As he spoke, Sir Francis Varney stretched out his foot, and closed a small bracket which held out the flap of the table on which the admiral was leaning, and, accordingly, down the admiral went, tea-tray and all.
Mr. Chillingworth ran to help him up, and, when they both recovered their feet, they found they were alone.
THE MYSTERIOUS STRANGER.—THE PARTICULARS OF THE SUICIDE AT BANNERWORTH HALL.
“Hilloa where the deuce is he?” said the admiral. “Was there ever such a confounded take-in?”
“Well, I really don’t know,” said Mr. Chillingworth; “but it seems to me that he must have gone out of that door that was behind him: I begin, do you know, admiral, to wish—”
“That we had never come here at all; and I think the sooner we get out of it the better.”
“Yes; but I am not going to be hoaxed and humbugged in this way. I will have satisfaction, but not with those confounded scythes and things he talks about in the dark room. Give me broad daylight and no favour; yardarm and yardarm; broadside and broadside; hand-grenades and marling-spikes.”
“Well, but that’s what he won’t do. Now, admiral, listen to me.”
“Well, go on; what next?”
“Come away at once.”
“Oh, you said that before.”
“Yes; but I’m going to say something else. Look round you. Don’t you think this a large, scientific-looking room?”
“What of that?”
“Why, what if suppose it was to become as dark as the grave, and Varney was to enter with his scythe, that he talks of, and begin mowing about our legs.”
“The devil! Come along!”
The door at which they entered was at this moment opened, and the old woman made her appearance.
“Please, sir,” she said, “here’s a Mr. Mortimer,” in a loud voice. “Oh, Sir Francis ain’t here! Where’s he gone, gentlemen?”
“To the devil!” said the admiral. “Who may Mr. Mortimer be?”
There walked past the woman a stout, portly-looking man, well dressed, but with a very odd look upon his face, in consequence of an obliquity of vision, which prevented the possibility of knowing which way he was looking.
“I must see him,” he said; “I must see him.”
Mr. Chillingworth started back as if in amazement.
“Good God!” he cried, “you here!
“Confusion!” said Mortimer; “are you Dr.—— Dr.——”
“The same. Hush! there is no occasion to betray—that is, to state my secret.”
“And mine, too,” said Chillingworth. “But what brings you here?”
“I cannot and dare not tell you. Farewell!”
He turned abruptly, and was leaving the room; but he ran against some one at the entrance, and in another moment Henry Bannerworth, heated and almost breathless by evident haste, made his appearance.