I mention this in part to explain my posting schedule for Varney, which is: I don't have one. Whenever I've got a 2000-2500 word stretch finished, I'll post it. Our family doctor says that the blarg could persist for four weeks, so I'm just going to put up whatever I have whenever I have it. On the other hand, I'm hoping I can stick to the Secret Life schedule through at least the rest of the month. We may get to a point where I have to stop and take a break to plan out the next few entries. Bear with me, is what I'm saying.
Previously on Varney the Vampire: "The girl has swooned, and the vampyre is at his hideous repast!"
THE MORNING. -- THE CONSULTATION. -- THE FEARFUL SUGGESTION.
No, I didn't skip it--there wasn't any "offer of assistance from Sir Francis Varney" in the previous chapter. Lying liars who lie!
In the light of day, Henry finally looks over at the Spooky Portrait and thinks to himself, you know, that right there is a Spooky Portrait. Like, seriously, one of those paintings where the eyes follow you around the room. Maybe we should, you know, TAKE IT DOWN. And then he goes, eh. It's a rare work of art, it's painted onto the panel, we were out all night watching that vampire fall on his ass, I'm kind of tired, whatevs.
Meanwhile, Flora is still (not unreasonably) traumatized: "My brain is on fire! A million of strange eyes seem to be gazing on me." Despite having seen the vampyre himself, Henry decides that this is just crazy talk. Let's have a family-and-Marchdale confab! What do we think was in Flora's room, even though we all saw it gnawing on her throat and we're pretty sure what it was? Well, you know, she seems pretty weak. Why would she be weak? I mean, we just saw someone making a Hideous Repast of her, I am completely baffled. But wait! I have thought of a solution. Now--hold on for this-- (I'm holding on--) Because this is gonna blow your mind-- (Okay, keep going--) Are you ready for this? (I'm totally ready for this--) I think it was--I can hardly bring myself to say the word aloud-- (SAY IT GODDAMMIT--) A VAMPYRE! Henry is shocked, I tell you, shocked! that Marchdale should come to such a conclusion! To believe would drive him mad, I tell you! MAAAAAAAAD!
And then George comes in, all "Guys, I know this is gonna sound crazy, but--hold on for this--I think it was a--" "VAMPYRE, WE KNOW."
Unfortunately, Henry is pretty much the only person in a hundred-mile radius who is having trouble with this concept; he rides into town to fetch a doctor, and immediately runs into Some Gentleguy on Horseback. "So what's this about your sister getting bit by a vampire?" "Uh... no. That was... a thief. That was totally a thief." "No? Seriously, the whole town's talking about it. You sure? Like fang marks and everything--" "MAAAAAD, I TELL YOUUUUU!!"
So he gets to the doctor--who starts out as "Mr. Chillingworth" and mysteriously becomes "Dr. Chillingworth" some five hundred pages from now (because, in fact, many doctors, particularly surgeons, were merely "Mister" long into the nineteenth century. I'm just saying, the text is inconsistent). So Mr. Dr. Chillingworth listens to Henry's story, and I'm getting all clappy because this has got to be our Van Helsing figure, and I have always loved the Kindly Old Doctor Who Knows All the Legends type, and so Henry finishes and Chillingworth declares--
"I don't care if [the facts] were ten times more glaring, I won't believe it. I would rather believe you were all mad, the whole family of you -- that at the full of the moon you all were a little cracked."
*RECORD NEEDLE SCRATCH*
Well, at least no one can claim Stoker ripped that off.
So Henry gets back to Bannerworth Hall and he starts telling Flora that it was totally a thief who was chewing on her throat. Totally. But he'll just keep sitting by her bedside. You know. Just in case that bad thief gets any thiefy ideas to come back. Thiefily.
"Then I shall rest in peace, for I know that the dreadful vampyre cannot come to me when you are by."
"The what, Flora?"
"The vampyre, Henry. It was a vampyre."
"Good God, who told you so?"
I AM PRETTY SURE THE HOLES IN HER NECK TOLD HER, HENRY. KEEP UP.
"No one. I have read of them in the book of travels in Norway, which Mr. Marchdale lent us all."
So--a møøse bit his sister?
"They do say, too, that those who in life have been bled by a vampyre, become themselves vampyres, and have the same horrible taste for blood as those before them. Is it not horrible?"
For those of you keeping score, in-story popular belief at this point is that it takes only one bite to turn you into a vampire. This is contradicted later, but it's worth noting.
