Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/172

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The Centaurians

hostess. We learned Alpha Centauri was sweet, merciful, divine and the true ruler of this grand race. The venerable Centauri existed in his laboratory. He was revered as the father of the people, whose ancestors were the first and only rulers of the earth.

"Not as king or chief," the gentleman hastened to explain, "but just one mighty man at the head of the nation whose wisdom, simplicity in ruling brought plenty, peace and happiness. The knowledge of the Great Family is far-reaching, a vast heirloom guarded, treasured above all their possessions—they are protégés of the Sun, and worshipped by all Centauri."

The speaker clasped his hands piously. We stared, amazed, though respect for the cleverness of Old Centauri bounded to the limit.

"Veiled Prophet and pretty Priestess," muttered Sheldon.

"Wonder how he does it?" Saxe. murmured.

"Humbug!" I whispered.

From a cool, shaded grove of tall, slender trees with silvery leaves, we unexpectedly stepped into a narrow, mossy path, leading to a wide, stately piazza, with broad, sloping, velvety lawns, surrounding a great fairy palace of three domes, delicate spires and strange zigzag balconies flashing myriad tints in the glaring hot sunshine; a bizarre structure, out of all proportion, with queer, protruding circular rooms, and high, broad windows facing every direction; a palatial sun-dwelling whose architectural incongruity was submerged in royal magnificence.