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Under the Andes Rex Stout

A Modern Marana

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I said something about joining them at dinner and left for my own rooms.

At dinner that evening Harry was in high spirits and took great delight in everything that was said, both witty and dull, while Le Mire positively sparkled.

She made her impression; not a man in the well-filled room but sent his tribute of admiring glances as she sat seemingly unconscious of all but Harry and myself. That is always agreeable; a man owes something to the woman who carries a room for him.

I had intended to have a talk with Harry after dinner, but I postponed it; the morning would assuredly be better. There was dancing in the salon, but we were all too tired to take advantage of it; and after listening to one or two numbers, during which Le Mire was kept busy turning aside the importunities of would-be partners, we said good night and sought our beds.

It was late the next morning when the precious pair joined me in the garden, and when we went in for breakfast we found the dining-room quite empty. We did not enjoy it as on the morning previous; the cuisine was of the kind usually--and in this case justly--described as "superior," but we did not have the same edge on our appetite.

We were not very talkative; I myself was almost taciturn, having before me the necessity of coming to an understanding with Harry, a task which I was far from relishing. But there were certain things I must know.

"What do you say to a ride down the valley?" said Harry. "They have excellent horses here; I tried one of 'em the other day."

"I trust that they bear no resemblance to my donkey," said I with feeling.

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"Ugh!" said Le Mire with a shudder. "Never shall I forget that ride. Besides," she added, turning to Harry, "this morning I would be in the way. Don't you know that your brother has a thousand things to say to you? He wants to scold you; you must remember that you are a very bad boy."

And she sent me a glance half defiant, half indifferent, which plainly said: "If I fight you, I shall win; but I really care very little about it one way or the other."

After breakfast she went to her room--to have her hair dressed, she said--and I led Harry to a secluded corner of the magnificent grounds surrounding the hotel. During the walk we were both silent: Harry, I suppose, was wondering what I was going to say, while I was trying to make up my own mind.

"I suppose," he began abruptly, "you are going to tell me I have acted like a fool. Go ahead; the sooner it's over the better."

"Nothing of the sort," said I, glad that he had opened it.

He stopped short, demanding to know what I meant.

"Of course," I continued, "Le Mire is a most amazing prize. Not exactly my style perhaps, but there are few men in the world who wouldn't envy you. I congratulate you.

"But there were two things I feared for several reasons--Le Mire's fascination, your own youth and impulsive recklessness, and the rather curious mode of your departure. I feared first and most that you would marry her; second, that you would achieve odium and publicity for our name."

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Under the Andes
Rex Stout

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