138 THE GARDEN OF ROMANCE
apart from the rest of the company, when, turning round upon him with an air of great solemnity, he addressed him thus: " Richard Browne, my old and very dear friend, we are now alone. Let me conjure you to answer me upon the word of a friend and the honour of a soldier. How did you in reality rest during last night?"
"Most wretchedly indeed, my lord," answered the General in the same tone of solemnity; "so miserably, that I would not run the risk of such a second night, not only for all the lands belonging to this castle, but for all the country which I see from this elevated point of view."
"This is most extraordinary," said the young lord,
as if speaking to himself; "then there must be some-
thing in the reports concerning that apartment." Again turning to the General, he said, "For God's sake, my dear friend, be candid with me, and let me know the disagreeable particulars which have befallen you under a roof where, with consent of the owner, you should have met nothing save comfort."
The General seemed distressed by this appeal, and
paused a moment before he replied. "My dear lord,"
he at length said, "what happened to me last night is of
a nature so peculiar and so unpleasant that I could hardly
bring myself to detail it even to your lordship, were it
not that, independent of my wish to gratify any request
of yours, I think that sincerity on my part may lead to
some explanation about a circumstance equally painful
and mysterious. To others the communication I am
about to make might place me in the light of a weak-
minded, superstitious fool, who suffered his own imagi-