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  Under the Andes Rex Stout

A Victory And A Conversation

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We stood for a long moment rooted to the spot, unable to move. Then, calling to Harry and grasping Desiree by the arm, I started to turn.

But too late. For Desiree, inspired by a boundless terror, suddenly raised her spear high above her head and hurled it straight at the glowing, flashing eyes.

The point struck squarely between then with such force that it must have sunk clear to the shaft. The head of the monster rolled for an instant from side to side, and then, before I was aware of what had happened, so rapid was the movement, a long, snakelike coil had reached out through the air and twisted itself about Desiree's body.

As she felt the thing tighten about her waist and legs she gave a scream of terror and twisted her face round toward me. The next instant the snaky tentacle had dragged her along the ground and lifted her to the head of the monster, where her white body could be seen in sharp outline sprawling over its black form, between the terrible eyes.

Harry and I sprang forward.

As we did so the eyes closed and the reptile began to move backward with incredible swiftness, lashing about on the ground before us with other tentacles similar to the one that had captured Desiree.

I cried out to Harry to avoid them. He did not answer, but rushed blindly forward.

Desiree's agonized shrieks rose to the pitch of madness.

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The eyes were closed, leaving but a vague mark for our spears, and besides, there was the danger of striking Desiree. We were barely able to keep pace with the thing as it receded swiftly down the broad passage. Desiree had twisted her body half round, and her face was turned toward us, shadowy as a ghost. Then her head fell forward and hung loosely and her lips were silent. She had fainted.

The thing moved swifter than ever; we were barely able to keep up with it. Harry made a desperate leap forward.

I cried out a warning, but one of the writhing tentacles swept against him and knocked him to the ground. He was up again on the instant and came rushing up from behind.

Suddenly the passage broadened until the walls were no longer visible; we had entered another cavern. I heard the sound of running water somewhere ahead of us. The pace of the reptile had not slackened for an instant.

Harry had again caught up with us, and as he ran at my side I saw him raise his spear aloft; but I caught his arm and held it.

"Desiree!" I panted.

Her body covered the only part of the thing that presented a fair mark. Harry swore, but his arm fell.

"To the side!" he gasped. "We can't get at it here!"

I saw his meaning and followed at his heels as he swerved suddenly to the right and sprang forward in an attempt to get past the reptile's head.

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Under the Andes
Rex Stout

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