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Under the Andes Rex Stout

The Sweetheart Of A King

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"You have often thought," I continued, "that I have been trying to interfere with your freedom. But you are mistaken; I have merely been trying to preserve it--and I have succeeded."

"When our father and mother died you were fifteen years of age. You are now twenty-two; and I take some credit for the fact that those seven years have left no stain, however slight, on the name of Lamar."

"Do I deserve that?" cried Harry. "What have I done?"

"Nothing irremediable, but you must admit that now and then I have been at no small pains to--er--assist you. But there, I don't intend to speak of the past; and to tell the truth, I suspect that we are of one mind. You regard me as more or less of an encumbrance; you think your movements are hampered; you consider yourself to be treated as a child unjustly.

"Well, for my part, I find my duty--for such I consider it--grows more irksome every day. If I am in your way, you are no less in mine. To make it short, you are now twenty-two years old, you chafe at restraint, you think yourself abundantly able to manage your own affairs. Well--I have no objection."

Harry stared at me.

"You mean--" he began.


"But, Paul--"

"There is no need to discuss it. For me, it is mostly selfishness."

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But he wanted to talk, and I humored him. For two hours we sat, running the scale from business to sentiment, and I must confess that I was more than once surprised by a flash from Harry. Clearly he was developing, and for the first time I indulged a hope that he might prove himself fit for self-government.

At least I had given him the rope; it remained for time to discover whether or not he would avoid getting tangled up in it. When we had finished we understood each other better, I think, than we ever had before; and we parted with the best of feeling.

Three days later I sailed for Europe, leaving Harry in New York. It was my first trip across in eighteen months, and I aimed at pleasure. I spent a week in London and Munich, then, disgusted with the actions of some of my fellow countrymen with whom I had the misfortune to be acquainted, I turned my face south for Madrid.

There I had a friend.

A woman not beautiful, but eminently satisfying; not loose, but liberal, with a character and a heart. In more ways than one she was remarkable; she had an affection for me; indeed, some years previously I had been in a way to play Albert Savaron to her Francesca Colonna, an arrangement prevented only by my constitutional dislike for any prolonged or sustained effort in a world the slave of vanity and folly.

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Under the Andes
Rex Stout

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