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Under the Andes Rex Stout

A Fishing Party

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Suddenly I saw a dark, crouching form outlined against a boulder not ten feet away from where I stood. The form was human, but in some way unlike the Incas I had seen. I could not see its face, but the alertness suggested by its attitude made me certain that I had been discovered.

Vaguely I felt myself surrounded on every side; I seemed to feel eyes gazing unseen from every direction, but I could not force myself to search the darkness; my heart rose to my throat and choked me, and I stood absolutely powerless to make a sound or movement, gazing in a sort of dumb fascination at that silent, crouching figure.

Suddenly it crouched lower still against the black background of the boulder.

"Another second and he will be at my throat," I thought--but I stood still, unable to move.

But the figure did not spring. Instead, it suddenly straightened up to almost twice the height of an Inca, and I caught a glimpse of a white face and ragged, clinging garments.

"Harry!" I whispered. I wonder yet that it was not a shout.

"Thank God!" came his voice, also in a whisper; and in another moment he had reached my side.

A hurried word or two--there was no time for more--and I pointed to the Incas on the raft, saying: "We want those spears."

"I was after them," he grinned. "What shall we do?"

"There's no use taking them while the Incas are away," I replied, "because they would soon return and find them gone. Surely we can handle two of them."

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As I spoke there came a sound from the lake--a sudden loud splash followed by a commotion in the water. I looked around the corner of the boulder and saw that the spears again found their mark.

"Come," I whispered, and began to pick my way toward the ledge.

Harry followed close at my heels. It was easier here, and we soon found ourselves close to the shore of the lake, with a smooth stretch of rock between us and the fisherman's landing-place. The urns, whose light was quite sufficient here, were about fifty feet to the right and rear.

The Incas had made their kill and were paddling for the shore. As they came near, Harry and I sank back against the boulder, which extended to the boundary of the ledge. Soon the raft was beached and pulled well away from the water, and the fish--I was amazed at its size--followed.

They drew forth the spears and laid them on the ground, as they had done formerly; and, laying hold on the immense fish, still floundering ponderously about, began to drag it toward the mouth of the passage.

"Now," whispered Harry, and as he stood close at my side I could feel his body draw together for the spring.

I laid a hand on his arm.

"Not yet. Others may be waiting for them in the passage. Wait till they return."

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Under the Andes
Rex Stout

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