Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/162

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The Centaurians

Sheldon, who was minus the bump of reverence, sharply asked: "In what way, sir?"

Centauri smiled pleasantly. "When we reach Centur," he said, "I will turn you over to the Geologists, who will conduct you to view this ocean which surges in an unfathomable hollow of the Otega, the highest mountain in the world. It is of volcanic origin, and floods the lakes, rivers, etc., only in its immediate vicinity."

"Nonsense!" snapped Sheldon, regardless of everything, "I've delved too deeply in the anatomy of subterranean flows to blunder. Through great arteries in the heart of the earth this water rushes, flooding countless natural reservoirs, and continually creating new ones. I shall positively prove my statements before returning to my own country."

"All the latest appliances of science shall be placed at your disposal," said Centauri. "Should your assertions prove correct, the discovery will be vastly beneficial to the Centaurians. I wish you success."

He turned to Saunders, opening conversation about the star, "Virgillius." "It is not a planet, nor yet a star," he told Saunders, who was all respectful attention, "but a moon of immeasurable dimension and illusive distance, the after-film of a monstrous, strickened world, gradually dissolving midst the ether of our sphere, yet completely beyond the radius of your continent; but were it not the shadowy rays must fail absolutely to penetrate the thick atmosphere ladened with minute life which you people inhale. The Centaurians dare not stray