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A Pagan of the Hills by Charles Neville Buck

An' I likes ter let my glance kind of rove hyar an' thar


Slowly

Jerry O'Keefe nodded. One ordered from another's house must obey, but the twinkle had not altogether faded from his eyes and there was nothing precipitate in his movements, albeit the rifle was at ready and the girl's deep breast was heaving with unfeigned fury.

"All right," he acceded, "I'm goin' now but es fer not lookin' back, I wouldn't like ter mek no brash promises. You're hyar an' hit mout prove right hard ter keep my eyes turned t'other way. I'm an easy-goin' sort of feller anyhow, an' I likes ter let my glance kind of rove hyar an' thar."

Her hands trembled on the gun and her voice shook into huskiness. "Begone," she warned. "I kain't hold down my temper much longer."

"An' es fer comin' back," Jerry continued blandly, "some day you're ergoin' ter _invite_ me back. Anyhow, I reckon I'd come, because thar's somethin' hyar thet'll kinderly pulls me hither stronger then guns kin skeer me off."

The girl sat there on her doorstep with her rifle across her knees and halfway to the fence-line Jerry paused and looked back. The rifle came up--and dropped back again as Alexander belatedly pretended that she had not seen him. At the stile O'Keefe paused to turn his head again. He even waved his hat, and this time she looked through him as through a pane of glass.

But when she had been sitting broodingly

for a long while, the cloud slowly dissipated from her face. In her eyes a twinkle of merriment battled with the fire of righteous indignation, and at last she even laughed with a low pealing note like a silver bell.

"He's an impudent, no-count devil," she said, "but he's got right unfalterin' nerve, an' thar's a mighty pleasin' twinkle in his eyes."

Not long after that Alexander made a journey to a nearby town, but since it was one near the railroad she went in woman's attire, paying a new deference to public opinion which she had heretofore scorned. She was busily occupied there all day and her mission was one of mystery.

CHAPTER XV

The earliest manifestations of spring had ripened into a warmer fullness. Everywhere the rhododendron was bloom-loaded, and the large-petaled flower of the "cucumber tree" spread its waxen whiteness. Hill-sides were pink with the wild-rose and underfoot violets and the dandelions made a bright mosaic.

Again Alexander was approaching her door with her face set toward the sunset and again she saw before her own house the figure of a man who loomed tall, and who for a brief space remained a featureless silhouette against the colored sky.

She hastened her step a little, resolved that this time she would teach Jerry, in an unforgettable fashion, that her edicts of banishment were final and that they could not be lightly disobeyed--but this time it was not Jerry.

Indeed she had realized that almost immediately and her heart had missed its beat. The man was Halloway himself and he was looking in another direction just then, so he did not see the fleet, yet instantly repressed eagerness that flashed into and out of her eyes. It was a self-collected young woman, with a distinctly casual manner who crossed the stile and confronted her visitor.


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