THE EXPLANATION.—MARCHDALE’S ADVICE.—THE PROJECTED REMOVAL, AND THE ADMIRAL’S ANGER.
This extremely sudden movement on the part of Varney was certainly as unexpected as it was decisive. Henry had imagined, that by taking possession of the only entrance to the summer-house, he must come into personal conflict with the being who had worked so much evil for him and his; and that he should so suddenly have created for himself another mode of exit, certainly never occurred to him.
“For Heaven’s sake, Flora,” he said, “unhand me; this is a time for action.”
“But, Henry, Henry, hear me.”
“Presently, presently, dear Flora; I will yet make another effort to arrest the headlong flight of Varney.”
He shook her off, perhaps with not more roughness than was necessary to induce her to forego her grasp of him, but in a manner that fully showed he intended to be free; and then he sprang through the same aperture whence Varney had disappeared, just as George and Mr. Marchdale arrived at the door of the summer-house.
It was nearly morning, so that the fields were brightening up with the faint radiance of the coming day; and when Henry reached a point which he knew commanded an extensive view, he paused, and ran his eye eagerly along the landscape, with a hope of discovering some trace of the fugitive.
Such, however, was not the case; he saw nothing, heard nothing of Sir Francis Varney; and then he turned, and called loudly to George to join him, and was immediately replied to by his brother’s presence, accompanied by Marchdale.
Before, however, they could exchange a word, a rattling discharge of fire-arms took place from one of the windows, and they heard the admiral, in a loud voice, shouting,—
“Broadside to broadside! Give it them again, Jack! Hit them between wind and water!”
Then there was another rattling discharge, and Henry exclaimed,—
“What is the meaning of that firing?”
“It comes from the admiral’s room,” said Marchdale. “On my life, I think the old man must be mad. He has some six or eight pistols ranged in a row along the window-sill, and all loaded, so that by the aid of a match they can be pretty well discharged as a volley, which he considers the only proper means of firing upon the vampyre.”
“It is so,” replied George; “and, no doubt, hearing an alarm, he has commenced operations by firing into the enemy.”
“Well, well,” said Henry; “he must have his way. I have pursued Varney thus far, and that he has again retreated to the wood, I cannot doubt. Between this and the full light of day, let us at least make an effort to discover his place of retreat. We know the locality as well as he can possibly, and I propose now that we commence an active search.”
“Come on, then,” said Marchdale. “We are all armed; and I, for one, shall feel no hesitation in taking the life, if it be possible to do so, of that strange being.”