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A Pagan of the Hills by Charles Neville Buck

Don't belittle me ner mek light of me ternight

"Don't hasten unduly on my account," she coolly counseled him. "I'll strive ter mek shift somehow ter go on livin'."

The man had taken a chair near her and was bending forward, almost, but not quite, touching her. Now he rose and his voice trembled.

"Fer God's sake, Alexander, don't belittle me ner mek light of me ternight. I kain't endure hit. Heven't ye got no idee how master much I loves ye? Don't ye see thet ther two of us war made fer each other? I don't aim ter brag none--but ye knows I'm ther only man hyar-abouts thet understands ye--thet holds ye in full-high appreciation!"

He paused and she inquired calmly, "Air ye?"

"Ye knows hit!" He was talking tumultuously with the onrush of that dynamic spirit which drove him and gave him power. He stood there with his coat open over his magnificent chest, and his eyes alight with the forces that made him exceptional.

"Ye knows thet _you_ hain't no every-day woman nuther. Ye knows thet ther like of yore beauty hain't been seed afore in these hills--not in mortal feature ner in ther blossomin' woods ner in ther blue skies over 'em all!"

Again he paused, and even while he adhered to a crude vernacular, there was, in the cadence of his voice, a forceful sort of eloquence. In the latent intensity of his personality dwelt a sheer wizardry which few women could have withstood.

"Hev ye ever seed a comet in ther heavens?" he abruptly demanded and without waiting for a reply swept rapidly on. "Well ye're like ter a comet, Alexander. Every star thet shines out thar ternight is hung high up in heaven an' every one is bright. But when a comet goes sweepin' acrost ther skies, with a furrow of light trailin' along behind hit--we plum fergits them leetle stars--hit's like they'd all been snuffed. Hit's ther same way with you, Alexander. Deep down in yore heart thar's powerful fires a-burnin' thet no weak man kain't satisfy. When I looks at ye I clean fergits every other star that ever shone--because I've done seed _you_."

Once more Alexander began to feel that old uncertainty of reeling senses. His intonations were caresses. His eyes were beacons, and she took a tight hold on herself--for despite the hypnotic spell that he was weaving about her, a voice within her cautioned, "Be steady!" That indefinable ghost of suspicion stirred and troubled her.

"An' so sence I'm ther comet amongst them numerous small stars," she observed with an even voice, though her pulse beat was far from regular, "ye 'lows thet I'd ought ter belong ter _you_?"

He ignored the teasing brightness of her eyes; a light of defensive disguise.

"I 'lows thet hevin' oncet seed ye, an' loved ye, I hain't nuver goin' ter be satisfied with no lesser star."

The fire had leaped up and the room had grown warm. Halloway, in his impetuous fashion, ripped off his coat, flinging it to the floor, and stood with his great shoulders and chest bulking mightily beneath his flannel shirt.

Under the hurricane sweep of his love-making the girl from time to time closed her eyes in an effort to hold to her waning steadiness. This was one of those occasions when the fire in her responded to the fire in him; when she felt, with a sense of deep misgiving, that she could not resist him.

"Alexander," said the man, abruptly, dropping his voice from its impetuous pitch, to a more quiet and yet more ardent quality, "Ye 'lowed oncet thet I shouldn't never tech ye withouten ye said I mout. I've done obeyed ye--but now." He slowly extended both arms and stood upright in gladiatorial strength and compelling erectness. "But now ye're a-comin' inter my arms--of yore own accord--because we was made fer one another."

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