Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/51

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The Centaurians

were notorious. It seemed the interest of the entire world was centered upon us, and it made Saxe. crabbed. He had lived so long in seclusion and the one idea, had figured and planned and became so thoroughly familiar with the northern zone—on the map—that he could see nothing unusual in his stupendous undertaking and thought no more of it than I would of a trip to Europe.

"It's a private expedition taken solely to test the theories of a few scientists. The public didn't pungle up with any funds, so whose concern is it, anyhow?" he wanted to know, and blamed Middleton & Co., because he was misquoted in fake interviews, though what they had to do with it was a mystery. He took it upon himself to answer all adverse criticisms, and was eminently successful in routing a few daring doubters. In the scientific world the "renowned illustrious" were considered heroes. They lectured before colleges and vast scientific bodies, and their writings in scientific publications were widely read. They indulged in numerous unaccustomed diversions and were banqueted almost nightly. I thought it a poor way to prepare the constitution for polar hardships, but Saxe. said once out of civilization we would become normal again. However, I decided to call a halt and rescued my three brave comrades from the courtesies they could not resist, by giving a return banquet to those who had honored us. It was our farewell, a sumptuous farewell, which remained long in the memory of those who attended, but ended tragically for me—the experience was destiny. Wine flowed