So here's Mr. Dr. Chillingworth, who wants to know about her "dream." "It wasn't a dream, it was a vampyre!" "Is that what you call a dream?" "NO, IT'S WHAT I CALL A VAMPYRE." She shows him the vampire bites on her neck, and he's all, pshhhh, those, those are totally insect bites. You know, giant twelve-foot insects with scratchy fingernails and hypnotic tin eyes. Bit of Raid's all you need, take care of that in a jiff.
Chillingworth and Henry say nothing in particular for 300 words, at the end of which Chillingworth finally says that the vampire is "a degrading superstition," and that Flora seems to be "labouring under the effect of some narcotic." Or, you know, BLOOD LOSS, but that's far less likely, in his medical opinion. So he's just confused now.
"You have, of course, heard something," said Henry to the doctor, as he was pulling on his gloves, "about vampyres."
"I certainly have, and I understand that in some countries, particularly Norway and Sweden, the superstition is a very common one."
And he thinks Let the Right One In was much better than the remake.
WHAT ARE YOU EVEN TALKING ABOUT?
"And in the Levant."
"Yes. The ghouls of the Mahometans are of the same description of beings. All that I have heard of the European vampyre has made it a being which can be killed, but is restored to life again by the rays of a full moon falling on the body."
It's worth noting here that the idea of sunlight instantly killing vampires is a complete invention of twentieth-century film; it first shows up in Nosferatu (1922). And even though Nosferatu is a loose adaptation of Dracula (to the point where Stoker's widow sued to have the film destroyed--which, I have to say, is deeply ironic, given how merrily Stoker pillaged from those who came before him), this is not an idea that appears in Dracula itself. Stoker changes his Vampire Rules whenever he feels like it, but Dracula appears in daylight at least twice that I can remember off the top of my head. You often see the idea, even in the nineteenth century, that a vampire has to scamper off to its coffin at the stroke of dawn; Carmilla has to do this, but she also strolls back to Laura's house at... one in the afternoon. I don't know if it's a dawn-to-noon thing or what, but sunlight--in the earlier literary tradition--has no particular importance. (Keep that in mind the next time you bag on sparklepires.) Rather, it's moonlight that's associated with vampires--as a means of reviving them. It's actually a key plot point in Polidori's "The Vampyre" (1819), and one of the stand-out elements in the popular awareness of vampires at the time.
"And that the hideous repast of blood has to be taken very frequently, and that if the vampyre gets it not he wastes away, presenting the appearance of one in the last stage of a consumption, and visibly, so to speak, dying."
You can, if you wish, chug a beverage of your choice every time a Hideous Repast™ gets mentioned.
Oh! By the way, tonight happens to be the night of the full moon. Even Chillingworth says, "If now you had succeeded in killing --. Pshaw, what am I saying."
"To-night," [Henry] repeated, "is the full of the moon. How strange that this dreadful adventure should have taken place just the night before."
So then Henry gets Travels in Norway off the bookshelf, and--after a thorough, paid-by-the-word description of how books sometimes open at certain pages, right down to the way the binding gets stretched--
"With regard to these vampyres, it is believed by those who are inclined to give credence to so dreadful a superstition, that they always endeavour to make their feast of blood, for the revival of their bodily powers, on some evening immediately preceding a full moon, because if any accident befall them, such as being shot, or otherwise killed or wounded, they can recover by lying down somewhere where the full moon's rays will fall on them."
Since "Feast of Blood" is our subtitle, you may consider this paragraph chugworthy as well.
THE NIGHT WATCH. -- THE PROPOSAL. -- THE MOONLIGHT. -- THE FEARFUL ADVENTURE.
So Henry kind of goes Blue Screen of Death for a few minutes, which is how George finds him. George is bearing a letter (To you! Oh really? Yes really! That's interesting. Yes, quite, you should read it! Should I? Indeed!), which is FINALLY the Offer of Help from Sir Francis Varney that we were promised two chapters ago.
"Sir Francis Varney presents his compliments to Mr. Beaumont, and is much concerned to hear that some domestic affliction has fallen upon him. Sir Francis hopes that the genuine and loving sympathy of a neighbour will not be regarded as an intrusion, and begs to proffer any assistance or counsel that may be within the compass of his means.
Henry: "Who?" George reminds him expositionally that A Gentleman of That Name has recently moved into
He produced a piece of cloth, on which was an old-fashioned piece of lace, and two buttons. Upon a close inspection, this appeared to be a portion of the lappel of a coat of ancient times, and suddenly, Henry, with a look of intense anxiety, said, --
"This reminds me of the fashion of garments very many years ago, Mr. Marchdale."
"It came away in my grasp as if rotten and incapable of standing any rough usage."
"What a strange unearthly smell it has!"
"Now that you mention it yourself," added Mr. Marchdale, "I must confess it smells to me as if it had really come from the very grave."
