Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/300

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The Centaurians

Alpha watched the vessel till it appeared but a pale stream of light against the sky.

"Possibly a wedding party," she replied. "But the ship floated the colors, which signals some great personage aboard. Banners are hoisted only upon national fête days. This ship carried the flag of Centauri. Odd this particular ship should stray aside just as we pass to nearly collide with us."

She gazed perplexedly into the darkness and silently, thoughtfully, studied the starry horizon, then with a murmured "Good night" and gentle hand-clasp she left me.

Suddenly our ship blazed with lights and the Centauri banners were hoisted. We cut sharply across the heavens separating entirely from the speeding sightseers, our lights only distinguishable. No one dreamed Alpha Centauri was returning to Centur.

"It is three hours on the new day, why do you not retire?" a deep voice rumbled close to my ear.

With a start I turned and confronted the Literary Man.

"Why don't you seek rest yourself?" I snapped.

"I have rested too long. I am far in arrears with my work, but have put everything aside to complete an Ode upon the joyful emotions Alpha Centauri is supposed to entertain when beholding Centur once again."

His eyes twinkled and he chuckled without smiling.

"You are humorous," I told him. "Do you doubt the joyful emotions?"

"I never answer questions," he replied. "They al-