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."
"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."
"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.