Once through that lane and we might hold our own.
“In Heaven’s name, come on!” Harry shouted suddenly; for I had turned and halted, gazing back at the Incas tumbling over the cliff and rushing toward the mouth of the exit.
But I did not heed him, for, standing on the top of the cliff, waving his arms wildly at those below, I had seen the form of the Inca king. He was less than thirty feet away.
With cries from Harry and Desiree ringing in my ears, I braced my feet as firmly as possible on the uneven rock and poised my spear above my head. The Incas saw my purpose and stopped short.
The king must also have seen me, but he stood absolutely motionless. I lunged forward; the spear left my hand and flew straight for his breast.
But it failed to reach the mark. A shout of triumph was on my lips, but was suddenly cut short when an Inca standing near the king sprang forward and hurled himself in the path of the spear just as its point was ready to take our revenge. The Inca fell to the foot of the cliff with the spear buried deep in his side. The king stood as he had before, without moving.
Then there was a wild rush into the mouth of the exit, and I turned to follow Harry and Desiree. With extreme difficulty we scrambled forward over the rocks and around them.
Desiree’s breath was coming in painful gasps, and we had to support her on either side. The Incas approached closer at our rear; I felt one of them grasp me from behind, and in an excess of fury I shook him off and dashed him backward against the rocks. We were able to make little headway, or none; by taking to the exit we appeared to have set our own death-trap.
Harry went on with Desiree, and I stayed behind in the attempt to check the attack. They came at me from both sides. I was faint and bleeding, and barely able to wield my spear—my last one. I gave way by inches, retreating backward step by step, fighting with the very end of my strength.
Suddenly Harry’s voice came, shouting that they had reached the end of the passage. I turned then and sprang desperately from rock to rock after them, with the Incas crowding close after me.
I stumbled and nearly fell, but recovered my footing and staggered on. And suddenly the mass of rocks ended abruptly, and I fell forward onto flat, level ground by the side of Desiree and Harry.
“Your spear!” I gasped. “Quick—they are upon us!”
But they grasped my arms and dragged me away from the passage to one side. I was half fainting from exhaustion and loss of blood, and scarcely knew what they did. They laid me on the ground and bent over me.
“The Incas!” I gasped.
“They are gone,” Harry answered.
At that I struggled to rise and rested my body on my elbows, gazing at the mouth of the passage. It was so; the Incas were not to be seen! Not one had issued from the passage.