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Under the Andes Rex Stout

The Cave Of The Devil

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Desiree was laughing gaily.

"Then I shall visit the devil!" she exclaimed, and before either Harry or I could reach her she had sprung across the intervening space to the entrance and disappeared within.

With shouts of consternation from Felipe ringing in our ears, we leaped after her.

"Desiree!" cried Harry. "Come back, Desiree!"

There was no answer, but echoing back from the night before us came faint reverberations--could they be footsteps! What folly! For I had thought that she had merely intended to frighten poor Felipe, and now--

"Desiree!" Harry called again with all the strength of his lungs. "Desiree!"

Again there was no answer. Then we entered the cave together. I remember that as we passed within I turned and saw Felipe staring with white face and eyes filled with terror.

A hundred feet and we were encompassed by the most intense darkness. I muttered: "This is folly; let us get a light," and tried to hold Harry back. But he pushed me aside and groped on, crying: "Desiree! Come back, Desiree!"

What could I do? I followed.

Suddenly a scream resounded through the cavern. Multiplied and echoed by the black walls, it was inhuman, shot with terror, profoundly horrible.

A tremor ran through me from head to foot; beside me I heard Harry gasp with a nameless fear. An instant later we dashed forward into the darkness.

How long we ran I could never tell; probably a few seconds, possibly as many minutes.

On we rushed, blindly, impelled not by reason, but by the memory of that terrible cry, side by side, gasping, fearful. And then--

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A step into thin air--a mighty effort to recover a footing-- a wild instant of despair and pawing helpless agony. Then blackness and oblivion.

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Under the Andes
Rex Stout

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