"the great act where the intellectual divinity absorbs her—ahem—first experience. But there's time——"
"Now, now, now," interposed Saxe., "let the boy alone; it's his affliction and makes him happy."
"Yes," echoed Saunders, "let him alone, the ailment will cure itself, it always does."
Their winks and ill-concealed, struggling laughter exasperated me and, threatening to be even, I roared that I madly loved the beautiful Centaurian.
"We haven't contradicted you," purred Sheldon soothingly; "but your astonishing frankness relieves much anxiety. We doubted your sentiments toward the very handsome lady—you will survive."
Then they let it out, boisterously, derisively. Vainly I protested; the more I raged the wilder grew their mirth, till suddenly realizing they joshed me, believing raillery a sure cure for the tender malady; also, that each would take turns thrashing any one who dared harass me as they were doing, I dropped chivalry and resignedly joined in the sport. All sobered up instantly and Saxe., understanding (he always did), plunged into an account of their adventures.
"You should have been with us, Virgillius," he said, looking at me reproachfully. "It was a wonderful voyage. We started shortly after noon, our ship accompanied by a fleet. The strong, fresh breeze of the cloud plains was delightful after the intense heat of the city. We sailed straight north, expecting to reach the Ocstas about sundown, but the committee erred when mapping out the route.