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A Pagan of the Hills by Charles Neville Buck

Groping blankness of the unmoving features


But

when she was quite free, she stood unsteadily for a moment and then stepped back and leaned against the wall of the house. Her hands pressed against the weather-boarding with outspread fingers. Out of a white face she looked straight before her with eyes preternaturally wide and full of dazed wonderment.

At first there was no resentment, no denunciation. The girl only leaned there with parted lips and heaving bosom and that fixed gaze which, for all its rigid tensity, seemed groping.

It was not as the individual that she now thought of Jack Halloway but of the terrifying and unexplained force that he had awakened in herself; the force of things that she never until now realized.

Halloway did not speak. He bent a little toward her, looking at her as his own breath came fast. At first he did not even marvel at the stunned, groping blankness of the unmoving features.

He had known that when she awoke it would be with the shock of latent fires set loose. Now it was a time to go very gently with her, until she found her footing in fuller comprehension again.

Then the girl said so faintly that he could hardly hear her:

"Thet's ther fust time thet. . . ." She broke off there.

"I know it, Alexander. I couldn't stay away. I had to come!"

style="text-align: justify;">He took a step forward with outstretched arms but she lifted a pleading hand.

"Don't," she said. "I've got ter think . . . go away now."

And triumphantly confident of what would come out of her meditation, he turned and picked up his hat and left her standing there. He might have talked to her of passionate love, he told himself, to the end of time and it would have meant nothing. Instead he had brought her face to face with it--and now there was no need of talk.

Jack Halloway had meant it when he admitted to Brent in New York that it would not do to give rein to his thoughts of Alexander. They were all lawless thoughts of a love not to be trammeled by the obligations of marriage.

If he hated the civilized world at times, there were other times when he could not live without it, and into its conventionalized pattern, Alexander could never fit. She was not civilized enough or educated enough to take her place there at his side, nor was she pagan enough to come to him without terms or conditions. So he had resolved to stay away, and put her out of his mind and in that determination he failed. Now he had flung away all heed. He had held her in his arms and consequences could care for themselves!

But when he had left the porch and Alexander had begun to grope her way out of the vortex of confusion, that small figment of wrath that she had known she should feel and yet had so far failed to feel, began to grow until it engulfed and merged into itself every other element of her reflections.


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