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datatime: 2022-12-04 07:02:46 Author:keAZqGOq

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.

There was no longer any doubt of it: we were on our way to the great cavern. For a moment I hesitated, asking myself for what purpose we hastened on thus into the very arms of our enemies; then, propelled by instinct or premonition-I know not what-I took a firmer grasp on my spear and followed Harry without word, throwing caution to the winds.

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.

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.

It was the great cavern. We saw it from a different viewpoint than before; the alcove which held the golden throne was far off to our left, nearly half-way round the vast circumference. On the throne was seated the king, surrounded by guards and attendants.

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

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.

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.

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.

"They have fired the column-you remember. Follow me; keep your spear ready; not a sound, if you love her."

"They have fired the column-you remember. Follow me; keep your spear ready; not a sound, if you love her."

And on the instant I turned to Harry.

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.

THE BEGINNING OF THE END.

THE BEGINNING OF THE END.

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.

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.

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

"They have fired the column-you remember. Follow me; keep your spear ready; not a sound, if you love her."

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.

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.

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.

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.

THE BEGINNING OF THE END.

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