Which, again, points to Varney being a vampire of some age, not a newly-minted one. Which makes Volume Two a bit confusing. But I get ahead of myself.
"A thought has just stuck me that the piece of coat I have, which I dragged from the figure last night, wonderfully resembles in colour and appearance the style of dress of the portrait in the room which Flora lately slept in." [...]
Mr. Marchdale held the piece of cloth he had close to the dress of the portrait, and one glance was sufficient to show the wonderful likeness between the two.
"Good God!" said Henry, "it is the same!"
Okay. What is this telling us? That Varney = Sir Runnagate "Oh, Why Not" Bannerworth. That's what this is telling us, right? Right?
"I can tell you something which bears upon it. I do not know if you are sufficiently aware of my family history to know that this one of my ancestors, I wish I could say worthy ancestors, committed suicide, and was buried in his clothes."
Which is traditionally one of the ways people become vampires--suicide. Sir Runnagate is wearing this coat in the portrait. He committed suicide and was buried in the coat. Varney is now wearing the coat. Right?
"You -- you are sure of that?"
I'M HOLDING YOU TO THIS, OKAY.
BUT HARK: "The vampyre -- the vampyre! God of heaven, it has come once again!"
Wait, no, it's just Mr. Dr. Chillingworth creeping around in the laurel bushes. Dumbass.
Well, while we're out here nearly popping a cap in Chillingworth, we might as well take a turn around the grounds. George, you okay with that? No, wait, he needs a weapon if he's going to sit with Flora by himself. So he is going to his bedroom to get the sword that he keeps in his bedroom, because that's where you keep swords, in your bedroom, if you're the kind of person who keeps swords in his bedroom, and OH MY GOD, JUST GO, GO!
Four hundred words about ladders and the beauty of the night later, LOOK! "There is a young lime tree yonder to the right." I'm going to stop here and note--well, number one, by "lime tree" they most likely mean "linden," rather than "a tree that limes grow on." Secondly--that's what Carmilla passes each dawn on the way back to her grave, an avenue of lime trees. "Carmilla" was written nearly thirty years later (1874), so is that an allusion to this scene? Because a quick Google shows a few other vampire references to "lime trees," but I don't know that I see one predating Varney the Vampire.
(I would also like to mention that said search also turned up an article titled, "Use of Mist Nets and Strychnine for Vampire Control in Trinidad." You gotta nip this kind of thing in the bud, or you're going to end up with a nasty vampire infestation. Vampire control is a serious problem that affects us all. I know a lot of people like to get their kids vampires for the holidays, but they get tired of them so fast, you know? "Daddy, the vampire is boring, he just sleeps all day, I want a werewolf." So many vampires end up abandoned in shelters, the kind you see in those sad commercials with the Sarah McLachlan songs and the big sad eyes and the captions that say, "Am I going to get staked today?," or just dumped out on the streets. And then you've just got an out-of-control feral vampire population and nobody wants that. Please, spay and neuter your vampires.)
Meanwhile, under that lime tree is the vampyre, THE VAMPYRE!!, the body of which begins to tremble back to vitality in the [fifteen synonyms for radiant] moonbeams. "Look! We did kill it last night! The moonlight is reviving it!" BANG! "I've killed it again!' "DUMBASS, IT'S JUST GETTING UP AGAIN." BANG! In my head, this keeps going for a good five minutes. BANG! Mr. Dr. Chillingworth gets fed up with this, however, and decides to charge the lime tree with his cane-sword, but the vampyre flees into the dark, scary forest, where even sword-canes fear to pimp.
But it's not like Chillingworth actually thinks it's really a vampyre or anything.
"No, indeed; if you were to shut me up in a room full of vampyres, I would tell them all to their teeth that I defied them. [...] True; I saw a man lying down, and then I saw a man get up; he seemed then to be shot, but whether he was or not he only knows; and then I saw him walk off in a desperate hurry. Beyond that, I saw nothing."
I hope he's the first to get eaten.
Henry, meanwhile, is reaching a state of "mental prostration":
"And such my own," said Henry, excitedly. "Is it at all within the compass of the wildest belief that what we have seen is a vampyre, and no other than my ancestor who, a hundred years ago, committed suicide?"
You said it! YOU SAID IT! YOU CAN'T ACT LIKE YOU DIDN'T SAY IT NOW!
Marchdale, however, finally comes up with the bright idea that, if it really is a Bannerworth ancestor and they know which one it is, why don't we just find the grave and dig it up? Now, now, sir, how are we supposed to drag this out for 223 chapters if you go having ideas and such?
Next installment: a field trip to the Department of Back Story; someone finally thinks to check the family vault; an entire chapter about matches.
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