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|Under the Andes||Rex Stout|
|Page 3 of 4||
Two days later found us boarding the yacht at Callao. When I had discovered, to my profound astonishment, at the hacienda, that another year had taken us as far as the tenth day of March, I had greatly doubted if we should find Captain Harris still waiting for us. But there he was; and he had not even put himself to the trouble of becoming uneasy about us.
As he himself put it that night in the cabin, over a bottle of wine, he "didn't know but what the senora had decided to take the Andes home for a mantel ornament, and was engaged in the little matter of transportation."
But when I informed him that "the senora" was no more, his face grew sober with genuine regret and sorrow. He had many good things to say of her then; it appeared that she had really touched his salty old heart.
"She was a gentle lady," said the worthy captain; and I smiled to think how Desiree herself would have smiled at such a characterization of the great Le Mire.
We at once made for San Francisco. There, at a loss, I disposed of the remainder of the term of the lease on the yacht, and we took the first train for the East.
Four days later we were in New York, after a journey saddened by thoughts of the one who had left us to return alone.
It was, in fact, many months before the shadow of Desiree ceased to hover about the dark old mansion on lower Fifth Avenue, incongruous enough among the ancient halls and portraits of Lamars dead and gone in a day when La Marana herself had darted like a meteor into the hearts of their contemporaries.
That is, I suppose, properly the end of the story; but I cannot refrain from the opportunity to record a curious incident that has just befallen me. Some twenty minutes ago, as I was writing the last paragraph--I am seated in the library before a massive mahogany table, close to a window through which the September sun sends its golden rays--twenty minutes ago, as I say, Harry sauntered into the room and threw himself lazily into a large armchair on the other side of the table.
I looked up with a nod of greeting, while he sat and eyed me impatiently for some seconds.
"Aren't you coming with me down to Southampton?" he asked finally.
"What time do you leave?" I inquired, without looking up.
"Freddie Marston's Crocodiles and the Blues. It's going to be some polo."
I considered a moment. "Why, I guess I'll run down with you. I'm about through here."
"Good enough!" Harry arose to his feet and began idly fingering some of the sheets on the table before me. "What is all this silly rot, anyway?"
"My dear boy," I smiled, "you'll be sorry you called it silly rot when I tell you that it is a plain and honest tale of our own experiences."
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