Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/67

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The Centaurians

for it. Norris, between shouts of laughter, informed me of my error and that the women were thrashing the men.

The Propellier and cars were eventually ready for the great trial trip. The captain was invited to join us. He seemed dubious but accepted, and as we entered the car the same thought came to every blessed mother's son of us—what if the blamed instrument should explode—we compared notes after the trip. I turned sick at the thought that now we were about to commence our journey in earnest the Propellier might fall short—we were all frank about our uneasiness. Saxe. alone had faith in his instrument and swaggered through the car to his place at the engine. All the sailors, and the whole Esquimaux settlement turned out to see us off with whoops, and yells, that would have sent a troop of Apaches scurrying in fright. Just at starting, the Propellier's siren let off an ear-splitting blast that, in the clear atmosphere, must have been heard for miles. Saxe. went very confidently about his work, handling the great steel lever with expert skill. The Propellier dipped gracefully forward, we moved slowly. The sailors and Esquimaux followed with leaps and shouts, and one merry sailor placed his shoulder against the hind car as though to shove it forward and help us along; he was hooted and cheered in turn by his laughing comrades, but he came to grief. Saxe., oblivious, intent, sure of the result, watched the strange little electric time-piece set above the lever which he pressed several notches farther down, we bounded forward, gliding as