Page:The King's Men (1884).djvu/39

From Wikisource
Jump to navigation Jump to search
This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

They bent their united strength upon the door, which creaked, groaned, and finally burst open with a crash, causing the dust to fly so that Maggie gave a little shriek of dismay. Complete silence and darkness followed the onslaught, and then with a whisper of "Who's afraid?" she drew forth a lamp of diminutive proportions and Etruscan design, and turning the crank produced a brilliant electric flame, which permeated the damp and gloom of the ghostly chamber.

Here was, indeed, a monument to decay and mould of the past. A room rife with the cobwebs of ages met their vision where the moth-eaten remains of once gorgeous hangings competed for utter fustiness with the odor of the rotting beams and the dismal aspect of the furniture, some of which had actually fallen to pieces, as though further stability had been incompatible with the long absence of human life. The place seemed almost too desolate for a ghost other than a very morbid spirit in search of penance. In the centre of the room lay in hopeless confusion a pile of all sorts and varieties of garments, many of them of most antiquated description. Plumed hats and velvet knee-breeches of the cavalier period, Jersey jackets and tea-gowns, with Watteau plaits, such as were in fashion when Victoria was queen, were mingled with articles of a more recent date. On the top lay an open volume, the pages of which were brown with dust. Maggie picked it up and read:

"Howe'er it be, it seems to me
'Tis only noble to be good;
Kind hearts are more than coronets
And simple faith than Norman blood."