In the previous chapter, we finally got back to the Bannerworths just as they finally moved out of their house. Chapter 57 (THE LONELY WATCH, AND THE ADVENTURE IN THE DESERTED HOUSE.) begins with a nice melodramatic description about the night:
It was one of those nights to produce melancholy reflections -- a night on which a man would be apt to review his past life, and to look into the hidden recesses of his soul to see if conscience could make a coward of him in the loneliness and stillness that breathed around.It goes on like that for a while until we get to the personified Bannerworth Hall, which is getting all emo because the Bannerworths deserted it:
It seemed as if twenty years of continued occupation could not have produced such an effect upon the ancient edifice as had those few hours of neglect and desertion.All this leading up to Admiral Bell and Dr. Chillingworth sitting in Flora's room with weapons, waiting for the vampire's return. Why they think the vampire is going to return that night other than the plot saying so, I'm not sure, but I'm not about to argue too much when it appears that something exciting might be about to happen.
By the way, here's exactly what I mean about the Admiral being funny when he's playing off someone:
"... as to our efforts being crowned with success, why, I'll give you a toast, doctor, 'may the morning's reflection provide for the evening's amusement.'"It turns out the Admiral has set a trap, locking up all the windows except for one, under which he's placed some precariously balanced crockery.
"Ha! ha!" said Chillingworth, faintly; "I'd rather not drink any more, and you seem, admiral, to have transposed the toast in some way. I believe it runs, 'may the evening's amusement bear the morning's reflection.'"
"Transpose the devil!" said the admiral; "what do I care how it runs? I gave you my toast, and as to that you mention, it's another one altogether, and a sneaking, shore-going one too: but why don't you drink?"
Naturally, there's a cat scare right after he says this, by which I mean a cat knocks over the crockery. But I actually really like that bit. It actually builds the suspense, rather than JMR saying something is going to happen and either a) making it happen immediately or b) making it happen ten chapters later after we've forgotten about it entirely.
They find the cat, put out the light, and hear a whistle from the garden, and with that cliffhanger I'm actually looking forward to reading the next chapter.