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Under the Andes Rex Stout

We Are Two

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Harry turned, quivering from head to foot.

"Little enough," he said between his teeth, and again he knelt beside the body of Desiree and took her in his arms.

But her fate spoke eloquently of our own danger, and I roused him to action. Together we picked up the form of our dead comrade and carried it to the rear. I hesitated to pull forth the barbed head of the spear, and instead broke off the shaft, leaving the point buried in the soft throat, from which a crimson line extended over the white shoulder.

A short distance ahead we came to a projecting boulder, and behind that we gently laid her on the hard rock. Neither of us had spoken a word. Harry's lips were locked tightly together; a lump rose in my throat, choking all utterance and filling my eyes with tears.

Harry knelt beside the white form and, gathering it gently in his arms, held it against his breast. I stood at his side, gazing down at him in mute sympathy and sorrow.

For a long minute there was silence--a most intense silence throughout the cavern, during which the painful throbbing of my heart was plainly audible; then Harry murmured, in a voice of the utmost tenderness: "Desiree!" And again, "Desiree! Desiree!" until I half expected the very strength and sweetness of his emotion to bring our comrade back to life.

Suddenly, with a quick, impulsive movement, he raised his head to glance at me.

"She loved you," he said; and though there was neither jealousy nor anger in his voice, somehow I could not meet his gaze.

"She loved you," he repeated in a tone half of wonder. "And you--you--"

I answered his eyes.

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"She was yours," I said, with a touch of bitterness that persuaded him of the truth. "All her beauty, all her loveliness, all her charm, to be buried--Ah! God help us--"

My voice broke, and I knelt on the ground beside Harry and pressed my lips to the white forehead and golden hair of what had been Le Mire.

Thus we remained for a long time.

It was hard to believe that death had in reality taken possession of the still form stretched as in repose before us. Her body, still warm, seemed quivering with the instinct of life; but the eyes were not the eyes of Desiree. I closed them, and arranged the tangled mass of hair as well as possible over her shoulders. As I did so the air, set in motion by my hand, caused some of the golden strands to tremble gently across her lips; and Harry bent forward with a painful eagerness, thinking that she had breathed.

"Dearest," he murmured, "dearest, speak to me!"

His hand sought her swelling bosom gropingly; and his eyes, as they looked pleadingly even into mine, shot into my heart and unnerved me.

I rose to my feet, scarcely able to stand, and moved away.

But the fate that had finally intervened for us--too late, alas! for one--did not leave us long with our dead. Even now I do not know what happened; at the time I knew even less. Harry told me afterward that the first shock came at the instant he had taken Desiree in his arms and pressed his lips to hers.

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Under the Andes
Rex Stout

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