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

From every side I heard it—­closer, closer—­until finally I felt the hot, fetid breath in my very face.  My nerves quivered in disgust, not far from terror.

I sprang to my feet with a desperate cry to Harry and swung toward him.

There was no answering sound, no rush of feet, nothing; but I felt my throat gripped in monstrous, hairy fingers.

I tried to struggle, and immediately was crushed to the ground by the overpowering weight of a score of soft, ill-smelling bodies.

The grasp on my throat tightened; my arms relaxed, my brain reeled, and I knew no more.

Chapter VII.

The fight in the dark.

I returned to consciousness with a sickening sensation of nausea and unreality.  Only my brain was alive; my entire body was numb and as though paralyzed.  Still darkness and silence, for all my senses told me I might have been still in the spot where I had fallen.

Then I tried to move my arms, and found that my hands and feet were firmly bound.  I strained at the thongs, making some slight sound; and immediately I heard a whisper but a few feet away: 

“Are you awake, Paul?”

I was still half dazed, but I recognized Harry’s voice, and I answered simply:  “Yes.  Where are we?”

“The Lord knows!  They carried us.  You have been unconscious for hours.”

“They carried us?”

“Yes.  A thousand miles, I think, on their backs.  What—­what are they, Paul?”

“I don’t know.  Did you see them?”

“No.  Too dark.  They are strong as gorillas and covered with hair; I felt that much.  They didn’t make a sound all the time.  No more than half as big as me, and yet one of them carried me as if I were a baby—­and I weigh one hundred and seventy pounds.”

“What are we bound with?”

“Don’t know; it feels like leather; tough as rats.  I’ve been working at it for two hours, but it won’t give.”

“Well, you know what that means.  Dumb brutes don’t tie a man up.”

“But it’s impossible.”

“Nothing is impossible.  But listen!”

There was a sound—­the swift patter of feet; they were approaching.  Then suddenly a form bent over me close; I could see nothing, but I felt a pressure against my body and an ill-smelling odor, indescribable, entered my nostrils.  I felt a sawing movement at my wrists; the thongs pulled back and forth, and soon my hands were free.  The form straightened away from me, there was a clatter on the ground near my head, and then silence.

There came an oath from Harry: 

“Hang the brute!  He’s cut my wrist.  Are your hands free, Paul?”

“Yes.”

“Then bind this up; it’s bleeding badly.  What was that for?”

“I have an idea,” I answered as I tore a strip from my shirt and bandaged the wound, which proved to be slight.  Then I searched on the ground beside me, and found my surmise correct.

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