Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/211

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The Centaurians

of gold. The silver ones were tarnished and ugly, and plain stone jars seemed to be the most in use. He drew out boxes of rare scented wood, beautifully inlaid with metals, and from one of the lower shelves brought out a narrow, oblong, silvery block, explaining the style had been in use many centuries and proved the most durable.

Eagerly I examined the curio. It was a crystal block quaintly etched with queer characters, the ashes within giving the silver sheen. I quickly returned it to its cell, then stooping, twisted the great knob near the floor, which caused all the little doors to spring together with a snap. The guide smiled knowingly and, taking my arm, escorted me down the long, sombre hall, advising me to inspect the tomb of the Great Family. We halted in front of a small door, which flew open at the touch, revealing a small, square platform that shot up like a rocket as we stepped upon it. The speed slackened gradually to a standstill before wonderful gates of smooth, dull gold, which slowly opened. I entered a lofty, arched room, flooded with sunlight blazing upon gold-paneled walls, and sank ankle deep in golden floss which deadened sound. I gazed upon fabulous magnificence. There were wonderful embroideries studded with gems flashing golden suns. Silver gauze hung high, shimmering with sparkling sprays, soft as moonlight; strange urns, jars and bowls embedded with gems; delicate jeweled caskets of ivory and jade, tall crystal cylinders, divided into compartments, all containing a silvery dust. Massive bronze col-