Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/323

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The Centaurians

and gloried in that dull bit of gold on her head, the only woman in the wide world crowned with the flaming emblem; yet if she wedded she would be forced to relinquish it, and even now it was whispered she had renounced her religion—for me. Fate timed, yet threw a glamour of confidence and security over my fool's paradise that the end would be more deadly cruel. Her hand rested lightly in mine.

"To-morrow," she whispered, "come; I must see you alone, away from everybody, all to myself. We shall arrange for the future."

"Alpha," I murmured, but her attention was attracted from me and I forgot what I was going to say in the excitement that followed.

Her hand slipped from mine and she moved away, then stood erect in an attitude of expectancy. From the gardens came the sound of trumpets and cheers; again and again above the noise and tumult were borne the words: "Hoo-ray! hoo-ray! long live the Vespa Prince!"

The most intense excitement prevailed; the whole of Centur seemed in an uproar; those in the salon flocked to the vestibule and balconies, echoing the shouts from without; and through it all Alpha remained cool, stately, the only calm, collected being in all that assemblage.

Into the great hall rushed the hubbub, the air filled with crashing, deafening, joyful music. Laughter and song greeted the great man, and those collected to welcome him yelled, mad with enthusiasm.