Page:The King's Men (1884).djvu/38

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28
THE KINGS MEN.

The apartment in which they were sitting was the library and this exit was a curious winding staircase, which gradually grew less dark as they proceeded. At last they found themselves in a sort of antechamber, scarcely large enough to turn about in, formed by a bay or projection. There was an oak seat with the Ripon arms carved on the back. Above it a tiny window, showing the great thickness of the wall, let in a few rays of light.

"Sit down—sh!" said Lord Brompton, and he put his finger to his lips and nodded toward a low door which was visible a few feet beyond. "It is there."

"Oh, this is delightful. Is it a real, genuine, ancestral ghost?"

"In that chamber the Lady Marian Ripon, an ancestress of mine, is said to have died of a broken heart. Her husband, the great-grandson of the Lord Brompton whose portrait you think I resemble, was killed at Teb, and three days after her body was borne to the tomb. This was her private chamber, and here her spirit is said still to linger. It is not a very original ghost, but its authenticity is unquestioned."

"Have you ever crossed the threshold?" asked the girl, with mock solemnity.

"Not since childhood, and then only in fear and trembling."

"This is beginning to be positively weird and uncanny," she murmured, "but I propose to defy the spectre and enter."

"Have a care—have a care. But you have no key, Miss Windsor."

She was shaking the handle, which seemed loose and flimsy. "Help me. It is not fastened," she cried.