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Dead Men Tell No Tales E. W. Hornung

Chapter XVI A Deadlock

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"I don't see how she can think much better of you than of the crime in which you've had a hand," was my reply, made, however, with as much kindness as I could summon. "The word I used was spoken in anger," said I; for his had disappeared; and he looked such a miserable, handsome dog as he stood there hanging his guilty head - in the room, I fancied, where he once had lain as a pretty, innocent child.

"Cole," said he, "I'd give twice my share of the damned stuff never to have put my hand to the plough; but go back I can't; so there's an end of it."

"I don't see it," said I. "You say you didn't go in for the gold? Then give up your share; the others'll jump at it; and Eva won't think the worse of you, at any rate."

"But what's to become of her if I drop out?

"You and I will take her to her friends, or wherever she wants to go."

"No, no!" he cried. "I never yet deserted my pals, and I'm not going to begin."

"I don't believe you ever before had such pals to desert," was my reply to that. "Quite apart from my own share in the matter, it makes me positively sick to see a fellow like you mixed up with such a crew in such a game. Get out of it, man, get out of it while you can! Now's your time. Get out of it, for God's sake!"

I sat up in my eagerness. I saw him waver. And for one instant a great hope fluttered in my heart. But his teeth met. His face darkened. He shook his head.

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"That's the kind of rot that isn't worth talking, and you ought to know it," said he. "When I begin a thing I go through with it, though it lands me in hell, as this one will. I can't help that. It's too late to go back. I'm going on and you're going with me, Cole, like a sensible chap!"

I shook my head.

"Only on the one condition."

"You - stick - to - that?" he said, so rapidly that the words ran into one, so fiercely that his decision was as plain to me as my own.

"I do," said I, and could only sigh when he made yet one more effort to persuade me, in a distress not less apparent than his resolution, and not less becoming in him.

"Consider, Cole, consider!"

"I have already done so, Rattray."

"Murder is simply nothing to them!"

"It is nothing to me either."

"Human life is nothing!"

"No; it must end one day."

"You won't give your word unconditionally?"

"No; you know my condition."

He ignored it with a blazing eye,his hand upon the door.

"You prefer to die, then?"

"Then die you may, and be damned to you!"

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Dead Men Tell No Tales
E. W. Hornung

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