Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/88

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The Centaurians

"Ah, bosh!" sassed Saunders, "crater be blowed! we're traveling upon rocks, petrified earth." "Nonsense!" bawled Saxe.

"Order, order, boys!" called Sheldon from the tanks where he was brewing quarts of coffee. "In case of necessity," he murmured.

We were prepared for any emergency, the air-pipes were stocked and heaters in good working order. I was busy putting in a new pane of glass in the damaged window, when I heard Saxe. say he saw cliffs ahead and heard a roaring sound. I heard a roaring sound also, but it was rush of blood to the head and I was attacked with a violent hemorrhage. But I soon recovered under Sheldon's excellent treatment, which was smoking hot coffee. My three comrades suffered intensely from nausea, but each remained at his post. Saxe. guiding the Propellier, Saunders ever alert for his star, and Sheldon at the coffee stand serving out regular instalments, with the encouraging words: "It's the best and only stimulant we can take."

Though the air valves were opened wide, creating a slight draught, it seemed heavy with drugs. Drowsiness was overpowering, and though sleep meant death the eye-ball ached with weariness, yet we managed to keep each other awake, but eventually endured a siege of suffocation that was agonizing in the futile attempt to take a long breath, the gurgling effort leaving a heavy, suppressed pain in the lungs. We were tortured with every stage of suffocation except the last one—death. There was a thin streak of life in the atmosphere. It took an