Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/212

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The Centaurians

umns carved and engraved with strange forms and inscriptions relative to the history of those whose ashes powdered its heart. Gold and silver globes and queer diamond-shaped receptacles were lined in order upon bronze trestles; all contained the sanctified ashes of rulers long departed, and high above all this splendor hung the golden banner and imperial arms of Centauri.

My eyes suddenly fastened upon a hideous stone figure, the trunk of a woman resting upon a gem-incrusted pedestal.

"That is the form of the beauteous Alpha Centauri, who reigned during the petrified age," the guide informed me. "It is very pathetic, and marks petrification a failure. The lower portion of the body has crumpled away; the pedestal contains the powder. Before long what remains will be dust, then the pedestal will be sealed."

"Why so much splendor for the Great Family if all Centaurians are equal?" I asked.

"All Centaurians are equal," he answered; "but the Great Family is divine, immortal."

"Truly is the Great Family wise," I muttered; then suddenly sickened, repelled at the bestial richness. I turned toward the golden gates, but hesitated, not caring to descend by the treacherous elevator.

The guide, understanding my nervousness, led me through a rear door and out to a long, barren, draughty hall. The floor, a recent addition, was still incomplete, but the ashes of the Great Family always occupied the new portion of the building.