Lord Montbarry quietly took up the manuscript, and threw it into the fire. ‘Let this rubbish be of some use,’ he said, holding the pages down with the poker. ’The room is getting chilly— the Countess’s play will set some of these charred logs flaming again.’ He waited a little at the fire-place, and returned to his brother. ’Now, Henry, I have a last word to say, and then I have done. I am ready to admit that you have stumbled, by an unlucky chance, on the proof of a crime committed in the old days of the palace, nobody knows how long ago. With that one concession, I dispute everything else. Rather than agree in the opinion you have formed, I won’t believe anything that has happened. The supernatural influences that some of us felt when we first slept in this hotel— your loss of appetite, our sister’s dreadful dreams, the smell that overpowered Francis, and the head that appeared to Agnes—I declare them all to be sheer delusions! I believe in nothing, nothing, nothing!’ He opened the door to go out, and looked back into the room. ‘Yes,’ he resumed, ’there is one thing I believe in. My wife has committed a breach of confidence—I believe Agnes will marry you. Good night, Henry. We leave Venice the first thing to-morrow morning.
So Lord Montbarry disposed of the mystery of The Haunted Hotel.
A last chance of deciding the difference of opinion between the two brothers remained in Henry’s possession. He had his own idea of the use to which he might put the false teeth as a means of inquiry when he and his fellow-travellers returned to England.
The only surviving depositary of the domestic history of the family in past years, was Agnes Lockwood’s old nurse. Henry took his first opportunity of trying to revive her personal recollections of the deceased Lord Montbarry. But the nurse had never forgiven the great man of the family for his desertion of Agnes; she flatly refused to consult her memory. ’Even the bare sight of my lord, when I last saw him in London,’ said the old woman, ’made my finger-nails itch to set their mark on his face. I was sent on an errand by Miss Agnes; and I met him coming out of his dentist’s door—and, thank God, that’s the last I ever saw of him!’
Thanks to the nurse’s quick temper and quaint way of expressing herself, the object of Henry’s inquiries was gained already! He ventured on asking if she had noticed the situation of the house. She had noticed, and still remembered the situation— did Master Henry suppose she had lost the use of her senses, because she happened to be nigh on eighty years old? The same day, he took the false teeth to the dentist, and set all further doubt (if doubt had still been possible) at rest for ever. The teeth had been made for the first Lord Montbarry.
Henry never revealed the existence of this last link in the chain of discovery to any living creature, his brother Stephen included. He carried his terrible secret with him to the grave.