Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/197

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The Centaurians

ficed to the inventor's ambition. Navigable balloons came later, marking progress, success, in various forms. Most were square at the base with toy wind-mills for propellers, and if they sailed the air, all right; but not even Centauri could tempt me to enter one. Devilish implements of war and monstrous instruments of torture occupied a vast space, catalogued according to history with civilization glaringly noticeable in the learning of refined fiendishness. It was fascinating to follow up the perpetual advancement of inhumanity. From primitive ingenuity of the antediluvian age one stepped through the periods of enlightenment, reaching the zenith of hostile progression through an awful device, creating instantaneous blindness. This exhausted the age of war, but the exquisite cruelty of these people continued to advance. Instruments of frightful torture were extensively arrayed, foul infernal machines to whose ingenious devilishness nothing, nothing in the universe could compare—the Centaurians have not always been saints (?).

Constant civilization simplifies the miraculous, but savagery exists as long as life's fluid stains red.

I lost no time in getting away from the room of horrors with its loathsome exhibit of man's satanic genius, and hastened down a narrow, serpentine passage, plunging unexpectedly through a swinging brass net door. A flood of light greeted me and I blinked and gaped in confusion. I had stumbled into the midst of a large assemblage of gigantic men and women whose stone countenances welcomed me