Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/115

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The Centaurians

and whispers within the car and, believing it was morning, sleepily wondered what the fuss was about, but my eyes flew wide as a hand suddenly grasped my shoulder, gently shaking me, and Saxe. bent over, his fingers upon his lips.

"Get up!" he whispered. "We're surrounded!"

"Surrounded by what?" I gasped.

"I don't know," he answered. "They look like men—inhabitants of this side. Get up!"

I sprang from my bunk, my three friends were armed to the teeth and prepared for the worst. Sheldon stood upon a packing box, peeking through the ventilator and beckoned me up beside him. He edged away, giving me his place, and I looked upon a remarkable scene. We were surrounded.

A band of men numbering over a hundred, stood in groups or tramped around the car, silent, all intently watching the windows.

Great, swarthy fellows, of magnificent physique, delicate-featured as the East Indian. What made Saxe. doubt they were men?

Enormous horned dogs were harnessed to many odd-looking conveyances. In one, seated among luxurious furs, a man rested whose piercing eyes never wandered from the car. Occasionally he gave an order, and from the alert attitude and obsequious manner of the others, I judged he was their chief. Suddenly he raised his eyes to the ventilator and gazed straight into mine; he seemed to smile; I caught a flash of white teeth as I sank from view. Sheldon laughed at my precipitancy.

"One of them spied me!" I gasped.