Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/173

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The Centaurians

We entered the columned vestibule, cool, lofty, lit with uncertain tints, and almost saluted a marvelously sculptured form near the entrance. A fatherly individual greeted us, then immediately conducted us to our apartments. Silently we followed down the broad arched hall, up wide, flat stairways, carpeted with silver-gray softness, and were ushered to our quarters. A suite of five rooms, four sleeping apartments and a sitting-room reserved for criticisms, which forethought proved the superior perceptiveness of these advanced people. Following prevalent customs of our land we'd been separated as far apart as the Poles, and not till we'd escaped could we get together close enough to compare notes and whisper of the invariable peculiarities of surroundings.

Ruby-tinted wine, heavy, hard to carry; luscious fruit and strange nuts were served to us with a delicately-flavored cigar, which proved exceptionally inviting, creating the visionary and a decided distaste for conversation, then a sudden, acute realization of fatigue and finally compelling slumber. Faintly I heard Sheldon mutter something about "sleep producing weed," but in numb indifference I soared beyond this sphere of sordid events, slumbering for hours. The evening was well advanced when my three friends awakened me, crowing, yes, crowing, because their sleep ended before mine.

"And on the eve of beholding the divinity," Sheldon chirped. I sprang up as the room suddenly flared with light and several attendants entered.

"To make us beautiful," Sheldon remarked.