E. W. Hornung: Raffles: Further Adventures of the Amateur Cracksman

4. THE LAST LAUGH (continued)

"You probably don't even know the name, Bunny," he began, "of the deadliest poison yet known to science. It is cyanide of cacodyl, and I have carried that small flask of it about with me for months. Where I got it matters nothing; the whole point is that a mere sniff reduces flesh to clay. I have never had any opinion of suicide, as you know, but I always felt it worth while to be forearmed against the very worst. Well, a bottle of this stuff is calculated to stiffen an ordinary roomful of ordinary people within five minutes; and I remembered my flask when they had me as good as crucified in the small hours of this morning. I asked them to take it out of my pocket. I begged them to give me a drink before they left me. And what do you suppose they did?"

I thought of many things but suggested none, while Raffles turned this much of his statement into sufficiently fluent Italian. But when he faced me again his face was still flaming.

"That beast Corbucci!" said he--"how can I pity him? He took the flask; he would give me none; he flicked me in the face instead. My idea was that he, at least, should go with me--to sell my life as dearly as that--and a sniff would have settled us both. But no, he must tantalize and torment me; he thought it brandy; he must take it downstairs to drink to my destruction! Can you have any pity for a hound like that?"

"Let us go," I at last said, hoarsely, as Raffles finished speaking in Italian, and his second listener stood open-mouthed.

"We will go," said Raffles, "and we will chance being seen; if the worst comes to the worst this good chap will prove that I have been tied up since one o'clock this morning, and the medical evidence will decide how long those dogs have been dead."

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