Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/340

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The Centaurians

valleys, undulating mountains, thread-like silvery streams, flashed, then faded in the blue speed-mist as a fabulous poppy scene; and far in the distance, glimmering mystically through the heliotrope pall that shielded her, was the phantom city of Centur, the white city of delicate fairy spires and domes, and tall, fantastic, glinting Sun Temples. Beautiful Centur.

The ship soared higher, piercing the swiftly driven wind clouds which enveloped us in a fleecy mist, obscuring forever the marvelous dreamland. A burning flood scorched my eyes, a sickening regret raked my heart; after all it was a fair, smiling, wondrous country, the Centaurians, friends. God in heaven! if I dared—if I dared—I would return, return at once! But Centauri had vanished for all time, and my only consolation was to sigh miserably, though cursing my weakness and gaze distractedly in the direction of the evanescent city; and this unhappiness, love-sickness, self-pity so engrossed me that I did not hear the soft, stealthy footsteps approaching. My arm was gently clasped, a form leaned lovingly against me while a low, tremulous voice murmured my name. Startled, incredulous, I turned quickly and met the glorious, fascinating eyes of Alpha Centauri.

"You did not forget!" I cried in delight.

"I can never forget, Virgillius," she whispered, twining her arm in mine. "I shall accompany you as far north as it is deemed safe."

Determined to see the last of us she had boarded the ship at dawn, long before the crowd collected.