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Dead Men Tell No Tales E. W. Hornung

Chapter XIV In the Garden

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"Then let's make a dash for it now!" was all I said or thought.

"No; they can't come yet, and Jose is strong and brutal, and I have heard how ill you are. "That you should have come to me notwithstanding - " and she broke off with her little hands lying so gratefully on my shoulders, that I know not how I refrained from catching her then and there to my heart. Instead, I laughed and said that my illness was a pure and deliberate sharp, and my presence there its direct result. And such was the virtue in my beloved's voice, the magic of her eyes, the healing of her touch, that I was scarce conscious of deceit, but felt a whole man once more as we two stood together in the moonlight.

In a trance I stood there gazing into her brave young eyes. In a trance I suffered her to lead me by the hand through the rank, dense rhododendrons. And still entranced I crouched by her side near the further side, with only unkempt grass-plot and a weedy path between us and that ponderous door, wide open still, and replaced by a section of the lighted hail within. On this we fixed our attention with mingled dread and impatience, those contending elements of suspense; but the black was slow to reappear; and my eyes stole home to my sweet girl's face, with its glory of moonlit curls, and the eager, resolute, embittered look that put the world back two whole months, and Eva Denison upon the Lady Jermyn's poop, in the ship's last hours. But it was not her look alone; she had on her cloak, as the night before, but with me (God bless her!) she found no need to clasp herself in its folds; and underneath she wore the very dress in which she had sung at our last concert, and been rescued in the gig. It looked as though she had worn it ever since. The roses were crushed and soiled, the tulle all torn, and tarnished some strings of beads that had been gold: a tatter of Chantilly lace hung by a thread: it is another of the relics that I have unearthed in the writing of this narrative.

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"I thought men never noticed dresses?" my love said suddenly, a pleased light in her eyes (I thought) in spite of all. "Do you really remember it?"

"I remember every one of them," I said indignantly; and so I did.

"You will wonder why I wear it," said Eva, quickly. "It was the first that came that terrible night. They have given me many since. But I won't wear one of them - not one!"

How her eyes flashed! I forgot all about Jose.

"I suppose you know why they hadn't room for you in the gig?" she went on.

"No, I don't know, and I don't care. They had room for you," said I; "that's all I care about." And to think she could not see I loved her!

"But do you mean to say you don't know that these - murderers - set fire to the ship?"

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Dead Men Tell No Tales
E. W. Hornung

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