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|Dead Men Tell No Tales||E. W. Hornung|
Chapter X Wine and Weakness
|Page 4 of 7||
"That Portuguese villain again!" cried my companion, fairly leaping from the chair which I had left and he had taken. "It was the work of the same cane that killed the steward. Don't tell me an Englishman would have done it; and yet you said nothing about that either!"
It was my first glimpse of this side of my young host's character. Nor did I admire him the less, in his spirited indignation, because much of this was clearly against myself. His eyes flashed. His face was white. I suddenly found myself the cooler man of the two.
"My dear fellow, do consider!" said I. "What possible end could have been served by my stating what I couldn't prove against a man who could never be brought to book in this world? Santos was punished as he deserved; his punishment was death, and there's an end on't."
"You might be right," said Rattray, "but it makes my blood boil to hear such a story. Forgive me if I have spoken strongly;" and he paced his hall for a little in an agitation which made me like him better and better. "The cold-blooded villain!" he kept muttering; "the infernal, foreign, blood-thirsty rascal! Perhaps you were right; it couldn't have done any good, I know; but - I only wish he'd lived for us to hang him, Cole! Why, a beast like that is capable of anything: I wonder if you've told me the worst even now?" And he stood before me, with candid suspicion in his fine, frank eyes.
"What makes you say that?" said I, rather nettled.
I shan't tell you if it's going to rile you, old fellow," was his reply. And with it reappeared the charming youth whom I found it impossibile to resist. "Heaven knows you have had enough to worry you!" he added, in his kindly, sympathetic voice.
"So much," said I, "that you cannot add to it, my dear Rattray. Now, then! Why do you think there was something worse?"
"You hinted as much in town: rightly or wrongly I gathered there was something you would never speak about to living man."
I turned from him with a groan.
"Ah! but that had nothing to do with Santos."
"Are you sure?" he cried.
"No," I murmured; "it had something to do with him, in a sense; but don't ask me any more." And I leaned my forehead on the high oak mantel-piece, and groaned again.
His hand was upon my shoulder.
"Do tell me," he urged. I was silent. He pressed me further. In my fancy, both hand and voice shook with his sympathy.
"He had a step-daughter," said I at last.
"I loved her. That was all."
His hand dropped from my shoulder. I remained standing, stooping, thinking only of her whom I had lost for ever. The silence was intense. I could hear the wind sighing in the oaks without, the logs burning softly away at my feet And so we stood until the voice of Rattray recalled me from the deck of the Lady Jermyn and my lost love's side.
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|Dead Men Tell No Tales
E. W. Hornung
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