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Dead Men Tell No Tales E. W. Hornung

Chapter XVI A Deadlock

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"Forty-eight thousand pounds, about?"


"And your share?"

"Fourteen thousand pounds. Santos takes twenty, and Harris and I fourteen thousand each."

"And you offer me seven?"

"I do! I do!"

He was becoming more and more eager and excited. His eyes were brighter than I had ever seen them, but slightly bloodshot, and a coppery flush tinged his clear, sunburnt skin. I fancied he had been making somewhat free with the brandy. But loss of blood had cooled my brain; and, perhaps, natural perversity had also a share in the composure which grew upon me as it deserted my companion.

"Why make such a sacrifice?" said I, smiling. "Why not let them do as they like?"

"I've told you why! I'm not so bad as all that. I draw the line at bloody murder! Not a life should have been lost if I'd had my way. Besides, I've done all the dirty work by you, Cole; there's been no help for it. We didn't know whether you knew or not; it made all the difference to us; and somebody had to dog you and find out how much you did know. I was the only one who could possibly do it. God knows how I detested the job! I'm more ashamed of it than of worse things. I had to worm myself into your friendship; and, by Jove, you made me think you did know, but hadn't let it out, and might any day. So then I got you up here, where you would be in our power if it was so; surely you can see every move? But this much I'll swear - I had nothing to do with Jose breaking into your room at the hotel; they went behind me there, curse them! And when at last I found out for certain, down here, that you knew nothing after all, I was never more sincerely thankful in my life. I give you my word it took a load off my heart."

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"I know that," I said. "I also know who broke into my room, and I'm glad I'm even with one of you."

"It's done you no good," said Rattray. "Their first thought was to put you out of the way, and it's more than ever their last. You see the sort of men you've got to deal with; and they're three to one, counting the nigger; but if you go in with me they'll only be three to two."

He was manifestly anxious to save me in this fashion. And I suppose that most sensible men, in my dilemma, would at least have nursed or played upon good-will so lucky and so enduring. But there was always a twist in me that made me love (in my youth) to take the unexpected course; and it amused me the more to lead my young friend on.

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Dead Men Tell No Tales
E. W. Hornung

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