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Dead Men Tell No Tales E. W. Hornung

Chapter VII I Find a Friend

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I rushed into the corridor, and was just in time to intercept a singularly handsome young fellow, at whom I had hardly taken the trouble to look until now. He was in full evening dress, and his face was radiant with the spirit of mischief and adventure.

"For God's sake, sir," I whispered, "let this matter rest. I shall have to come forward if you persist, and Heaven knows I have been before the public quite enough!"

His dark eyes questioned me an instant, then fell as though he would not disguise that he recollected and understood . I liked him for his good taste. I liked him for his tacit sympathy, and better still for the amusing disappointment in his gallant, young face.

"I am sorry to have robbed you of a pleasant chase," said I. "At one time I should have been the first to join you. But, to tell you the truth, I've had enough excitement lately to last me for my life."

"I can believe that," he answered, with his fine eyes full upon me. How strangely I had misjudged him! I saw no vulgar curiosity in his flattering gaze, but rather that very sympathy of which I stood in need. I offered him my hand.

"It is very good of you to give in," I said. "No one else has heard a thing, you see. I shall look for another opportunity of thanking you to-morrow."

"No, no!" cried he, "thanks be hanged, but - but, I say, if I promise you not to bore you about things - won't you drink a glass of brandy-and-water in my room before you turn in again?"

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Brandy-and-water being the very thing I needed, and this young man pleasing me more andmore, I said that I would join him with all my heart, and returned to my room for my dressing-gown and slippers. To find them, however, I had to light my candles, when the first thing I saw was the havoc my marauder had left behind him. The mirror was cracked across; the dressing-table had lost a leg; and both lay flat, with my brushes and shaving-table, and the foolish toilet crockery which no one uses (but I should have to replace) strewn upon the carpet. But one thing I found that had not been there before: under the window lay a formidable sheath-knife without its sheath. I picked it up with something of a thrill, which did not lessen when I felt its edge. The thing was diabolically sharp. I took it with me to show my neighbor, whom I found giving his order to the boots; it seemed that it was barely midnight, and that he had only just come in when the clatter took place in my room.

"Hillo!" he cried, when the man was gone, and I produced my trophy. "Why, what the mischief have you got there?"

"My caller's card," said I. "He left it behind him. Feel the edge."

I have seldom seen a more indignant face than the one which my new acquaintance bent over the weapon, as he held it to the light, and ran his finger along the blade. He could have not frowned more heavily if he had recognized the knife.

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Dead Men Tell No Tales
E. W. Hornung

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