Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/261

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The Centaurians

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