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Varney the Vampire 1(3)

By´╝ÜThomas Preskett Prest

But her eyes are fascinated. The glance of a serpent could not have produced a greater effect upon her than did the fixed gaze of those awful, metallic-looking eyes that were bent on her face. Crouching down so that the gigantic height was lost, and the horrible, protruding, white face was the most prominent object, came on the figure. What was it?--what did it want there?--what made it look so hideous--so unlike an inhabitant of the earth, and yet to be on it?
Now she has got to the verge of the bed, and the figure pauses. It seemed as if when it paused she lost the power to proceed. The clothing of the bed was now clutched in her hands with unconscious power. She drew her breath short and thick. Her bosom heaves, and her limbs tremble, yet she cannot withdraw her eyes from that marble-looking face. He holds her with his glittering eye.
The storm has ceased--all is still. The winds are hushed; the church clock proclaims the hour of one: a hissing sound comes from the throat of the hideous being, and he raises his long, gaunt arms--the lips move. He advances. The girl places one small foot from the bed on to the floor. She is unconsciously dragging the clothing with her. The door of the room is in that direction--can she reach it? Has she power to walk?--can she withdraw her eyes from the face of the intruder, and so break the hideous charm? God of Heaven! is it real, or some dream so like reality as to nearly overturn the judgment for ever?
The figure has paused again, and half on the bed and half out of it that young girl lies trembling. Her long hair streams across the entire width of the bed. As she has slowly moved along she has left it streaming across the pillows. The pause lasted about a minute--oh, what an age of agony. That minute was, indeed, enough for madness to do its full work in.
With a sudden rush that could not be foreseen--with a strange howling cry that was enough to awaken terror in every breast, the figure seized the long tresses of her hair, and twining them round his bony hands he held her to the bed. Then she screamed--Heaven granted her then power to scream. Shriek followed shriek in rapid succession. The bed-clothes fell in a heap by the side of the bed--she was dragged by her long silken hair completely on to it again. Her beautifully rounded limbs quivered with the agony of her soul. The glassy, horrible eyes of the figure ran over that angelic form with a hideous satisfaction--horrible profanation. He drags her head to the bed's edge. He forces it back by the long hair still entwined in his grasp. With a plunge he seizes her neck in his fang-like teeth--a gush of blood, and a hideous sucking noise follows. The girl has swooned, and the vampyre is at his hideous repast!
Lights flashed about the building, and various room doors opened; voices called one to the other. There was an universal stir and commotion among the inhabitants.
"Did you hear a scream, Harry?" asked a young man, half-dressed, as he walked into the chamber of another about his own age.
"I did--where was it?"
"God knows. I dressed myself directly."
"All is still now."
"Yes; but unless I was dreaming there was a scream."
"We could not both dream there was. Where did you think it came from?"
"It burst so suddenly upon my ears that I cannot say."
There was a tap now at the door of the room where these young men were, and a female voice said,--
"For God's sake, get up!"
"We are up," said both the young men, appearing.
"Did you hear anything?"
"Yes, a scream."
"Oh, search the house--search the house; where did it come from--can you tell?"
"Indeed we cannot, mother."
Another person now joined the party. He was a man of middle age, and, as he came up to them, he said,--
"Good God! what is the matter?"
Scarcely had the words passed his lips, than such a rapid succession of shrieks came upon their ears, that they felt absolutely stunned by them. The elderly lady, whom one of the young men had called mother, fainted, and would have fallen to the floor of the corridor in which they all stood, had she not been promptly supported by the last comer, who himself staggered, as those piercing cries came upon the night air. He, however, was the first to recover, for the young men seemed paralysed.
"Henry," he cried, "for God's sake support your mother. Can you doubt that these cries come from Flora's room?"
The young man mechanically supported his mother, and then the man who had just spoken darted back to his own bed-room, from whence he returned in a moment with a pair of pistols, and shouting,--