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|Dead Men Tell No Tales||E. W. Hornung|
Chapter XIV In the Garden
|Page 6 of 8||
"No - yes! I heard you say so last night."
"And you don't want to know what for?"
Out of politeness I protested that I did; but, as I live, all I wanted to know just then was whether my love loved me - whether she ever could - whether such happiness was possible under heaven!
"You remember all that mystery about the cargo?" she continued eagerly, her pretty lips so divinely parted!
"It turned out to be gunpowder," said I, still thinking only of her.
"No - gold!"
"But it was gunpowder," I insisted; for it was my incorrigible passion for accuracy which had led up to half our arguments on the voyage; but this time Eva let me off.
"It was also gold: twelve thousand ounces from the diggings. That was the real mystery. Do you mean to say you never guessed?"
"No, by Jove I didn't!" said I. She had diverted my interest at last. I asked her if she had known on board.
"Not until the last moment. I found out during the fire. Do you remember when we said good-by? I was nearly telling you then."
Did I remember! The very letter of that last interview was cut deep in my heart; not a sleepless night had I passed without rehearsing it word for word and look for look; and sometimes, when sorrow had spent itself, and the heart could bleed no more, vain grief had given place to vainer speculation, and I had cudgelled my wakeful brains for the meaning of the new and subtle horror which I had read in my darling's eyes at the last. Now I understood; and the one explanation brought such a tribe in its train, that even the perilous ecstasy of the present moment was temporarily forgotten in the horrible past.
"Now I know why they wouldn't have me in the gig! " I cried softly.
"She carried four heavy men's weight in gold."
"When on earth did they get it aboard?"
"In provision boxes at the last; but they had been filling the boxes for weeks."
"Why, I saw them doing it!" I cried. "But what about the gig? Who picked you up?"
She was watching that open door once more, and she answered with notable indifference, "Mr. Rattray."
"So that's the connection!" said I; and I think its very simplicity was what surprised me most.
"Yes; he was waiting for us at Ascension."
"Then it was all arranged?"
"And this young blackguard is as bad as any of them!"
"Worse," said she, with bitter brevity. Nor had I ever seen her look so hard but once, and that was the night before in the old justice hall, when she told Rattray her opinion of him to his face. She had now the same angry flush, the same set mouth and scornful voice; and I took it finally into my head that she was unjust to the poor devil, villain though he was. With all his villainy I declined to believe him as bad as the others. I told her so in as many words. And in a moment we were arguing as though we were back on the Lady Jermyn with nothing else to do.
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|Dead Men Tell No Tales
E. W. Hornung
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