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A Pagan of the Hills by Charles Neville Buck

Halloway received this gratuitous counsel


"By

gad, Brent, an episode that gives a man a new sensation--a new thrill, in a world of threadbare ones--is worth a king's ranson. I've seen the beauties of Occident and Orient but until now----"

A figure drifted near enough to overhear, and rising slowly Halloway finish up:

"Wa'al, stranger, hit's mighty nigh my bed time. I reckon I'll santer up ter my room and lay down. I hopes ye git's took keer of yourself, but ef ye don't ye're right welcome ter bunk in with me."

"I'll go with you now," declared the timber buyer.

CHAPTER VI

In a squalid room above stairs, Halloway sat, coatless, with his flannel shirt open on a throat that rose from the swell of his chest as a tower rises from a hill. His hair was rumpled; his whole aspect disheveled; but when he grinned there was the flash of strong teeth as white as a hound's and as even as a professional beauty's.

"Now tell me," he demanded with prompt interest, "who is this barbaric and regal creature in whose train I find you? Do you assert any claim of copyright--or prior discovery, or is it a clear field and no favor?"

When Brent answered, it was with challenging decisiveness. "A clear field, yes--but certainly no favor for either of us. She is primitive

enough to hold fast to a wholesome code. I wouldn't advise any philandering."

Halloway bent his head backward and gazed meditatively at the cloud of smoke which he sent ceiling-ward.

"So the faithful and chivalrous friend is giving me the benefit of his experience touching the stern virtue of an almost Druid life," he commented. "Yet I know these people as few outsiders do."

"Nevertheless, you _are_ an outsider, Jack. When we last sat quarreling in your rooms, your windows gave off over the rhododendron of Central Park--and the bronze horseman in the Plaza. Here the rhododendron has other uses than the decorative. She could be only a reckless adventure in your life--and in all likelihood, a fatal one."

With quiet amusement in the eyes that still gazed upward, Halloway received this gratuitous counsel.

"I begin to think that, as an adventure, she'd be worth fatality," he said.

With the license of old acquaintance, Brent went on with his berating.

"I happen to know you in real life as well as in masquerade. Whether your whim calls for this fantastic and shaggy disguise or for the impeccability of evening dress, you are still only a handsome beast of prey. You are so incorrigible and so devoid of conventional morality that, in being fond of you, I wonder at myself."


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