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Under the Andes Rex Stout

We Are Two

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Somehow we scrambled forward, with the Incas at our heels. Sharp corners of projecting rocks bruised our faces and bodies; once my leg bent double under me as I fell from a ledge onto a boulder below, and I thought it was broken; but Harry jerked me to my feet and I struggled on.

Harry seemed possessed of the strength of ten men and the heart of a thousand. He pulled Desiree and me up and over boulders and rocks as though we had been feathers; the Lord knows how he got there himself! Half of the time he carried Desiree; the other half he supported me. His energy and exertions were titanic; even in the desperate excitement of our retreat I found time to marvel at it.

We did not gain an inch; our pursuers kept close behind us; but we held our own. Now and then a stray spear came hurtling through the air or struck the rock near us, but they were infrequent and we were not hit.

One, flying past my head, stuck in a crevice of the rock and I grasped the shaft to pull it out, but abandoned my effort when I heard Harry shouting to me from the front to come to his aid.

He and Desiree were standing on the rim of a ledge that stood high above the ground of the passage. At its foot began a level stretch leading straight ahead as far as we could see.

"We must lift her down," Harry was saying.

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He let himself over the ledge, hung by his hands, and dropped. "All right!" he called from below; and I lay flat on the rock while Desiree scrambled over the edge, holding to my hands. For a moment I held her suspended in my outstretched arms; then, at a word from Harry, I let her drop. Another moment and I was over myself, knocking Harry to the ground and tumbling on top of him as he stood beneath to break my fall.

By then the Incas had reached the top of the ledge above us, and we turned and raced down the long stretch ahead. I was in front; Harry came behind with Desiree.

Suddenly, as I ran, I felt a curious trembling of the ground beneath my feet, similar to the vibrations of a bridge at the passing of a heavy load.

Then the ground actually swayed beneath me; and, realizing the danger, I sent a desperate shout to Harry over my shoulder and bounded forward. He was at my side on the instant, with Desiree in his arms.

The ground rocked beneath our feet like a ship in a storm; and, just as I thought we were gone, my foot touched firm rock as I passed a yawning crevice a foot wide under me.

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Under the Andes
Rex Stout

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