“Yes, yes. God knows, if it purchase an immunity from these visits, we may well be overjoyed. Remember that we have ample reason to believe him more than human. Why should you allow yourselves to risk a personal encounter with such a man, who might be glad to kill you that he might have an opportunity of replenishing his own hideous existence from your best heart’s blood?”
The young men looked aghast.
“Besides,” added Flora, “you cannot tell what dreadful powers of mischief he may have, against which human courage might be of no avail.”
“There is truth and reason,” said Mr. Marchdale, stepping forward, “in what Flora says.”
“Only let me come across him, that’s all,” said Admiral Bell, “and I’ll soon find out what he is. I suppose he’s some long slab of a lubber after all, ain’t he, with no strength.”
“His strength is immense,” said Marchdale. “I tried to seize him, and I fell beneath his arm as if I had been struck by the hammer of a Cyclops.”
“A what?” cried the admiral.
“D—n me, I served aboard the Cyclops eleven years, and never saw a very big hammer aboard of her.”
“What on earth is to be done?” said Henry.”
“Oh,” chimed in the admiral, “there’s always a bother about what’s to be done on earth. Now, at sea, I could soon tell you what was to be done.”
“We must hold a solemn consultation over this matter,” said Henry. “You are safe now, Flora.”
“Oh, be ruled by me. Give up the Hall.”
“I do tremble, brother, for what may yet ensue. I implore you to give up the Hall. It is but a terror to us now—give it up. Have no more to do with it. Let us make terms with Sir Francis Varney. Remember, we dare not kill him.”
“He ought to be smothered,” said the admiral.
“It is true,” remarked Henry, “we dare not, even holding all the terrible suspicions we do, take his life.”
“By foul means certainly not,” said Charles, “were he ten times a vampyre. I cannot, however, believe that he is so invulnerable as he is represented.”
“No one represents him here,” said Marchdale. “I speak, sir, because I saw you glance at me. I only know that, having made two unsuccessful attempts to seize him, he eluded me, once by leaving in my grasp a piece of his coat, and the next time he struck me down, and I feel yet the effects of the terrific blow.”
“You hear?” said Flora.
“Yes, I hear,” said Charles.
“For some reason,” added Marchdale, in a tone of emotion, “what I say seems to fall always badly upon Mr. Holland’s ear. I know not why; but if it will give him any satisfaction, I will leave Bannerworth Hall to-night.”
“No, no, no,” said Henry; “for the love of Heaven, do not let us quarrel.”
“Hear, hear,” cried the admiral. “We can never fight the enemy well if the ship’s crew are on bad terms. Come now, you Charles, this appears to be an honest, gentlemanly fellow—give him your hand.”