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|Dead Men Tell No Tales||E. W. Hornung|
Chapter XVII Thieves Fall Out
|Page 2 of 7||
I withdrew from the window, leaving the sheets hanging, in the hope that they also might be invisible in the darkness. I put out the candle, and returned to the window in great perplexity. Next moment I stood aghast ---between the devil and the deep sea. I still heard a something down below, but a worse sound came to drown it. An unseen hand was very quietly trying the door which Rattray had locked behind him.
"Diablo!" came to my horrified ears) in a soft, vindictive voice.
"I told ye so," muttered another; "the young swab's got the key."
There was a pause, in which it would seem that Joaquin Santos had his ear at the empty keyhole.
"I think he must be slipping," at last I heard him sigh. "It was not necessary to awaken him in this world. It is a peety."
"One kick over the lock would do it," said Harris; "only the young swab'll hear."
"Not perhaps while he is dancing attendance on the senhora. Was it not good to send him to her? If he does hear, well, his own turn will come the queecker, that is all. But it would be better to take them one at a time; so keeck away, my friend, and I will give him no time to squil."
While my would-be murderers were holding this whispered colloquy, I had stood half-petrified by the open window; unwilling to slide down the sheets into the arms of an unseen enemy, though I had no idea which of them it could be; more hopeful of slipping past my butchers in the darkness, and so to Rattray and poor Eva; but not the less eagerly looking for some hiding-place in the room. The best that offered was a recess in the thick wall between the two windows, filled with hanging clothes: a narrow closet without a door, which would shelter me well enough if not too curiously inspected. Here I hid myself in the end, after a moment of indecision which nearly cost me my life. The coats and trousers still shook in front of me when the door flew open at the first kick, and Santos stood a moment in the moonlight, looking for the bed. With a stride he reached it, and I saw the gleam of a knife from where I stood among the squire's clothes; it flashed over my bed, and was still.
"He is not 'ere!"
"He heard us, and he's a-hiding."
"Make light, my friend, and we shall very soon see."
Harris did so.
"Here's a candle," said Santos; "light it, and watch the door. Perro mal dicto! What have we here?"
I felt certain he had seen me, but the candle passed within a yard of my feet, and was held on high at the open window.
"We are too late!" said Santos. "He's gone!"
"Are you sure
"Look at this sheet."
"Then the other swab knew of it, and we'll settle with him."
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|Dead Men Tell No Tales
E. W. Hornung
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