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Varney the Vampire 1(6)

By´╝ÜThomas Preskett Prest

"I know not," replied Mr. Marchdale. "I did seize it. It was cold and clammy like a corpse. It cannot be human."
"Not human?"
"Look at it now. It will surely escape now."
"No, no--we will not be terrified thus--there is Heaven above us. Come on, and, for dear Flora's sake, let us make an effort yet to seize this bold intruder."
"Take this pistol," said Marchdale. "It is the fellow of the one I fired. Try its efficacy."
"He will be gone," exclaimed Henry, as at this moment, after many repeated attempts and fearful falls, the figure reached the top of the wall, and then hung by its long arms a moment or two, previous to dragging itself completely up.
The idea of the appearance, be it what it might, entirely escaping, seemed to nerve again Mr. Marchdale, and he, as well as the two young men, ran forward towards the wall. They got so close to the figure before it sprang down on the outer side of the wall, that to miss killing it with the bullet from the pistol was a matter of utter impossibility, unless wilfully.
Henry had the weapon, and he pointed it full at the tall form with a steady aim. He pulled the trigger--the explosion followed, and that the bullet did its office there could be no manner of doubt, for the figure gave a howling shriek, and fell headlong from the wall on the outside.
"I have shot him," cried Henry, "I have shot him."
"He is human!" cried Henry; "I have surely killed him."
"It would seem so," said Mr. Marchdale. "Let us now hurry round to the outside of the wall, and see where he lies."
This was at once agreed to, and the whole three of them made what expedition they could towards a gate which led into a paddock, across which they hurried, and soon found themselves clear of the garden wall, so that they could make way towards where they fully expected to find the body of him who had worn so unearthly an aspect, but who it would be an excessive relief to find was human.
So hurried was the progress they made, that it was scarcely possible to exchange many words as they went; a kind of breathless anxiety was upon them, and in the speed they disregarded every obstacle, which would, at any other time, have probably prevented them from taking the direct road they sought.
It was difficult on the outside of the wall to say exactly which was the precise spot which it might be supposed the body had fallen on; but, by following the wall in its entire length, surely they would come upon it.
They did so; but, to their surprise, they got from its commencement to its further extremity without finding any dead body, or even any symptoms of one having lain there.
At some parts close to the wall there grew a kind of heath, and, consequently, the traces of blood would be lost among it, if it so happened that at the precise spot at which the strange being had seemed to topple over, such vegetation had existed. This was to be ascertained; but now, after traversing the whole length of the wall twice, they came to a halt, and looked wonderingly in each other's faces.
"There is nothing here," said Harry.
"Nothing," added his brother.
"It could not have been a delusion," at length said Mr. Marchdale, with a shudder.
"A delusion?" exclaimed the brother! "That is not possible; we all saw it."
"Then what terrible explanation can we give?"
"By heavens! I know not," exclaimed Henry. "This adventure surpasses all belief, and but for the great interest we have in it, I should regard it with a world of curiosity."
"It is too dreadful," said George; "for God's sake, Henry, let us return to ascertain if poor Flora is killed."
"My senses," said Henry, "were all so much absorbed in gazing at that horrible form, that I never once looked towards her further than to see that she was, to appearance, dead. God help her! poor--poor, beautiful Flora. This is, indeed, a sad, sad fate for you to come to. Flora--Flora--"
"Do not weep, Henry," said George. "Rather let us now hasten home, where we may find that tears are premature. She may yet be living and restored to us."
"And," said Mr. Marchdale, "she may be able to give us some account of this dreadful visitation."
"True--true," exclaimed Henry; "we will hasten home."
They now turned their steps homeward, and as they went they much blamed themselves for all leaving home together, and with terror pictured what might occur in their absence to those who were now totally unprotected.