“Do not be angered with Mr. Marchdale, Charles,” said Henry. “He can have no motive but our welfare in what he says. We should not condemn a speaker because his words may not sound pleasant to our ears.”
“By Heaven!” said Charles, with animation, “I meant not to be illiberal; but I will not because I cannot see a man’s motives for active interference in the affairs of others, always be ready, merely on account of such ignorance, to jump to a conclusion that they must be estimable.”
“To-morrow, I leave this house,” said Marchdale.
“Leave us?” exclaimed Henry.
“Ay, for ever.”
“Nay, now, Mr. Marchdale, is this generous?”
“Am I treated generously by one who is your own guest, and towards whom I was willing to hold out the honest right hand of friendship?”
Henry turned to Charles Holland, saying,—
“Charles, I know your generous nature. Say you meant no offence to my mother’s old friend.”
“If to say I meant no offence,” said Charles, “is to say I meant no insult, I say it freely.”
“Enough,” cried Marchdale; “I am satisfied.”
“But do not,” added Charles, “draw me any more such pictures as the one you have already presented to my imagination, I beg of you. From the storehouse of my own fancy I can find quite enough to make me wretched, if I choose to be so; but again and again do I say I will not allow this monstrous superstition to tread me down, like the tread of a giant on a broken reed. I will contend against it while I have life to do so.”
“And when I desert Flora Bannerworth, may Heaven, from that moment, desert me!”
“Charles!” cried Henry, with emotion, “dear Charles, my more than friend—brother of my heart—noble Charles!”
“Nay, Henry, I am not entitled to your praises. I were base indeed to be other than that which I purpose to be. Come weal or woe—come what may, I am the affianced husband of your sister, and she, and she only, can break asunder the tie that binds me to her.”
The offer for the hall.—The visit to sir Francis Varney.—The strange resemblance.—A dreadful suggestion.
The party made a strict search through every nook and corner of the garden, but it proved to be a fruitless one: not the least trace of any one could be found. There was only one circumstance, which was pondered over deeply by them all, and that was that, beneath the window of the room in which Flora and her mother sat while the brothers were on their visit to the vault of their ancestors, were visible marks of blood to a considerable extent.
It will be remembered that Flora had fired a pistol at the spectral appearance, and that immediately upon that it had disappeared, after uttering a sound which might well be construed into a cry of pain from a wound.