Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/207

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The Centaurians

encountered—a handsome monument to Melancholia, rich in antiquity. There were whole scenes of famous tragedies produced in wonderful paintings startlingly vivid with the misery of reality shadowed in a background of heavy, costly, dull-hued fabrics. I grew wretched with homesickness in the dolorous aura, dense with the miasma of rank perfumes. The theater reminded me of those of my own world during the sad day time, illy ventilated, morose half light, and the usual freezing shower to the imagination which impels you to seek fresh air with alacrity. Tragedy was unpopular with the Centaurians. Thespians were forced to work before the uninspiring view of rows of empty seats, their efforts critically watched by scant audiences, unresponsive, stony, occasionally applauding, invariably at the wrong time. And the actors, adepts in the art of mechanism, waded through their parts with not the slightest conception or sympathy—marionettes.

The culture of progression reduced tragedy to the greatest of farces, and fatalities were shelved by the generation of the wonderful present. The knowledge of the "diseased art, relic of the dark ages," was culled from the histories of the ancients.

Fascinated, I tramped throughout this marvelous city, congratulating myself that I was without a guide. The lost, strange feeling was delightful. I had not the remotest idea where I was going, but noticed the avenues grew broader, dwellings farther apart and gardens larger, more gorgeous, finally terminating in the city's wall, a shallow