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Dead Men Tell No Tales E. W. Hornung

Chapter XIV In the Garden

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"You may admire wholesale murderers and thieves," said Eva. "I do not."

"Nor I. My point is simply that this one is not as bad as the rest. I believe he was really glad for my sake when he discovered that I knew nothing of the villainy. Come now, has he ever offered you any personal violence?"

"Me? Mr. Rattray? I should hope not, indeed!"

"Has he never saved you from any?"

"I - I don't know."

"Then I do. When you left them last night there was some talk of bringing you back by force. You can guess who suggested that - and who set his face against it and got his way. You would think the better of Rattray had you heard what passed."

"Should I?" she asked half eagerly, as she looked quickly round at me; and suddenly I saw her eyes fill. "Oh, why will you speak about him?" she burst out. "Why must you defend him, unless it's to go against me, as you always did and always will! I never knew anybody like you - never! I want you to take me away from these wretches, and all you do is to defend them!"

"Not all," said I, clasping her hand warmly in mine. "Not all - not all! I will take you away from them, never fear; in another hour God grant you may be out of their reach for ever!"

"But where are we to go?" she whispered wildly. "What are you to do with me? All my friends think me dead, and if they knew I was not it would all come out."

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"So it shall," said I; "the sooner the better; if I'd had my way it would all be out already."

I see her yet, my passionate darling, as she turned upon me, whiter than the full white moon.

"Mr. Cole," said she, "you must give me your sacred promise that so far as you are concerned, it shall never come out at all! "

"This monstrous conspiracy? This cold blooded massacre?"

And I crouched aghast.

"Yes; it could do no good; and, at any rate, unless you promise I remain where I am."

"In their hands?"

"Decidedly - to warn them in time. Leave them I would, but betray them - never!"

What could I say? What choice had I in the face of an alternative so headstrong and so unreasonable? To rescue Eva from these miscreants I would have let every malefactor in the country go unscathed: yet the condition was a hard one; and, as I hesitated, my love went on her knees to me, there in the moonlight among the rhododendrons.

"Promise - promise - or you will kill me!" she gasped. "They may deserve it richly, but I would rather be torn in little pieces than - than have them - hanged! "

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Dead Men Tell No Tales
E. W. Hornung

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