The Haunted Hotel HTML version

Chapter 11
'Lady Montbarry, Miss.'
Agnes was writing a letter, when the servant astonished her by announcing the visitor's
name. Her first impulse was to refuse to see the woman who had intruded on her. But
Lady Montbarry had taken care to follow close on the servant's heels. Before Agnes
could speak, she had entered the room.
'I beg to apologise for my intrusion, Miss Lockwood. I have a question to ask you, in
which I am very much interested. No one can answer me but yourself.' In low hesitating
tones, with her glittering black eyes bent modestly on the ground, Lady Montbarry
opened the interview in those words.
Without answering, Agnes pointed to a chair. She could do this, and, for the time, she
could do no more. All that she had read of the hidden and sinister life in the palace at
Venice; all that she had heard of Montbarry's melancholy death and burial in a foreign
land; all that she knew of the mystery of Ferrari's disappearance, rushed into her mind,
when the black-robed figure confronted her, standing just inside the door. The strange
conduct of Lady Montbarry added a new perplexity to the doubts and misgivings that
troubled her. There stood the adventuress whose character had left its mark on society all
over Europe--the Fury who had terrified Mrs. Ferrari at the hotel--inconceivably
transformed into a timid, shrinking woman! Lady Montbarry had not once ventured to
look at Agnes, since she had made her way into the room. Advancing to take the chair
that had been pointed out to her, she hesitated, put her hand on the rail to support herself,
and still remained standing. 'Please give me a moment to compose myself,' she said
faintly. Her head sank on her bosom: she stood before Agnes like a conscious culprit
before a merciless judge.
The silence that followed was, literally, the silence of fear on both sides. In the midst of
it, the door was opened once more-- and Henry Westwick appeared.
He looked at Lady Montbarry with a moment's steady attention-- bowed to her with
formal politeness--and passed on in silence. At the sight of her husband's brother, the
sinking spirit of the woman sprang to life again. Her drooping figure became erect. Her
eyes met Westwick's look, brightly defiant. She returned his bow with an icy smile of
Henry crossed the room to Agnes.
'Is Lady Montbarry here by your invitation?' he asked quietly.
'Do you wish to see her?'