because if they move, Flora’s fiance won’t be able to find them when he comes back from Weak Plot Device Country. They met while traveling abroad somewhere; she fell off her horse; he rescued her; heart eyes; he has to go spend two years doing unspecified things elsewhere and promises to come home and marry her afterward, and presumably is so dim a bulb that he will be incapable of finding her unless she stays where she is at Bannerworth Hall. However, everything sucks because of vampyre attacks and servants quitting and it seems more and more like moving would be a good idea.

We now return to our narrative, where Henry takes it upon himself to recap out loud:

"Look you, George; as yet, everything that has happened has tended to confirm a belief in this most horrible of all superstitions concerning vampyres."

"It has."

"Now, my great object, George, is to endeavour to disturb such a state of things, by getting something, however slight, or of a negative character, for the mind to rest upon on the other side of the question."

"I comprehend you, Henry."

"You know that at present we are not only led to believe, almost irresistibly that we have been visited here by a vampyre but that that vampyre is our ancestor, whose portrait is on the panel of the wall of the chamber into which he contrived to make his way."

"True, most true."

"Then let us, by an examination of the family vault, George, put an end to one of the evidences. If we find, as most surely we shall, the coffin of the ancestor of ours, who seems, in dress and appearance, so horribly mixed up in this affair, we shall be at rest on that head."

You get the feeling George is going “…okay then, Captain Obvious.” A minute later Marchdale shows up and they rehash the whole thing all over again:

“You have now, as you cannot help having, a disagreeable feeling, that you may find that one coffin is untenanted. Now, if you do find it so, you scarcely make matters worse, by an additional confirmation of what already amounts to a strong supposition, and one which is likely to grow stronger by time."

"True, most true."

"On the contrary, if you find indubitable proofs that your ancestor has slept soundly in the tomb, and gone the way of all flesh, you will find yourselves much calmer, and that an attack is made upon the train of events which at present all run one way."

"That is precisely the argument I was using to George," said Henry, "a few moments since."

"Then let us go," said George, "by all means."

"It is so decided then," said Henry.

"Let it be done with caution," replied Mr. Marchdale.

"If any one can manage it, of course we can."

And then they spend another several thousand words determining how it is to be managed. Eventually they set off and are joined by Chillingworth, and break into the church via the time-honored Gothic novel method of picking the lead out from around a windowpane and reaching through to unlock it, which is of course the way the Vampire of Croglin Grange got in to snack on Amelia Cranswell. There is lengthy discussion of candles and matches, and then lengthy discussion of unfastening the screws holding the vault door shut, and then lengthy description of this procedure being performed, and eventually they get into the goddamn vault and start looking at coffins. At this point Sir Runnagate Bannerworth magically, and without explanation, becomes Marmaduke Bannerworth, and you can sort of picture Rymer/Prest going “…let’s see if anybody notices.”

They eventually locate the coffin of Marmaduke Bannerworth, Yeoman, who either died in 1540 or 1640, because Rymer/Prest can’t keep their goddamn dates straight between paragraphs, and of course there’s nothing in there but some rags. Chillingworth thinks like a lawyer:

"Mr. Chillingworth, can you take upon yourself to say that no corpse has undergone the process of decomposition in this coffin?"

"To answer your question exactly, as probably in your hurry you have worded it," said Mr. Chillingworth, "I cannot take upon myself to say any such thing; but this I can say, namely, that in this coffin there are no animal remains, and that it is quite impossible that any corpse enclosed here could, in any lapse of time, have so utterly and entirely disappeared."

And like the scientist he is:

"Think again, Mr. Chillingworth; I pray you think again," cried Marchdale.

"If I were to think for the remainder of my existence," he replied, "I could come to no other conclusion. It is not a matter of opinion; it is a matter of fact."

They put the lid back on and leave, and Henry starts to whine about how everything is terrible forever and nothing matters and nobody has ever experienced an affliction worse than his and woe. Chillingworth tells him to stop being a twit and do something about it:

"Henry," he said, "the best way, you may depend, of meeting evils, be they great or small, is to get up an obstinate feeling of defiance against them. Now, when anything occurs which is uncomfortable to me, I endeavour to convince myself, and I have no great difficulty in doing so, that I am a decidedly injured man."

"Indeed!"

"Yes; I get very angry, and that gets up a kind of obstinacy, which makes me not feel half so much mental misery as would be my portion, if I were to succumb to the evil, and commence whining over it, as many people do, under the pretence of being resigned."

