“Very well; give me the light, and then when I come back I will set light to the fire at once, and then I shall know all is empty, and so will you too.”
This was at once agreed to by all, with acclamations, and the light being handed to the man, he ascended the stairs, crying out in a loud voice,—
“Come out—come out! the house is on fire!”
“Fire! fire! fire!” shouted the mob as a chorus, every now and then at intervals.
In about ten minutes more, there came a cry of “all right; the house is empty,” from up the stairs, and the man descended in haste to the hall.
“Make haste, lads, and fire away, for I see the red coats are leaving the town.”
“Hurra! hurra!” shouted the infuriated mob. “Fire—fire—fire the house! Burn out the vampyre! Burn down the house—burn him out, and see if he can stand fire.”
Amidst all this tumult there came a sudden blaze upon all around, for the pile had been fired.
“Hurra!” shouted the mob—“hurra!” and they danced like maniacs round the fire; looking, in fact, like so many wild Indians, dancing round their roasting victims, or some demons at an infernal feast.
The torch had been put to twenty different places, and the flames united into one, and suddenly shot up with a velocity, and roared with a sound that caused many who were present to make a precipitate retreat from the hall.
This soon became a necessary measure of self-preservation, and it required no urging to induce them to quit a place that was burning rapidly and even furiously.
“Get the poles and firewood—get faggots,” shouted some of the mob, and, lo, it was done almost by magic. They brought the faggots and wood piled up for winter use, and laid them near all the doors, and especially the main entrance. Nay, every gate or door belonging to the outhouses was brought forward and placed upon the fire, which now began to reach the upper stories.
And a loud shout of triumph came from the mob as they viewed the progress of the flames, as they came roaring and tearing through the house doors and the windows.
Each new victory of the element was a signal to the mob for a cheer; and a hearty cheer, too, came from them.
“Where is the vampyre now?” exclaimed one.
“Ha! where is he?” said another.
“If he be there,” said the man, pointing to the flames, “I reckon he’s got a warm berth of it, and, at the same time, very little water to boil in his kettle.”
“Ha, ha! what a funny old man is Bob Mason; he’s always poking fun; he’d joke if his wife were dying.”
“There is many a true word spoken in jest,” suggested another; “and, to my mind, Bob Mason wouldn’t be very much grieved if his wife were to die.”
“Die?” said Bob; “she and I have lived and quarrelled daily a matter of five-and-thirty years, and, if that ain’t enough to make a man sick of being married, and of his wife, hand me, that’s all. I say I am tired.”