Cleolinda Jones (cleolinda) wrote,
Cleolinda Jones

Let's have a little more Varney

To begin! Thanks for all the birthday wishes, guys. I am now, for the record, 32.

Secondly, Sister Girl and I were going through some old pictures yesterday, and.... well.

The girl who lived on Twitpic Kissing a cat when I am two on Twitpic Festive baby Cleo on Twitpic

1. The girl who lived.

@cleolinda: Baby pictures. Oh my God! I had forgotten I had this huge Harry Potter-style V birthmark on my forehead!

@cleolinda: omg RT @queenanthai: @cleolinda V for Vampire. YOU WERE MARKED FROM BIRTH.

I feel like this explains a lot.

2. I was also known to consort with black cats.

3. Festive baby Cleo.

Yes, my head is still that big. (Insert your own joke about ego.)

Meanwhile, the real reason we are here:

Previously on Varney the Vampire: Please, spay and neuter your Norwegian vampires.



Short version: previous heads of the Bannerworth family were a bunch of hell-raisin' gamblers, and thus noble Henry and his family are now quietly penniless. His father, Marmaduke Bannerworth, Oh Why Not the Second, was "found lying dead" (of what: not specified) in the garden, with only an unfinished message written in pencil.

"The money is -- -- "

And then there was a long scrawl of the pencil, which seemed to have been occasioned by his sudden decease.

Of course there was.

So the current Bannerworths, they are still broke. And then, suddenly, Random J. Solicitor, Esq., from London says, "Look, I have this client. I can't tell you who it is, but he'll pay you a shitload of money for the Hall." The Bannerworths want to hold onto the ancestral hall, mortgages and debts and all. "No, seriously. Anything you want." Even the Bannerworths' own lawyer is like, SERIOUSLY, WHY WON'T YOU TAKE THE MONEY? Well, because it's their ancestral family home, and also... there's this guy who likes Flora, and they want to make sure he can drop in on them someday. Because, if they move, they have no way of letting him know. I don't know how we survived before Facebook, you guys.

Flora Bannerworth thinks that Italy is beautiful this time of year

Flora Bannerworth is GOING OVER A CLIFF O NOES!!2!

Charles Holland is saving some random girl he's never met before from certain death

-----Henry Bannerworth likes this
-----George Bannerworth likes this
-----Mrs. Bannerworth likes this

Henry Bannerworth has invited Charles Holland to join The Quietly Penniless Bannerworth Family

And thus, 620 words later, we are introduced to Charles Holland, Artist by Profession, Traveling for Instruction and Amusement, Loved by Everyone (But Especially Flora). And when he gets done Touring the Continent, he's going to come back and look Flora up at Bannerworth Hall! So we DEFINITELY CANNOT MOVE, you guys.

With one exception this was the state of affairs at the hall, and that exception relates to Mr. Marchdale.

Ah: Mrs. Bannerworth's childhood sweetheart, failed suitor, and "distant relative"--shoulda been her cousin, Marchdale, you would've had a far better chance. (While we're here, I should tell you my new theory about why so many heroines in nineteenth century literature end up marrying their cousins--to a degree that I really don't think happened in real life, even considering. [Well, scratch that--the more I think about it, it really did happen in real life that often, didn't it?] I think it's because cousins were allowed to interact like siblings--that is, like friends--whereas mere male/female acquaintances were held apart by a certain degree of convention and propriety. Courtship was often ridiculously formal, particularly as the century wore on. So, for a writer, it would be really appealing to have a character in place that your heroine can even just be around, someone the reader can see her having an emotional relationship with--not just a superficial introduction, a perfunctory proposal. So it's more narratively satisfying to go with "the cousin we've known for the entire book" instead of "cousin's random friend we didn't get to see very often." This is my theory, anyway. Even Charles Holland rapidly gets promoted to--well, we'll get to that.) Instead, Mrs. Bannerworth "had, as is generally the case among several admirers, chosen the very worst: that is, the man who had treated her with the most indifference and who paid her the least attention." Not to mention, a dissipated gambler. It's good to see that, even back in the day, the Bad Boy Fallacy was already in effect.

How far the feelings of the family towards the ancient house of their race would be altered by the appearance at it of so fearful a visitor as a vampyre, we will not stop to inquire, inasmuch as such feelings will develop themselves as we proceed.

Well--wait. What? "Altered by the appearance at it of"? What the hell is this? God, it's like the literary equivalent of a speed bump. Just say "They didn't like the house much anymore now that a vampire had dropped in, but I'll get paid more if I don't actually say that in plain English" and get on with it, damn.

And then all the servants quit. Sorry--the feelings of the domestics inasmuch as the domestics could afford to have feelings were inevitably altered towards the desirability of the wages paid thereunto by the appearance of A FUCKING VAMPIRE.




"A visit? Where?"

"I much regret it."

"I comprehend you, Henry."

"True, most true."

"Do so."

"It has."



If only this worked for term papers.

