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The Pagans   By: (1850-1918)

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THE PAGANS

By

Arlo Bates

The web of our life is a mingled yarn, good and ill together. All's Well That Ends Well ; iv 3

DEDICATION.

To those who would be Pagans, did any such organization exist, I take pleasure in offering this attempt to picture a phase of life which they know.

She answered, "cast thy rosary on the ground; bind on thy shoulder the thread of paganism; throw stones at the glass of piety; and quaff from a full goblet." Persian Religious Hymn.

CONTENTS.

I. SOME SPEECH OF MARRIAGE II. THE HEAVY MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT III. THE SHOT OF ACCIDENT IV. AFTER SUCH A PAGAN CUT V. THE BITTER PAST VI. A BOND OF AIR VII. IN WAY OF TASTE VIII. THE INLY TOUCH OF LOVE IX. VOLUBLE AND SHARP DISCOURSE X. O, WICKED WIT AND GIFT XI. WHOM THE FATES HAVE MARKED XII. WHAT TIME SHE CHANTED XIII. THE ASSAY OF ART XIV. THIS IS NOT A BOON XV. 'TWAS WONDROUS PITIFUL XVI. CRUEL PROOF OF THIS MAN'S STRENGTH XVII. THIS "WOULD" CHANGES XVIII. BEDECKING ORNAMENTS OF PRAISE XIX. NOW HE IS FOR THE NUMBERS XX. THE WORLD IS STILL DECEIVED XXI. HIS PURE HEART'S TRUTH XXII. UPON A CHURCH BENCH XXIII. HEART SICK WITH THOUGHT, XXIV. IN PLACE AND IN ACCOUNT NOTHING, XXV. THIS DEED UNSHAPES ME, XXVI. THERE BEGINS CONFUSION, XXVII. WEIGHING DELIGHT AND DOLE, XXVIII. LIKE COVERED FIRE, XXIX. A NECESSARY EVIL, XXX. HOW CHANCES MOCK, XXXI. HE SPEAKS THE MERE CONTRARY, XXXII. A SYMPATHY OF WOE, XXXIII. A MINT OF PHRASES IN HIS BRAIN, XXXIV. HEART BURNING HEAT OF DUTY, XXXV. PARTED OUR FELLOWSHIP, XXXVI. AS FALSE AS STAIRS OF SAND, XXXVII. FAREWELL AT ONCE, FOR ONCE, FOR ALL AND EVER.

PAGANS

I.

SOME SPEECH OF MARRIAGE. Measure for Measure, v i.

A fine, drizzling rain was striking against the windows of a cosy third floor sitting room, obscuring what in pleasant weather was a fine distant view of the Charles river. The apartment was evidently that of a woman, as numerous details of arrangement and articles of feminine use suggested; and quite as evidently it was the home of a person of taste and refinement, and of one, too, who had traveled.

Arthur Fenton, a slender young artist, with elegant figure and deep set eyes, was lounging in an easy chair in an attitude well calculated to show to advantage his graceful outlines. For occupation he was turning over a portfolio of sketches, whose authorship was indicated by the attitude of the lady seated near by.

She was a woman of commanding presence, with full lips, whose expression was contradicted by the almost haughty carriage of her fine head and the keen glance of her eye, which indicated too much character for the mere pleasure seeker. Her hair was of a rich chestnut, and she wore a dress of steel gray cashmere, relieved at the throat by a knot of pale orange, which harmonized admirably with her clear complexion. She watched her companion as if secretly anxious for his good opinion of her drawings, yet too proud to betray any feeling in the matter. He, for his part, turned them over with seeming listlessness, breaking out now and then with some abrupt remark.

"Yes," he said suddenly, after a ten minutes' silence, "I'm going to be married at once. It will be 'a marriage in the bush,' as the Suabians call an impecunious match, since neither of us has any money; and I, at least, haven't so great a superfluity of brains that in this intelligent age of the world I am ever likely to make much by selling myself; and that is the only way any body gets any money nowadays."

"I hardly think you'd be willing to sell," his companion answered, "no matter how good the market."

"There's where you are wrong," he answered, looking up with a sudden frown, "the worst thing about me is that with sufficient inducement or even merely from the temptation of an especially good opportunity I should sell myself body and soul to the Philistines."

"One would hardly fancy it, from the way you talk of Peter Calvin and his followers."

"Oh, as to that," retorted the artist, "don't you see that judicious opposition increases my market value when I am ready to sell? If I could only be sufficiently prominent in my antagonism, I might absolutely fix my own price... Continue reading book >>




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