The visit to the vault of the Bannerworths, and its unpleasant result.—The mystery.
Henry and his brother roused Flora, and after agreeing together that it would be highly imprudent to say anything to her of the proceedings of the night, they commenced a conversation with her in encouraging and kindly accents.
“Well, Flora,” said Henry, “you see you have been quite undisturbed to-night.”
“I have slept long, dear Henry.”
“You have, and pleasantly too, I hope.”
“I have not had any dreams, and I feel much refreshed, now, and quite well again.”
“Thank Heaven!” said George.
“If you will tell dear mother that I am awake, I will get up with her assistance.”
The brothers left the room, and they spoke to each other of it as a favourable sign, that Flora did not object to being left alone now, as she had done on the preceding morning.
“She is fast recovering, now, George,” said Henry. “If we could now but persuade ourselves that all this alarm would pass away, and that we should hear no more of it, we might return to our old and comparatively happy condition.”
“Let us believe, Henry, that we shall.”
“And yet, George, I shall not be satisfied in my mind, until I have paid a visit.”
“A visit? Where?”
“To the family vault.”
“Indeed, Henry! I thought you had abandoned that idea.”
“I had. I have several times abandoned it; but it comes across my mind again and again.”
“I much regret it.”
“Look you, George; as yet, everything that has happened has tended to confirm a belief in this most horrible of all superstitions concerning vampyres.”
“Now, my great object, George, is to endeavour to disturb such a state of things, by getting something, however slight, or of a negative character, for the mind to rest upon on the other side of the question.”
“I comprehend you, Henry.”
“You know that at present we are not only led to believe, almost irresistibly that we have been visited here by a vampyre but that that vampyre is our ancestor, whose portrait is on the panel of the wall of the chamber into which he contrived to make his way.”
“True, most true.”
“Then let us, by an examination of the family vault, George, put an end to one of the evidences. If we find, as most surely we shall, the coffin of the ancestor of ours, who seems, in dress and appearance, so horribly mixed up in this affair, we shall be at rest on that head.”
“But consider how many years have elapsed.”
“Yes, a great number.”
“What then, do you suppose, could remain of any corpse placed in a vault so long ago?”