Page:Howard Pyle's Book of Pirates (1921).djvu/317

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The Ruby of Kishmoor

at his vitals and a sweat as cold as ice bedewed his entire body. No, he must tarry for no explanation or defense! He must immediately fly from this terrible place, or else, should he be discovered, his doom would certainly be sealed!

At that moment, and in the very extremity of his apprehensions, there fell of a sudden a knock upon the door, sounding so loud and so startling upon the silence of the room that every shattered nerve in our hero’s frame tingled and thrilled in answer to it. He stood petrified, scarcely so much as daring to breathe; and then, observing that his mouth was agape, he moistened his dry and parching lips, and drew his jaws together with a snap.

Again there fell the same loud, insistent knock upon the panel, followed by the imperative words: “Open within!”

The wretched Jonathan flung about him a glance at once of terror and of despair, but there was for him no possible escape. He was shut tight in the room with his dead victim, like a rat in a trap. Nothing remained for him but to obey the summons from without. Indeed, in the very extremity of his distraction, he possessed reason enough to perceive that the longer he delayed opening the door the less innocent he might hope to appear in the eyes of whoever stood without.

With the uncertain and spasmodic movements of an ill-constructed automaton, he crossed the room, and stepping very carefully over the prostrate body upon the floor, and with a hesitating reluctance that he could in no degree master, he unlocked, unbolted, and opened the door.

The figure that outlined itself in the light of the candle, against the blackness of the passageway without was of such a singular and foreign aspect as to fit extremely well into the extraordinary tragedy of which Jonathan was at once the victim and the cause.

It was that of a lean, tall man with a thin, yellow countenance, embellished with a long, black mustache, and having a pair of forbidding, deeply set, and extremely restless black eyes. A crimson