For a moment he looked at her, then his lips curled in an ugly snarl, and, dashing her hand aside, he leaped forward in swift fury and grasped her white throat with his fingers.
There was a strangled scream from Desiree, a frantic cry from Harry—and the next instant he had torn himself free from my arms, dropping the bars of gold at my feet.
A single bound and he was across the room; a single blow with his fist and the king of the Incas dropped senseless to the floor.
At the door.
Desiree shrank back against the wall, covering her face with her hands. Harry stood above the prostrate figure of the king, panting and furious.
As for me, I gave no thought to what had been done—the imminent peril of the situation possessed my mind and stung my brain to action.
I ran to the figure on the floor and bent over him. There was no movement—his eyes were closed. Calling to Harry to watch the corridor without, I quickly tore my woolen jacket into strips—my fingers seemed to be made of steel—and bound the wrists and ankles of the Inca firmly, trussing him up behind.
Then with another strip I gagged him, thinking it best to err on the side of prudence. In another moment I had dragged him to the corner of the room behind the granite couch and covered him with its hide-cover.
Then I turned to Harry:
“Is the coast clear?”
“Yes,” he answered from the doorway.
“Then here—quick, man! Get
the clubs and the grub.
Desiree—come! There’s not a second to lose.”
“But, Paul—” she began; then, seeing the utter folly of any other course than instant flight, she sprang to Harry’s side to assist him with the bundles of provisions.
There was more than we could carry. Harry and I each took a bundle under our left arm, carrying the clubs in the other hand. Desiree attempted to take two bundles, but they were too heavy for her, and she was forced to drop one.
With a last hasty glance at the motionless heap in the corner we started, Harry leading and myself in the rear, with Desiree between us.
But it was not to be so easy. We were nearly to the door when there came a grating, rumbling sound from above, and a huge block of granite dropped squarely across the doorway with a crash that made the ground tremble beneath our feet.
Stupefied, we realized in a flash that the cunning of the Incas had proved too much for us. Harry and I ran forward, but only to invite despair; the doorway was completely covered by the massive rock, an impenetrable curtain of stone weighing many tons, and on neither side was there an opening more than an inch wide. We were imprisoned beyond all hope of escape.
We stood stunned; Desiree even made no sound, but gazed at the blocked doorway in a sort of stupid wonder. It was one of those sudden and overwhelming catastrophes that deprive us for a moment of all power to reason or even to realize.