Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/43

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The Centaurians

"Shame, shame, Saxe., what a shame it is imperfect!"

He shook his head. "It enrages me," he cried vehemently, "to be able to plan a thing like that, then to be devoid of the trick to perfect it, for it will be by chance, a trick I have so far been unable to hit."

With delight I placed my hands upon the shining metal, then slowly, deliberately began taking the huge instrument apart.

Saxe. remonstrated wildly and wished to explain, but I knew his explanations would take hours and his persistence finally so annoyed me I caught him by the shoulders and rushed him from the room quickly, closing and locking the door. He clamored for admittance and bawled instructions.

"I am responsible for all damage," I called through the keyhole. I heard him sigh heavily as I turned away, but became so absorbed with my task that I forgot him, everybody. I took that machine apart and placed it together again, I don't know how many times. I was unconscious of fatigue, heedless of time, and after hours of tedious work was courageous and alive with energy. But the strain at last must have dazed me, I was confused when putting the infernal instrument together for the final time and made the blunder that ended the difficulty. Wheels, shafts, slides seemed to fit easier into sockets; screws, pins shot into cavities without a rasp. I noticed this, but supposed I was becoming expert, having taken the thing apart so many times, but when the steel monster again tow-