Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/307

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The Centaurians

the cap and bells, friends, hail to the splendid, glorious Prince Benlial."

They applauded him noisily, and I tried to crush the sudden sick miserable feeling that came over me. They finally left me, even the crowd outside had dispersed, and I was left alone deep in gloom and hopelessness, assailed with a cowardly faintness of heart that made me at last realize why I had been a failure all my life.

I knew well the import of the Prince's visit, but it seemed preposterous this savage was to end my dream—he was only a man far from ideal.

Bah! absurd! I flung out my arms as though brushing my trouble from me. "Alpha Centauri, my own creation, mine forever," I cried.

Discreet footsteps, an apologetic cough sounded near, and I turned to face Mike, the ever-smiling Mike. He handed me a note and I read that Alpha Centauri had many important matters to attend to and could not see me till evening. She wished me to rest so my mind would be clear, refreshed, and able to give undivided attention to the many affairs she would consult with me. Mike bowed deeply and followed as I hurried to my apartments. He regaled me with the palace gossip.

I learned that Saunders had suddenly ended his connection with the Observatory and, with a party of scientists, had traveled throughout Centauri, returning only last evening, when he and the "great inventor" departed immediately for the Ocstas, both wildly anxious about their friend Sheldon, who they feared had perished. Saxlehner had com-