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Dead Men Tell No Tales E. W. Hornung

Chapter XX The Statement of Francis Rattray

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"The same thing came into play aboard the schooner. Never shall I forget the horror of that voyage after Santos came aboard! I had a crew of eight hands all told, and two he brought with him in the gig. Of course they began talking about the gold; they would have their share or split when they got ashore; and there was mutiny in the air, with the steward and the quarter-master of the Lady Jermyn for ring-leaders. Santos nipped it in the bud with a vengeance! He and Harris shot every man of them dead, and two who were shot through the heart they washed and dressed and set adrift to rot in the gig with false papers! God knows how we made Madeira; we painted the old name out and a new name in, on the way; and we shipped a Portuguese crew, not a man of whom could speak English. We shipped them aboard the Duque de Mondejo's yacht Braganza; the schooner Spindrift had disappeared from the face of the waters for ever. And with the men we took in plenty of sour claret and cigarettes; and we paid them well; and the Portuguese sailor is not inquisitive under such conditions.

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"And now, honestly, I wished I had put a bullet through my head before joining in this murderous conspiracy; but retreat was impossible, even if I had been the man to draw back after going so far; and I had a still stronger reason for standing by the others to the bitter end. I could not leave our lady to these ruffians. On the other hand, neither could I take her from them, for (as you know) she justly regarded me as the most flagrant ruffian of them all. It was in me and through me that she was deceived, insulted, humbled, and contaminated; that she should ever have forgiven me for a moment is more than I can credit or fathom to this hour ... So there we were. She would not look at me. And I would not leave her until death removed me. Santos had been kind enough to her hitherto; he had been kind enough (I understand) to her mother before her. It was only in the execution of his plans that he showed his Napoleonic disregard for human life; and it was precisely herein that I began to fear for the girl I still dared to love. She took up an attitude as dangerous to her safety as to our own. She demanded to be set free when we came to land. Her demand was refused. God forgive me, it had no bitterer opponent than myself! And all we did was to harden her resolution; that mere child threatened us to our faces, never shall I forget the scene! You know her spirit: if we would not set her free, she would tell all when we landed. And you remember how Santos used to shrug? That was all he did then. It was enough for me who knew him. For days I never left them alone together. Night after night I watched her cabin door. And she hated me the more for never leaving her alone! I had to resign myself to that.

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Dead Men Tell No Tales
E. W. Hornung

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