Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/304

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The Centaurians

and her clarion voice rose high in the worshipful cry of Sol. Like an avalanche the response fell upon her, betraying the joy these people felt at seeing her again. How they loved this beautiful woman! And now, as I think of it, I believe it was she, glorious Alpha, whom they worshipped—not the Sun.

With sweet dignity she received the officials who hurried to meet her. Besangno, the great statesman who acted as chief executive during Centauri's absence, saluted deeply and welcomed her in eloquent phrases. She was told that official notice had been received that her travels were about terminating, but that her sudden return was a joyous surprise to the people of Centur.

"If my return is so unexpected what fête day is Centur celebrating?" she inquired.

"Centur wears gala attire in honor of our distinguished guest who has delighted the populace with his presence nearly a fortnight," Besangno informed her. "Benlial, of the Vespa Belt, waits the superb Alpha Centauri."

I was standing beside her, but instinctively drew away, repelled by her sudden icy demeanor. Once more I beheld the strange, enigmatical goddess, who had welcomed me upon my arrival to the city: Alpha Centauri, Priestess of the Sun, always.

Erect, to her full height, with cold, calm, haughty eyes, she regarded the gentleman before her. She raised her arm and placed it across her breast, and with stiff formality bowed.

"Greetings to the Vespa Prince," she said; "his