How long he remained in this state he knew not, but he was suddenly awakened by a loud bang, as though something heavy and flat had fallen upon the floor—such, for instance, as a door, or anything of that sort. He jumped up, rubbed his eyes, and could even then hear the reverberations through the house.
“What is that?” he muttered; “what is that?”
He listened, and thought he could hear something moving down stairs, and for a moment he was seized with an ague fit; but recollecting, I suppose, that there were some valuables down stairs that were worth fighting for, he carefully extinguished the light that still burned, and softly crept down stairs.
When he got down stairs he thought he could hear some one scramble up the kitchen stairs, and then into the room where the bureau was. Listening for a moment to ascertain if there were more than one, and then feeling convinced there was not, he followed into the parlour, when he heard the cabinet open by a key.
This was a new miracle, and one he could not understand; and then he hoard the papers begin to rattle and rustle; so, drawing out one of the pistols, he cocked it, and walked in.
The figure instantly began to jump about; it was dressed in white—in grave-clothes. He was terribly nervous, and shook, so he feared to fire the pistol; but at length he did, and the report was followed by a fall and a loud groan.
This was very dreadful—very dreadful; but all was quiet, and he lit the candle again, and approached the body to examine it, and ascertain if he knew who it was. A groan came from it. The bureau was open, and the figure clutched firmly a will in his hand.
The figure was dressed in grave-clothes, and he started up when he saw the form and features of his own uncle, the man who was dead, who somehow or other had escaped his confinement, and found his way up, here. He held his will firmly; and the nephew was so horrified and stunned, that he threw down the light, and rushed out of the room with a shout of terror, and never returned again.
* * * * *
The narrator concluded, and one of the guests said,—
“And do you really believe it?”—“No, no—to be sure not.”
“You don’t?”—“Why should I? My friend was, out of all hand, one of the greatest liars I ever came near; and why, therefore, should I believe him? I don’t, on my conscience, believe one word of it.”
It was now half-past twelve, and, as Tom Eccles came not back, and the landlord did not feel disposed to draw any more liquor, they left the inn, and retired to their separate houses in a great state of anxiety to know the fate of their respective wagers.
THE VAMPIRE IN THE MOONLIGHT.—THE FALSE FRIEND.