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CHAPTER 18: A MAN OF MANY MURDERS (continued)
To me there was horror unspeakable, yet withal a morbid fascination, in the spectacle of the actual booty for which so many lives had been sacrificed before my eyes. Minute followed minute in which I looked at nothing, and could think of nothing, but the stolen bullion at my feet; then I gathered what of the dust I could, pocketed it in pinches to hide my meddlesomeness, and blew the rest away. The box had dropped very much where I had found it; it had exhausted my strength none the less, and I was glad at last to lie down on the mattress, and to wind my body in Rattray's blankets.
I shuddered at the thought of sleep: the rats became so lively the moment I lay still. One ventured so near as to sit up close to the lantern; the light showed its fat white belly, and the thing itself was like a dog begging, as big to my disgusted eyes. And yet, in the midst of these horrors (to me as bad as any that had preceded them), nature overcame me, and for a space my torments ceased.
"He is aslip," a soft voice said.
"Don't wake the poor devil," said another.
"But I weesh to spik with 'im. Senhor Cole! Senhor Cole!"
I opened my eyes. Santos looked of uncanny stature in the low yellow light, from my pillow close to the earth. Harris turned away at my glance; he carried a spade, and began digging near the boxes without more ado, by the light of a second lantern set on one of them: his back was to me from this time on. Santos shrugged a shoulder towards the captain as he opened a campstool, drew up his trousers, and seated himself with much deliberation at the foot of my mattress.
"When you 'ave treasure," said he, "the better thing is to bury it, Senhor Cole. Our young friend upstairs begs to deefer; but he is slipping; it is peety he takes such quantity of brandy! It is leetle wikness of you Engleesh; we in Portugal never touch it, save as a liqueur; therefore we require less slip. Friend squire upstairs is at this moment no better than a porker. Have I made mistake? I thought it was the same word in both languages; but I am glad to see you smile, Senhor Cole; that is good sign. I was going to say, he is so fast aslip up there, that he would not hear us if we were to shoot each other dead!"
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