“It shall be fathomed if there be any possibility of its being discovered,” muttered Chillingworth. “Who would have thought that so quiet and orderly a spot as this, our quiet village, would have suffered so much commotion and disturbance? Far from every cause of noise and strife, it is quite as great a matter of mystery as the vampyre business itself.
“I have been so mixed up in this business that I must go through with it. By the way, of the mysteries, the greatest that I have met with is the fact of the vampyre having anything to do with so quiet a family as the Bannerworths.”
Mr. Chillingworth pondered over the thought; but yet he could make nothing of it. It in no way tended to elucidate anything connected with the affair, and it was much too strange and singular in all its parts to be submitted to any process of thought, with any hope of coming to anything like a conclusion upon the subject—that must remain until some facts were ascertained, and to obtain them Mr. Chillingworth now determined to try.
This was precisely what was most desirable in the present state of affairs; while things remained in the present state of uncertainty, there would be much more of mystery than could ever be brought to light.
One or two circumstances cleared up, the minor ones would follow in the same train, and they would be explained by the others; and if ever that happy state of things were to come about, why, then there would be a perfect calm in the town.
As Mr. Chillingworth was going along, he thought he observed two men sitting inside a hedge, close to a hay-rick, and thinking neither of them had any business there, he determined to listen to their conversation, and ascertain if it had any evil tendency, or whether it concerned the late event.
Having approached near the gate, and they being on the other side, he got over without any noise, and, unperceived by either of them, crept close up to them.
“So you haven’t long come from sea?”
“No; I have just landed.”
“How is it you have thrown aside your seaman’s clothes and taken to these?”
“Just to escape being found out.”
“Found out! what do you mean by that? Have you been up to anything?”
“Yes, I have, Jack. I have been up to something, worse luck to me; but I’m not to be blamed either.”
“What is it all about?” inquired his companion. “I always thought you were such a steady-going old file that there was no going out of the even path with you.”
“Nor would there have been, but for one simple circumstance.”
“What was that?”
“I will tell you, Jack—I will tell you; you will never betray me, I am sure.”
“Never, by heavens!”
“Well, then, listen—it was this. I had been some time aboard our vessel. I had sailed before, but the captain never showed any signs of being a bad man, and I was willing enough to sail with him again.