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A Pagan of the Hills by Charles Neville Buck

Alexander stood there as he had never seen her before


Where

had she gone? He asked himself that question several times during the considerable interval of his waiting. The sunset was coming to its final splendor behind mountains that were ash of violet. Through the blossom-laden air stole a seductive intoxication that mounted to his head. The voices of the Red Gods had mastered him, and he had come.

Then he saw a vision in the doorway, and his senses reeled.

Alexander stood there as he had never seen her before. She was in a woman's dress, very simple of line and unadorned. But her beauty was such as could support and glorify simplicity. Indeed it required simplicity as a foil for its own delicate gorgeousness. The lithe slenderness of her figure was enhanced by the transformation. Her long hair hung in heavy braids that gave an almost childlike girlishness to her appearance. Alexander, he thought, was wholly delectable.

But as he stared at Alexander she flung him look for look and commanded:

"Now, tek off your hat."

He tossed the thing away from him, and hesitated for a moment gazing at her while his eyes kindled, then with an inarticulate sound in his throat and no other word, he sprang forward and caught her to him, in arms that would not be denied.

Alexander made no struggle. It would have been futile to match even

her fine strength against the herculean power of those arms--and suddenly the girl felt faint.

For that unwarned and tumultuous conduct on the part of the man she had been totally unprepared and it was as though the wave of amazement which swept over her had left her gasping; bereft of both nerve-force and breath. But other waves were sweeping her too, so that she of the ready and invincible spirit for the moment rested inert in Halloway's arms as her brain reeled. In one way she was dazed into semiconsciousness. In another way, she was so staringly wide awake as she had never before been in life. She had thought of this man with feelings that she had neither named to herself nor analyzed, but the unadmitted sex call of the strong man to the strong woman had sounded like a bugle note through her nature. Now while the beginnings of an indescribable fury stirred within her, she none the less thrilled to his embrace with a flooding of her heart under which she almost swooned. While she felt his kisses on her temples, her cheeks and her lips, she had no power of speech or protest.

To Jack Halloway, it seemed that this non-resistance was unconditional surrender and through him in a current of fluid fire, ran the fierce ecstasy of victory.

But after a little Alexander straightened up and the pliant softness of her body stiffened in his arms. She pushed against his shoulders with steady hands. They were not struggling hands but firm and definite of meaning, and Halloway released her. He released her readily as a man may who can afford to be deferential in his moment of victory.


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