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The Haunted Hotel

Chapter 18
Before the end of the week, the manager found himself in relations with 'the family' once
more. A telegram from Milan announced that Mr. Francis Westwick would arrive in
Venice on the next day; and would be obliged if Number Fourteen, on the first floor,
could be reserved for him, in the event of its being vacant at the time.
The manager paused to consider, before he issued his directions.
The re-numbered room had been last let to a French gentleman. It would be occupied on
the day of Mr. Francis Westwick's arrival, but it would be empty again on the day after.
Would it be well to reserve the room for the special occupation of Mr. Francis? and when
he had passed the night unsuspiciously and comfortably in 'No. 13 A,' to ask him in the
presence of witnesses how he liked his bedchamber? In this case, if the reputation of the
room happened to be called in question again, the answer would vindicate it, on the
evidence of a member of the very family which had first given Number Fourteen a bad
name. After a little reflection, the manager decided on trying the experiment, and directed
that '13 A' should be reserved accordingly.
On the next day, Francis Westwick arrived in excellent spirits.
He had signed agreements with the most popular dancer in Italy; he had transferred the
charge of Mrs. Norbury to his brother Henry, who had joined him in Milan; and he was
now at full liberty to amuse himself by testing in every possible way the extraordinary
influence exercised over his relatives by the new hotel. When his brother and sister first
told him what their experience had been, he instantly declared that he would go to Venice
in the interest of his theatre. The circumstances related to him contained invaluable hints
for a ghost-drama. The title occurred to him in the railway: 'The Haunted Hotel.' Post that
in red letters six feet high, on a black ground, all over London--and trust the excitable
public to crowd into the theatre!
Received with the politest attention by the manager, Francis met with a disappointment
on entering the hotel. 'Some mistake, sir. No such room on the first floor as Number
Fourteen. The room bearing that number is on the second floor, and has been occupied by
me, from the day when the hotel opened. Perhaps you meant number 13 A, on the first
floor? It will be at your service to-morrow-- a charming room. In the mean time, we will
do the best we can for you, to-night.'
A man who is the successful manager of a theatre is probably the last man in the civilized
universe who is capable of being impressed with favourable opinions of his fellow-
creatures. Francis privately set the manager down as a humbug, and the story about the
numbering of the rooms as a lie.
On the day of his arrival, he dined by himself in the restaurant, before the hour of the
table d'hote, for the express purpose of questioning the waiter, without being overheard
 
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