The admiral, however, was too intent upon getting a sight of Varney, to notice any preparation of this sort, and he advanced quickly into the room.
And there, indeed, was the much dreaded, troublesome, persevering, and singular looking being who had caused such a world of annoyance to the family of the Bannerworths, as well as disturbing the peace of the whole district, which had the misfortune to have him as an inhabitant.
If anything, he looked thinner, taller, and paler than usual, and there seemed to be a slight nervousness of manner about him, as he slowly inclined his head towards the admiral, which was not quite intelligible.
“Well,” said Admiral Bell, “you invited me to breakfast, and my learned friend; here we are.”
“No two human beings,” said Varney, “could be more welcome to my hospitality than yourself and Dr. Chillingworth. I pray you to be seated. What a pleasant thing it is, after the toils and struggles of this life, occasionally to sit down in the sweet companionship of such dear friends.”
He made a hideous face as he spoke, and the admiral looked as if he were half inclined to quarrel at that early stage of the proceedings.
“Dear friends!” he said; “well, well—it’s no use squabbling about a word or two; but I tell you what it is, Mr. Varney, or Sir Francis Varney, or whatever your d——d name is—”
“Hold, my dear sir,” said Varney—“after breakfast, if you please—after breakfast.”
He rang a hand-bell as he spoke, and the woman who had charge of the house brought in a tray tolerably covered with the materials for a substantial morning’s meal. She placed it upon the table, and certainly the various articles that smoked upon it did great credit to her culinary powers.
“Deborah,” said Sir Varney, in a mild sort of tone, “keep on continually bringing things to eat until this old brutal sea ruffian has satiated his disgusting appetite.”
The admiral opened his eyes an enormous width, and, looking at Sir Francis Varney, he placed his two fists upon the table, and drew a long breath.
“Did you address those observations to me,” he said, at length, “you blood-sucking vagabond?”
“Eh?” said Sir Francis Varney, looking over the admiral’s head, as if he saw something interesting on the wall beyond.
“My dear admiral,” said Mr. Chillingworth, “come away.”
“I’ll see you d——d first!” said the admiral. “Now, Mr. Vampyre, no shuffling; did you address those observations to me?”
“Deborah,” said Sir Francis Varney, in silvery tones, “you can remove this tray and bring on the next.”
“Not if I know it,” said the admiral “I came to breakfast, and I’ll have it; after breakfast I’ll pull your nose—ay, if you were fifty vampyres, I’d do it.”
“Dr. Chillingworth,” said Varney, without paying the least attention to what the admiral said, “you don’t eat, my dear sir; you must be fatigued with your night’s exertions. A man of your age, you know, cannot be supposed to roll and tumble about like a fool in a pantomime with impunity. Only think what a calamity it would be if you were laid up. Your patients would all get well, you know.”