Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/325

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The Centaurians

He led her to the forest of strange, tropical plants, whose branches housed hundreds of drowsy songsters drugged with the sweet, pungent odors from the voluptuously undulating fountain. These two will wander in this paradise of love, his arms clasped about her, whispering words of adoration while she listens intoxicated, wildly, deliriously happy, in her earthly heaven.

I watched them pass down the moss-covered path till the thick foliage of strange spices hid them from view—then I realized.

Numbed, chilled, I turned away, every thought swallowed in a great physical pain, a hand of iron clutched my heart and wrung it dry as a sponge. I had a vague idea of falling, not suddenly, but gradually, easily; of many people hurrying to me; then Saxe. loomed above, and as in a dream, came the words: "Courage, courage, my boy; be a man. Help! help!" he shouted in tones that pierced my brain, then borne to me vividly, yet as though thousands of miles away: "Heavens! how the woman deceived us all!" and my last flickering thought before blank was she had deceived no one, least of all myself.

In the garden, full length upon the lawn, the sweet, cool air revived me, but not for an instant had I lost consciousness.

My friends were about me, anxious, grave; distinctly I heard Saxe. mutter: "We must get out of this and quick. Can't have the boy carrying on this way."

I remained silent, rather comfortable than