—sounds sweet and you want more. Hopeless? Fiddlesticks! you've won. Men always know when they're ahead. You're picked for the mate of the superb Alpha. (Sheldon and Saunders have bet ten to one on it.) She's been declared false to her vows, and is no longer Priestess of the Sun. Gossips whisper of your strange influence upon the fair Centaurian; your absence creates restlessness, distraction, and she seeks every opportunity to study you intently, absorbingly. Bah! just an ordinary case. You discover a handsome woman, innocent, with blank mind, which you proceed to fill with foolish fancies, and, true to her sex, wearying of myths and shadows, she welcomes stalwart, vigorous flesh and blood. It is nonsense that will prove a pleasant remembrance; it must not detain you among these people. Why, Virgillius, we cannot leave you! Heavens, boy! think, we dare not return without you! She will forget, they all do—by George! the women over here are more unreliable than those of our world, and——"
I shouted with happiness.
"A thousand worlds could not separate me from Centauri, if what you tell me is true," I cried. "I will remain—give up everything—but it is too much happiness—you exaggerate—to-night I will know. Have you all forgotten the Vespa Prince?"
A pang quivered through me; my spirits ebbed as I mentioned the name, but my friends' laughter renewed courage and vanity—with a swoop doubts vanished. Thank Heaven! I had won. Alpha Centauri was mine; mine forever. I laughed joyously.