“The same thing has come to my ears.”
“Indeed! Then it must be so; we cannot both of us have merely imagined such a thing. You may depend that this place is beleaguered in some way, and that to-night will be productive of events which will throw a great light upon the affairs connected with this vampyre that have hitherto baffled conjecture.”
“Hush!” said Charles; “there, again; I am quite confident I heard a sound as of a broken twig outside the garden-wall. The doctor and the admiral are in deep discussion about something,—shall we tell them?”
“No; let us listen, as yet.”
They bent all their attention to listening, inclining their ears towards the ground, and, after a few moments, they felt confident that more than one footstep was creeping along, as cautiously as possible, under the garden wall. After a few moments’ consultation, Henry made up his mind—he being the best acquainted with the localities of the place—to go and reconnoitre, so he, without saying anything to the doctor or the admiral, glided from where he was, in the direction of a part of the fence which he knew he could easily scale.
THE VAMPYRE’S DANGER.—THE LAST REFUGE.—THE RUSE OF HENRY BANNERWORTH.
Yet knowing to what deeds of violence the passions of a lawless mob will sometimes lead them, and having the experience of what had been attempted by the alarmed and infuriated populace on a former occasion, against the Hall, Henry Bannerworth was, reasonably enough, not without his fears that something might occur of a nature yet highly dangerous to the stability of his ancient house.
He did not actually surmount the fence, but he crept so close to it, that he could get over in a moment, if he wished; and, if any one should move or speak on the other side, he should be quite certain to hear them.
For a few moments all was still, and then suddenly he heard some one say, in a low voice,
“Hist! hist! did you hear nothing?”
“I thought I did,” said another; “but I now am doubtful.”
“What,” thought Henry, “can be the motives of these men lying secreted here? It is most extraordinary what they can possibly want, unless they are brewing danger for the Hall.”
Most cautiously now he raised himself, so that his eyes could just look over the fence, and then, indeed, he was astonished.
He had expected to see two or three persons, at the utmost; what was his surprise! to find a compact mass of men crouching down under the garden wall, as far as his eye could reach.
For a few moments, he was so surprised, that he continued to gaze on, heedless of the danger there might be from a discovery that he was playing the part of a spy upon them.
When, however, his first sensations of surprise were over, he cautiously removed to his former position, and, just as he did, so, he heard those who had before spoken, again, in low tones, breaking the stillness of the night.