Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/166

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The Centaurians

known, will, must pierce the denseness of those clouds whose form never vary."

Which proved that these wonderful people, with their vaunted centuries of superiority, had still to conquer the masterful passion for fame, and struggled even as——.

Centauri mused and murmured to himself in rapt reverie, seemingly our presence completely forgotten, yet suddenly he turned his deep eyes upon me, his face beaming with a most engaging smile. Saunders and his planets were dismissed. He nodded approval, evidently pleased with my appearance.

"You are young, comely," he told me. "What science induced you to brave the northern perils?"

I flushed hotly, believing he ridiculed; a strange vehemence seized me. "A phantom, myth, a creation of my brain—what you will!" I cried eagerly. "I love, adore; the strength of my adoration will compel response! I will possess and realize—heaven!"

I flung out my arms in a paroxysm of desire, and Centauri stared in amazement, then spoke in severe, chilling tones, which quelled passion. "Your task is difficult, more difficult than those of your comrades. To them success is assured; you are doomed to failure. The Centaurians subdued emotion centuries ago; savages, beasts alone, are controlled by impulse. Self-government is sublime; civilization attains perfection when passion is obliterated."

He rose and, with a gesture, signified the interview at an end. I was the last to salute and in passing murmured: "I have hope."