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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 268 pages of information about Under the Andes.

“Hardly,” I answered.  “To tell the truth, I expect never to sleep again—­I suppose you understand me.  I can’t say why—­I feel it.”

Desiree nodded.

“Do you remember, Paul, what I said that evening on the mountain?” Then—­I suppose my face must have betrayed my thought—­she added quickly:  “Oh, I didn’t mean that—­other thing.  I said this mountain would be my grave, do you remember?  You see, I knew.”

I started to reply, but was interrupted by Harry, calling to ask where we were.  I answered, and soon he had joined us and seated himself beside Desiree on the ground.

“I found nothing,” was all he said, wearily, and he lay back and closed his eyes, resting his head on his hands.

The minutes passed slowly.  Desiree and I talked in low tones; Harry moved about uneasily on his hard bed, saying nothing.  Finally, despite Desiree’s energetic protests, I rose to my knees and insisted that she rest herself.  We seemed none of us to be scarcely aware of what we were doing; our movements had a curious purposelessness about them that gave the thing an appearance of unreality—­I know not what; it comes to my memory as some indistinct and haunting nightmare.

Suddenly, as I sat gazing dully into the semidarkness of the cavern, I saw that which drove the apathy from my brain with a sudden shock, at the same time paralyzing my senses.  I strained my eyes ahead; there could be no doubt of it; that black, slowly moving line was a band of Incas creeping toward us silently, on their knees, through the darkness.  Glancing to either side I saw that the line extended completely around us, to the right and left.

The sight seemed to paralyze me.  I tried to call to Harry—­no sound came from my eager lips.  I tried to put out my hand to rouse him and to pick up my spear; my arms remained motionless at my side.

Desiree lay close beside me; I could not even turn my head to see if she, too, saw, but kept my eyes, as though fascinated, on that silent black line approaching through the darkness.

“Will they leap now—­now—­now?” I asked myself with every beat of my pulse.

It could not be much longer—­they were now so close that each black, tense form was in clear outline not fifty feet away.

Chapter XXIII.

We are two.

Whether I would have been able to rouse myself to action before the shock of the assault was actually upon us, I shall never know.

It was not fear that held me, for I felt none; I think that dimly and half unconsciously I saw in that black line, silently creeping upon us, the final and inexorable approach of the remorseless fate that had pursued us ever since we had dashed after Desiree into the cave of the devil, rendering our every effort futile, our most desperate struggles the laughing-stock of the gods.

I was not even conscious of danger.  I sat as in a stupor.

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