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|Under the Andes||Rex Stout|
Beginning The Dance
|Page 3 of 6||
On that day, at least, she had reason to expect it. She satisfied the eye, which is saying a great deal and is the highest praise possible for a woman's beauty, when you consider the full strength of the word.
She was radiant, adorable, irresistible; I had to own that my first impression of her had been far too weak.
We talked for an hour. Harry had little to say as he sat devouring Le Mire with his eyes, and whenever she turned to him for an answer to a question or confirmation of an opinion he stammered and kept his composure with difficulty. Never, I suppose, did woman have clearer evidence of her power, nor sweeter, for Harry was by no means a fool to be carried away by the first pretty face that came in his way.
She simply overwhelmed him, and I repeat that I do not wonder at it, for my own pulse was not exactly steady. She asked us to dine with her.
I pleaded an engagement at the club and signed to Harry to do likewise; but he was completely gone and paid no attention to me.
He accepted the invitation gratefully, with frank delight, and I left them together.
It was about ten o'clock when he came home that evening. I was seated in the library and, hearing him enter the hall, called to him.
What a face was his! His lips trembled with nervous feeling, his eyes glowed like the eyes of a madman. I half started from my chair in amazement.
"I have no time," said he in answer to my invitation to join me with a bottle. "I have a letter or two to write, and--and I must get some sleep."
"Did you just leave Le Mire?"
I looked at my watch.
"What under the sun did you find to talk about?"
"Oh, anything--nothing. I say, she's charming."
His essay at indifference was amusing.
"You find her so?"
"She seems to have taken a fancy to you."
Harry actually grew red.
"Hardly," he said; but there was hope in the word.
"She is hardly your kind, Harry. You know that. You aren't going in for this sort of thing?"
"This sort--I don't know what you mean."
"Yes, you do, Hal. You know exactly what I mean. To put the thing plainly, Le Mire is a dangerous woman--none more so in all the world; and, Harry boy, be sure you keep your head and watch your step."
He stood for a moment looking at me in silence with a half-angry frown, then opened his mouth as though to speak, and finally turned, without a word, and started for the door. There he turned again uncertainly, hesitating.
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