Cleolinda Jones (cleolinda) wrote,
Cleolinda Jones
cleolinda

Let's have some more Varney

Hello! I am doing a much better job of posting now! Basically, I forget that the first 4-6 weeks of every year are best spent hibernating productively. I really ought to just schedule that and spend November stockpiling some content to ration out while I'm buried in books and dying of whatever blarg is going around at the time.

Meanwhile! The new Made of Fail podcast with comics artist J.K. Woodward is out! He drinks a lot, and Kevin isn't there to stop him.

Hey! Let's have another recap. Previously on Varney the Vampire: The infamous Chapter All About Matches.


CHAPTER VIII.

THE COFFIN. -- THE ABSENCE OF THE DEAD. -- THE MYSTERIOUS CIRCUMSTANCE, AND THE CONSTERNATION OF GEORGE.


So, when last we left the Bannerworths, lo these many weeks ago, Flora was left to defend herself with a pistol (which did not come from a bedroom, because that is where you get swords), and the two Bannerworth brothers, Mr. Matchdale Marchdale, and Mr. Dr. Not-Helsing the Unbeliever Chillingworth had FINALLY found some goddamn matches and gone into the family crypt, intending to prove whether Varney is or is not a Vampire. Vampyre. Something.

They were all silent for a few moments as they looked around them with natural feelings of curiosity. Two of that party had of course never been in that vault at all, and the brothers, although they had descended into it upon the occasion, nearly a year before, of their father being placed in it, still looked upon it with almost as curious eyes as they who now had their first sight of it.

The sensitive Henry and George proceed to meditate on the tomb of their kindred in 275 words' worth of "romantic thought" while Marchdale and Chillingworth wait patiently. And it's a good thing they brought plenty of matches, because, once we are done having A Moment, we begin the epic, 960-word process of figuring out which coffin belongs to Sir Ancestor von Spookyportrait. See, if you're in the 21st century, you knock this out by saying, "There were nearly twenty coffins, and some of the outer name plates had fallen off, but the process of discovery began to move quickly after Marchdale realized that they only had to look at the inner plates on the very oldest coffins." Or, you know, something written More Better, but my point about the general length stands. When you're in the paid-by-the-word 19th century, Our Hero turns into a hand-wringing whiner, because what you want from your Fearless Vampire Hunters are a bunch of guys wandering around a crypt meebling that they don't know what to do. For nearly a thousand words. "There are so many coffinnnnnnns, I don't knoooooow." "Well, Henry, we could just look at the oldest ones..." "But there are soooo maaaaaanyyyyy." "Oh... I just opened one and it crumbled into dust. I guess... that's a no then?"

"We shall arrive at no conclusion," said George. "All seems to have rotted away among those coffins where we might expect to find the one belonging to Marmaduke Bannerworth, our ancestor."

You see what I was saying about going at night only proving that a body wasn't there, not that a vampire was?

"Here is a coffin plate," said Marchdale, taking one from the floor.

[...] "What says it?" "Ye mortale remains of Marmaduke Bannerworth, Yeoman. God reste his soule. A.D. 1640."

WAIT WAIT WAIT I thought Sir Ancestor was "Runnagate," and the Bannerworths' father was Marmaduke? ARE YOU EVEN READING WHAT YOU'RE WRITING?

"It is the plate belonging to his coffin," said Henry, "and now our search is fruitless."

"Vampire hunting is harrrrrrd. I want to go hoooooome."

"I should not be so hopeless," said Marchdale. "I have, from time to time, in the pursuit of antiquarian lore, which I was once fond of, entered many vaults,

Wait, what?

and I have always observed that an inner coffin of metal was sound and good, while the outer one of wood had rotted away, and yielded at once to the touch of the first hand that was laid upon it."

"But, admitting that to be the case," said Henry, "how does that assist us in the identification of the coffin?"

Well, it definitely assists us in the padding of the word count.

With difficulty the name on the lid was deciphered, but it was found not to be the coffin of him whom they sought.

"We can make short work of this," said Marchdale,

No. We can't. Nothing in Varney the Vampire will ever be "short."

