The Haunted Hotel HTML version

Chapter 14
As the summer months advanced, the transformation of the Venetian palace into the
modern hotel proceeded rapidly towards completion.
The outside of the building, with its fine Palladian front looking on the canal, was wisely
left unaltered. Inside, as a matter of necessity, the rooms were almost rebuilt--so far at
least as the size and the arrangement of them were concerned. The vast saloons were
partitioned off into 'apartments' containing three or four rooms each. The broad corridors
in the upper regions afforded spare space enough for rows of little bedchambers, devoted
to servants and to travellers with limited means. Nothing was spared but the solid floors
and the finely-carved ceilings. These last, in excellent preservation as to workmanship,
merely required cleaning, and regilding here and there, to add greatly to the beauty and
importance of the best rooms in the hotel. The only exception to the complete re-
organization of the interior was at one extremity of the edifice, on the first and second
floors. Here there happened, in each case, to be rooms of such comparatively moderate
size, and so attractively decorated, that the architect suggested leaving them as they were.
It was afterwards discovered that these were no other than the apartments formerly
occupied by Lord Montbarry (on the first floor), and by Baron Rivar (on the second). The
room in which Montbarry had died was still fitted up as a bedroom, and was now
distinguished as Number Fourteen. The room above it, in which the Baron had slept, took
its place on the hotel-register as Number Thirty-Eight. With the ornaments on the walls
and ceilings cleaned and brightened up, and with the heavy old-fashioned beds, chairs,
and tables replaced by bright, pretty, and luxurious modern furniture, these two promised
to be at once the most attractive and the most comfortable bedchambers in the hotel. As
for the once-desolate and disused ground floor of the building, it was now transformed,
by means of splendid dining-rooms, reception-rooms, billiard-rooms, and smoking-
rooms, into a palace by itself. Even the dungeon-like vaults beneath, now lighted and
ventilated on the most approved modern plan, had been turned as if by magic into
kitchens, servants' offices, ice-rooms, and wine cellars, worthy of the splendour of the
grandest hotel in Italy, in the now bygone period of seventeen years since.
Passing from the lapse of the summer months at Venice, to the lapse of the summer
months in Ireland, it is next to be recorded that Mrs. Rolland obtained the situation of
attendant on the invalid Mrs. Carbury; and that the fair Miss Haldane, like a female
Caesar, came, saw, and conquered, on her first day's visit to the new Lord Montbarry's
The ladies were as loud in her praises as Arthur Barville himself. Lord Montbarry
declared that she was the only perfectly pretty woman he had ever seen, who was really
unconscious of her own attractions. The old nurse said she looked as if she had just
stepped out of a picture, and wanted nothing but a gilt frame round her to make her
complete. Miss Haldane, on her side, returned from her first visit to the Montbarrys