Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/128

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The Centaurians

found in the museum. The beads, however, were there in every variety, and were priceless; they were relics of an extinct age.

Potolili embraced us and bestowed upon Saxe. a most peculiar ring of dull, coral-red metal. The width of the ring reached the first joint of the finger, and was ornamented with a diamond whose least value in our country would have reached four figures. It flashed a steel-blue glint. We learned later this magnificent gem was a production of man. The Centaurians had discovered the secret of the diamond.



We entered the Octrogona domain, a dank, tropical forest, whose gigantic trees towered hundreds of feet. Giant palms shaded glassy pools, dark green, where huge, pale lilies floated, poisoning the air with their strong, sweet, sickening odor. In this moist, slumberous richness, heavy with unhealthy vapors, flowers of marvelous beauty and strange, unknown fruits, berries grew in abundance. Sheldon, who was fond of strawberries, gathered a quantity of deep-red, luscious-appearing fruit; but Saxe. warned him against eating them, declaring the berries too large, that strawberries of great size always tasted like turnips. These berries were stringy and juiceless, with a peculiar, sharp flavor, that blistered the palate. Fortunately we refused the first mouthful, the fruit was poisonous; but we indulged freely in rich, purple clusters of wild