Sunday, July 4, 2010

Chapter 39: In Which the Duel Goes Awry

Previously in Varney the Vampire: The duel is planned. Marchdale gets jealous. It doesn't seem to affect the story one way or the other.

At the end of the previous chapter, Varney was preparing to tell the Admiral what to do in the event of his death. In Chapter 39 (THE STORM AND THE FIGHT. -- THE ADMIRAL'S REPUDIATION OF HIS PRINCIPAL.), Varney says that if Henry "should chance to send a pistol-bullet through any portion of my anatomy, prejudicial to the prolongation of my existence," the Admiral should lay him in the moonlight.

We saw the moon heal Varney back in Chapter 5. The idea goes back to Polidori's "The Vampyre," wherein the vampire is resurrected by moonlight (and, of course, my third favorite opera Der Vampyr), although I'm not sure whether or not it has its roots in folklore.

It's a moot point in this chapter, though, because Varney doesn't die. Henry shoots him, while Varney refuses to fire back. The Admiral scolds him, saying that refusing to fire is "not the proper thing," but Varney responds:
"Why, look you here," said Sir Francis Varney, stepping forward and placing his hand to his neckerchief; "look you here; if Mr. Henry Bannerworth should demand another fire, he may do so with the same bullet."
I love how Varney's playing with them here. Will they learn anything from this experience? Since the Bannerworth saga goes on until Chapter 100ish, I'm not holding out hope. Varney could bare his teeth and drink a human dry while being pelted with bullets and grenades to no effect and juggling neon signs reading "HULLO I AM AN INDESTRUCTIBLE VAMPIRE" and somehow Henry Bannerworth would still think it reasonable to challenge him to a duel. For honor, or something.

Anyway, the duel ends abruptly when a crowd of women, fueled by rumors from Dr. Chillingworth's wife, show up to burn the vampire. Varney high-tails it out of there. JMR goes off on a rant about how evil women always gossip and can't be trusted, but if they're a serious threat to the vampire while five men with guns can't figure out how to kill him, more power to them.

Chapter 40: In Which the Mob is Generally Useless

1 comment:

  1. Heh heh. Yeah, Henry as written is a bit of a dolt.

    Meanwhile, I can tell you the whole business of "resurrecting in moonlight" has no basis in any folklore I've ever read. Like needing permission to enter or burning up in sunlight, this is the stuff of fiction writers coming up with an idea and then it catching on.