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|Dead Men Tell No Tales||E. W. Hornung|
Chapter XVI A Deadlock
|Page 1 of 6||
It must have been midnight when I opened my eyes; a clock was striking as though it never would stop. My mouth seemed fire; a pungent flavor filled my nostrils; the wineglass felt cold against my teeth. "That's more like it!" muttered a voice close to my ear. An arm was withdrawn from under my shoulders. I was allowed to sink back upon some pillows. And now I saw where I was. The room was large and poorly lighted. I lay in my clothes on an old four-poster bed. And my enemies were standing over me in a group.
"I hope you are satisfied!" sneered Joaquin Santos, with a flourish of his eternal cigarette.
"I am. You don't do murder in my house, wherever else you may do it."
"And now better lid 'im to the nirrest polissstation; or weel you go and tell the poliss yourself?" asked the Portuguese, in the same tone of mordant irony.
"Ay, ay," growled Harris; "that's the next thing!"
"No," said Rattray; "the next thing's for you two to leave him to me."
"We'll see you damned!" cried the captain.
"No, no, my friend," said Santos, with a shrug; "let him have his way. He is as fond of his skeen as you are of yours; he'll come round to our way in the end. I know this Senhor Cole. It is necessary for 'im to die. But it is not necessary this moment; let us live them together for a leetle beet."
"That's all I ask," said Rattray.
"You won't ask it twice," rejoined Santos, shrugging. "I know this Senhor Cole. There is only one way of dilling with a man like that. Besides, he 'as 'alf-keeled my good Jose; it is necessary for 'im to die."
"I agree with the senhor," said Harris, whose forehead was starred with sticking-plaster. "It's him or us, an' we're all agen you, squire. You'll have to give in, first or last."
And the pair were gone; their steps grew faint in the corridor; when we could no longer hear them, Rattray closed the door and quietly locked it. Then he turned to me, stern enough, and pointed to the door with a hand that shook.
"You see how it is?"
"They want to kill you!"
"Of course they do."
"It's your own fault; you've run yourself into this. I did my best to keep you out of it. But in you come, and spill first blood."
"I don't regret it," said I.
"Oh, you're damned mule enough not to regret anything!" cried Rattray. "I see the sort you are; yet but for me, I tell you plainly, you'd be a dead man now."
"I can't think why you interfered."
"You've heard the reason. I won't have murder done here if I can prevent it; so far I have; it rests with you whether I can go on preventing it or not."
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|Dead Men Tell No Tales
E. W. Hornung
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