There it was again! Some persons were moving about in the town. The sounds that came upon the night air seemed to say that there was an unusual bustle in the town, which was, to Sir Francis Varney, ominous in the extreme.
What could people in such a quiet, retired place require out at such an hour at night? It must be something very unusual—something that must excite them to a great degree; and Sir Francis began to feel very uneasy.
“They surely,” he muttered to himself—“they surely cannot have found out my hiding place, and intend to hunt me from it, the blood-thirsty hounds! they are never satisfied. The mischief they are permitted to do on one occasion is but the precursor to another. The taste has caused the appetite for more, and nothing short of his blood can satisfy it.”
The sounds increased, and the noise came nearer and nearer, and it appeared as though a number of men had collected together and were coming towards him. Yes, they were coming down the lane towards the deserted mansion where he was.
For once in his life, Sir Francis Varney trembled; he felt sick at heart, though no man was less likely to give up hope and to despair than he; yet this sign of unrelenting hatred and persecution was too unequivocal and too stern not to produce its effect upon even his mind; for he had no doubt but that they were coming with the express purpose of seeking him.
How they could have found him out was a matter he could not imagine. The Bannerworths could not have betrayed him—he was sure of that; and yet who could have seen him, so cautious and so careful as he had been, and so very sparing had he lived, because he would not give the slightest cause for all that was about to follow. He hoped to have hidden himself; but now he could hear the tramp of men distinctly, and their voices came now on the night air, though it was in a subdued tone, as if they were desirous of approaching unheard and unseen by their victim.
Sir Francis Varney stirred not from his position. He remained silent and motionless. He appeared not to heed what was going on; perhaps he hoped to see them go by—to be upon some false scent; or, if they saw no signs of life, they might leave the place, and go elsewhere.
Hark! they stop at the house—they go not by; they seem to pause, and then a thundering knock came at the door, which echoed and re-echoed through the empty and deserted house, on the top of which sat, in silent expectation, the almost motionless Sir Francis Varney, the redoubted vampyre.
The knock which came so loud and so hard upon the door caused Sir
Francis to start visibly, for it seemed his own knell. Then, as if the mob were satisfied with their knowledge of his presence, and of their victory, and of his inability to escape them, they sent up a loud shout that filled the whole neighbourhood with its sound.
It seemed to come from below and around the house; it rose from all sides, and that told Sir Francis Varney that the house was surrounded and all escape was cut off; there was no chance of his being able to rush through such a multitude of men as that which now encircled him.