"But this family affliction of mine transcends anything that anybody else ever endured."

"I don't know that; but it is a view of the subject which, if I were you, would only make me more obstinate."

"What can I do?"

"In the first place, I would say to myself, 'There may or there may not be supernatural beings, who, from some physical derangement of the ordinary nature of things, make themselves obnoxious to living people; if there are, d—n them! There may be vampyres; and if there are, I defy them.' Let the imagination paint its very worst terrors; let fear do what it will and what it can in peopling the mind with horrors. Shrink from nothing, and even then I would defy them all."

"Is not that like defying Heaven?"

"Most certainly not; for in all we say and in all we do we act from the impulses of that mind which is given to us by Heaven itself. If Heaven creates an intellect and a mind of a certain order, Heaven will not quarrel that it does the work which it was adapted to do."

"I know these are your opinions. I have heard you mention them before."

"They are the opinions of every rational person. Henry Bannerworth, because they will stand the test of reason; and what I urge upon you is, not to allow yourself to be mentally prostrated, even if a vampyre has paid a visit to your house. Defy him, say I—fight him. Self-preservation is a great law of nature, implanted in all our hearts; do you summon it to your aid."

I LOVE CHILLINGWORTH OKAY

The authors cast some shade:

Mr. Chillingworth was one of those characters in society who hold most dreadful opinions, and who would destroy religious beliefs, and all the different sects in the world, if they could, and endeavour to introduce instead some horrible system of human reason and profound philosophy.

Sounds good to me. Off they troop, but back at the Hall Flora is having adventures of her own, having half-expected another visit from their friend:

One glance, one terrified glance, in which her whole soul was concentrated, sufficed to shew her who and what the figure was. There was the tall, gaunt form—there was the faded ancient apparel—the lustrous metallic-looking eyes—its half-opened month, exhibiting the tusk-like teeth! It was—yes, it was—the vampyre!

It stood for a moment gazing at her, and then in the hideous way it had attempted before to speak, it apparently endeavoured to utter some words which it could not make articulate to human ears. The pistols lay before Flora. Mechanically she raised one, and pointed it at the figure. It advanced a step, and then she pulled the trigger.

A stunning report followed. There was a loud cry of pain, and the vampyre fled. The smoke and the confusion that was incidental to the spot prevented her from seeing if the figure walked or ran away. She thought she heard a crashing sound among the plants outside the window, as if it had fallen, but she did not feel quite sure.

If you’re keeping track, that’s four times people have shot at Varney so far. I’d forgotten how much of this book consists of people shooting at Varney in between having THE MOST BORING CONVERSATIONS IN THE WORLD.

Anyway, Charles Holland shows up, and everybody gets brought up to speed on the situation vis-a-vis vampyres, and Flora is all like oh no I can never marry you I am tainted with the vampyre’s bite and am totally going to become one myself and it would be gross, upon which Charles Holland has sad feelings. Which is literally part of the next chapter’s title.

The Probable Consequence of the Mysterious Apparition's Appearance: Varney the Vampire

This time on Varney the Vampire we are introduced to the most sensible character in this part of the book and encounter a hint of Plot.

We left our heroes just as Varney finally manages to escape, getting shot (again) and vanishing over the wall; when they go to look for the body there is no sign of it, and after another several pages of dialogue they go back inside. It is revealed that the Ominous Portrait on Flora’s bedroom wall, which looks a hell of a lot like the thing that was snacking on Flora not so long ago, is of their ancestor Sir Runnagate Bannerworth, a double-dactylic wastrel who ninety years before “first, by his vices, gave the great blow to the family prosperity." I’ll take heavy-handed foreshadowing for three hundred.

In the morning Flora wakes up and has the screaming horrors at the sight of sunlight, which is a nice touch. The others proceed to have the world’s longest and least interesting discussion of whether vampires exist and, if so, if the thing they saw is one, eventually coming to the conclusion “yes.”

"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?"

"What—what?"

"That you will not repeat my opinion to any one."

"I do."

"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 it is supposed that there are beings who never die."

"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."

"A vampyre!"

And so on. Eventually Henry decides to fetch a doctor to see Flora, and because he is an idiot is surprised to find that everyone is gossiping about vampires:

He had never thought, so engaged had he been with other matters, that the servants were cognizant of the whole affair,

Douchebag.

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 explains that uh, no, someone…broke into the house, that’s the ticket, no vampyres around here, and continues into town. He tells the doctor about his hideous suppositions and the doctor, Chillingworth, is like “don’t be ridiculous.” I like Chillingworth: he is the most sane and level-headed person we have met so far.

