Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Chapter 14: In Which Henry Makes an Offer

(Man, if only I didn't suck at posting so much.)

Previously in Varney the Vampire: Varney makes his first appearance. In the thirteenth f***ing chapter.

We begin where we petered off last chapter, with the servant bringing food and wine:
On the tray which the servant brought into the room, were refreshments of different kinds, including wine, and after waving his hand for the domestic to retire, Sir Francis Varney said, --

"You will be better, Mr. Bannerworth, for a glass of wine after your walk, and you too, sir. I am ashamed to say, I have quite forgotten your name."


"Mr. Marchdale. Ay, Marchdale. Pray, sir, help yourself."

"You take nothing yourself?" said Henry.

"I am under a strict regimen," replied Varney. "The simplest diet alone does for me, and I have accustomed myself to long abstinence."

"He will not eat or drink," muttered Henry, abstractedly.

"Will you sell me the Hall?" said Sir Francis Varney.
I must admit that I rather like this opening. JMR doesn't tend to combine his passages of tedious description with his long stretches of awkward dialogue, so on the rare occasions when the dialogue isn't awkward you wind up with a style that's wonderfully sparse. The dialogue is allowed to speak for itself, and it provides a better picture of the characters than anything else in this story.

Anyway, Henry refuses the drink and makes Varney an offer: he will give him the house if Varney stays away from the family. Varney toys with him, of course, and it's delightful:
"How very unkind. I understand you have a charming sister, young, beautiful, and accomplished. Shall I confess, now, that I had hopes of making myself agreeable to her?"...

"I can only say, that if I am master of [the house], I shall be very happy to see any of the family on a visit at any time."
Varney agrees to think over Henry's offer, and Henry gets out of there as fast as he can. He decides that he must kill Varney, now that he knows he's the vampire, but Marchdale reminds him that vampires are made when a vampire sucks a human's blood. "Have you forgotten Flora?"he asks. "God of Heaven!" says Henry, "I had forgotten her!"

That explains a lot, actually.

Then there's a bit of overdramatic dialogue as Henry resolves to take care of his family. It's quite a short chapter, and, unlike with the early ones, I find myself wishing it were longer.

Good God, JMR, what have you done to me?

Chapter 15: In Which More Soap Operatic Elements are Introduced

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