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Under the Andes Rex Stout

The Sweetheart Of A King

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Partly was this due to pity for the driver, partly to a desire to leave Harry to his own thoughts, which I knew must be somewhat turbulent. He was silent during the drive, which was not long, and I smiled to myself in the darkness of the early morning as I heard, now and then, an uncontrollable sigh break through his dry lips. Of thankfulness, perhaps.

I preceded him up the stoop and into the hall of the old house on lower Fifth Avenue, near Tenth Street, that had been the home of our grandfather and our father before us. There, in the dim light, I halted and turned, while Evans approached from the inner rooms, rubbing eyes heavy with sleep.

Good old Evans! Yet the faithfulness of such a servant has its disadvantages.

"Well?" said Harry in a thin, high voice.

The boy's nerves were stretched tightly; two words from me would have produced an explosion. So I clapped him on the shoulder and sent him off to bed. He went sulkily, without looking round, and his shoulders drooped like those of an old man; but I reflected that that would all be changed after a few hours of sleep.

"After all, he is a Lamar," I said to myself as I ordered Evans to bring wine and sandwiches to the library.

It was the middle of the following afternoon before Harry appeared down-stairs. He had slept eleven hours. I was seated in the library when I heard his voice in the hall:

"Breakfast! Breakfast for five at once!"

I smiled. That was Harry's style of wit.

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After he had eaten his "breakfast for five" he came in to see me with the air of a man who was determined to have it out.

I myself was in no mood for talk; indeed, I scarcely ever am in such a mood, unless it be with a pretty woman or a great sinner. You may regard that sentence as tautological if you like; I sha'n't quarrel about it.

What I mean to say is that it was with a real effort I set myself to the distasteful task before me, rendered necessary by the responsibility of my position as elder brother and head of the family.

Harry began by observing with assumed indifference: "Well, and now there's the deuce to pay, I suppose."

"As his representative I am not a hard creditor," I smiled.

"I know, I know--" he began impetuously and stopped.

I continued:

"My boy, there is always the deuce to pay. If not for one thing, then for another. So your observation would serve for any other time as well as now. The point is this: you are ten years younger than I, and you are under my care; and much as I dislike to talk, we must reach an understanding."

"Well?" said Harry, lighting a cigarette and seating himself on the arm of a chair.

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Under the Andes
Rex Stout

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