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Under the Andes Rex Stout

The Rescue

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We stopped short, gazing about us.

"It looks like--" Harry whispered, and then exclaimed: "It is! See, here is where we took the blocks from this seat!"

So it was. We were in the room where we had imprisoned the Inca king and where we ourselves had been imprisoned with Desiree.

"She said her room was to the right of this," whispered Harry excitedly. "What luck! If only--"

He left the sentence unfinished, but I understood his fear. And with me there was even no doubt; I had little hope of finding Desiree, and was sorry, for Harry's sake, that we had been so far successful.

Again we sought the passage. A little farther on it was crossed by another, running at right angles in both directions. But to the right there was nothing but darkness, and we turned to the left, where, some distance ahead, we could see a light evidently proceeding from a doorway similar to the one we had just left.

We went rapidly, but our feet made scarcely any sound on the granite floor. Still we were incautious, and it was purely by luck that I glanced ahead and discovered that which made me jerk Harry violently back and flatten myself against the wall.

"What is it?" he whispered.

In silence I pointed with my finger to where two Incas stood in the passage ahead of us, just without the patch of light from the doorway, which they were facing. They made no movement; we were as yet undiscovered. They were about a hundred feet away from where we stood.

"Then she's here!" whispered Harry. "They are on guard."

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I nodded; I had had the same thought.

There was no time to lose; at any moment that they should chance to glance in our direction they were certain to see us. I whispered hastily and briefly to Harry. He nodded.

The next instant we were advancing slowly and noiselessly, hugging the wall. We carried our spears ready, though we did not mean to use them, for a miss would have meant an alarm.

"If she is alone!" I was saying within myself, almost a prayer, when suddenly one of the Incas turned, facing us squarely, and gave a start of surprise. We leaped forward.

Half a dozen bounds and we were upon them, before they had had time to realize their danger or move to escape it. With a ferocity taught us by the Incas themselves we gripped their throats and bore them to the floor.

No time then for the decencies; we had work to do, and we crushed and pounded their lives out against the stone floor. There had not been a sound. They quivered and lay still; and then, looking up at some slight sound in the doorway, we saw Desiree.

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Under the Andes
Rex Stout

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