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CHAPTER 20: THE STATEMENT OF FRANCIS RATTRAY
In the year 1858 I received a bulky packet bearing the stamp of the Argentine Republic, a realm in which, to the best of my belief, I had not a solitary acquaintance. The superscription told me nothing. In my relations with Rattray his handwriting had never come under my observation. Judge then of my feelings when the first thing I read was his signature at the foot of the last page.
For five years I had been uncertain whether he was alive or dead. I had heard nothing of him from the night we parted in Kirby Hall. All I knew was that he had escaped from England and the English police; his letter gave no details of the incident. It was an astonishing letter; my breath was taken on the first close page; at the foot of it the tears were in my eyes. And all that part I must pass over without a word. I have never shown it to man or woman. It is sacred between man and man.
But the letter possessed other points of interest - of almost universal interest - to which no such scruples need apply; for it cleared up certain features of the foregoing narrative which had long been mysteries to all the world; and it gave me what I had tried in vain to fathom all these years, some explanation, or rather history, of the young Lancastrian's complicity with Joaquin Santos in the foul enterprise of the Lady Jermyn. And these passages I shall reproduce word for word; partly because of their intrinsic interest; partly for such new light as they day throw on this or that phase of the foregoing narrative; and, lastly, out of fairness to (I hope) the most gallant and most generous youth who ever slipped upon the lower slopes of Avemus.
"You wondered how I could have thrown in my lot with such a man. You may wonder still, for I never yet told living soul. I pretended I had joined him of my own free will. That was not quite the case. The facts were as follows:
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