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|Under the Andes||Rex Stout|
|Page 6 of 8||
The president himself sat by her at the opera. There were two duels attributed to her within a week; though how the deuce that was possible is beyond me.
On society day at the bull-ring the cues were given by Le Mire; her hand flung the rose to the matador, while the eight thousand excited spectators seemed uncertain whether they were applauding her or him. Lima was hers, and never have I seen a fortnight so crowded with incidents.
But Le Mire soon tired of it, as was to be expected. She greeted me one morning at the breakfast table:
"My friend Paul, let us go to Cerro de Pasco. They have silver--thousands and thousands of tons--and what you call them? Ornaments."
"And then the Andes?" I suggested.
"But, my dear Desiree, what shall we do with the yacht?"
"Pooh! There is the captain. Come--shall I say please?"
So we went to Cerro de Pasco. I wrote to Captain Harris, telling him not to expect us for another month or so, and sending him sufficient funds to last till our return.
I verily believe that every one of note in Lima came to the railroad station to see us off.
Our compartment was a mass of flowers, which caused me to smile, for Le Mire, curiously enough, did not like them. When we had passed out of the city she threw them out of the window, laughing and making jokes at the expense of the donors. She was in the best of humor.
We arrived at Oroya late in the afternoon, and departed for Cerro de Pasco by rail on the following morning.
This ride of sixty-eight miles is unsurpassed in all the world. Snow-capped peaks, bottomless precipices, huge masses of boulders that seem ready to crush the train surround you on every side, and now and then are directly above or beneath you.
Le Mire was profoundly impressed; indeed, I had not supposed her to possess the sensibility she displayed; and as for me, I was most grateful to her for having suggested the trip. You who find yourselves too well-acquainted with the Rockies and the Alps and the Himalayas should try the Andes. There is a surprise waiting for you.
But for the story.
We found Cerro de Pasco, interesting as its situation is, far short of our expectations. It is a mining town, filled with laborers and speculators, noisy, dirty, and coarse. We had been there less than forty-eight hours when I declared to Harry and Le Mire my intention of returning at once.
"But the Andes!" said Le Mire. "Shall we not see them?"
"Well--there they are."
I pointed through the window of the hotel.
"Bah! And you call yourself a traveler? Look! The snow! My friend Paul, must I ask twice for a favor?"
Once again we tossed a coin.
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