Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/35

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The Centaurians

tonished eyes was revealed the monstrous machinery of—what? It was a massive structure composed entirely of steel, and looked like a locomotive resting upon sleds. The snoot had a projectile three feet in circumference and nine feet long, terminating at the base to the size of a three karat diamond, and the diamond was there, sparkling and blazing away in serene splendor. A ridiculously small button was pressed and the sleds slowly ascended, exposing the base of the machine, which was shaped like a canoe. Another button pressed and the projectile shot into a socket.

"It's magnificent! a marvelous invention, Saxe. What's it intended for?" But Saxe. ignored my question.

"It certainly is a beautiful thing to look at, but useless," he told me; "a failure which some day I shall master. I am in a fair way to succeed, as I have discovered the faults and now only have to discover the remedy."

An odd look of hopelessness and defiance shaded his face, he turned as though to hide the expression.

"I haven't been near it for months," he continued, "everything is in readiness, though. I keep it that way in case I take the notion and won't have to waste time in preparations; but to look at it sometimes sickens me."

"Courage," I told him, "you cannot fail. You are master of the instrument because aware of its imperfections."

He sighed heavily, then explained the faults of