There was sufficient light from the outer room, and I saw shelves reaching from floor to ceiling ladened with parchment canvases carefully covered with oil silk.
"Stored on those shelves are rare works of art representing the endless toil of my ancestors," explained the fisherman. "All were famous, but one only attained immortality. You have been to the museum?" he asked, drawing down a small canvas from an upper shelf. "Possibly you saw this picture while there; it is a portrait of Alpha the First. This is the original," he continued. "History tells us Alpha the First reigned during the era of Love, and the renowned painter, Francesco, was deeply enamoured with her. But in a mood of exaltation she renounced Love, and went in bondage to Culture, and Francesco, the painter, died of a wounded heart.
"Culture opened a new epoch in this great world of ours, but brought down malignant wrath upon Alpha the First, who being advanced beyond her era, ignored the petulance of inferiors. To her the Centaurians are indebted for the grand, vigorous race of to-day.
"Alpha the First did not long survive Francesco, the artist, whose reward for deep suffering and anguish is immortality."
I became deeply interested in the many treasures stored in the iron room, but the work of the living artist surpassed them all.
He threw up his arms and laughed when I asked to see some of his sketches of Abella.