The admiral had armed himself with one of the huge pistols, and he dashed forward, with all the vehemence of his character, towards the window, where he knew he had placed the family crockery, and where he fully expected to meet the reward of his exertion by discovering some one lying amid its fragments.
In this, however, he was disappointed; for, although there was evidently a great smash amongst the plates and dishes, the window remained closed, and there was no indication whatever of the presence of any one.
“Well, that’s odd,” said the admiral; “I balanced them up amazingly careful, and two of ’em edgeways—d—–e, a fly would have knocked them down.”
“Mew,” said, a great cat, emerging from under a chair.
“Curse you, there you are,” said the admiral. “Put out the light, put out the light; here we’re illuminating the whole house for nothing.”
With, a click went the darkening slide over the lantern, and all was obscurity.
At that instant a shrill, clear whistle came from the garden.
THE ARRIVAL OF JACK PRINGLE.—MIDNIGHT AND THE VAMPYRE.—THE MYSTERIOUS HAT.
“Bless me! what is that?” said Mr. Chillingworth; “what a very singular sound.”
“Hold your noise,” said the admiral; “did you never hear that before?”
“No; how should I?”
“Lor, bless the ignorance of some people, that’s a boatswain’s call.”
“Oh, it is,” said Mr. Chillingworth; “is he going to call again?”
“D——e, I tell ye it’s a boatswain’s call.”
“Well, then, d——e, if it comes to that,” said Mr. Chillingworth, “what does he call here for?”
The admiral disdained an answer; but demanding the lantern, he opened it, so that there was a sufficient glimmering of light to guide him, and then walked from the room towards the front door of the Hall.
He asked no questions before he opened it, because, no doubt, the signal was preconcerted; and Jack Pringle, for it was he indeed who had arrived, at once walked in, and the admiral barred the door with the same precision with which it was before secured.
“Well, Jack,” he said, “did you see anybody?”
“Ay, ay, sir,” said Jack.
“Why, ye don’t mean that—where?”
“Where I bought the grub; a woman—”
“D——e, you’re a fool, Jack.”
“Hilloa, ye scoundrel, what d’ye mean by talking to me in that way? is this your respect for your superiors?”
“Ship’s been paid off long ago,” said Jack, “and I ain’t got no superiors. I ain’t a marine or a Frenchman.”
“Why, you’re drunk.”
“I know it; put that in your eye.”
“There’s a scoundrel. Why, you know-nothing-lubber, didn’t I tell you to be careful, and that everything depended upon secrecy and caution? and didn’t I tell you, above all this, to avoid drink?”