A Journey in Other Worlds
"Come in!" sounded a voice, as Dr. Cortlandt and Dick Ayrault tapped at the door of the
President of the Terrestrial Axis Straightening Company's private office on the morning
of the 21st of June, A. D. 2000. Col. Bearwarden sat at his capacious desk, the shadows
passing over his face as April clouds flit across the sun. He was a handsome man, and
young for the important post he filled--being scarcely forty--a graduate of West Point,
with great executive ability, and a wonderful engineer. "Sit down, chappies," said he; "we
have still a half hour before I begin to read the report I am to make to the stockholders
and representatives of all the governments, which is now ready. I know YOU smoke,"
passing a box of Havanas to the professor.
Prof. Cortlandt, LL. D., United States Government expert, appointed to examine the
company's calculations, was about fifty, with a high forehead, greyish hair, and quick,
grey eyes, a geologist and astronomer, and altogether as able a man, in his own way, as
Col. Bearwarden in his. Richard Ayrault, a large stockholder and one of the honorary
vice-presidents in the company, was about thirty, a university man, by nature a scientist,
and engaged to one of the prettiest society girls, who was then a student at Vassar, in the
beautiful town of Poughkeepsie.
"Knowing the way you carry things in your mind, and the difficulty of rattling you," said
Cortlandt, "we have dropped in on our way to hear the speech that I would not miss for a
fortune. Let us know if we bother you."
"Impossible, dear boy," replied the president genially. "Since I survived your official
investigations, I think I deserve some of your attention informally."
"Here are my final examinations," said Cortlandt, handing Bearwarden a roll of papers. "I
have been over all your figures, and testify to their accuracy in the appendix I have
So they sat and chatted about the enterprise that interested Cortlandt and Ayrault almost
as much as Bearwarden himself. As the clock struck eleven, the president of the company
put on his hat, and, saying au revoir to his friends, crossed the street to the Opera House,
in which he was to read a report that would be copied in all the great journals and heard
over thousands of miles of wire in every part of the globe. When he arrived, the vast
building was already filled with a distinguished company, representing the greatest
intelligence, wealth, and powers of the world. Bearwarden went in by the stage entrance,
exchanging greetings as he did so with officers of the company and directors who had
come to hear him. Cortlandt and Ayrault entered by the regular door, the former going to
the Government representatives' box, the latter to join his fiancee, Sylvia Preston, who
was there with her mother. Bearwarden had a roll of manuscript at hand, but so well did
he know his speech that he scarcely glanced at it. After being introduced by the chairman
of the meeting, and seeing that his audience was all attention, he began, holding himself
erect, his clear, powerful voice making every part of the building ring.