Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/150

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The Centaurians

slightest streak of this rare ore of their brains. Universal is the belief in Gratitude, but no one—no one—has ever witnessed it.

Tolna escorted us to the cabin, which was richly furnished. Pale, cloudy material draped the walls; soft damask skins carpeted the floors; there were many couches and roomy seats in odd, fantastic forms, marvelous with intricate carving, massive, weighty, as though hewed from stone, yet lighter than wood.

The Centaurians had mastered the rare art of combining beauty with comfort I sank into a thickly cushioned seat and sipped the strange poignant liqueur Tolna served in tiny glasses. The poignant bouquet swept the cobwebs of fatigue from my system, and boldly I complimented the handsome youth, who looked as though he had just stepped from some mediæval painting. The Centaurians were a marvelously enlightened people, but in mode of dress had apparently remained stationary. They adhered, probably from time immemorial, to the pictureque, easy costume of the ancient Romans, but the gorgeous, pagan splendor of Rome paled before the barbaric magnificence of Centauri, scintillating in gem-studded fabrics. Sheldon, who was near, whispered excitedly: "The wealth of the world must be on this side. These fellows are stiff with richness—six centuries ahead—barbarians!"

"Orientals," I suggested.

"Nonsense!" he retorted. "But they do remind me a little of the Chinese—same costume since the