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Under the Andes Rex Stout

A Victory And A Conversation

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We did not go far, for we were barely able to carry her. We laid her on the hard rock with her head in Harry's lap. Her body was limp as a rag.

For many minutes we worked over her, rubbing her temples and wrists, and pressing the nerve centers at the back of the neck, but without effect.

"She is dead," said Harry with a curious calm.

I shook my head.

"She has a pulse--see! But we must find that water. I think she isn't injured; it is her weakened condition from the lack of food that keeps her so. Wait for me."

I started out across the cavern in the direction from which the sound of the water appeared to come, bearing off to the right from the huge, quivering form of the monster whose gigantic body rose and fell on the ground with a force that seemed to shake the very walls of the cavern.

I found the stream with little difficulty, not far away, and returned to Harry. Together we carried Desiree to its edge. The blood was stubborn, and for a long time refused to move, but the cold water at length revived her; her eyes slowly opened, and she raised her hand to her head with a faltering gesture.

But she was extremely weak, and we saw that the end was near unless nourishment could be found for her.

I stayed by her side, with my arms round her shoulders, and Harry set out with one of the spears. He bore off to the left, toward the spot where the body of the immense reptile lay; I was too far away to see it in the darkness.

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"It isn't possible that the thing is fit to eat," I had objected, and he had answered me with a look which I understood, and was silenced.

Soon a sound as of a scuffle on the rocks came through the darkness from the direction he had taken. I called out to ask if he needed me, but there was no answer. Ten minutes longer I waited, while the sound continued unabated. Once I heard the clatter of his spear on the rock.

I was just rising to my feet to run to the scene when suddenly he appeared in the semidarkness. He was coming slowly, and was dragging along the ground what appeared to be the form of some animal. Another minute and he stood at my side as I sat holding Desiree.

"A peccary!" I cried, bending over the body of the four-footed creature that lay at his feet. "How the deuce did it ever get down here?"

"Peccary--my aunt!" observed Harry, bending down to look at Desiree. "Do peccaries live in the water? Do they have snouts like catfish? This animal is my own invention. There's about ten million more of 'em over there making a gorgeous banquet off our late lamented friend. And now, let's see."

He knelt down by the still warm body and with the point of his spear ripped it open from neck to rump. Desiree stirred about in my arms.

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Under the Andes
Rex Stout

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