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The Haunted Hotel

Chapter 2
'It is one fact, sir, that I am a widow,' she said. 'It is another fact, that I am going to be
married again.'
There she paused, and smiled at some thought that occurred to her. Doctor Wybrow was
not favourably impressed by her smile-- there was something at once sad and cruel in it.
It came slowly, and it went away suddenly. He began to doubt whether he had been wise
in acting on his first impression. His mind reverted to the commonplace patients and the
discoverable maladies that were waiting for him, with a certain tender regret.
The lady went on.
'My approaching marriage,' she said, 'has one embarrassing circumstance connected with
it. The gentleman whose wife I am to be, was engaged to another lady when he happened
to meet with me, abroad: that lady, mind, being of his own blood and family, related to
him as his cousin. I have innocently robbed her of her lover, and destroyed her prospects
in life. Innocently, I say--because he told me nothing of his engagement until after I had
accepted him. When we next met in England--and when there was danger, no doubt, of
the affair coming to my knowledge--he told me the truth. I was naturally indignant. He
had his excuse ready; he showed me a letter from the lady herself, releasing him from his
engagement. A more noble, a more high-minded letter, I never read in my life. I cried
over it--I who have no tears in me for sorrows of my own! If the letter had left him any
hope of being forgiven, I would have positively refused to marry him. But the firmness of
it-- without anger, without a word of reproach, with heartfelt wishes even for his
happiness--the firmness of it, I say, left him no hope. He appealed to my compassion; he
appealed to his love for me. You know what women are. I too was soft-hearted--I said,
Very well: yes! In a week more (I tremble as I think of it) we are to be married.'
She did really tremble--she was obliged to pause and compose herself, before she could
go on. The Doctor, waiting for more facts, began to fear that he stood committed to a
long story. 'Forgive me for reminding you that I have suffering persons waiting to see
me,' he said. 'The sooner you can come to the point, the better for my patients and for
me.'
The strange smile--at once so sad and so cruel--showed itself again on the lady's lips.
'Every word I have said is to the point,' she answered. 'You will see it yourself in a
moment more.'
She resumed her narrative.
'Yesterday--you need fear no long story, sir; only yesterday-- I was among the visitors at
one of your English luncheon parties. A lady, a perfect stranger to me, came in late--after
we had left the table, and had retired to the drawing-room. She happened to take a chair
near me; and we were presented to each other. I knew her by name, as she knew me. It
 
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