Varney moved not now, nor did he speak, but, like a statue, he stood, with his unearthly looking eyes rivetted upon the door of the apartment.
In a few moments one of his servants came, and said—
“Sir, a person is here, who says he wants to see you. He desired me to say, that he had ridden far, and that moments were precious when the tide of life was ebbing fast.”
“Yes! yes!” gasped Varney; “admit him, I know him! Bring him here? It is—an—old friend—of mine.”
He sank into a chair, and still he kept his eyes fixed upon that door through which his visitor must come. Surely some secret of dreadful moment must be connected with him whom Sir Francisexpected—dreaded—and yet dared not refuse to see. And now a footstep approaches—a slow and a solemn footstep—it pauses a moment at the door of the apartment, and then the servant flings it open, and a tall man enters. He is enveloped in the folds of a horseman’s cloak, and there is the clank of spurs upon his heels as he walks into the room.
Varney rose again, but he said not a word and for a few moments they stood opposite each other in silence. The domestic has left the room, and the door is closed, so that there was nothing to prevent them from conversing; and, yet, silent they continued for some minutes. It seemed as if each was most anxious that the other should commence the conversation, first.
And yet there was nothing so very remarkable in the appearance of that stranger which should entirely justify Sir Francis Varney, in feeling so much alarm at his presence. He certainly was a man past the prime of life; and he looked like one who had battled much with misfortune, and as if time had not passed so lightly over his brow, but that it had left deep traces of its progress. The only thing positively bad about his countenance, was to be found in his eyes. There there was a most ungracious and sinister expression, a kind of lurking and suspicions look, as if he were always resolving in his mind some deep laid scheme, which might be sufficient to circumvent the whole of mankind.
Finding, probably, that Varney would not speak first, he let his cloak fall more loosely about him, and in a low, deep tone, he said,
“I presume I was expected?”
“You were,” said Varney. “It is the day, and it is the hour.”
“You are right. I like to see you so mindful. You don’t improve in looks since—”
“Hush—hush! no more of that; can we not meet without a dreadful allusion to the past! There needs nothing to remind me of it; and your presence here now shows that you are not forgetful. Speak not of that fearful episode. Let no words combine to place it in a tangible shape to human understanding. I cannot, dare not, hear you speak of that.”
“It is well,” said the stranger; “as you please. Let our interview be brief. You know my errand?”
“I do. So fearful a drag upon limited means, is not likely to be readily forgotten.”