Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/81

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The Centaurians

imagined upon him and push ahead. He forgot the fanaticism of his comrades. Truly they were three of a kind. Saunders sprang forward and caught Saxe.'s arm.

"Correct! correct!" he cried, "we're not cowards! Why are you turning back? The dread upon us is the dread of nature, the all-pervading fear of first venture, which the will overcomes or we'd still be apes. Determination invites progress, fear checks it; all dread the Unknown. Now, up to 98 or 100 degrees I can state positively what we'll encounter. We've completely traversed the frozen polar sea, from now on it's surface ice and melting snow slushing over brown rocks or earth. At 100 degrees we view the most uncanny scenery man ever gazed upon. Great mountains and steep, smooth cliffs, of petrification; deep, gloomy, barren valleys, horrible in stillness; and lightening up this dead, petrified portion of the globe, is the star, the star I will brave death to see. The foe we have to conquer is atmosphere, science may help, but there is no atmosphere. In advancing we flirt with Death, who'll welcome us with dreadful grandeur, but a bold flirtation does not always end disastrously; we can view the all-mighty magnet, then depart."

"Oh, don't pay any attention to him," interposed Sheldon, "he blunders constantly. If I believed in him I'd favor turning back. For days we've argued this matter; he's merely expressed his views—not facts. I agree with him regarding the petrification of the earth surrounding the Pole, the cold is so intense petrification is natural, but the lack of at-