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0105_001E Under the Andes Rex Stout

Beginning The Dance

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"Not on the stage," I answered; "but I crossed on the same ship with her, and she was kind enough to give me a great deal of her time. She seems to understand perfectly her own artistic limitations, and I am taking her word for it."

But Harry was no longer interested in the subject of dancing. I was besieged on the instant with a thousand questions.

Had I known Le Mire long? What was she like? Was it true that Prince Dolansky had shot himself in despair at losing her? Was she beautiful? How well did I know her? Would I take him to see her?

And within half an hour the last question was repeated so many times and with such insistence that I finally consented and left Harry delighted beyond words.

My own experience with Desiree Le Mire had been anything but exciting. The woman was interesting; there could be no doubt of that; but she possessed little attraction for me. Her charms, on close inspection, were really quite too evident.

I require subtlety in a woman, and so far as I could discover Le Mire knew not the meaning of the word. We had spent many hours during the trip across in pleasant companionship; she had done me the honor to tell me that she found my conversation amusing; and, after all, she was undeniably a pretty woman. She had invited me with evident sincerity to call on her in New York; but I had not as yet taken advantage of the invitation.

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I did not then think, and I do not now believe, that I acted foolishly when I took Harry to see her. In any event, he would have seen her sooner or later, and since all temptations meet us at one time or another, it is best to have it out with them at as early a date as possible. At the time, indeed, I gave the subject no thought whatever; but if I had I should not have hesitated.

We took tea with her the following afternoon in her apartment, and I must confess that I myself was more than a little impressed when I entered. I realized then that on the ship nothing had been in her favor; she had been completely out of her element, and she was not a good sailor.

Here all was different. The stiffly ostentatious hotel rooms, by her own genius or that of her maid, had been transformed into something very nearly approaching perfection. I was amazed at the excellent taste displayed in her furniture and its arrangement, for it was clear that these were no hotel properties. Certainly a woman is at her best only when she is able to choose or create her own surroundings.

Harry was captivated, and I can scarcely blame him. But the poor lad betrayed himself so frankly! Though I suppose Le Mire was more or less accustomed to immediate surrender.

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Under the Andes
Rex Stout

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