Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/220

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The Centaurians

"She seeks the elixir of eternal youth and health."

I laughed indulgently; a queer whim for such an exquisite creature, but it was distasteful to me to connect this dainty Centaurian with the gross depths of a laboratory, yet it seemed the natural trend of her powerful intellect. She was far and above the ordinary sphere of delicate, ethereal, trifling femininity; a phantom, yes; but tangible, adorable.

Centauri chuckled softly as I laughed again and led me to the covered table. There were a dozen or more silver lidded bowls arranged in a circle with a wide, flat dish in the center. Curiously I raised the lids, all contained liquids of various hues; one was green with a spicy odor of herbs, another thick, white as milk; and a third clear as water, while the flat center dish contained a dull, brownish fluid, emitting a strong wild odor.

"Blood!" I whispered.

"Quite right," Centauri replied comfortably; "blood of oxen, which must be used in the natural heat."

He turned to a tall glass jar which was filled with a beautiful ruby fluid, and placing a small vial to the crystal tube, pressed the siphon. The fluid rose sluggishly to the surface, then slowly flowed into the vial, thick, like syrup of fruit. He filled two goblets, handing one to me, the other the old gentleman drained at a gulp, never batting an eye. The draught turned against me, but I swallowed it. The liquor had a sweet, poignant flavor, and a