The landlord severely questioned and cross-questioned him, with the hope of discovering if he had any information: but the boy was quite obdurate, and would speak to no one but the person who had offered the reward, so that mine host was compelled to introduce him to the Hungarian nobleman, who, as yet, had neither eaten nor drunk in the house.
The boy wore upon his countenance the very expression of juvenile cunning, and when the stranger asked him if he really was in possession of any information concerning the retreat of Sir Francis Varney, he said,—
“I can tell you where he is, but what are you going to give?”
“What sum do you require?” said the stranger.
“A whole half-crown.”
“It is your’s; and, if your information prove correct, come to-morrow, and I’ll add another to it, always provided, likewise, you keep the secret from any one else.”
“Trust me for that,” said the boy. “I live with my grandmother; she’s precious old, and has got a cottage. We sell milk and cakes, sticky stuff, and pennywinkles.”
“A goodly collection. Go on.”
“Well, sir, this morning, there comes a man in with a bottle, and he buys a bottle full of milk and a loaf. I saw him, and I knew it was Varney, the vampyre.”
“You followed him?”
“Of course I did, sir; and he’s staying at the house that’s to let down the lane, round the corner, by Mr. Biggs’s, and past Lee’s garden, leaving old Slaney’s stacks on your right hand, and so cutting on till you come to Grants’s meadow, when you’ll see old Madhunter a brick-field staring of you in the face; and, arter that—”
“Peace—peace!—you shall yourself conduct me. Come to this place at sunset; be secret, and, probably, ten times the reward you have already received may be yours,” said the stranger.
“What, ten half-crowns?”
“Yes, I will keep my word with you.”
“What a go! I know what I’ll do. I’ll set up as a show man, and what a glorious treat it will be, to peep through one of the holes all day myself, and get somebody to pull the strings up and down, and when I’m tired of that, I can blaze away upon the trumpet like one o’clock. I think I see me. Here you sees the Duke of Marlborough a whopping of everybody, and here you see the Frenchmen flying about like parched peas in a sifter.”
THE EXCITED POPULACE.—VARNEY HUNTED.—THE PLACE OF REFUGE.
There seemed, now a complete lull in the proceedings as connected with Varney, the vampyre. We have reason to believe that the executioner who had been as solicitous as Varney to obtain undisputed possession of Bannerworth Hall, has fallen a victim to the indiscriminating rage of the mob. Varney himself is a fugitive, and bound by the most solemn ties to Charles Holland, not only to communicate to him such particulars of the past, as will bring satisfaction to his mind, but to abstain from any act which, for the future, shall exercise a disastrous influence upon the happiness of Flora.