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Thomas Peckett Prest
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 963 pages of information about Varney the Vampire.

All eyes were turned upon Flora, as if this question was more particularly addressed to her, and it behoved her, above all others, to answer it.  She did so; and in a firm, clear voice, she said,—­

“I will discover the fate of Charles Holland, and then leave the Hall.”

“The fate of Charles Holland!” said Marchdale.  “Why, really, unless that young gentleman chooses to be communicative himself upon so interesting a subject, we may be a long while discovering his fate.  I know that it is not a romantic view to take of the question, to suppose simply that he wrote the three letters found upon his dressing-table, and then decamped; but to my mind, it savours most wonderfully of matter-of-fact.  I now speak more freely than I have otherwise done, for I am now upon the eve of my departure.  I have no wish to remain here, and breed dissension in any family, or to run a tilt against anybody’s prejudices.”  Here he looked at Admiral Bell.  “I leave this house to-night.”

“You’re a d——­d lubberly thief,” said the admiral; “the sooner you leave it the better.  Why, you bad-looking son of a gun, what do you mean?  I thought we’d had enough of that.”

“I fully expected this abuse,” said Marchdale.

“Did you expect that?” said the admiral, as he snatched up an inkstand, and threw at Marchdale, hitting him a hard knock on the chin, and bespattering its contents on his breast.  “Now I’ll give you satisfaction, you lubber.  D—­me, if you ain’t a second Jones, and enough to sink the ship.  Shiver my timbers if I sha’n’t say something strong presently.”

“I really,” said Henry, “must protest, Admiral Bell, against this conduct.”

“Protest and be d——­d.”

“Mr. Marchdale may be right, sir, or he may be wrong, it’s a matter of opinion.”

“Oh, never mind,” said Marchdale; “I look upon this old nautical ruffian as something between a fool and a madman.  If he were a younger man I should chastise him upon the spot; but as it is I live in hopes yet of getting him into some comfortable lunatic asylum.”

“Me into an asylum!” shouted the admiral.  “Jack, did you hear that?”

“Ay, ay, sir.”

“Farewell all of you,” said Marchdale; “my best wishes be with this family.  I cannot remain under this roof to be so insulted.”

“A good riddance,” cried the admiral.  “I’d rather sail round the world with a shipload of vampyres than with such a humbugging son of a gun as you are.  D——­e, you’re worse than a lawyer.”

“Nay, nay,” cried they, “Mr. Marchdale, stay.”

“Stay, stay,” cried George, and Mrs. Bannerworth, likewise, said stay; but at the moment Flora stepped forward, and in a clear voice she said,—­

“No, let him go, he doubts Charles Holland; let all go who doubt Charles Holland.  Mr. Marchdale, Heaven forgive you this injustice you are doing.  We may never meet again.  Farewell, sir!”

These words were spoken in so decided a tone, that no one contradicted them.  Marchdale cast a strange kind of look round upon the family circle, and in another instant he was gone.

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