“I wish he’d do, then, what he considers for the worst, next time.”
“Perhaps I may,” said Jack, “and then you will be served out above a bit. What ’ud become of you, I wonder, if it wasn’t for me? I’m as good as a mother to you, you knows that, you old babby.”
“Come, come, admiral,” said Mr. Chillingworth: “come down to the garden-gate; it is now just upon daybreak, and the probability is that we shall not be long there before we see some of the country people, who will get us anything we require in the shape of refreshment; and as for Jack, he seems quite sufficiently recovered now to go to the Bannerworths’.”
“Oh! I can go,” said Jack; “as for that, the only thing as puts me out of the way is the want of something to drink. My constitution won’t stand what they call temperance living, or nothing with the chill off.”
“Go at once,” said the admiral, “and tel! Mr. Henry Bannerworth that we are here; but do not tell him before his sister or his mother. If you meet anybody on the road, send them here with a cargo of victuals. It strikes me that a good, comfortable breakfast wouldn’t be at all amiss, doctor.”
“How rapidly the day dawns,” remarked Mr. Chillingworth, as he walked into the balcony from whence Varney, the vampire, had attempted to make good his entrance to the Hall.
Just as he spoke, and before Jack Pringle could get half way over to the garden gate, there came a tremendous ring at the bell which was suspended over it.
A view of that gate could not be commanded from the window of the haunted apartment, so that they could not see who it was that demanded admission.
As Jack Pringle was going down at any rate, they saw no necessity for personal interference; and he proved that there was not, by presently returning with a note which he said had been thrown over the gate by a lad, who then scampered off with all the speed he could make.
The note, exteriorly, was well got up, and had all the appearance of great care having been bestowed upon its folding and sealing.
It was duly addressed to “Admiral Bell, Bannerworth Hall,” and the word “immediate” was written at one corner.
The admiral, after looking at it for some time with very great wonder, came at last to the conclusion that probably to open it would be the shortest way of arriving at a knowledge of who had sent it, and he accordingly did so.
The note was as follows:—
“My dear sir,—Feeling assured that you cannot be surrounded with those means and appliances for comfort in the Hall, in its now deserted condition, which you have a right to expect, and so eminently deserve, I flatter myself that I shall receive an answer in the affirmative, when I request the favour of your company to breakfast, as well as that of your learned friend. Mr. Chillingworth.
“In consequence of a little accident