“Be it so,” said the vampyre; and he clasped his hands, as if with a thankfulness that he had done so much towards restoring peace at least to one, who, in consequence of his acts, had felt such exquisite despair. “Be it so; and even I will hope that the feelings which have induced so desolated and so isolated a being as myself to endeavour to bring peace to one human heart, will plead for me, trumpet-tongued, to Heaven!”
“It will—it will,” said Flora.
“Do you think so?”
“I do; and I will pray that the thought may turn to certainty in such a cause.”
The vampyre appeared to be much affected; and then he added,—
“Flora, you know that this spot has been the scene of a catastrophe fearful to look back upon, in the annals of your family?”
“It has,” said Flora. “I know to what you allude; ’tis a matter of common knowledge to all—a sad theme to me, and one I would not court.”
“Nor would I oppress you with it. Your father, here, on this very spot, committed that desperate act which brought him uncalled for to the judgment seat of God. I have a strange, wild curiosity upon such subjects. Will you, in return for the good that I have tried to do you, gratify it?”
“I know not what you mean,” said Flora.
“To be more explicit, then, do you remember the day on which your father breathed his last?”
“Too well—too well.”
“Did you see him or converse with him shortly before that desperate act was committed?”
“No; he shut himself up for some time in a solitary chamber.”
“Ha! what chamber?”
“The one in which I slept myself on the night—”
“Yes, yes; the one with the portrait—that speaking portrait—the eyes of which seem to challenge an intruder as he enters the apartment.”
“For hours shut up there!” added Varney, musingly; “and from thence he wandered to the garden, where, in this summer-house, he breathed his last?”
“It was so.”
“Then, Flora, ere I bid you adieu—”
These words were scarcely uttered, when there was a quick, hasty footstep, and Henry Bannerworth appeared behind Varney, in the very entrance of the summer-house.
“Now,” he cried, “for revenge! Now, foul being, blot upon the earth’s surface, horrible imitation of humanity, if mortal arm can do aught against you, you shall die!”
A shriek came from the lips of Flora, and flinging herself past Varney, who stepped aside, she clung to her brother, who made an unavailing pass with his sword at the vampyre. It was a critical moment; and had the presence of mind of Varney deserted him in the least, unarmed as he was, he must have fallen beneath the weapon of Henry. To spring, however, up the seat which Flora had vacated, and to dash out some of the flimsy and rotten wood-work at the back of the summer-house by the propulsive power of his whole frame, was the work of a moment; and before Henry could free himself from the clinging embrace of Flora, Varney, the vampyre was gone, and there was no greater chance of his capture than on a former occasion, when he was pursued in vain from the Hall to the wood, in the intricacies of which he was so entirely lost.