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The Haunted Hotel

Chapter 8
On the 14th the Directors and their legal advisers met for the reading of the report, with
closed doors. These were the terms in which the Commissioners related the results of
their inquiry: 'Private and confidential.
'We have the honour to inform our Directors that we arrived in Venice on December 6,
1860. On the same day we proceeded to the palace inhabited by Lord Montbarry at the
time of his last illness and death.
'We were received with all possible courtesy by Lady Montbarry's brother, Baron Rivar.
"My sister was her husband's only attendant throughout his illness," the Baron informed
us. "She is overwhelmed by grief and fatigue--or she would have been here to receive
you personally. What are your wishes, gentlemen? and what can I do for you in her
ladyship's place?"
'In accordance with our instructions, we answered that the death and burial of Lord
Montbarry abroad made it desirable to obtain more complete information relating to his
illness, and to the circumstances which had attended it, than could be conveyed in
writing. We explained that the law provided for the lapse of a certain interval of time
before the payment of the sum assured, and we expressed our wish to conduct the inquiry
with the most respectful consideration for her ladyship's feelings, and for the convenience
of any other members of the family inhabiting the house.
'To this the Baron replied, "I am the only member of the family living here, and I and the
palace are entirely at your disposal." From first to last we found this gentleman perfectly
straighforward, and most amiably willing to assist us.
'With the one exception of her ladyship's room, we went over the whole of the palace the
same day. It is an immense place only partially furnished. The first floor and part of the
second floor were the portions of it that had been inhabited by Lord Montbarry and the
members of the household. We saw the bedchamber, at one extremity of the palace, in
which his lordship died, and the small room communicating with it, which he used as a
study. Next to this was a large apartment or hall, the doors of which he habitually kept
locked, his object being (as we were informed) to pursue his studies uninterruptedly in
perfect solitude. On the other side of the large hall were the bedchamber occupied by her
ladyship, and the dressing-room in which the maid slept previous to her departure for
England. Beyond these were the dining and reception rooms, opening into an
antechamber, which gave access to the grand staircase of the palace.
'The only inhabited rooms on the second floor were the sitting-room and bedroom
occupied by Baron Rivar, and another room at some distance from it, which had been the
bedroom of the courier Ferrari.
 
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