Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/48

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The Centaurians

Then Middleton, Burke and Rollins swooped down upon me, each armed with a paper and anxiety upon their faces, and gravely I told them the Pole was Saxlehner's property, and I had no desire to buy it from him. I confided to them my doubts of the whole undertaking and that positively I wanted none of it. My assurance greatly calmed the old boys. To deceive them was my last thought, for I had not the remotest idea of joining the expedition. My slim genius refused to risk life for science. I had a mighty discussion and determined settlement with the "renowned ones" concerning the financial problem. I knew the three cronies could not rake up a thousand between them, but the amazing fact was forced upon me that they seriously objected to accepting funds from me. Sheldon was balky, Saunders grimly uncompromising, and Saxe. declared he would not have those three "sharks" claiming he had bunkoed me into the scheme. It was Saxe.'s positive belief that the firm of Middleton & Co. were the greatest sharks out of water.

But I argued with the stubborn trio, and pressed the issue determinedly when I saw them weakening. I laughed heartily at Saunders's hesitating suggestion that the government would contribute largely toward the expense of the expedition, also, that many scientific societies all over the world would render valuable assistance. I did not doubt his assertion, for it would have created the widest of gulfs, but I reminded him that in about ten years the expedition would be ready to start. This ended