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Under the Andes Rex Stout

The Escape

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But we were too exposed for a stand there, and I shouted to Harry to take Desiree down the other side of the rock while I stayed behind to hold them off. He left me, and in a moment later I heard his voice crying to me to follow. I did so, sliding down the face of the rock feet first.

Then began a wild and desperate scramble for safety, with the Incas ever at our heels. Without Desiree we would have made our goal with little difficulty, but half of the time we had to carry her.

Several times Harry hurled her bodily across a chasm or a crevice, while I received her on the other side.

Often I covered the retreat, holding the Incas at bay while Harry assisted Desiree up the steep face of a boulder or across a narrow ledge. There was less danger now from their spears, protected as we were by the maze of rocks, but I was already bleeding in a dozen places on my legs and arms and body, and Harry was in no better case.

Suddenly I saw ahead of us an opening which I thought I recognized. I pointed it out to Harry.

"The exit!" he cried out, and made for it with Desiree. But they were brought to a halt by a cliff at their very feet, no less than twenty feet high.

I started to join them, but hearing a clatter behind, turned just in time to see a score of Incas rush at us from the left, through a narrow lane that led to the edge of the cliff.

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I sprang toward them, calling to Harry for assistance. He was at my side in an instant, and together we held them back.

In five minutes the mouth of the lane was choked with their bodies; some behind attempted to scramble over the pile to get at us, but we made them sick of their job. I saw that Harry could hold it alone then, and calling to him to stand firm till I called, I ran to Desiree.

I let myself over the edge of the cliff and hung by my hands, then dropped to the ground below. It was even further than I had thought; my legs doubled up under me and I toppled over, half fainting.

I gritted my teeth and struggled to my feet, calling to Desiree. She was already hanging to the edge of the cliff, many feet above me. But there was nothing else for it, and I shouted: "All right, come on!"

She came, and knocked me flat on my back. I had tried to catch her, and did succeed in breaking her fall, at no little cost to myself. I was one mass of bruises and wounds. But again I struggled to my feet and shouted at the top of my voice:

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Under the Andes
Rex Stout

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