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

“I do not exactly understand this,” said Mr. Chillingworth; “do you, Mr. Pringle? perhaps you can enlighten me?”

“It,” said Jack, “as how you came here upon the same errand as I, and I as you, why we both come about fighting Sir Francis Varney.”

“Yes,” said Sir Francis; “what Mr. Pringle says, is, I believe correct to a letter.  I have a challenge from both your principals, and am ready to give you both the satisfaction you desire, provided the first encounter will permit me the honour of joining in the second.  You, Mr. Pringle, are aware of the chances of war?”

“I should say so,” said Jack, with a wink and a nod of a familiar character.  “I’ve seen a few of them.”

“Will you proceed to make the necessary agreement between you both, gentlemen?  My affection for the one equals fully the good will I bear the other, and I cannot give a preference in so delicate a matter; proceed gentlemen.”

Mr. Chillingworth looked at Jack, and Jack Pringle looked at Mr. Chillingworth, and then the former said,—­

“Well, the admiral means fighting, and I am come to settle the necessaries; pray let me know what are your terms, Mr. What-d’ye-call’em.”

“I am agreeable to anything that is at all reasonable—­pistols, I presume?”

“Sir Francis Varney,” said Mr. Chillingworth, “I cannot consent to carry on this office, unless you can appoint a friend who will settle these matters with us—­myself, at least.”

“And I too,” said Jack Pringle; “we don’t want to bear down an enemy.  Admiral Bell ain’t the man to do that, and if he were, I’m not the man to back him in doing what isn’t fair or right; but he won’t do it.”

“But, gentlemen, this must not be; Mr. Henry Bannerworth must not be disappointed, and Admiral Bell must not be disappointed.  Moreover, I have accepted the two cartels, and I am ready and willing to fight;—­one at a time, I presume?”

“Sir Francis, after what you have said, I must take upon myself, on the part of Mr. Henry Bannerworth, to decline meeting you, if you cannot name a friend with whom I can arrange this affair.”

“Ah!” said Jack Pringle, “that’s right enough.  I recollect very well when Jack Mizeu fought Tom Foremast, they had their seconds.  Admiral Bell can’t do anything in the dark.  No, no, d——­e! all must be above board.”

“Gentlemen,” said Sir Francis Varney, “you see the dilemma I am in.  Your principals have both challenged me.  I am ready to fight any one, or both of them, as the case may be.  Distinctly understand that; because it is a notion of theirs that I will not do so, or that I shrink from them; but I am a stranger in this neighbourhood, and have no one whom I could call upon to relinquish so much, as they run the risk of doing by attending me to the field.”

“Then your acquaintances are no friends, d——­e!” said Jack Pringle, spitting through his teeth into the bars of a beautifully polished grate.  “I’d stick to anybody—­the devil himself, leave alone a vampyre—­if so be as how I had been his friends and drunk grog from the same can.  They are a set of lubbers.”

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