E. W. Hornung: Dead Men Tell No Tales


It must have been midnight when I opened my eyes; a clock was striking as though it never would stop. My mouth seemed fire; a pungent flavor filled my nostrils; the wineglass felt cold against my teeth. "That's more like it!" muttered a voice close to my ear. An arm was withdrawn from under my shoulders. I was allowed to sink back upon some pillows. And now I saw where I was. The room was large and poorly lighted. I lay in my clothes on an old four-poster bed. And my enemies were standing over me in a group.

"I hope you are satisfied!" sneered Joaquin Santos, with a flourish of his eternal cigarette.

"I am. You don't do murder in my house, wherever else you may do it."

"And now better lid 'im to the nirrest polissstation; or weel you go and tell the poliss yourself?" asked the Portuguese, in the same tone of mordant irony.

"Ay, ay," growled Harris; "that's the next thing!"

"No," said Rattray; "the next thing's for you two to leave him to me."

"We'll see you damned!" cried the captain.

"No, no, my friend," said Santos, with a shrug; "let him have his way. He is as fond of his skeen as you are of yours; he'll come round to our way in the end. I know this Senhor Cole. It is necessary for 'im to die. But it is not necessary this moment; let us live them together for a leetle beet."

"That's all I ask," said Rattray.

"You won't ask it twice," rejoined Santos, shrugging. "I know this Senhor Cole. There is only one way of dilling with a man like that. Besides, he 'as 'alf-keeled my good Jose; it is necessary for 'im to die."

"I agree with the senhor," said Harris, whose forehead was starred with sticking-plaster. "It's him or us, an' we're all agen you, squire. You'll have to give in, first or last."

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