"You know that at present we are not only led to believe, almost irresistibly, that we have been visited by a vampyre, but that that vampyre is our ancestor, whose portrait is on the panel of the wall of the chamber into which he contrived to make his way."

"Contrived" being the operative word here.

"I have," [Henry] said. "The fact is, that although at your solicitation I went to bed, I could not sleep, and I went out once more to search about the spot where we had seen the -- the I don't know what to call it, for I have a great dislike to naming it a vampyre."

"There is not much in a name," said George.

"In this instance there is," said Marchdale. "It is a name suggestive of horror."

Well, given that you saw it dining on Miss Bannerworth, I don't know that we can really escape a connotation of "horror" at this point. Life-challenged intruder? Moonlight-fueled revenant? Forcible sanguivore? IT'S A VAMPIRE. DEAL WITH IT.

(Forcible Sanguivore is going to be the debut album from My Hideous Repast.)

@cleolinda: Back to a really pleasant coma in the recliner.

@cleolinda: Put your hands together for the new single from My Hideous Repast, TUBERCULAR DEATH BLARRRRRRRRRG! #wooooo

@CupcakeGoth: TUBERCULAR DEATH BLARRRRRRRRRG will pack the dance floor every time it's played, I know it.

@cleolinda: mmcha mmcha mmcha mmcha WOOP WOOP WOOP WOOP

Meanwhile, the menfolk have decided that the not-so-final resting place of Sir Ancestor von Spookyportrait should be visited. And it only took them fifty-four pages!

"Why should it not be done secretly and at night? Of course we lose nothing by making a night visit to a vault into which daylight, I presume, cannot penetrate."

See, this is what happens when you read up on those sub-par, off-brand Norwegian vampires: you don't find out that they're not going to be in their coffins at night. If Sir Runnagate is really dead, sure, you'll find his moldering skeleton, everyone goes home, and... well, actually, that's worse, because then you won't have the first clue in hell what's going on. But if there's nothing in the coffin... all you've proven is that there's nothing in the coffin. Anything could have happened to it in the course of a hundred years. Robbed, vandalized, disintegrated, you don't know. You're supposed to go during the day so that if the ancestor isn't dead, he's at least asleep and there and you stake him, I thought you people had read about vampires.

Of course, God forbid I was one of these characters, because a dissenting viewpoint would make this discussion go on three times as long. OH, THE THRILL OF LOGISTICS. Let's go! By all means! With caution! Of course! Let's go at night! But won't we have to ask the church if we can open the vault? No, it's your vault, you can do what you want! But certainly we will be seen! But that's why we're going at night! But what if we get caught? WHO GIVES A SHIT, THERE'S A VAMPIRE NEEDS KILLIN'.

All this being arranged, Henry proceeded to Flora, and told her that he and George, and Mr. Marchdale wished to go out for about a couple of hours in the evening after dark, if she felt sufficiently well to feel a sense of security without them.

Flora changed colour, and slightly trembled, and then, as if ashamed of her fears, she said, --

"Go, go; I will not detain you. Surely no harm can come to me in presence of my mother."

I found this interesting if only because it reminded me of Mrs. Westenra staying up with Lucy in Dracula. And that... that did not end so well.

"And Flora does not seem much alarmed," said Marchdale, "at being left alone?"

"And I fervently hope that, through her life," added Marchdale, "she may never have such another trial."

"We will not for a moment believe that such a thing can occur twice."

Okay, it's a vampire, not lightning. And let's not even get into the logical point that a vampire is more likely to return to a previous victim--well, actually, let's. Our vampire knows that Flora is as tasty lovely as the spring, he now knows how to unlatch her window, he knows which walls are good for jumping and falling on his ass over, he knows where the best patches of moonlight for when he gets his dumb ass shot are--why the hell would he go somewhere else and start all over again? Do you have any idea how long it takes to case an ancestrally gothic joint like this? So yeah. You leave that gun with Flora. "Not believe that such a thing can occur twice" my ass.

Then we get two hundred words about arming Flora against the thing that they do not believe can occur twice. I want you to understand that when I say there are so-and-so many hundred words of something, I am not exaggerating. I have Varney in a Word document; I can highlight a passage and Word will tell me exactly how many words (by their metric, anyway) are in it. When I say "two hundred words about arming Flora," I am not kidding. You've heard of a drabble--a short fanfic that's supposed to be exactly one hundred words? There are people who have actually written complete stories in half the amount of space it takes the Henry to get Flora a gun (but not from his bedroom, because that's where you keep swords).

That accomplished, we get THREE HUNDRED WORDS ABOUT FORGETTING THE MATCHES. "I forgot the matches!" "But you said you'd bring the matches!" "How could I have forgotten the matches!" "I despair at not having matches!" "Oh, but I have matches!" "So do I!" "I say! The matches I forgot were by far inferior!" "Indeed! I made these matches myself!" NO, REALLY:

"Make yourselves easy on that score," said Mr. Chillingworth. "I am never without some chemical matches of my own manufacture, so that as you have the candles, that can be no bar to our going on at once."

If I had been writing this, I would have then had someone cry out, "But I forgot the candles!"

