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Release date: 2022-12-06 05:50:31 Author:rpUZWwOx

Her white body, uncovered, was outlined sharply against the black background of the cavern above.

"It came from the left," said Harry; but I disagreed with him and was so sure of myself that we started off to the right. The echoes of the bell were still floating from wall to wall as we went rapidly forward. I do not know what we expected to find, and the Lord knows what we intended to do after we found it.

Neither Harry nor I spoke; our eyes were concentrated on the scene before us, trying to comprehend its meaning.

And on the instant I turned to Harry.

And on the instant I turned to Harry.

She was standing on the top of the lofty column in the center of the lake.

Her white body, uncovered, was outlined sharply against the black background of the cavern above.

A short distance ahead we came to another passage, crossing at right angles, broad and straight, and somehow familiar. As with one impulse we took it, turning to the left, and then flattened ourselves back against the wall as we saw a group of Incas passing at its farther end, some two hundred yards away.

All this I saw in a flash, when suddenly Harry's fingers sank into the flesh of my arm with such force that I all but cried out in actual pain. And then, glancing at him and following the direction of his gaze, I saw Desiree.

And on the instant I turned to Harry.

Her white body, uncovered, was outlined sharply against the black background of the cavern above.

But not for an instant did we hesitate; we flew rather than ran. I felt within me the strength and resolve of ten men, and I knew then that there was something I must do and would do before I died, though a thousand devils stood in my way.

There we stood, motionless and scarcely breathing, while group after group of the savages passed in the corridor ahead. Their number swelled to a continuous stream, which in turn gradually became thinner and thinner until only a few stragglers were seen trotting behind. Finally they, too, ceased to appear; the corridor was deserted.

It was the same sound we had heard twice before; a sound as of a great, deep-toned bell ringing sonorously throughout the passages and caverns with a roar that was deafening. And it seemed to be close-quite close.

THE BEGINNING OF THE END.

Yet we avoided foolhardiness, for as we approached the last turn we proceeded slowly, keeping an eye on the rear. But all the Incas appeared to have assembled within, for the corridor remained deserted.

We crept silently to the corner, avoiding the circle of light as far as possible, and, crouching side by side on the rock, looked out together on a scene none the less striking because we had seen it twice before.

A short distance ahead we came to another passage, crossing at right angles, broad and straight, and somehow familiar. As with one impulse we took it, turning to the left, and then flattened ourselves back against the wall as we saw a group of Incas passing at its farther end, some two hundred yards away.

How my heart leaped then Harry uttered a hoarse cry of exultation. The next instant we were dashing headlong down the steps, avoiding a fall by I know not what miracle. And there before us was the entrance to the tunnel.

It was something indefinable in Desiree's attitude that told me the truth-what, I cannot tell. Her profile was toward us; it could not have been her eyes or any expression of her face; but there was a tenseness about her pose, a stiffening of the muscles of her body, an air of lofty scorn and supreme triumph coming somehow from every line of her motionless figure, that flashed certainty into my brain.

I saw that he understood, and saw too, by the expression that shot into his face, that it would go ill with any Incas who tried to stop us then.

As I have said, we had entered the great cavern at a point almost directly opposite the alcove, and therefore at a distance from the entrance we sought. It was necessary to half encircle the cavern, and the passages were so often crossed by other passages that many times we had to guess at the proper road.

Her white body, uncovered, was outlined sharply against the black background of the cavern above.

It was the same sound we had heard twice before; a sound as of a great, deep-toned bell ringing sonorously throughout the passages and caverns with a roar that was deafening. And it seemed to be close-quite close.

We rushed forward side by side, guessing at our way, seeking the entrance to the tunnel that led to the foot of the column. A prayer was on my lips that we might not be too late; Harry's lips were compressed together tightly as a vise. Death we did not fear, even for Desiree; but we remembered the horror of our own experience on the top of that column, and shuddered as we ran.

We waited a while longer, then as no more appeared we started forward and soon had reached the corridor down which they had passed. We followed in the direction they had taken, turning to the right.

I saw that he understood, and saw too, by the expression that shot into his face, that it would go ill with any Incas who tried to stop us then.

And on the instant I turned to Harry.

Yet we avoided foolhardiness, for as we approached the last turn we proceeded slowly, keeping an eye on the rear. But all the Incas appeared to have assembled within, for the corridor remained deserted.

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