Back at the house Flora has come to the obvious conclusion herself, and while Chillingworth dismisses her fears, his scientific curiosity is piqued. We then get another little nugget of vampire lore which previously appeared in at least one other classic, Polidori’s The Vampyre:

"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."

Oh, Chillingworth. You’ve already made up your mind to pursue this matter. Polidori’s book came out in 1819, and Varney was published in serial form between 1845 and 1847, so it’s a fair bet that Rymer/Prest were cribbing off the earlier text; Lord Ruthven is definitely killable, and definitely comes back to life under the influence of moonlight.

(A brief aside re. taxonomy: In my verse, Varney is a lunar sensitive, a subspecies that uses the Y spelling and features the moonlight-resurrection trait, and I’ve borrowed the virgins-only thing from Blood for Dracula (Ruthven looks pretty much exactly like the young Udo Kier). Ruthven, however, is a classic draculine vampire with an I, who can drink anybody’s blood but who does not undergo moonlight resurrection, and who is extremely shirty about Polidori’s getting his taxonomy and his details wrong. Carry on.)

The Bannerworths now get a letter from Sir Francis Varney himself:

"Sir Francis Varney presents his compliments to Mr. Bannerworth, and is much concerned to hear that some domestic affliction has fallen upon him. Sir Francis hopes that the genuine and loving sympathy of a neighbour will not be regarded as an intrusion, and begs to proffer any assistance or counsel that may be within the compass of his means.

"Ratford Abbey."

To which they basically go “not now, dude, fuck off,” and get ready to sit up in Flora’s room all night, but Mr. Marchdale has another unsettling piece of evidence: a piece of cloth he had ripped off the vampyre’s coat the previous evening, which not only smells like the grave but matches exactly the coat Sir Silly Name is wearing in the Ominous Portrait, DUN DUN DUNNNN.

That’s enough for now. Tune in next time for Varney the Vampire Gets Shot A Whole Bunch More Times, With Varying Effect!

VS Presents Varney the Vampire, or, The Feast of Blood (and is not making any of it up)

I recently wrote on Twitter that one of the best parts about writing this book series is that I get to re-read Varney the Vamp(y)re again, and one of the worst parts was having to re-read Varney. There’s a lot of it. A lot a lot. The edition over on Gutenberg is 96 chapters long and that’s not even the whole thing; it was originally published as a penny-dreadful serial, and you get the feeling that authors James Malcolm Rymer and/or Thomas Preskett Prest were getting paid not by the word but the inch, or possibly the yard. (According to Wiki, grain of salt included, the entire book contains something like 667,000 words.)

And since I’m reading it again, or skimming it, anyway, to find useful details, I am going to share a little of it with the internet, in a series of brief recaps, to introduce the wonder and horror that is Varney to people who have never encountered him before. You can thank me after you try to un-see lines like the girl has swooned, and the vampyre is at his hideous repast!


Varney begins with it was a dark and stormy night:

What is that—a strange, pattering noise, as of a million of fairy feet? It is hail—yes, a hail-storm has burst over the city. Leaves are dashed from the trees, mingled with small boughs; windows that lie most opposed to the direct fury of the pelting particles of ice are broken, and the rapt repose that before was so remarkable in its intensity, is exchanged for a noise which, in its accumulation, drowns every cry of surprise or consternation which here and there arose from persons who found their houses invaded by the storm.

Now and then, too, there would come a sudden gust of wind that in its strength, as it blew laterally, would, for a moment, hold millions of the hailstones suspended in mid air, but it was only to dash them with redoubled force in some new direction, where more mischief was to be done.

Oh, how the storm raged! Hail—rain—wind. It was, in very truth, an awful night.

We are introduced to our heroine, or at least our first heroine, Flora Bannerworth, who is as lovely as a spring morning and possesses a neck (and bosom) of exceeding pulchritude; she is asleep in an exhaustively described bed in an exhaustively described bedchamber furnished with an ominous portrait, and right away we go thoroughly creeptastic, in the time-honored fashion of vampire lit:

Oh, what a world of witchery was in that mouth, slightly parted, and exhibiting within the pearly teeth that glistened even in the faint light that came from that bay window. How sweetly the long silken eyelashes lay upon the cheek. Now she moves, and one shoulder is entirely visible—whiter, fairer than the spotless clothing of the bed on which she lies, is the smooth skin of that fair creature, just budding into womanhood, and in that transition state which presents to us all the charms of the girl—almost of the child, with the more matured beauty and gentleness of advancing years.

