Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/132

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The Centaurians

thanked him and departed jubilant, glad to be rid of the strange, dense forest, which to us seemed to extend over the whole of this half of the world.

We traveled in an open, rugged country, meeting numerous detachments, small armies bound for some place where the enemy had been located and hoping for battle. The troops halted at sight of us. We were detained and gaped at while the guards explained who we were and where we came from. Toward evening we reached the main camp of the Octrogona army, a soft, green plain, dotted with a formidable array of tents pitched closely together, row upon row. The Octrogona army numbered thousands. Evidently we were expected, pickets lowered arms as we passed, and the news flew of our arrival. Warriors trooped from their quarters to gaze wonderingly at us and our strange little car, and reverently helmets were raised in salute. Then suddenly the air rang with cheers.

We uncovered, shouting response. The soldiers crowded about us in welcome. We were detained a few minutes, then hustled into the car and dozens of willing hands pulled us along at a lively speed. Accompanied by cheering hundreds, we halted before a wide, square tent, staked in the center of the camp and were escorted to a cool, fragrant room fitted up with barbaric splendor. A hanging of skin was flung aside, and a man advanced to meet us. We knew at once this was Octrogona.

He was darkly handsome; magnificent physique, his magnetism invincible. He was born to rule. With piercing glance he scanned our faces, then