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A Pagan of the Hills by Charles Neville Buck




Author of

"The Call of the Cumberlands," "The Battle Cry," "When Bearcat Went Dry," Etc., Etc.

Frontispiece by George W. Gage

[Frontispiece: Sometimes, in these days, she went to a crest from which the view reached far off for leagues over the valley.]

New York W. J. Watt & Company Publishers Copyright, 1919, by W. J. Watt & Company



"It's plum amazin' ter heer ye norate thet ye've done been tradin' and hagglin' with old man McGivins long enough ter buy his logs offen him and yit ye hain't never met up with Alexander. I kain't hardly fathom hit noways."

The shambling mountaineer stretched himself to his lean length of six feet two, and wagged an incredulous head. Out of pale eyes he studied the man before him until the newcomer from "down-below" felt that, in the attitude, lay almost the force of rebuke. It was as though he stood self-convicted of having visited Naples without seeing Vesuvius.

"But I haven't been haggling with Mr. McGivins," he hastened to remonstrate. "On the contrary we have done business most amicably."

The native of the tangled hills casually waved aside the distinction of terms as a triviality and went on: "I hain't nuver heered tell of no man's tradin' in these hyar Kentucky mountains without he haggled considerable. Why thet's what tradin' denotes. Howsomever what flabbergasts me air thet ye hain't met up with Alexander. Stranger, ye don't know nothin' about this neck o' the woods a-tall!"

Parson Acup, so called for the funereal gravity of his bearing and expression, and Brent the timber-buyer, stood looking down from beetling cliffs rigidly bestowed with collossal and dripping icicles. To their ears came a babel of shouts, the grating of trees, long sleet-bound but stirring now to the thaw--the roar of blasting powder and the rending of solid rock.

Brent laughed. "Now, that you've fathomed the density of my ignorance," he suggested, "proceed to enlighten me. Upon what does this Alexander rest his fame? What character of man is he?"

"Wa'al, stranger, I've done always held ther notion thet we folks up hyar in these benighted hills of old Kaintuck, war erbout the ign'rantest human mortals God ever suffered ter live--but even us knows erbout Alexander. Fust place he hain't no man at all. He's a gal--leastwise, Alexander was borned female but she's done lived a plum he-life, ever since."

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