It was an ancient building of the early English style of architecture, or rather Norman, with one of those antique, square, short towers, built of flint stones firmly embedded in cement, which, from time, had acquired almost the consistency of stone itself. There were numerous arched windows, partaking something of the more florid gothic style, although scarcely ornamental enough to be called such. The edifice stood in the centre of a grave-yard, which extended over a space of about half an acre, and altogether it was one of the prettiest and most rural old churches within many miles of the spot.

In Kent, to the present day, are some fine specimens of the old Roman style of church building; and, although they are as rapidly pulled down as the abuse of modern architects, and the cupidity of speculators, and the vanity of clergymen can possibly encourage, in order to erect flimsy, Italianised structures in their stead, yet sufficient of them remain dotted over England to interest the traveller. At Willesden there is a church of this description, which will well repay a visit.

The traveler. To interest the traveler. The traveler. WHAT ABOUT THE FUCKING VAMPIRE GODDAMN.

(He generally prefers Gothic architecture, the Fucking Vampire Goddamn does.)

"And now, the question is, how are we to get in?" said Mr. Chillingworth, as he paused, and glanced up at the ancient building.

"The doors," said George

I just want to pretend for a moment that this sentence ends right there.

"The doors," said George, "would effectually resist us."

"How can it be done, then?"

Why, with 235 words of poking out a windowpane!

That accomplished, Marchdale starts to get a little ooked out. Chillingworth is having none of this, although, of course, he refuses to believe in vampires anyway:

"Nay, my dear sir, it is high time that death, which is, then, the inevitable fate of us all, should be regarded with more philosophic eyes than it is. There are no secrets in the tomb but such as may well be endeavoured to be kept secret." [...]

"Ah, your profession hardens you to such matters."

"And a very good thing that it does, or else, if all men were to look upon a dead body as something almost too dreadful to look upon, and by far too horrible to touch, surgery would lose its value, and crime, in many instances of the most obnoxious character, would go unpunished."

Now that I'm reading this for a second time... this is actually a really, really interesting thing for Chillingworth to say. Just mentally tuck that away for now.

"If we have a light here," said Henry, "we shall run the greatest chance in the world of being seen, for the church has many windows."

"Do not have one, then, by any means," said Mr. Chillingworth.


"A match held low down in the pew may enable us to open the vault."


"Here is one of my chemical matches," said Mr. Chillingworth, as he suddenly irradiated the pew with a clear and beautiful flame, that lasted about a minute.

This business with the matches is soooo played out, you guys--oh, here's two hundred words about loosening screws! YAY!

"Let us descend," said Henry. "There is no further obstacle, my friends. Let us descend."

"If any one," remarked George, in a whisper, as they slowly descended the stairs which conducted into the vault -- "if any one had told me that I should be descending into a vault for the purpose of ascertaining if a dead body, which had been nearly a century there, was removed or not, and had become a vampyre, I should have denounced the idea as one of the most absurd that ever entered the brain of a human being."

I'll give you that one, George. The thing you have to remember is that, unless the characters make post-modern references to other horror classics, you have to assume that they're unaware of them. In other words, characters in a book don't know they're in a book, and they don't live in a universe that's aware of, say, Dracula or Buffy. As such, characters can't be expected to know--unless they are genre savvy and adapt to the idea that their life feels a lot like a movie right now pretty quickly--what they're supposed to do. They don't know the rules. All we know at this point is that the Bannerworths are vaguely aware, thanks to some travel guide, that vampires come from Norway and revive in the moonlight. They don't even think the same things are true about vampires that we do. So I have to stop and remind myself of this now and then.

"Now for one of your lights, Mr. Chillingworth. You say you have the candle, I think, Marchdale, although you forgot the matches."

We're never going to get over this, are we? Twenty years from now--"Don't ask Marchdale to do it, he forgot THE MATCHES."

Marchdale took from his pocket a parcel which contained several wax candles, and when it was opened, a smaller packet fell to the ground.

"Why, these are instantaneous matches," said Mr. Chillingworth, as he lifted the small packet up.

"They are; and what a fruitless journey I should have had back to the hall," said Mr. Marchdale, "if you had not been so well provided as you are with the means of getting a light. These matches, which I thought I had not with me, have been, in the hurry of our departure, enclosed, you see, with the candles. Truly, I should have hunted for them at home in vain."




Next installment: With the matches, we see things.

(All Varney entries; the Cleolinda Industries Tip Jar)

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Tags: birthdays, book recaps, books, picspam, vampires, varney the vampire, victoriana, wamphighers

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  • Ow

    As I just said on Twitter, I keep forgetting that chronic health issues are chronic and that I can't just wait them out. "Oh, I feel like shit…

  • This is simply to say

    that I am having a REALLY hard time concentrating, despite having an Outline of Update Posts to work from. (Refer to previous entry.) So I'm still…

  • 2016: Everything Happens So Much

    HELLO. The thing for me is that time flies really quickly. I look up and three months have passed; I look down and three more are gone. I did sort…