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A Pagan of the Hills by Charles Neville Buck

He had found old man McGivins toiling without sleep or rest


"A

woman--but the name----"

"Oh, pshaw! Thar hain't nuthin' jedgmatic in a name. Old man McGivins he jest disgusts gals and so he up and named his fust born Alexander an' he's done reared her accordin'."

Brent arched his brows as his informant continued, gathering headway in the interest of his narrative. "Old man McGivins he's done read a lavish heap of books an' he talks a passel of printed wisdom. He 'lowed thet Alexander wa'nt no common man's name but thet hit signified a hell-bustin' survigrous feller. By his tellin', ther fust Alexander whaled blazes outen all creation an' then sot down an' cried like a baby because ther job he'd done went an' petered out on him. Ter me, thet norration savers right strong of a damn lie."

Brent nodded as he smilingly replied, "I've read of that first Alexander, but he's been dead a good many centuries."

"Long enough ter leave him lay an' ferget about him, I reckon," drily observed the parson. "Anyhow atter a spell Old Man McGivins had another bornin' at his dwellin-house an' thet time hit proved out to be a boy. His woman sought ter rechristen ther gal Lizzie or Lake Erie or somethin' else befittin petticoats. She 'lowed thet no godly man wouldn't hardly seek a woman in wedlock, ner crave fer her to be ther mother of his children with a name hung on her like Alexander Macedonia McGivins."

style="text-align: justify;">Brent's eye twinkled as he watched the unbending gravity of the other's face and since comment seemed expected he conceded, "There seems to be a germ of reason in that."

"Then ther boy commenced growin' up, lazy-like an' shiftless," enlightened the parson. "Ther old man 'lowed thet hit wouldn't hardly be no fallacy ter name him Lizzie or Lake Erie, but he swore on a hull stack of Bibles thet he aimed ter make a man of ther gal."

Suddenly the speaker broke off and his brow clouded. Following the apprehensive direction of the frowning eyes as one might follow a dotted line the man from the city saw a young mountaineer surreptitiously tilting a flask to his lips in the lee of a huge boulder. Palpably the drinker believed himself screened from view, and when he had wiped the neck of the flask with the palm of his hand and stowed it away again in his breast pocket he looked furtively about him--and that furtiveness was unusual enough to elicit surprise in this land where men drank openly and made moonshine whiskey and even gave it to their small children.

"Since ther time of corn drappin' an' kiverin'," said the Parson, slowly, "Bud Sellers hain't teched a dram afore now. Hit don't pleasure me none ter see him startin' in afresh."

"He's been working hard," suggested the timber buyer tolerantly. "I've watched him and he never seems to tire. Maybe he felt the need of a stimulant."

But Acup growled. "When Bud leaves licker alone thar hain't no better boy nowhars. When he follers drinking he gits p'izen mean right down to ther marrer in his insidest bone. Folks calls him ther mad-dog then. Ef these men finds out he's drinkin', they'll quit work an' scatter like pa'tridges does when they sees a hawk flutterin' overhead."

The loose-jointed giant turned on his heel and left Brent standing alone. Snow after snow had fallen this winter and frozen tight, heaped high by blizzard after blizzard until all the legendary "old fashioned winters" had been outdone and put to shame. Then without warning had come some warm breath across the peaks bringing January rains on the heels of zero frigidity and thaws of unprecedented swiftness. While the "spring-tide" was to have been an agency of safe delivery for the felled timber this premature flood threatened to be a lawless one of devastation. Brent had rushed up here from the city driven by anxiety as to the logs he had contracted to buy--logs which the oncoming flood threatened to ravish into scattered and racing drift. He had found old man McGivins toiling without sleep or rest; racing against the gathering cohorts of a Nature turned vandal, and into the fight and stress he had thrown himself and all his energies.


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