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Dead Men Tell No Tales E. W. Hornung

Chapter XVII Thieves Fall Out

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"It is untrue," said Santos, with immense emotion. "I call the saints to witness that never by thought or word have I been disloyal to you" - and the blasphemous wretch actually crossed himself with a trembling, skinny hand. "I have leestened to you, though you are the younger man. I have geeven way to you in everything from the moment we were so fullish as to set foot on this accursed coast; that also was your doeeng; and it will be your fault if ivil comes of it. Yet I have not complained. Here in your own 'ouse you have been the master, I the guest. So far from plotting against you, show me the man who has heard me brith one treacherous word behind your back; you will find it deeficult, friend Rattray; what do you say, captain?"

"Me?" cried Harris, in a voice bursting with abuse. And what the captain said may or may not be imagined. It cannot be set down.

But the man who ought to have spoken - the man who had such a chance as few men have off the stage - who could have confounded these villains in a breath, and saved the wretched Rattray at once from them and from himself - that unheroic hero remained ignobly silent in his homely hiding-place. And, what is more, he would do the same again!

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The rogues had fallen out; now was the time for honest men. They all thought I had escaped; therefore they would give me a better chance than ever of still escaping; and I have already explained to what purpose I meant to use my first hours of liberty. That purpose I hold to have justified any ingratitude that I may seem now to have displayed towards the man who had undoubtedly stood between death and me. Was not Eva Denison of more value than many Rattrays? And it was precisely in relation with this pure young girl that I most mistrusted the squire: obviously then my first duty was to save Eva from Rattray, not Rattray from these traitors.

Not that I pretend for a moment to have been the thing I never was: you are not so very grateful to the man who pulls you out of the mud when he has first of all pushed you in; nor is it chivalry alone which spurs one to the rescue of a lovely lady for whom, after all, one would rather live than die. Thus I, in my corner, was thinking (I will say) of Eva first; but next I was thinking of myself; and Rattray's blood be on his own hot head! I hold, moreover, that I was perfectly right in all this; but if any think me very wrong, a sufficient satisfaction is in store for them, for I was very swiftly punished.

The captain's language was no worse in character than in effect: the bed was bloody from my wounded head, all tumbled from the haste with which I had quitted it, and only too suggestive of still fouler play. Rattray stopped the captain with a sudden flourish of one of his pistols, the silver mountings making lightning in the room; then he called upon the pair of them to show him what they had done with me; and to my horror, Santos invited him to search the room. The invitation was accepted. Yet there I stood. It would have been better to step forward even then. Yet I cowered among his clothes until his own hand fell upon my collar, and forth I was dragged to the plain amazement of all three.

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Dead Men Tell No Tales
E. W. Hornung

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