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,
"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."
"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."
"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.