“If now you had succeeded in killing—. Pshaw, what am I saying. I believe I am getting foolish, and that the horrible superstition is beginning to fasten itself upon me as well as upon all of you. How strangely the fancy will wage war with the judgment in such a way as this.”
“The full of the moon,” repeated Henry, as he glanced towards the window, “and the night is near at hand.”
“Banish these thoughts from your mind,” said the doctor, “or else, my young friend, you will make yourself decidedly ill. Good evening to you, for it is evening. I shall see you to-morrow morning.”
Mr. Chillingworth appeared now to be anxious to go, and Henry no longer opposed his departure; but when he was gone a sense of great loneliness came over him.
“To-night,” he repeated, “is the full of the moon. How strange that this dreadful adventure should have taken place just the night before. ’Tis very strange. Let me see—let me see.”
He took from the shelves of a book case the work which Flora had mentioned, entitled, “Travels in Norway,” in which work he found some account of the popular belief in vampyres.
He opened the work at random, and then some of the leaves turned over of themselves to a particular place, as the leaves of a book will frequently do when it has been kept open a length of time at that part, and the binding stretched there more than anywhere else. There was a note at the bottom of one of the pages at this part of the book, and Henry read as follows:—
“With regard to these vampyres, it is believed by those who are inclined to give credence to so dreadful a superstition, that they always endeavour to make their feast of blood, for the revival of their bodily powers, on some evening immediately preceding a full moon, because if any accident befal them, such as being shot, or otherwise killed or wounded, they can recover by lying down somewhere where the full moon’s rays will fall upon them.”
Henry let the book drop from his hands with a groan and a shudder.
The night watch.—The proposal.—The moonlight.—The fearful adventure.
A kind of stupefaction came over Henry Bannerworth, and he sat for about a quarter of an hour scarcely conscious of where he was, and almost incapable of anything in the shape of rational thought. It was his brother, George, who roused him by saying, as he laid his hand upon his shoulder,—
“Henry, are you asleep?”
Henry had not been aware of his presence, and he started up as if he had been shot.
“Oh, George, is it you?” he said.
“Yes, Henry, are you unwell?”
“No, no; I was in a deep reverie.”
“Alas! I need not ask upon what subject,” said George, sadly. “I sought you to bring you this letter.”