“That you will not decide upon, however, at present,” said Charles Holland, as he rose.
“Certainly not; a few days can make no difference.”
“None for the worse, certainly, and possibly much for the better.”
“Be it so; we will wait.”
“Uncle,” said Charles, “will you spare me half an hour of your company?”
“An hour, my boy, if you want it,” said the admiral, rising from his chair.
“Then this consultation is over,” said Henry, “and we quite understand that to leave the Hall is a matter determined on, and that in a few days a decision shall be come to as to whether Varney the Vampyre shall be its tenant or not.”
THE ADMIRAL’S ADVICE TO CHARLES HOLLAND.—THE CHALLENGE TO THE VAMPYRE.
When Charles Holland got his uncle into a room by themselves, he said,—
“Uncle, you are a seaman, and accustomed to decide upon matters of honour. I look upon myself as having been most grievously insulted by this Sir Francis Varney. All accounts agree in representing him as a gentleman. He goes openly by a title, which, if it were not his, could easily be contradicted; therefore, on the score of position in life, there is no fault to find with him. What would you do if you were insulted by a gentleman?”
The old admiral’s eyes sparkled, and he looked comically in the face of Charles, as he said,—
“I know now where you are steering.”
“What would you do, uncle?”
“I knew you would say so, and that’s just what I want to do as regards Sir Francis Varney.”
“Well, my boy, I don’t know that you can do better. He must be a thundering rascal, whether he is a vampyre or not; so if you feel that he has insulted you, fight him by all means, Charles.”
“I am much pleased, uncle, to find that you take my view of the subject,” said Charles. “I knew that if I mentioned such a thing to the Bannerworths, they would endeavour all in their power to pursuade me against it.”
“Yes, no doubt; because they are all impressed with a strange fear of this fellow’s vampyre powers. Besides, if a man is going to fight, the fewer people he mentions it to most decidedly the better, Charles.”
“I believe that is the fact, uncle. Should I overcome Varney, there will most likely be at once an end to the numerous and uncomfortable perplexities of the Bannerworths as regards him; and if he overcome me, why, then, at all events, I shall have made an effort to rescue Flora from the dread of this man.”
“And then he shall fight me,” added the admiral, “so he shall have two chances, at all events, Charles.”
“Nay, uncle, that would, you know, scarcely be fair. Besides, if I should fall, I solemnly bequeath Flora Bannerworth to your good offices. I much fear that the pecuniary affairs of poor Henry,—from no fault of his, Heaven knows,—are in a very bad state, and that Flora may yet live to want some kind and able friend.”