("Why are we even tryyyyyyinnnnng, this is harrrrrd." "Henry, this is really not all that difficult. All we have to do is just check the plate against some of the older--" "It's darrrrrk and I'm saaaaaaad.")

But this does give us an opportunity to light their lights from the lights they already carry, because I guess they want to conserve matches? BECAUSE GOD KNOWS THEY DON'T HAVE ENOUGH. But then!

By the combined light of the candles they saw the words, --

"Marmaduke Bannerworth, Yeoman. 1640."

"Yes, there can be no mistake here," said Henry. "This is the coffin, and it shall be opened."

Absolutely. There can be no mistake here. Sir Ancestor's name was Marmaduke and IT WAS ALWAYS MARMADUKE.

"I have the iron crowbar here," said Marchdale. "It is an old friend of mine, and I am accustomed to the use of it. Shall I open the coffin?"

They can't keep the names straight, but they can make sure Marchdale always has his beloved crowbar. I don't even know, y'all.

It was probably the partial rotting of the metal, in consequence of the damps of that place, what made it easier to open the coffin than it otherwise would have been, but certain it was that the top came away remarkably easily.

Can metal rot? I don't know why I'm bothering to nitpick at this point. Maybe the metal is just tired of Henry's bellyaching and wants to get this over with. So after some more rambling ("The few moments that elapsed were ones of very great suspense to every one there present; and it would, indeed, be quite safe to assert, that all the world was for the time forgotten in the absorbing interest which appertained to the affair which was OH MY GOD OPEN THE COFFIN), Chillingworth takes charge of the candles, since Marchdale would probably leave them lying around somewhere and FORGET THEM, pokes his head in and goes, "Thank God! The body is totally there!" "Woohoo!" "Are you sure?" "I'm totally sure!" "Wait, are you sure you're sure? We should probably open it all the way, you know--" "Oh, psh, I'm sure it's totally there." "JUST LOOK OKAY."

There was a death-like pause for some few moments, and then Mr. Chillingworth said, in a low voice, --

"There is not the least vestige of a dead body here."

Henry gave a deep groan.... "Oh, that I were dead! This is terrible. God of heaven, why are these things? Oh, if I were but dead, and so spared the torture of supposing such things possible."

So while Marchdale starts packing up to take Henry home for a cookie and a nap, George and Mr. Dr. Chillingworth start arguing over the probability of the existence of vampires. I don't know about you, but if I find myself so deep into the vampire-hunting business that I'm sifting through old rags in an empty coffin--rags which match the one torn off the guy who chewed on my sister--I'm not really going to be arguing anymore.

"My young friend, I told you from the first, that I would not believe in your vampyre; and I tell you now, that if one was to come and lay hold of me by the throat, as long as I could at all gasp for breath I would tell him he was a d -- -- d impostor."

Again: I hope this guy gets eaten first.

"Shall we replace the pane of glass?" said Marchdale.

"Oh, it matters not -- it matters not," said Henry, listlessly; "nothing matters now. I care not what becomes of me -- am getting weary of a life which now must be one of misery and dread."

I just keep imagining George trying to drag his brother home, and Henry too beaten-down to even move his feet. He's half-draped over George's shoulder and his toes are dragging tracks in the crypt dust. "Nooooooo, I care noooooooot."

[Mr. Dr. Chillingworth:] "Well, but be a man. If there are serious evils affecting you, fight out against them the best way you can."

"I cannot."

[...] "Henry," he said, "the best way, you may depend, of meeting evils, be they great or small, is to get up an obstinate feeling of defiance against them. [...] Yes; I get very angry, and that gets up a kind of obstinacy, which makes me not feel half so much mental misery as would be my portion if I were to succumb to the evil, and commence whining over it, as many people do, under the pretence of being resigned."

Bravo! You can get eaten second.

"But this family affliction of mine transcends anything that anybody else ever endured."

Uh... huhhhhhh. "BUCK UP, Henry, he's MY ANCESTOR TOO." "Wahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh." *draaaaaaag*

So while George tries to heave the Worst Hero Ever home, let's check back in on their sister, the nommed-upon Flora.




CHAPTER IX.

