Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/155

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The Centaurians

Sheldon's flippancy, but was forced to postpone his bristling rebuke as a sedate, but very nervous individual, entered, bowing profoundly and announced in scarcely audible tones something about "Governor," and "waiting." We followed the gentleman of nerves, who seemed greatly distressed because we looked at him. He ushered us to the great dining hall, then escaped with remarkable agility.

A feast awaited us, long tables spread with snowy, sheeny cloth; rich, tropical fruit heaped high in wide, golden salvers, pasty sweets, jellied viands, crowned with the aroma of punch—it was a congenial atmosphere. The rooms were crowded with guests, who watched us with delighted expectancy as Tolna advanced to meet us.

"Not a woman in sight!" muttered Sheldon. "Somebody had a dream like this once and woke up, crowing he'd been in hell!"

Divining Sheldon's grumble Tolna explained the ladies had retired. He would not detain us long, as he wished us to rest, for at day-break, according to orders, we were to be conveyed to Centur, and presented to "The Centauri."

Introductions followed. We were separated in the gathering about the tables. Sheldon joined the representatives of the National Geographical-Geological societies. Saunders bossed things among the astronomers, and Saxe. was the center of an odd-looking, crowding group. I was tolled off to the Sports of Latonia, there was no doubt about it, either—they were Sports.

The wine passed freely. Ye gods! wine that re-