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Under the Andes Rex Stout

The Dance Of The Sun

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It came and went, and played fitfully on the granite walls; still it remained. It was supernaturally brilliant; or so it seemed to us, who had lived in utter darkness for many days.

I turned to Harry, and the man who had just been ready to die was rising to his feet!

"Wait a minute--not so fast!" I said half angrily, springing to support him. "And, for Heaven's sake, don't make any noise! We're in no condition to fight now, and you know what that light means."

"But what is it?" demanded the boy excitedly. "Come on, man-- let's go!"

To tell the truth, I felt as eager as he. For the first time I understood clearly why the Bible and ancient mythology made such a fuss about the lighting up of the world. Modern civilization is too far away from its great natural benefits to appreciate them properly.

And here was a curious instance of the force of habit--or, rather, instinct--in man. So long as Harry and I had remained in the dark passage and byways of the cavern we had proceeded almost entirely without caution, with scarcely a thought of being discovered.

But the first sight of light made us wary and careful and silent; and yet we knew perfectly well that the denizens of this underworld could see as well in the darkness as in the light-- perhaps even better. So difficult is it to guide ourselves by the human faculty of pure reason.

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Harry was so weak he was barely able to stand, even in the strength of this new excitement and hope, and we were forced to go very slowly; I supported him as well as I was able, being myself anything but an engine of power. But the turn in the passage was not far away, and we reached it in a quarter of an hour or less.

Before we made the turn we halted. Harry was breathing heavily even from so slight an exertion, and I could scarcely suppress a cry of amazement when, for the first time in many days, the light afforded me a view of his face.

It was drawn and white and sunken; the eyes seemed set deep in his skull as they blinked painfully; and the hair on his chin and lip and cheeks had grown to a length incredible in so short a space of time. I soon had reason to know that I probably presented no better an appearance, for he was staring at me as though I were some strange monster.

"Good Heavens, man, you took like a ghost!" he whispered.

I nodded; my arm was round his shoulder.

"Now, let's see what this light means. Be ready for anything, Harry--though Heaven knows we can find nothing worse than we've had. Here, put your arm on my shoulder. Take it easy."

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Under the Andes
Rex Stout

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