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"Assassins? What, is this something new?"
"With a man's religion, however bloodthirsty it may be, I don't quarrel so long as he sincerely believes in it. But for private assassination I have no time and no sympathy." It was the old Nicol Brinn who was speaking, coldly and incisively. "That-- something we both know about ever moved away from those Indian hills was a possibility I had never considered. When it was suddenly brought home to me that you, you, might be here in London, I almost went mad. But the thing that made me realize it was a horrible thing, a black, dastardly thing. See here."
He turned and crossed to where the woman was crouching, watching him with wide-open, fearful eyes. He took both her hands and looked grimly into her face. "For seven years I have walked around with a silent tongue and a broken heart. All that is finished. I am going to speak."
"Ah, no, no!" She was on her feet, her face a mask of tragedy. "You swore to me, you swore to me!"
"No oath holds good in the face of murder."
"Is that why you bring me here? Is that what your message means?"
"My message means that because of--the thing you know about--I am suspected of the murder."
"Yes, I, I! Good God! when I realize what your presence here means, I wish more than ever that I had succeeded in finding death."
"Please don't say it," came a soft, pleading voice. "What can I do? What do you want me to do?"
"I want you to release me from that vow made seven years ago."
Naida uttered a stifled cry. "How is it possible? You understand that it is not possible."
Nicol Brinn seized her by the shoulders. "Is it possible for me to remain silent while men are murdered here in a civilized country?"
"Oh," moaned Naida, "what can I do, what can I do?"
"Give me permission to speak and stay here. Leave the rest to me."
"You know I cannot stay, my Nicol," she replied, sadly.
"But," he said with deliberate slowness, "I won't let you go."
"You must let me go. Already I have been here too long."
He threw his arms around her and crushed her against him fiercely. "Never again," he said. "Never again."
She pressed her little hands against his shoulders.
"Listen! Oh, listen!"
"I shall listen to nothing."
"But you must--you must! I want to make you understand something. This morning I see your note in the papers. Every day, every day for seven whole long years, wherever I have been, I have looked. In the papers of India. Sometimes in the papers of France, of England."
"I never even dreamed that you left India," said Nicol Brinn, hoarsely. "It was through the Times of India that I said I would communicate with you."
"Once we never left India. Now we do--sometimes. But listen. I prepared to come when--he--"
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