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Percy Greg
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 490 pages of information about Across the Zodiac.
much as an English envoy would treat an Indian Prince.  It was in accordance with this intention that I had assumed a dress somewhat more elaborate than is usually worn here, a white suit of a substance resembling velvet in texture, and moire in lustre, with collar and belt of silver.  On my breast I wore my order of [illegible], and in my belt my one cherished Terrestrial possession—­the sword, reputed the best in Asia, that had twice driven its point home within a finger’s breadth of my life; and that clove the turban on my brow but a minute before it was surrendered—­just in time to save its gallant owner and his score of surviving comrades.  In its hilt I had set the emerald with which alone the Commander of the Faithful rewarded my services.  The turban is not so unlike the masculine head-dress of Mars as to attract any special attention.  Re-entering the hall, I was conducted along a gallery and through another crystal door into the immediate presence of the Autocrat.  The audience chamber was of no extraordinary size, perhaps one-quarter as large as the peristyle of Esmo’s dwelling.  Along the emerald walls ran a series of friezes wrought in gold, representing various scenes of peace and war, agricultural, judicial, and political; as well as incidents which, I afterwards learnt, preserved the memory of the long struggles wherein the Communists were finally overthrown.  The lower half of the room was empty, the upper was occupied by a semicircle of seats forming part of the building itself and directly facing the entrance.  These took up about one-third of the space, the central floor being divided from the upper portion of the room by a low wall of metal surmounted by arches supporting the roof and hung with drapery, which might be so lowered as to conceal the whole occupied part of the chamber.  The seats rose in five tiers, one above the other.  The semicircle, however, was broken exactly in the middle, that is, at the point farthest from the entrance, by a broad flight of steps, at the summit of which, and raised a very little above the seats of the highest tier, was the throne, supported by two of the royal brutes whose attack had been so nearly fatal to myself, wrought in silver, their erect heads forming the arms and front.  About fifty persons were present, occupying only the seats nearest to the throne.  On the upper tier were nine or ten who wore a scarlet sash, among whom I recognised a face I had not seen since the day of my memorable visit to the Astronaut; not precisely the face of a friend—­Endo Zampta.  Behind the throne were ranged a dozen guards, armed with the spear and with the lightning gun used in hunting.  That a single Martial battalion with its appropriate artillery could annihilate the best army of the Earth I could not but be aware; yet the first thought that occurred to me, as I looked on these formidably armed but diminutive soldiers, was that a score of my Arab horsemen would have cut a regiment of them to pieces.  But by the time I
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