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Dead Men Tell No Tales

19.
My Great Hour
The library doors were shut, and I closed the secret one behind me before
opening the other and peering out through a wrack of bluish smoke; and there lay
Captain Harris, sure enough, breathing his last in the arms of one constable,
while another was seated on the table with a very wry face, twisting a tourniquet
round his arm, from which the blood was dripping like raindrops from the eaves.
A third officer stood in the porch, issuing directions to his men without.
"He's over the wall, I tell you! I saw him run up our ladder. After him every man of
you - and spread!"
I looked in vain for Rattray and the rest; yet it seemed as if only one of them had
escaped. I was still looking when the man in the porch wheeled back into the hall,
and instantly caught sight of me at my door.
"Hillo! here's another of them," cried he. "Out you come, young fellow! Your
mates are all dead men."
"They're not my mates."
"Never mind; come you out and let's have a look at you."
I did so, and was confronted by a short, thickset man, who recognized me with a
smile, but whom I failed to recognize.
"I might have guessed it was Mr. Cole," said he. "I knew you were here
somewhere, but I couldn't make head or tail of you through the smoke."
"I'm surprised that you can make head or tail of me at all," said I.
"Then you've quite forgotten the inquisitive parson you met out fishing? You see I
found out your name for myself!"
"So it was a detective!"
"It was and is," said the little man, nodding. "Detective or Inspector Royds, if
you're any the wiser.
"What has happened? Who has escaped?" "Your friend Rattray; but he won't get
far."
"What of the Portuguese and the nigger?"
I forgot that I had crippled Jose, but remembered with my words, and wondered
the more where he was.
"I'll show you," said Royds. "It was the nigger let us in. We heard him groaning
round at the back - who smashed his leg? One of our men was at that cellar
grating; there was some of them down there; we wanted to find our way down
and corner them, but the fat got in the fire too soon. Can you stand something
strong? Then come this way."
He led me out into the garden, and to a tangled heap lying in the moonlight, on
the edge of the long grass. The slave had fallen on top of his master; one leg lay
swathed and twisted; one black hand had but partially relaxed upon the haft of a
knife (the knife) that stood up hilt-deep in a blacker heart. And in the hand of
Santos was still the revolver (my Deane and Adams) which had sent its last ball
through the nigger's body.
"They slipped out behind us, all but the one inside," said Royds, ruefully; "I'm
hanged if I know yet how it happened - but we were on them next second. Before
 
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