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|Under the Andes||Rex Stout|
|Page 5 of 9||
She stood in the doorway, regarding us with an expression of terror that I did not at first understand; then suddenly I realized that, having seen us disappear beneath the surface of the take after our dive from the column, she had thought us dead.
"Bon Dieu!" she exclaimed in a hollow voice of horror. "This, too! Do you come, messieurs?"
"For you," I answered. "We are flesh and bone, Desiree, though in ill repair. We have come for you."
"Paul! Harry, is it really you?"
Belief crept into her eyes, but nothing more, and she stood gazing at us curiously. Harry had sprung to her side; she did not move as he embraced her.
"Are you alone?"
"Good. Here, Harry--quick! Help me. Stand aside, Desiree."
We carried the bodies of the two Incas within the room and deposited them in a corner. Then I ran and brought the spears, which we had dropped when we attacked the Incas. Desiree stood just within the doorway, seemingly half dazed.
"Come," I said; "there is no time to be lost. Come!"
"Where?" She did not move.
"With us. Isn't that enough? Do you want to stay here?"
She shuddered violently.
"You don't know--what has happened. I want to die. Where are you going to take me?"
"Desiree," Harry burst out, "for Heaven's sake, come! Must we carry you?"
He grasped her arm.
Then she moved and appeared to acquiesce. I started ahead; Harry brought up the rear, with an arm round Desiree's shoulders. She started once more to speak, but I wheeled sharply with a command for silence, and she obeyed.
We reached the turn in the corridor and passed to the right, moving as swiftly and noiselessly as possible. Ahead of us was the light from the doorway of the room in which we had formerly been imprisoned.
We had nearly reached it when I saw, some distance down the corridor, moving forms. The light was very dim, but there appeared to be a great many of them.
I turned, with a swift gesture to Harry and Desiree to follow, and dashed forward to the light and through the doorway into the room. Discovery was inevitable, I thought, in any event, but it was better to meet them at the door to the room than in the open passage. And we had our spears.
But by a rare stroke of luck we had not been seen. As we stood within the room on either side of the doorway, out of the line of view from the corridor, we heard the patter of many footsteps approaching.
They neared the doorway, and I glanced at Harry, pointing to his spear significantly. He gave me a nod of understanding. Let them come; we would not again fall into their hands alive.
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