Page:Biagi - The Centaurians.djvu/52

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The Centaurians

freely, gayety ran high, toasts, speech-making the order; some one started a noisy song and all, even Saxe., joined in shouting the chorus. I shouted as loud as any, not prompted by wine, but intent all should enjoy themselves. I had drunk sparingly, though well seasoned and able to stand more than most. They called upon me for a speech and the wits jocularly twitted me about the ladies. So I toasted a dainty, little creature, who, like all celebrities, was commonplace upon acquaintance. The boys yelled at my choice. I twirled my glass recklessly, eager to spout some of my own verses, but suddenly an odd change came upon me, I felt ill and chilled, then apathetic, numbed; the glass fell with a smash. I could utter no sound, but saw all watching me curiously. Middleton rose in alarm, but Saxe. reached me first and caught me as I fell forward inert, helpless, but painfully conscious. I deeply regretted my sudden indisposition, my collapse created a panic and ended the evening's festivities.

An intensely cold air suddenly rushed upon me, chilling my blood. I was being conveyed to some place, but could distinguish nothing in the vague, dreamy vapor gradually enveloping me, which became heavier and heavier, forming a dark wall surrounding me in a silence deep, oppressive; then like a flash I saw clear again, and to my amazement was in my rooms alone seated at the table, book in hand, comfortable, peaceful, while a tornado scourged the city. It was a night of inky blackness, freezingly cold, and vaguely I felt sympathy for the home-