Ew. Flora and her glistening teeth keep sliding in and out of the present tense, but she is woken by the storm and then does a bit of screaming because the unearthly jagged flashes of lightning reveal unto her a tall dark figure climbing into her window:

The figure turns half round, and the light falls upon the face. It is perfectly white—perfectly bloodless. The eyes look like polished tin; the lips are drawn back, and the principal feature next to those dreadful eyes is the teeth—the fearful looking teeth—projecting like those of some wild animal, hideously, glaringly white, and fang-like. It approaches the bed with a strange, gliding movement. It clashes together the long nails that literally appear to hang from the finger ends. No sound comes from its lips. Is she going mad—that young and beautiful girl exposed to so much terror? she has drawn up all her limbs; she cannot even now say help. The power of articulation is gone, but the power of movement has returned to her; she can draw herself slowly along to the other side of the bed from that towards which the hideous appearance is coming.

This is genuinely freaky, and may be the inspiration for some of Murnau’s aesthetic choices in Nosferatu (see Willem Dafoe, as Schreck, doing the nail thing in Shadow of the Vampire). Rymer and/or Prest don’t waste any time in setup before they go right to the vampyre at his hideous repast. Notice here the polished tin description of Varney’s eyes, which is (I think) unique to him, and a wonderfully specific note which I had a lot of fun writing about. People whose irises are literally reflective should wear sunglasses to play poker.

Anyway, so Varney bites her, like you do, and she screams and faints, like you do, and this very slowly rouses the household. The dialogue here is unbelievable:

"Did you hear a scream, Harry?" asked a young man, half-dressed, as he walked into the chamber of another about his own age.

"I did—where was it?"

"God knows. I dressed myself directly."

"All is still now."

"Yes; but unless I was dreaming there was a scream."

"We could not both dream there was. Where did you think it came from?"

"It burst so suddenly upon my ears that I cannot say."

There was a tap now at the door of the room where these young men were, and a female voice said,—

"For God's sake, get up!"

"We are up," said both the young men, appearing.

"Did you hear anything?"

"Yes, a scream."

"Oh, search the house—search the house; where did it come from—can you tell?"

"Indeed we cannot, mother."

Another person now joined the party. He was a man of middle age, and, as he came up to them, he said,—

"Good God! what is the matter?"

And so on, for several pages, before they finally get around to breaking open Flora’s door, and Varney knocks over one of the dimwitted brothers and bounds out the window, but not before the slightly-more-competent houseguest Mr. Marchdale shoots at him. We are then treated to one of the finest scenes ever put to paper in the canon of literature: Varney Tries to Climb a Wall.

"God help us all. It is not human. Look there—look there—do you not see it?"

They looked in the direction he indicated. At the end of this vista was the wall of the garden. At that point it was full twelve feet in height, and as they looked, they saw the hideous, monstrous form they had traced from the chamber of their sister, making frantic efforts to clear the obstacle.

Then they saw it bound from the ground to the top of the wall, which it very nearly reached, and then each time it fell back again into the garden with such a dull, heavy sound, that the earth seemed to shake again with the concussion. They trembled—well indeed they might, and for some minutes they watched the figure making its fruitless efforts to leave the place.

"What—what is it?" whispered Henry, in hoarse accents. "God, what can it possibly be?"

"I know not," replied Mr. Marchdale. "I did seize it. It was cold and clammy like a corpse. It cannot be human."

"Not human?"

"Look at it now. It will surely escape now."

"No, no—we will not be terrified thus—there is Heaven above us. Come on, and, for dear Flora's sake, let us make an effort yet to seize this bold intruder."

"Take this pistol," said Marchdale. "It is the fellow of the one I fired. Try its efficacy."

"He will be gone," exclaimed Henry, as at this moment, after many repeated attempts and fearful falls, the figure reached the top of the wall, and then hung by its long arms a moment or two, previous to dragging itself completely up.

FROZEN WITH TERROR OF THE UNDEAD FIEND here, y’all. Varney eventually gets away, with a bullet wound and no dignity whatsoever, and thus sets up the main theme of the book: Varney Gets Chased By Various Individuals After Doing Something Reprehensible. Next time: thirty pages of stultifying dialogue before the Bannerworths even float the concept of Flora’s attacker being a vampyre, and we get to see Sir Francis Varney being snide.