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|Dead Men Tell No Tales||E. W. Hornung|
Chapter XIII The Longest Day of My Life
|Page 6 of 7||
"It won't be yet a bit," said he.
"Good! Now look here. What would you say to these?" And I showed him a couple of sovereigns: I longed to offer him twenty, but feared to excite his suspicions. "These are yours if you have a conveyance at the end of the lane - the lane we came up the night before last - in an hour's time."
His dull eyes glistened; but a tremor took him from top to toe, and he shook his head.
"I'm ill, man!" I cried. "If I stay here I'll die! Mr. Rattray knows that, and he wanted me to go this morning; he'll be only too thankful to find me gone."
This argument appealed to him; indeed, I was proud of it.
"But I was to stop an' look after you," he mumbled; "it'll get me into trooble, it will that!"
I took out three more sovereigns; not a penny higher durst I go.
"Will five pounds repay you? No need to tell your wife it was five, you know! I should keep four of them all to myself."
The cupidity of the little wretch was at last overcoming his abject cowardice. I could see him making up his miserable mind. And I still flatter myself that I took only safe (and really cunning) steps to precipitate the process. To offer him more money would have been madness; instead, I poured it all back into my pocket.
"All right!" I cried; "you're a greedy, cowardly, old idiot, and I'll just save my money." And out I marched into the moonlight, very briskly, towards the lane; he was so quick to follow me that I had no fears of the blunderbuss, but quickened my step, and soon had him running at my heels.
"Stop, stop, sir! You're that hasty wi' a poor owd man." So he whimpered as he followed me like the little cur he was.
"I'm hanged if I stop," I answered without looking back; and had him almost in tears before I swung round on him so suddenly that he yelped with fear. "What are you bothering me for?" I blustered. "Do you want me to wring your neck?"
"Oh, I'll go, sir! I'll go, I'll go," he moaned.
"I've a good mind not to let you. I wouldn't if I was fit to walk five miles."
"But I'll roon 'em, sir! I will that! I'll go as fast as iver I can!"
"And have a conveyance at the road-end of the lane as near an hour hence as you possibly can?"
"Why, there, sir!" he cried, crassly inspired; "I could drive you in our own trap in half the time."
"Oh, no, you couldn't! I - I'm not fit to be out at all; it must be a closed conveyance; but I'll come to the end of the lane to save time, so let him wait there. You needn't wait yourself; here's a sovereign of your money, and I'll leave the rest in the jug in my bedroom. There! It's worth your while to trust me, I think. As for my luggage, I'll write to Mr. Rattray about that. But I'll be shot if I spend another night on his property."
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|Dead Men Tell No Tales
E. W. Hornung
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