“A what, sir?”
“A nobleman from Hungary,” was the reply.
“The deuce!” said the landlord, as he looked after him. “He don’t seem at all hungry here, not thirsty neither. What does he mean by a nobleman from Hungary? The idea of a man talking about hungry, and not taking any breakfast. He’s queering me. I’ll be hanged if I’ll stand it. Here I clearly lose four guineas a week, and then get made game of besides. A nobleman, indeed! I think I see him. Why, he isn’t quite so big as old Slaney, the butcher. It’s a do. I’ll have at him when he comes back.”
Meanwhile, the unconscious object of this soliloquy passed down the High-street, until he came to Dr. Chillingworth’s, at whose door he knocked.
Now Mrs. Chillingworth had been waiting the whole night for the return of the doctor, who had not yet made his appearance, and, consequently, that lady’s temper had become acidulated to an uncommon extent and when she heard a knock at the door, something possessed her that it could be no other than her spouse, and she prepared to give him that warm reception which she considered he had a right, as a married man, to expect after such conduct.
She hurriedly filled a tolerably sized hand-basin with not the cleanest water in the world, and then, opening the door hurriedly with one hand, she slouced the contents into the face of the intruder, exclaiming,—
“Now you’ve caught it!”
“D—n!” said the Hungarian nobleman, and then Mrs. Chillingworth uttered a scream, for she feared she had made a mistake.
“Oh, sir! I’m very sorry: but I thought it was my husband.”
“But if you did,” said the stranger, “there was no occasion to drown him with a basin of soap-suds. It is your husband I want, madam, if he be Dr. Chillingworth.”
“Then, indeed, you must go on wanting him, sir, for he’s not been to his own home for a day and a night. He takes up all his time in hunting after that beastly vampyre.”
“Ah! Sir Francis Varney, you mean.”
“I do; and I’d Varney him if I caught hold of him.”
“Can you give me the least idea of where he can be found?”
“Of course I can.”
“Indeed! where?” said the stranger, eagerly.
“In some churchyard, to be sure, gobbling up the dead bodies.”
With this Mrs. Chillingworth shut the door with a bang that nearly flattened the Hungarian’s nose with his face, and he was fain to walk away, quite convinced that there was no information to be had in that quarter.
He returned to the inn, and having told the landlord that he would give a handsome reward to any one who would discover to him the retreat of Sir Francis Varney, he shut himself up in an apartment alone, and was busy for a time in writing letters.
Although the sum which the stranger offered was an indefinite one, the landlord mentioned the matter across the bar to several persons; but all of them shook their heads, believing it to be a very perilous adventure indeed to have anything to do with so troublesome a subject as Sir Francis Varney. As the day advanced, however, a young lad presented himself, and asked to see the gentleman who had been inquiring for Varney.