'Ah, what a thing it would be for us if his Inca Highness were really only asleep, as he looks to be! Just think what he could tell us--how easily he could re-create that lost wonderland of his for us, what riddles he could answer, what lies he could contradict. And then think of all the lost treasures that he could show us the way to. Upon my word, if Mephistopheles were to walk into this room just now, I think I should be tempted to make a bargain with him. Do you know, Djama, I believe I would give half the remainder of my own life, whatever that may be, to learn the secrets that were once locked up in that withered, desiccated brain of his.' The speaker was one of two men who were standing in a large room, half-study, half-museum, in a big, old-fashioned house in Maida Vale. Wherever the science of archæology was studied, Professor Martin Lamson was known as the highest living authority on the subject of the antiquities of South America. He had just returned from a year's relic-hunting in Peru and Bolivia, and was enjoying the luxury of unpacking his treasures with the almost boyish delight which, under such circumstances, comes only to the true enthusiast. His companion was a somewhat slenderly-built man, of medium height, whose clear, olive skin, straight, black hair, and deep blue-black eyes betrayed a not very remote Eastern origin. Dr Laurens Djama was a physiologist, whose rapidly-acquired fame--he was barely thirty-two--would have been considered sounder by his professional brethren if it had not been, as they thought, impaired by excursions into by-ways of science which were believed to lead him perilously near to the borders of occultism. Five years before he had pulled the professor through a very bad attack of the calentura in Panama, where they met by the merest traveller's chance, and since then they had been fast friends. They were standing over a long packing-case, some seven feet in length and two and a-half in breadth, in which lay, at full length, wrapped in grave-clothes that had once been gaily coloured, but which were now faded and grey with the grave-dust, the figure of a man with hands crossed over the breast, dead to all appearances, and yet so gruesomely lifelike that it seemed hard to believe that the broad, muscular chest over which the crossed hands lay was not actually heaving and falling with the breath of life. The face had been uncovered. It was that of a man still in the early prime of life.