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The Haunted Hotel

Chapter 23
'...You have some influence over Agnes. Try what you can do, Henry, to make her take a
sensible view of the matter. There is really nothing to make a fuss about. My wife's maid
knocked at her door early in the morning, with the customary cup of tea. Getting no
answer, she went round to the dressing-room--found the door on that side unlocked--and
discovered Agnes on the bed in a fainting fit. With my wife's help, they brought her to
herself again; and she told the extraordinary story which I have just repeated to you. You
must have seen for yourself that she has been over-fatigued, poor thing, by our long
railway journeys: her nerves are out of order-- and she is just the person to be easily
terrified by a dream. She obstinately refuses, however, to accept this rational view. Don't
suppose that I have been severe with her! All that a man can do to humour her I have
done. I have written to the Countess (in her assumed name) offering to restore the room
to her. She writes back, positively declining to return to it. I have accordingly arranged
(so as not to have the thing known in the hotel) to occupy the room for one or two nights,
and to leave Agnes to recover her spirits under my wife's care. Is there anything more that
I can do? Whatever questions Agnes has asked of me I have answered to the best of my
ability; she knows all that you told me about Francis and the Countess last night. But try
as I may I can't quiet her mind. I have given up the attempt in despair, and left her in the
drawing-room. Go, like a good fellow, and try what you can do to compose her.'
In those words, Lord Montbarry stated the case to his brother from the rational point of
view. Henry made no remark, he went straight to the drawing-room.
He found Agnes walking rapidly backwards and forwards, flushed and excited. 'If you
come here to say what your brother has been saying to me,' she broke out, before he
could speak, 'spare yourself the trouble. I don't want common sense-- I want a true friend
who will believe in me.'
'I am that friend, Agnes,' Henry answered quietly, 'and you know it.'
'You really believe that I am not deluded by a dream?'
I know that you are not deluded--in one particular, at least.'
'In what particular?'
'In what you have said of the Countess. It is perfectly true--'
Agnes stopped him there. 'Why do I only hear this morning that the Countess and Mrs.
James are one and the same person?' she asked distrustfully. 'Why was I not told of it last
night?'
'You forget that you had accepted the exchange of rooms before I reached Venice,' Henry
replied. 'I felt strongly tempted to tell you, even then--but your sleeping arrangements for
 
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