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Under the Andes Rex Stout

Beginning The Dance

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The announcement was finally made by the manager of the theater at a little before eleven-o'clock. He could not understand, he said--the poor fellow was on the point of wringing his hands with agitation and despair--he could not understand why the dancer did not arrive.

She had rehearsed in the theater on the previous Thursday afternoon, and had then seemed to have every intention of fulfilling her engagement. No one connected with the theater had seen her since that time, but everything had gone smoothly; they had had no reason to fear such a contretemps as her nonappearance.

They had sent to her hotel; she was gone, bag and baggage. She had departed on Friday, leaving no word as to her destination. They had asked the police, the hotels, the railroads, the steamship companies--and could find no trace of her.

The manager only hoped--he hoped with all his heart--that his frank and unreserved explanation would appease his kind patrons and prevent their resentment; that they would understand--

I made my way out of the theater as rapidly as possible, with Billy Du Mont at my side, and started north on Broadway.

My companion was laughing unrestrainedly.

"What a joke!" he exclaimed. "And gad, what a woman! She comes in and turns the town upside down and then leaves it standing on its head. What wouldn't I give to know her!"

I nodded, but said nothing. At Forty-Second Street we turned east to Fifth Avenue, and a few minutes later were at the club. I took Du Mont to a secluded corner of the grill, and there, with a bottle of wine between us, I spoke.

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"Billy," said I, "there's the deuce to pay. You're an old friend of mine, and you possess a share of discretion, and you've got to help me. Le Mire is gone. I must find her."

"Find Le Mire?" He stared at me in amazement. "What for?"

"Because my brother Harry is with her."

Then I explained in as few words as possible, and I ended, I think, with something like this:

"You know, Billy, there are very few things in the world I consider of any value. She can have the lad's money, and, if necessary, my own into the bargain. But the name of Lamar must remain clean; and I tell you there is more than a name in danger.

Whoever that woman touches she kills. And Harry is only a boy."

Billy helped me, as I knew he would; nor did he insist on unnecessary details. I didn't need his assistance in the search, for I felt that I could accomplish that as well alone.

But it was certainly known that Harry had been calling on Le Mire at her hotel; conjectures were sure to be made, leading to the assertions of busy tongues; and it was the part of my friend to counteract and smother the inevitable gossip. This he promised to do; and I knew Billy. As for finding Harry, it was too late to do anything that night, and I went home and to bed.

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Under the Andes
Rex Stout

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