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The Haunted Hotel

Chapter 21
Lord and Lady Montbarry were received by the housekeeper; the manager being absent
for a day or two on business connected with the affairs of the hotel.
The rooms reserved for the travellers on the first floor were three in number; consisting
of two bedrooms opening into each other, and communicating on the left with a drawing-
room. Complete so far, the arrangements proved to be less satisfactory in reference to the
third bedroom required for Agnes and for the eldest daughter of Lord Montbarry, who
usually slept with her on their travels. The bed-chamber on the right of the drawing-room
was already occupied by an English widow lady. Other bedchambers at the other end of
the corridor were also let in every case. There was accordingly no alternative but to place
at the disposal of Agnes a comfortable room on the second floor. Lady Montbarry vainly
complained of this separation of one of the members of her travelling party from the rest.
The housekeeper politely hinted that it was impossible for her to ask other travellers to
give up their rooms. She could only express her regret, and assure Miss Lockwood that
her bed-chamber on the second floor was one of the best rooms in that part of the hotel.
On the retirement of the housekeeper, Lady Montbarry noticed that Agnes had seated
herself apart, feeling apparently no interest in the question of the bedrooms. Was she ill?
No; she felt a little unnerved by the railway journey, and that was all. Hearing this, Lord
Montbarry proposed that she should go out with him, and try the experiment of half an
hour's walk in the cool evening air. Agnes gladly accepted the suggestion. They directed
their steps towards the square of St. Mark, so as to enjoy the breeze blowing over the
lagoon. It was the first visit of Agnes to Venice. The fascination of the wonderful city of
the waters exerted its full influence over her sensitive nature. The proposed half-hour of
the walk had passed away, and was fast expanding to half an hour more, before Lord
Montbarry could persuade his companion to remember that dinner was waiting for them.
As they returned, passing under the colonnade, neither of them noticed a lady in deep
mourning, loitering in the open space of the square. She started as she recognised Agnes
walking with the new Lord Montbarry-- hesitated for a moment--and then followed them,
at a discreet distance, back to the hotel.
Lady Montbarry received Agnes in high spirits--with news of an event which had
happened in her absence.
She had not left the hotel more than ten minutes, before a little note in pencil was brought
to Lady Montbarry by the housekeeper. The writer proved to be no less a person than the
widow lady who occupied the room on the other side of the drawing-room, which her
ladyship had vainly hoped to secure for Agnes. Writing under the name of Mrs. James,
the polite widow explained that she had heard from the housekeeper of the
disappointment experienced by Lady Montbarry in the matter of the rooms. Mrs. James
was quite alone; and as long as her bed-chamber was airy and comfortable, it mattered
nothing to her whether she slept on the first or the second floor of the house. She had
accordingly much pleasure in proposing to change rooms with Miss Lockwood. Her
 
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