my hands dipped in scented water—I felt so effeminate.
"You are to present yourself at once to Alpha Centauri," said Mike, "hence my haste."
"She expected me to arrive this evening?" I gasped eagerly.
"No," Mike answered: "she gave this order when you departed, doubtless expecting your early return, then forgot all about it; but I obey. There is great rejoicing in the city and much doing in the palace."
"What's going on?"
"The King of the Vespa Belt has honored us with his long-promised visit," he replied.
"The King!" I cried. "What King? I thought Centauri ruled over all this land."
"He does," Mike informed me, "but not the crescent Belt, separated from us by the Great Ocean, and comprising one-third of this half of the globe. Like the dark races the white people have divided into two. They are wonderful, these people of the Vespa Belt, so-called, because in war they cling together and fight like hornets. But civilization is slow with them; they do not progress and are ruled by the passions. They still love, hate, and still have their King who, however, is good, wise, and rules through kindness. He is a descendant of the resolute, daring immortal Benlial, who abolished the army and navy. We think a great deal of the Vespa people; they regard us with affection, and in time will join us. Centauri has often visited the Vespa Belt, but this is the first time Benlial ever stepped