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|Dead Men Tell No Tales||E. W. Hornung|
Chapter II The Mysterious Cargo
|Page 6 of 7||
"Take them both!" moaned little Eva, putting in her first and last sweet word.
"Then we all drown, Evasinha," said her stepfather. "It is impossible."
"We're too many for her as it is," said the captain. "So for'ard with ye, Mr. Cole, before it's too late."
But my darling's brave word for me had fired my blood, and I turned with equal resolution on Harris and on the Portuguese. "I will go like a lamb," said I, "if you will first give me five minutes' conversation with Miss Denison. Otherwise I do not go; and as for the gig, you may take me or leave me, as you choose."
"What have you to say to her?" asked Santos, coming up to me, and again lowering his voice.
I lowered mine still more. "That I love her!" I answered in a soft ecstasy. "That she may remember how I loved her, if I die!"
His shoulders shrugged a cynical acquiescence.
"By all mins, senhor; there is no harm in that."
I was at her side before another word could pass his withered lips.
"Miss Denison, will you grant me five minutes', conversation? It may be the last that we shall ever have together!"
Uncovering her face, she looked at me with a strange terror in her great eyes; then with a questioning light that was yet more strange, for in it there was a wistfulness I could not comprehend. She suffered me to take her hand, however, and to lead her unresisting to the weather rail.
"What is it you have to say?" she asked me in her turn. "What is it that you - think?"
Her voice fell as though she must have the truth.
"That we have all a very good chance," said I heartily.
"Is that all ?" cried Eva, and my heart sank at her eager manner.
She seemed at once disappointed and relieved. Could it be possible she dreaded a declaration which she had foreseen all along? My evil first experience rose up to warn me. No, I would not speak now; it was no time. If she loved me, it might make her love me less; better to trust to God to spare us both.
"Yes, it is all," I said doggedly.
She drew a little nearer, hesitating. It was as though her disappointment had gained on her relief.
"Do you know what I thought you were going to say?"
"Dare I tell you?"
"You can trust me."
Her pale lips parted. Her great eyes shone. Another instant, and she had told me that which I would have given all but life itself to know. But in that tick of time a quick step came behind me, and the light went out of the sweet face upturned to mine.
"I cannot! I must not! Here is - that man!"
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|Dead Men Tell No Tales
E. W. Hornung
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