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Under the Andes Rex Stout

We Are Two

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"We can go no farther," said Harry. "If they come--"

As he spoke I became aware of a curious movement in the wall opposite--a movement as of the wall itself. At first I thought it a delusion produced by my disordered brain, but when I saw Desiree's astonished gaze following mine, and heard Harry's cry of wonder as he turned and saw it also, I knew the thing was real.

A great portion of the wall, the entire side of the passage for a length of a hundred feet or more, was sliding slowly downward. Glancing above I saw a space of several feet where the rock had departed from its bed. The only noise audible was a low, grating sound like the slow grinding of a gigantic millstone.

None of us moved--if there were danger we would seem to have welcomed it. Suddenly the great mass of rock appeared to halt in its downward movement and hang as though suspended; then with a sudden jerk it seemed to free itself, swaying ponderously toward us; and the next moment it had fallen straight down into some abyss below, thundering, tumbling, sliding with terrific velocity.

There was a deafening roar under our feet, the ground rocked as from an earthquake, and it seemed as though the wall against which we stood was about to fall in upon us. Dust and fragments of rock filled the air on every side, and one huge boulder, detached from the roof above, came tumbling at our feet, missing us by inches.

We were completely stunned by the cataclysm, but in a moment Harry had recovered and run to the edge of the chasm opposite thus suddenly formed. Desiree and I followed.

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There was nothing to be seen save the blackness of space. Immediately before us was an apparently bottomless abyss, black and terrifying; the side descended straight down from our feet. Looking across we could see dimly a wall some distance away, smooth and with a faint whiteness. On either side of us other walls extended to meet the farther wall, smooth and polished as glass.

"The Incas didn't do that, I hope," said Harry, turning to me.

"Hardly," I answered; and in my absorbing interest in the phenomenon before me I half forgot my pain.

I moved to the edge of one of the walls extending at right angles to the passage, but there was little to be made of it. It was of soft limestone, and most probably the portion that had disappeared was granite, carried away by the force of its own weight.

"We are like to be buried," I observed, returning to Harry and Desiree. "Though for that matter, even that can hardly frighten us now."

"For my part," said Harry, with a curious gravity beneath the apparent lightness of his words, "I have always admired the death of Porthos. Let it come, and welcome."

"Are we to go further?" put in Desiree.

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Under the Andes
Rex Stout

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