tal walls flashing blinding lights, and I, my senses drugged with the sensuous ether of this rich, tropical idyl, served with strange delicacies and rare wines, basking in the intoxicating smiles of a glorious dream-vision, whose eyes were more potent than wine—Centauri! Yes; a marvelous picture, a masterpiece of the fabulous whose wonderful unreality was before me, yet—I realized. And for all the splendor of rioting radiance and hilarious music a heavy gloom overwhelmed me, a dull foreboding of the future, a glimpse of a great sorrow, a blighted life. The dark shadow of awakening obscured the vast, soft-tinted halo—my dream was not Paradise, nor was the enchantress an angel. She and all her world were now aware why I crossed the frigid north—to pluck the fairest blossom from a garden of rare flowers.
She conversed in low tones, her words few, just clever, tactful encouragement. She drew me out, rousing the best in me. The familiar conversational meaningless chatter had no place here. Alpha Centauri differed widely from the women of my world. I longed to tear from her face the stony mask that so marred its beauty. In my hopelessly enamoured state I swore it was a mask, yet beneath my searching, ardent gaze she calmly questioned.
With astonishing eloquence I described that portion of the globe from whence I hailed, which, divided into numerous nations, cordially hated each other with a hatred bred in the blood and concealed in the blatant roar of deadly patriotism—the terrible, unspeakable carnage of warfare. I dwelled long