The Ghost of Guir House (Chapter 2, page 1 of 14)


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Chapter 2

There are few men who would not have felt uncomfortable in the
peculiar situation in which Mr. Henley now found himself, although,
perhaps, he was as little affected as any one would have been under
the circumstances. It was impossible now to retreat from the part
assumed, and he resolved to carry it out to the best of his ability,
never doubting for an instant that the deception would be discovered
sooner or later.

Following Miss Guir across the threshold of her mysterious home,
Henley entered a hall which was by far the most extraordinary he had
ever beheld, and he paused for a moment to take in the scene. The
room was nearly square, with a singular staircase ascending from the
left. Upon the side opposite the door was a huge chimney, where a
fire of logs was burning in an enormous rough stone fireplace, doubly
cheering after their long drive through the cool October evening. A
brass lamp of antique design, with perforated shade of the same
material, was suspended from the ceiling, and helped illumine this
strange apartment. From each end of the mantelpiece an immense
high-backed sofa projected into the room, cushioned and padded, and
looking as if built into its present position with the house. The
walls were covered with odd portraits, whose frames were crumbling in
decay, and the window curtains adorned with fairy scenes and
mythological figures. The ceiling was crossed with heavy beams of
oak, black with the smoke of a century; and the stairway upon the
left was also black, but ornamented with a series of rough panels,
upon each of which was painted a human face, giving it a somewhat
fantastic appearance. Paul could not help glancing above, toward the
mysterious regions with which this eccentric stairway communicated.
An antique sofa, studded with brass nails, exhibited upon its
towering back a picture of Tsong Kapa reclining under the tree of a
thousand images at the Llamasary of Koomboom. There were scenes which
were evidently intended to be historical, but there were others which
were wild and inexplicable. The quaintness of the room was
intensified by the flickering fire and the shafts of yellow light
emitted through the perforations of the lamp.

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