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Under the Andes Rex Stout

The Eyes In The Dark

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"What has happened?" I asked, for even his voice was unsteady.

"I saw it," he replied simply, but expressing enough in those three words to cause a shudder to run through me.

Then, speaking in a low tone that Desiree might not hear, he told me that the thing had confronted him suddenly as he was following the opposite wall, and that he, too, had been drawn forward, as it were, by a spell impossible to shake off. He had tried to cry aloud, but had been unable to utter a sound. And suddenly, as before, the eyes had disappeared, leaving him barely able to stand.

"No wonder the Incas wouldn't follow us in here," he finished. "We must get out of this. I'm not a coward, but I wouldn't go through that again for my life."

"You take Desiree," said I. "I want that water."

He led us around the wall several hundred feet. The ground was level and clear of obstruction; but we went slowly, for I could scarcely move. Harry kept his eyes strained intently on all sides; his experience had left him more profoundly impressed even than he had been willing to admit to me.

Soon we heard the low music of running water, and a minute later we reached the stream Harry had found.

The fact that there was something to be done seemed to infuse a new spirit into Desiree, and soon her deft fingers were bathing my wounds and bandaging them as well as her poor material would allow.

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The cold water took the heat from my pumping veins and left me almost comfortable. Harry had come off much easier than I, since I had so often sent him ahead with Desiree, and myself brought up the rear and withstood the brunt of the attack.

As Harry had said, the stream cut across a corner of the cavern, disappearing beneath the opposite wall, forming a triangle bound by two sides of the cavern and the stream itself. I saw plainly that it would be impossible for me to move any distance for at least a few days, and that triangle appeared to offer the safest and most comfortable retreat.

I spoke to Harry, and he waded across the stream to try its depth. From the other side he called that the water was at no point more than waist-high, and Desiree and I started to cross; but about the middle I felt the current about to sweep me off my feet. Harry waded in and helped me ashore.

On that hard rock we lay for many weary hours. We had no food; but for that I would soon have been myself again, for, though my wounds were numerous, they were little more than scratches, with the exception of the gash on my shoulder. Weakened as I was by loss of blood, and lacking nourishment, I improved but slowly, and only the cold water kept the fever from me.

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Under the Andes
Rex Stout

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