“Rise, Sir Francis.”
“You will not let me be torn out and slaughtered like an ox. I am sure you will not.”
“Sir Francis, we are incapable of such conduct; you have sought refuge here, and shall find it as far as we are able to afford it to you.”
“And your brother—and—”
“Yes—yes—all who are here will do the same; but here they come to speak for themselves.”
As she spoke, Mrs. Bannerworth entered, also Charles Holland, who both started on seeing the vampyre present, Sir Francis Varney, who was too weak to rise without assistance.
“Sir Francis Varney,” said Flora, speaking to them as they entered, “has sought refuge here; his life is in peril, and he has no other hope left; you will, I am sure, do what can be done for him.”
“Mr. Holland,” said Sir Francis, “I am, as you may see by my condition, a fugitive, and have been beaten almost to death; instinct alone urged me on to save my life, and I, unknowingly, came in here.”
“Rise, Sir Francis,” said Charles Holland; “I am not one who would feel any pleasure in seeing you become the victim of any brutal mob. I am sure there are none amongst us who would willingly do so. You have trusted to those who will not betray you.”
“Thank you,” said Sir Francis, faintly. “I thank you; your conduct is noble, and Miss Bannerworth’s especially so.”
“Are you much hurt, Sir Francis?” inquired Charles.
“I am much hurt, but not seriously or dangerously; but I am weak and exhausted.”
“Let me assist you to rise,” said Charles Holland.
“Thank you,” said Sir Francis, as he accepted of the assistance, and when he stood up, he found how incapable he really was, for a child might have grappled with him.
“I have been sore beset, Mrs. Bannerworth,” he said, endeavouring to bow to that lady; “and I have suffered much ill-usage. I am not in such a plight as I could wish to be seen in by ladies; but my reasons for coming will be an excuse for my appearance in such disorder.”
“We will not say anything about that,” said Charles Holland; “under the circumstances, it could not be otherwise.”
“It could not,” said Sir Francis, as he took the chair Miss Flora Bannerworth placed for him.
“I will not ask you for any explanation as to how this came about; but you need some restorative and rest.”
“I think I suffer more from exhaustion than anything else. The bruises I have, of course, are not dangerous.”
“Can you step aside a few moments?” said Mrs. Bannerworth. “I will show you where you can remove some of those stains, and make yourself more comfortable.”
“Thank you, madam—thank you. It will be most welcome to me, I assure you.”
Sir Francis rose up, and, with the aid of Charles Holland, he walked to the next room, where he washed himself, and arranged his dress as well at it would admit of its being done.