Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Chapter 13: In Which We Finally Meet the Title Character

(Sorry for the hiatus [hiatuses?]. The crazy is winding down somewhat [now I have jinxed myself by typing that!]. I can't handle posting every day, but when I skip days I forget easily, so for now the planned update schedule is Wednesday, Friday and Sunday. Feel free to poke me if I miss a day.)

Previously in Varney the Vampire: Charles is generally awesome; the dialogue, not so much.

In Chapter 13 (THE OFFER FOR THE HALL. -- THE VISIT TO SIR FRANCIS VARNEY. -- THE STRANGE RESEMBLANCE. -- A DREADFUL SUGGESTION.), it seems that, after all of the teasing, we will finally meet Sir Francis Varney. But first we have to get through some awkward exposition about how the men search the garden for the elusive vampire. They find blood from when Flora shot him, but fail to uncover a trail; it's as if the vampire disappeared (or, perhaps, suddenly stopped bleeding).

Here we are treated to some of the most awful sentences, even in context:
Flora, with the exception of the alarm she experienced from the firing of the pistol, had met with no disturbance, and that, in order to spare her painful reflections, they told her was merely done as a precautionary measure, to proclaim to any one who might be lurking in the garden that the inmates of the house were ready to defend themselves against any aggression.

Whether or not she believed this kind deceit they knew not. She only sighed deeply, and wept. The probability is, that she more than suspected the vampyre had made another visit, but they forbore to press the point; and, leaving her with her mother, Henry and George went from her chamber again -- the former to endeavour to seek some repose, as it would be his turn to watch on the succeeding night, and the latter to resume his station in a small room close to Flora's chamber, where it had been agreed watch and ward should be kept by turns while the alarm lasted.
You get the idea. Flora, despite her general awesomeness and unexpected strength (for a female character in this kind of literature), must be kept in the dark about the thing that is hunting after her.

The next lines are too perfectly melodramatic not to share:
At length, the morning again dawned upon that unhappy family, and to none were its beams more welcome.

The birds sang their pleasant carols beneath the window. The sweet, deep-coloured autumnal sun shone upon all objects with a golden lustre; and to look abroad, upon the beaming face of nature, no one could for a moment suppose, except from sad experience, that there were such things as gloom, misery, and crime, upon the earth.
Henry mopes for a bit, then receives a letter in which Sir Francis Varney offers to buy the family home. Thinking that the vampire might be connected to the house, rather than to Flora, he finds the offer agreeable. He talks it over with Marchdale, who suggests that Varney be offered the home on a one-year trial period. That way, if the vampire attacked Varney or if it followed the Bannerworths, they would have a potential way to fix the problem.

Of course, their dialogue doesn't treat the vampire as the family's problem or Flora's problem, but Henry's problem. The vampire might follow Henry, Marchdale says, as if the vampire has made any notice of Henry at all in the previous pages. Henry then gets upset at Flora for not saying she wanted to leave sooner. Sigh.

Speaking of Flora, she and Charles are beginning to work things out:
"Dear Flora, you will now surely no longer talk of driving from you the honest heart that loves you?"

"Hush, Charles, hush!" she said; "meet me in an hour hence in the garden, and we will talk of this."

"That hour will seem an age," he said.
The dialogue is as overwrought as ever, of course, but here it makes me smile rather than groan.

At any rate, the family agrees to the deal, so Henry and Marchdale go to speak with Sir Francis Varney, and they are met with this surprise:
A cry of surprise, mingled with terror, came from Henry Bannerworth's lip. The original of the portrait on the panel stood before him! There was the lofty stature, the long, sallow face, the slightly projecting teeth, the dark, lustrous, although somewhat sombre eyes; the expression of the features -- all were alike.
Man, I never saw that coming.

Henry, knowing not to arouse the potential vampire's suspicions, hides his shock and conducts the deal as quickly and professionally as possible. No, wait, I lied. Actually he flips the f*** out and pretty much tells Varney that he suspects him of being a vampire. The Idiot Plot strikes again!

Really, the only redeeming part of this scene is Varney, who keeps his cool wonderfully. He gets mostly short lines, unlike the sprawling and unrealistic dialogue with which most of the other characters are cursed. (Althoug he's the title character, so I'm sure he'll get plenty of it later on.) You can just hear the smugness in his voice:
"Are you unwell, sir?" said Sir Francis Varney, in soft, mellow accents, as he handed a chair to the bewildered Henry.
The scene peters off instead of building suspense for the next chapter. Let me ruin the suspense even more for you: Henry's actions have no effect whatsoever on the coming events. (Just a prediction.)

Chapter 14: In Which Henry Makes an Offer

1 comment:

  1. Heh heh. Welcome back! In my reworking of VTV, this is the chapter I just finished. Fun, fun, fun!