“It is so. Borrowing some wisdom from the past, and some from resources I would not detail to you, I know that if I have inflicted much misery upon you, I can spare you much more. Your brother or your lover will challenge me.”
“Oh, no, no.”
“I say such will happen, and I can kill either. My skill as well as my strength is superhuman.”
“Mercy! mercy!” gasped Flora. “I will spare either or both on a condition.”
“What fearful condition?”
“It is not a fearful one. Your terrors go far before the fact. All I wish, maiden, of you is to induce these imperious brothers of yours to sell or let the Hall to me.”
“Is that all?”
“It is. I ask no more, and, in return, I promise you not only that I will not fight with them, but that you shall never see me again. Rest securely, maiden, you will be undisturbed by me.”
“Oh, God! that were indeed an assurance worth the striving for,” said Flora.
“It is one you may have. But—”
“Oh, I knew—my heart told me there was yet some fearful condition to come.”
“You are wrong again. I only ask of you that you keep this meeting a secret.”
“No, no, no—I cannot.”
“Nay, what so easy?”
“I will not; I have no secrets from those I love.”
“Indeed, you will find soon the expediency of a few at least; but if you will not, I cannot urge it longer. Do as your wayward woman’s nature prompts you.”
There was a slight, but a very slight, tone of aggravation in these words, and the manner in which they were uttered.
As he spoke, he moved from the door towards the window, which opened into a kitchen garden. Flora shrunk as far from him as possible, and for a few moments they regarded each other in silence.
“Young blood,” said Varney, “mantles in your veins.”
She shuddered with terror.
“Be mindful of the condition I have proposed to you. I covet Bannerworth Hall.”
“And I must have it. I will have it, although my path to it be through a sea of blood. You understand me, maiden? Repeat what has passed between us or not, as you please. I say, beware of me, if you keep not the condition I have proposed.”
“Heaven knows that this place is becoming daily more hateful to us all,” said Flora.
“You well might know so much. It is no sacrifice to urge it now. I will urge my brother.”
“Thanks—a thousand thanks. You may not live to regret even having made a friend of Varney—”
“The vampyre!” said Flora.
He advanced towards her a step, and she involuntarily uttered a scream of terror.
In an instant his hand clasped her waist with the power of an iron vice; she felt hit hot breath flushing on her cheek. Her senses reeled, and she found herself sinking. She gathered all her breath and all her energies into one piercing shriek, and then she fell to the floor. There was a sudden crash of broken glass, and then all was still.