Varney the Vampire eBook

Thomas Peckett Prest
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 963 pages of information about Varney the Vampire.

“It is so.  I would I had never entered one of those houses where men are deprived of their money and their own free will, for at the gambling-table you have no liberty, save that in gliding down the stream in company with others.  How few have ever escaped destruction—­none, I believe—­men are perfectly fascinated; it is ruin alone that enables a man to see how he has been hurried onwards without thought or reflection; and how fallacious were all the hopes he ever entertained!  Yes, ruin, and ruin alone, can do this; but, alas! ’tis then too late—­the evil is done.  Soon after my marriage I fell in with a Chevalier St. John.  He was a man of the world in every sense of the word, and one that was well versed in all the ways of society.  I never met with any man who was so perfectly master of himself, and of perfect ease and self-confidence as he was.  He was never at a loss, and, come what would, never betrayed surprise or vexation—­two qualities, he thought, never ought to be shown by any man who moved in society.”—­

“Indeed!”—­“He was a strange man—­a very strange man.”—­

“Did he gamble?”—­

“It is difficult to give you a correct and direct answer.  I should say he did, and yet he never lost or won much; but I have often thought he was more connected with those who did than was believed.”—­

“Was that a fact?” inquired Mr. Chillingworth.—­

“You shall see as we go on, and be able to judge for yourself.  I have thought he was.  Well, he first took me to a handsome saloon, where gambling was carried on.  We had been to the opera.  As we came out, he recommended that we should sup at a house where he was well known, and where he was in the habit of spending his evenings after the opera, and before he retired.  I agreed to this.  I saw no reason why I should not.  We went there, and bitterly have I repented of so doing for years since, and do to this day.”—­

“Your repentance has been sincere and lasting,” said Mr. Chillingworth; “the one proves the other.”—­“It does; but I thought not so then.  The place was glittering, and the wine good.  It was a kind of earthly paradise; and when we had taken some wine, the chevalier said to me,—­

“’I am desirous of seeing a friend backwards; he is at the hazard-table.  Will you go with me?’—­I hesitated.  I feared to see the place where a vice was carried on.  I knew myself inclined to prudential motives.  I said to him,—­’No, St. John, I’ll wait here for you; it may be as well—­the wine is good, and it will content me?’

“‘Do so,’ he said, smiling; ’but remember I seldom or never play myself, nor is there any reason why you should.’—­’I’ll go, but I will not play.’—­’Certainly not; you are free alike to look on, play, or quit the place at any moment you please, and not be noticed, probably, by a single soul.’

“I arose, and we walked backwards, having called one of the men who were waiting about, but who were watchers and door-keepers of the ‘hell.’  We were led along the passage, and passed through the pair of doors, which were well secured and rendered the possibility of a surprise almost impossible.  After these dark places, we were suddenly let into a place where we were dazzled by the light and brilliancy of the saloon.  It was not so large as the one we left, but it was superior to it in all its appointments.

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Varney the Vampire from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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