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Dead Men Tell No Tales E. W. Hornung

Chapter XIX My Great Hour

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I had been so long, however, that her patience was exhausted, and as I returned to the library by one door, she entered by the other.

"I could bear it no longer. Tell me - the worst!"

"Three of them are dead."

"Which three?"

She had crossed to the other door, and would not have me shut it. So I stood between her and the hearth, on which lay the captain's corpse, with the hearthrug turned up on either side to cover it.

"Harris for one," said I. "Outside lie Jose and - "

"Quick! Quick!"

"Senhor Santos."

Her face was as though the name meant nothing to her.

"And Mr. Rattray?" she cried. "And Mr. Rattray -"

"Has escaped for the present. He seems to have cut his way through the police and got over the wall by a ladder they left behind them. They are scouring the country - Miss Denison! Eva! My poor love!"

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She had broken down utterly in a second fit of violent weeping; and a second time I took her in my arms, and stood trying in my clumsy way to comfort her, as though she were a little child. A lamp was burning in the library, and I recognized the arm-chair which Rattray had drawn thence for me on the night of our dinner - the very night before! I led Eva back into the room, and I closed both doors. I supported my poor girl to the chair, and once more I knelt before her and took her hands in mine. My great hour was come at last: surely a happy omen that it was also the hour before the dawn.

"Cry your fill, my darling," I whispered, with the tears in my own voice. "You shall never have anything more to cry for in this world! God has been very good to us. He brought you to me, and me to you. He has rescued us for each other. All our troubles are over; cry your fill; you will never have another chance so long as I live, if only you will let me live for you. Will you, Eva? Will you? Will you?"

She drew her hands from mine, and sat upright in the chair, looking at me with round eyes; but mine were dim; astonishment was all that I could read in her look, and on I went headlong, with growing impetus and passion.

"I know I am not much, my darling; but you know I was not always what my luck, good and bad, has left me now, and you will make a new man of me so soon! Besides, God must mean it, or He would not have thrown us together amid such horrors, and brought us through them together still. And you have no one else to take care of you in the world! Won't you let me try, Eva? Say that you will!"

"Then - you - ove me?" she said slowly, in a low, awe-struck voice that might have told me my fate at once; but I was shaking all over in the intensity of my passion, and for the moment it was joy enough to be able at last to tell her all.

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Dead Men Tell No Tales
E. W. Hornung

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