Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/298

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The Centaurians

clouds, and waves of liquid fire boiled and dashed against the cliffs overflowing the huge caldron in broad streams of molten mass deluging the earth with devastation. Ashes, rock, lava shot skyward in monster geysers of incandescent matter that gave forth prismatic lights and in stinging, serpent-like coils writhed to the sea.

Voluminous waves hedged in the Ocstas, and their steady blaze cast a deep crimson, purple glare over the heavens that must have reached to Centur. We were ten miles away, our ship had a heavy coating of cinders and the sickening odor of sulphur suffocated. A scorching smoke devoured the air and hung like a pall over all nature, obscuring everything except the splendid, diabolical phenomenon, belching flame and lightning forking from the gigantic crested columns that shot upward hundreds of feet. It was a fearsome, stupendous spectacle.

Time seemed infinite, so absorbed had I been watching the magnificent Otega, that from a light touch I started as from a dream, mumbling gruffly.

"Awake, Virgillius, you are fascinated by the splendid Otega."

A sudden dazzling flash illuminated the ship and I saw her. She laughed teasingly as I caught her hand and pressed it against my face.

"We are going to Centur," she told me. "All lights have been extinguished. Thousands are on their way to view the volcano. Should it become known that I have returned the loyal people will