Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/95

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The Centaurians

distant ocean. We dashed through the valley which was filled with death-like odors, up a steep mountain path, and were once more on the old familiar road, banked with cliff and precipice. Saxe. vowed we traveled in a circle, but the atmosphere suddenly cleared, the heavy mists floated upwards, and the black chasms we took for valleys were but a continuation of cliffs and ceaseless hills backed with a dismal vista of rugged plains, fringed by a lofty range of black mountains capped with a strange, soft glow.

"We are nearing the summit," Saxe. told us; "if the road continues like this we should reach it in an hour."

We reached the North Pole in less than an hour. The road we had followed so faithfully gradually zigzagged to the summit of a precipitous mountain, then parted abruptly at the sharp lip of a deep, unfathomable pit. The view was magnificent, grand, diabolical, and in the strange half light fantastic shadows seemed to dance and beckon. Our route gleamed like a silver thread as it widened through the valley beneath to be submerged in far distant ice and snow fields. And down in the deep, black mountain pit, surrounded by high walls of shining petrification, was the ocean, whose roar had so puzzled us. An ocean? A wide pool of dark, glassy substance, without ripple or disturbance, yet the roar blared, deafening, like a great horn.

"Any amount," said Sheldon, "that water down there is hot."

"Won't take your bet," Saxe. answered, "but it's