Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/129

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The Centaurians

grapes, with a deep wine flavor, and thoroughly satisfied our curiosity regarding all fruit discovered in our wanderings. For nearly a week we roamed in the enchanting Octrogona forest, but saw nary an Octrogona. We strayed far from the river bank, lost our way, and in the confusion trying to find it plunged deeper into the wondrous, tropical maze. The forest was alive with animal and bird mysteries. For hours we followed strange, uncouth tracks, made by some monster. Occasionally the wood rang with shrill, bell-like notes, followed by groaning, moaning sounds that chilled us. The roaring of distant lions was cheerful in comparison, but forced us to realize our peril. Monstrous birds of gay plumage chirped to us, but flew higher in the trees as we approached. Great red and gold serpents coiled and twisted, but glided to higher branches as we stopped to watch them, where they regarded us curiously from their brilliant, unblinking eyes. Once we came near being trampled under by a strange, wild herd of ponies. They clattered past, snorting and neighing, and glared viciously at us. They were queer, shaggy, little ponies, with monstrous heads. Frequently as dusk approached we were startled by wild, uncanny hoots, and saw huge, elongated bodies whirr from tree to tree. We came across one of these creatures lying prone upon the ground, its immense, gauze wings spread wide in the sun. Believing it dead we poked and prodded the body, which was covered with a pale brown down. Saxe., very curious, attempted to turn the thing on its back; suddenly the wings flut-