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|Under the Andes||Rex Stout|
A Royal Visitor
|Page 7 of 8||
It would appear that the gain was hardly worth the pains, and I admit it. But at the least I had kept Harry occupied with something besides his amatory troubles, and at the best we had two heavy, easily handled bars of metal that would prove most effective weapons against foes who had none whatever.
We had just removed the traces of our work as completely as possible and secreted the clubs of yellow metal in a corner of the apartment when the sound of pattering footsteps came from the corridor.
Harry gave me a quick glance; I moved between him and the door. But it was Desiree.
She entered the room hurriedly and crossed to the farther side, then turned to face the door. Her cheeks were glowing brightly, her eyes flashed fire, and her breast heaved with unwonted agitation. Before either she or I had time to speak Harry had sprung to her side and grasped her arm.
"What has he done now?" he demanded in a tone scarcely audible in its intensity.
"I--don't--know," said Desiree without removing her eyes from the door. "Let me go, Harry; let me sit down. Paul! Ah! I was afraid."
"For us?" I asked.
"Yes--partly. The brute! But then, he is human, and that is his way. And you--I was right--you should have gone to the Cave of the Sun when he required your presence."
"But it was merely an invitation. Cannot one refuse an invitation?" I protested.
"But, my dear Paul, the creature is royal--his invitations are commands."
"Well, we were busy, and we've already seen the Cave of the Sun."
"Still it was an error, and I think you will pay for it. There have been unusual preparations under way for many hours. The king has been in my apartment, and messengers and guards have been arriving constantly, each with his little bundle of quipos, as you call them."
"Did you see the quipos?"
"Did any of them contain a red cord, suspended alone, with a single knot at either end?"
"Yes, all of them," said Desiree without an instant's hesitation.
"That means Harry and me," I observed. "But the message! Can you remember any of them?"
She tried, but without success. Which will not surprise any one who has ever seen the collection at the museum at Lima.
Then Harry broke in:
"Something else has happened, Desiree. No bunch of cords tied in silly knots ever made you look as you did just now. What was it?"
"I say yes! And I want to know! And if it's what I think it is we're going to clear out of here now!"
"As though we could!"
"We can! We have enough provisions to last for weeks. And see here," he ran to the corner where he had hidden the golden clubs and returned with them in his hands, "with these we could make our way through them all. Tell me!"
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