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Under the Andes Rex Stout

Before The Court

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I unwrapped the poncho; then, crawling on my hands and knees, searched about the ground. As I had expected, I found another full platter and basin. I had just set the latter down after taking a hearty drink when I heard Harry's voice.


"Here, lad."

"I was afraid you had gone. I've just had the most devilish dream about Desiree. She was doing some crazy dance on top of a mountain or something. and there was fire, and--Paul! Paul, was it a dream?"

"No, Hal; I saw it myself. But come, we'll talk later. Here's some dried fish for breakfast."

"Ah! That--that--now I remember! And she fell! I'm going--"

But I wanted no more fever or delirium, and I interrupted him sternly:

"Harry! Listen to me! Are you a baby or a man? Talk straight or shut up, and don't whine like a fool. If you have any courage, use it."

It was stiff medicine, but he needed it, and it worked. There was a silence, then his voice came, steady enough:

"You know me better than that, Paul. Only--if it were not for Desiree--but I'll swallow it. I think I've been sick, haven't I?"

Poor lad! I wanted to take his hand in mine and apologize. But that would have been bad for both of us, and I answered simply:

"Yes, a little fever. But you're all right now. And now you must eat and drink. Not much of a variety, but it's better than nothing."

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I carried the platter and basin over to him, and sat down by his side, and we fell to together.

But he would talk of Desiree, and I humored him. There was little enough to say, but he pressed my hand hopefully and gratefully when I expressed my belief that her disappearance had been a trick of some sort and no matter for apprehension.

"We must find her, Paul."


"At once."

But there I objected.

"On the contrary, we must delay. Right now we are utterly helpless from our long fast. They would handle us like babies if it came to a fight. Try yourself; stand up."

He rose to his hands and knees, then sank back to the ground.

"You see. To move now would be folly. And of course they are watching us at this minute--every minute. We must wait."

His only answer was a groan of despair.

In some manner the weary hours passed by.

Harry lay silent, but not asleep; now and then he would ask me some question, but more to hear my voice than to get an answer. We heard or saw nothing of our captors, for all our senses told us we were quite alone, but our previous experience with them had taught us better than to believe it.

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Under the Andes
Rex Stout

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