“For Heaven’s sake,” said Marchdale, “do not let us trifle at such a moment as this. Mr. Pringle, you really had no business here.”
“Mr. who?” said Jack.
“Pringle, I believe, is your name?” returned Marchdale.
“It were; but blowed if ever I was called mister before.”
The admiral walked up to Sir Francis Varney, and gave him a nod that looked much more like one of defiance than of salutation, to which the vampyre replied by a low, courtly bow.
“Oh, bother!” muttered the old admiral. “If I was to double up my backbone like that, I should never get it down straight again. Well, all’s right; you’ve come; that’s all you could do, I suppose.”
“I am here,” said Varney, “and therefore it becomes a work of supererogation to remark that I’ve come.”
“Oh! does it? I never bolted a dictionary, and, therefore, I don’t know exactly what you mean.”
“Step aside with me a moment, Admiral Bell, and I will tell you what you are to do with me after I am shot, if such should be my fate.”
“Do with you! D——d if I’ll do anything with you.”
“I don’t expect you will regret me; you will eat.”
“Yes, and drink as usual, no doubt, notwithstanding being witness to the decease of a fellow-creature.”
“Belay there; don’t call yourself a fellow-creature of mine; I ain’t a vampyre.”
“But there’s no knowing what you may be; and now listen to my instructions; for as you’re my second, you cannot very well refuse to me a few friendly offices. Rain is falling. Step beneath this ancient tree, and I will talk to you.”
THE STORM AND THE FIGHT.-THE ADMIRAL’S REPUDIATION OF HIS PRINCIPAL.
“Well,” said the admiral, when they were fairly under the tree, upon the leaves of which the pattering rain might be heard falling: “well—what is it?”
“If your young friend, Mr. Bannerworth, should chance to send a pistol-bullet through any portion of my anatomy, prejudicial to the prolongation of my existence, you will be so good as not to interfere with anything I may have about me, or to make any disturbance whatever.”
“You may depend I sha’n’t.”
“Just take the matter perfectly easy—as a thing of course.”
“Oh! I mean d——d easy.”
“Ha! what a delightful thing is friendship! There is a little knoll or mound of earth midway between here and the Hall. Do you happen to know it? There is one solitary tree glowing near its summit—an oriental looking tree, of the fir tribe, which, fan-like, spreads its deep green leaves; across the azure sky.”
“Oh! bother it; it’s a d——d old tree, growing upon a little bit of a hill, I suppose you mean?”
“Precisely; only much more poetically expressed. The moon rises at a quarter past four to-night, or rather to-morrow, morning.”