Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/153

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The Centaurians

Dazed with excitement, we hardly noticed this wonderful city of bizarre architecture except that it blazed in a continual glare. The streets were all of unyielding stone, and thronged with people, people, people—in the gardens, doorways, windows, even clinging to the house-tops—who cheered lustily as we clattered past and frantically waved gay streamers and peculiar white flags, ornamented with a single, glaring, yellow star.

Gallantly we saluted this strange emblem of Centauri.

The Governor's palace, situated in the heart of the city, was a great, clumsy, stone structure, of many gables and towers, surrounded by a park of stately oaks. The tolling of countless bells signaled our arrival, the tall gates flew wide, and the horses dashed up a broad, graveled road. People hurried from all parts of the park to see us as the Governor escorted us to the great domed hall, where he bestowed upon us the embrace of welcome, then personally conducted us to our apartments. He placed his palace at our disposal, and gave strict orders concerning our comfort (the moon was ours for the asking), then turned us over to an army of attendants. These people seemed rather timid of us at first and deferentially sounded our inclinations regarding the bath. As we exhibited a lively interest in the subject they lost no further time about the matter, but hurried us down vast columned halls and corridors, and finally ushered us to a pavilion gardened with countless strange, tropical plants. A deep rippling brook gently caressed the soggy edge