Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/157

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The Centaurians

vout, "with the fiery young stranger, I drink to the most wise, divine—Alpha Centauri!"

At once all goblets were raised and drained, then in silence the gentlemen reseated themselves. Merriment was stifled, I alone remained standing, sobered—but when was I ever wise.

"I drank to a myth," I cried; "a vision of my brain that tortured and lured me beyond the Pole. May I inquire whom you gentlemen honor?"

Again the Governor rose and replied: "We drank to Alpha Centauri, the future ruler of the world, the most wonderful woman in the universe, resolute, brilliant, mysterious as the star from whence she came—Alpha Centauri."

My goblet fell with a thud. I tried to recover it and caught the table to steady myself. At once all was confusion, a sea of blurred faces surrounded me. "Give him water, he's had enough wine!" rang the familiar tones of Saxe. Immediately the weakness left me and Sheldon's hoarse whisper forced me to smile. "The myth realized—if she only looks as she appeared; but she won't, old boy, she won't! It's some old jade with a hair-lip. Beautiful women were created to be adored, never to rule." He chuckled audibly as I pushed him aside.

Tolna offered me wine, but Saxe. compelled me to drink a whole goblet of water, then in a way all his own, which no one could take offence at, he intimated the day had been long, fatiguing, and suggested the merrymakers continue without the presence of the four strangers.