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Varney the Vampire 1(10)

By´╝ÜThomas Preskett Prest

The morning was now coming fast, and just as Henry thought he would partially draw a blind across the window, in order to shield from the direct rays of the sun the eyes of Flora, she awoke.
"Help--help!" she cried, and Henry was by her side in a moment.
"You are safe, Flora--you are safe," he said.
"Where is it now?" she said.
"What--what, dear Flora?"
"The dreadful apparition. Oh, what have I done to be made thus perpetually miserable?"
"Think no more of it, Flora."
"I must think. My brain is on fire! A million of strange eyes seem gazing on me."
"Great Heaven! she raves," said Henry.
"Hark--hark--hark! He comes on the wings of the storm. Oh, it is most horrible--horrible!"
Henry rang the bell, but not sufficiently loudly to create any alarm. The sound reached the waking ear of the mother, who in a few moments was in the room.
"She has awakened," said Henry, "and has spoken, but she seems to me to wander in her discourse. For God's sake, soothe her, and try to bring her mind round to its usual state."
"I will, Henry--I will."
"And I think, mother, if you were to get her out of this room, and into some other chamber as far removed from this one as possible, it would tend to withdraw her mind from what has occurred."
"Yes; it shall be done. Oh, Henry, what was it--what do you think it was?"
"I am lost in a sea of wild conjecture. I can form no conclusion; where is Mr. Marchdale?"
"I believe in his chamber."
"Then I will go and consult with him."
Henry proceeded at once to the chamber, which was, as he knew, occupied by Mr. Marchdale; and as he crossed the corridor, he could not but pause a moment to glance from a window at the face of nature.
As is often the case, the terrific storm of the preceding evening had cleared the air, and rendered it deliciously invigorating and life-like. The weather had been dull, and there had been for some days a certain heaviness in the atmosphere, which was now entirely removed.
The morning sun was shining with uncommon brilliancy, birds were singing in every tree and on every bush; so pleasant, so spirit-stirring, health-giving a morning, seldom had he seen. And the effect upon his spirits was great, although not altogether what it might have been, had all gone on as it usually was in the habit of doing at that house. The ordinary little casualties of evil fortune had certainly from time to time, in the shape of illness, and one thing or another, attacked the family of the Bannerworths in common with every other family, but here suddenly had arisen a something at once terrible and inexplicable.
He found Mr. Marchdale up and dressed, and apparently in deep and anxious thought. The moment he saw Henry, he said,--
"Flora is awake, I presume."
"Yes, but her mind appears to be much disturbed."
"From bodily weakness, I dare say."
"But why should she be bodily weak? she was strong and well, ay, as well as she could ever be in all her life. The glow of youth and health was on her cheeks. Is it possible that, in the course of one night, she should become bodily weak to such an extent?"
"Henry," said Mr. Marchdale, sadly, "sit down. I am not, as you know, a superstitious man."
"You certainly are not."
"And yet, I never in all my life was so absolutely staggered as I have been by the occurrences of to-night."
"Say on."
"There is a frightful, a hideous solution of them; one which every consideration will tend to add strength to, one which I tremble to name now, although, yesterday, at this hour, I should have laughed it to scorn."
"Yes, it is so. Tell no one that which I am about to say to you. Let the dreadful suggestion remain with ourselves alone, Henry Bannerworth."
"I--I am lost in wonder."
"You promise me?"
"That you will not repeat my opinion to any one."
"I do."
"On your honour."
"On my honour, I promise."
Mr. Marchdale rose, and proceeding to the door, he looked out to see that there were no listeners near. Having ascertained then that they were quite alone, he returned, and drawing a chair close to that on which Henry sat, he said,--
"Henry, have you never heard of a strange and dreadful superstition which, in some countries, is extremely rife, by which it is supposed that there are beings who never die."
"Never die!"