Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/176

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The Centaurians

peared. That one moment of terrible disappointment corrupted forever the divine imagery of my heaven. Oh, the folly of looking forward to realizing the crimson vividness of our imagination with Hope, dazzling white, ever circling mid the black dizziness of Disappointment. Yet a life overlooked by these profound calamities is an existence of deepest damnation. But the phantom that roused an idyllic passion stood revealed, and the sombre, chilling orbs were powerfully magnetic. Robed in clinging white, barbarously decked with blazing jewels, she repelled, yet fascinated, compelling the gaze.

She greeted Saxe. with a voice of music, low, sweet, each word distinct. I gasped with the sudden bound my heart gave and clutched Sheldon, as she smiled, then threw back her head with a light laugh. Something Saxe. said amused her. The roseate, smiling phantom was realized; and ecstatically, passionately, with burning, delighted glances, I watched this regal, glorious woman, my first disappointment completely forgotten.

"Easy, easy," Sheldon murmured. "Don't blame you, but easy, easy. I——" He saluted deeply the radiant welcome she gave him, and I—I raised her hand to my lips, kissing it twice, thrice. It closed over mine, cold, firm. She watched my action calmly, gravely, passionless; and I, my ardor chilled, remained speechless with emotion.

She was an imperfect woman—a rare blossom blighted before full bloom—hard, freezing, as the terrible ice mountains I had crossed to meet her.