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Dead Men Tell No Tales E. W. Hornung

Chapter XI I Live Again

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Like a queen she stood, in the very travelling cloak in which I had seen her last; it was tattered now, but she held it close about her as though a shrewd wind bit her to the core. Her sweet face was all peeked and pale in the candle-light: she who had been a child was come to womanhood in a few weeks. But a new spirit flashed in her dear eyes, a new strength hardened her young lips. She stood as an angel brought to book by devils; and so noble was her calm defiance, so serene her scorn, that, as I watched and listened; all present fear for her passed out of my heart.

The first sound was the hasty rising of young Rattray; he was at Eva's side next instant, essaying to lead her to his chair, with a flush which deepened as she repulsed him coldly.

"You have sent for me, and I have come," said she. "But I prefer not to sit down in your presence; and what you have to say, you will be good enough to say as quickly as possible, that I may go again before I am - stifled!"

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It was her one hot word; aimed at them all, it seemed to me to fall like a lash on Rattray's cheek, bringing the blood to it like lightning. But it was Santos who snatched the cigarette from his mouth, and opened upon the defenceless girl in a torrent of Portuguese, yellow with rage, and a very windmill of lean arms and brown hands in the terrifying rapidity of his gesticulations. They did not terrify Eva Denison. When Rattray took a step towards the speaker, with flashing eyes, it was some word from Eva that checked him; when Santos was done, it was to Rattray that she turned with her answer.

"He calls me a liar for telling you that Mr. Cole knew all," said she, thrilling me with my own name. "Don't you say anything," she added, as the young man turned on Santos with a scowl; you are one as wicked as the other, but there was a time when I thought differently of you: his character I have always known. Of the two evils, I prefer to speak to you."

Rattray bowed, humbly enough, I thought; but my darling's nostrils only curled the more.

"He calls me a liar," she continued; "so may you all. Since you have found it out, I admit it freely and without shame; one must be false in the hands of false fiends like all of you. Weakness is nothing to you; helplessness is nothing; you must be met with your own weapons, and so I lied in my sore extremity to gain the one miserable advantage within my reach. He says you found me out by making friends with Mr. Cole. He says that Mr. Cole has been dining with you in this very room, this very night. You still tell the truth sometimes; has that man - that demon - told it for once?"

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Dead Men Tell No Tales
E. W. Hornung

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