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Under the Andes Rex Stout

A Victory And A Conversation

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"Gad, that smells good!" cried Harry.

I shuddered.

He dragged the thing a few feet away, and I heard him slashing away at it with his spear. A minute later he came running over to us with his hands full of something.

That was not exactly a pretty meal. How Desiree, in her frightfully weakened condition, ever managed to get the stuff down and keep it there is beyond me. But she did, and I was not behind her. And, after all, it was fresh. Harry said it was "sweet." Well, perhaps it was.

We bathed Desiree's hands and face and gave her water to drink, and soon after she passed into a seemingly healthy sleep. There was about ten pounds of meat left. Harry washed it in the stream and stowed it away on a rock beneath the surface of the water. Then he announced his intention of going back for more.

"I'm going with you," I declared. "Here--help me fix Desiree."

"Hardly," said Harry. "Didn't I say there are millions of those things over there? Anyway, there are hundreds. If they should happen to scatter in this direction and find her, she wouldn't stand a chance. You take the other spear and stay here."

So I sat still, with Desiree's body in my arms, and waited for him. My sensations were not unpleasant. I could actually feel the blood quicken in my veins.

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Civilization places the temple of life in the soul or the heart, as she speaks through the mouth of the preacher or the poet; but let civilization go for four or five days without anything to eat and see what happens. The organ is vulgar, but its voice is loud. I need not name it

In five minutes Harry returned, dragging two more of the creatures at his heels. In half an hour there were a dozen of them lying in a heap at the edge of the water.

"That's all," he announced, panting heavily from his exertions. "The rest have taken to the woods, which, I imagine, is quite a journey from here. You ought to see our friend--the one who couldn't make his eyes behave. They've eaten him full of holes. He's the most awful mess--sickening beast. He didn't have a bone in him--all crumpled up like an accordion. Utterly spineless."

"And who, in the name of goodness, do you think is going to eat all that?" I demanded, pointing to the heap of bodies.

Harry grinned.

"I don't know. I was so excited at the very idea of a square meal that I didn't know when to stop. I'd give five fingers for a fire and some salt. Just a nickel's worth of salt. Now, you lie down and sleep while I cut these things up, and then I'll take a turn at it myself?"

He brought me one of the hides for a pillow, and I lay back as gently as possible that I might not awaken Desiree. Her head and shoulders rested against my body as she lay peacefully sleeping.

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Under the Andes
Rex Stout

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