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Under the Andes Rex Stout

A Fishing Party

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In a few minutes they reappeared in the light of the flaming urns. I waited till they had advanced half-way to the water's edge, some thirty feet away. Then I whispered to Harry: "You for the left, me for the right," and released my hold on his arm, and the next instant we were bounding furiously across the ledge.

Taken by surprise, the Incas offered no resistance whatever. The momentum of our assault carried them to the ground; their heads struck the hard granite with fearful force and they lay stunned.

Harry, kneeling over them, looked up at me with a question in his eyes.

"The lake," said I, for it was no time for squeamishness.

Our friend the king thought us dead, and we wanted no witnesses that we had returned to life. We laid hold of the unconscious bodies, dragged them to the edge of the lake, and pushed them in. The shock of the cold water brought one of them to life, and he started to swim, and we--well, we did what had to be done.

We had our spears. I examined them curiously.

The head appeared to be of copper and the shaft was a long, thin rod of the same material. But when I tried it against a stone and saw its hardness I found that it was much less soft, and consequently more effective, than copper would have been. That those underground savages had succeeded in combining metals was incredible, but there was the evidence; and, besides, it may have been a trick of nature herself.

The point was some six inches long and very sharp. It was set on the shaft in a wedge, and bound with thin, tough strips of hide. Altogether, a weapon not to be laughed at.

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We carried the spears, the raft, and the oars behind a large boulder to the left of the ledge with considerable difficulty. The two latter not because we expected them to be of any service, but in order not to leave any trace of our presence, for if any searchers came and found nothing they could know nothing.

We expected them to arrive at any moment, and we waited for hours. We had about given up watching from our vantage point behind the boulder when two Incas appeared at the mouth of the passage. But they brought only oil to fill the urns, and after performing this duty departed, without a glance at the lake or any exhibition of surprise at the absence of their fellows.

Every now and then there was a commotion in some part of the lake, and we could occasionally see a black, glistening body leap into the air and fall again into the water.

"I'm hungry," Harry announced suddenly. "I wonder if we couldn't turn the trick on that raft ourselves?"

The same thought had occurred to me, but Harry's impulsiveness had made me fearful of expressing it. I hesitated.

"We've got to do something," he continued.

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Under the Andes
Rex Stout

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