“But what do you here?” said Varney, impatiently.
“What do you?” cried the other.
“Nay, to ask another question, is not to answer mine. I tell you that I have special and most important business in this house; you can have no motive but curiosity.”
“Can I not, indeed? What, too, if I have serious and important business here?”
“Well, I may as easily use such a term as regards what you call important business, but here I shall remain.”
“Here you shall not remain.”
“And will you make the somewhat hazardous attempt to force me to leave?”
“Yes, much as I dislike lifting my hand against you, I must do so; I tell you that I must be alone in this house. I have most special reasons—reasons which concern my continued existence.
“Your continued existence you talk of.—Tell me, now, how is it that you have acquired so frightful a reputation in this neighbourhood? Go where I will, the theme of conversation is Varney, the vampyre! and it is implicitly believed that you are one of those dreadful characters that feed upon the life-blood of others, only now and then revisiting the tomb to which you ought long since to have gone in peace.”
“Yes; what, in the name of all that’s inexplicable, has induced you to enact such a character?”
“Enact it! you say. Can you, then, from all you have heard of me, and from all you know of me, not conceive it possible that I am not enacting any such character? Why may it not be real? Look at me. Do I look like one of the inhabitants of the earth?”
“In sooth, you do not.”
“And yet I am, as you see, upon it. Do not, with an affected philosophy, doubt all that may happen to be in any degree repugnant to your usual experiences.”
“I am not one disposed to do so; nor am I prepared to deny that such dreadful beings may exist as vampyres. However, whether or not you belong to so frightful a class of creatures, I do not intend to leave here; but, I will make an agreement with you.”
Varney was silent; and after a few moments’ pause, the other exclaimed,—
“There are people, even now, watching the place, and no doubt you have been seen coming into it.”
“No, no, I was satisfied no one was here but you.”
“Then you are wrong. A Doctor Chillingworth, of whom you know something, is here; and him, you have said, you would do no harm to, even to save your life.”
“I do know him. You told me that it was to him that I was mainly indebted for my mere existence; and although I do not consider human life to be a great boon, I cannot bring myself to raise my hand against the man who, whatever might have been the motives for the deed, at all events, did snatch me from the grave.”
“Upon my word,” whispered the admiral, “there is something about that fellow that I like, after all.”