THE OCCURRENCES OF THE NIGHT AT THE HALL. -- THE SECOND APPEARANCE OF THE VAMPYRE, AND THE PISTOL-SHOT.


Rymer-Prest-Whichever manages something really interesting here, and I can't tell if he did it on purpose or not: he essentially subverts the Brave Hero/Distressed Damsel setup by having Henry immediately abandon all will to live and Flora, the actual victim, be the only one with any moxie. So Flora's stuck at home with her terrified mother, waiting for the menfolks to stop meebling about how useless they are and come home from that crypt, and she is beginning to think that maybe she can't handle this by herself. But only maybe:

"But it is but for two hours," thought Flora, "and two hours will soon pass away."

She also reminds herself that they're only going to be gone from nine to eleven (which is relatively early at night and probably not prime feasting time for the vampyre, who came last time after midnight), so she's willing to take the risk of getting gnawed upon again for the greater, vampire-hunting good (the greaterrrrr goooooood). Meanwhile, as you will recall, Henry's shuffling around in the crypt, moaning limply about how doing things is harrrrrrd. Flora and her mother wait bravely for the men in the shuttered breakfast room, and an hour passes pretty quickly and Flora feels good about this and Mrs. Bannerworth's like, "Oh, Flora! You look much better than you did when the vampire first made you his hideous repast!" (Back at the crypt: "Being related to a vampire is the woooooorst thinnnnng that has ever happened to anyoooooone.") "Oh! Mother, do you hear that?" "What?" "Just... you know... something at the shutter I've been hearing for the last ten minutes. It's cool, I'm probably imagining it. I mean, I'm the one who got chewed on, I'm certainly not going to get scared." ("It's darrrrrk and I'm saaaaaaad.")

Flora herself trembled, and was of a death-like paleness; once or twice she passed her hand across her brow, and altogether she presented a picture of much mental suffering.

And yet she does not whine about it. Mrs. Bannerworth suggests ringing for some servants to wait it out with them, and Flora's like, "No, no, it's cool! What is that scratching at the window? No, no, I'm fine!" Hm. Maybe Flora needs to admit that she can't do it all by herself. Or maybe we can just have her waffle back and forth for three hundred words ("No, no! We don't need the servants to sit with us, everything's going to be OH GOD WHAT IS AT THE WINDOW?!?"), that's cool, because finally,

A faint cry came from Flora's lips, as she exclaimed, in a voice of great agony, --

"Oh, God! -- oh, God! It has come again!"

[207 words]

Mrs. Bannerworth covered her face with her hands, and, after rocking to and fro for a moment, she fell off her chair, having fainted with the excess of terror that came over her.

[240 words]

[The entirety of which I spent laughing at the image of Mrs. Bannerworth falling off her chair like a stunned parrot]

One glance, one terrified glance, in which her whole soul was concentrated, sufficed to shew her who and what the figure was. There was a tall, gaunt form -- there was the faded ancient apparel -- the lustrous metallic-looking eyes -- its half-opened mouth, exhibiting tusk-like teeth! It was -- yes, it was -- the vampyre!

[Tusks? Seriously? Maybe Varney just wants his bucket.]

It stood for a moment gazing at her, and then in the hideous way it had attempted before to speak, it apparently endeavoured to utter some words which it could not make articulate to human ears. The pistols lay before Flora. Mechanically she raised one, and pointed it at the figure. It advanced a step, and then she pulled the trigger.

FLORA BANNERWORTH: VICTORIAN BADASS

A stunning report followed. There was a loud cry of pain, and the vampyre fled.

YEAH HE DID

It was no effort of any reflection, but a purely mechanical movement, that made her raise the other pistol, and discharge that likewise in the direction the vampyre had taken.

Granted: Flora then flings the gun away and flees the room; she runs smack into Unidentified Guy Who Might Be the Vampyre (But Probably Isn't, Since the Vampyre Is Out Crashing Around in the Foliage) and faints right into his not-vampyre arms. But for one shining moment, someone stopped whining and did something.


Next installment: Good thing we didn't move! 


(All Varney entries; the Cleolinda Industries Tip Jar)



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Tags: book recaps, books, made of fail, podcast, vampires, varney the vampire, victoriana, wamphighers
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