Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/49

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The Centaurians

the controversy. The very idea of delay threw the old boys into despair, and for twelve years they had been waiting for just such an opportunity as I offered them.

With plans that had been formed for years and unlimited capital at their disposal, arrangements were rushed to completion.

For weeks Saxe., Sheldon, and Saunders worked like beavers. Saxe. was as jealous of his invention as a lover of his mistress; no one was permitted to inspect his work and the Propellier and three steel cars were cast and completed by himself. I assisted him in taking apart and packing the machinery in crates. Saxe. was a wonderful manager, the whole of the extensive preparations were left entirely to him per arrangement. He gave the closest attention to the most insignificant item, perfecting each little detail. He chartered a vessel and made a cast-iron agreement with the shipping company that vessels were to cruise around in Arctic waters at certain dates and locations every year for seven years; if we failed to turn up at the end of that period the agreement was called off. He stored in provisions for a seven year cruise but privately told me they would discover the Pole, and return in less than three years. In my heart I believed they would never return. The idea was to sail as far north as possible. Saxe. calculated on reaching the Pole six or eight weeks after starting with the Propellier. The three were thoroughly familiar with the ice country and had their route mapped out first-rate, but I was dubious;