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A Pagan of the Hills by Charles Neville Buck

Thet fer a gal thet didn't hev no time of day fer any man


He

had sought to wake Alexander out of that sex-lethargy which lay like a moat between the citadel of her heart and the advantage of suitors. In that he had succeeded, too well for his liking. Always Alexander held surprises in store for him, which only maddened him the more, fanning his passion into a hotter blaze. Now when he sought to press his initial advantage to a greater conclusiveness, she only told him to wait and, like Portia judging her lovers, allowed others to come pay court as well, while over all she reigned with a regal sort of despotism, encouraging no one more than another.

But she was splendidly, vitally awake.

She still did with joy the things men did, and did them better than most men, but she was no longer blind to the stronger asset of her arresting beauty and the effect of its charm.

She realized these newly discovered attributes naively and without vanity, but now instead of insisting on the equality of a man, she demanded the homage of a queen.

And though she would have found her world desolate without that tallest and keenest of her cavaliers, she no longer thought of him as the only important figure in the world that he had opened to her.

In a somewhat formless and intuitive fashion she felt a slight undercurrent of distrust for Halloway, which she combated as ungenerous but could

not wholly overcome.

But in constant conflict with these moments of misgiving there were other, rather wild moments, when the draw and pull of his fascination seemed invincible. At those times she realized that, should he open his arms and say, "Come," she would have to go as the iron filing goes to the magnet. To Alexander the whole world of love was in a nebulous and constructive state of flux and lava.

But she had by instinct a wary defensiveness, and she was on constant guard.

"Alexander," said Halloway one day when they were walking together along the creek-bed between the dark, waxy masses of the rhododendron, "Hit strikes me right forceable, thet fer a gal thet didn't hev no time of day fer any man, ye've done swung round mighty suddent. They hangs 'round ye now like bees 'round locust blooms."

"Did ye 'low thet ef I let any come, I'd refuse ter welcome ther balance?" she inquired and he retorted with more heat than he usually allowed himself. "Most women contrives ter satisfy themselves with one man, I reckon."

"Thet's atter they've done picked out ther one, fer dead shore," was her calm retort. "An' mebby even then hit hain't frum choice."

A satirist might have derived pleasure from that situation of Alexander rejecting conventional pleas, urged by Jack Halloway.


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